REVIEW: Dulce de Leche Toast Crunch Cereal

Dulce de Leche Toast Crunch Cereal Box

Every time I do a review of a dulce de leche-flavored product, I have to remind myself what’s the difference between dulce de leche and caramel via Google.

Search results have repeatedly reminded me that caramel is basically sugar cooked slowly, while dulce de leche is made by slowly cooking sugar and milk. But when I dig deeper, I learn there are caramel recipes that have milk. So doesn’t that make them dulce de leche recipes? Then some recipes involve butter. And then some recipes involve butter AND milk.

This has led me to wonder if dulce de leche or caramel would be better to dunk my face into to muzzle my frustrated screams. Google has not been helpful with that.

I had to remind myself of the difference because of the new Dulce de Leche Toast Crunch that’s caramel flavored with other natural flavors.

Dulce de Leche Toast Crunch Cereal Granules

The pieces look like many other Toast Crunch family members with ridges and swirls baked into them and dusted with sugary granules. Its aroma isn’t as distinguishable as the original Cinnamon Toast Crunch (CTC). Instead, it’s more of a nondescript sugary scent that doesn’t make me think of dulce de leche or caramel.

The cereal has a slight butteriness when dry and is more noticeable in milk. I thought it was weird at first, but then again, this is caramel flavored, and it also shouldn’t seem odd since there’s the eggy flavor in French Toast Crunch.

Dulce de Leche Toast Crunch Cereal Milk

Along with the buttery flavor, there’s also cinnamon, which doesn’t help convince my taste buds that this is dulce de leche or caramel flavored. Instead, I wonder whether or not I just ate a bowl of rejected Cinnamon Toast Crunch pieces that didn’t meet the cinnamon-y standards of General Mills. The leftover milk at the bottom of the bowl did get a bit of cinnamon, but it’s not at CTC levels.

Dulce de Leche Toast Crunch is a sweet, pleasant-tasting cereal that I’d eat again. But unlike the Cinnamon Toast Crunch, French Toast Crunch, or Chocolate Toast Crunch (or even the discontinued peanut butter one), I cannot definitively tell it’s dulce de leche or caramel flavored.

DISCLOSURE: I received a free product sample. Doing so did not influence my review.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 12 oz box
Purchased at: Received from General Mills
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 cup/41 grams without milk) 170 calories, 4 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1 gram of polyunsaturated fat, 2.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 230 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, 12 grams of added sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Pepsi Blue (2021)

Pepsi Blue 2021 Bottle

Nostalgia is a heck of a thing.

Sometimes it can drive us to make questionable decisions like almost buying a $160 17-year-old bottle of a discontinued soft drink. Luckily for me, Pepsi decided to do a re-released, limited run of Pepsi Blue hence saving me from a financial error as well as a trip to the doctor.

I had occasionally thought of the drink over the years and wondered if I had just imagined it (hence the eBay searches). But it is very real, and that the bizarrely satisfying flavor of berry cola was mine again to drink.

Pepsi Blue was a weird blip in the timeline of soft drinks. Having a US-wide release in 2002, it would only be around for a little under two years before being pulled from US markets. Described as “Berry with a splash of Cola,” its bright blue color along with unique flavor was another attempt by Pepsi to capture the youth market. You have to also appreciate this was the peak time where Britney Spears was the face of Pepsi.

If I’m being entirely honest, I probably wouldn’t have tried this back in the early aughts if not for my school board making a (highly controversial) deal with Pepsi to put vending machines in the schools. To help sweeten the deal, they did giveaways of their newest product to help win us over. The product? Pepsi Blue.

I tried to not get too excited as I raced home to try it. I had been disappointed by re-released or retooled products brought back to cash in on nostalgia (looking at you Coke with Coffee). I reassured myself it was probably going to taste different due to different ingredients and my own tastes changing. After delaying the inevitable, I went ahead and opened the bottle.

Pepsi Blue 2021 Glass

The smell immediately triggered a strong memory of my middle school cafeteria. The berry sugar smell instantly reminded me of the many hours spent sitting at the uncomfortable tables, trying to scribble down something for class while shoving undercooked tater tots in my face.

The first sip was overwhelming in the best way. It tasted exactly how I remembered. The sweet berry-cotton candy like flavor hits first, followed by the cola taste. It’s almost an indescribable flavor profile. It’s not a cola with berry flavor (like Wild Cherry Pepsi), but a berry flavor with a hint of cola.

The best way I could think to describe it is this: imagine berry-flavored cotton candy packed into a cup. Now take an original Pepsi and slowly drip a little into the cup, letting it dissolve the cotton candy. That’s probably about as close as you can get to explaining the flavor to someone who has never tried it.

Nostalgia and middle school memories aside, Pepsi Blue is an extremely sweet (like 138% of your recommended daily sugar sweet), but enjoyable one-of-a-kind treat. In all the years since trying it for the first time, nothing else has ever even come close to it. It is also wonderful that a re-released item lived up to my memory of it when so many others have failed.

According to Pepsi, it will have an extremely limited run. So I would recommend, if you are at all interested, to give it a try. I look forward to it being re-released in another 20 years where I can wax poetic about when I tried it again in my 30s.

Purchased Price: $1.98
Size: 20 oz bottle
Purchased at: Walmart Neighborhood Market
Rating: 10 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 bottle) 260 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 69 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 69 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Gatorade BOLT24 Restore

Gatorade BOLT24 Restore Bottles

I did a collagen peptides deep dive on the internet to find out why 10 grams of it is included in Gatorade’s BOLT24 Restore. Let’s just say my Google journey involved preventing or reducing skin wrinkles, joint pain caused by osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and Jennifer Aniston. Just to be clear, the supplement does not prevent or reduce Jennifer Aniston.

I’m sure the reason for the collagen is one of those I mentioned that’s not Jennifer Aniston. But I have no way to test whether the collagen peptides in BOLT24 Restore help with any of those things. So I’ll just tell you how the two flavors – Peach Mango and Apple Pear – taste.

Gatorade BOLT24 Restore Peach Mango

Both varieties look like flat champagne or white wine. They pour like regular beverages, but they’ve got a mouthfeel that’s like Jello that’s been put into the fridge to set but taken out after 30-45 minutes. I don’t want to say there’s a thickness to them, but I already typed it, so I’m not going to use my arrow and delete keys to change it. I’m going to assume that’s the collagen at work.

If you need or want more collagen in your diet, go with the Peach Mango because it’s the better tasting one of the two. Its flavor has an equal balance of peach and mango. The stevia is a bit more noticeable in these Restore versions than with the original BOLT24, but they don’t taste as odd as other beverages that are only sweetened with it. I’m looking at you, Zevia.

Gatorade BOLT24 Restore Apple Pear

Now, Apple Pear mostly tastes okay. It has a flavor that’s more Fuji apple than pear, and that sounds wonderful. However, the aftertaste takes an acrid turn. Once the fruit flavor fades, there’s a sweet artificial meat-like taste in my mouth that pops up for a few moments. It’s odd, and enough for me to push the Peach Mango one instead.

Because these are Gatorade beverages, of course, they come with electrolytes. But unlike your standard Gatorade, BOLT24 drinks get it from watermelon and sea salt. Also, these don’t contain artificial sweeteners or flavors.

Gatorade BOLT24 Restore Protein

The bottle says it has 10 grams of protein, but it also says it doesn’t provide any daily value of the nutrient. It’s making my head hurt. Does collagen help with that?

Purchased Price: $1.99 each
Size: 16.9 fl oz bottle
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Peach Mango), 4 out of 10 (Apple Pear)
Nutrition Facts: (1 bottle) 80 calories, 0 grams of fat, 230 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 9 grams of sugar, 8 grams of added sugar, 10 grams of protein, and 100 percent vitamin C.

COMING SOON: White Cheddar Chex Mix

Whtcheddarchex

Chex Mix has added a new savory addition to its vast line up — White Cheddar. It joins Cheddar, Bold, Honey BBQ, Sour Cream and Onion, and, of course, Traditional. Looking at the packaging, it appears it won’t come with cheddary crackers, like the Cheddar version. But it will have the usual wheat Chex, corn Chex, pretzels, and mini breadsticks.

White Cheddar Chex Mix is rolling out now to Stop & Shop locations (a northeastern supermarket chain) and will be available in grocery stores and retailers nationwide beginning in mid-June. It’s available in two sizes — Medium ($3.09 suggested retail price) and Family Size ($3.99 suggested retail price).

(Thanks to Chex Mix for the info and images!)

SPOTTED – 5/4/2021

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

Tabasco Original BBQ Sauce
Tabasco Original BBQ Sauce

Other flavors include Jalapeno Mesquite, Habanero Jerk, and Honey BBQ. (Spotted by Robbie at Walmart.)

Coolhaus Cookies  Cream Ice Cream Cones
Coolhaus Cookies & Cream Ice Cream Cones

Other flavors include Farmer’s Market Strawberry and Street Cart Churro Dough. (Spotted by Sarah R at Whole Foods.)

Trader Joe s Vegan Pasta Bolognese
Trader Joe’s Vegan Pasta Bolognese

(Spotted by Rachel C at Trader Joe’s.)

Ice Breakers Cherry Limeade
Ice Breakers Cherry Limeade
Ice Breakers Limited Edition Snow Cone
Ice Breakers Limited Edition Snow Cone

(Spotted by Dorothy at Walmart)

Thomas Chocolatey Chip Mini Bagels
Thomas’ Chocolatey Chip Mini Bagels

(Spotted by Dorothy at Walmart)

Levain Bakery Two Chip Chocolate Chip
Levain Bakery Two Chip Chocolate Chip

(Spotted by Sarah R at Whole Foods.)