REVIEW: Limited Edition Banana Nut Cheerios

Limited Edition Banana Nut Cheerios

Every time I see a new banana-flavored product on shelves, my inner Primate comes out. I have to fight the urge to beat my chest like an excited gorilla right there in the aisle.

There’s something about that flavor that always resonates with me. Cakes, breads, candies, ice cream, yogurts, it doesn’t matter – if you make it banana, you’ve got my money.

Sadly, I haven’t tasted many cereals flavored with the fruit. There’s never been a huge market for them, and when they do come out, they always seem to get discontinued. I can recall a few Honey Bunches of Oats types and a Minion one, but beyond that my experience with them are lacking.

Good thing Limited Edition Banana Nut Cheerios has come to my rescue.

Limited Edition Banana Nut Cheerios 3

I wish I could tell you I got a waft of fresh banana bread when I tore the bag open, but in reality, the smell was kinda indistinguishable. I don’t know, I expected more, but to me it wasn’t distinctly banana.

Since these are “banana nut” flavored, I figured I’d try them with almond milk as well as whole milk. I also had Egg Nog, but couldn’t pull the trigger on using that as milk, despite the pleas from the voices inside my head.

I considered mixing in slices of the yellow fruit, but I’m of the controversial opinion that putting slimy fruit pieces in cereal doesn’t enhance it all that much.

Limited Edition Banana Nut Cheerios 2

With the first bite, I got hit with cinnamon, but that instantly blended into the banana flavor. Don’t expect anything overly sweet, because this uses real fruit puree, not artificial flavor. (More on that later.)

On the next few bites, I realized this variety may as well have been any Cheerios flavor. It all mushed into generic Cheerios. While there were hints of a great cereal there, it was short lived.

Now I was ready to call Banana Nut Cheerios a big disappointment when it hit me with the hidden ace up its sleeve – delicious cereal milk.

Limited Edition Banana Nut Cheerios 4

Let me backtrack. The “whole” milk cereal was delicious. Unflavored almond milk is worthless, especially with cereal. The “nuttiness” did nothing to enhance the flavor. Not only that, it’s more watery than skim, and made for a mundane bowl.

Whole milk, however, soaked into the little O’s and made it come to life. You’d be hard pressed to find many cereals that improve as they sog, but this one bucked the trend. The flavor improved as they settled and the runoff culminated in banana bread-flavored creaminess.

Still, I left a tad underwhelmed. I must just prefer a sugary artificial flavor to natural. I guess that’s the kid in me. I’d be all in on Banana Toast Crunch.

Banana Nut Cheerios are worth a try, but they weren’t better than reliable Honey Nut variety. If you can only afford one box, I’d recommend the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios over these as well.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup – 110 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 80 milligrams of potassium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 12 oz. box
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Creamy delicious cereal milk. Decent banana flavor. Nice cinnamon kick. Oatey nuttiness peaks through. The prospects of Banana Toast Crunch.
Cons: Lacked strong banana aroma. Tasted best after the sog. Middle of the road Cheerios flavor. Limited Edition like all banana cereals. There’s no Banana Toast Crunch.

SPOTTED ON SHELVES (YOGURT EDITION) – 12/13/2017

Here are some interesting new and limited edition yogurt found on store shelves by your fellow readers. If you’ve tried any of the products, share your thoughts about them in the comments.

Chobani A Hint of Alphonso Mango Greek Yogurt

Chobani A Hint of Alphonso Mango Greek Yogurt

Chobani A Hint of Wild Blueberry Greek Yogurt

Chobani A Hint of Wild Blueberry Greek Yogurt

Chobani A Hint of Gili Cherry Greek Yogurt

Chobani A Hint of Gili Cherry Greek Yogurt

Chobani A Hint of Madagascar Vanilla  Cinnamon Greek Yogurt

Chobani A Hint of Madagascar Vanilla & Cinnamon Greek Yogurt

Chobani A Hint of Monterey Strawberry Greek Yogurt

Chobani A Hint of Monterey Strawberry Greek Yogurt

(Spotted by @SchenectaDana at Price Chopper.)

Chobani Coffee  Cream Blended Whole Milk Greek Yogurt

Chobani Coffee & Cream Blended Whole Milk Greek Yogurt

(Spotted by Tommy at Big Y.)

Chobani Lemon  Cream Blended Whole Milk Greek Yogurt

Chobani Lemon & Cream Blended Whole Milk Greek Yogurt

(Spotted by Tommy at Wegmans.)

Dannon Oikos Protein Crunch Greek Yogurt Vanilla Yogurt with Chocolate Oats  Peanuts

Dannon Oikos Protein Crunch Greek Yogurt Vanilla Yogurt with Chocolate Oats & Peanuts

Dannon Oikos Protein Crunch Greek Yogurt Vanilla Yogurt with Blueberry Rolled Oats

Dannon Oikos Protein Crunch Greek Yogurt Vanilla Yogurt with Blueberry Rolled Oats

Dannon Oikos Protein Crunch Greek Yogurt Coconut Yogurt with Whole Grain Oats  Almonds

Dannon Oikos Protein Crunch Greek Yogurt Coconut Yogurt with Whole Grain Oats & Almonds

Dannon Oikos Protein Crunch Greek Yogurt Banana Yogurt with Cocoa Clusters  Chocolate

Dannon Oikos Protein Crunch Greek Yogurt Banana Yogurt with Cocoa Clusters & Chocolate

(Spotted by Sylvia at Vons.)

Thank you to all the photo contributors! If you’re out shopping and see an interesting new product on the shelf, snap a picture of it, and send us an email (theimpulsivebuy@gmail.com) with where you found it and “Spotted” in the subject line. Or reply to us (@theimpulsivebuy) on Twitter with the photo, where you spotted it, and the hashtag #spotted. If you do so, you might see your picture in our next Spotted on Shelves post.

Also, if you want to send in photos and are wondering if we’ve already covered something, don’t worry about it. Let us worry about it.

REVIEW: Starbucks Toffee Almondmilk Hot Cocoa

Starbucks Toffee Almondmilk Hot Cocoa

It’s been Christmas season for me since Starbucks released their holiday drinks and cups on November 1st. Yes, I’ve been blasting Christmas music for a solid month now.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to get another holiday surprise when Starbucks released a new festive hot chocolate – Toffee Almondmilk Hot Cocoa. It joins Peppermint, Snickerdoodle, and Salted Caramel on the seasonal hot cocoa menu this season.

While they all sound fantastic, Toffee Almondmilk Hot Cocoa (steamed almondmilk with mocha sauce and toffee nut syrup, finished with whipped cream and Caramel Brulée topping) is the star in this lineup because it’s the first Holiday drink that prominently features almond milk. This means it can be vegan and non-dairy when ordered without the whipped cream — no substitutions are needed like with other Holiday drinks.

But that’s not all when you order now (said in my best infomercial voice), you don’t have to pay extra for the almond milk! It’s usually 60 cents more to substitute drinks with almond milk at Starbucks, but this drink costs the same as all the others! Winning!

In full disclosure, I’m not vegan or lactose intolerant. I eat all meats and drink whole milk, but I do have vegetarian days. I believe the term du jour is “flexitarian.” Oui oui!

Now on to the good good.

When I first received my drink, it looked like a whipped cream wonderland speckled with brown sugar crystals (the Caramel Brulée topping). Naturally, I plucked one off and tried it. It was just sugary and feels like the candy that gets stuck in your teeth – nowhere near as bad as say a Butterfinger though. Its flavor was fine on its own.

I particularly enjoyed my first sip because of the temperature contrast with the cool whipped cream and warm drink. I immediately tasted the chocolate from the mocha sauce, but didn’t really pick up on the distinct toffee nut. I could tell there was a subtle “je ne sais quoi” but I took a blind taste test, I wouldn’t be able to say that it was toffee nut. But as I continued drinking, I almost forgot it was an almond milk hot chocolate. I was amazed and surprised by its richness.

Starbucks Toffee Almondmilk Hot Cocoa 2

But, I didn’t love the topping with the drink. When I did get some of the topping in my sip, I didn’t enjoy that it was large enough to require chewing. It also threw the sweetness balance off because the drink itself wasn’t overly sweet or artificial tasting despite the four pumps of sauce and syrup. But the topping pushed it over the sugar edge. I actually liked it better without it.

As whole milk’s #1 fan, I’m overall very impressed by Starbucks’ execution with almond milk (except for their decision to make almondmilk one word). I also love that Starbucks is being extra inclusive this holiday season; this new release is great for vegans and non-vegans alike. It’s officially been added to my Starbucks holiday drink rotation!

(Nutrition Facts – Grande – 280 calories, 14 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 240 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 28 grams of total sugars, 4 grams of protein, and 15 mg of caffeine.)

Purchased Price: $3.75
Size: Grande
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: It’s vegan and non-dairy when ordered without whipped cream. No additional cost for almond milk = winning! Surprisingly rich for almond milk.
Cons: Toffee nut, who? Caramel Brulée topping is gratuitous.

REVIEW: Coke Freestyle 2017 Holiday Mixes (North Pole Magic and Arctic Chill)

Coke Freestyle 2017 Holiday Mixes

One of the more understated junk food rites of the holiday season has to be Coca-Cola’s seasonal Freestyle mixes. Since they’re not ubiquitously marketed like everything else Coke does, they always seem to sneak up on you as quaint, L-T-O surprises at the local cineplex or friendly neighborhood Burger King.

Well, if you fancied previous seasonal flavors like Secret Santa and Mistletoe Flow, you’ll probably get a yuletide kick out of the latest additions to the Coke Freestyle family – the aptly named North Pole Magic and Arctic Chill.

Aesthetically, there isn’t much to say about either beverage. They both have a pleasant, reddish brown hue, with the Arctic Chill variation looking lighter than North Pole Magic. In terms of scent, they smell practically identical – as soon as your olfactory glands whiff the drinks, the aroma is unmistakable. You’ve got orange, you’ve got vanilla and you’ve got something else that you can’t quite put your finger on for the initial sniff. But that becomes very apparent once the drinks start tangoing with your taste buds.

Coke Freestyle North Pole Magic

We’ll start with North Pole Magic (NPM) because it’s the stronger of the two (both in terms of figurative quality and literal flavor). The beverage tastes pretty much the same way it smells. I’ve read some Internet posts that say NPM is one part vanilla, one part cherry, and one part root beer, but I beg to differ. To these tastebuds, anyway, NPM is one part Coca-Cola, one part orange creme and one part vanilla – in short, sherbet-flavored Coke.

In all my years I’ve never once imagined what a Yabba Dabba Do Orange Flinstones Push Up-flavored Coca-Cola variation would taste like, but I’ll be tickled pink if NPM isn’t one of the most delicious Coke permutations I’ve tasted in quite some time. This stuff is too yummy to be relegated to those bright red touchscreen terminals – Coke definitely needs to put this in bottle and can form come next Christmas.

Coke Freestyle ArcticChill

Arctic Chill (AC) – which is fighting under the less calorie-dense Coca-Cola Zero umbrella – is pretty much the same thing as NPM, except…well, not as flavorful.

I hate to use the term “watered down,” but that’s precisely what AC tastes like compared to NPM. It’s still pretty good, but the Coke Zero taste completely overwhelms the sherbet flavor. In fact, you only get the sherbet flavor as a ghostly aftertaste – almost as if you were drinking a Coke Zero in a cup somebody momentarily used as a holster for a creamsicle for about five seconds. Again, it’s not a bad soda by any stretch, it’s just that compared to NPM it feels like a mild imitation.

Regardless, you really can’t go wrong with either flavor. And Coke definitely needs to be commended for thinking outside the box for these holiday mixes – thank goodness they eschewed the all too predictable gingerbread and candy cane flavors in favor of one that’s great, no matter the time of year.

(Nutrition Facts – Not available.)

Purchased Price: $1.69
Size: 20 oz. cup
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10 (North Pole Magic)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Arctic Chill)
Pros: A robust, creamsicle flavor. You’ve got options if you’re trying to count calories. The theoretical ability to combine each flavor with Diet Dr. Pepper and peach Sprite, because Y.O.L.O.
Cons: Arctic Chill tastes pretty watered down compared to North Pole Magic. Only being able to drink the sodas at the movies or while you’re shopping at the grocery store. Wondering how much it would cost to bribe the store to look the other way while you fill up a water cooler jug.