REVIEW: Polar Unicorn Kisses Seltzer

Polar Unicorn Kisses Seltzer

When I was a kid, I often remember visiting a drive-thru wild animal park with my parents. Aside from the fact that the monkeys would wildly flail about while removing the piping from our minivan’s windows, it was a great place to go to take in the wonders of the savannah (albeit the Canadian savannah, but I digress).

We’d usually close our trip with a stopover at the petting zoo, my hands full of vending machine pellets ready to feed Larry the Llama and Gary the Goat. My three-year-old self was shocked at the vigor at which the animal’s tongue attacked the food in my hand – an image I still can’t forget. Regrettably, this is my only frame of reference for understanding the concept of “unicorn kisses.”

Thankfully, Polar Seltzer’s Unicorn Kisses is not a bottle of magical glitter pony saliva, but instead an April Fools’ flavor designed to elicit giggles in the grocery aisle. Polar is known for its unorthodox flavors (like eggnog and mint chocolate), but you typically have an idea of what they’ll taste like before you open them. Unicorn Kisses gives you no such advance warning.

Polar Unicorn Kisses Seltzer 2

Prepping for the worst, I set off on a quest to find a bottle. Polar released only 5,000 cases of Unicorn Kisses into the wild, so I had a difficult time finding a store that had any in stock. I felt like Dora the Explorer (minus the anthropomorphic monkey), walking from supermarket to supermarket trying to find a bottle. After what felt like countless days of searching, I finally picked some up at my local Star Market.

Upon opening, I half expected the bottle to explode into rainbows, but instead I was greeted with the scent of green apple and cotton candy. While Polar prides itself on its “all natural” label, this smell was all artificial, like a liquid Jolly Rancher. Based on my nose alone, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to drink a sip, let alone an entire glass, but I queued up “Charlie the Unicorn” for support and dove in.

Polar Unicorn Kisses Seltzer 3

Other blogs have tried to place the flavor of Unicorn Kisses, with suggestions ranging from melon to soap, but the only thing I could taste was candy necklaces. Surprisingly, the flavor wasn’t as pronounced as the smell – it actually took me some time to figure out that this seltzer tasted like penny candy. Because it was so cloyingly sweet, I couldn’t finish a whole glass, leading me to feel like I wasn’t respecting the countless unicorns who worked so hard on this product.

In the end, the takeaways from this review are as follows: Unicorn Kisses is a fun diversion but is gross to drink, and you should stay far, far, far away from Candy Mountain.

(Nutrition Facts – 8 fluid ounces – 0 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.29
Size: 1 liter
Purchased at: Star Market
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Double rainbow. No calories. Revisiting childhood memories. Alliterative animal names.
Cons:Swiper, no swiping.” Llama tongue. Overly sweet and artificial. Vintage candy.

REVIEW: Sir Bananas Chocolate Bananamilk

Sir Bananas Chocolate Bananamilk

Green, yellow, brown: there are three distinct stages in the life cycle of an edible banana, and each tastes different.

Young, green bananas are tropical, wild, and a little too immature to be useful. Yellows are in the prime of their life; from fondue to Mario Kart weapons, their potential is limitless. Finally, old and ripened brown bananas become progressively softer and sweeter, but they eventually reach the point where they must be mashed, pureed, and baked into banana bread.

I would say that this parallels the aging process of humans, but if I did, I’d probably receive a restraining order from every retirement home in the country.

The reason I’m pondering elderly bananas (please don’t arrest me) is the glass of Sir Bananas Chocolate Bananamilk that sits before me. The Sir Bananas line of milk claims to use real bananas, so I’m left wondering which of those three banana types it will taste like.

Sir Bananas Chocolate Bananamilk 2

As I take my first sip of the light brown milk, I’m happy to say that the flavor, too, is mostly “brown banana.” Much more rich, ripe, and darkly sweet than it is fruity, the banana taste here is authentic to its namesake without being overwhelming.

Strangely, though, the milk’s aftertaste does have a bit of a tropical bite. So either Sir Bananas used an 80:20 mix of brown and green bananas for their milk, or every old banana they used was a hip and youthful Betty White banana.

Hmm, on second sip, that aftertaste really lingers. Maybe there were some crankier “Where’s the Beef?” bananas in there.

As for the chocolate flavor, it’s much closer to a sugary milk chocolate (think Nesquik and M&M’s) than it is to a decadent Dutch chocolate or bitter dark chocolate. I would have appreciated a more complex cocoa sensation, but I don’t think Sir Bananas the cartoon monkey was trying to appeal to the “99% Pure Dark Midnight Cacao Organic Whole Foods Artisanal Holland Death By Chocolate” audience anyway. 99% of kids will love this stuff.

Sir Bananas Chocolate Bananamilk 3

All in all, the combo of banana, chocolate, and vanilla reduced-fat milk ironically produces a very tasty and unique whole. It’s pretty much a liquefied loaf of Grandma’s buttery frosted chocolate chip banana bread (note: I mean bread made by Grandma, not made from Grandma).

However, this Bananamilk does suffer from what I like to call the “Cookie Butter Paradox.” Sure, it’s good, but like a jar of cookie butter, what the hell are you supposed to do with all of it? If you don’t want to end up crying over spoiled milk, you’ll need to get creative.

Being the cereal geek that I am, I couldn’t resist using my Bananamilk to dabble in cereal mixology. 1 bowl of Froot Loops + 1/2 cup Bananamilk = 1 Banana Split Cereal, coming right up. Call me crazy, but after I defibrillated my sugar-shocked heart, I thought it tasted pretty good.

Sir Bananas Chocolate Bananamilk 4

For the adventurous, this milk is ripe (whoops, Freudian slip) with possibilities. If you buy Sir Bananas other, plain Bananamilk variety, pour it over Peanut Butter Crunch to make Elvis Cereal. If you want caffeine and potassium, spike your morning coffee with Bananamilk. Or just hook yourself up to an IV drip of it and die happy.

So if you buy this banana-flavored cow liquid, let it be a canvas for your imagination. Go ahead…

…wait for it…

…you knew this was coming…

…last chance to close your browser window…

…go bananas!

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup – 170 calories, 35 calories from fat, 3.5 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 1010 milligrams of potassium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams dietary fiber, 24 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of protein.)

Item: Sir Bananas Chocolate Bananamilk
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 64 oz. carton
Purchased at: Meijer
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Liquefied frosted chocolate chip banana bread IV drips. Banana Nesquik’s spiritual successor. My future career as a cereal bartender. A banana product without any Minions on it.
Cons: The “Cookie Butter Paradox.” Wishing for a near-death (by chocolate) experience. My impossible dream of “M&M’s milk.” Freudian slipping on a banana peel.

REVIEW: Silk Pumpkin Spice Almond Nog

Silk Pumpkin Spice Almond Nog

I like almond milk. It gives me a break from soy milk, which gives me a break from regular cow milk, which gives me a break from soda, which gives me a break from water, which gives me a break from food, which gives me a break from having a conversation with someone who won’t shut up about The Walking Dead. I’m sure it’s a wonderful TV show, but I’m not going to watch it. So you don’t need to convince me.

I also like pumpkin spice and am not sick of everything being pumpkin spice-ified. So seeing my two likes together in one carton made me as excited as a Walking Dead fan minutes before a new season starts.

Silk Pumpkin Spice Almond Nog isn’t the first pumpkin spice product from the brand. It has a pumpkin spice soy milk, which I enjoy and have purchased a few times. Since Silk has added pumpkin spice to their almond milk, it wouldn’t be surprising if we see the autumn spices with their coconut milk, cashew milk, and whatever nut milk Silk develops in the future. My money is on Brazilian nut.

Silk’s Pumpkin Spice Almond Nog has wonderful scent. When I pulled back the safety ring and took a whiff, it was like what I imagine motorboarding two pumpkin pies would smell like. It has an orange tint that looks like the result of a Creamsicle that’s been completely melted into a puddle mixed with the tears of a child who’s crying because he or she dropped that Creamsicle. Its texture is about the same as almond milk, not as creamy as soy milk, but not as thin as skim milk.

But its texture is also a bit weird and I’m not sure how to describe it. I guess it has an artificial creaminess to it. Actually, now that I think about it, all Silk products, thanks to thickening agents and emulsifiers, have an artificial creaminess, but this nog seems different than the other products.

Silk Pumpkin Spice Almond Nog 2

While the beverage’s aroma reminds me of the Thanksgiving dessert staple, its flavor does not. The spices are there — with cinnamon being the strongest, followed by ginger and nutmeg — but instead of pumpkin pie, its taste reminds me of cinnamon pancakes drowning in Mrs. Butterworth’s or Aunt Jemima. Yes, that does sound tasty but not at all what I was hoping for and I did not enjoy it much.

Also, I don’t know if many people care about this, but this beverage is nutritionally empty. A cup of Silk’s almond milk has 45 percent of your recommended calcium and 50 percent of your recommended vitamin E. A half-cup of this provides no calcium or vitamin E. Almonds are a great source of vitamin E, so how could it not have any vitamin E?

If you need a non-dairy pumpkin spice beverage fix, there are other options. I know there’s Almond Dream pumpkin spice-flavored milk and Califia Farms has a pumpkin spice latte with almond milk, but I haven’t had them so I can’t compare. But I can compare it with the Silk Pumpkin Spice soy milk and I think the soy milk version is much better tasting.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 50 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 8 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Silk Pumpkin Spice Almond Nog
Purchased Price: $4.69
Size: 1 quart
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Free of soy, dairy, gluten, lactose, cholesterol, eggs, casein, and carrageenan. Smells nice. The Walking Dead (so everyone says).
Cons: Free of decent flavor. Provides no vitamin E, which is weird because it’s made with almond milk. Not as good as Silk’s pumpkin spice soy milk. Weird texture.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee Drink

Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee Drink

If you want to hoard Starbucks Pumpkin Spice drinks so you can enjoy them year round, you either have to freeze Pumpkin Spice Lattes and then later warm them up in the microwave or hit the black market for expired Starbucks pumpkin spice syrup pumps. But this year there’s a third way and it’s available at Costco.

The Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee Drink may not be handmade by a Starbucks Barista who wrote PSL on the side of the cup, but because it’s Costco, it’s available in bulk. It’s 12 bottles to be exact. So if you buy a pallet of them, you’ll have enough to last you until next pumpkin spice latte season.

Unlike a pumpkin spice latte you can purchase at a Starbucks location, this version has no pumpkin in it. But it does have an ingredient list short enough that I could type it here to slightly boost the word count of this review: Brewed Starbucks Coffee, Reduced-Fat Milk, Sugar, Skim Milk, Maltodextrin, Cream, Natural Flavors, and Pectin. Mmm…pectin.

At first, I thought the ginger flavor stood out a bit too much for my tastes. I think the coffee makes the spice stand out more. But, since I purchased 12 bottles of the stuff, I’ve had to drink a lot of it. And the more I drink it the more I like it. Perhaps I’m getting Pumpkin Spiceholm Syndrome.

There’s also a little nutmeg, a bit of cinnamon, and a whole lot of sugar in each sip, which makes the beverage really sweet. There’s also a lot of milk too, but it’s not whole milk so it has a thin texture. While I could see it being too sweet for some people, me and my future cavities are fine with it.

The bottle suggests to serve it chilled or over ice, but since I’m a rebel (and have 12 bottles of the stuff), I did some experimenting and warmed up a mug of it in the microwave for 30 seconds. It was wonderful and it reminded me of a pumpkin spice latte. Actually, I think I might prefer it heated over chilled.

A question some of you might be asking is if it’s an adequate replacement for when the Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino is erased from the boards from Starbucks locations for the year. No, of course not. These bottled Frappuccinos are no match flavor-wise for those handmade, wonderful, blended, sweet, and brain freeze-inducing beverages that have a nutritional bio similar to many fast food burgers. But if you’re jonesing for a pumpkin spice coffee drink in February, this’ll do.

(Nutrition Facts – 210 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 32 grams of sugar, 7 grams of protein, and 25% calcium.)

Item: Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee Drink
Purchased Price: ???
Size: 12 pack/9.5 oz bottles
Purchased at: Costco
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Tastes good chilled or warmed up. Hoardable. Better nutritional bio than a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino you can get at Starbucks locations.
Cons: Ginger flavor might be a bit strong for some. Might be too sweet for some. Available in 12 packs, so if you don’t like it, you’ve got 11 more bottles to go through. Not as delicious as a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino you can get at Starbucks locations.

REVIEW: V8 Healthy Greens Veggie Blends

V8 Veggie Blend Healthy Greens

When poured into a glass, V8’s Healthy Greens Vegetable and Fruit Juice Beverage looks like I’m using that glass to shovel out water from an unkept backyard swimming pool. It doesn’t look very appetizing, but…now at this point, because I typed “but” after a negative comment, you might think I’m about to say something positive. Maybe say, “but it brings immense pleasure to the thousands of taste buds on my tongue.”

But I’m not going to say that.

It doesn’t look very appetizing, but it’s what I expected for a juice called “Healthy Greens” that contains spinach puree, yellow carrot juice concentrate, cucumber juice concentrate, celery juice concentrate, kale juice, romaine lettuce juice, and green bell pepper juice. But it’s not all vegetables. To prevent the juice from becoming completely gag-alicious, there are also apple and pineapple juices.

Now some of you might think I’m being an unappetizing green beverage hater, but I assure you I’m not. I’m a big fan of Odwalla’s Superfood Smoothie that has kale, spirulina, wheat grass, barley grass, wheat sprouts, Jerusalem artichoke, and Nova Scotia dulse. And it looks like pond scum.

So what does this V8 vegetable and fruit juice that doesn’t have eight vegetables taste like?

V8 Veggie Blend Healthy Greens Closeup

Its flavor reminded me of Campbell’s Vegetable soup, but cold and not as salty. It smelled tomatoey, even though there’s no tomatoes. It’s a bit sweet due to the apple and pineapple juice, but the vegetable flavor is dominant. I know that’s a bit gross, but the thing is, I didn’t feel compelled to spit it out.

Actually, the first sip was the worst, because I wasn’t sure what flavors were going to hit my tongue. And I got used to it after a few more sips. It’s the same reactions I had when I tasted the Odwalla Superfood Smoothie for the first time.

However, V8’s Healthy Greens juice is not anywhere close to being as tasty as an Odwalla Superfood Smoothie. But that’s understandable since the smoothie has more than twice the amount of sugar than the V8 juice.

It doesn’t bring immense pleasure to the thousands of taste buds on my tongue, but it tastes okay enough that I don’t mind drinking it in order to get a serving of vegetables.

(Nutrition Facts – 8 ounces – 60 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 320 milligrams of potassium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, 1 gram of protein, 20% vitamin A, 2% calcium, 100% vitamin C, 20% vitamin E, and 2% iron.)

Item: V8 Healthy Greens Veggie Blends
Purchased Price: $1.79 (sale price)
Size: 46 fl. oz.
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Not gross enough to make me spit it out. A serving of veggie per 8 ounces. Provide 100% of your vitamin C. No added sugar. No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Cons: Looks like algae infested swimming pool water. Doesn’t have eight vegetables. Should’ve been a little bit more sweeter. Since it just juice, there isn’t a lot of fiber. Learning romaine lettuce juice is a thing.

REVIEW: Fairlife Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk

Fairlife Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk

Fairlife Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk has 50 percent more protein, 30 percent more calcium, and 50 percent less sugar than regular reduced fat chocolate milk. It has no lactose, it’s been ultra-filtered, and comes from cows that are not treated with rBST. The cows that produce Fairlife milk listen to classical music all day, receive daily massages, go to cow hot yoga classes twice a day, are read bedtime stories, eat grass from silver troughs, and have the sound of crashing waves play while they sleep.

Actually, that last sentence I’m not sure about.

According to the bottle, the producers of Fairlife milk provide “extraordinary care for our cows.” I don’t know what that means, so I just assumed they are treated better than the wagyu cattle used to make Kobe beef.

Speaking of producers, if you think this milk comes from some farm in the middle of Indiana, you’d be wrong. It’s comes from some farm in the northwestern part of Indiana. Also, it’s distributed by some small beverage company that you’ve probably never heard of. I believe their name is Coca-Cola.

So how does this milk have more protein and calcium and less sugar than regular chocolate milk? You could watch this video that’ll explain it with cute animation. Or you could read the following boring words: ultra-filtering involves separating the different parts of the milk and then recombining them, but including more of the protein and calcium and leaving out the sugars.

Fairlife Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk smells and looks like every other chocolate milk on the market. It also has a nice thickness, thanks to the added carrageenan. Its flavor is mostly similar to other reduced fat chocolate milks, but it has a different aftertaste. It’s probably because of the added ace-K and sucralose sweeteners (sugar is also added), but I should make clear that the difference in flavor isn’t as dramatic as regular cola and diet cola. The aftertaste is not a deal breaker for me and my diet soda drinking taste buds, but I can see how it might be an issue for others.

Another issue others might have is the milk’s price. Fairlife is being marketed as a premium milk, so it has a premium price. A half-gallon…oh wait. A 52-ounce bottle retails for $3.99, which is more expensive than the average price for a gallon of whole milk, which I obtained from the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

You’re probably thinking, “Holy crap! That is some expensive milk.” And it’s probably being followed by, “Holy crap! You did actual research for this review.”

Fairlife’s Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk is pricey, contains artificial sweeteners, goes through an unfamiliar filtering process, and is distributed by one of the world’s largest beverage companies, but I really like it. I think it has a surprisingly nice flavor for something that has artificial sweeteners, I’m all for more protein and calcium, and the price doesn’t bother me too much because of what it offers over regular milk.

Dairy milk hasn’t changed much over the years. It’s the same milk that did the body good when I was growing up. That milk is still fine, but I like having the option for “super” milk that does the body better.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup – 140 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 280 milligrams of sodium, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, 13 grams of protein, 10% vitamin A, 40% calcium, and 25% vitamin D.)

Item: Fairlife Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 52 oz. bottle
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like chocolate milk. Surprisingly good flavor for something that has artificial sweeteners. 50 percent more protein, 30 percent more calcium, and 50 percent less sugar than regular reduced fat chocolate milk.
Cons: Pricey. Contains artificial sweeteners. Slightly off aftertaste. Not sure what “extraordinary care for our cows” mean.