REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition Key Lime Slime Twinkies

Hostess Limited Edition Key Lime Slime Twinkies

What’s your favorite scene from the original Ghostbusters?

Was it the library ghost sequence to open the movie? What about Venkman getting slimed? Maybe you liked the big climax where our heroes saved New York City? There are plenty to choose from.

My favorite scene was when Egon ate a Twinkie. Classic!

Okay, that’s not entirely true, but if you were wondering how the famous snack cake ties in with the Ghostbusters, there’s your connection. Egon Spengler used a Twinkie as a metaphor for some scientific mumbo jumbo and then chowed down.

Fast forward 32 years (OMG, you’re so old!) and we have new Ghostbusters and new Twinkies. Long gone are the days of Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis, Hudson, and boring old vanilla cream. Now we have Wiig, McCarthy, McKinnon, Jones, and Key Lime Slime cream!

Hostess has graced the public with the same oily Twinkie cakes we’ve loved since 1930 (OMGGG, you’re sooooo old!) This time, however, they tried something new with the cream.

Twinkies are always a gamble for me. Sometimes you get a nice moist, fluffy cake. Other times you get a firm, spongy disaster. I lucked out with a perfect batch this time.

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The “slime” colored cream bursting out of the three holes on the underbelly of the cake makes it look moldy. I have a feeling this may turn some people off, but if you stick with it, the Key lime flavor will make you forget about that. It also looks a lot tastier once you bite or cut into the Twinkie.

I was skeptical of Key lime as a Twinkie flavor, but they managed to pull it off. In reality, it’s artificially colored green, so they could have just dyed the regular filling like Oreo does with the orange Halloween cookies. Why not? It’d be a perfect representation of the movie it’s promoting – a cheap gimmicky repacking of an old idea.

Whooooaaaa! Proton blasts fired!

Nah, I kid because I love. The lime flavor is very subtle. It tasted like a regular Twinkie with a faint citrus blast.

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Normally I’d probably hold that against a product. It almost seemed like they didn’t believe in the flavor so they diluted it, but it worked well here. I’ll let it slide.

I expected the cream to be either too sweet or too sour, but it toed the line nicely. It also had a great whipped texture, and there was plenty of it stuffed within the cake.

I picked up some Banana Twinkies just for taste and appearance comparisons, and I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I might like Key Lime Slime more than Banana.

Now please allow me a mini rant.

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I said it in my Ecto Cooler review, but they’ve really done a subpar job with the marketing of this movie. The box here has one tiny Ghostbusters logo and shades of green. This could have been a really cool collectable box if designed better. This is yet another “slime” tie-in that has no mention or appearance of Slimer. It’s not like they lost the rights to the character. I know he’s in the new movie, so put him on the box! I know he’s an ugly little spud, but put him on the damn box! Stay Puft is on the White Fudge Marshmallow Twinkie box. Where’s Slimer?!

Anyway, the serving size for these Twinkies is two cakes. I ate two. That should tell you that these are a winner. Happy hunting.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cakes – 260 calories, 80 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 35 mg of cholesterol, 350 mg of sodium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 29 grams of sugars, and 2 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 13.58 oz. box/10 cakes
Purchased at: Wegmans
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Not overly sweet. Not overly sour. Perfectly fresh Twinkie batch. Ample cream filling. The name “Egon Spangler.” Might be better than Banana.
Cons: Key lime could have been a tad stronger. Moldy looking. Complete lack of Slimer in the marketing. My mother gave most of my old Ghostbusters toys away. Scientific mumbo jumbo. We’re old.

REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition White Fudge Marshmallow Twinkies

Hostess Limited Edition White Fudge Marshmallow Twinkies

Ever since I was young, I’ve been a sucker for ghost jokes.

For example:

Where do ghosts buy their junk food?

At the ghost-ery store.

What’s a ghost’s favorite fruit?

Boo-berries.

What does a ghost barista offer its customers?

Scream and sugar.

Okay, those weren’t funny at all. No wonder none of my classmates laughed at my jokes throughout school. What the hell was I thinking for all of those years? Is this why I went to prom alone two years in a row? What am I going to find out next, that I DIDN’T look totally cool sipping on my Ecto Cooler juice box while all of the upperclassmen were drinking out of flasks?!

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Luckily, Ghostbusters is back in theaters to grace the world with the ghoul-related humor we so desperately need, and I clearly cannot provide. To celebrate the new movie, Hostess has introduced Limited Edition White Fudge Marshmallow Twinkies (there’s also a Key Lime Slime flavor). Wouldn’t you know it, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man himself adorns the face of the box, and each rotund white Twinkie pays homage to him, too. The colorful packaging describes this Twinkie variety as a “white fudge covered sponge cake with marshmallow topping and creamy filling.” Now, if THAT doesn’t make you want to buy these Twinkies then…well, then you probably don’t look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Good for you.

Biting through the firm-yet-forgiving outer shell of frosting, I was instantly met with a heavy white chocolate flavor. It’s more than just “sugar” and clearly distinguishable from milk or even dark chocolate, but its exaggerated sweetness is almost unpleasant. If anything stands out over the taste of the white fudge, it’s the sponge cake itself. It’s the classic Twinkie cake: buttery and very sweet. There’s very little saltiness or other flavor to distinguish it from the rest of the Twinkie.

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The filling, which is the same standard Twinkie cream filling — not marshmallow flavored — was barely noticeable. This was disappointing, because it’s the only ingredient that stood a chance to provide some balance in flavor. There is also an unexpectedly thick marshmallow layer between the sponge cake and the white fudge frosting, which seemed to provide a certain creaminess among the saccharine frenzy going on here. Still, it was hard to tell because all of the ingredients are basically just sugar.

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The real distinction of the marshmallow layer is its texture: it’s chewy, stretchy, and almost tough. This stuck out as an unpleasant surprise for what is usually a very soft, fluffy cake. Between the firm white fudge coating, the leathery marshmallow topping, the cushiony cake and the wispy filling, the texture of this Twinkie was a truly repugnant experience. For a junk food reviewer, that’s saying something.

What’s odd is that these White Fudge Marshmallow Twinkies actually do achieve what they advertise, and for that Hostess deserves some credit. These are Twinkies, draped in a flavorful white fudge coating, and featuring an obvious marshmallow layer. The problem is that all of those ingredients combine to form a sugary monster not even Peter Venkman could vanquish. And that’s something to be afraid of.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cake – 190 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 130 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 23 grams of sugar, 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 15.55 oz box (9 cakes)
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Hefty marshmallow layer and decent white fudge taste. Familiar Twinkie goodness. Ecto Cooler. Bill Murray.
Cons: Sweetness of white fudge, marshmallow, and sponge cake is overwhelming. Textural nightmare. Eating Twinkies until you look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Terrible ghost jokes.

REVIEW: Pillsbury Limited Edition Peanut Butter & Strawberry Toaster Strudel

Pillsbury Limited Edition Peanut Butter & Strawberry Toaster Strudel

For the better part of four years as a TIB reviewer, I have maintained a nearly impeccable streak that few writers in the colorfully chemical world of nutritionally devoid junk food can lay claim to.

I have kept poop references to an absolute minimum.

There have been one or two Fiber One one-liners, maybe some vague references to flatulence, and the occasional, you know what that looks like…, but never have I just come out and said something I’ve eaten looks like poop and pretty much tastes as vile as you could imagine. In other words, like, yeah…

But like Jerry Seinfeld’s barfless streak, Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak, and Don Gorske’s Big Mac streak, my ability to hold out from using the most primal of negative food metaphors has expired. I believe the technical term for moments like this is that the shit has hit the fan.

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Skippy Peanut Butter (left) Peanut butter-flavored icing (right)

There is just no other way to describe the artificial peanut butter flavored filling of the Pillsbury Limited Edition Peanut Butter & Strawberry Toaster Strudel. That I am supposed to refer to this brown goo as icing just makes me want to throw up.

Icing is something you want to nibble off a day-old glazed donut; icing is what made Santa Claus fat in the process of hundreds of years of sugar cookie eating; icing is not, and never shall be, a cloying fake peanut butter taste that leaves you with a metallic and bitter alcohol flavor in your mouth when you should be enjoying a PB&J.

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If you’re a baker, you might recognize the flavor I’m talking about. It’s the flavor of imitation peanut butter extract; noticeably synthetic, with a cough-syrup like alcohol aftertaste, it’s made all the worse by a horribly out-of-place sweetness. There’s no saltiness, no lip-smacking fatty mouthfeel, and definitely no roasted depth. If I didn’t know better, I’d say the Pillsbury Doughboy is allergic to peanuts.

Oh yeah, and the icing looks like poop.

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Thankfully, the D.I.Y. nature of the Toaster Strudel provides a saving grace. Since the packets of the icing are separate, one can simply avoid them like one would avoid, well, foods that are known to cause gastrointestinal distress. Eaten completely without peanut butter, the toaster strudel is fine: The strawberry jelly is admirable for a frozen product, while the flaky layers provide buttery croissant notes.

Adding your own peanut butter makes the pastry delicious, but you’ve probably figured that out by now. Humans have only been enjoying the combination for a gazillion years*, and the slightly caramelized edges of the golden-brown strudel give the combination an unexpected richness that will make you want to start making PB&Js out of croissants.

Overall, the spokesman and chief baker for Pillsbury didn’t just forget to put on a pair of pants, he forgot to put actual peanut butter in his peanut butter and jelly Toaster Strudels.

What follows is one of the more disgusting visuals in frozen breakfasts, not to mention an abrupt goodbye to one of the best streaks in junk food blogging. It’s a shame, really, because all other things being equal, the Toaster Strudels aren’t so bad. Just make sure you get rid of the “icing” ASAP and have jar of Jif close at hand.

*approximate

(Nutrition Facts – 1 pastry with icing – 180 calories, 6 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 180 mg of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 10 grams of sugars, 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 11.7 oz box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: A fine and scrumptious flaky layered pastry without the poop-inspired peanut butter flavored icing. Surprisingly balanced buttery crust with sweet, gooey strawberry jelly. More substantial eating than a Pop-Tart.
Cons: The absolute vilest and most repulsive peanut butter flavored product I have ever put into this temple I call my body. Peanut butter icing tastes like a 50-50 mix of sweet and low and peanut butter flavored extract. Poopless review streak coming to an ignominious end.

REVIEW: Pillsbury Girl Scouts Thin Mints Brownie Mix

Pillsbury Girl Scouts Thin Mints Brownie Mix

Before we begin, let me say this: don’t Google “Pillsbury Doughgirl.”

I did so with the intention of cracking some joke about how the Pillsbury Doughboy shouldn’t be allowed on this box of Girl Scouts Thin Mints Brownie Mix, but instead I learned three things:

  • Yes, there was a female “Poppie Fresh” mascot introduced in the ‘70s, but fans still weirdly debate whether she’s the Doughboy’s wife or sister.
  • It only takes creepy internet photographers two Google image search results to make these mascots’ relationship disturbingly erotic.
  • The Urban Dictionary definition of “Pillsbury Dough Girl” would make even George Carlin blush.

So excuse me as I unplug my computer and mourn the loss of my innocence by cramming an 8”x8” rectangle of baked chocolate mint goodness into my mouth.

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The brownie mix itself is pale brown and floury: the kind of messy stuff you’ll inevitably end up wearing like a cocoa powder apron. It tastes like a pulverized Junior Mint mixed with beach sand.

The recipe is so easy a blob of anthropomorphized crescent roll dough could make it. It only requires water, oil, and an egg, so just raid your nearest public swimming pool, Jiffy Lube, and McDonald’s All-Day Breakfast to procure the necessary ingredients.

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After the specified 50 strokes of a spoon, what’s left is a decadent and thick chocolate batter studded with little square chocolate chunks. I popped a solid chocolate square in my mouth, and it popped back with a rich, slightly bitter chocolate mint bite —- a lot like an Andes Mint.

With a perfect golden ratio of chocolate to mint, the batter tasted so good raw I didn’t want to bake it. But salmonella might’ve been what killed the Pillsbury Doughgirl, so I let it sit in the oven for 30 minutes while wondered — in a chocolate daze — whether that minty fresh brown batter is what courses through the Doughboy’s veins to keep him Poppin’ Fresh.

When I finally opened my oven, a gust of mint chocolate scented air smacked me like a water balloon filled with Shamrock Shakes. After my bubbling cocoa lava brownies cooled, I dug in with the voracity of a cartoon caveman.

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Yep, these taste exactly like Thin Mints. Like any sane human, I prefer my brownies gooey in the middle and crispy on the crust, and this helped recreate the “crisp cookie enrobed in creamy chocolate” textural contrast of the famous Girl Scout Cookie.

These Thin Mint Brownies lack a lot of the traditional vanilla-tinged, eggy fudge flavor of other brownies, mostly because the pleasant and pervasive buzz of peppermint usurps its place. The milk chocolate and sweetened cocoa brownie base, meanwhile, is still appropriately moist, and the formerly solid chocolate morsels provide welcome land mine bursts of magmatic, minty chocolate liqueur.

I can’t recommend these brownies to everyone, because loving mint is an obvious prerequisite. Girl Scout Cookie consumers tend to be loyal to a specific cookie, and because Thin Mints are tied for 3rd in my book — right behind Do-Si-Dos and my personal, peanut buttery Tagalong messiahs — I thought these brownies were just slightly above average.

On the other hand, those who can casually empty a roll of Thin Mints like it’s a peeled banana will give satisfied merit badges to these complexly chocolatized delights.

Wait, how half-baked and dumb do I have to be to think “chocolatized” is a real word? Did the Doughboy put another “special green” ingredient in these brownies?

(Nutrition Facts – 1/12 package, as prepared – 190 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 14.1 oz box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Authentic Thin Mint texture. Ooey-gooey-kablooey chocolate morsel explosions. Declaring “Tagalongology” as my official religion. Chocolatize me, Cap’n!
Cons: Fudge droughts. A criminal lack of Do-Si-Do brownies. Feeling half-baked after eating half-baked brownies. The number of red squiggles spellcheck gave this review.

REVIEW: Keebler Limited Batch Birthday Cake Fudge Stripes Cookies

Keebler Limited Batch Birthday Cake Fudge Stripes Cookies

During the 45 years or so of the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union built up massive quantities of nuclear weapons in an effort to counter each other and become the world’s leading super power.

Each had their own spheres of influence, but since separate hemispheres weren’t enough, both nations just kept building more and bigger missiles until one couldn’t keep up any longer.

A quarter century after the Berlin Wall fell, another arms race is occurring. The good news is that the entire existence of the human race is no longer at stake. The bad news is that we are all going to get massively obese.

It’s a trade I am totally cool with.

Gone are the days when Oreo was content with being the world’s leading chocolate sandwich cookie; likewise, Keebler’s elves aspire to an empire greater than just fudge covered shortbreads. The two companies have fought for cookie supremacy in recent limited time offerings of red velvet and pumpkin spice, but the latest flashpoint in the great cookie conflict is one flavor that I never get tired of celebrating: Birthday Cake.

While I give the elves credit for creating a cookie that has all three traditional elements of birthday cake (sprinkles, frosting, and uh, “cake”) I do need to point out that the box artwork features a cupcake. At first I thought this was just a celebration of portion control, but since the package also happens to be non-resalable — thus increasing my chances of inhaling all the cookies in one sitting — I realize the elves probably just suck at making distinctions.

I, however, do not. And to be sure, the distinction of Birthday Cake vs. Cupcake is one I take seriously. If you show me a cupcake, I expect the frosting to steal the show. That’s not the case with these cookies, though.

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Oh, I mean the shortbread element is fine. It’s buttery with a delectably fine crumb and the non-overpowering element of sweetness I admire about the original Fudge Stripe.

But whereas the original Fudge Stripe can get away with a faux-chocolate glaze that works to balance the shortbread, the frosting glaze on the latest batch of shortbread just tastes like that generic palm oil glaze we’ve all had a million times. It’s not buttercream frosting; it’s not cream cheese frosting; it’s not even a damn Swiss meringue. It’s just way too sweet, and lacks that luscious mouthfeel of an actual frosting element. Likewise, it’s cut off from the sprinkles, which themselves lack the crunchy contrast I want buried in frosting.

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Fortunately, since my pantry is always willing to celebrate an actual birthday, I had some rainbow chip frosting handy. Now, while I realize this stuff would be good on anything from pancakes to Ritz crackers, I did find it especially wonderful when stuffed between the Fudge Stripe Birthday Cake cookies.

Biting through the crunchy shortbread into actual, sprinkled-filled frosting — even in an artificial, shelf-stable form — reminded me of Oreo’s birthday cake attempt and how providing just a level of textural contrast can go a long way to really making a birthday cake-flavored product worth the purchase.

Does the fact that Oreo makes a better birthday cake cookie than Keebler mean that the Elves are destined to toil in a downtrodden economy until an ex-KGB spy who likes to take his shirt off attempts to assert them as the world’s leading cookie makers? Probably not. But in the arms race of cookie flavors, Keebler’s latest gambit just can’t keep pace.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 130 calories, 6 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: $2.99
Purchased at: Weis Markets
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Delectable shortbread crumb. Crunchy sprinkle pieces. Wonderful vehicle birthday cake frosting.
Cons: Waxy, mostly tasteless frosting element. Too much shortbread taste for a birthday cake product. Non-resalable packaging. Cookie company flavor arms races.

REVIEW: Pillsbury Grands Limited Edition S’mores Rolls

Pillsbury Grands Limited Edition S'mores Rolls

The Pillsbury Doughboy is back at it again but this time on the s’mores bandwagon and he’s totally woo-hooing for the wrong team! Like most bandwagoners, it’s not entirely his fault. He’ll soon realize that s’mores-flavored products are quickly joining the ranks of other craze-du-jour-flavored products. Cue the lineup of failed Pumpkin Spice, Red Velvet, Apple-flavored products because it’s all hype & poor execution, buddy!

I’m sad to share that the Limited Edition Pillsbury Grands S’mores Rolls are no exception. To sum up the experience: shaky start, better second half but ultimately still couldn’t deliver.

Here’s the play-by-play:

After the satisfying Pillsbury packaging pop, a pungent chocolate-esque smell creeps its way into my olfactory receptors. I say chocolate-esque because it smells like most artificial packaged chocolate smells: sickeningly sweet and nothing like what real chocolate smells like. Offensive foul for the Doughboy.

As the dough oozes its way out of the popped container, I am geeking out a little bit about the icing packaging. I was wondering how Pillsbury would fit icing in their neat cylindrical package. While it does mean I’m one roll short, the icing itself is packaged like it’s a part of the dough roll – in a small, plastic cylindrical container at the end. Clever!

Of course, I can’t help but try the white icing goop. It unfortunately and fortunately doesn’t taste like anything. I say unfortunately because if this is supposed to be the marshmallow part, it fails miserably like an airball. I also say fortunately because I’ve been known to eat all icing before it actually makes it onto the baked good.

The naked, uneven dough plops look really unappetizing on the baking sheet. They’re different sizes because it was hard to rip apart evenly. Sloppy pass here, Pillsbury.

The packaging says to bake for 23 – 29 minutes so I set my oven timer for 26 minutes – middle ground is safe right?! While the rolls were baking, the chocolate filling actually started to smell like my favorite thing in the world: fresh baked cookies! I could smell the chocolate filling warming up from artificial chocolate to rich deliciousness.

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After some risin’ and golden brownin’, the rolls come out looking way better than how they looked going in. However, I immediately notice that it’s a little crispy on the outside. This could absolutely be user error, but this never happens with the biscuits!

Before I begin the daunting task of icing the 350 degree Fahrenheit swirls, I try the roll sans icing. Gnawing my way through the sweet chocolate filling, I notice that there’s a slight savoriness to the dough itself – very reminiscent of Pillsbury biscuits. That biscuit-like savoriness proves to be the saving grace for the tasteless icing. When I do canvas on the icing, like Durant and Westbrook, the icing and more-savory dough work real well together.

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However, the icing to roll ratio is completely off; I only got through about three rolls before I ran out of icing. When I ran out, I turned to ice cream instead. I’m all about textures and temperatures and ice cream is the perfect complement. Icing, schmicing!

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While Pillsbury has a strong overall record, the Limited Edition Pillsbury Grands S’mores Rolls just can’t pull off the W. The dough itself is hard to work with and over bakes way too easily. Its teammates – chocolate filling and icing – can’t make up for the dough’s overpowering oafishness. As Limited Edition S’mores Rolls fades into irrelevance, I’ll be posted up at Cinnabon. Better luck next limited edition season!

(Nutrition Facts – 1 Roll with Icing – 300 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 540 milligrams of sodium, 54 grams of carbohydrates, 22 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 17.5 oz.
Purchased at: Vons
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Rolls come out looking & smelling way better baked. Smells like fresh baked cookies! Savory dough works well.
Cons: Artificial chocolate = offensive foul for the Doughboy. Naked, uneven dough plops. Icing, schmicing!