REVIEW: Dunkin’ Nutty Pumpkin Coffee

Dunkin Nutty Pumpkin Coffee Cup

Fall’s kick-off has (unofficially) become August 1st as the product boxes slowly shift towards the warm orange/red/yellows of the season. My inbox becomes a flurry of messages from stores letting me know what date they will start offering their various pumpkin-flavored items. After last year’s strong showing, I was looking forward to this year’s Dunkin’ pumpkin menu. The Nutty Pumpkin Coffee immediately caught my attention.

Starting with Dunkin’s Original Blend coffee, they add in a pumpkin spice swirl and hazelnut flavoring with a cream of your choice; you also can get it hot or iced. I was intrigued by the drink’s simplicity, especially compared to its cousin, the Pumpkin Spice Signature Latte. I generally dislike the pure pumpkin spice drinks as I find them thickly sweet. I like the flavor, but the sweetness is too much after about half.

Using the mobile ordering, I went for the iced version and oatmilk as my “cream.” Immediately, I was pleasantly surprised to not see that ring of flavoring that sometimes sinks to the bottom of Dunkin’ drinks. I still gave it a quick stir to make sure the components were mixed. With my first sip, I was greeted by a very smooth and delicious drink.

Dunkin Nutty Pumpkin Coffee Top

The blend of the coffee, pumpkin spice swirl, hazelnut flavor, and oatmilk offered the balanced fall beverage I had hoped for. During my mobile ordering, I noticed that the hazelnut is an unsweetened flavor, and I think that makes all the difference. The hazelnut added that nutty, earthy component I feel is often missing in pumpkin spice drinks. In this iteration, the pumpkin spice swirl still brought sweetness to the drink but didn’t overwhelm. The Original Blend Dunkin’ coffee adds the perfect amount of richness to the drink. The oatmilk also played a part in bringing down the overall sugariness, and it added that creamy deliciousness I look for in an iced coffee.

For me, Dunkin’ tends to be a bit of a wild card when it comes to its offerings, so having this drink being such an enjoyable experience was awesome. The Nutty Pumpkin Coffee was a pleasant surprise and a great kick-off to pumpkin spice season. It hits all the fall notes and gives me that autumn-in-a-cup experience that I enjoy while still wearing flip-flops and tank tops in 95-degree heat.

Purchased Price: $2.89
Size: Medium
Rating: 10 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 260 calories, 9 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 130 milligrams of sodium, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 38 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Little Caesars Old World Fanceroni Pepperoni Pizza

Little Caesars Old World Fanceroni Pepperoni Pizza Whole

“Over 100 crispy Old World Pepperonis.”

I muttered that to myself while wiping the grease off my fingers. Another 10 counted. Another tally mark. I certainly questioned my sanity a few times over the counting process. It looked to be over a hundred, so why not just make up some random number? Nay, dear readers. This site has the utmost integrity, and if Little Caesars claimed over 100 pepperonis, we’re going to fact-check it for you.

The Little Caesars Old World Fanceroni Pepperoni Pizza is the current specialty item from the pizza chain. Claiming to be covered in over 100 crispy old world pepperonis, this large pizza is a step up from the chain’s regular pepperoni pizza. Old world pepperoni is fairly different from the standard stuff in several ways. It’s cut thicker, which is one of the causes for its signature curl and cup shape after cooking. It’s also made with natural casings and a different fermentation process to give us a richer, spicier flavor. My introduction to them has only happened within the last few years, and I adore them.

Little Caesars Old World Fanceroni Pepperoni Pizza Slice

So it was a no-brainer that I would try Little Caesars’ take on my favorite little grease cups. At first look, the pizza didn’t quite get the “all the way to the edge” pepperoni coverage as advertised. In fact, it was a messy looking pizza. I tried a slice before the great count began (there were 11 of them) to make sure I tasted it as intended. The old world slices were perfect: a little spicy, rich, greasy, and crispy around the edges.

The higher quality pepperonis really elevated the entire experience. Little Caesars pizza tends to be a few levels above frozen pizza for me (sorry, devotees), but the higher-end topping made it feel more luxurious. I wouldn’t have guessed I was eating a Little Caesars pizza. The crust, sauce, and cheese don’t stand out as particularly good or bad. They’re merely a vehicle for the over 100 pepperonis.

Little Caesars Old World Fanceroni Pepperoni Pizza Mountain

Little Caesars Old World Fanceroni Pepperoni Pizza Bare

Now, the thing I’m sure some of you have been scanning for: The total I got was…(drum roll) 111! There is a margin of error of +/- 3 pepperonis thanks to my husband’s sneaky little fingers, but I’m confident in it being over the promised 100 slices.

Little Caesars Old World Fanceroni Pepperoni Pizza Total

While I enjoyed this offering from Little Caesars, I want to emphasize the old world style pepperoni is the predominant flavor and overshadows the rest of the pizza’s ingredients. The grease level is pretty high (I mean, 111 slices will do that), and it might be too much for some. I’m already planning to order it again (let’s see if I can get it on the Detroit-style crust), but my old world pepperoni quota will be fulfilled for a bit after that.

Purchased Price: $9.99
Size: Large
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1/8 pizza) 378 calories, 19 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 44 milligrams of cholesterol, 863 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 18 grams of protein.

REVIEW: The Artist Marshmello’s Limited Edition Coca-Cola

Marshmacoke1

Coca-Cola has been around for 136 years, which is no easy feat. Those years haven’t always been smooth (New Coke enters the chat), but they have generally adapted to the market’s taste changes. It’s no mystery that younger folks are drinking less traditional soda than previous generations. Taste shifts coupled with the sheer amount of choices available have made soda companies readjust their approach, and the new Coca-Cola Creations division aims to bring younger people back to the brand.

Coca-Cola Creations was launched in early 2022 with its first flavor: Starlight. Not long after, we got a second entry into the Creations Canon with BYTE. The third release is different from the other two in many ways. The Artist Marshmello’s Limited Edition Coca-Cola tells you right on the can what to expect: Watermelon Strawberry Flavored Coke.

Even though the previous flavors were left a mystery, I think they wanted to avoid people misreading the can and thinking it was marshmallow-flavored. The joke’s on them because I did that anyway. While scanning the almost all-white can, my brain absolutely assumed it was marshmallow flavored. I would also imagine this was because I read Marshmello as marshmallow.

Marshmacoke2

A well-known electronic music artist/producer, Marshmello is easily identified by his signature helmet that looks like a Lego head painted white with black “X” eyes and a smile. I am painfully out of the loop with popular music but know a few songs he’s collaborated with. All this to say, he’s popular with younger people, so teaming up with him for a limited edition Coke seems like the right move.

From the skinny white can, came a strong sweet berry smell that was so familiar to me, but I couldn’t place it. Pouring it into a cup, I was shocked to see the color of regular Coca-Cola. Based on the flavor description, I thought the color might be lighter or reddish. My first taste brought a crashing wave of recognition. The flavor was very strawberry/berry up front, with the smallest tang of classic Coke on the back end. The taste is, to me, very reminiscent of Pepsi Blue.

Marshmacoke3

Unlike Pepsi Blue, the sweetness is pulled back with this drink. I think that is because Coke is not as sweet as Pepsi to me. While I absolutely loved Pepsi Blue, I wish this wasn’t quite as similar. The lack of discernible watermelon was disappointing, and the strawberry overpowered any other flavor that might have been present. I’m curious how the Zero Sugar version compares taste-wise and if the watermelon might be more present.

The Artist Marshmello’s Limited Edition Coca-Cola is an interesting offering that I think will do well with its target audience. It has a “drink of the summer” vibe that I don’t feel we’ve seen yet this year. I enjoyed it overall but wished the watermelon flavor was more present. I was looking forward to a new and unique flavor but ended up with the answer to a question I hadn’t asked: What if Coke made Pepsi Blue?

Purchased Price: $2.19
Size: 12 oz can
Purchased at: Wawa
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 140 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 30 milligrams of sodium, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 39 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Burger King Southwest Bacon Whopper

Burger King Southwest Bacon Whopper Whole

While Florida has impacted the food world in many ways, it’s rarely considered the birthplace of a national chain. Whenever I share my facts about Burger King (Insta-Burger King) opening in Jacksonville in 1953, I’m often met with a suspicious, “Really?”

Looking at Burger King now, it’s certainly come a long way from its start as a small burger place. While its competitors (chiefly McDonald’s) have branched out in various ways, Burger King feels like it’s taken more risks to create unique menu items. Sometimes they are clearly a gimmick (remember the Halloween Whopper with the black buns and green after effects?), but in the case of the new Southwest Bacon Whopper, it’s an upgrade on the chain’s famous burger.

Burger King Southwest Bacon Whopper Toppings

It starts with the sesame seed bun, lettuce, tomato, onion, and flame-broiled beef patty you’d get with a standard Whopper, and it’s finished with a creamy spicy sauce, American cheese, bacon, avocado spread, and seasoned tortilla strips. On first impression, the menu item sounded like it might be a little too busy flavor-wise. I was also unsure of the tortilla strips as I’ve had similar items on sandwiches that became mushy instantly.

Burger King Southwest Bacon Whopper Split

The flavors, luckily, weren’t competing to be the strongest. The first bite offered a balance and layered experience. The spicy sauce reminded me of the many different iterations of a “creamy chipotle sauce” we’ve seen over the years: smokey, slightly spicy, and a little sweet. The avocado spread was very cumin-forward. There wasn’t much avocado flavor, but the creamy texture offered a nice change from mayo. I expected the bacon and cheese to be lost, but they worked well in the mix, adding some textural differences and a salty component.

Burger King Southwest Bacon Whopper Chips

The tortilla strips ended up exceeding my expectations. Their small size (about an inch long) made it much easier to get one in each bite. As for the soggy worry, they stayed crunchy from the first to last bite, and I tend to eat exceedingly slowly. They didn’t have a strong flavor, but they added a much needed crunch to break up the creaminess of the sauce and spread.

I also noticed how the tomato and onion actually brought a lot to the flavor profile, adding a highly enjoyable pico de gallo element I wasn’t expecting. The lettuce provided absolutely nothing to the overall eating experience and, in my opinion, could be left off.

Burger King’s Southwest Bacon Whopper is one of the best limited time items it has done in a while. Its ingredients all work together to give a delicious spin on its classic Whopper.

Purchased Price: $7.99
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 867.9 calories, 52.5 grams of fat, 17 grams of saturated fat, 105 milligrams of cholesterol, 1343.9 milligrams of sodium, 68.8 grams of carbohydrates, 5.7 grams of fiber, 13.1 grams of sugar, and 43.8 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Sonic Big Dill Cheeseburger and Pickle Fries

Sonic Big Dill Cheeseburger and Pickle Fries

I have no shame in admitting that I am what is known as a “pickle girlie.” There is always a minimum of two open jars in my fridge at any given moment, and I will always argue why we should get the fried pickle chip appetizer anytime we go out.

Pickles have popped up in many different forms over the years, although they never seemed to get the same trend saturation as sriracha or bacon. While they have been a common component in fast food sandwiches, they never seem to be the focus. But now, Sonic Drive-In is giving us our first pickle-centric burger this summer, the Big Dill Cheeseburger, as well as the new Pickle Fries.

Sonic Big Dill Cheeseburger Bun

The Big Dill Cheeseburger consists of a beef patty, American cheese, lettuce, crinkle-cut pickle slices, crispy pickle fries, and a dilly ranch on a brioche bun. The crispy pickle fries included in the burger are also available as a stand-alone side. I got both, but let’s start with the burger as it didn’t shine as much as the Pickle Fries.

Sonic Big Dill Cheeseburger Top

The dill pickle smell is unmistakable and loud. My poor husband’s car smelled of them for a solid day after bringing home the items. Trying the burger first, I was fairly impressed by the higher quality brioche bun. Soft and hearty, it was a nice upgrade from the standard fast food bun. The burger patty and cheese are what I’ve come to expect from Sonic. As odd as it might sound, the meat and cheese not standing out works well for this item as it allows the pickle flavors to shine. The description said the spread was a “dilly ranch,” but I’m certain it was just mayo.

Sonic Big Dill Cheeseburger Split

The regular pickles you get on other items were very present and overshadowed the pickle fries the more I tasted the sandwich. The fries didn’t add much texture. I thought they would be the star, but they were just sort of there. The more I ate it, the more I thought I should just order a cheeseburger with extra pickles the next time I want to satisfy my pickle desire. With my expectations low, I took a swig of my cranberry limeade slush to cleanse my palate before trying the stand-alone pickle fries.

Sonic Pickle Fries Closeup

I was impressed with how well Sonic had nailed the fry shape in how the pickles were cut. So often, we get alternative “fries” that don’t eat like fries, especially when it comes to the dipping part. Trying one sans the ranch they gave as a dip, I was very impressed by them. The batter was like mozzarella stick breading and tempura melded together: light and crispy, but also hearty and bready. The pickle inside managed to stay firm and not get overcooked. Dipped in ranch, they held up well and were delicious. The dill flavor was strong but not overpowering, which probably explains how they got lost in the burger.

Despite being disappointed by the Big Dill Cheeseburger, the Pickle Fries are an absolute home run for me. I do think I’d prefer to try them with a different dip next time (Sonic Signature Sauce?), but they nail that hard-to-walk line between keeping the pickle’s firm texture and crispy outside coat. Both are available for a limited time, so if you’re also a self-identified pickle person, I highly recommend trying the fries as soon as possible.

Purchased Price: $5.19 (Burger), $3.29 (Fries)
Size: Medium (Fries)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Burger), 8 out of 10 (Fries)
Nutrition Facts: Burger – 780 calories, 51 grams of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 1860 milligrams of sodium, 52 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 28 grams of protein. Fries – 420 calories, 31 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 1660 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 1 grams of sugar, 1 and grams of protein.