When I was younger, I developed a fondness for Raisin Bran Crunch. It elevates Raisin Bran to a higher level and brings it closer to Honey Bunches of Oats. From both texture and taste standpoints, it was dramatically improved for me. With the release of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran Toasted Oats & Honey, I wondered if it would be in the same vein.
The box claims that the cereal consists of “Delicious raisins & toasted bran flakes sprinkled with hearty oats and honey.” Based on the box’s image, I knew to not expect the same crunch levels of Raisin Bran Crunch. It appeared to have single oats sprinkled on the flakes.
Upon pouring the cereal, I noticed there were even less oats than the box had led me to believe. There were tiny flecks of oats clinging to the flakes. It was difficult to even distinguish them as being oats.
I tried the cereal dry and it tasted how I expected based on the aesthetics. The bran flakes are slightly crunchier than usual, with a faint oat flavor. The honey is more noticeable and imparts a gentle sweetness on the flakes.
Adding milk allowed the cereal to come together. The honey flavor was significantly more prevalent and each bite was sweeter than those of traditional Raisin Bran. It did not taste like there was actual honey drizzled on the flakes, but it was distinctive enough to know what they were going for. The oats’ flavor remained understated, but they showcased an important feature in milk: they helped the flakes stay crunchy for much longer. This is definitely appreciated.
On the back of the box, there is a random image of a package of Raisin Bran Crunch. I am not sure why it is there, but it feels like Kellogg’s is taunting me. “We know this is what you really wanted,” it seems to say.
While not a radical departure from traditional Raisin Bran, this cereal is an upgrade on the tried-and-true formula. Given the choice, I would pick Kellogg’s Raisin Bran Toasted Oats & Honey over the original, without hesitation. If given yet another choice, I would choose Raisin Bran Crunch over both, every single time.
Purchased Price: $4.99 Size: 15.6 oz box Purchased at: Safeway Rating: 7 out of 10 ?Nutrition Facts: (1 cup) 190 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 19 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.
I vividly remember the first time I saw “Elf.” I drove two hours to meet an old friend at a Harkins Theater so we could take in the merriment together. Ever since, “Elf” has been a holiday staple of mine. It is the second-most quoted holiday film in my family. So, naturally, when General Mills launched its Elf Cereal, I wanted it in my life.
The packaging is fun, comforting, and makes ample “Elf” references. The back of the box implores everyone to help Buddy the Elf fill the Clausometer. I know it is just marketing for children, but it warms my heart. The box states that the cereal consists of sweetened corn puffs with holiday tree marshmallows, flavored with maple syrup.
Upon opening the box, a potent maple aroma punched me in the nose. This was momentarily concerning. I pulled the box closer and the smell had already settled. It was not overbearing at all.
The quantity of marshmallows sitting on top was striking. It seemed to be more marshmallow-heavy than some similar cereals. I tried a handful dry and was underwhelmed. The maple syrup flavor was almost indiscernible. The corn puffs were slightly sweet, but not nearly as sugary as I expected for a cereal based on “Elf.” After all, Buddy subsists almost entirely on sugar.
Once milk is added, the cereal moved closer to my expectations. The maple syrup taste is more evident, but still very restrained. It has been many years, but I used to eat Waffle Crisp regularly when I was younger. I was expecting Elf Cereal to have a maple flavor like Waffle Crisp, but it did not.
The sweetness really comes out with the milk also. It was not as saccharine as I anticipated, but it was pleasant. If you were to mix marbits with Kix and put a few drops of maple syrup in the milk, you could emulate the flavor profile here relatively closely.
In the spirit of Buddy, I contemplated dousing the cereal in maple syrup, but could not bring myself to do it.
General Mills’ Elf Cereal is a fun, festively themed holiday offering, but it may fall short for some. More maple syrup flavoring could have elevated it to North Pole levels.
At the very least, this cereal makes me smile, and smiling’s my favorite.
Purchased Price: $3.64 Size: 18.6 oz box Purchased at: Walmart Rating: 7 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1 cup) 140 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 0.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 180 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.
As the leaves change colors (unless you live somewhere mostly devoid of leaves AND four seasons, like I do), autumn flavors increase their annual grip on our collective consciousness.
I have seen more maple-flavored offerings in the last few years, but it feels underrepresented compared to pumpkin spice anything. But Keebler is doing its part to keep the cookie field diverse with its new Special Batch Fudge Stripes Maple Crème Cookies.
Upon opening the package, I am hit with a friendly aroma of maple. It is warm and sweet without being overbearing. Maple flavoring must be difficult to properly implement because I have had some maple-oriented foods that were far too strong. The smell is a good sign.
The cookies are somewhat difficult to pry apart, which I do not remember being the case with traditional Fudge Stripes. This bears no real impact on the product, but it feels worth mentioning. It is likely an effect of the maple crème melting during shipping and then re-solidifying.
The cookies have the same pleasant shortbread base as the original Fudge Stripes. Biting into them yields a rewarding crunch. The maple-flavored crème immediately hits my taste buds, and I am pleasantly surprised. It is not overly strong at all. If anything, it is a bit too subdued, but being able to taste the shortbread cookie beyond the maple crème is welcome.
Compared to an average maple donut, these are considerably milder. The crème is smooth and sweet, acting as an appropriate vessel for the maple. It has the same consistency as Fudge Stripes’ usual fudge.
My mother makes a “cookie salad,” which is like a form of ambrosia-style fruit salad with crushed up Fudge Stripes. I can see the maple crème version being a nice addition for a dessert dish in a similar manner. The flavor is restrained enough to add a hint of maple goodness without taking over.
Keebler Fudge Stripes Maple Crème Cookies are a solid seasonal offering and did a fine job bringing the familiar fall flavor to my mouth. While the maple could stand to be a little stronger, these cookies are well-rounded and offer some much-needed seasonal comfort.
DISCLOSURE: I received a free product sample from Keebler. (Thanks, Keebler!) Doing so did not influence my review.
Purchased Price: FREE Size: 11.5 oz. Purchased at: Received from Keebler Rating: 8 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (2 cookies) 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.
I am very open-minded when it comes to ice cream. There is merit to be found in premium, value-oriented, full-fat, and light varieties. I find myself purchasing light versions on occasion to help offset the sheer volume of ice cream I consume.
There are numerous healthier ice creams available now that allow one to consume an entire pint with a fraction of traditional ice cream’s fat, sugar, and calories. I have always seen the texture of these light ice creams as an area that needed improving. Oftentimes they are not as smooth and creamy as their full-fat counterparts. They can come across as overly icy.
Enter Nick’s Swedish-Style Light Ice Cream. The company manufactures light ice cream using sugar alcohols and a variety of plant-based sweeteners and fat. It says that because of its plant-based fat, “only Nick’s creates the unmistakable melt-in-your-mouth creaminess of full-fat ice cream, but with way fewer calories.” This is quite the lofty claim that I was eager to investigate upon receiving six pints directly from Nick’s.
Peanöt Butter Cup
I started with one of the more difficult flavors for light ice creams to nail. This ice cream is a peanut butter ice cream with tiny peanut butter cups. It has a nice, mild, and delightfully creamy peanut butter flavored base. The miniature peanut butter cups are adorable and delicious, but I could have gone for a few more of them mixed in.
Not mentioned in the description were a couple surprises in this one. There is a chocolate swirl that helps to pull the whole thing together. Oddly enough, there are also little bits of brownie dough. The chewy brownie pieces really help to elevate the experience as a whole.
Rating: 8 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1/2 cup) 90 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 mg of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, 6 grams of sugar alcohols and 4 grams of protein.
This is a classic strawberry ice cream. The vanilla base in this is mellow and, again, quite creamy. It serves its purpose well and allows the strawberry to shine. The strawberry ribbons are bright and fresh with abundant natural sweetness. The taste reminds me of preparing homemade ice cream with my parents when I was a child. It is on-par with most of the strawberry ice creams I have had.
Rating: 8 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1/2 cup) 70 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 75 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, 6 grams of sugar alcohols and 4 grams of protein.
Swedish Cookie Dough
I was most excited to try this one. It has a vanilla base, swirled with chocolate and pieces of sugar cookie dough. Unsurprisingly, this is just as smooth as the other flavors. The base is embedded with the taste of the buttery sugar cookie dough, even in a spoonful without a piece.
I also get a hint of cinnamon throughout, which gives the pint a borderline snickerdoodle vibe. The cookie dough pieces add a welcome and familiar grit. The chocolate swirl is mild and compliments the dough well. Overall, this was more complex than I was expecting, and it is incredibly tasty.
Rating: 9 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1/2 cup) 70 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, 5 grams of sugar alcohols and 3 grams of protein.
This flavor is a vanilla ice cream with chocolate flakes and cherry bits. The base tastes more like cherry ice cream than vanilla, as the cherry pieces have imparted their flavor upon the whole pint. It is not at all artificial, which is wonderful.
The abundant dark chocolate flakes add a touch of richness and a satisfying snap in each spoonful. The best parts are the chewy cherry chunks. They bring a pleasant texture and a realistic tartness to the mix. When getting a bite with both components, this ice cream reminds me of a cherry cordial.
Rating: 9 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1/2 cup) 70 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 3 grams of sugar, 5 grams of sugar alcohols and 3 grams of protein.
Swedish Lemon Bar
This ice cream is a little airier than the others but still feels just as creamy. Nick’s says that it is a cheesecake ice cream with ribbons of lemon. I get a little bit of cheesecake flavor in the base, but it ultimately reminds me of a lemon bar, as the name would indicate. There is also a subtle buttery taste in the base that makes me think of the shortbread crust in lemon bars.
The lemon ribbon here is the star of the show. It is bright, fresh, tart, and amazing. There are small, chewy lemon rind pieces incorporated throughout, and overall, it reminds me of candied lemon rind. This refreshing flavor is the most innovative of the bunch, and I have never had anything quite like it.
Rating: 10 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1/2 cup) 60 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 65 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, 4 grams of sugar alcohols and 4 grams of protein.
As a chocolate ice cream with brownie bits and a fudge swirl, this one seemed like it would be the most decadent. The chocolate base appears to be of the dark variety. It is slightly less sweet than I was expecting, with a touch of pleasant bitterness.
The fudge swirl tends to be overpowered by the base and does not make much of an impact. The brownie bits are chewy and enjoyable. It is a decent flavor, but much more subdued than I was expecting. As a fan of all things chocolate, I expected to like this one the most, but it’s actually my least favorite of the six.
Rating: 6 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1/2 cup) 80 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, 5 grams of sugar alcohols and 4 grams of protein.
Nick’s was not exaggerating the creaminess of its ice cream at all. These do not quite measure up to the most premium, velvety, full-fat ice creams, but one would be hard-pressed to identify these as light flavors in a blind taste test. Nick’s Swedish-Style Light Ice Cream is not just “good for light ice cream.” It is good, period. It will stack up well against many standard ice cream varieties.
I did some quick research on Swedish ice cream, and the search results predominantly bring up content about Nick’s. From what I can tell, there are not any distinctly Swedish methods of ice cream preparation. The “Swedish” moniker seems to refer to the brand’s creator.
According to its website, Nick’s has 14 patents, two in-house food scientists, and has performed over 100 flavor tests. This makes perfect sense because Nick’s Swedish-Style Light Ice Cream is an exemplary product. When deciding to purchase light ice cream in the future, I do not see myself buying any brand besides Nick’s from now on.
DISCLOSURE: I received free pints from Nick’s. (Thanks Nick’s!) Doing so did not influence my review.
Kit Kat is back again with another new limited edition flavor.
The new Apple Pie Kit Kat has hit store shelves in an appropriately bright yellow package to proclaim its arrival boldly. They are unmistakable sitting next to their red-wrapped counterparts. When I saw them beckoning from a Walmart’s seasonal display, I could not help myself and instinctively grabbed a handful.
Upon arriving home, I stowed the Kit Kats in the refrigerator. I am of the mindset that the candy bar tastes significantly better when cold. The crunch is even more satisfying once the candy has chilled for a bit. I impatiently waited for them to reach a suitable temperature and dug in.
They have a gentle aroma of warm spice, but no hint of apple. The first thing I tasted, however, was a kiss of apple flavor. Thankfully, it was reasonably accurate and mild. Foods flavored to resemble apple can often be overwhelming and artificial. This candy had a perfect level for my preferences.
Beyond the faint apple taste, the familiar apple pie spices came through. It was a subtle selection of spices, but I definitely detected cinnamon and ginger. The creaminess invoked pleasant thoughts of apple pie à la mode.
The coating seems to be where all the flavor comes from. It’s a delicate white chocolate base that lends itself to both apple and spices quite well. The interior wafer is typical Kit Kat fare.
For me, Kit Kat nailed this one. The flavors are all present enough to make it clear that this is an apple pie flavored candy. I would have been fine with a little bit more of the spices, but any more apple would have been too much for me. If you are looking for an overwhelmingly apple flavored candy, this is not it.
I recommend Apple Pie Kit Kat, provided that you set your expectations appropriately. A little slice of Americana wrapped up in the form of a Kit Kat is a comfort too good to pass up right now.
Purchased Price: $0.88 Size: 1.5 oz package Purchased at: Walmart Rating: 9 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1 package) 220 calories, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 20 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.