REVIEW: 7-Eleven Birthday Cake Slurpee

7-Eleven Birthday Cake Slurpee

It’s Slurpee’s 50th birthday, and to celebrate, 7-Eleven has released a slew of celebratory products, from the Birthday Cake Slurpee I bought to Birthday Cake Cappuccinos and Slurpee doodle Pop-Tarts.

Heck, I’m surprised they didn’t inject their hot dogs with Funfetti, since those same dogs have probably been rolling under that heat lamp for the past 50 years anyway.

Since I rode my bicycle to 7-Eleven in the summer heat, I wouldn’t make it home in time without a birthday puddle in my cup. So I was forced to photograph my Birthday Cake Slurpee in front of pedestrians who looked at me like an escaped zoo animal.

But most of them were capturing Pokémon with their phones anyway, so I like to think my weird photo-shoot was hidden behind a Snorlax.

7-Eleven Birthday Cake Slurpee 2

My first Slurpee sip was more “funeral” than “birthday.” A flowing log flume of watered-down vanilla flavor cascaded through my mouth, and it was chased by a faint lemon zest. If nothing else, I give 7-Eleven’s mad food scientists credit for including a more subtle frosting note.

All debates about icing authenticity aside, the watery vanilla made an awful first impression. Iciness in a cola or fruity Slurpee is acceptable, because soda and fruit juice are things that actually occur in real life. But runny liquid vanilla paste tastes sadly unnatural, as if someone had cried all over a cake.

Maybe 7-Eleven accidentally booked “Prenuppo the Recently Divorced Clown” for Slurpee’s birthday party.

But it wasn’t all tears and tragedy, because the Slurpee actually improved as time and the laws of physics went on. Gravity sent the sweet ribbons of syrupy vanilla extract twisting to the bottom of the cup, while thermodynamics turned the slush into crystallized batter.

The increased vanilla flavor concentration made my Birthday Cake Slurpee considerably more pleasant, so I tried greedily Slurpee-ing down the remaining purée before it could metamorphose into something even more melted and sloppy.

I didn’t make it in time, though (damn you, sun!). I was soon left with a dizzyingly sweet concoction that made me grimace like the time I sipped straight from a vanilla extract bottle (damn you, tempting smell!). But all hope was not lost, because I still had reinforcements to call in.

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Slurpee’s birthday celebration also includes a new Birthday Cake Doughnut, and for only 99 cents, I couldn’t resist garnishing my Slurpee and turning myself into a gawk-worthy street performer.

I’m surprised no one tossed a handful of change into my Slurpee cup.

The dry and crumbly doughnut sucks up the “juices,” and the lightly golden-sweet pastry lends a welcome, floury yellow cake flavor to a Slurpee that’s otherwise pure frosting. Meanwhile, the ring’s own caked on icing provides a buttery pop that complements the drink’s vanilla and lemon combo.

This birthday is an afternoon-long affair, too. Even as I tried biking my calories off, an aftertaste of tangy vanilla custard lingered. And like any post-party funk, it was simultaneously uncomfortable, bittersweet, and a little sticky.

So while I was able to derive some enjoyment from its various ups and downs, this Birthday Cake Slurpee was just too high maintenance to ever be a repeat purchase. The Slurpee is barely worth a novelty buy, and I hope 7-Eleven tries a birthday cake milkshake for Slurpee’s 100th birthday party instead. It would be less texturally off-putting, and I likely won’t have any teeth left by then anyway.

Oh, and I hope they don’t hire that darn clown again. I think I saw the poor fella sleeping in his tiny car last night.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 fl oz – 5 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.19
Size: Small
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Half-melted cake batter Slurpee abdomens. Spiraling vanilla tentacles. Using a doughnut like a paper umbrella. The sweet feeling of air conditioning on my vanilla-stained face.
Cons: “Crying Clown” cake flavoring. Custard hangovers. Shouting “I am not an animal!” to helpless passerby. Becoming a real life Snorlax after too many doughnuts. Frosting-filled frankfurters.

REVIEW: Hi-C Ecto Cooler (2016)

Hi-C Ecto Cooler (2016)

There’s something strange in my neighborhood. Unfortunately I didn’t know who to call. I couldn’t find one store that carried Ecto Cooler. Half of the places I called didn’t even know what I was talking about!

(That sound you hear is the collective gasps of every 90’s baby reading this blog.)

Then a little ghost told me that Cinemark Theater chains were selling cans. So while you may not go see the new Ghostbusters at the theater, you may have to go there to get your Ecto Cooler.

You remember Ecto Cooler, right?

Hi-C’s popular green “Citrus Cooler” flavor is back for the first time since 1997! I can’t believe it’s been that long since we’ve seen this school lunch staple. You’re probably wondering if it’s as good as you remember. I’m gonna try my best to not let sentimentality cloud my judgment. What exactly does nostalgia taste like?

It tastes like a sugar loaded tangerine orange drink. From what I recall, it’s the same, but it’s really not that good.

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I made a Vigo the Carpathian face when I took my first sip. It was such a jolt, I couldn’t even register if it was sweet or sour. How can something citrus be so cloyingly sweet? The sugar was so pronounced, it left a film on my tongue.

Everyone remembers Ecto Cooler fondly. I don’t blame you one bit, but your adult taste buds may no longer love the taste.

Ecto Cooler has basically always been a marketing gimmick and we all know it. It’s just orange drink dyed slime green. Was the flavor ever the main appeal?

I’m an adult now (debatable), and frankly, juice isn’t my go-to beverage. I don’t drink actual juice often, let alone Hi-C “juice,” so while I’ll admit it’s cool to reminisce for a minute or two, I didn’t even want to finish this.

That aside, the taste wasn’t my biggest problem with this new incarnation of Ecto Cooler.

So far, the marketing for this Ghostbusters movie is a mess. Where the heck is Slimer on this can? I can look past some subpar trailers, but that’s the most egregious misstep imaginable!

In my opinion most of Ecto Cooler’s appeal was seeing Slimer on the box/can. No Slimer is crazier than female Ghostbusters!!!

Relax, I’m kidding. I really don’t care about that “controversy” one bit. I mean, by all accounts the new movie is something weird and it don’t look good, but this is a food blog, not some clickbait, “hot take” movie site using beloved favorites from your past to conjure up more views. 🙂

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So, there’s no Slimer, but slime is well accounted for. The can looks like it said “I don’t know” on Nickelodeon’s You Can’t Do That on Television. (Whoa, super nostalgia! Click. Click.) They used a special thermal ink that glows when the drink is cold. The “Hi-C” and borders changed from yellowish to green. That’s basically it. I guess that’s kinda cool, just not Slimer cool.

There are two things I ain’t afraid of – no ghosts and telling it like it is. Ecto Cooler just doesn’t do it for me anymore. I understand I’m probably in the minority.

The can has its gimmick. The color is awesome. The name is really awesome, but the actual drink is about as good as that Ghostbusters cartoon with the gorilla.

So rejoice, 90’s kids. We may not be getting the movie we wanted, but we did get Ecto Cooler back on (some) shelves. It’s too bad we couldn’t somehow swing some Hostess Ninja Turtles Pies.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 can – 150 calories, 0 grams of fat, 25 milligrams of sodium, 41 grams of carbohydrates, 41 gram of sugars, and 0 grams of protein, 100% of your daily Vitamin C.)

Purchased Price: $3.50
Size: 11.5 oz can
Purchased at: Cinemark Theater
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: That Bobby Brown song from Ghostbusters 2. Proton Packs. Ghost traps. The REAL Ghostbusters cartoon. Turtles Pies.
Cons: Not a great flavor. Only 10% fruit juice. Having to go to movie theater to find it. No Slimer on the can. Clickbait. The new movie looks pretty weak.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.