REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Keep Caramel and Cookie On Ice Cream

Ben  Jerry s Keep Caramel and Cookie On Ice Cream

I hold a very special place in my heart for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. My most memorable Valentine’s Day as a single gal included takeout from my favorite local spot, German grapefruit beer, a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, and binge-watching Suits on USA. (A shameless plug: The show comes back on July 12 and I can’t wait. You’ll thank me later.)

Anyway, I told my now-husband about that when we were dating, so for our first Valentine’s Day, he recreated it, right down to the same Ben & Jerry’s pint I had savored. My waistline thanked me that year, considering we split it instead of me face planting into the entire thing.

I tell you this story because you need to understand my enthusiasm for Ben & Jerry’s. Now that this is established, I must also share my enthusiasm for Target. So: My favorite brand of ice cream has an exclusive flavor at my favorite store. Done deal, had to have it.

Ben  Jerry s Keep Caramel and Cookie On Ice Cream 2

Ben & Jerry’s Keep Caramel and Cookie On is described as “Caramel Malt Ice Cream with Shortbread Cookies, Fudge Flakes & Caramel Swirls.” The first thing I noticed about this ice cream was how incredibly smooth it is. Like “goes down way too easy let me keep digging into this pint” smooth. The smoothness could be attributed to the malt, which, based on my research, can add to the creamy texture.

While I loved the smoothness of the ice cream, the downfall was the actual caramel flavor. It was slightly underwhelming. That being said, the ice cream was not bad, just not as caramel-y as I was expecting. It seems as though the focus was more on the add-ins and the ice cream was a bit overlooked. I definitely got more of a caramel note from the caramel swirls. I’m glad the swirls were there; otherwise, I would have been seriously missing some caramel flavor. #swirlpower

The fudge flakes are more than flakes – they’re basically glorified chocolate chips. Which was a nice surprise, considering I usually think of flakes as shavings or something not as prevalent. They were a nice add-in.

Ben  Jerry s Keep Caramel and Cookie On Ice Cream 3

But let me tell you about the shortbread. You guys, the shortbread cookies totally made this ice cream. Why have I not had shortbread with ice cream before? It was soft, not crunchy (from being embedded in the ice cream), and not overly sweet. It was such a nice addition without overpowering the rest of the flavors. Did I tell you I loved the shortbread?

All in all, this is a super solid Ben & Jerry’s flavor that gets my seal of approval. It left me wanting more…in a good way, not an unsatisfied way. I’m thinking some kind of ice cream float is in my future with the rest of this puppy.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 270 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 25 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.49
Size: One pint
Purchased at: Target (Exclusive Flavor)
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Shortbread in your ice cream. I repeat, shortbread.
Cons: Not enough caramel to live up to the name.

REVIEW: Hostess Ding Dongs Frozen Dairy Dessert Sandwiches

Hostess Ding Dongs Frozen Dairy Dessert Sandwiches

In preparation for my wedding in May, I’ve been on a self-proclaimed dessert detox. There are some exceptions of course… like writing reviews for the lovely readers of the Impulsive Buy. Because it’s all in the name of research!

So imagine my excitement when I unwrapped one of the Hostess Ding Dongs Frozen Dairy Dessert Sandwiches. Oh glory, my first sweet in about two weeks! I was hungry, ready and so pumped, and I’m pleased to report that I was not disappointed.

Each sandwich is individually packaged, and on first glance, it’s about the size and thickness of a hockey puck. It does, in fact, look the ice cream version of a regular Ding Dong.

Hostess Ding Dongs Frozen Dairy Dessert Sandwiches 2

Now, if you’re looking for a neat and tidy eating experience, this is not for you. I cut open the Ding Dong, and the chocolate outer layer did not hold together well. Nor did the chocolate stay together as I ate each half. But I was impressed with how well the ice cream stayed solid and did not melt.

Hostess Ding Dongs Frozen Dairy Dessert Sandwiches 3

Cutting apart the Ding Dong revealed two things: 1) A glorious, pretty thick chocolate coating and 2) A crunchy, cookie-esque layer between the chocolate coating and ice cream that I was not expecting and It. Was. Epic. Best way to describe the Ding Dong is having the crunch of a Thin Mint with the taste of a Klondike Bar.

There really isn’t anything special to report about the vanilla frozen dairy dessert. The chocolate was so prevalent that it was hard to taste it on its own. The frozen dairy dessert was good, just nothing to write home about. I loved all the chocolate – it was rich and melted in my mouth.

The other thing I appreciated was the portion size and nutritional information. At under 200 calories a serving, this is a perfect dessert for when you want something quick and not too heavy. Basically, it truly is the frozen version of a beloved Hostess snack cake.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 sandwich – 180 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 75 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 5-pack
Purchased at: Giant Eagle
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Cookie crunch and plenty of chocolate to please my sweet tooth.
Cons: Kind of messy to eat. Kind of messy to eat. Normal frozen dairy dessert.

REVIEW: McDonald’s Mac Jr.

McDonald's Mac Jr.

When I was sharing the news that McDonald’s now has a Mac Jr. with a co-worker (side note: we’re marketers, so creativity is always on the brain), we both deemed it a lack of innovation on Mickey D’s part for calling it Jr. since so many other chains Jr.-ize their burgers.

Personally, I think it should be called the Baby Mac. So much so, in fact, that I’ve had to stop myself from writing Baby instead of Jr. several times already.

McDonald's Mac Jr. 3

But lack of creativity in the name is not what I’m here to judge, so let me tell you about the size and the flavor. While the good old Big Mac has two meat patties, you’ll find just one on the limited time only Mac Jr. From bottom to top, the burger was built as so: Bun, cheese, meat, pickle, onion (very little onion on mine), lettuce, Big Mac sauce and bun.

I’m going to have to agree with Leonard here, I wish the meat was more prevalent in size. Because the patty was so thin, it left me wanting more. (Thank goodness I also picked up an Oreo McFlurry. Purchase price? $1.99 for a snack size.) I easily polished off the burger without feeling completely satisfied.

McDonald's Mac Jr. 4

But that being said, the taste was on point. There was a great ratio of cheese to meat, and the pickles were fresh and crunchy. And the sauce? Oh, the Big Mac sauce. My only gripe is that my friendly McDonald’s Mac Jr. assembler was a little heavy-handed on the sauce. As soon as I unwrapped the paper, it was oozing out of the sides. Delicious and warm, but slightly too much. I think this is the case where it’s just a tad too much of a good thing.

McDonald's Mac Jr. 5

If you’re in the mood for the Baby Mac, err… Mac Jr., you won’t be disappointed in flavor. McDonald’s definitely gets that right. However, I caution to you add some fries or that beautiful, sweet McFlurry if you’re looking for a complete meal but don’t want the extra meat and bun of a Big Mac or Grand Mac.

(Nutrition Facts – 460 calories, 240 calories from fat, 27 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 830 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 21 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Cost is less than my morning coffee order. It’s the adorable little sibling of the Mac family.
Cons: Pretty thin meat patty, a bit too much sauce (but is that really a problem?)

REVIEW: M&M’s White Cheesecake

M&M's White Cheesecake

I’m not in the business of wasting anyone’s time. Therefore, I’m literally going to tell you right away my favorite thing about the new White Cheesecake flavor of M&M’s: The size.

These puppies are not your average M&M. I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the bag and found they were about two times the size of the regular chocolate candy. Much more substantial, and in my opinion, a better way to portion control. (If you can keep your hand out of the M&M bowl without mindless munching, please call me because you’re going to need to teach me your ways.) It’s like you’re getting more bang for your buck.

Moving on to flavor: When I took my first bite, there was no evidence of cheesecake at all. What I got was a nice flavor of white chocolate. Now here’s the thing…I LOVE white chocolate. It’s underrated. So I enjoyed the taste and thus gave a 7 rating. But if you came for the cheesecake, I can see why you’d be disappointed. I kept eating them and eating them and eating them to see if the cheesecake came through after a while, but to no avail.

M&M's White Cheesecake 4

What you get is a nice white chocolate that’s just the perfect amount of sweetness. I probably could have polished off most of the bag in one sitting without feeling sickeningly sweet. (Side note: I’m thinking an interesting experiment would be to freeze these babies since cheesecake is typically refrigerated, I wonder if the coolness would bring out the taste? If anyone tries this, let me know.)

M&M's White Cheesecake 3

Back on track: These are definitely Valentine’s Day M&M’s, as evidenced by the hearts on the bag and the color of the candy. You’ll find light pink, white, and something I can only describe as skin tone. Or it’s probably supposed to be cheesecake-colored. Your preference! The other thing to note that I consider a positive was that the M&M coating was nice and thick.

All in all, these were a win in my book because I liked the “white chocolate” spin on M&M’s. If you’re cool with eating a flesh-colored candy, enjoy my friends.

(Nutrition Facts – 1.5 oz, or about 1/4 cup – 210 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 88 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 8 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Amazingly large M&M sizing. A nice change of pace from your typical chocolate candy. All the white chocolate.
Cons: Flesh-colored M&M’s. Lack of actual cheesecake flavor.

REVIEW: Starbucks Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa

Starbucks Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa

I used to call Starbucks’ Peppermint Mocha a holiday in a cup. Well, move over, Mocha, there’s a new drink in town and I’m obsessed. One sip of the Starbucks Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa and I was instantly transported in front of a fire with holiday decorations surrounding me and an overwhelming feeling of coziness.

The first thing I love about this drink is the fact that even though it’s hot cocoa, you’re getting white chocolate. You guys, I love white chocolate but sometimes I forget it’s even a thing thanks to its more popular brother. The second thing I love is how smooth this goes down. It’s definitely a drink for sipping and not chugging due to the sweetness. But that’s okay, because I wanted it to last as long as possible.

The snickerdoodle flavor comes in the form of cinnamon dolce syrup plus the cinnamon sugar on top of the whipped cream (Pro tip: Do NOT skip the whipped cream.) One thing I noticed right away is that the cinnamon is apparent at first sip, hitting you right away with the flavor. And bonus: The flavor stayed throughout the whole drink. You know how sometimes it seems as though a syrup wasn’t mixed all the way through? And you only find it right on the top or all the way at the bottom? Yeah, not the case here. Full on snickerdoodle in every sip.

Starbucks Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa 2

My one gripe was that the hot cocoa was warm, but not piping hot – a problem that could be easily solved by asking for the drink extra hot. (I also ordered the drink when it was -876 degrees outside. Okay, I’m exaggerating. It was 28. But regardless, that was my mistake not to order extra hot for extreme warmth.) It was hot enough to melt the whipped cream into the liquid as I drank, creating an almost eggnog-like color by the time I was almost done.

I’m really hoping Starbucks keeps this one well into the winter and not just the holidays, because it’s a slam dunk. If you don’t think it tastes like one of your Aunt Lisa’s snickerdoodles, the ones where you typically shove about five in your mouth because Mom’s not looking, then you need to come find me and we’ll have a chat.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 oz – 310 calories, 120 calories from fat, 13 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 38 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.25
Size: 12 oz. (tall)
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: All the white chocolate. Cinnamon is natural tasting and all-around awesome, making the drink true to its snickerdoodle name.
Cons: Whipped cream melted a little faster than I would have liked. But if that’s the only con I have, then we’re doing pretty well.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Lay’s Wavy Milk Chocolate Covered Potato Chips with Almond Bits

Limited Edition Lay's Wavy Milk Chocolate Covered Potato Chips with Almond Bits

Are chocolate covered potato chips a snack or dessert? This is a serious life question. Dessert has my vote, although you could certainly make the case for either.

For me, the automatic draw to the Lay’s Wavy Milk Chocolate Covered Potato Chips with Almond Bits was the fact it was covered in chocolate. Sadly, though, that’s the peak of the excitement.

Limited Edition Lay's Wavy Milk Chocolate Covered Potato Chips with Almond Bits 2

There were three major bummers when I opened the bag.

  1. These Lay’s lived up to the classic chip/pretzel stereotype where the bag looks full but in reality it’s not. This one was about 1/4 of the bag full and the rest was good old zero calorie air. Strike One.
  2. The chocolate didn’t even cover the entire potato chip, unless the chip was on the smaller side. Strike Two.
  3. Where were all the almond bits? They might as well have been non-existent, both on the chip and in taste. But we’ll get to taste in a minute. Strike Three.

And to throw in a fourth: The serving size on these puppies is super small. Five chips? I definitely could polish off the whole bag.

I still wanted to give them a fair chance despite the aforementioned bummers. The best part about these chips is the chocolate. It’s pretty darn good. The chocolate covering the chips is pretty thick. But there’s such an overwhelming taste of chocolate that I had a hard time even tasting the chip. The chips were not crunchy, and I didn’t get a hint of salt until the fifth chip in. And the fact that they are wavy Lays doesn’t even matter – you couldn’t even tell thanks to the chocolate.

Limited Edition Lay's Wavy Milk Chocolate Covered Potato Chips with Almond Bits 3

Remember those almond bits? Yeah, I don’t either. I couldn’t get a distinct taste from even the few that I did see. Basically, if I wanted the same experience, I’d just have a Hershey’s chocolate bar.

I wanted to love these. I really did. While I did love the chocolate, I can’t help but feel that chip and chocolate’s marriage just isn’t working out and I’m not sure who should get the almond bits in the divorce.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz (about 5 chips) – 160 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 45 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 4 3/4 oz. bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Chocolate. Enough said.
Cons: Lack of almond bits, lack of chip prominence, lack of crunch. Not enough chips in the bag to make the $3.99 price tag worth it.