REVIEW: Keebler Red Velvet Fudge Stripes Cookies

Keebler Red Velvet Fudge Stripes Cookies

Like Salted Caramel, Maple Bacon, and Sriracha, Red Velvet is a food trend which will not go away until it’s been flavorized into every edible object this side of gluten-free dog treats. While I’m quite positive this has driven some of you mad, I’m more than willing to accept and embrace this necessary step in flavor evolution.

Sneer all you want about how diet yogurts and Pop-Tarts can never match the mellow cocoa flavoring and rich cream cheese frosting of an actual slice of homemade Red Velvet Cake, but unless you possess a time machine allowing you to conveniently travel back to the 1930s or 1940s, I’m going to call you out as just another fan of the latest bastardization of the classic southern cake.

And you know what? I’m totally cool with that, just like I’m totally cool with the idea of the Keebler Elves adapting their classic Fudge Stripe cookies to Red Velvet. These are magical elves, after all, and there are far worse food trends they could be adapting for cookie construction.*

Keebler Red Velvet Fudge Stripes Cookies 2

At first glance, the fudge stripe template seems a curious choice to adapt Red Velvet to. Fudge is supposed to be dense, super chocolaty, and for lack of a better word, fudgy.

Meanwhile, even bastardized conceptions of Red Velvet carry a certain connotation of a light cake crumb and more restrained cocoa flavor. But when you think about it, good old Ernest J. Keebler’s reasoning checks out. Not nearly as iconic at E.L. Fudge yet distinct enough from your garden-variety Chips Deluxe, the Fudge Stripe begs for a makeover, or at the very least a new twist on the contrast of artificial chocolate glaze and crisp shortbread.

Keebler Red Velvet Fudge Stripes Cookies 3

If nothing else, the little men slaving away in those treehouse factories certainly craft an aesthetically pleasing product. Lined in a perfect row of red and white, as if drizzled with a cream cheese and buttercream fondant by skillful elfish hands, the cookies look appetizing enough to devour in one fell swoop. It’s a thought not completely unrealistic, if only for the obsolescent non-resealable packaging. Really, Ernest J.? You’ve created a magical factory in a tree capable of mass producing cookies yet you can’t prevent my cookies from going stale? Priorities man, priorities!

Keebler Red Velvet Fudge Stripes Cookies 4

The white coating is predictably waxy—the kind of artificial, “look that’s going to be your arteries!” stuff that we’ve been told to avoid, but still secretly love. At first, it’s slow to yield a distinct flavor, but after several licks and precise, tiny bites, the faux-glaze takes on a unique flavor. I’m reminded quite a bit of the yogurt coating of the raisins in one of my favorite cereals (Basic 4—completely underrated) but also pick up a hypersweet note of white chocolate and an element of cream cheese.

Beneath the glaze is the shortbread cocoa cookie. Crunchy with a superfine crumb, there’s both a distinct mellow cocoa element but also a deeper and richer chocolate flavor. You won’t mistake it for dark chocolate, but sure enough, the semisweet chocolate listed on the ingredient list makes itself known, giving each cookie an over-the-top chocolate flavor which pairs wonderfully with cream cheese glaze.

I have to admit though, there’s an odd acidity in these cookies which tempers the chocolate; a sensation which makes me almost pucker. Sharp to a point but still very sweet, there really is a distinct Red Velvet flavor that goes well beyond just mellow cocoa and red food coloring. Truth be told it’s sort of unexpected (who ever heard of a crunchy Red Velvet cake, for one thing!), yet somehow satisfyingly addictive. One might, when considering the hands which built it, even call it magical.

I wasn’t expecting to like the Keebler Red Velvet Fudge Stripes Cookies as much as I did. I know, I know. Who am I to doubt whatever source of supernatural craftsmanship guides the Keebler elves. Yet lulled to sleep by countless Red Velvet flavor imposters, my expectations were dimmed, so much so that when one of the most accurate representations of the flavor in mass produced form graced my lips, I was blown away. Red Velvet Oreos, you ask? I’m not holding my breath just yet, because as far as I’m concerned Ernest J. and the magical elves have crafted a near-perfect Red Velvet cookie.

*Kale, for instance.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 130 calories, 6 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 11 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Keebler Red Velvet Fudge Stripes Cookies
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 11.5 oz.
Purchased at: Mars Grocery Stores
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: ACTUALLY TASTES LIKE RED VELVET. Mellow cocoa crumb. Unexpected chocolate depth. Addictively complex cream cheese/buttercream/white chocolate glaze. Needed makeover for a classic cookie.
Cons: Possibility of Red Velvet flavored gluten-free dog treats. Seventeenth century cookie packaging. Will turn your arteries into waxy faux cream cheese filling.

REVIEW: Market Pantry Birthday Cake Creme Sandwich Cookies

Market Pantry Birthday Cake Creme Sandwich Cookies

Do you want to know how to ruin my birthday party?

Do any of the following.

Get me a pony instead of the mini unicorn I requested. Give me a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf gift card instead of a Starbucks gift card. Put trick candles on my birthday cake. Make me hit a piñata with a blindfold. Not sing “Happy Birthday” in a language other than English. And pass out these Market Pantry Birthday Cake Sandwich Cookies instead of Nabisco’s Birthday Cake Oreo Cookies.

You may think I’m pooh-poohing the store brand because I’m a brand elitist or I’ve got cash to burn so I can spend it on big brands, but I think Target’s Market Pantry puts out some really good stuff, like their Snickerdoodle Milk.

I’d be insulted if someone brought these store brand birthday cake-flavored sandwich cookies to my party because there are several things off about them.

Let’s start with the packaging.

If Target’s Market Basket wants to copy Nabisco’s ideas, might I suggest copying the resealable package. Sure, Nabisco probably has a patent or two for their resealable cookie packaging, but I wish Target would come up with their own because once this package is open, you’ve either got to close it with tape, clothespins, or eat the whole damn thing in one sitting. Also, the graphics on the packaging confuse me. The cookies are chocolate wafers with creme, but the cake on the packaging is yellow cake with frosting. Yeah, that doesn’t match.

Market Pantry Birthday Cake Creme Sandwich Cookies Stcak

Now let’s move on to the creme.

First, it looks like it was either placed on the chocolate wafer by an uncalibrated or emo creme squirting machine (I believe creme squirting machine is the technical name for it) or it looks like my lazy ass put these cookies together. The pat of creme isn’t in a uniform shape and it’s not centered in the middle of the cookie like the creme is with an Oreo cookie. Also, the colorful “sprinkles,” which make the creme appear birthday cake frosting-ish, seem to be nothing more than spots of food dye. It looks like the Nyan Cat sneezed on it.

As for the flavor, I don’t think it tastes birthday cake frosting-ish. It’s more like regular chocolate sandwich cookie creme-ish. I licked my way through several cookies as if I was a dog with a jar of peanut butter, but didn’t think there was anything resembling birthday cake.

While the packaging and creme are off, they don’t make the cookie’s flavor weird. But that happens with the chocolate wafers. They have a crunch similar to Oreo cookies and they start off with a mild cocoa flavor, but they end with a weird, bitter artificialness that brings down the entire cookie and guarantees it ends up on my birthday party shitlist.

So if your arm reaches for these Market Pantry Birthday Cake Sandwich Cookies, shift it to the far right or far left, which is where the Nabisco cookies are probably stocked at your local Target, and grab the Nabisco Birthday Cake Oreo Cookies instead before you come to my birthday party.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories 60 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat*, 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of sodium, 35 milligrams of potassium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

*made with partially hydrogenated oils

Item: Market Pantry Birthday Cake Creme Sandwich Cookies
Purchased Price: $2.09
Size: 15.25 oz.
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Cheaper than Birthday Cake Oreo. Getting Starbucks gift cards. Unicorns. Nabisco products being to the left or right of these cookies.
Cons: Tastes cheaper than Birthday Cake Oreo. Chocolate wafers have weird bitterness. Creme doesn’t taste birthday cake-ish. Sprinkles aren’t sprinkles. Packaging shows yellow cake with white frosting, but the cookies are chocolate. It looks like I put the cookies together.

REVIEW: Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookies

Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo

I used to think the world didn’t need more pumpkin spice products. The number of pumpkin spice-ified products has grown to comical levels. I think there are enough of them that they would outweigh the world’s largest pumpkin, which is over 2,000 pounds.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Pringles, Pumpkin Spice Country Crock Spread, Pumpkin Spice M&M’s, Philadelphia Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese, and a dozen or so pumpkin spice beers are just a small taste of all the pumpkin spice products out there.

But after learning about these Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookies several weeks ago, something in my mind snapped and now I want to see MORE pumpkin spice products. Actually, I take that back. I want complete pumpkin spice shelf domination.

That means I want see Rockstar Pure Zero Pumpkin Spice Ice Energy Drink, Pumpkin Spice Cheerios, Sprite Pumpkin Spice Soda, Pepperoni and Pumpkin Spice Hot Pockets, Pumpkin Spice Tide Laundry Detergent, Pumpkin Spice Egg Beaters, Pumpkin Spice Spicy Doritos, Pumpkin Spice Scope Mouthwash, Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Spice Goldfish, Pumpkin Spice Spam, and so much more. Hell yeah!

I think pumpkin spice and Oreo were meant to come together, because Oreo is also something that folks say there are too many of. So it’s funny the flavor that has too many products and the product that has too many flavors ended up coming together.

Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo Package

The Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookie’s smell reminds me of the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes I purchase about this time every year. Out of all the Oreo varieties I’ve tried this year, this cookie’s aroma is the most inviting, slightly ahead of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Oreo. It doesn’t smell like an artificial version of what it’s trying to emulate, which is the case with other flavors, like Fruit Punch, Root Beer Float, and Caramel Apple.

Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo Closeup

The orange-red creme has that familiar pumpkin spice flavor. I could taste ginger, cinnamon, and a bit of nutmeg. However, the ingredients list doesn’t contain any of those spices. Well, technically, the creme contains something that sounds like a spice, paprika oleoresin, but it’s just there for coloring.

When licking just the creme, the flavor doesn’t excite my taste buds. The pumpkin spice flavor is good, but it’s surprisingly not that strong despite direct taste bud-to-creme contact. However, just like I experienced with the Caramel Apple Oreo, the creme’s flavor is enhanced when the cookie is eaten whole. I don’t know what it is about the Golden Oreo that makes that happen, but I’m glad it happens. Damn food science!

If you’re a fan of pumpkin spice, the Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookies will make you happy. If you’re one of those people who think there are too many pumpkin spice products, then this will further support your beliefs. And if you’re bored and happen to have regular Oreo cookies and Pumpkin Spice Oreo cookies around, I’d suggest doing a creme swap. The pumpkin spice creme with the chocolate cookie is also quite tasty.

Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookies Surgery

(Disclosure: I received a free sample of these cookies from the folks at Oreo. I gave my honest opinion of them. Receiving a free sample did not influence me to write something positive. To satisfy possible doubters, I will say something bad about Oreo. Mega Stuf Oreo was a dumb idea.)

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 150 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 2 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 fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookies
Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 12.2 oz.
Purchased at: Received from Oreo
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: If you love pumpkin spice, you’ll like this cookie. Pumpkin spice stands out more when the cookie is eaten whole. Aroma reminds me of Starbucks PSL. Also goes well with chocolate Oreo wafers.
Cons: If you think there are too many pumpkin spice products, you’ll continue to feel that way. Licking creme isn’t satisfying. Pumpkin Spice Spam.

REVIEW: Nabisco Limited Edition Caramel Apple Oreo Cookies

Nabisco Limited Edition Caramel Apple Oreo Cookies

When I first learned about these the Nabisco Limited Edition Caramel Apple Oreo Cookies, I wondered if I would get the FULL caramel apple experience. I’m not just talking about the flavor combo of sweet caramel and tart apples. I’m also talking about getting my teeth stuck in the fall treat.

Whenever I take the first bite into a caramel apple, my front teeth always get stuck because of the caramel coating. The caramel is sticky enough that it adheres to my teeth and it’s tough enough that I can’t tear off the piece my mouth has wrapped itself around. When that happens I go into panic mode because I’m afraid, as I struggle to pull them out, they’ll break off and my mouth will look like I was on the losing end of a hockey fight or what I looked like in my first grade school photo.

My teeth also get stuck because I always take a big bite, which is what I do with caramel-less apples. This causes my jaw to be stuck at its widest position, which doesn’t give me much leeway to do much with my jaw. My teeth eventually free themselves, but I’m left with a sore jaw and ego.

Thankfully, and obviously, these Limited Edition Caramel Apple Oreo cookies won’t force my mouth to stay open for long periods of time and give me a sore jaw like a sadistic dental hygienist would.

Nabisco Limited Edition Caramel Apple Oreo Cookies Closeup

Like with previous fruit-flavored Oreo, like Fruit Punch, Watermelon, and Lemon, the Caramel Apple Oreo also comes with Golden Oreo wafers. The creme is two-toned with Kermit the Frog green and Fozzie Bear brown.

Since the creme was green, there’s a green apple on the packaging, and every caramel apple that has trapped my teeth has been a Granny Smith apple, I expected the creme to taste like a Granny Smith apple, but it tasted more like a Fuji apple. After spending a few seconds with Google, I learned Fuji apples, which can be partially green, are also used with caramel apples. The Fozzie Bear-colored creme had a strong caramel scent that was noticeable as soon as package was opened, but, even after licking my way through a number of cookies, I didn’t think it had a flavor that was as strong.

When eaten as a whole cookie, the apple creme stands out. Whatever caramel flavor there is gets lost behind the apple and the Golden Oreo. The lack of caramel makes the whole experience less satisfying. But with that said, I think it’s a decent cookie because I like the candy-fied Fuji apple flavor and it won’t force my mouth to say open for long periods.

Although, I should admit, I don’t know what would happen if I tried to stuff four cookies stacked on top of each other into my mouth at one time.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 2 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 fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Nabisco Limited Edition Caramel Apple Oreo Cookies
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 12.2 oz.
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Apple-flavored creme taste like Fuji apples. Strong caramel aroma. Creme has the same colors as Kermit and Fozzie.
Cons: Lacks caramel flavor. Getting teeth stuck in a caramel apple. Target exclusive flavor. Granny Smith fans will be disappointed. Having no front teeth in a school photo.

REVIEW: Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Spice Milano Cookies

Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Spice Milano Cookies

The Milano cookie has always been something of an enigma for me. With its elegant yet simple design and name conjuring images of the Italian Alps, it was beyond my childhood capacity of appreciation. Later in life, after I had graduated from a packaged cookie diet consisting entirely of Oreos and Chips Ahoy, Milanos still perplexed me. A dense yet slightly chewy crumb and buttery but dark chocolate flavor pointed toward a cookie on its own plane, distinct and unabashedly unique from every other prepackaged treat.

Oh yes, and terribly delicious.

It goes without saying that we expect much from Milano cookies. When you nail the chocolate flavor better than 95 percent of the competitors, I think expectations are a given. Nevertheless I couldn’t help but wonder if that sophisticated edge would translate with the addition of pumpkin spice. It’s one thing to pair mint and raspberry with chocolate, but when you start playing matchmaker with chocolate and the sometimes ambiguous concoction of fall spices, the results aren’t always so endearing.

Examining the bag confirmed my initial skepticism, as there’s no mention of pumpkin or the usual suspects of cinnamon or brown sugar in the ingredients. Nevertheless the orange lip representing pumpkin appeared on each cookie, while an unmistakably pumpkiny aroma danced from the open bag in perfect step with aromas of shortbread and chocolate.

It’s really a scintillating aroma, one with notes of pumpkin ice cream and pumpkin loaf cake supporting the dance. Actually, it’s so great I nearly passed out of asphyxiation due to a prolonged moment of sticking my schnoz right into the bag and failing to breath anything but the glorious smell of autumn.

Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Spice Milano Cookies 2

The orange “cream”—for want of a better word—is thin and slightly viscous, with a texture somewhere between cream cheese on a hot day and the filling they stick inside those stacked wafer cookies. Tasting it from the lip of the cookie, it comes across as a less intense version of Philadelphia Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese, right on down to a slightly artificial flavor that seems a bit too quiet for fall’s most iconic squash.

Artificial flavor aside, there’s a pleasantly light sweetness and lickable texture that leaves me wanting more. The problem is there really isn’t much more to be had. Even though the chocolate-to-pumpkin filling ratio is about 1:1, the pumpkin finishes a distant third in its impact. The filling and the spice together are enough to let you know we’re talking pumpkin and not just cinnamon-flavored cookies, but the milk chocolate filling and scrumptious cookie base seem unwilling to let the pumpkin intrude on their synergy.

Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Spice Milano Cookies 3

It’s been my experience through a quarter century of pumpkin eating that pumpkin is a very jealous flavor. It just doesn’t like playing second fiddle, much less third string. Yet in the distinct and careful balance of buttery cookie crumb and rich chocolate taste the pumpkin seems an awkward third wheel, attractive enough to want on its own, but not enough for either of the other two elements of the cookie to commit to.

It’s as if the cookie and the chocolate know what they have together, and while tempted by the pumpkin’s autumnal notes, neither flavor wants to commit to the newcomer over its tried and true other half. My God, it now occurs to me as I polish off another cookie, I have just described a twisted escapade of cookie love.

Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Spice Milano Cookies 4

The sophisticated chocolate taste and buttery crumb native to all Milanos make the Pumpkin Spice Milano flavor unique and tasty. Yet for such a trendsetting cookie the pumpkin spice flavor doesn’t come through enough to make it a distinctively pumpkin product, while the hints of an attractive and creamy texture mitigate it to an awkward role player. As for that role, it’s just not cast right, and despite a promising beginning and intoxicating aroma, the Pumpkin Spice Milanos failed to make me fall in love with their take on the seasonal flavor.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 130 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Spice Milano Cookies
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 7 ounces
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Quite possibly one of the most enjoyable smelling cookies in creation. Buttery Milano cookie. Rich milk chocolate flavor. Pumpkin flavored “cream” is slightly reminiscent of pumpkin cream cheese. That feeling you get when you buy Milanos.
Cons: Too little pumpkin filling. Slightly artificial pumpkin spice “cream.” Third wheel flavors. Death by cookie bag. Nineteenth century packaging of Milano cookies.