NEWS: New Target-Exclusive Ben & Jerry’s Flavors Promote Volunteerism, But Will Also Promote Weight Gain

Target sign - Store #1

Update: Click here to read our Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter World and Ben & Jerry’s Volun-Tiramisu review

Volunteering. It’s something we should all do.

For example, I help little old ladies cross the street, and if they don’t give me a monetary tip when I hold out my hand and let out a hearty AHEM after getting them to the other side of the street, I write it off as me volunteering my time and services to help the elderly.

Target and Ben & Jerry’s are doing their part to promote volunteerism by introducing two new Target-exclusive Ben & Jerry’s flavors, Volun-Tiramisu and Peanut Butter World. These flavors join last year’s exclusive flavors, Berry Voluntary and Brownie Chew Gooder.

Volun-Tiramisu consists of coffee mascarpone ice cream with cocoa dusted coffee rum lady finger pieces. While Peanut Butter World is made with milk chocolate ice cream with peanut butter swirls and chocolate cookie swirls.

The new flavors began showing up at Target store this month, which is fitting since April is National Volunteer Month. If you’d like to find volunteer opportunities in your area, you can visit Volunteer Match or you can help little old ladies cross the street and see if they’ll give you a tip.

Source: On Second Scoop

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Red Velvet Cake and Clusterfluff (What A Cluster)

Ben & Jerry's Clusterfluff and Ben & Jerry's Red Velvet Cake

Update: Ben & Jerry’s changed Clusterfluff’s name to What A Cluster.

Almost every time I eat Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, I break down and cry with tears mixed with sadness and happiness. It’s been the case with two of Ben & Jerry’s latest flavors, Red Velvet Cake and Clusterfluff. It’s as if the dairy in their products have the ability to turn my tear ducts into lactating cow udders.

I remember the first time I ever tasted Ben & Jerry’s. It was their Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream. I couldn’t get enough of that creamy vanilla ice cream with those chunks of chocolate chip cookie dough. It was as if Ben and Jerry were consoling me and giving me a giant group hug from inside of me. Every spoonful I took made the hug tighter and I never wanted them to let go. I closed my eyes and just let Ben and Jerry hold me.

When I opened my eyes, half the pint was gone. It was at this exact moment that I started to weep because I knew Ben and Jerry couldn’t hug me forever. Although I wanted Ben and Jerry to give me a never-ending hugjob, I knew it wasn’t possible because if I continuously ate their ice cream, my body would blow up to the point where it would look like Ben and Jerry were actually in my body giving me a hug.

So that’s why Ben & Jerry’s ice cream makes me cry with mixed emotions; happiness because I’m eating damn tasty ice cream and sadness because I can’t get Ben and Jerry to give me a hugjob forever.

These latest Ben & Jerry’s flavors look good on paper and in the paper containers they come in. Red Velvet Cake is made up of red velvet cake batter ice cream with red velvet cake pieces and a cream cheese frosting swirl. While Clusterfluff has peanut butter ice cream with caramel cluster pieces, marshmallow swirls and peanut buttery swirls.

Ben & Jerry's Clusterfluff and Ben & Jerry's Red Velvet Cake Innards

Red Velvet Cake had a lot of red velvet cake pieces mixed in, which was surprising because in previously reviewed Ben & Jerry’s flavors I complained about not having enough of the featured ingredient (See Hannah Teter’s Maple Blondie and Chocolate Macadamia). At a quick glance, the pink ice cream and red velvet cake pieces look like what would happen if Huckleberry Pie left hickeys all over Strawberry Shortcake’s skin during a romp in the strawberry field.

Yup! I just ruined the 1980s for some of you.

The red velvet cake pieces are slightly chewy, but damn, they make the ice cream tasty by amplifying the red velvet cake flavor of the ice cream base. However, I thought the combination of the red velvet cake-flavored ice cream, red velvet cake pieces, and cream cheese frosting swirl became a little too rich for my taste buds after a few spoonfuls. This made it difficult to plow through the ice cream like I usually do with other Ben & Jerry’s flavors. But overall, Ben & Jerry’s did a solid job with their Red Velvet Ice Cream.

Clusterfluff is based on the fluffernutter, a sandwich made with peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. But as I ate the ice cream, I thought it ought to be renamed Clusternut because, while I could see the marshmallow swirls, peanut butter was all I could taste. Also, I think it rhymes better with the word that influenced the flavor’s name: clusterfuck.

For some reason, the ample caramel cluster pieces enhanced the flavor of the peanut butter ice cream and provided a crunchy texture in the ice cream. If I ate this ice cream and didn’t know they were caramel clusters, I would definitely think they were peanuts. While it tastes more like a Clusternut than a Clusterfluff, I did think it was divine for a peanut butter-flavored ice cream and I could see myself accidentally eating through half a pint in one sitting.

Ben & Jerry’s Red Velvet Cake and Clusterfluff are both really good flavors, and I’d place them on my list of top 12 Ben & Jerry’s flavors. While both are creamy and delicious, they also make me feel like Ben and Jerry are giving me a hugjob.

And, for me, that’s all that really matters.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – Red Velvet Cake – 250 calories, 120 calories from fat, 13 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 23 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein. Clusterfluff – 320 calories, 170 calories from fat, 19 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 23 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of protein.)

Other Ben & Jerry’s Red Velvet Cake reviews:
Rodzilla Reviews
On Second Scoop
Fish and Spaghetti

Other Ben & Jerry’s Clusterfluff reviews:
Rodzilla Reviews
On Second Scoop
Fish and Spaghetti

Item: Ben & Jerry’s Red Velvet Cake and Clusterfluff
Price: $3.50 (on sale)
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Red Velvet Cake)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Clusterfluff)
Pros: Both make me feel like Ben and Jerry are giving me a hugjob. Clusterfluff has a divine peanut butter flavor and is easy to eat through. Lots of red velvet cake chunks mixed into the ice cream. Caramel clusters were plentiful. Hugjobs.
Cons: Red Velvet Cake might be too rich for some. Can’t taste the marshmallow swirl in Clusterfluff. Not being able to have Ben and Jerry give me a hugjob forever.

REVIEW: Lay’s Dip Creations Garden Onion and Tostitos Dip Creations Freshly Made Guacamole Seasoning Mixes

Lay's Dip Creations Garden Onion and Tostitos Dip Creations Freshly Made Guacamole Seasoning Mixes

Let’s get the dry (excuse the pun) part of Lay’s and Tostitos Dip Creations out of the way first: they are Dry Dip Mixes, or Seasoning Mixes, depending on if you’re reading the packet or Frito-Lay’s website. The packets say Seasoning Mixes, so I’ll go with that. For Lay’s Country Ranch and Garden Onion, you add the seasonings to 16 ounces of sour cream. For Tostitos Freshly Made Guacamole, you add them to three mashed up avocados.

Pretty straightforward. Now we’re all on the same page, right? Okay, good. Now we can get to the part where I overanalyze Frito-Lay’s marketing strategy and mock innocent bloggers.

Here’s the thing: Lay’s already sells ready-made Smooth Ranch and French Onion dips in jars. They are essentially competing with themselves; furthermore, they are competing with a product where all you have to do is twist a cap off. Tostitos surprisingly doesn’t already offer a jarred guacamole, but they’re putting their Dry Dip Mix up against products like Wholly Guacamole, which requires only that you snip the tip off a plastic bag and squeeze it into a bowl (or your mouth, you freak). It’s also made with real avocados and no preservatives.

So what’s the spin? What angle could Frito-Lay use to make Dip Creations appealing to the masses? To answer these questions, we need to go to F-L’s blog/transparently promotional tool, Snack Chat. Alexia, one of the resident bloggers, was put in charge of trying to convince me to buy Dip Creations, and this is how she did it:

“This year, I’m making a real commitment to improve my cooking skills. I’ve found some great products that are helping me with this goal, like pre-marinated chicken meat — the key to flavorful fajitas and salads. Another helpful product is one we just introduced at Frito-Lay. It’s a line of seasoning mixes called Tostitos and Lay’s Dip Creations.”

Sit down with me, Alexia. Let’s have a real snack chat. Ready? Okay. ADDING POWDERED SEASONING TO SOUR CREAM AND AVOCADOS IS NOT A FORM OF IMPROVING YOUR COOKING SKILLS. Yes, I can see it now: one minute you’re mixing ranch powder into sour cream, the next you’re head chef at a Michelin three-star restaurant. James Beard award, here you come!

But wait, Alexia isn’t done yet. “I’ve tried them all, and all three make pretty amazing (and easy-to-prepare) dips -– the kind people might think came from a family recipe.”

You know what the family recipe is for onion dip? Lipton Onion Soup Mix and sour cream. True inspiration, there. And if you waved a packet of Tostitos Dip Creations Freshly Made Guacamole Seasoning Mix in the face of someone’s abuelita and told her it was just like her cherished homemade guacamole, she would throw a bowl of steaming hot refried beans in your face. That’s just insulting.

I only picked up Garden Onion and Freshly Made Guacamole (a sketchy name for a seasoning packet) and not Country Ranch because a.) I know onion dip like the back of my hand and Lipton has always ruled the school, b.) I want to see Freshly Made Guacamole either fail horribly or blow away my expectations, and c.) I don’t need two tubs of sour cream in my fridge, and besides, I feel like making Country Ranch dip would be insulting to the ever-present bottle of Kraft Ranch Dressing that helps make my pizza crusts edible. Just wanted to clarify, in case anybody wants to scream “WHERE’S THE RANCH?” Don’t mess with an old lady’s schtick from 1984.

Garden Onion

Lay's Dip Creations Garden Onion Seasoning Mix Powder

The instructions, or “cooking skills improvement guide” as Alexia might call them, are simple and obvious: blend 16 ounces sour cream with one packet of Garden Onion, let it sit in the fridge for one hour. I usually let my onion dip set up for at least six hours, so I had some doubts about such a short time for letting the powder blend into the sour cream, allowing the flavors to meld. I was pleasantly surprised to find that, after the allotted hour, the powder seemed completely dissolved.

The flavor will probably improve after a longer gestation period in the fridge, but after such a short time, I was a little disappointed in the level of onioniness (stare at that made-up word for a while, your eyes will cross) in my Garden Onion dip. The distinctive onion flavor was still there, but it was much more subtle than a dip made with Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix.

Lay's Dip Creations Garden Onion

I was surprised to find little crunchy bits of onion spread throughout the dip. They added an extra dimension of onion and you could feel the crunch, even with the crispiness of the potato chip I was using as dip delivery device. I’m left wondering if the little bits of dried onion will soften as the dip sits longer, but I hope they don’t, because it was a nice contrast to the smoothness of the sour cream.

Freshly Made Guacamole

Tostitos Dip Creations Freshly Made Guacamole Seasoning Mix Powder

Again, simple instructions: mash three large avocados, mix in seasoning, let sit for 30 minutes. It’s not often that I have to handle fresh produce for a review. I found myself in a strange section of the grocery store that had food that wasn’t in a bag or a box.

“I hear this shit comes from the ground, what the hell,” my husband said.

“That’s gross,” I replied.

Despite my revulsion at having to handle something that doesn’t contain 17 different unpronounceable chemicals, I needed to get the avocados for the review, so I put on a brave face and got through it. This “recipe” takes a bit more work; after stirring the Garden Onion, mashing the avocados, and then stirring in the guacamole seasoning mix, my hand was as tired as a desperate hooker’s after giving handjobs at the bus station all day.

Tostitos Dip Creations Freshly Made Guacamole

I was even more worried about this dip than the onion dip, because the powder looked much chunkier and the instructions called for an even shorter set-up period in the fridge. Once again, however, I was pleasantly surprised; the guacamole was smooth – well, as smooth as I got it before I gave up pulverizing the meat of three avocados with a fork.

Even more surprising was the flavor. I didn’t want to like it, but I couldn’t deny it. It was darn tasty. The onion and garlic flavors were prominent, and while I couldn’t detect any heat or flavor from the jalapeno pepper, there was something in the seasoning mix that gave it that guacamole twang. I kept eating it, trying to find a reason not to like it, but my only objection was the lack of jalapeno.

I wanted to hate Lay’s and Tostitos Dip Creations Seasoning Mixes. I’m not sure why; I guess all of Alexia’s talk of cooking improvement and family recipes got me all wound up. Lay’s Garden Onion didn’t really do it for me; I liked the crunchy bits, but the onion flavor just wasn’t strong enough. I’ll stand by my Lipton’s, but if you like a milder onion flavor, Lay’s could work for you. To save myself from having someone’s abuelita break into my house and scald my face with beans, I will say, there’s no substitution for chopping up your own vegetables and making fresh guacamole. However, I am a lazy, lazy person, and Tostitos Freshly Made Guacamole manages to hit the spot in a surprisingly sufficient way. I was disappointed by the lack of jalapeno, but I can add some hot sauce to give it some heat. In the end, I have to admit, Dip Creations is a solid product line for someone like me who wants to make dip without a lot of effort.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/16 package – Lay’s Dip Creations Garden Onion Seasoning Mix – package – 5 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 1 gram of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugars, 0 grams of protein. Tostitos Dip Creations Freshly Made Guacamole Seasoning Mix – 5 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 1 gram of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugars, 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Lay’s Dip Creations Garden Onion and Tostitos Dip Creations Freshly Made Guacamole Seasoning Mixes
Price: $1.59
Size: 1 oz. packet
Purchased at: Fry’s Foods
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Lay’s Dip Creations Garden Onion)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Tostitos Dip Creations Freshly Made Guacamole)
Pros: Guacamole had great onion and garlic taste. Taking out my anger on avocados. Garden Onion had tasty crunchy bits. Angry abuelitas. Dips set up quickly in the fridge.
Cons: Garden Onion wasn’t oniony enough. Alexia and her cooking skills. Guacamole lacked jalapeno flavor and heat. The big scary produce section. Bus station handjob syndrome.

RANDOMNESS: Introducing Awesome Online Money Making Blog

Aommb

I know it seems like every year I introduce a new blog and then it dies within a month due to neglect like it was a Tamagotchi in the back of a desk drawer (see The Impulsive Download and Cereal Mashup). But I’m teaming up with a friend to start up another new blog and this time the chances of it sticking around for more than a month are absolutely awesome, because it’s already been around for more than a month.

So what’s this new blog called? Awesome Online Money Making Blog. What’s it about? Well, I guess our About page covers it best:

Ever dream of making money in your underwear?  Awesome Online Money Making Blog is your guide to making your half-naked dreams come true.  We fuck your brain with tips and hints to help you make money online and we give it to you hard.  We also assist you to become better online attention whores through blogging, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and whatever social network becomes trendy over the next few years.  If you can produce shit that no one cares about, we’ll help you make at least one person give a shit and monetize whatever dribble you send out into cyberspace.   If we can’t monetize your blog, then no one will be able to monetize it, and if we can’t monetize it, then you should smash your computer into pieces with a sledgehammer and get a real job.

Disclaimer: We are not online money making experts. You will probably not make any money or gain any fame with the tips we provide you. However, if you do make lots of money using our hints and tips, please let us know so that we can start to call ourselves “online money making experts,” which again, we are not at this time.

So if you’re interested in learning useless online money making hints and tips, check out Awesome Online Money Making Blog.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Donuts Stuffed Breadsticks (Pepperoni & Cheese and Cheeseburger)

Dunkin' Donuts Stuffed Breadsticks

For those of you who have busy Mondays, here’s a short review, in haiku form, of the Dunkin’ Donuts Stuffed Breadsticks:

Like bad Hot Pockets
Less filling, blander tasting
Same burns in my mouth

For those of you who are looking to waste some time on Monday, stick around for further elaboration (and rest assured that it will be elaborate).

I believe it was Tolstoy who once wrote, “Tasty fast food items are all alike; every crappy fast food item is crappy in its own way.” To this principle I must add a corollary which shall forevermore be known as the Stuffed Breadsticks Corollary: “… but some crappy fast food items are crappy IN EVERY WAY POSSIBLE.”

Dunkin’ Donuts is offering their newest concoction in two flavors, Pepperoni & Cheese and Cheeseburger. Both varieties of Stuffed Breadsticks had very little stuffing, and all the tiny chunks of meat had slid down to the bottom of the breadsticks by the time I started eating. To set up the second photo, I had to dig around the breadsticks with my fork like I was trying to reach the fruit at the bottom of a yogurt container.

Dunkin' Donuts Stuffed Breadsticks Innards

I ate multiple bites of only bread before reaching any meat. The bread was tasteless, too chewy, weirdly pale where it hadn’t been toasted, and droopy to the point of shape-shifting. So it failed on the dimensions of taste, visual presentation, texture, and even shape, which hadn’t struck me as a significant feature of bread until just now. (Now that we’re heading off on a tangent, what would you say are the best and worst shaped breads? After careful consideration, I would nominate Challah bread as the best and – you guessed it – these breadsticks as the worst.)

Things didn’t get any better once I finally got to the stuffing. The Cheeseburger breadstick supposedly contained ground beef, cheese, and mustard, but all these ingredients were so bland that I couldn’t really taste anything. If I had to pick one taste sensation that I felt, I’d say there was a sort of sweetness to the filling. That doesn’t speak very well to Dunkin’ Donuts’ ability to recreate the taste of a cheeseburger; I’d estimate that I’ve said “Sweet, cheeseburgers!” (interjection to express excitement over anticipated cheeseburger consumption) roughly a million more times than I’ve said “sweet cheeseburgers” (descriptive phrase to communicate actual flavor of previously consumed cheeseburgers).

The Pepperoni & Cheese breadstick was definitely the better tasting of the two, but that’s about as much of an accomplishment as being the most useful poopy-flavored lollipop, or being the most entertaining re-appropriated Ben Stiller movie quote, or being the TIB writer who uses the fewest commas. The pepperoni pieces look and taste exactly like the meat in pepperoni Hot Pockets. They add a certain zest to the breadstick’s overall flavor, but the cheese and sauce contributed nothing to the eating experience except the burning destruction of my mouth.

Even the price was crappy. With each Stuffed Breadstick costing $1.79, two breadsticks and a small iced tea will run you over $5, which is enough to get you a much heartier and tastier combo from any number of fast food restaurants, Dunkin’ Donuts itself included.

In case I haven’t made myself clear yet, here’s another haiku to wrap things up:

These Dunkin’ Donuts
Breadsticks fail in taste, look, cost
DON’T GET THEM, EVER.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 stuffed breadstick – Pepperoni & Cheese – 210 calories, 7 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 380 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein. Cheeseburger – 200 calories, 6 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 400 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 9 grams of protein.)

Item: Dunkin’ Donuts Stuffed Breadsticks (Pepperoni & Cheese and Cheeseburger)
Price: $1.79 each
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Dunkin Donuts
Rating: 1 out of 10 (Cheeseburger)
Rating: 3 out of 10 (Pepperoni & Cheese)
Pros: Pepperoni pieces were sort of tasty. Haikus. Challah bread. “Sweet, cheeseburgers!” as interjection.
Cons: Not much stuffing in either Stuffed Breadstick. Bread was bland. Cheeseburger stuffing was bland. Pepperoni & Cheese stuffing burned my mouth. Kind of pricey. “Sweet cheeseburgers” as descriptive phrase. Poopy-flavored lollipops.