REVIEW: Leaf Hydrox Cookies (2015)

Leaf Hydrox Cookies (2015)

All over the Internet there are posts that lament and list discontinued snacks. Here are two examples:

44 Beloved Snacks You’ll Never Be Able To Eat Again

25 Foods You’ll Never Be Able To Eat Again

There are two issues with these lists. One, several products on them have come back (oops). Two, Hydrox cookies were not on either list. 

There are some of you out there pounding your desks and yelling, “Blasphemy! How dare they forget Hydrox!” But, to be fair, the people who wrote those lists might be too young to remember what Hydrox are.

For those young folks who have written a listicle with an inaccurate title, before Oreo there was Hydrox. They’re both chocolate sandwich cookies, but Hydrox made its debut four year earlier in 1908. Or, if you’re a hardcore Hydrox fan, let me rewrite that to say, Oreo totally ripped off the idea of Hydrox in 1912.

Leaf Hydrox Cookies (2015) 2

But Hydrox cookies are back, thanks to Leaf Brands and trademark law. You can listen to all about what happened in this NPR story. But if the soothing voices of NPR personalities make you fall asleep, here’s a short version of what happened. Kellogg’s owned the Hydrox trademark, but admitted they weren’t using it and had no plans to use it. According to trademark law, if that’s the case, someone can swipe up that trademark. And Leaf Brands did that.

Unfortunately, that trademark didn’t come with the Hydrox recipe. So like the Six Million Dollar Man, a reference those listicle writers also won’t get, it had to be rebuilt. So this new version might taste different than the original. But, to be honest, I don’t remember what it tastes like. I believe the lard in the original Oreo cookies I ate as a kid have blocked most of my memories of Hydrox.

Leaf Hydrox Cookies (2015) 3

To be honest, Hydrox and I had a rough first date. I didn’t like them at first. I thought the creme was bland and the wafers had bursts of saltiness. Also, it appeared my package was missing a cookie or two. But then we went on a second date, then a third, and then we were living together because I admitted to Hydrox that I love them. I’m going to chalk up my unfavorable first impressions to my taste buds being so used to Oreo cookies.

They’re less sweet than Oreo. I mean, they’re still sweet, but they demonstrate how hypersweet Oreo cookies are. And that hypersweetness comes from the Oreo creme. The difference between the two cremes are dramatic. The Hydrox creme is mellow like reggae and the Oreo creme is whatever noise kids are listening to these days. Get off my lawn, Oreo! 

The less sweet creme gives Hydrox a better balance with the chocolate wafers. As for the chocolate wafers, I think the Hydrox ones have a darker chocolate flavor and a lighter crunch than Oreo’s. They’re not necessarily better, just different.

But as a whole, I enjoyed Hydrox more than regular Oreo cookies. Their balanced flavor and moderate sweetness remind me a lot of Oreo Thins, which I prefer over regular Oreo cookies. Because with Oreo cookies I can eat two and have no desire to eat more. But with Hydrox and Oreo Thins, I just want to chain eat them.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 130 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 130 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Leaf Hydrox Cookies (2015)
Purchased Price: $6.10
Size: 13 ounces
Purchased at: Amazon
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: I want to chain eat them. Not as hypersweet as Oreo cookies. With creme being less sweet there a better balance of flavors between the creme and chocolate wafers. No high fructose corn syrup.
Cons: Not widely available yet (Available on Amazon and a few retailers). Some (or many) eaters might think it tastes bland compared to Oreo. My first impressions. My package looked like it was missing a cookie or two. Pricey if you’re buying it from Amazon.

REVIEW: Nabisco Limited Edition Toasted Coconut Oreo Cookies

Nabisco Limited Edition Toasted Coconut Oreo Cookies

I can picture it now. Nabisco marketers frantically running up and down supermarket aisles, whispering to themselves in a panic:

“Gotta find another cookie idea! What haven’t we tried yet? Coffee? Rutabaga? Could we cram some creme between two Doritos-flavored cookies for the Super Bowl?”

A worried mother protects her children from the sweating marketer. She tells him he’s gone “crazy in the coconut.” He cracks an inspired smile and steals away into the night.

And so, Toasted Coconut Oreo Cookies were born. Rejecting my own brilliant idea for “Back to School PB&J Oreo Cookies,” Nabisco avoided the low-hanging fruit and reached higher up the palm tree.

Nabisco Limited Edition Toasted Coconut Oreo Cookies 2

To mimic the taste of a coconut creme pie, these cookies use Oreo’s vanilla-flavored Golden cookies instead of the chocolate. I’m guessing this choice angered all the Mounds bar lovers of the world. All four of them.

Because single stuf Oreo cookies are now the MySpace of the cookie aisle, Toasted Coconut Oreo are stuffed with a double helping of white creme that is specked with darker gold shavings of “real toasted coconut.” This creates a complex filling that looks like a petri dish of e. coconut specimens.

The package lacks the traditional lift-n-peel opening, so like Tom Hanks and his coconut in Castaway, I first tried to open this by throwing it against a wall and smashing it with a rock. After finally struggling it open, my nose was assaulted by vanilla and sugar.

Uh-oh. Any fellow Oreo connoisseur knows this is a bad omen. My fears came true when I bit into a cookie. The powerful Nilla Wafer taste of the cookie stomps out the creme’s subtle coconut flavor like a Vanilla Godzilla.

Nabisco Limited Edition Toasted Coconut Oreo Cookies 3

The faint coconut taste that attempts a futile rebellion against its Orwellian cookie overlord doesn’t give the distinct, tropical, and nutty experience you’d get from a Mounds or coconut scented soap, either. It’s closer to the cloying, heavily sugared richness of sweetened, shredded baking coconut.

The “coconuttiest” part is the creme’s texture, as there is a noticeable gritty chewiness. But any intended “toasted” notes are completely obscured by the pure, unadulterated confectioner’s sugar sweetness of the creme.

But I thought maybe my personal coconut-o-meter was just broken. So I asked a few taste testers — and by “asked,” I mean, “aggressively shoved cookies into the face of” — and got these responses:

“I don’t get it…it’s just a cookie?”

“It’s only like coconut when you lick the creme.”

“It tastes like a really sweet piña colada Dum-Dum sucker.”

So perhaps these divisive Oreo cookies just require a more sophisticated palette to bring out the coconut. If I ever fulfill my dream of hosting a ritzy lecture series called “Oreos & Orators,” I’ll be sure to accompany the heated discourse on the social commentary of Robinson Crusoe with these thematically appropriate coconut confections.

Nabisco Limited Edition Toasted Coconut Oreo Cookies 4

Overall, they taste like a plain vanilla creme pie that a coconut just happened to sneeze on. I found it pleasant, but since it’s easier to sell a used Toyota to a manatee than to recommend coconut to coconut haters, regular Golden Oreos are probably a safer, crowd pleasing option.

Meanwhile, those who like coconut will be left wanting a more pronounced taste. This leaves Toasted Coconut Oreo Cookies suspended in limbo. And not the fun, luau kind of limbo, either. I think Hunter S. Thompson said it best when he called them “too weird to live, too rare to die.”

Wait, what do you mean he’s been dead for 10 years?

Guess I’m gonna need to book a new orator for next month.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 150 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 15 milligrams of potassium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.).)

Item: Limited Edition Toasted Coconut Oreo Cookies
Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 10.7 oz
Purchased at: Meijer
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: All the goodness of Golden Oreo Cookies. Fun creme texture. Cookie kaiju. The under-appreciated genius of PB&J Oreo Cookies.
Cons: Little reason to buy them over Golden Oreo. Only a ghost of coconut toast. Non-luau limbos. The inevitability of nacho cheese-flavored Oreo.

REVIEW: Keebler Limited Batch Pumpkin Spice Fudge Stripe Cookies

Keebler Limited Batch Pumpkin Spice Fudge Stripe Cookies

Let it be known that if you come over to my apartment at 7:30 with a voracious appetite, an empty plate, and a demand to be filled with a joy that surpasses that of a ghost hunter finding the apparition of Aristotle at the back of a gas station, then you are liable to get dished a plate of cookies for dinner.

If you like spice cake, crunchy things, and a dauntingly bountiful amount of orange-checkered packaging, you probably wouldn’t mind if you came over today.

Keebler Limited Batch Pumpkin Spice Fudge Stripe Cookies 2

Before chomping in, let us admire the contrasting aesthetics of the Fudge Stripe: the parallel lines, the perfect ring shape, the little geometric bibbelty-bobs that pock the surface.

It’s a pattern that could rival the most intricate of doilies and possibly compete for the world’s best cross-stitching design, although I’m not 100 percent certain of that last statement. The only time I tried cross-stitching, I ended up with a “scarf” that looked like a beach towel gnawed off by Godzilla.

What I do know is that, after over 30 years, Ernie Keebler still knows how to make a mighty fine stripe cookie. Never one to hold back on the sugar intake, the cookie’s been generously shoveled with three variants of the sweet stuff, highlighting the earthy molasses against all the varieties of fructose. Combine that woodsy taste with a crunchy base, some sweet, mildly flavored white fudge stripes, and a zip of ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg and this bugger might as well be the perfect pumpkin pie crust.

But heed my warning, fellow pumpkin maniacs: there is no actual pumpkin here. I was a little bummed out before acknowledging that, as with all goods of the “Pumpkin Spice” ilk, I am only promised spices, not necessarily squash, and, with a cookie so fine and limited in its presence, how can I complain? (I can’t.)

Keebler Limited Batch Pumpkin Spice Fudge Stripe Cookies 3

Welp, that was a fine dinner. If you fall head over heels for the warm spices of autumn and enjoy a depth of sweetness with your spice, these are worth picking up, if only to test them out on your own taste buds. Could the cookie be crispier? Could the soft, sweet fudge benefit from less hydrogenated oil and more vanilla? Could the Keebler elfin army deliver these to my door, equipped with complimentary magical talking woodland creatures?

Sure, but, far above these idealistic visions, my need for cookies reigns. As it always should.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 gram of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Keebler Limited Batch Pumpkin Spice Fudge Stripe Cookies
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 11.5 oz
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Crunchy cookie. Just enough molasses. Zippy ginger. Fudge is everywhere. Geometry! The experience of using “bibbelty-bob” in a sentence. Finding the ghost of Aristotle at the back of a gas station.
Cons: No pumpkin involved. Fudge could use more vanilla. Hydrogenated oils crush dreams. Not delivered by a magical elfin army. Failed cross-stitching projects that look like they were gnawed off by an overgrown prehistoric lizard.

REVIEW: Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice belVita Breakfast Biscuits

Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice belVita Breakfast Biscuits

As lawn mowers, economic theories, and the fearsome Krang all prove, things that prevail are not simple.

Pumpkin spice is another one of those things.

Indeed, pumpkin spice requires subtly, nuance, a cautious hand. The nutmeg/cinnamon/ginger blend must be parceled out in a way that is generous rather than overexposed, compassionate rather than grating. When treated appropriately, pumpkin spice should perform one task and one task alone: highlighting the earthy-sweet qualities of the squash for which it was named. To do otherwise is but a fiasco, and me? I prefer to avoid fiascos, especially at 7:00 a.m., so I’m counting on you, belVita, to avoid another fiasco. Don’t let me down.

Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice belVita Breakfast Biscuits 2

It can be hard to appreciate the belVita biscuit. I once stood firm in such a belief, excusing the flimsy crackers as a half-hearted granola bars stuck in a midlife crisis. That was until, after 18 days abroad in which 82 percent of my diet subsisted on such cracker-biscuits, I realized: these are just giant, non-animal-shaped Teddy Grahams.

Sure, they may contain oats and lack the inherent charm that comes with gnawing the ears off a biscuit shaped like a carnivorous mammal, but I was being given a hall pass to eat a giant, crunchy cookie for breakfast. My life choices (and sugar intake) would be forever altered.

And these biscuits hold the same qualities I found appealing in that initial experience: crunchy, thin, and tasting of cinnamon, sugar, and toasted oats. While not high in fat, there’s just enough of the oily stuff to give a good crumble to the texture while still providing a sturdy backbone should you choose* to spread them with peanut butter or dip them in your morning coffee-and-cream.

*You should choose.

Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice belVita Breakfast Biscuits 3

It was mid-way through my second biscuit that it struck.

“What is that? That flavor?? Is that…????”

I squinted my eyeball and shoved it up real close to the box, pretending I didn’t look like a mildly insane, cookie-scarfing clown with cataracts.

There. Yes, right there, in the ingredients: dried pumpkin. I had my doubts, but there it was, both in the ingredients and the taste. Alongside that pumpkin, there’s little hint of nutmeg, perhaps even a spicy zing from ginger. These spices combine with the oat-y biscuit to keep the Beta-carotene-infused flavor of the pumpkin in check. If I search my memory, the whole experience harkens back to that piecrust that was left after I scooped all the pumpkin filling out: crunchy, sugary, with just a hint of pumpkin. This is just like that, only without the negative moral repercussions that come with scooping the pumpkin innards from a pie.

Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice belVita Breakfast Biscuits 4

It’s easy for a company to use the celebrity powers of pumpkin spice for evil. Indeed, with the blend’s unstoppable presence in everything from Shredded Wheat to Yankee Candles, it takes a special determination to give the flavor the gentle hand it deserves.

While these aren’t groundbreakingly perfect (they certainly don’t keep me for the 4 hours promised), they are well-done. What with their light spices, sugary oat crunch, and mild pumpkin presence, it’s an honest biscuit. And, in a world in which pumpkin spice is flung willy-nilly, that honesty is worth something. Good on you, belVita, for putting one less pumpkin spice disaster into the world.

Now, if we could just do something about the Pumpkin Spice Jell-O…

(Nutrition Facts – 4 biscuits – 230 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 gram of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 95 milligrams of potassium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 11 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Item: Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice belVita Breakfast Biscuits
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 5-packk
Purchased at: Publix
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Crispy. Crunchy. Oat-y. Well-balanced spices. Actual pumpkin included. Reason to eat cookies for breakfast. Good with peanut butter. Reflecting on the complexities of lawn mowers and the maniacal Krang.
Cons: Doesn’t sustain energy for 4 hours. Would be more fun if it were shaped like an animal. Midlife crisis. Negative moral repercussions. Mildly insane clowns with cataracts.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Brownie Batter Oreo Cookies

Nabisco Limited Edition Brownie Batter Oreo Cookies

These Limited Edition Brownie Batter Oreo Cookies are dark.

The creme in these cookies is so dark that the cookie looks like it’s made with three chocolate wafers. These cookies are so dark that I’m afraid to eat these outside at night because if I drop one, I don’t think I can find it before the five second rule goes into effect. The cookies are so dark that I’m surprised they’re not a Sith Lord named Darth Atter.

Unlike many of the new limited edition flavors this year, Nabisco didn’t do anything special with the crunchy wafers. There’s no food coloring (red velvet). There’s no special flavor (s’mores and key lime pie). It’s the standard chocolate Oreo we all know and we all love, except for the folks who made Hydrox, and in between the wafers is a brownie batter-flavored creme.

Nabisco Limited Edition Brownie Batter Oreo Cookies Comparison

Before trying these, I wondered how different they would taste compared with Chocolate Oreo Cookies and their Jedi robe brown-colored creme. So I did something I rarely do. I bought a package of regular Chocolate Oreo. (Seriously, including the package I bought for this review, I believe I’ve only purchase Chocolate Oreo twice in my life.) And after trying the two, I have to say Brownie Batter Oreo is much better.

The extremely busy labcoat-wearing folks in the Nabisco test kitchens did a wonderful job with these cookies. The aroma that comes out of the package after opening it smells like brownie batter, and it also reminds me of the hot fudge on a McDonald’s sundae. The creme itself tastes like I’m risking the chance of getting salmonella by licking clean a wooden spoon covered with prepared brownie mix. It has a richer and fudgier flavor than the Chocolate Oreo creme. It’s delightful and I’d recommend licking it, if you’re into that.

Nabisco Limited Edition Brownie Batter Oreo Cookies Closeup

But the chocolate wafers do get in the way of the brownie batter creme. When eaten whole, I taste more of the wafers than the creme. But it does get a bit more noticeable in the aftertaste. Of course, if you were to eat these in an unconventional way, with one of the wafers removed, the brownie batter flavor definitely stands out.

If you love licking brownie batter off a spoon or, if you’re civilized, run your finger along the spoon’s head to get some of that brownie batter goodness, I think you’ll love the flavor of these Limited Edition Brownie Batter Oreo Cookies.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 100 milligrams of sodium, 70 milligrams of potassium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Limited Edition Brownie Batter Oreo Cookies
Purchased Price: N/A
Size: 10.7 oz.
Purchased at: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: That brownie batter creme is wonderful. Brownie batter flavor without the brownie batter hazards. Better than Chocolate Oreo. Better than Cookie Dough Oreo. Cream licking.
Cons: Wafers can get in the way of the creme’s flavor. Might be on the dark side of the Force. Forcing a weak Jedi reference into this review.