REVIEW: Hershey’s Candy Corn Creme Bars

Hershey's Candy Corn Bar

If we’re going to continue to be friends, I feel there are a few things you should know about me. One is that I have learned most of my morals from a VHS copy of The Muppet Show and my bearded Uncle Bumsford who told me stories while flinging an ax into a stump in the backyard. Another is that I don’t mind, even downright enjoy, preservative-laden stuff. So long as the preservatives are working in the product’s favor, I see no flim or flaw. Bring me thy Jell-o pudding, thy toaster pastries, thy individually wrapped Little Debbies!

And that’s where these come in.

With enough Vegetable Oil Compounds to create an artistic rendering of the Icelandic glaciers, this new Hershey’s Candy Corn Bar is not one to illicit positive reviews from the authors of the USDA food pyramid, but neither does candy corn. Candy corn celebrates the odd, the waxy, the culinarily questionable ingredients, and if there’s anyone who’s familiar with handling questionable confectionary ingredients, it’s Hershey’s. Sure, sometimes things go awry in the Hershey lab, but I continue to put my Halloween faith in their corporate clutches. Am I foolish? Open-minded? Just outright idiotic? Let’s find out.

Hershey's Candy Corn Bar Candy Corn as a sugary little block

There is a distinct sweetness of candy corn that, when mulled with preservatives, creates a hyper-sweet sensation that is appealing to the sugar-inclined individual. It tastes of wax and corn syrup solids, maybe a hint of plastic and, guess what? That’s what these bars are made of: waxy stuff and corn syrup. Sugary and quick to melt, the bars are pleasant in that dairy milk confection way, making them easy to nibble as they get goopy all over your hands in 82-degree weather. It’s terrifying and awesome.

However, unlike candy corn, Hershey’s seems to have skipped the whole “honey” ingredient, which, in some respects, is a good thing. For example, you won’t have to worry about being attacked by a hungry honey bear or a swarm of vengeful bees. On the not-as-positive end, the bars don’t have the strong distinguishing taste that honey provides. In fact, they don’t have any particular taste. No vanilla. No rum. Just sugar.

If I close my eyes and use my imagination, there’s something slightly fruity at the end as if someone spliced Cadbury Egg Crème with dehydrated strawberry nubs, but it’s more about the abundance of sugar and texture: melty, melty, melty. While not a stunner on its own, I imagine all that Melting Sugar Goo would making an excellent fall s’more smashed between two Pumpkin Pop-Tarts and a chocolate marshmallow. As Uncle Bumsford always said: a s’more always solves your “What the hell do I do with all this mediocre candy?” problems.

Hershey's Candy Corn Bar interior

These little bars are pretty good. Are they made of lavender honey harvested from a flowery meadow by the Andrena hattorfiana bumblebees? No, but neither is candy corn. To expect otherwise would be unfair. By the abundance of sugar alone, these did a modest job at reimagining the experience of chomping on fistfuls of candy corn. While the dull, vegetable-oiled flavor leaves room for growth, at $3.69, I really can’t grumble too much.

If you’re a fan of corn syrup or drinking Cadbury Crème straight from the shell, you shall enjoy this. It will give you a good dose of sugar and Carnauba Wax, and sometimes that’s all you need to get to the next house for All Hallow’s Eve.

(Nutrition Facts – 3 bars – 200 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 19 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Hershey’s Candy Corn Creme Bars
Purchased Price: $3.69
Size: 9.45 oz bag
Purchased at: Kmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Melty. Perfect for Cadbury Crème lovers. Supports the cause of Trick-or-Treaters. Uncle Bumsford. VHS series of The Muppet Show.
Cons: No defining flavor aside from sugar. Carbauna wax. Grumpy USDA Food Pyramid authors. Vengeful bumblebees.

REVIEW: Pizza Hut Bacon Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza

Pizza Hut Bacon Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza

All right, dammit! I admit it, I like Pizza Hut?

As a former Manhattanite who grew up on real pizza, I think my family and friends in the Big Apple just hung their heads collectively in shame and disgust. I would probably garner a better reaction if I yanked my vintage Bugle Boys pants down and angry-sharted on my grandparent’s ugly Thomas Kinkade print (..alas, aren’t they all ugly?).

Since I’m in a mood to confess…I also secretly love dog-shaming pictures. You know the ones where the owners hang a sign around their necks proclaiming they did something bad.

And I not only love Pizza Hut, I also love their stuffed crusts. I see your head shaking, I know. Despite eating at some of the best pizzerias in New York and Chicago, I come to you throwing myself on the sword asking, “What’s so wrong with Pizza Hut’s pizzas?”

Besides, I now live in a major city in Florida where everyone proclaims their pizza is “New York”-style when in actuality, it is about as New York as the set of Jackie Chan’s “Rumble in the Bronx.” How many mountain ranges can you name that’s in the middle of the Bronx?

For pizza chains, in my experience, Pizza Hut is the most consistent overall. The sauce always has a nice subtle earthy and peppery flavor that pairs well with the tangy acidity of the tomato sauce. Furthermore, the pizza satisfies my cravings when the only local pizzeria around also specializes in Mexican food. Those in Ketchikan, Alaska know what I’m talking about.

After diving into several hours of Destiny, what perfect food than pizza can accompany hours of button mashing? I don’t have time to coordinate with a fork when I’m too busy coordinating the controls to grind levels.?
The delivery was quick and upon opening the box, the familiar fresh smell of fourteen delicious inches of hot pizza rose up and jacked my nostrils into heaven.

Pizza Hut Bacon Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza Slice

Noticeably, the pizza looked a little weird because the crust was almost an inch and a half wide, which contained a mixture of melted cheeses and hardwood smoked bacon. The bulging crust begged to be ripped apart so the cheddar, provolone and mozzarella mixture could ooze out. I tore it apart and although there was no oozing, there was a rush of smoky bacon that filled the air around my face.

The crust was buttery with a pleasant chewy texture and the mixed melted cheese imparted a nice creamy taste, like the inside of a crab rangoon without the fake cream cheese flavor. The small bits of bacon cut through the cheese and it was awesome enough for me to eat just the crusts of several slices alone.

Pizza Hut Bacon Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza Innards

Initially, I was not happy with the paltry amount of bacon in the stuffed crust but it turned out it was the right ratio. The cheese mixture really carried the bacon well and amplified that salty and fatty porky taste. There was also a slight onion flavor in the mixture that was well received by my mouth as I continued to hand cannon aliens in the hope of grabbing some elite stuff.

The $11.99 special allowed one topping and I opted for the mushrooms, which was stupid. Pizzeria chain mushrooms are either rubbery or so thin that they are dried up like mummified corpses. I had the latter. The pizza was good but the mushrooms detracted from the pizza and I picked them all off. However, I take the blame and should have ordered onions instead.

The pizza itself sans mushrooms was good as the cheese was perfectly stretchy and the sauce lifted the flavors well. The chewiness of the crust extended to the slice and, as a whole, the pizza satiated my craving. Yet, to be honest, I would be satisfied just eating the crusts and leaving the pizza in the box.

If you’ve eaten the stuffed crust before and didn’t like it, no amount of bacon is going to change your mind. If you were on the fence, bacon does actually make it better. If you liked it, then get ready for Valhalla of epic stuffed crust-pizza proportions. While it’s not as gooey as I hoped, like a fried mozzarella stick, the taste was good enough to overlook this.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 slice w/o toppings – 340 calories, 140 calories from fat, 16 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 810 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 1 grams of sugar, and 16 grams of protein.)

Item: Pizza Hut Bacon Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza
Purchased Price: $11.99
Size: Large
Purchased at: Pizza Hut
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: The cheese mixture carried the bacon well. The stuffed crust was buttery and had a nice chewy texture. Bacon and melted cheese, what is there not to like?
Cons: The cheese in the crust wasn’t gooey. The dried mushrooms sucked the life out of a good pizza. Laughing at dog shaming photos, I’m embarrassed to admit I laugh at those.

REVIEW: Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookies

Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo

I used to think the world didn’t need more pumpkin spice products. The number of pumpkin spice-ified products has grown to comical levels. I think there are enough of them that they would outweigh the world’s largest pumpkin, which is over 2,000 pounds.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Pringles, Pumpkin Spice Country Crock Spread, Pumpkin Spice M&M’s, Philadelphia Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese, and a dozen or so pumpkin spice beers are just a small taste of all the pumpkin spice products out there.

But after learning about these Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookies several weeks ago, something in my mind snapped and now I want to see MORE pumpkin spice products. Actually, I take that back. I want complete pumpkin spice shelf domination.

That means I want see Rockstar Pure Zero Pumpkin Spice Ice Energy Drink, Pumpkin Spice Cheerios, Sprite Pumpkin Spice Soda, Pepperoni and Pumpkin Spice Hot Pockets, Pumpkin Spice Tide Laundry Detergent, Pumpkin Spice Egg Beaters, Pumpkin Spice Spicy Doritos, Pumpkin Spice Scope Mouthwash, Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Spice Goldfish, Pumpkin Spice Spam, and so much more. Hell yeah!

I think pumpkin spice and Oreo were meant to come together, because Oreo is also something that folks say there are too many of. So it’s funny the flavor that has too many products and the product that has too many flavors ended up coming together.

Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo Package

The Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookie’s smell reminds me of the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes I purchase about this time every year. Out of all the Oreo varieties I’ve tried this year, this cookie’s aroma is the most inviting, slightly ahead of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Oreo. It doesn’t smell like an artificial version of what it’s trying to emulate, which is the case with other flavors, like Fruit Punch, Root Beer Float, and Caramel Apple.

Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo Closeup

The orange-red creme has that familiar pumpkin spice flavor. I could taste ginger, cinnamon, and a bit of nutmeg. However, the ingredients list doesn’t contain any of those spices. Well, technically, the creme contains something that sounds like a spice, paprika oleoresin, but it’s just there for coloring.

When licking just the creme, the flavor doesn’t excite my taste buds. The pumpkin spice flavor is good, but it’s surprisingly not that strong despite direct taste bud-to-creme contact. However, just like I experienced with the Caramel Apple Oreo, the creme’s flavor is enhanced when the cookie is eaten whole. I don’t know what it is about the Golden Oreo that makes that happen, but I’m glad it happens. Damn food science!

If you’re a fan of pumpkin spice, the Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookies will make you happy. If you’re one of those people who think there are too many pumpkin spice products, then this will further support your beliefs. And if you’re bored and happen to have regular Oreo cookies and Pumpkin Spice Oreo cookies around, I’d suggest doing a creme swap. The pumpkin spice creme with the chocolate cookie is also quite tasty.

Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookies Surgery

(Disclosure: I received a free sample of these cookies from the folks at Oreo. I gave my honest opinion of them. Receiving a free sample did not influence me to write something positive. To satisfy possible doubters, I will say something bad about Oreo. Mega Stuf Oreo was a dumb idea.)

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 150 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 15 milligrams of potassium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookies
Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 12.2 oz.
Purchased at: Received from Oreo
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: If you love pumpkin spice, you’ll like this cookie. Pumpkin spice stands out more when the cookie is eaten whole. Aroma reminds me of Starbucks PSL. Also goes well with chocolate Oreo wafers.
Cons: If you think there are too many pumpkin spice products, you’ll continue to feel that way. Licking creme isn’t satisfying. Pumpkin Spice Spam.

REVIEW: Baskin-Robbins Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream

Baskin-Robbins Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream

Since the dawn of civilization cheesecake and pie have been wrestling in a titanic struggle of after-dinner supremacy. No flavor or ingredient has been off limits. From plump summer blueberries to decadent combinations of chocolate and peanut butter, the two desserts have been firing salvos at each other for years

Thanks to an urban chic food trend in embracing American comfort food, pie seems to have delivered most of the damage (calorically, of course) in recent years. It’s even become part of our lexicon, practically becoming synonymous with all things Americana and just damn yummy. That’s not to say cheesecake hasn’t had some good showings, but with fall dawning on us and Dairy Queen doing double-duty with seasonally themed Pumpkin Pie and Apple Pie Blizzards, it’s going to take more than a proverbial trip to The Cheesecake Factory to steal some of the glory.

Fortunately, Baskin-Robbins is fighting back, indulging my love for both pumpkin and cheesecake with September’s Flavor of the Month. With both a cream cheese ribbon and cheesecake ice cream base it covers almost enough dairy as a Wisconsin 4-H fair, adding gingersnap cookie pieces which promise to add a bit of crunch and crust to the pumpkin ice cream.

That’s right, pumpkin. Not “pumpkin flavored,” and not just orange color with some vague spice flavor, the ice cream base nails an authentic pumpkin taste buttressed by a wonderfully autumnal sweetness and cinnamon spice. Bordering on cloying but thankfully neither earthly nor artificial, its distinct brown sugar notes are balanced by the taste of fresh cream and milk. It’s that taste which keeps the base from the heavy connotation pumpkin pie sometimes conjures up, and despite what I’m sure is a veritable calorie overload thanks to no less than 11 different sweeteners in the recipe, a modest-sized cone isn’t enough to make you want to unbuckle your pants and watch Tony Romo throw six interceptions on Thanksgiving.

Baskin-Robbins Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream 2

The cheesecake flavor is really quite splendid, and I mean this in the most endearing way possible. Despite a fascistic ONE SCOOP FOR YOU policy instituted by my local Baskin-Robbins, a thorough probing (also known as licking) of the base reveals a well-integrated cream cheese ribbon with varying degrees of tang and richness.

There’s a smooth mouthfeel throughout, and no sign of the chalky or gritty “cheesecake” chunks that one sometimes finds in frozen yogurt shops. On two separate swipes on the tongue I caught a burst of tang, which illuminated my palette amidst the sweet cream high. It encompasses both a distinctive cheesecake vibe and indulgent cream cheese texture, and together the two elements of cultured dairy work magnificently.

Insofar as flavor is concerned, the gingersnap pieces aren’t bad—the distinct taste of ginger adds a great balancing depth to the sweetness of the ice cream—but the crushed snaps aren’t exactly crust worthy. With a soggy texture and almost no crunch to speak of, they’re actually kind of lost amidst the overly viscous ice cream, which seems especially prone to melting on even a modestly warm fall day.

Baskin-Robbins Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream 3

Actually, my biggest gripe was the deteriorating texture of the ice cream. While it starts off exceptionally creamy and smooth, it doesn’t hold up to the tongue and quickly melts, leaving one with less with the impression of pumpkin ice cream and more with the notion of chilled pumpkin bisque. It’s enough to make me kind of wish I was getting pie.

Is Baskin-Robbins’ Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream enough to deal a game-changing victory in the war between pie and cheesecake? Not quite, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious or seasonally appropriate. With a no-nonsense pumpkin flavor and distinctive cheesecake richness and tang, it definitely fires the first shots in this year’s fall flavor battle.

(Nutrition Facts – 4 oz scoop – 260 calories, 110 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of sodium, 135 milligrams of cholesterol, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 27 grams of sugars, and 4 grams of protein.)

Item: Baskin-Robbins Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream
Purchased Price: $3.39
Size: Regular Scoop
Purchased at: Baskin-Robbins
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Pumpkin cream cheese base has loads of cinnamon and brown sugar flavor. Avoids gritty fake cheesecake pieces. Gingersnap crumbs contribute good spice. Nice bursts of cheesecake tang. A solid showing by team cheesecake in the never-ending battle of desserts. Thank God I’m not a Cowboys fan.
Cons: Gingersnap pieces aren’t very crunchy and get lost amidst the ice cream base. Melts entirely too quickly. Feeling like Oliver Twist as the Baskin-Robbins employee haphazardly scoops my ice cream.

REVIEW: Nabisco Limited Edition Caramel Apple Oreo Cookies

Nabisco Limited Edition Caramel Apple Oreo Cookies

When I first learned about these the Nabisco Limited Edition Caramel Apple Oreo Cookies, I wondered if I would get the FULL caramel apple experience. I’m not just talking about the flavor combo of sweet caramel and tart apples. I’m also talking about getting my teeth stuck in the fall treat.

Whenever I take the first bite into a caramel apple, my front teeth always get stuck because of the caramel coating. The caramel is sticky enough that it adheres to my teeth and it’s tough enough that I can’t tear off the piece my mouth has wrapped itself around. When that happens I go into panic mode because I’m afraid, as I struggle to pull them out, they’ll break off and my mouth will look like I was on the losing end of a hockey fight or what I looked like in my first grade school photo.

My teeth also get stuck because I always take a big bite, which is what I do with caramel-less apples. This causes my jaw to be stuck at its widest position, which doesn’t give me much leeway to do much with my jaw. My teeth eventually free themselves, but I’m left with a sore jaw and ego.

Thankfully, and obviously, these Limited Edition Caramel Apple Oreo cookies won’t force my mouth to stay open for long periods of time and give me a sore jaw like a sadistic dental hygienist would.

Nabisco Limited Edition Caramel Apple Oreo Cookies Closeup

Like with previous fruit-flavored Oreo, like Fruit Punch, Watermelon, and Lemon, the Caramel Apple Oreo also comes with Golden Oreo wafers. The creme is two-toned with Kermit the Frog green and Fozzie Bear brown.

Since the creme was green, there’s a green apple on the packaging, and every caramel apple that has trapped my teeth has been a Granny Smith apple, I expected the creme to taste like a Granny Smith apple, but it tasted more like a Fuji apple. After spending a few seconds with Google, I learned Fuji apples, which can be partially green, are also used with caramel apples. The Fozzie Bear-colored creme had a strong caramel scent that was noticeable as soon as package was opened, but, even after licking my way through a number of cookies, I didn’t think it had a flavor that was as strong.

When eaten as a whole cookie, the apple creme stands out. Whatever caramel flavor there is gets lost behind the apple and the Golden Oreo. The lack of caramel makes the whole experience less satisfying. But with that said, I think it’s a decent cookie because I like the candy-fied Fuji apple flavor and it won’t force my mouth to say open for long periods.

Although, I should admit, I don’t know what would happen if I tried to stuff four cookies stacked on top of each other into my mouth at one time.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 15 milligrams of potassium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Nabisco Limited Edition Caramel Apple Oreo Cookies
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 12.2 oz.
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Apple-flavored creme taste like Fuji apples. Strong caramel aroma. Creme has the same colors as Kermit and Fozzie.
Cons: Lacks caramel flavor. Getting teeth stuck in a caramel apple. Target exclusive flavor. Granny Smith fans will be disappointed. Having no front teeth in a school photo.