REVIEW: Post Shredded Wheat Frosted Cinnamon Roll Cereal

Post Shredded Wheat Frosted Cinnamon Roll Cereal

I can’t help but stare at the Post Shredded Wheat Frosted Cinnamon Roll Cereal box for two reasons.

  1. From afar the cereal pieces look as if they’re the children of a block of dried packaged ramen noodles and a Twinkie.
  2. The white creamy centers in those cereal pieces on the box do not show up in the actual cereal pieces. In tiny print, it says, “enlarged to show detail.” Unfortunately, a detail is wrong.

What’s not wrong is the aroma that comes out after opening the package. It’s a nice sweet cinnamon smell that I’d love to wake up to every morning. However, the cereal itself is not one I’m sure I’d wake up for.

As you can read on the box, the part of a complete breakfast has whole grain wheat, no synthetic colors, and is “bursting with vanilla flavored chips.” It’s frosted on one side and cinnamon is an ingredient. Now, this sounds like this could be a decent cereal, and, I’ll be honest, it is when eaten dry.

The cinnamon flavor isn’t as pronounced as its aroma, but the frosting, vanilla-flavored chips, and cinnamon do a great job at acting as the Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac to deal with the depressing blandness of the shredded wheat.

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But I do wish Post upped the cinnamon dosage. It’s not Cinnabon level of cinnamon, it’s more like licking the bottom of the box a Cinnabon came in after someone else licked it. The frosting and vanilla chips add a generic sweetness and artificial vanilla-ness that help the insoluble fiber go down. The chips aren’t like what’s shown on the box, they’re more like white blobs with a texture that’s more crunchy than creamy.

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While fine when eaten dry, a problem arises when it sits in milk for a few moments, which is a situation cereal finds itself in 9 out of 10 times. The dairy bath causes the pieces lose ALL THEIR FLAVOR and turn a decent cereal into a depressing one. Now you’d think those vanilla chips might save it, but even their flavor disappeared. Actually, my mouth couldn’t even feel those chips in the soggy pieces. It’s as if they dissolved in milk.

If you’re going to eat these as a dry snack, you’ll enjoy them. They have a hearty crunch and a decent, sweet flavor. But, while milk helps strengthen bones, it hurts this cereal by washing those good things away.

(Nutrition Facts – 22 biscuits – 220 calories, 2 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 10 milligrams of sodium, 49 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 16 grams of sugar, 5 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.98
Size: 15.5 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Tastes good dry. Uses actual cinnamon.
Cons: Flavor washes off when sittin in milk for a few moments. Could use more cinnamon flavor. Deceptive image of cereal pieces on box. Looks like a dried ramen block and a Twinkie had a child.

REVIEW: Keebler Limited Batch Dark Chocolate Mint Fudge Stripes Cookies

Keebler Limited Batch Dark Chocolate Mint Fudge Stripes Cookies

I know what you’re thinking.

Thin Mints.

When chocolate and mint come together these days, the inevitable comparison is to those bewitching Girl Scout goodies. But my first impression of Fudge Stripes Dark Chocolate Mint cookies was something a little closer to my own ‘80s heart. Andes candies.

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I have memories of my parents putting Andes out in crystal bowls when they had company over, but I’m not sure if that was real life or an Andes commercial that I dreamed my family into. In either case, I had the distinct impression that these were sophisticated adult treats that I was lucky to get my grubby paws on. I wouldn’t taste Thin Mints until near middle-age and still have not partaken in a Shamrock Shake, so those tiny slabs are my mint touchstone.

After the disappointment of Strawberry Cheesecake Fudge Stripes, I was a little leery when I opened this package. My deep inhale was met by the cool minty aromatic embrace of Andes. “Come in,” they purred. “Remember us?” It’s summer, so the light green frosting stripes smeared on my fingers while trying to separate the cookies.

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I took a bite and YES – FUDGE STRIPES ARE BACK ON THEIR GAME!

The mint was a bright, refreshing flavor and sensation – there was a tiny kick of cool menthol there. The chocolate was a perfect companion, grounding the mint, but not competing against it. This was an Andes candies cookie and I loved it!

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My one (minuscule and easily dismissible) criticism is that while billed as dark chocolate, the cookie base didn’t read as such to me. It was like Oreos or the Fudge Stripes Cookies & Creme variation – a rich dark color, but not the bitter bite of dark chocolate. That being said, it was still delicious, so I’ll hold my thumb over the word “dark” on the package and happily chow down.

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These belong on the “should be a permanent Fudge Stripes release” shelf with Cinnamon Roll, Lemon Cream Pie, and Birthday Cake.

I had the urge to repurpose these and decided on a Stripe-S’Mallow-Mint Sandwich. Two cookies, one marshmallow, a few seconds in the microwave and I had a gooey decadent summer dessert.

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I made mine with jumbo marshmallows, but they were too big and I had a bit of a blowout. Take 2 (pictured) was half a jumbo. A regular ‘mallow would have been perfect.

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(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 6 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 11 grams of total sugars including 11 grams of added sugars, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.69
Size: 11.5 oz. package
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Minty fresh taste! Chocolate-y chocolate-ness. Crystal-bowl-worthy.
Cons: Not really dark chocolate. Not a deal breaker, though.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Bacon Queso Fries

Wendy s Bacon Queso Fries

Bacon. Cheese. Potatoes.

As far as I’m concerned those are three of the major food groups. Toss some nuggets and a Chocolate Frosty in there and you’ve covered them all –- the Wendy’s Food Pyramid.

Make no mistake; Wendy’s ever evolving innovative menu makes her The Queen of Fast Food. I’m never disappointed in their releases. So when I heard about this new queso line of products, I was all in.

The ad claims queso “makes everything better.” Far be it from me to call out the validity of Wendy’s crack marketing team, but I’m not sure it’s true.

Case in point – Wendy’s Bacon Queso Fries.

I love Wendy’s fries. I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I eat them monthly, but let’s just say it’s quite often. Too often.

The large order of Bacon Queso Fries come drenched in “spicy” poblano queso, with generous helpings of shredded cheddar and strips of Applewood smoked bacon.

Okay, so, as you can see, this isn’t exactly the prettiest dish. Obnoxious people like to tell us that “we eat with our eyes first,” so these fries were already off to a rough start.

The queso was warm and immediately made me feel like I was trying Wendy’s take on nachos.

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The little green poblano peppers added a nice heat kick, but you won’t be running for a large Frosty to offset the burn. These are probably right on par with Wendy’s Spicy Chicken products at the very bottom of the Scoville Scale.

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The shredded cheese wasn’t necessary, but I guess it added a mild flavor balance and another textural element. Speaking of, the bacon was firm and stayed a bit crispy, so that was good. Wendy’s usually comes through with the bacon.

The first few bites were satisfying, but after a while the spice mixed with the fry and bacon saltiness got overbearing. I can’t believe I’m whining that something was too salty, but, man, were these salty. The queso spice dried out my mouth, so it intensified the salt tenfold. I definitely recommend having a drink nearby when you’re eating these, if only to re-moisten your mouth.

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Another knock is these got unappetizing as they lost temperature. By the time I was halfway done, they were cold and clumpy, so I lost interest in shoving the rest down. I hate wasting food, but I couldn’t finish.

I appreciate Wendy’s continuing to put out fry variations, but these didn’t hold up to the previous few concoctions I tried. I’d definitely prefer a smaller portion. Maybe if I had a friend to share with, I would have given these a higher score. Plus, I’d have a friend, and I desperately need those.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 Serving – 510 calories, 30 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 630 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and less than 15 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: N/A
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Wendy’s has great fries. Bacon was on point. Queso was tasty when hot. Not too spicy. The Wendy’s Food Pyramid. The price was right for the size.
Cons: Way too salty. Got cold quickly. Clumps of plasticky cheese after a couple minutes. Pretty huge serving size. Forever alone 🙁

REVIEW: Little Debbie S’mores Cake Rolls

Little Debbie S mores Cake Rolls

Every summer, s’mores fever grips the snack food aisle like a charred marshmallow to a hot skewer. But there’s a good reason only an elite corps of s’mores junk food, with S’mores Pop-Tarts as their patron saint, stick around after the last autumn bonfire is snowed out—and it has nothing to do with seasonality.

See, while any M.B.A. can throw graham, chocolate, and marshmallow flavor into a snack, it takes a wise marketer to understand that smoky, oaky, and toasted marshmallowiness is the literal and flavorful glue that holds a great s’more experience together.

Those who haven’t read Lao Tzu’s The Art of S’more end up overwhelming their treat with bland sugary fluff, a gastronomical mistake comparable to invading Russia in the winter—on two fronts. And Little Debbie’s new S’mores Cake Rolls prove this.

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Each individually wrapped roll is fat. I’d put their girth somewhere between “Fudgsicle” and “cartoon cigar.”

But each individually wrapped is not phat. Most of their bulk is cream filling weight, and this barely evolved Reddi-Wip is more like aerated custard than toasted marshmallow. Heavy on the fructose and vanilla, yet lightly eggy, this vapid stuff overwhelms the rest of the S’mores Cake Roll like a kid trusted to put whipped cream on his own pie slice.

Which is a shame, because the sponge cake itself is pretty tasty. It’s better than a pillowy Twinkie’s, because a S’mores Cake Roll’s namesake cake roll is denser and butterier, like a buttermilk pancake or some New Age cracker. It has tragically little baked graham flavor, and practically no honey notes, though, further downgrading S’mores Cake Rolls’ authenticity from “poorly made s’more” to “flea market bootleg s’more.”

Oh, and the chocolate? Like one of those abstract smudges on a fancy, well-plated dish, the latticed fudge on every roll is more decorative than flavorful. If you chew your roll with the vigor of a beaver who moonlights as an MLB pitcher, you can taste some generic milk chocolate notes in the aftertaste, but it’s about as compelling as coagulated Hershey’s syrup.

Which, considering how most people make their s’mores, is actually a point in Diminutive Deborah’s favor.

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Taken as a whole roll, these things aren’t bad. They’re just misguided. With their interesting dough, pudding-esque filling, and light icing, they taste way more like Éclair Cake Rolls than anything roasted over a fire, and I think Small Deb would’ve been better off advertising them as such to transcend the marshmallow white noise of s’mores product competition.

With their aggressively saccharine cream, smothered pancake swirls, and choco-phantoms, S’mores Cake Rolls aren’t for me. But if you’re a whipped cream whiz, éclair enthusiast, or retired clown desperately jonesing for one last pie to the face, roll on over to the snack cake aisle and get your fix.

The rest of us can try skewering a S’mores Cake Roll over the campfire to get our fix of toastiness. I apologize in advance to Smokey the Bear.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 roll – 260 calories, 11 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 3 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 30 milligrams of potassium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 25 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 6 cake rolls (13.13 oz box)
Purchased at: Dollar General
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Hypnotic pancake cylinders. Benevolent custard spirits. Snack cake calories not counting if you’re camping. Learning that eclaire [sic] is French for “enlightened.”
Cons: Fire hoses of cloying cream. Ornamental chocolate ghosts. Geneva Convention-breaking s’more crimes. Clown junkies.

REVIEW: Starbucks Berry Prickly Pear and Mango Pineapple Frappuccino Cremes

Starbucks Berry Prickly Pear and Mango Pineapple Frappuccino Cremes

Starbucks created THE fall drink with its Pumpkin Spice Latte.

And it might’ve created the drinks of summer with its new Berry Prickly Pear Frappuccino Blended Crème (berries and prickly pear with side notes of hibiscus and passion fruit) and Mango Pineapple Frappuccino Blended Crème (mango, caramelized pineapple, and a hint of lime).

Visually, both scream SUMMER with the pretty magenta and yellow color schemes. Even though magenta/yellow/white looks better than magenta/yellow/brown, I was a little bit wary of the crème base because the said coffee-less line is generally more like an icy milkshake.

The base was icy as expected but worked better than I imagined because it was fruit-forward. It’s supposed to be blended with milk, ice, and mango syrup, but I picked up a subtle coconut flavor instead. As for the purées, the mango overpowered the pineapple and the berry prickly pear mainly tasted like prickly pear. For those who are wondering, prickly pear has a very subtle sweetness – it tastes like a wax/rose apple or a less-pronounced watermelon. I was relieved that neither of the purées tasted artificial.

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However, I must warn that form does not follow function for these drinks. The layered purée is only good for the ‘gram! I made the mistake of not mixing it enough. I swirled my straw a few times, but still sucked up a hidden pocket of purée. It was very unpleasant texturally as the viscosity reminded me of Children’s Motrin Syrup. I think real mango or strawberry bits would help. Be sure to take your ‘gram first and then stir vigorously!

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As I continued sipping, the mango pineapple began to stand out as my frontrunner. I kept thinking it would taste fantastic with rum. It was like a virgin piña colada minus the artificial sweetness that usually accompanies it. The familiarity of mango, pineapple, and coconut also gave the flavor a leg up over the berry prickly pear which had an unpleasant note that reminded me of cough medicine.

Both drinks included lime, and like having it in a cocktail, it helped break up some of the sweetness and add brightness. However, the lime flavor floated in and out. I guess you could brand that as having a flavor adventure with each sip being slightly different than the last, but I prefer consistency.

Also, I’d say that I have a pretty discerning palate but I didn’t pick up on any of the caramelized pineapple in the mango pineapple or hibiscus in the berry prickly pear.

I was able drink both of these in the same sitting without feeling a sugar high and neither tasted artificially or disgustingly sweet. They still delivered on Starbucks quality as I could tell they used real fruit as opposed to sno-cone high fructose corn syrup.

Much like the PSL returning this fall, I can see these drinks being brought back next summer.

(Nutrition Facts – Tall – Berry Prickly Pear – 180 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 34 grams total sugars, 3 grams of protein. Mango Pineapple – 180 Calories, 30 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 34 grams total sugars, 3 grams of protein.

Purchased Price: $4.45
Size: Tall
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Berry Prickly Pear)
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Mango Pineapple)
Pros: I don’t feel a sugar high drinking these unlike other Frappuccinos. Mango Pineapple is a better piña colada. High quality – none of that sno-cone high fructose corn syrup!
Cons: MAKE SURE YOU STIR. Viscosity of purée reminds me of Children’s Motrin – real fruit bits might help. Inconsistent sour notes. Where’s the caramelized pineapple and hibiscus?