REVIEW: Limited Edition Jif Whips Pumpkin Pie Spice

Jif Whips Limited Edition Pumpkin Pie Spice

Plunging pretzels, crackers, and yes, even fingers into the peanut butter jar have always been saved only for the dead of night while shooting paranoid, cautionary looks over each shoulder.

That is, of course, until Jif Whips came along.

Jif knew our secret all along, and last year they finally acknowledged that PB&Js aren’t the only things that the good people of the world have been gracing with the spreadable goodness of everyone’s favorite legume. Now, the inviting wide-mouthed tub of Jif’s Whips welcomes those same activities that once made us feel so dirty inside. George Washington Carver would have been proud.

With the warmest days of summer behind us and the flashing lights of the Christmas season already looming in the back room of every Target, Walmart, and dollar store, the brief(ish) window we call the “Fall Season” is finally, and thankfully, upon us. To celebrate, Jif Whips has whipped up something special for us (and it’s way better than my puns): A limited edition Pumpkin Pie Spice flavor of their crowd-pleasing whipped peanut butter.

To get myself in the mood, I grabbed a warm chai and put on my most autumnal sweater. I would have carved a ceremonial pumpkin too, but I didn’t really feel like moving. Also, I was itchy from the sweater.

Fixed in my chair, I decided that the best vehicle to deliver the peanut butter concoction into my mouth, without overshadowing the Pumpkin Pie Spice, would be graham crackers, a snack so boring on its own that they were actually invented to make everyone masturbate less. The outcome was definitely spectacular.

Jif Whips Limited Edition Pumpkin Pie Spice Closeup

The texture of Jif Whips Pumpkin Pie Spice is much creamier and palpably sweeter than traditional ol’ PB. It’s also much lighter, making dipping with even the most flimsy cracker possible. While maintaining that base peanut butter flavor of brown-bagged happiness Jif is known for, the cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice work cohesively to bring back cozy memories of last fall.

Unlike many seasonal products that feel like someone at corporate just checking off the typical flavors, the pumpkin pie spice (despite being the king of obligatory seasonal flavors) complements the robustness of Jif’s whipped peanut butter. From all angles, Jif Whips Pumpkin Pie Spice is a great combination of two beloved flavors. And while you’re welcomed to follow my graham cracker example, scooping with your fingers work just as well.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 Tbsp – 140 calories, 100 calories from fat, 12 grams of total fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 6 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.)

Item: Limited Edition Jif Whips Pumpkin Pie Spice
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 15 oz. tub
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Combining pumpkin pie and peanut butter. Very spreadable. Not having to feel bad about using your fingers to eat peanut butter.
Cons: Probably shouldn’t be used to replace all peanut butter. Getting caught dipping your fingers in the peanut butter jar.

REVIEW: Trader Joe’s Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter

Trader Joe's Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter

Has everyone gone on vacation without you? Are they lounging in their getaway cabins while you swoon from your dusty, fluorescent-lit alcove? Are they showing you their long weekends on various social media mediums, tempting you with visions of homemade apple cobbler and piles of fall leaves? Are you feeling very much like you are not one of these vacationers? Maybe now is the time for an acceptable pity party. And I have just the snack to wash it down.

Trader Joe's Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter And we get a close up

Gooey, spreadable, and with just enough grit to give it crunch, cookie butter came to America in a surge, flooding aisles with a vow to nourish the Food Pyramid’s need for palm oil and pulverized cookie nubs (I’m pretty much sure my brain is composed 10 percent thought and 90 percent cookie nubs). This Trader Joe’s Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter extends that promise, allowing for the concept of bittersweet fudge cookies and sugary frosting to come together in a surface that’s as smooth as all the freshly fallen snow outside of Mr. Puff’s house.

A swipe into the smooth white cream brings me straight to the sugar frosting of an Oreo: a little gritty, very sweet, and a hint of coconut. Not “tropical sunscreen” coconut, just a slightly floral whiff, like the gentle breeze on a summer day if that summer day were also doused in super sugary goo.

The Oreo taste profile also makes its presence known on the dark chocolate end: cocoa, a hint of coffee, an edge of that dark, nearly-burnt crunch, and a solid sugar surge give it all it needs to feel at home in the Oreo family. The two flavors combine to form a smooth, easily consumed Oreo-like spread, and, thus, my brain is now composed of 95 percent cookie nubbins and 5 percent thoughts (3 percent of which are centered around which cookies to bake for spreading said cookie nubbins on).

Trader Joe's Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter Right off the spoon

Oreo built a reputation around eating cookies in wacky ways, so it should come to reason that this spread might encourage similarly adventurous snacking styles. Having consumed three servings in 7.5 minutes, the sugar rush cracks open the spread’s possibilities in my mind. Make s’mores. Dollop on ice cream. Spread on Pop Tarts. Drizzle on cinnamon rolls. Eat from the jar. Finish jar. Realize you must now buy another jar and eat from that jar. Eat all the jars! With this expansive ability to transform, you carry the equivalent of the body of an ancient wizard in your pocket. Just remember: with such great power comes great responsibility. Dunk wisely.

Trader Joe's Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter Dunk wisely

With its brave interpretation of two already-loved staples, this Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter reminds me to live life on the edge: adopt a highway! Learn Butoh! Become the Government Agent specializing in Meteorology and Produce Distribution! You never know when you’ll slip into a coma and get stuck in the confines of your subconscious, so you might as well put on your badass pants.

And definitely get this cookie butter. Plunk it on stuff. Watch as the object you consume transforms it into something stupendous. You’ll forget about that pity party you were planning. Promise.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 tablespoons – 210 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 95 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 17 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Trader Joe’s Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter
Purchased Price: $3.69
Size: 14.1 oz. jar
Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Dark, dutch cocoa-y fudge. Both smooth and chunky. Sweet frosting. Easy medium to eat more Oreo-like goods. Allows you to forget about pity parties. Highway adoption. Butoh.
Cons: Really, are there any? Okay, maybe it’s hard to stop eating. Really hard. And it may be too sweet/overly chocolatey for some. But it’s so good. May cause brain to be composed of more cookie than thoughts. Not being on vacation.

REVIEW: Tim Hortons Grilled Steak & Cheese Panini (Canada)

Tim Hortons Grilled Steak & Cheese Panini

Do you like salt? Do you love salt? Tim Hortons Steak & Cheese Panini will test you. Even if you think you have a high tolerance for very salty foods, this one will take you to the limit; it will stare deep into your soul and find you wanting.

Just as Pizza Hut has a Meat Lover’s Pizza, this should be called a Salt Lover’s Sandwich.

The nutritional info claims it has 1440 milligrams of sodium, and as high as that is, it’s gotta be a conservative estimate. It is aggressively, unpleasantly salty.

But then again, even if it weren’t a 40 megaton salt bomb, it still wouldn’t particularly be worth eating.

Most egregiously, the name of the sandwich is pretty misleading — the meat here bares very little resemblance to anything even close to any kind of steak that I’ve ever had. It’s roast beef. That’s a small distinction, but an important one.

But I like roast beef, so who cares what they call it, right?

Tim Hortons Grilled Steak & Cheese Panini Topless

It also tastes pretty lousy. Have you ever had any bottom of the barrel supermarket cold cuts? You know, the ones that taste more of nitrates and salt than anything you’d identify as any kind of meat? That’s this “steak” in a nutshell. It’s kind of chewy and salty and there’s not much more to it than that.

The cheese was even worse; it was quite possibly the most odiously waxy processed cheese I’ve ever had.

Look, I’m aware that I’m coming off as a complete snob here, but let me make this clear: I don’t mind processed cheese. In particular, on a griddle-cooked, fast-food-style cheeseburger, it’s the only type of cheese there is; it’s perfection.

But even if processed cheese were appropriate for this sandwich (and it’s not — Cheddar or Provolone or Swiss or pretty much anything else would have worked much better), this was a particularly shoddy variety of processed cheese, with almost zero cheesy flavour.

Tim Hortons Grilled Steak & Cheese Panini Side

It wasn’t horrible in the first half of the sandwich, when it was still hot and melty. But by the time I got to the second half, the sandwich had cooled somewhat, and the cheese rapidly congealed into a plasticky morass of saltiness and agony.

And that’s pretty much all there was to this sandwich. Just salty but otherwise tasteless “steak” atop a waxy, cheese-like substance. There are red onions, and they add a little bit of crunch and a mild oniony bite, but their flavour was almost completely unable to stand up to the barrage of sodium.

I should note that I attempted to order the chipotle version of this sandwich, which also comes with a spicy chipotle sauce. In fact, I did order that sandwich — it was on my receipt and everything — but they either forgot to include that sauce, or it was so subtle that I couldn’t taste it (and certainly, that’s not altogether implausible; the panini so incredibly salty that any other flavour attempting to make a dent will get completely annihilated).

I contemplated returning at a later date and ordering another sandwich, making sure that I got the chipotle version this time. But I couldn’t. The idea of eating this again — in any form — was more than I could bear. I’m not strong enough.

And let’s face it, a sauce would have to be mind-blowingly amazing to make this sandwich even borderline edible; I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the sauce isn’t mind-blowingly amazing.

To keep this from being a complete hate-fest, I will say this: the bread was pretty good. It was perfectly toasted, with a nicely crispy exterior and a soft, fresh interior. I liked it quite a bit. I just wish it was filled with literally anything else.

(Nutrition Facts – 460 calories, 17 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 1440 milligrams of sodium, 48 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fibre, 4 grams of sugar, and 29 grams of protein.)

Item: Tim Hortons Steak & Cheese Panini
Purchased Price: $5.49 CAN
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Tim Hortons
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: Fresh, perfectly toasted bread. Ben Affleck gives the best performance of his career in Gone Girl (that has zero to do with this sandwich or this review, but I figured I needed at least one more pro).
Cons: Salty, otherwise flavourless “steak.” Salty, waxy processed cheese. Salt, salt, salt. Salt.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Pie Coolatta

Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Pie Coolatta

Binge watching Gilmore Girls, knowing all the lyrics to “Drunk in Love,” enjoying the last Adam Sandler film – everyone has their own guilty pleasure. Mine happens to be my sick addiction for anything claiming to taste like pumpkin pie.

Unlike the crumbly, goopy mess of its cherry and blueberry cousins, pumpkin pie has its shit together. It’s an October tradition that’s sweet, spiced, and confidently autumnal. It’s also, in case you haven’t noticed, everywhere. And that’s fine by me.

Just as ubiquitous, especially in the northeast where I call home, Dunkin’ Donuts may take the prize for pumping out the most pumpkin-flavored products per capita. Say what you want about Starbucks, but I can see another Dunkin’ out the window from the one I am currently sitting in as I typing this. Both are more than eager to dole out my fix of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice in whatever latte, coffee, donut, or muffin concoction they are currently pushing.

This fall, Dunkin’ Donuts introduced the Pumpkin Pie Coolatta, which I can only imagine was created by bored Dunkin’ executive sitting around a beach haphazardly pointing at things to get the pumpkin treatment. Pumpkin-lemonade no good? Then how about a friggin’ Pumpkin Slurpee!

In reality, Dunkin’ Donuts’ Pumpkin Pie Coolatta is not far from exactly that. Like the other Coolattas on the Dunkin’ menu, this one was icy and sweet…almost saccharine.

The difference is that the Pumpkin Pie Coolatta has small granules of graham cracker embedded in the drink, pumpkin puree, and, well, it’s also flavored like a traditional fall dessert, which I am pretty sure no other Coolatta can claim.

Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Pie Coolatta Closeup

But seriously, those graham cracker crumbles bring an unbelievable element to the drink. While they are small, their pie crust texture and flavor put the pie in pumpkin pie, as opposed to just reducing the flavor to the spices that dominate the filling of the dessert. The whipped cream also gives the whole concoction not only presentation points, but that real pumpkin pie feel. This is good because the actual pumpkin pie flavor leaves much to be desired, as the flavor leans closer to scented candle then to the authentic dessert itself.

But it’s far from terrible (don’t worry, I guzzled mine down like the sick addict that I am). Although I can’t imagine I will be ordering many more Pumpkin Pie Coolattas anytime soon since there are better pumpkin products to binge on. Like kindergarten, just because it was fun once does not necessarily mean that it needs to be repeated.

(Nutrition Facts – 16 ounces – 280 calories, 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 310 milligrams of sodium, 52 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 44 grams of sugar, 5 grams of protein, 35% vitamin A, 20% calcium, and 2% iron.)

Item: Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Pie Coolatta
Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: Small
Purchased at: Dunkin’ Donuts
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Graham cracker bits and whipped cream add to the pumpkin pie flavor. Contains pumpkin puree. Whipped cream gives a real pumpkin pie feel.
Cons: Tastes like it was made by Yankee Candle. Not being able to go back to kindergarten. I know all the lyrics to “Drunk in Love.”

REVIEW: Wendy’s BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich

Wendy's BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich

There are several places I never want to find pulled pork, including a high school cafeteria, the bathroom, and inside an open wound. Fortunately, Wendy’s has nothing to do with these three things.

Similar to Denny’s fascination with bacon, Wendy’s has a newfound obsession with pulled pork. This autumn season, Wendy’s fast food restaurants will be offering a limited-time only menu including BBQ Pulled Pork Cheese Fries, a BBQ Pulled Pork Cheeseburger, and a BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich. At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if Wendy’s introduced a pulled pork Frosty before the month ends. Wait a second…

Oh, Wendy. You sassy, redheaded minx.

Before I continue my review, I must confess: pulled pork has always confused me. Yes, it’s delicious, but I’ve never understood which part of the pig must be pulled in order to procure said barbecued meat. Behind the ears? No. Under the stomach? Nope. Between the legs? Good lord, no!

Still pondering the anatomy of hogs, I found myself inside a local Wendy’s restaurant. With five dollars in my pocket and the hunger-pangs in full effect, I decided it was high-time to try the new BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich, which features hickory-smoked pulled pork meat, a layer of coleslaw, and a toasted brioche bun. Each sandwich is finished with one of three sauces: smoky, spicy, or sweet.

The sandwich arrives in a red, cardboard box decorated with Wendy’s smiling mug. Opening this package reveals the pulled pork sandwich in all its glory, topped with a grease-soaked bun that glistens in the sunlight.

The pulled pork itself is smoky and meaty. A praiseworthy approximation of barbecue flavor, it lacks the dry, chewy qualities I’ve noticed of low-quality pulled pork. Sure, Wendy’s pulled pork might not be as succulent and flavorful as pulled pork from the finest Southern barbecue joints, but it certainly holds its own.

The pork flavor is enhanced by the sweet sauce, which has a pleasant tang reminiscent of the sauce found on both the McRib and Burger King BBQ Rib Sandwich. The amount of sauce on my pulled pork sandwich was just right; the meat was not supersaturated with sauce, but I was still able to taste the barbecue sauce flavor. The only drawback was that the sweet sauce seemed a bit lukewarm when compared to the meat. I suspect the sauce wasn’t heated before the sandwich was assembled. As I continued to eat, the residual heat from the pulled pork slightly improved the sauce’s temperature, but the first few bites were subpar.

Wendy's BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich 2

In comparison to both the pulled pork and sauce, the coleslaw is a letdown. Its flavor is subdued and one-note, hardly noticeable in a mouthful of smoky pork. Its main contribution to the sandwich is textural, adding a light crunch to each bite. Even so, it fails to seem as crisp as the freshest of coleslaws.

My sandwich’s contents occasionally spilled out mid-bite, but this cannot be seen as a flaw — pulled pork is an inherently messy food. Luckily, the cardboard box conveniently doubles as a tray. You will receive full protection from falling meats, just in case you decide to eat the pulled pork sandwich while in the nude, all alone in your empty apartment on a Friday night.

I finished my Wendy’s BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich feeling fulfilled. Though the coleslaw topping lacked bite, the sandwich’s balance of smoky pork and tangy sauce was deeply gratifying. For a fast food take on a Southern classic, Wendy’s pulled it off. The BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich rivals other barbecue sandwiches I’ve tasted at a competitive price.

As a disclaimer, I want to assure the reader that neither I, nor The Impulsive Buy, endorse the pulling of pigs. Furthermore, we have never engaged in any form of hog-yanking activity. Please be kind to our animal friends, no matter how tasty.

(Nutrition Facts – 410 calories, 120 calories from fat, 14 grams of total fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 4.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 1230 milligrams of sodium, 360 milligrams of potassium, 48 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 17 gram of sugar, and 24 grams of protein.)

Item: Wendy’s BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich
Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Smoky pulled pork flavor. Tangy sauce. Perfect amount of sauce. Eating in the nude?
Cons: Lukewarm sauce. Coleslaw flavor is one-note. Ethical dilemmas of pulling pigs.