SPOTTED: Van Leeuwen Hidden Valley Ranch Ice Cream and the Rest of Van Leeuwen’s Spring 2023 Lineup

Van Leeuwen Limited Edition Hidden Valley Ranch Ice Cream
Van Leeuwen Limited Edition Sweet Maple Cornbread Ice Cream
Van Leeuwen Limited Edition Carrot Cake Ice Cream
Van Leeuwen Limited Edition Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream
Van Leeuwen Limited Edition Honey Graham Cracker Ice Cream
Van Leeuwen Limited Edition Blood Orange Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Van Leeuwen Limited Edition Limoncello Cake Ice Cream

Shall we predict the next weird Van Leeuwen ice cream? I’m going to guess a Miracle Whip flavor. (First six flavors spotted by Tommy at Walmart. Last flavor spotted by PiratePress at Walmart.)

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Breakfast Taco

I think we’ve all gotten a little sloppy with our fast food naming conventions. Put something inside a tortilla shell and we’ll call it a taco. That’s pretty much what I was expecting from Dunkin’s new “Spring” item, the Breakfast Taco. I figured it would just be some eggs, cheese, maybe a little bacon, and…wait, Dunkin’ already makes that. It’s called the Wake-up Wrap, and it’s been on the menu for ages.

I was concerned: Was it possible that Dunkin’ was relaunching almost the exact same product under a different name? Who do they think they are, Taco Bell?

But no, Dunkin’ made something that’s not only different from its other offerings but hard to find anywhere in fast food breakfast land: a taco with a flavor profile that bespeaks its Mexican origins.

First, there are two versions: plain or with a bacon topping. I wanted to actually taste all of the subtle flavors without having to deal with that overbearing bacon flavor, so I went with the first option.

The taco starts with corn. Dunkin’ calls it “fire-roasted corn,” but it didn’t taste particularly roasted to me; it was just a pleasant, sweet flavor. Not overly sweet or syrupy, but just the natural sweetness of the vegetable. At first, the corn was so dominant that it was hard to discern the other flavors, but it’s a dish with surprising depth. I noticed more subtle flavor notes as I ate, which is an experience I don’t often get with breakfast food.

One of those subtle flavors is from the jalapenos. I need to be clear that this is not a very spicy item; the heat is mild and just quietly adds depth. Sometimes, when I make curry for dinner, I make it with only a smidgen of spices so that my spice-timid 7-year-old will eat it. That’s the kind of heat level this is: you know it’s there, and that’s enough.

I also picked out the herbaceous bite of cilantro, which adds a lot of brightness. More prominent is the melted sharp white cheddar cheese, which adds a dairy tang to the proceedings. It isn’t noticeable in every bite but offers a nice, salty contrast when it pops up.

Lastly, there is a “tangy” lime crema, but I only really tasted it at the very end of the taco, when all I had left was crema and a little tortilla. It could have just been my taco, or maybe the crema is another ingredient that is meant to be subtle.

Dunkin’ could have bunted the ball here and just made glorified scrambled eggs in a tortilla shell, but it went the extra mile and is offering customers a novel experience, not just different from other Dunkin’ menu items but different, period. Will it win out over more cheesy, eggy, bready foods in my personal breakfast rotation? Maybe. While I may not order it every time I go to Dunkin’, I’m really glad the option is there. I take my hat off to Dunkin’ for trying something new.

Purchased Price: $2.59
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 180 calories, 9 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 100 milligrams of cholesterol, 500 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 8 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Girl Scouts Raspberry Rally Cookies

There’s a common misconception that, as the father of a Girl Scout (Brownie, technically), I am privy to cookie discounts. This is patently false. In fact, what ACTUALLY happens is that I end up having to buy more cookies than just about anyone else. Here’s how that transpires.

“Dad, I’m only ten boxes away from the next prize.”

“Which is?”

“At 100 boxes, I get a glow-in-the-dark cup.”

So I sigh, pull out my wallet, and fork over the whatever-amount-needed to ensure that she can obtain what theoretically amounts to a $600 plastic cup.

The good news is that Girl Scout cookies are wonderful. Well, some of them. Peanut Butter Patties (aka Tagalongs), Caramel deLites (aka Samoas), and Thin Mints are all excellent selections, obviously, and there are others that will do in a pinch. It is from the Thin Mint that ABC Bakers draws inspiration for its latest offering: the Raspberry Rally.

Marketed as “the thin, crispy cookie infused with raspberry flavor and dipped in chocolaty coating,” and “a ‘sister’ cookie to Thin Mints, our #1 bestseller,” “the raspberry kind,” as it is sure to nearly always be called, is an online only offering this Girl Scout cookie season.

So is it worth it?

If you like raspberry-flavored things, or the concept of a Thin Mint but inexplicably find mint to be disagreeable, the answer is yes, you’ll probably like this cookie.

The cookie itself is indistinguishable in appearance and construct from its minty sister. The outside of the thin cookie is the slightly waxy (yet delicious) “chocolaty” coating that you will recognize if you’re a connoisseur of Girl Scout cookies.

The inside, however, is where things get crazy. Instead of the near-black wafer of a Thin Mint, you’re blasted with a vivid pink middle. The artificial raspberry flavor is strong upon the first bite and grows stronger still as you consume. It’s almost *too* much, and I say this as an unapologetic fan of most artificial fruit flavoring.

And really, that’s the tale of the Raspberry Rally — it is a Thin Mint, only raspberry flavored. Very strong raspberry flavoring, though. It’s worth a go if you like fruity chocolate cookies or are a Girl Scout cookie completist, but I don’t know that I’ll feel compelled to buy an entire box each season. You know, unless it means my daughter is only one box away from a $300 eraser in the shape of a bee.

Purchased Price: $6.00
Size: 9 oz box
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (4 cookies) 160 calories, 8 grams of total fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of total carbs, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 10 grams of total sugar, and 2 gram of protein.

REVIEW: McDonald’s New Lemonade (2023)

Sweet, tart, refreshing… lemonade is so popular for a reason, sure. But it can also be pretty easy to mess up. In ye olden days of about a few weeks ago, back when McDonald’s used to serve syrupy Minute Maid lemonade, it wasn’t exactly the nectar of the gods, but it was predictable. The Minute Maid has now been replaced by McDonald’s new lemonade (ironically referred to on its menu as “classic”), which was an unknown quantity for me.

To briefly break down the difference, this new brew is described by Mickey D’s as “made with real lemon juice, bits of lemon pulp and real cane sugar.” Conversely, Minute Maid is maid with high fructose corn syrup instead of sugar, and it also doesn’t contain pulp. So, these two citrusy sips have their distinctions, and you can taste them.

I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to find the words to review something as straightforward as lemonade, but from my very first taste, one word flashed brightly in my mind, as bold as Ronald McDonald’s wig: TART. I had wondered whether this new lemonade might be on the saccharine side like its predecessor, but there was nothing mild about its lip-puckering intensity. That cane sugar does lend some welcome notes of sweetness to avoid feeling like you’re straight up licking a lemon, but the dominant flavor is definitely sour.

I had also suspected that this lemonade might taste watered down, but I’m pleased to report that that was not the case. The taste was rather smooth and robust, so much so that when I had to take a phone call mid review and returned to find my ice cubes melted, the flavor was hardly diminished (in fact, with the sharp edges of sourness slightly toned down the lemonade might have even tasted better).

Of course, I also have to mention the potentially-controversial addition of pulp, and I have to mention that I barely noticed it. The pulp was most obvious when I peered at the bottom of my cup, and yes, when I jostled the cup I could clearly see it swirling throughout, but its presence was less felt in the taste, with most pulp bits short and thin enough that I hardly realized they were there as I drank. The occasional larger chunk was more apparent, but I found that these just added some welcome texture.

Overall, the potent pucker power of McDonald’s new lemonade might be a touch too tart for some tastes, but if you can suck it up — literally! — this juice is worth the squeeze.

Purchased Price: $2.60
Size: Small
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 150 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 10 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 34 grams of sugar (including 34 grams of added sugar), and 0 grams of protein.