REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition Donettes Pumpkin Spice Mini Donuts

Hostess Limited Edition Donettes Pumpkin Spice Mini Donuts

“I just don’t know what’s wrong with me, Doc.”

She stared at me through horn-rimmed glasses. I’d seen the look before on psychologists, and knew I’d better continue.

“I just have no enthusiasm anymore. Worse yet, I’m completely ravenous. Nothing seems to satiate me.”

“Interesting. What have you been eating?”

“Eh, I guess the question is what haven’t I been eating. It’s fall, you know, and pumpkin spice is my jam. Actually it’s more like by butter, because I’ve never heard of pumpkin jam. But anyways…just this morning I stopped and picked up a bag on Hostess Donettes Pumpkin Spice Donuts.”

She blinked rapidly. “And tell me, how did those make you feel?”

I thought about it for a moment. I’d been anxious to pick them up; each glazed orange cake donut calling my name. I’d loved Donettes as a kid, and now that Hostess had built a pumpkin spice version, life seemed complete. Yet here I was, mere hours after mindlessly eating the entire bag, feeling so…incomplete.

Hostess Limited Edition Donettes Pumpkin Spice Mini Donuts 2

“Horrible,” I blurted out, the memories suddenly coming to the forefront of my mind. Then every lackluster pumpkin spice product I’d ever eaten entered my stream of conscious, overflowing in a river of confectioner’s sugar glaze and a mere trace (trace, mind you) of cinnamon. I’d been holding the memories back, repressing the thoughts of pumpkin spice rolls that tasted instead of Twinkies and pumpkin spice M&M’s that tasted of, well, M&M’s.

“That’s what I thought,” she said. “I’ve seen the case many times, with increasing frequency. What you seem to have is MPSFS”

“Misspsfs? Say what?”

“MPSFS. Mediocre Pumpkin Spice Fatigue Syndrome. Tell me, were cinnamon, ginger, and allspice listed in the ingredients of these donuts? How about pumpkin puree?”

Hostess Limited Edition Donettes Pumpkin Spice Mini Donuts 4

I thought back to the ingredient list, remembering I had seen cinnamon and pumpkin. But then I remembered where they were listed. The dreaded “less than 2%” section, with pumpkin puree coming in dead last, even behind “Blue 2 Lake.” I kid you not, you can’t make this stuff up.

I hung my head in disappointment, more memories materializing. Each donut had the presence of cinnamon, but nothing more. Something between just the aroma and a slight taste of something slightly spicy, the cinnamon flavor had been fake and one-note, like a Red Hot candy without the heat. No other spices rounded it out, and despite the orange hue, pumpkin had never registered on my taste buds. (Thankfully, neither had Blue Lake 2.) A decent packaged donut, cloying glaze and all, but nothing more.

Hostess Limited Edition Donettes Pumpkin Spice Mini Donuts 3

I looked back up at the doc, my eyes beginning to water up in shame. How could I have been so duped? And by Hostess, no less!

She must have noticed my shame, saying, “There’s a cure, you know. But you’ll have to give up cheap imitations of pumpkin spice—including the Donettes.”

That was fine by me. After the Donettes, I was ready to leave anything pumpkin spice behind, even the memories of great pumpkin spice products. I got up to leave, ready to embrace whatever it is people embrace when they decide to forsake an entire season’s worth of flavors. That’s when she stopped me.

“You’ll find something someday that will remind you of why you love pumpkin spice. Don’t let a few bad apples, um, pumpkins, ruin what pumpkin spice should be.”

With that I smiled, knowing lackluster Donettes couldn’t be the last word on pumpkin spice.

(Nutrition Facts – 3 mini donuts – 210 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 0 gram of dietary fiber, 20 grams of sugar, and 1 grams of protein..)

Item: Hostess Limited Edition Donettes Pumpkin Spice Mini Donuts
Purchased Price: $3.00
Size: 10.5 oz bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Light crumb and cakey interior. Crispy, sweet glaze. Possible dual use as an air freshener.
Cons: Overly artificial “fall spice” flavor. Cloyingly sweet. Too dry to be a really good cake donut, but not airy like a yeast donut. A lifetime of repressed pumpkin spice disappointment.

REVIEW: Hershey’s S’mores Pudding

Hershey's S'mores Pudding

Every time I’ve had s’mores, whether it’s at a barbecue using the hot coals to toast marshmallows or at a Boy Scout camp I really didn’t want to be at and faked dehydration to try to get a one way ticket home, I used Hershey’s chocolate. And I’m sure for many of you that chocolate from Pennsylvania is also what you use for s’mores.

Hershey’s is taking advantage of its chocolate being the default candy choice for s’mores by using it to sell pudding that’s not made by Hershey’s, but Kraft.

Hershey’s S’mores Pudding is a layered dessert. The top layer, I assume by its color, is supposed to be marshmallow flavored. Also, the top layer, I assume because there aren’t any actual graham cracker bits in the pudding, is also graham flavored.

It has an airy texture that I believe Yoplait and Jif would call “whipped” and Jello would call “mousse.” Well, I’d like to call it not marshmallow-y or graham cracker-y.

The bottom layer is chocolate pudding made with real Hershey’s cocoa. Sure, I’ll believe what the packaging says, even though my tongue thinks it tastes similar to other chocolate pudding served in plastic cups with foil lids.

Hershey's S'mores Pudding 2

When both layers are consumed together, it does remind me of s’mores eaten around the campfire in the middle of a forest, if those s’mores were made with just chocolate because someone forgot to bring marshmallows and graham crackers and it’s a pain to get them because we’re in the middle of a frickin’ forest, Steve.

The top whipped layer does change the flavor of the chocolate pudding, but not really in a good way. Oddly, the top layer has a bit of a cocoa flavor, which you’d think would enhance the chocolate pudding. But instead of enhancing, it lessens its flavor. I know that doesn’t make sense, but going camping with chocolate and no marshmallows and graham crackers also makes no sense, Steve.

Hershey’s S’mores Pudding is perfectly fine as a chocolate pudding and the two different textures are nice, but don’t expect memories of summer campfires to appear in your head as you scoop it into your mouth because I don’t think s’mores when I eat it. The only way you can experience s’mores with this pudding is if you rub some of it on your hands, making it appear to be as messy as eating an actual s’more.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 snack – 110 calories, 25 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 16 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein, 4% vitamin A, 4% calcium, and 2% iron.)

Item: Hershey’s S’mores Pudding
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 4 pack
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Fine as a chocolate pudding. Two different textures are nice. Barbecues.
Cons: Doesn’t taste like s’mores. Top whipped layer doesn’t enhance bottom chocolate pudding. Can’t tell Hershey’s cocoa is being used. Forgetting the marshmallows and graham crackers when going camping, Steve.

REVIEW: Keebler Limited Batch Pumpkin Spice Fudge Stripe Cookies

Keebler Limited Batch Pumpkin Spice Fudge Stripe Cookies

Let it be known that if you come over to my apartment at 7:30 with a voracious appetite, an empty plate, and a demand to be filled with a joy that surpasses that of a ghost hunter finding the apparition of Aristotle at the back of a gas station, then you are liable to get dished a plate of cookies for dinner.

If you like spice cake, crunchy things, and a dauntingly bountiful amount of orange-checkered packaging, you probably wouldn’t mind if you came over today.

Keebler Limited Batch Pumpkin Spice Fudge Stripe Cookies 2

Before chomping in, let us admire the contrasting aesthetics of the Fudge Stripe: the parallel lines, the perfect ring shape, the little geometric bibbelty-bobs that pock the surface.

It’s a pattern that could rival the most intricate of doilies and possibly compete for the world’s best cross-stitching design, although I’m not 100 percent certain of that last statement. The only time I tried cross-stitching, I ended up with a “scarf” that looked like a beach towel gnawed off by Godzilla.

What I do know is that, after over 30 years, Ernie Keebler still knows how to make a mighty fine stripe cookie. Never one to hold back on the sugar intake, the cookie’s been generously shoveled with three variants of the sweet stuff, highlighting the earthy molasses against all the varieties of fructose. Combine that woodsy taste with a crunchy base, some sweet, mildly flavored white fudge stripes, and a zip of ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg and this bugger might as well be the perfect pumpkin pie crust.

But heed my warning, fellow pumpkin maniacs: there is no actual pumpkin here. I was a little bummed out before acknowledging that, as with all goods of the “Pumpkin Spice” ilk, I am only promised spices, not necessarily squash, and, with a cookie so fine and limited in its presence, how can I complain? (I can’t.)

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Welp, that was a fine dinner. If you fall head over heels for the warm spices of autumn and enjoy a depth of sweetness with your spice, these are worth picking up, if only to test them out on your own taste buds. Could the cookie be crispier? Could the soft, sweet fudge benefit from less hydrogenated oil and more vanilla? Could the Keebler elfin army deliver these to my door, equipped with complimentary magical talking woodland creatures?

Sure, but, far above these idealistic visions, my need for cookies reigns. As it always should.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 gram of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Keebler Limited Batch Pumpkin Spice Fudge Stripe Cookies
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 11.5 oz
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Crunchy cookie. Just enough molasses. Zippy ginger. Fudge is everywhere. Geometry! The experience of using “bibbelty-bob” in a sentence. Finding the ghost of Aristotle at the back of a gas station.
Cons: No pumpkin involved. Fudge could use more vanilla. Hydrogenated oils crush dreams. Not delivered by a magical elfin army. Failed cross-stitching projects that look like they were gnawed off by an overgrown prehistoric lizard.

REVIEW: Little Debbie Pumpkin Spice Rolls

Little Debbie Pumpkin Spice Rolls

Little Debbie is a girl who’s got dresses for every season, every holiday, and every occasion. I can imagine her right now examining her extensive wardrobe of flavors. “No, a Boston Creme Roll won’t do for June, nor will a Strawberry Shortcake Roll quite capture September. I must put on something distinctly autumnal!”

Of course, something “distinctively autumnal” means changing out the vanilla cake with “pumpkin spice.” But is Little Debbie’s beauty only skin deep? Are all the dresses and flavors just scaffolds covering a stale, cloyingly sweet snack cake whose best days are long behind her?

Little Debbie Pumpkin Spice Rolls 2

Clearly, further investigation was in order. Each individually wrapped roll is easy on the eyes, their orange hue are attractive this time of year. A drizzle of icing and voluptuous cream filling practically spills out of the cake, and despite a $1.99 price tag and and no mention of pumpkin on its ingredient list, I fell hard.

But after trying them, I realized the rolls are all style and no substance. A pretty face but no personality. There’s pumpkin-flavored, pumpkin spice-flavored, and then there’s these; orange with specks of brown suggesting cinnamon and nutmeg which just aren’t there. Through many pumpkin seasons, I’ve learned few pumpkin products can ever live up to the platonic idea of a pumpkin pie. But as for the Little Debbie Pumpkin Spice Rolls, this brings pumpkin spice to a new low.

That said, I can’t turn away from Little Debbie. I can’t just shoot her a text and be like, “Hey, that’s cool, but yea, no.” To tell you the truth, I kind of liked them, albeit in a secret rendezvous, tell absolutely nobody about this sort of way.

The cake is at first dense, chewy, and hyper sweet, a common theme the icing carries on with a fake vanilla flavor. Yet the filling, normally a mix of confectioner’s sugar and cream cheese in traditional pumpkin or pumpkin spice rolls, is where it’s at.

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If I didn’t know better, I would have said Little Debbie robbed a Hostess plant, because the filling tastes exactly like what’s in a Twinkie. It’s lighter than you’d expect, but ooey-gooey just the same, degenerating into a cloying and sticky cream that has just enough artificial palm oil richness to make you sort of put it in the realm of Oreo filling.

Little Debbie: I’m on to your game. And frankly, all these bells and whistles of the seasons, the changing of the dresses, they work and they don’t work. Your Pumpkin Spice Rolls offer absolutely nothing seasonal, and although the Twinkie filling and super sweet cake may be enough to make schmucks like me enjoy them, they won’t be confused for an actual pumpkin spice roll.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 roll – 260 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 1.0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 270 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Little Debbie Pumpkin Spice Rolls
Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 6 pack
Purchased at: United Supermarkets
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Twinkie-inspired cream filling. Super-sweet and ooey-gooey. Moist and dense cake. Giving into childhood cravings. Perhaps the first Little Debbie product I’ve found without partially hydrogenated oil.
Cons: Doesn’t taste like pumpkin or pumpkin spice. Very one note in sweetness. Not nearly as good as the pumpkin roll your mother made, or the one you bought at the Walmart bakery. Incredibly messy to eat.

REVIEW: Skippy P.B. Bites (Pretzel and Double Peanut Butter)

Skippy Pretzel P.B. Bites

When it comes to peanut butter and the pronunciation of animated internet images, I – like all of those choosy moms – always choose Jif. I can’t even remember the last time I had Skippy. In fact, I’m so trained on my Simply Jif; I almost forgot Skippy was even a brand. One might say I skipped…

Nope, this one is not gonna roll with that cornball pun. Let’s get to the review instead.

A couple months back, these popped up in the “Spotted on Shelves” section of this site. A commenter named “JETKITTY” mentioned these reminded him or her of the greatest snack in the history of our time – Planters PB Crisps. Just off that mere mention alone, I made it my life’s mission to track these down. If they were anywhere near the quality of the dearly departed PB Crisps, I would have found the heir apparent to one of my five favorite snacks of all time.

So do they stack up?

Drumroll, please…

No! But they aren’t bad.

Pretzels and peanut butter are a marriage made in heaven. How could these be bad?

The peanut butter coating is creamy and not nearly as synthetic as I anticipated it to taste. I was expecting the fake peanut butter type filling from say a Nutter Butter or a Peanut Butter Oreo, but this is really smooth.

Skippy Pretzel P.B. Bites 3

It’s also a reasonably thick coating, giving each piece a nice balance with the pretzel inside. There’s a brief sweetness to the peanut butter, but once you crunch into the pretzel, it’s gone. That was a tease. Skippy P.B. Bites basically land on the “savory” side of the snack scale. As you eat them, your mouth gets saltier. So if you expect these to be a sugary snack, you might be a bit disappointed.

Peanut butter on its own isn’t exactly “sweet” per se, but I always expect a snack built around it to be really sweet. I needed more of that out of the peanut butter. If it somehow held the brief hint through the entire bite, these would be excellent. All I could think while eating them was how much I’d appreciate a thin layer of chocolate around the outside.

Skippy Pretzel P.B. Bites 2

I dig the shape and “poppability” of the bites. If they sold a bag of pretzels in this shape, I’d snatch them up, because they’d be fun to eat. You’d think by having a pretzel that small and compact, it would be on the hard side, but these have a really palatable crunch.

So while they’re not “Top 5 Dead or Alive” like PB crisps, they’re tasty and worth a buy. Just make sure you get the pretzel flavor, because…

Double Peanut Butter is terrible. While it has the same creamy peanut butter coating, the center has a texture I can barely describe. Once you get past the good peanut butter, you hit a square of hard, gritty chalk-like peanut butter. Have you ever gotten Cookie Dough Bites at the movie theater? Think of the cookie dough inside. Now age that 7 years and give it a considerably worse flavor. That’s what these taste like. The inner peanut butter tastes like a hardened block of sand. Horrible. They shouldn’t exist.

(Nutrition Facts – Pretzel – 15 pieces – 160 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 300 milligrams of sodium, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein. Double Peanut Butter – 10 pieces – 160 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.)

Item: Skippy P.B. Bites (Pretzel and Double Peanut Butter)
Purchased Price: $2.98 each
Size: 6 oz. tub
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Pretzel)
Rating: 3 out of 10 (Double Peanut Butter)
Pros: Creamy peanut butter coating. Shape and size. Tasty pretzels. “Poppability.” Any reason to reminisce about PB Crisps. You can reuse the container should you choose.
Cons: Melts very easily. Double Peanut Butter is awful. “Jif” vs. “Gif” battles rages on. RIP PB Crisps.