REVIEW: Limited Time Cheetos Sweetos Cinnamon Sugar Puffs

Cheetos Sweetos Cinnamon Sugar Puffs

As anyone who has ever eaten Cheetos knows, 90 percent of the appeal is licking the disgusting (and by disgusting, I mean awesome) amount of cheese powder residue that clings to your fingers. Cheesy, salty, delicious, and basically deserving to be packaged and sold as a savory rendition of a Pixy Stix, the Cheeto powder would constitute my entire source of calcium should the world ever see the abolition of pizza. Its deliciousness begs the existential question though: is the quintessence of the Cheeto unique to the cheesiness of the powder, or is it just the presence of a lickable flavor powder in and of itself? In other words: if you take away the cheese, can Cheetos still be great?

A question as mysterious and elusive as ”why is there an Easter bunny?”, the springtime arrival of Cheetos Sweetos as a limited edition Easter-themed snack provides ample empirical evidence to finally put to rest this most vexing of questions.

Shaped like Easter Eggs (or, presumably, drops of cheetah poop) each cinnamon sugar puff is light and airy with a dusty brown complexion one might associate with a well-aged gouda. There the similarities with cheese cease, as the hollow crunch of each puff flees from any notion of the salty Cheeto we’re accustomed to. The powder, too, is not quite as intense in its coverage, and while a fair amount of the advertised cinnamon-sugar transferred to my fingers, I didn’t find myself in need of a good Beethoven slobbering to remove it. I considered this most unfortunate.

Now that I think about it, that’s probably because the taste falls below expectations. For something which has adopted one of the most basic adjectives in flavor for its namesake, Cheetos Sweetos don’t initially taste very sweet at all. If anything, the pieces taste like an over-buttered but under-sugared piece of slightly soggy toast, with loads of cinnamon seasoning but nothing particularly salivating about that seasoning. To put it more bluntly; they’re straight-up bland.

Cheetos Sweetos Cinnamon Sugar Puffs Closeup

The buttery coating isn’t bad, and really, the amount of actual cinnamon flavor is quite admirable, but each puff plays it too safe in the sweetness department, like some kind of alternative cereal ever cognizant of a dreaded lecture by the health food police. What I was expecting, and what my and I’m sure most sweet snack food eaters would have preferred, was something like Post’s Mini-Cinnamon Churros cereal. Likewise, the corn base and cinnamon flavor leave my taste buds grasping for a point of reference, one which inevitably turns to the sturdier crunch of sweetened corn-based cereals. In this case, the puffed approach hinders old Chester, who would have been better to market these in the traditional, crunchier texture of a regular (crunchy) Cheeto.

To be fair, Cheetos Sweetos aren’t bad. But they’re far from memorable, and I wouldn’t choose them as a snack over the multitude of very good cinnamon-sugar cereals out there. If nothing else, they’ve established a fundamental and universal truth that we Cheetos lovers have long pondered over. Yes, the greatness of the Cheeto resides not just in the fact that you get miles of flavored powder to lick from your fingers, but in the unique and especially savory cheese flavor of the powder, and no amount of buttered and slightly sweet cinnamon coating can ever come close to replicating that deliciousness.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 ounce/about 13 pieces – 160 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 1 grams of protein.)

Item: Limited Time Cheetos Sweetos Cinnamon Sugar Puffs
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 7 oz. bag
Purchased at: Weis
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Pretty solid buttered cinnamon-sugar toast flavor. Strong and authentic cinnamon taste. Easter-themed treat which isn’t dark chocolate. Discovering the real essence of Cheeto deliciousness.
Cons: Sweetness is dull and bland. Mild corn aftertaste is distracting. Doesn’t work well in puffed form. Not getting to slobber up Cheeto powder.

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REVIEW: Doritos Jacked 3D Jalapeño Pepper Jack

Doritos Jacked 3D Jalapen?o Pepper Jack

Like an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic or an Illuminati symbol, there’s an element of both metaphysical mystery and advanced technology suggested by the pyramidal shape of the new Doritos Jacked 3D Jalapeño Pepper Jack chips.

The obvious triple entendre of jacked certainly plays into the intrigue—Doritos wants you to know these chips aren’t just bold in flavor, they’re also studded with Pepper Jack cheese seasoning and completely “jacked up” from any type of Dorito we’ve seen previously.

As if stepping forth from a new dimension and intent on blowing our taste buds to smithereens, these new Doritos are supposed to be beyond anything we’ve been able to comprehend at this point.

Oh wait. Never mind.

Doritos Jacked 3D Jalapen?o Pepper Jack 3

Truth be told these aren’t just a clever rehashing of old Doritos concepts, which is something I’ve noticed Frito-Lay likes to try to sneak in on us every now and again. The chip’s construction really is unique, giving each crunchy corn pyramid an almost unmatched sturdiness in all of snackfooddom.

If you’re anything like me and hate buying an oversized bag of Doritos only to sob uncontrollably in disappointment over roughly one-third of your chips being broken, then you’ll appreciate the almost exclusively intact nature of the pieces.

What you may not appreciate is the taste, which leaves a lot to be desired. The intoxicating aroma and speckled seasoning immediately recalls everyone’s childhood favorite of Cool Ranch. And, yes, Cool Ranch are the *best* of the classic Doritos, but these are no worthy imitator. The seasoning is actually fairly dull.

It lacks the distinct buttermilk tang and lactic sweetness of Cool Ranch, displaying instead a bit of peppery and garlic flavor to compliment a respectable, but decidedly one-note whisper of jalapeño piquancy on the backend. Spicy enough to leave a tickle in your throat, and maybe elicit a cough or two, the taste is annoyingly persistent if only because there’s neither a cooling element associated with it or additional “hot” flavor to show an evolution in heat. For lack of a better adjective, the seasoning lacks that typical Doritos “zestiness” which makes eating an entire family size bag in one sitting such an, unfortunately, all-too-common experience.

Doritos Jacked 3D Jalapen?o Pepper Jack 2

Worse yet, the triangular pieces don’t really have much in the cheese flavor department. Jack cheese and its variants, including the jalapeño pepper jack version, should really have a mild and decidedly milky taste, but none of that comes off in the seasoning.

Each piece is saved somewhat by the strong and salty corn aftertaste, which tastes almost exactly like traditional Fritos, but with more crunch. Because I think Fritos are the most underrated of all chips, this is great news for me. But if you’re not a Fritos fan, and don’t get too crazy over the tickling heat of jalapeño, then you’ll likely find the chips a disappointment.

Unless you factor in the sturdiness of the pieces themselves, there’s nothing particularly mysterious or advanced about the rather bland and distinctively non-cheesy taste of the Doritos Jacked 3D Jalapeño Pepper Jack chips. Still, their solid crunch and salty corn base show potential to really capitalize on the Jacked namesake, but only if Doritos can apply their classic flavors to the new 3D triangular pieces.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz (about 13 pieces) – 150 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of total fat, 1.5 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of sugars, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Doritos Jacked 3D Jalapeño Pepper Jack
Purchased Price: $2.88
Size: 11 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Awesome crunch and sturdy construction not seen in previous versions of Doritos. Solid corn chip aftertaste will be popular amongst Fritos fans. Decent amount of jalapeño heat. Not snackable enough to eat a day’s worth of calories in flavored tortilla chips.
Cons: Seasoning is boring and not very cheesy. One-note jalapeño piquancy. Bag artwork seems stolen from Mountain Dew. Potential masonic conspiracy message engraved in a corn chip.

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REVIEW: Pringles Food Truck Flavors Kickin’ Chicken Taco

Pringles Kickin Chicken Taco

Unless you were living on the planet Uranus and happened to miss the Super Bowl and all of its commercials, you no doubt know that a truck can change the way people feel about a guy. But can a truck also change the way people feel about a chicken taco-flavored crisp which is approximately only 42 percent potato?

Such is the question posed by the latest Pringles innovation, Food Truck Flavors Kickin’ Chicken Taco.

To give you some perspective, I guess I should start out by saying I like, but do not love, Pringles. I’ve always found them a serviceable crisp, but let’s be honest, anything you can buy in a can for under two bucks probably isn’t going to conjure up adjectives like “artisan” and “game-changing.” The plainer flavors tend to have an off and fake potato aftertaste, while inconsistent spice coverage always seems to leave the more inventive seasoned crisps falling short.

Yes, a chicken taco from a food truck sounds great, but could chicken taco be any more ambiguous? I mean, chicken taco encompasses quite a spectrum of possibilities; anything ranging from Taco Bell’s “grilled” chicken in a hard shell with iceberg and cheap cheddar cheese to fried and crispy breast tenderloins doused in a bulgogi-style sauce from an up-and-coming fusion chef. The vagueness of it all is enough to make a guy wonder if it’s just another variation of sour cream and onion with a dash of back heat.

Julius K. Pringle clearly had other ideas in designing these crisps because they more than lived up to the unique mashup of flavors that make food trucks such a hit. The first flavor to hit my tongue is the unmistakable taste of braised and specifically dark meat chicken. Intrepid and worldly snackers have seen chicken-flavored crisps before, but unlike Lay’s somewhat recent rendition of Chicken & Waffles, the deep, unmistakably meaty taste isn’t offensive or fowl, at least not as foul as the egregious poultry-themed pun I seamlessly worked into this review.

Pringles Kickin Chicken Taco 4

After the initial blast of braised chicken, a veritable Williams-Sonoma catalog of spices hits me. At first there’s a strong taste of cumin and coriander, with a peppery, cayenne-like back heat which slowly builds. The heat reaches a crescendo, however, and gives way to a slightly floral and acidic note. I hesitate to proclaim it cilantro (or is it parsley?), but there’s definitely an element of relief from the earthy heat of the spices in the seasoning powder. That seasoning gets good coverage overall, appearing on both sides of the crisps.

Pringles Kickin Chicken Taco 2

They end on a distinctly citrusy and curiously sour note, in this case the unmistakable association of a squirt of fresh lime or lemon juice. Maybe the best part is that overly fake potato flake taste is completely absent.

Needless to say, my taste buds have been blown away. There are multiple influences of street food at play on each crisp, ranging from the aggressive spices and slow roasting of the Middle East’s shawarma, to the classic back heat and citrusy relief of your more traditional shredded chicken tacos from Latin America. If combining those two influences in a fusion-style taco was their goal (and seriously, I can pull up a Google search of dozens of food trucks around the country doing this) then Pringles has nailed the flavor with uncanny accuracy.

In 26 years of Pringles eating, this is, unequivocally, the most complex Pringle I have ever tasted, and probably the most realistic mashup of the fusion-inspired food truck flavors a snack food could ever hope to capture. It’s definitely changed the way I feel about Pringles, but is it for the better?

Truth be told my taste buds are confused, caught off guard by flavors I probably wouldn’t seek out had I known they’d be so authentic. Whether or not you find them satisfyingly addictive or unnervingly too accurate probably will depend on your attraction to the combination of assertive Latin and Middle Eastern spices, but one thing’s for sure. This ain’t a trip through the drive-thru and it will definitely leave you with a new perspective on Pringles.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz./about 15 crisps – 150 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 170 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, less than 1 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein..)

Item: Pringles Food Truck Flavors Kickin’ Chicken Taco
Purchased Price: $1.50
Size: 5.96 oz. can
Purchased at: Harris Teeter
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Multilayer seasoning shows evolution in flavors from meaty to earthy to piquant to cooling. Strong poultry taste reminds me of pulled adobo marinated chicken thighs. Uncanny resemblance to Middle Eastern and Latin fusion flavors in taco form. Everything’s better with a truck.
Cons: Not the most craveable flavor. Lacks broad appeal of “simpler” seasoning. Could probably be better as a Pringles Tortilla flavor. Tastes about 0.5 percent potato.

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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.

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REVIEW: Limited Time Only Cinnamon Sugar Pringles Tortillas

Limited Time Only Cinnamon Sugar Pringles Tortillas

Like a mannequin in New Era Caps or the former major league outfielder Matt Stairs, Julius Pringle might well be called a man of many hats. Between bacon and sriracha, reduced fat and diarrhea-inducing “Fat Free” crisps, he lays claim to a snack food empire with more flavor variations than a Coke Freestyle machine. And while he’s re-released his seasonal Pecan Pie Pringles in time for the holidays, he’s also donned a sombrero just in time to wish you and I a Feliz Navidad.

I speak, of course, of the new Cinnamon Sugar Pringles Tortillas. The flavor coincides with the annual need to turn savory into sweet this time each year, joining fellow new limited edition Pringles flavor, milk chocolate, on grocery store shelves.

Limited Time Only Cinnamon Sugar Pringles Tortillas 5

Also consistent with the season: the shoddy packaging, which, much like the millions of gifts shipped in oversized containers and without proper padding, tends to leaves the Pringles battered and broken. It’s mitigated somewhat by the more sturdy nature of the tortilla base compared to regular Pringles, but it’s still annoying. Although not as annoying as waking up Christmas morning to a cracked HDTV.

If you’ve ever had the Tortilla Pringles before you know the crisps enjoy a mild corn flavor with an enjoyable but none-too-bold toasted flavor. There’s an earthy note of black beans and a moderate crunch and saltiness, but overall, it’s a crisp that’s not going to offend anyone.

To pick back up on the holiday theme, it’s the kind of crisp that talks about the weather at parties, perhaps munching on a sugar cookie in the corner while smiling pleasantly and staying as far away from the eggnog as possible. God forbid it might sing along to a Bing Crosby song, it instead hums an ambiguous classical note in the background.

Limited Time Only Cinnamon Sugar Pringles Tortillas 3

The addition of cinnamon sugar really doesn’t deviate too much from this philosophy. Coating only the “underside” of each crisp, the cinnamon sugar is pretty tame. With no notes of toasted, caramelized sweetness it’s as one-note as cinnamon sugar comes, and feels detached from the corn crisp beneath. It’s kind of a shame, really, because for a brief moment there’s a nice salty-sweet combination that feels natural amongst the tortilla base.

The excitement dissipates quickly though, and like a kid at Christmas who’s just opened up a buttload of wrapped gifts only to find clothes, the anticipation is replaced by a functional reality. In other words? Prepared to have some kind of salsa on hand.

For some reason I thought the Pringles Tortillas Cinnamon Sugar would taste like churros, or at the very least open a new front in the ever chic line of salty-sweet combinations. It manages to hint at the latter, but completely falls short of the former. If nothing else it just provides an adequate and mildly enjoyable corn chip for your holiday get-togethers filled with weather conversations and reduced fat sugar cookies.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz./about 14 crisps – 150 calories, 80 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 110 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, less than 3 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein..)

Item: Limited Time Only Cinnamon Sugar Pringles Tortillas
Purchased Price: $1.50
Size: 6.42 oz. can
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Enjoyable lightly toasted corn flavor with earthy aftertaste. Lickable cinnamon-sugar coating. Functional tortilla chip not the least bit off-putting.
Cons: Cinnamon sugar coating is only surface deep. Not as salty or bold a corn flavor as Fritos. Chips shatter easily. Aftertaste is kind boring. Christmas morning with twelve new turtlenecks.

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