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.

Pillsbury Limited Edition Peanut Butter & Strawberry Toaster Strudel 3
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.

Pillsbury Limited Edition Peanut Butter & Strawberry Toaster Strudel 2

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.

Pillsbury Limited Edition Peanut Butter & Strawberry Toaster Strudel 4

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.


(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.

Pillsbury Girl Scouts Thin Mints Brownie Mix 2

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.

Pillsbury Girl Scouts Thin Mints Brownie Mix 3

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.

Pillsbury Girl Scouts Thin Mints Brownie Mix 4

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: 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.

Pillsbury Grands Limited Edition S'mores Rolls 2

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.

Pillsbury Grands Limited Edition S'mores Rolls 3

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!

Pillsbury Grands Limited Edition S'mores Rolls 4

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!

REVIEW: Pillsbury Melts S’more Sensation Filled Cookies

Pillsbury Melts S’more Sensation Filled Cookies

The Pillsbury Doughboy sat back in his recliner, grimaced, and with his finger placed on the trans-fat laden rolls on his triple chin, proceeded to take up a position of pondering. It had not been a very promising summer in the mass-produced, ready-to-bake sweets business.

Not only had his brother, the Michelin Man, begun a diet eschewing Grands biscuits and cinnamon rolls in favor of Eggo S’mores, pancakes, and Krave S’mores cereal, but preliminary second quarter reports showed a bottoming out of his cookie sales, with the culprit identified as a new cookie flavor developed by those damn elves at Keebler.

If that weren’t bad enough, he had spent the last month with a nonsensical ditty stuck in his head, something about “some more for you and some more for me,” that managed to give him an inexplicable urge to get some ice cream.

That was when it occurred to him; he, master of sweets and lover of all things giggly and ticklish, was late to the party. Suddenly seized with the same innovative spirit of Dr. Emmett Brown following a nasty spill on the toilet seat, he set off to develop a s’mores-inspired treat that would outdo any packaged Keebler cookie or Dairy Queen Blizzard with an annoyingly melodic theme song.

Pillsbury Melts S’more Sensation Filled Cookies Before

I speak, of course, of the new Pillsbury Melts S’more Sensation Filled Cookies. Some people look down upon ready-to-bake cookies, but I am not one of those people. Like any Pinterest browsing cookie fanatic who has never quite mastered the creaming method, I appreciate the dummy-proof nature of a 350 degree oven and 11 to 15 minutes of my time. I also get off on breaking rules like “Do Not Eat Raw Cookie Dough,” but that’s a completely different and much more frightening story.

Pillsbury Melts S’more Sensation Filled Cookies Baked

In any case, the adorable, square-ish cookies are delicious. There’s little to no graham flavor to speak of, but you’ll hardly notice thanks to the winning combination of that classic chocolate chip cookie taste and the oooey-gooey marshmallow filling, which bursts out in an abundant river obstructed only by crunchy semi-sweet chocolate chips and a light, brown-sugar crumb that’s altogether crispy on the cookie’s edges. It’s this winning texture of crunchy edges and super-moist filling which makes eating a single cookie a mathematical impossibility, while a liberal dose of the hyper-sweet chocolate icing provides an extra punch of cocoa flavor reminiscent of Hershey’s syrup.

Pillsbury Melts S’more Sensation Filled Cookies Closeup

Complaints are minor; the icing is more chocolate syrup than ganache, while the cookies’ unique filling makes them extra soft when pulling from the oven. There are no instructions for baking over an actual open flame and nine cookies per package seems like an odd number for all those not living in a mixed family with the last name of Brady. All can be forgiven, however, thanks to the marshmallow crème filling, which remains admirably gooey even a day after baking and still provides the needed burst of unabashed sweetness to compliment the eggy and toasted cookie flavor.

Pillsbury Melts S’more Sensation Filled Cookies Sexy Sexy

The Pillsbury man need not fret over his business prospects for the second half of 2014, because the S’more Sensation Filled Cookies are a worthy addition to the ever-growing array of campfire-inspired sweets that arrive this time each year. With a more enjoyable crust than the ubiquitous S’mores Pop-Tart and a fresher, more authentic s’mores flavor than cereal or prepackaged cookies, you might even be able to pass them off as homemade.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cookie with icing – 150 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 14 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Pillsbury Melts S’more Sensation Filled Cookies
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 11.5 ounces (9 cookies)
Purchased at: Harris Teeter
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Like eating a chocolate syrup and marshmallow panini inside a chocolate chip cookie. Oooey-gooey filling, even when cooled. No stand mixer required. One of the few Pillsbury ready-to-bake products not containing partially hydrogenated oil.
Cons: Graham flavor is lackluster. Could have a richer chocolate coating. The ever-present temptation of eating raw cookie dough.

QUICK REVIEW: Limited Edition Pillsbury Caramel Apple Toaster Strudel

Limited Edition Pillsbury Caramel Apple Toaster Strudel

Purchased Price: $2.00 (on sale)
Size: 6 pastries
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Sweet caramel icing prevents this Toaster Strudel from headin’ on down to Blandville. Gooey filling and icing. Crispy, flaky, and slightly buttery exterior when toasted properly. Being able to sign your name on a Toaster Strudel with an icing packet.
Cons: Apple filing was light on flavor. Caramel icing has more flavor than the apple filling. Apple filling doesn’t have tiny bits of apple to add a bit more texture. Takes longer to prepare in the toaster than Pop-Tarts. Made with hydrogenated oil.

Limited Edition Pillsbury Caramel Apple Toaster Strudel Closeup

Nutrition Facts: 1 pastry with icing – 170 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat*, 1 gram of polyunsaturated fat, 2 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein.

*made with hydrogenated oil which adds a small amount of trans fat.