REVIEW: Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie and Cocoa Swirl Spread

Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie and Cocoa Swirl Spread

Do you remember your first time?

Were there scented candles? Sensual music in the background?

I remember my first time. It took place right outside of Central Park. I didn’t mind the public watching. Children stared. There was whipped cream. Things got sticky. Real sticky.

Yup, I remember my first time trying speculoos spread like it was just yesterday. Like many others, my first taste of speculoos spread came atop a waffle from a Wafels & Dinges truck in New York. That sweet, slightly spiced cookie butter knocked my tastebuds’ socks off. (And my tastebuds don’t even wear socks.)

Naturally, when I found out that Trader Joe’s had combined their speculoos spread with a cocoa swirl, I jumped at the opportunity to try it. Chocolate is the only thing that could ever improve speculoos, right?

Behold: Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie and Cocoa Swirl.

Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie and Cocoa Swirl Spread Topless

Removing the lid from the glass jar released the heavenly scent of speculoos, an aroma reminiscent of raw sugar cookie dough mixed with cinnamon. Strangely, my proboscis was unable to detect any trace of chocolate.

The light brown speculoos base is fabulous: sweet with a light cinnamon spice, like a spreadable mixture of snickerdoodles and graham crackers. Tiny bits of cookie crumbs are incorporated into the speculoos, providing a very slight crunch. For those who have yet to experience the joys of speculoos, be warned: it is extremely addictive.

But the chocolate? Oh boy. The chocolate changes things for the worse.

The dark brown cocoa swirl is saccharine and excessively rich, almost like a chocolate syrup in solid form. Its chocolate flavor seems artificial, two-dimensional, and ultimately unappealing. There’s no way I would ever eat the chocolate portion of this spread alone.

Because it’s not as thick as peanut butter or Nutella, the cookie butter spreads easily onto bread, waffles, and anything else you can imagine putting speculoos on. (Keep it PG, kids.)

Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie and Cocoa Swirl Spread Closeup

When the speculoos and chocolate portions of the spread are combined, the result is one dark brown mass, more similar in appearance to Nutella than a cookie butter. The speculoos helps to calm the overpowering chocolate flavor of the cocoa swirl. However, the chocolate equally mutes the speculoos, converting the spread in its entirety into what tastes like a cheap, knockoff speculoos spread. Essentially, the addition of the cocoa swirl smothers the speculoos base’s wow-factor, downgrading a spectacular cookie butter to mere mediocrity.

What happened, Trader Joe? There was so much potential here. You took the easy way out by cutting corners and using cheap chocolate, didn’t you? For shame!

I should have known better than to trust a cookie butter sold by such an elusive man. I’ve been to his store countless times, but I still haven’t been able to find this Trader Joe guy. He’s harder to locate than Carmen Sandiego, Waldo, and the corpse of Jimmy Hoffa all combined.

Trader Joe, I will never again purchase your Speculoos Cookie and Cocoa Swirl spread. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 Tbsp. (15 grams) – 90 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6 grams of total fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 20 milligrams of sodium, 8 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 6 grams of sugars, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Other Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie and Cocoa Swirl Spread reviews:
What’s Good at Trader Joe’s

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 14.1 oz.
Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: First times. Speculoos base is fabulous. Cookie crumbs mixed throughout.
Cons: Chocolate seems artificial. Combination makes spread seem mediocre. The corpse of Jimmy Hoffa.

REVIEW: Skippy Natural Peanut Butter Spread with Dark Chocolate

Skippy Natural Peanut Butter Spread with Dark Chocolate

Are you allergic to peanuts? Are you also allergic to chocolate? If so, I regret to inform you that Skippy has just released a new product that you won’t be able to eat. It’s the new Skippy Natural Peanut Butter Spread with Dark Chocolate! (Aren’t you excited, Mr. Allergies?)

Actually, I wish I was a bit more excited myself. In all honesty, the peanut butter and chocolate combination has been done countless times in the past, and I just don’t see a reason to go nuts (get it?) over a new peanut butter chocolate combination spread.

Skippy better blow my mind with this one. Truthfully, I’m expecting this to taste like a spreadable Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. (My PB & Choc standards are set high, I know.)

Opening up the jar, we find a dark, creamy substance reminiscent in color of Ferrero’s Nutella, though not quite as dark. In fact, the label even informs me that this peanut butter contains sixty percent less sugar than Nutella. (Could it be anywhere as addictive as Nutella, though? Does it contain sixty percent less crystal meth?)

Before I even had the chance to slather my upper lip in peanut butter like some peanut-crazed version of Clarice Starling during the autopsy scene of The Silence of the Lambs, I noticed the strong scent of this Skippy peanut butter. Wow, it smells exactly like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Surprising, right?

First, I tasted the peanut butter straight, digging out of the jar using only a spoon. When eaten alone, the peanut butter tastes remarkably similar to Reese’s Pieces and less like a Reese’s Cup. The chocolate and peanut butter flavors mix together into a thick, creamy, and tasty spread.

Skippy Natural Peanut Butter Spread with Dark Chocolate Topless

Next, I decided to dip anything I could find into the peanut butter. Cookies. Cakes. Fruits. Small animals. Homeless people. You name it, I dipped it. (I must say, dipping a homeless person into the peanut butter was a bit difficult. I only managed to fit Stinky Greg’s hand inside of the jar before he shanked me.)

Most of what I dipped (aside from Stinky Greg) tasted great along with the peanut butter. At first, the chocolate taste shines through and really complements the peanut butter. Because it’s a bit less thick compared to Nutella, it also spreads pretty well.

Skippy Natural Peanut Butter Spread with Dark Chocolate on Waffles

Unfortunately, as I ate more and more of this peanut butter, it seemed to lose its chocolatey taste, and the peanut flavor of the spread became most prevalent in each bite. For this reason, I found the prolonged taste to be disappointing. Furthermore, I failed to notice that this peanut butter is mixed with dark chocolate and not regular milk chocolate. Dark chocolate has a distinct sort of cocoa sweetness, which was definitely unidentifiable in this peanut butter spread. I can’t really say that Skippy has impressed me with this one.

Skippy Natural Peanut Butter Spread with Dark Chocolate provides a pleasant chocolate and peanut butter taste, but its chocolate flavor slowly becomes masked the more it is eaten. Although the spread is enjoyable, I find it largely unmemorable. I recommend Skippy Natural Peanut Butter Spread with Dark Chocolate to hardcore fans of the peanut and chocolate combination who might be able to overlook its flaws.

Just don’t try dipping any homeless people into it.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 Tbsp – 200 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams of total fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 12 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 8 grams of sugars, and 6 grams of protein.)

Item: Skippy Natural Peanut Butter Spread with Dark Chocolate
Purchased Price: $3.04
Size: 15 oz.
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Pleasant mixture of peanut and chocolate flavors. Tastes similar to Reese’s Pieces. Impersonating characters from The Silence of the Lambs.
Cons:Seems to lose chocolate flavor as more is eaten. Chocolate doesn’t taste like dark chocolate. Being shanked by Stinky Greg.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Heinz Tomato Ketchup Blended With Real Jalapeño

Heinz Tomato Ketchup Blended With Real Jalapeno

For years, Heinz ketchup has been my condiment of choice for French fries and to make my cooking a little more tolerable.

While Heinz ketchup has changed the flavor of my weak tasting food, the condiment itself has never really moved beyond the formula of tomato concentrate from red ripe tomatoes, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, salt, spice, onion powder, and natural flavoring.

However, a few years ago Heinz came out with a Hot & Spicy variety that was flavored with Tabasco sauce. And last year they came out with a limited edition ketchup blended with balsamic vinegar that later became a regular addition. This year, Heinz has released another limited edition ketchup and this time it’s blended with jalapeño.

I’ve had a number of jalapeño products over the years and many of them have been disappointing because while they have the jalapeño flavor, they also have little to no heat. However, the Limited Edition Heinz Tomato Ketchup Blended With Real Jalapeño has the opposite problem.

I tried the spicy ketchup by itself, with McDonald’s fries, on a condiment-less Jack in the Box Jumbo Jack, and on top of my awful cooking. I was going to use it to make spicy sketti, but I didn’t want to find out if my horrible food was worse than a reality show star’s horrible food.

On everything I used the jalapeño-enhance ketchup with, all I initially noticed was the heat.

On a scale of one to ten, with one being the heat I would feel on the top side of a pillow that has just been slept on for eight hours and ten being the heat one would feel on a pan that has just been in an oven for eight hours, the spiciness of the Limited Edition Heinz Tomato Ketchup Blended With Real Jalapeño would be a four or five. It’s a nice kick that didn’t instantly shock my mouth’s nerves.

While its spiciness and tomato flavor was wonderful, it’s hard to notice the jalapeño flavor. Once in a while, I got a hint of it, but it’s definitely not as strong as I hoped it would be. Also, I don’t know if the heat was distracting my taste buds, but the ketchup’s vinegary flavor was slightly lacking. I wouldn’t have minded it so much if it had a jalapeño flavor to replace it with.

Overall, the Limited Edition Heinz Tomato Ketchup Blended With Real Jalapeño does make McDonald’s fries, a Jack in the Box Jumbo Jack, and my cooking spicier, but it does just a decent job at helping the awful meals I make taste better.

Limited Edition Heinz Tomato Ketchup Blended With Real Jalapeño is currently available for purchase on the Heinz Ketchup Facebook page until December 7th. But if you’re reading this review after December 7th, it will start showing up on store shelves in January 2013.

Disclosure: I received a free bottle of Limited Edition Heinz Tomato Ketchup Blended With Real Jalapeño from the fine folks at Heinz in order to review it.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 tbsp – 20 calories, 0 grams of fat, 160 milligrams of sodium, 5 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, 2% vitamin A, and 2% vitamin C.)

Item: Limited Edition Heinz Tomato Ketchup Blended With Real Jalapeño
Purchased Price: Free
Size: 14 ounce bottle
Purchased at: Received from the folks at Heinz
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Nice spicy kick and tomato flavor. Heinz coming up with more limited edition ketchup. Regular ketchup makes my cooking taste taste better.
Cons: Doesn’t have a strong jalapeño flavor. Vinegar flavor is slightly subdued. My cooking. Does just a decent job at improving my cooking. Sketti.

REVIEW: Planters NUTrition Energy Mix Banana Granola Nut Peanut Butter

Planters NUT-rition Energy Mix Banana Granola Nut Peanut Butter

I think Planters should consider renaming their NUTrition Energy Mix Banana Granola Nut Peanut Butter to NUTrition Elvis Mix Banana Granola Nut Peanut Butter in honor of the King’s love of peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

Also, to see if anyone calls the phone number on the bottle to ask what little men with pointy ears have to do with this peanut butter.

If Elvis was alive today, I think he might enjoy this peanut butter mixture that includes dried bananas, granola, and peanuts. And for those of you Weekly World News readers who think he’s still alive and living in a cabin in Montana under the name Sivle Yelserp, I’m sure he’s enjoying this peanut butter mixture with bacon…and sharing it with his aliens buddies from the Archon 7 galaxy.

To be honest, it’s refreshing to see a major company like Planters do something different with peanut butter. If you look at the peanut butter section at the grocery store, it appears not a lot of money has been spent on R&D. It’s just a sea of creamy and chunky. With its peanut chunks, crispy granola, and chewy dried bananas, I guess you could call Planters NUTrition Peanut Butter chuewyspy peanut butter.

Having different textures is one of the reasons why I enjoyed Planters’ NUTrition Energy Mix Banana Granola Nut Peanut Butter. But I also enjoyed it because its flavor made me want to put on a sequined jumpsuit, greasy my hair, gyrate my hips hard enough to be censored on a 1950s talk show, and say with a lip snarl, “Thank you very much.” That would’ve happen, but my Bedazzler is out of commission because I overworked it while attempting to put the word “voluptuous” on the back side of a pair of yoga pants, instead of the much shorter “juicy.”

Planters NUT-rition Energy Mix Banana Granola Nut Peanut Butter Closeup

If you enjoy bananas, I have good news; there’s a little bit of banana flavor in the peanut butter itself. Thankfully, it’s not artificial and it’s not the dominant flavor. I was expecting the added dried banana to be crunchy like banana chips, but was surprised when my molars discovered they were chewy like raisins. As for the granola, well, it’s not really granola. It’s just rice flakes and rice crisps; there aren’t any oats. I’ve eaten enough Nature Valley products to know those two ingredients don’t make granola and I’ve consumed enough Kellogg’s products with cartoon characters on the packaging to know those two ingredients make a breakfast cereal.

With all the mix-ins, you might expect NUTrition Peanut Butter to not be spread-friendly, like chunky peanut butter. But because there wasn’t a dense amount, I found it to be quite spreadable.

Besides not having real granola, another disappointing thing about this peanut butter is that it comes in a 12-ounce jar, which looks dramatically smaller next to the 16- and 18-ounce jars of regular peanut butter. Also, I don’t understand why adding bits of dried banana and rice cereals make the peanut butter an Energy Mix.

Overall, the flavor of Planters’ NUTrition Energy Mix Banana Granola Nut Peanut Butter was a nice departure from plain ol’ peanut butter. It’s quite good and has gotten me curious about the other two Planters NUTrition Peanut Butter flavors — Cinnamon Raisin Granola Nut and Berry Nut.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 tbsp – 190 calories, 120 calories from fat 15 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat*, 4.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 7 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 130 milligrams of sodium, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, 7 grams of protein, and a bunch of vitamins and minerals.)

Other Planters NUTrition Energy Mix Peanut Butter reviews:
Option Pitch and Waffle Crisp

Item: Planters NUTrition Energy Mix Banana Granola Nut Peanut Butter
Purchased Price: $5.19 (on sale)*
Size: 12 ounce jar
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Pleasant combinations of peanut butter and banana. Easier to spread than chunky peanut butter. Nice departure from regular peanut butter. Elvis would like it. Elves would like it too. Bedazzlers.
Cons: Including Elvis references when half the readership doesn’t know who he is. Come in 12-ounce jars. Not sure why it’s called an Energy Mix. Granola isn’t really granola. Broken Bedazzlers.

*According to the press release, a jar of Planters NUTrition Peanut Butter retails for $3.99. I paid more because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

REVIEW: Jif Hazelnut Spreads (Chocolate and Mocha Cappuccino)

Jif Hazelnut Spreads (Chocolate and Mocha Cappuccino)

There are some of you out there who can blame Nutella for adding several pounds to your frame. I’m not one of them. For years, I heard from many people about the great hazelnut spread called Nutella, but never dipped a knife, spoon, fork, finger, or tongue into a jar of it.

If a lot of people were saying it was so wonderful, why didn’t I try it?

Maybe I purchased several Costco-sized jars of peanut butter because I had a coupon and didn’t want to try spreading something different on my bread until I used all of them up. Or perhaps I trust Flavor Flav when he says, “Don’t… Don’t… Don’t… Don’t… Don’t believe the hype.” Or maybe because Nutella comes from the Italian company Ferrero, I wanted to be patriotic and eat my way from a 30-inch waist to a 32-inch waist with American food.

However, my Nutella virginity was taken away from me during a foursome with a jar of Nutella and the two new Jif Hazelnut Spreads — Chocolate and Mocha Cappuccino. I could’ve kept my Nutella virginity intact, but I thought who better to find out whether these Jif Hazelnut Spreads can compete with the world famous Nutella than a guy who would be trying Nutella for the first time.

So, what do I think of Nutella?

Holy balls! Nutella is nuterrific! It makes me want to go from a 32-inch waist to a 34-inch waist by eating lots of it. Oh man, so many years lost that could’ve been filled with spreading Nutella on top of 100 percent whole wheat bread or dipping shortbread cookies into it. Oh. My. Goodness. What else am I missing out on? Damn, I need to make a bucket list.

Jif Hazelnut Spreads (Chocolate and Mocha Cappuccino) Closeup

But what about the Jif Hazelnut Spreads?

The Jif Chocolate Hazelnut Spread is nuttier, while Nutella has a deeper chocolate flavor and is sweeter, but if you were to create your own 1980s Folgers-like commercial at someone’s house, where you’ve secretly replaced the Nutella they usually serve with Jif Chocolate Hazelnut Spread to see if anyone can tell the difference, I think most people won’t. Personally, I prefer the stronger chocolate flavor of Nutella.

As for Jif’s Mocha Cappuccino Hazelnut Spread, it’s a shade darker than the chocolate spread and it had a noticeable coffee flavor, but after the initial coffee flavor, the chocolate and hazelnut took its place on my taste buds. At first, I wished the spread had a stronger coffee flavor, like I just ate some chocolate covered espresso beans, but then realized that would’ve been stupid because the spread would’ve been a bit too bitter. Overall, I enjoyed Jif’s Mocha Cappuccino Hazelnut Spread as much as the chocolate version.

While there isn’t a significant difference in flavor between Jif’s Chocolate Hazelnut Spread and Nutella there are notable differences between the two. The Jif Hazelnut Spreads have the visual consistency of Jif peanut butter and at times they also look like Duncan Hines cake frosting. Nutella, on the other hand, is creamy, silky smooth, and sexy. That silky smoothness isn’t only sexy, it also makes it easier to spread on bread or skin. Yes, Nutella looks like I should be using it as body paint. Another difference between the two are their prices. A 13-ounce jar of Nutella was a dollar more than a 14.1-ounce jar of Jif’s Hazelnut Spreads.

Jif’s Hazelnut Spreads are just as tasty as Nutella. I’m no choosy mom, but if I was one, I might consider buying a jar because of their lower price. And while I give my children Jif peanut butter, I’ll spread Jif Hazelnut Spread on top of my bread, and if my children ask if they could try it, I’ll tell them, “No, just like the grape juice in the tall glass bottles, this is for mommy only.”

(Nutrition Facts – 2 Tbsp – Chocolate – 230 calories, 120 calories from fat, 14 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 21 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein, 6% calcium, and 6% iron. Mocha Cappuccino – 230 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 21 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein, 6% calcium, and 6% iron.)

Other Jif Hazelnut Spread reviews:
Foodette Reviews

Item: Jif Hazelnut Spreads (Chocolate and Mocha Cappuccino)
Price: $6.49 each
Size: 14.1 ounces
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Chocolate)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Mocha Cappuccino)
Pros: As tasty as Nutella. Makes bread taste so much better. Cheaper than Nutella. Eating Jif Hazelnut Spreads with a spoon. Nutella. Secretly replacing things.
Cons: Has the consistency of peanut butter, which is less sexy than Nutella’s consistency. Being a Nutella virgin for so long. Expanding waist size.