REVIEW: Wheat Thins Toasted Pita Crackers (Original and Garlic Herb)

Wheat Thins Toasted Pita (Original and Garlic Herb)

I rarely dip my crunchy snacks because I believe dips are just speed bumps on the road to gluttony.

But if you’re reading this review in the middle of the grocery store deciding on whether or not you should buy a bag of Wheat Thins Original Toasted Pita, let me give you words of advice before you make up your mind — make sure you have something to dip them into. I don’t care what it is. Hummus. Salsa. Chocolate sauce. Cheese sauce. Peanut butter. Guacamole. Spinach artichoke dip. Baby food. Anything.

Original Wheat Thins are so great because they can be enjoyed naked. They have a salty, nutty flavor that stands out on its own. Even Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips taste great by themselves. But these pita crackers need something, so much so that, after opening the bag and trying a few, I felt compelled to drive back to the store to buy some kind of dip. I ended up buying hummus.

Wheat Thins Toasted Pita Dip

To be fair, the back of the bag screams that they need to be dipped. But Wheat Thins’ cousin, Triscuit, screams about how they should be topped, although not as loud as these pita crackers, but without toppings they still have a strong munchability. I can’t say the same about Wheat Thins Original Toasted Pita. They have a saltine cracker-level of boringness, and kind of taste like them.

Wheat Thins Original Toasted Pita

Fortunately, these oven baked pita crackers do go well with hummus (and peanut butter), and their thickness does extremely well with thick dips. They have a nice crunch, but not as hearty as Stacy’s Pita Chips. Also, I think they would be a great replacement for saltine crackers when eating soup.

Wheat Thins Garlic Herb Toasted Pita

Wheat Thins Garlic Herb Toasted Pita Crackers are a bit more munchable than Original version. Actually, they’re, if you’ll excuse my poor attempt to be clever, Pitastic.

They smell and kind of taste like a white pizza, which isn’t surprising since each cracker has a light sprinkling of garlic, herb, and cheese seasoning. They don’t have an overpowering flavor, but I found myself mindlessly snacking on them. Like the Original version, the packaging screams that they should be dipped, but they’re fine with or without.

Speaking of dip, the Wheat Thins Garlic Herb Toasted Pita Crackers have enough flavor that I want to crush them into crumbs, add some water, and create a slurry that I can use as a dip to help the Wheat Thins Original Toasted Pita Crackers taste better.

(Nutrition Facts – Original – 15 crackers – 140 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 2.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1 gram of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 65 milligrams of potassium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein. Garlic Herb – 14 crackers – 140 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 2.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1 gram of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 70 milligrams of potassium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Item: Wheat Thins Toasted Pita Crackers (Original and Garlic Herb)
Purchased Price: $3.50 each
Size: 8 oz. bag
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Original)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Garlic Herb)
Pros: Garlic Herb smells and tastes like a white pizza, and doesn’t need a dip to make them tasty. 10 grams of whole grain per serving. Can handle thick dips. Phones that allow you to read reviews in the middle of the grocery store.
Cons: Original version doesn’t have a unique flavor, tastes like of like a saltine cracker, and needs a dip. Dips are usually just speed bumps on the road to gluttony. Using the term “Pitastic.”

REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition Red Velvet CupCakes

Hostess Limited Edition Red Velvet Cup Cakes

Now that both Christmas and New Year’s Eve have passed, it’s time to start planning for the next holiday: Valentine’s Day. This February 14, I got me a hot date with a box of Hostess Red Velvet CupCakes and back-to-back viewings of Road House. Perks of the single life.

Nah, I’m just kidding. I have a girlfriend, and she ain’t too crazy about Swayze. She’ll probably force me to watch The Notebook. At least I’ll have these red velvet cupcakes to keep me company while I suffer through lumberjack Ryan Gosling sucking Rachel McAdams’ face in the rain.

Hostess Limited Edition Red Velvet Cup Cakes 2

The limited edition Red Velvet CupCakes are a spin on Hostess’ signature chocolate cupcakes — those ubiquitous, cream-filled treats decorated with a white swirl. The cakes are made of a red velvet base, topped with frosting, and filled with a cream center, all in an appropriate Valentine’s Day color scheme.

It only took a single bite for the disappointment to set in.

With regard to flavor, these red velvet cupcakes feel like a weak imitation of their chocolate counterparts. The sugary cream filling tastes identical, but the red velvet base and frosting offer only the slightest hint of chocolate. As a whole, the red velvet cupcake seems to highlight the flavor of the cream filling. Whereas the chocolate in the original cupcake masked many of the Hostess cake’s imperfections, the lighter red velvet cupcake emphasizes these flaws. The result is one unfulfilling snack: a dense, greasy cupcake with a one-dimensional sweetness.

Hostess Limited Edition Red Velvet Cup Cakes 3

These cupcakes are boring and uninspired, and I honestly expected more from such a prominent brand. I’m well aware that red velvet cake is simply chocolate cake dyed red, but Hostess had the potential to be a bit more creative. Why not try a cream cheese frosting? Instead, we’ve been given a generic sugar frosting.

Hostess’ Red Velvet CupCakes bring nothing to the table aside from restrained flavors and a color swap — both pointless modifications to the staple chocolate cupcake. (Not literal staples. It’s never a good idea to mix office supplies and desserts. I discovered this the hard way, after my infamous Paperclip Tiramisu sent five people to the hospital for stomach surgery.)

They’re not unbearable. I just see no reason to buy these in favor of Hostess’ chocolate cupcakes, which are clearly the superior snack cakes.

This Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to forego these cupcakes and spend your money elsewhere. May I recommend a DVD copy of Road House?

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cake – 170 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of total fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 130 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 22 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Hostess Limited Edition Red Velvet CupCakes
Purchased Price: $2.98
Size: 8 cakes/box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Taste like imitation Hostess chocolate cupcakes.
Cons: Lighter flavor highlights the flaws of Hostess’ cakes. Uninspired color change. Generic frosting, not cream cheese flavored. Paperclip Tiramisu.

REVIEW: Boulder Canyon Thanksgiving Feast Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

Boulder Canyon Thanksgiving Feast 1

Boulder Canyon Thanksgiving Feast 2

Sometimes I like to be weird on Thanksgiving by not eating turkey. This year was one of those years, but I did have a Thanksgiving feast thanks to the fine flavorologists at potato chip maker Boulder Canyon.

Boulder Canyon’s Thanksgiving Feast consists of four traditional Thanksgiving, but not traditional potato chip flavors. There’s Turkey & Gravy, Stuffing, Cranberry, and Pumpkin Pie. Each flavor comes in a 2.5-ounce bag, which has enough chips to share with the people around the Thanksgiving dinner table, even your weird uncle who doesn’t say anything throughout the night as if he’s holding back years of repressed family feelings.

By the way, Boulder Canyon is medium-sized potato chip company. They’re not available everywhere and, if your store does carry them, you will probably miss their bags of chips nestled somewhere between Frito-Lay’s chips if you blink.

Boulder Canyon Thanksgiving Feast Potato Chips Turkey & Gravy

The Turkey & Gravy chips have a faint herb aroma with an equally light gravy smell. I don’t think they taste exactly like the Thanksgiving dinner staple. Instead they taste more like forkful of turkey, gravy, and stuffing, but heavy on the gravy side with a bit of onion flavor. I liked the savoriness of these chips and I want to stick them in a turkey sandwich.

Boulder Canyon Thanksgiving Feast Potato Chips Stuffing

The Stuffing flavor has a pungent aroma that that I would like to call, “Freshly Mowed Herb Garden” or “Motorboating An Herb Garden.” Because its flavor is also herby and oniony, it tastes similar to the Turkey & Gravy chips, but slightly stronger. Although, when I first ate them, I wondered if I received two bags of the same flavor.

Boulder Canyon nailed this flavor with a silver nail and a gold hammer and it was my favorite out of the bunch. I wonder if anyone made actual stuffing using these potato chips.

Boulder Canyon Thanksgiving Feast Potato Chips Cranberry

Cranberry is an odd flavor. They smell like fortune cookies, but don’t taste like them. They’re slightly tart and have an equal balance of sweet and salty. I know. Tart and sweet on a potato chip sounds weird, but I did enjoy them. Also, in the back of mind, I kept thinking they tasted like something else. Then, about halfway through the bag, I realized they kind of taste like Froot Loops cereal! Odd indeed!

Boulder Canyon Thanksgiving Feast Potato Chips Pumpkin Pie

I was surprised to read the Pumpkin Pie flavor has pumpkin as an ingredient, because most pumpkin pie/pumpkin spice-flavored products don’t contain any. Along with the pumpkin, there’s cinnamon, paprika, cinnamon, molasses, and the vague ingredient, “spice.” All those ingredients make the chips smell like pumpkin pie, but taste like sweet potato. Although, there were times when I thought I tasted pie crust. Because I enjoy sweet potato chips, I liked chomping on these, but wished they tasted more like pumpkin pie.

All the chips are kettle cooked so they have a nice crunch, but they don’t seem to be as jaw-rattling crunchy as other brands of kettle cooked chips, like Kettle Brand and Lay’s.

To be honest, I thought these Thanksgiving Feast chips would be as disturbing as Jones Soda’s Holiday Pack, but they weren’t. Actually, I’d say they’re the opposite of disturbing. And it amazes me how Boulder Canyon was able to do a pretty good job of capturing Thanksgiving flavors and putting them on potato chips, except cranberry. I believe being able to accomplish that is what folks would call a Thanksgiving Miracle.

What? Those don’t exist?

Well, tell that to the turkey that gets pardoned by the president every year.

I’d like to thank TIB reader Wendy for sending me the Boulder Canyon Thanksgiving Feast chips. The Target stores here didn’t seem to carry them, so I greatly appreciate Wendy for taking the time to mail me some.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1 gram of polyunsaturated fat, 5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 60-150 milligrams of sodium (varies by flavor), 17 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Boulder Canyon Thanksgiving Feast Kettle Cooked Potato Chips
Purchased Price: $5.00
Size: 4 2.5 oz. bags
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Not gross. Surprisingly tasty. Captures Thanksgiving smells and flavors well. Nice crunch. The pardoned turkey.
Cons: Target exclusive. Pumpkin pie chips don’t taste like pumpkin pie. Not as jaw-rattling crunchy as other kettle cooked chips. Posting a review about Thanksgiving flavored chips after Christmas. Although, Thanksgiving foods are also served for Christmas dinner.

REVIEW: Crispy M&M’s (2014)

Crispy M&M's (2014)

9 years, 2 months, and 13 days ago, I was shot down by Mars, coming up empty-handed in my attempts to find a bag of Crispy M&M’s. As noted by the comprehensive timeframe, I may not be over it.

Well, now I can hack off that elephantine chip on my shoulder because Crispy M&M’s are back and putting a candy-coated jingle in my step. While they come in a dashing green bag and serve as an excellent pocket-sized tambourine, let’s ask ourselves the Really Important Question: how do these suckers compare to the old Crispy M&M’s?

Crispy M&M's (2014) get the stare from George Washington

Let’s start with some basics: there are crisps and then there are Crisps.

I know.

I’ll give your brain a moment to catch up with the shocking depth of that.

*Waits.*

Now that it’s sunk in, I’m sure you’ve realized you can have a crisp (a smidgeon of a rice puff made of itty-bitty grainy bits that get stuck between your teeth) or you can have a Crisp (a giant husk that crunches, cracks, then dissolves like a massive, non-mushy rice crispy treat). The specimens found in these Ms are unquestionably Crisps. For the mathematical statisticians out there, the average M is about 80% crisp, 15% chocolate, 4% candy shell, and 1% astronaut. That description may also be 75% true.

The Crisp inside crackles on first bite, verging on malt ball territory in sheer dimension. While the Crisp tastes of little more than toasted rice and air, it picks up the slack in providing texture, carrying the burden of contrast as the smooth, super-fast melting milk chocolate rushes in.

Taken as a whole, each candy strikes a moderate balance of chocolate, candy shell, and poof, making it easy to shovel the bag into one’s mouth and/or stash the rest in a drawer so they don’t say, Eat all the bags nowwww or Do you think you could request these in 240-bag packs from Costco? or any of the other things candies say to me when we’re alone together.

Crispy M&M's (2014) tumble out all shiny

President Benjamin Harrison gave the White House its first Christmas tree in 1889. Had Harrison lived for 125 more Christmases, I suspect he would’ve slipped these M&M’s under his tree. They’re filled with sugar, chocolate, and artificial colorings in pebbly candy form. Sure, they may not blow flavor out of the water, but they taste exactly as they did in 2005. In that way, they’re dependable and, moreover, represent a Large American Company doing something Large American Companies rarely do: listen.

Mars heard the call of the American people for the return of that which they held dear and, by George, they answered. Mars gets a gold star for being good listeners. If you were a fan of the Crispy M&M’s of yore, I hope you go forth to your favorite store and haul off any burden and angst of the past as you chow down on these nubbins. Do it for your stocking. Do it for nostalgia. Do it for Benjamin Harrison.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bag/1.35 oz. – 180 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 55 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 22 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Crispy M&M’s (2014)
Purchased Price: 99 cents (on sale)
Size: 1.35 oz. bag
Purchased at: CVS
Rating: 7 out of 10 (plus a special gold star for bringing back a classic)
Pros: Melty milk chocolate. Giant crisp interior. Tastes exactly as I remember them. Good listeners. 1% astronaut. Benjamin Harrison’s Christmas tree.
Cons: Crisp doesn’t add much flavor. Artificial colorings are still artificial. Things candies say when we’re alone together.

REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition Cherry Chocodile Twinkies

Hostess Limited Edition Cherry Flavored Chocodile Twinkies

Dear Hostess,

I would like to commend your recent decision to revive Chocodiles, those chocolate-coated, cream-filled sponge cakes. Their reappearance was honestly the most surprising comeback of something dead since Hologram Tupac did a little dance at Coachella. Kids these days, am I right?

But alas, all is not right with the world. Though our precious chocolate-covered Twinkies have returned, the beloved mascot of Chocodile snack cakes, Chauncey Chocodile, remains missing. Many years ago, you chose to remove his image from both Chocodiles boxes and the Hostess website, and he hasn’t been seen since. Without a goofy, spectacles-wearing, anthropomorphic crocodile encouraging the American youth to consume sugary treats, we are lost.

Where is Chauncey? Is he locked away in some Hostess factory basement, surviving on a diet of Zingers and stale fruit pies? Is his disappearance a result of witness protection, having seen countless victims fall to the gun-slinging Twinkie the Kid? Rumors have spread that Chauncey’s been spotted smuggling Ho Hos into North Korea alongside Captain Cupcake and King Ding Dong, but I have my doubts — everybody knows Kim Jong Un prefers Little Debbie products.

Hoping to discover a clue related to his disappearance, I recently purchased a package of Limited Edition Cherry Chocodile Twinkies. To my disappointment, I found no hostage letters inside. The box only held nine chocolate-covered sponge cakes filled with cherry-flavored cream.

Though my quest for answers will not be smothered by snack foods made with hydrogenated oil and xanthan gum, I decided to eat the cakes anyway.

Chauncey’s catchphrase was “it takes a while to eat a Chocodile,” but I’m afraid I have to disagree. Each cake is a meager 1.45 ounces, whereas the original Chocodiles were 2 ounces. Even so, I can’t decry the portion size. The snack cakes are so sugary sweet that 1.45 ounces is plenty.

Hostess Limited Edition Cherry Flavored Chocodile Twinkies 3

I expected the cherry flavor to be exaggerated, with a cough syrup-like sharpness, but it was surprisingly subtle. Each bite contained an ample amount of the cherry filling, which offers a creaminess reminding me of cherry-flavored buttercream. The fruity filling feels natural alongside the chocolate and sponge cake flavors of a traditional Chocodile.

Cherry and chocolate is one flavor pairing that just works, and Cherry Chocodiles are no exception to the rule. Chauncey would be impressed.

Hostess Limited Edition Cherry Flavored Chocodile Twinkies 2

My only complaint is that the chocolate feels low quality. As a previous review mentioned, the Chocodile chocolate glaze is somewhat waxy. After consuming just a single Chocodile, I felt the chocolate clinging to the back of my throat in a disagreeable fashion. Hostess, once you take care of this Chauncey Chocodile issue, you should probably get to work on improving your chocolate.

Ah, crap. I’ve digressed a bit. Anyway, back to my main point.

I beseech you, Hostess. Prove to the public you have nothing to hide and disclose the whereabouts of Chauncey Chocodile. It’s time for his visage to once again adorn the boxes of Chocodiles lining the aisles of my local gas station convenience store.

Sincerely,

A concerned citizen

PS – I expect to see a hologram Chauncey take the stage with Dre and Snoop at the next Coachella. Just sayin’.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cake – 160 calories, 70 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Hostess Limited Edition Cherry Chocodile Twinkies
Purchased Price: $2.98
Size: 9 cakes
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Ample filling in each bite. Subtle, creamy cherry flavor. Cherry and chocolate pairing works. Hologram Tupac.
Cons: Waxy chocolate clings to back of throat. The unexplained disappearance of a Hostess mascot.