REVIEW: Pepsi Fire

Pepsi Fire

You know what I think’s the big problem with Pepsi’s marketing? They’re too skittish to come out and tell us what they really want to call their products: non-alcoholic colas.

We’re actually seeing this more and more with Pepsi’s line-up of L-T-O products. The first wave of Pepsi 1893 sodas had a distinct gin-like taste, and the recently released Mountain Dew Spiked beverages are clearly meant to ape the alcopop-flavor of stuff like Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Smirnoff Ice. While the newfangled Pepsi Fire soda may be advertised as a cinnamon-flavored cola, one swig of the stuff ought to remind you of an entirely different kind of beverage. Simply put – Pepsi Fire is VODKA-flavored cola.

It’s understandable why Pepsi refrained from marketing the beverage as a hard liquor imitator (obviously, parents groups probably wouldn’t be too keen on a cola manufacturer getting their kids accustom to the taste of high-alcohol-content fermented potato.) But the synthetic vodka taste is just too spot-on to be a coincidence. In an alternate reality, I can imagine the product being sold as Absolut Pepsi with an ad campaign heavily targeted towards millennial consumers – and selling like crazy despite all the media controversy.

Pepsi Fire 2

Alas, Pepsi went the “safe” route and stuck to its cinnamon cola marketing hook. The product isn’t new by any stretch – Pepsi has sold a cinnamon cola beverage with the very same name and almost identical packaging in Southeast Asia on-and-off again for at least two decades (sometimes, coupled with a spearmint-flavored counterpart called Pepsi Ice.)

Since cinnamon is a pretty polarizing flavor, naturally, your mileage will vary on the quality of the soda. While the cinnamon aroma is strong – if not overpowering – when you open the bottle, the actual cinnamon kick isn’t as tastebud-scorching as you’d expect. In fact, the aftertaste kinda’ feels like sipping on a cold glass of ginger ale while chewing some Big Red gum; you’re either going to find it appealing or disgusting, and there’s really no way to tell until you’ve given it a taste test for yourself.

Pepsi Fire 3

The hue of the cola is nice (it’s darker than standard Pepsi but not as atomically vibrant as Mountain Dew Code Red) and it has a nice sparkly, tingly mouthfeel. Oddly enough, it doesn’t taste anything at all like the short-lived Pepsi Holiday Spice, which despite being marketed as a cinnamon cola, had more of a dark cherry kick than anything else. I really can’t think of anything else out there to compare it to, not even Old City Soda’s cinnamon-flavored cola (which is noticeably sweeter and less spicy than Pepsi Fire.)

This is a hard one to score. Just for its uniqueness it’s probably worth a try, even if many drinkers may consider the overall flavor mildly off-putting. If you like cinnamon (or getting sloshed on martinis), I say pick up a 12-pack. But if you harbor a distaste for the spice, do you really need me to tell you stay far, far away from this beverage?

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bottle – 260 calories, 0 grams of fat, 85 milligrams of sodium, 69 grams of total carbohydrates, 69 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, 63 milligrams of caffeine..)

Purchased Price: $1.49
Size: 20 oz. bottle
Purchased at: Circle K
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: The cinnamon flavor is potent without being too intense. The medley of Pepsi and ginger ale is surprisingly decent. Taking that first swig and instantly recalling your first freshmen year kegger.
Cons: Unless you are a hardcore cinnamon connoisseur, it takes some time to get accustom to the taste. The packaging is really unimpressive. Trying to figure out why Pepsi thought it was a good idea to release a “hot” cola at the very beginning of summer.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Limited Batch Bob Marley’s One Love Ice Cream

Ben  Jerry s Limited Batch Bob Marley s One Love Ice Cream

For some people, when reggae plays, they skank.

When I hear reggae, I sleep.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike reggae. But its mellow beat is musical melatonin to me. At first, I’ll bob my head to it, but then that bobbing turns into nodding off.

The genre is big here on this rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I heard a lot of Bob Marley throughout high school, which might explain why I had a hard time staying awake during my teen years.

Ben & Jerry’s has a flavor that honors the great sandman (to me) Bob Marley — One Love. It made its debut in the U.K. last year and it’s now popping up in the U.S. for a limited time at retailers and Scoop Shops. The flavor features banana ice cream, caramel and graham cracker swirls, and fudge peace signs.

Ben  Jerry s Limited Batch Bob Marley s One Love Ice Cream 2

Because I like to scrape away the top layer with my spoon after first opening a pint, I got only the ice cream and swirls for my first few spoonfuls. Just those three ingredients created a combination that made me sing, “We’re jammin’, we’re jammin’, And I hope you like jammin’ too.”

Being a fan of banana-flavored anything, I love the ice cream base. Its flavor is mild and it works well with the buttery caramel and graham cracker swirls. Actually, the gooey caramel, gritty graham cracker swirl, and creamy banana ice cream brought back memories of Magnolia Bakery’s Banana Pudding. Although One Love is less natural tasting than the popular dessert.

As I mowed through the top layer, I kept thinking this could be the best Ben & Jerry’s flavor I’ve had and could replace Americone Dream as my new favorite flavor.

But then I hit a very small speed bump.

Or “peace bump” might be more appropriate.

Ben  Jerry s Limited Batch Bob Marley s One Love Ice Cream 3

I finally dug out a fudge peace sign and thought if just the ice cream and swirls are that awesome, then the addition of fudge pieces would take it to the next level. Except I didn’t expect that next level to be one down.

Now let me say that it’s really good with the fudge peace signs, but I think it tastes better without them. I just want to be alone with the ice cream and swirls and not have fudge popping up on us every so often to make sure we aren’t getting into trouble. I mean, the fudge pieces are fine. They’re similar in flavor with the fudge flakes they use in seemingly EVERY SINGLE FLAVOR. But I’ve been digging around them instead digging them up like I usually do.

With that said, Ben & Jerry’s Limited Batch Bob Marley’s One Love Ice Cream is definitely near the top of my list of favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavors. It’s a flavor that makes me want to skank.

DISCLOSURE: I received this pint for free from Ben & Jerry’s. I was not asked to review it, but I do think they expect me to post a photo on Instagram. Receiving a free sample did not influence my review in any way, although it probably reads like it did. But I assure you it did not.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 290 calories, 140 calories from fat, 15 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 29 grams of carbohydrates, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: One Pint
Purchased at: Received from Ben & Jerry’s
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Really good with the fudge peace signs. Wonderful without the fudge peace signs. Makes me want to skank.
Cons: Slightly not as good with the fudge peace signs. Limited edition. Reggae makes me sleepy. Banana ice cream might not appeal to some.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Waffles & Syrup Oreo Cookies

Limited Edition Waffles  Syrup Oreo Cookies

Maple syrup seems to be having a moment. There were those Mystery Peeps that were my favorite of the three. It’s also a highlight of one of those new Signature Crafted Recipes from McDonald’s.

Now, Oreo has jumped aboard the syrup wagon and ventured into breakfast with their newest flavor, Waffles & Syrup. With the number of Oreo flavors debuting recently I hope that doesn’t mean either entity has reached their popularity now that they have joined forces.

Limited Edition Waffles  Syrup Oreo Cookies 3

The cookie has the familiar Golden ones as the sandwich pieces with most of the usual white cream for the interior. What sets this one apart is the dollop of brown tinted cream right in the middle of the cream filling.

Cracking open the package I immediately got a whiff of a graham/honey smell like ordinary graham crackers. Since I knew these were syrup flavored I could kind of smell the maple in there but if I didn’t know that was the flavor then I probably would have never ever guessed it. Not a good sign of what’s to come.

Limited Edition Waffles  Syrup Oreo Cookies 2

My first few bites just reminded me of regular Golden Oreo cookies. The maple flavor comes in a little bit towards the end, however, it was faint and, again, would have never picked up on it on my own.

Honestly, as I got through my first full cookie, I was kind of disappointed. I tried the components on their own but it didn’t help. These just tasted like Golden Oreos that someone in the factory accidentally let too much sugar fall in the mixer.

You are probably wondering where the waffles in the name comes into play?

I’m still pondering that actually. Were there any butter notes? Not really. A fluffy but crunchy nature to chewing? Nope. As you can see on the outside, they couldn’t even make the cookies indented with squares as that would at least make them look like waffle pieces!

After having a few more cookies, desperately seeking waffle flavor, I decided to succumb to the fact that it wasn’t there and that these were just okay. Other Oreo cookies I usually like coming back to over and over again but these were so cloyingly sweet, I didn’t really have the desire.

Maybe someone can offer up Waffles & Syrup for the new Oreo flavor contest that was just announced. There’s definitely room for improvement here.

(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, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: 10.7 oz.
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Nabisco venturing out of desserts and into the breakfast realm. Subtle hints of Maple.
Cons: Just a super-sweet Golden Oreo. Maple syrup and/or Oreo cookies potentially going downhill after this union. Waffle references that seem to be in name only.

QUICK REVIEW: Rockstar Organic Strawberry Energy Drink

Rockstar Organic Strawberry Energy Drink

The Rockstar Organic Strawberry Energy Drink doesn’t come in a color that makes you think of strawberries. Instead, clear gummy bears or dirty fish tank water might come to mind.

I was hesitant about drinking it, but not because of its color. I was uncertain because the original Rockstar Organic flavor, Island Fruit, is one of the worst tasting energy drinks I’ve had. I don’t remember what was so bad about it, but I do remember thinking to myself, “Do not buy this again.”

But I really like this strawberry version, even though the fruit isn’t listed in the ingredients. It smells like strawberry Jello and has a familiar flavor I can’t quite place, but maybe two years from now it’ll pop out of my subconscious while in the shower and I’ll update this review. Hopefully it’s not discontinued by then, but I think its tasty enough that it won’t be.

Rockstar Organic Strawberry Energy Drink 2

As for the organic-ness of it, to be honest, as someone who drinks the unnatural looking regular Rockstar, I obviously don’t care if the ingredients in my energy drink are USDA Organic. All I care about is taste (which is great) and whether it gives me a lasting energy boost (which is good at 160 milligrams of caffeine per can).

Although because it uses organic ingredients, is lightly carbonated, and doesn’t contains the usual proprietary Rockstar energy blend, it’s smoother than the usual Rockstar varieties.

Overall, even though every time I take a sip I’m afraid I’m going to swallow someone’s goldfish, I think Rockstar’s Organic Strawberry Energy Drink a great beverage.

Purchased Price: $2.39
Size: 15 oz. can
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (8 fl oz.) – 100 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 23 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: McDonald’s Signature Crafted Recipes

McDonald s Signature Crafted Recipes

Baseball has been deemed “America’s pasttime” since these uniforms (photo attached) were en vogue, but now the typical game takes longer than an actual marathon.

MLB is engaging in steps to improve interest in their game, like the intentional walk signal. But their best move has been a change to their vaunted 7th inning anthem: “We’ll buy you nuggets in 4 or 6 packs.”

The Mid-Atlantic teams have partnered with the Golden Arches to bring free McNugget promotions on their app. The beleaguered Phillies have offered a free 4-piece whenever they score three runs. Their more successful counterparts, the Orioles and Nationals, have higher standards along with bigger rewards: four runs nets you a 4-piece, with six, ten, and twenty nuggets also attainable. (Notably, the Nats have restricted their rewards to home games, presumably due to road games in Colorado). Rest assured, if either club surpasses the 20-run plateau, I will make my way through the Chesapeake region, with a tank full of gas and a bunch of “burner phones.”

McDonald’s isn’t just trading nuggets for bloated ERA’s. They’re also giving you a chance to be a manager of the toppings on your own sandwich. The new Signature Crafted Recipes line attempts to emulate quick-service burger joints like Five Guys and SmashBurger by allowing you to customize your sandwich.

McDonald s Signature Crafted Recipes 2

Just don’t expect a plethora of choices. The options are limited to two bun choices, three protein choices, and three topping styles. That’s still enough combos to fill out a lineup card for both teams. We here at the Impulsive Buy selected the three featured options — the Mays, Mantle, and Snider of the bunch, if you Will(ie).

McDonald s Signature Crafted Recipes Pico Guacamole

Batting leadoff was the Pico Guacamole with grilled chicken on the artisan roll. Discovering the first major fast food sandwich adorned with a lime wedge was like taking a big lead off first base. However, finding out that my hands would become messier from this sandwich than holding a rosin bag was something of a detraction.

The grilled chicken patty was relatively standard, although there was some spice and it wasn’t dry, so there were positive attributes. The artisan roll was soft but not mushy. I enjoyed the guacamole -— it fell short of feeling homemade, but was far better than Subway’s recent offering. The lime gave everything a fresh feel, even after I brought the sandwich home for inspection before consuming.

This sandwich was not a five-tool player. It did have holes in its game. Namely the pico de gallo, which was not a distinguishable flavor with the much stronger flavored guac. The white cheddar cheese was also invisible, as I would soon find out it was on all three sandwiches.

McDonald s Signature Crafted Recipes Sweet BBQ Bacon

On deck was the Sweet BBQ Bacon, with Buttermilk Crispy Chicken, also on the artisan roll (why they didn’t “load the bases” with three bread options as well is perplexing). The chicken patty was somewhat like a McChicken patty, but with a little more TLC. However, the size of the patty was only marginally thicker than the bun, which pales in comparison to the also recently released KFC Zinger. Conversely, I might say this sandwich exceeds the Zinger in spiciness. The heat builds as you eat and made me enjoy this more as I dug in.

The sandwich was onion heavy, which I appreciated (I’ll often order extra on fast food). There were two types. The sautéed onions, that tasted legit, and frizzled onions, which largely just added to the overkill of breading from the patty and bun.

The bacon was the final detail. It was nice and salty on its own, but its impact was suppressed by the other ingredients when eaten together.

McDonald s Signature Crafted Recipes Maple Bacon Dijon

In the hole was the Maple Bacon Dijon, with a beef patty (perhaps “burger” is on Vince’s McMahon’s list) on a sesame seed bun. Dijon was a new, interesting taste, although it appears in some bites and vanishes in others. Otherwise, this was the most familiar flavor combination for Mickey D’s. As for the maple? None was detected. It was indicated that maple seasoning was added to the bacon, but when I tried the bacon solo it appeared to be standard.

I suppose these were the same grilled onions that appear on the BBQ version, but against the backdrop of the stronger flavor beef patty, they did not stand out nearly as much.

The bacon wasn’t that noticeable here either amidst a sea of lettuce and again the stronger tasting burger. It seemed a little wimpier this time, although before you start computing the WAR (Working As Refreshment) stat, I did order each sandwich from a different location, so maybe the differences can be attributed to that factor.

In the end, the concept of “premium crafted sandwiches” is no different than Wendy’s LTO offerings, but with three released at the same moment. If McDonald’s wants a premium line to last, they will have to consider a larger product. “Fast foodies” do exist these days, but they still want to be satiated by the food. When it came to these members of the lineup, I didn’t get a complete game out of them. I still had to trust the bullpen (value menu) to finish it out.

(Nutrition Facts – Pico Guacamole Grilled Chicken – 520 calories, 160 calories from fat, 18 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 115 milligrams of cholesterol, 1540 milligrams of sodium, 50 grams of carbohydrates, 12 grams of sugar, 4 grams of fiber, 40 grams of protein. Sweet BBQ Bacon Buttermilk Crispy Chicken – 800 calories, 320 calories from fat, 36 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 1820 milligrams of sodium, 80 grams of carbohydrates, 18 grams of sugar, 5 grams of fiber, 39 grams of protein. Maple Bacon Dijon Beef Patty – 640 calories, 330 calories from fat, 36 grams of fat, 14 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 110 milligrams of cholesterol, 1260 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, and 37 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.79 to $5.29
Size: N/A
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Pico Guacamole Grilled Chicken)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Sweet BBQ Bacon Buttermilk Crispy Chicken)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Maple Bacon Dijon Beef Patty)
Pros: Sauteed onions. Building BBQ heat. Lime wedge freshness. Hunter Greene’s potential to join the 20 HR / 20 SB / 20 win club.
Cons: None of the options are large enough. White cheddar is irrelevant. Gusto de pico es pequeno. The Twins passing on Greene with the number one pick.