REVIEW: Honey Vanilla Cheerios Cereal

Honey Vanilla Cheerios Cereal Box

I don’t know about you, but the name “honey vanilla” instantly calls to my mind some kind of skincare product; something sweet but not syrupy, understated and tasteful but with a hint of sumptuousness. The back of this Cheerios box, with its posh descriptors “rich,” “delightfully tempting,” and “O so joyful,” only made me more confident in this association.

Gingerly plucking a single glossy “O” before preparing my bowl (I may or may not have even felt elegant enough to do this with my pinky finger raised), the first thing I noticed was its sticky texture. Crisp and firm on the outside, this cereal glistened with a vanilla-glazed gleam. Upon my taste test, the solid interior gave way to its airy inside with a satisfying crunch. Eaten dry, the cereal tasted pleasant but not overly flavorful. It struck me as more or less just a milder version of the ubiquitous Honey Nut Cheerios, and I’m not sure I could have pinpointed which ingredients made it unique without the box’s helpful visual cues of a vanilla flower and generous honey swirl adorning the iconic heart-shaped bowl. It had a faint sweetness, but the foremost flavor was oat-y; it didn’t surprise me when I noticed the box also bore a proud (but perhaps unnecessarily capitalized) proclamation of “first ingredient WHOLE GRAIN OATS.”

Honey Vanilla Cheerios Cereal Bowl

Pouring milk over the cereal coaxed out more notes of both honey and vanilla, but it remained alluringly demure. Another word that kept springing to my mind was “mature.” I was introduced to a measured, subtle wave of sweetness, not the punch to the face of sugariness that I frankly often look for in my cereal choices. These Cheerios were also pretty quick to become mushy in the milk, and while I know that can be a controversial quality, I was personally a fan.

Honey Vanilla Cheerios Cereal Back

I’m a strong believer that the back of a cereal box should be given just as much consideration as the taste, and this one certainly fits the product’s “refined but slightly saccharine” aesthetic with its honey-and-vanilla-themed sudoku-esque visual puzzle. A high school classmate of mine infamous for his elaborate and uncomfortable outfits used to live by the motto “aesthetics over practicality,” and while our gym teachers disagreed, I think Honey Vanilla Cheerios would. This charming puzzle seemed kind of impossible to actually fill out since the six icons you’re tasked with drawing in the correct order are mostly differentiated by color, and I’m guessing most people don’t eat their cereal with neutral-toned crayons at the ready. But hey, still cute and classy!

Overall, Honey Vanilla Cheerios are plain but pleasing, an ideal breakfast for a day filled with agreeable-but-not-too-spirited activities like gracefully smelling a moderately-scented flower or playing a prim game of checkers where, win or lose, you’d never dare get in your opponent’s face about it. If the prospect of purchasing a cereal with a name that sounds straight out of Bath & Body Works excites you, these should suit you just fine.

Purchased Price: $3.00
Size: 14.3 oz box (“Large Size”)
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 6 out 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 cup – cereal only) 140 calories (180 with 1/2 cup skim milk), 2 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 170 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 9 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Papa John’s Epic Pepperoni-Stuffed Crust Pizza

Papa John s Epic Pepperoni Stuffed Crust Pizza Whole

I imagine that Papa John’s Epic Pepperoni-Stuffed Crust Pizza might have made Little Caesars — who released a similar product not quite a year ago — cry, “Et tu, Papa?” But I won’t subtract points for lack of originality. This combo feels quintessential; pepperoni and stuffed crust go together like pepperoni and pizza!

Before we get into the real meat of this review (ha, ha), I should point out that this crust is not just stuffed, but per Papa John’s website, also “seasoned.” This was a relief to read, as at first glance, the generous smattering of unexpected black flecks had me sort of concerned. The seasoning was zesty — hard to pinpoint one taste exactly, but it was simultaneously garlicky, salty, and a bit cheesy — and while I think the stuffed crust could have stood on its own, the addition wasn’t unwelcome.

Papa John s Epic Pepperoni Stuffed Crust Pizza Slice Side

Biting into the puffy, pillowy crust, I was pleased to notice that the taste of the pepperoni came through nicely but didn’t entirely steal the cheese’s thunder. It felt like a lovely complement, both in terms of the salty, meaty flavor popping against the mellower, creamy taste of the cheese, and the pop of slim, crisp texture contrasting the cheese’s silky thickness. But, while tasting this marriage of cheese and pepperoni satisfied my appetite, it couldn’t satisfy my curiosity; to do that, I had to peel back the crusty curtain.

Tearing open and rolling back the crust to reveal the cheesy, pepperoni-y secrets folded within had two effects. The first is that dissecting my pizza so thoughtfully made me feel kind of like a serial killer, or at least a very obscure sort of surgeon. The second, more pertinent point is that I could see exactly how many pieces of pepperoni went into the crust on each slice: two to three.

Papa John s Epic Pepperoni Stuffed Crust Pizza Slice Top

Honestly, that doesn’t exactly sound substantial enough to base a whole product around. Imagine how disappointed you would be if you ordered a pepperoni pizza and only got two to three pieces on each slice as a topping! You could argue that a little of this particular food item goes a long way, but I’m not sure the kind of person who orders their disc of meat and cheese with extra meat and cheese crammed inside is the kind of person who worries about oversaturation. It seems that at least three more pepperoni pieces could have been curled around the cheese stuffing without overlapping, and if you’re going to release something as all-out as pepperoni stuffed crust in the first place, why not fill every last gap you can?

Papa John s Epic Pepperoni Stuffed Crust Pizza Innards

Though maybe I’m just jealous because the site mentions that the pizza is “topped off with more pepperoni,” but mine didn’t come with any outside of what was in the crust. Maybe that’s on me for missing some step in online ordering, but I assumed a pizza with pepperoni in the name would include it as a topping by default!

I must disclose that I’m a stuffed crust fanatic, which might suggest that my bar for this offering would be quite high. But ultimately, I think it just means that I’m more willing to accept it for giving me the luscious cheese filling I crave even though its pepperoni potential underwhelms.

Purchased Price: $13.99
Size: Large
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Information not available on website.

REVIEW: Frankford Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Gummies

Frankford Kraft Macaroni  Cheese Gummies Box

What are Frankford Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Gummies?

When a friend sent me a video of a Trendy TikTok Teenager™ happening upon these, I immediately assumed it was an elaborately Photoshopped April Fool’s joke. But the siren song of curiosity compelled me to my local Five Below, just in case, and I’d never been so excited to be proven wrong. It’s not often that you genuinely have no idea what a snack food is going to taste like (or why it even exists in the first place), but this review gave me that dubious pleasure… and as it turns out, not many others.

How are they?

Frankford Kraft Macaroni  Cheese Gummies Plate

These do not, in fact, actually taste like macaroni and cheese. Nor are they supposed to. If you’re a more reasonable person than I am, you might now be breathing a sigh of relief, but I found this disappointing. Van Leeuwen’s recent (and bizarre) Kraft Macaroni & Cheese ice cream has been widely described along the lines of “Huh, this really does somehow taste cheesy and creamy and salty… and honestly pretty good,” so why couldn’t these be like that too!? But, for better or worse, their flavor is fruity—tangerine-y, but in that nebulously synthetic way common to many gummies. The texture necessitates a workout for your jaw; rubbery and requiring some effort to chew. If these gummies really were pasta, I’d send them back to the kitchen.

Anything else you need to know?

Frankford Kraft Macaroni  Cheese Gummies Compare

The box — an adorably dedicatedly crafted (or Krafted) facsimile that was probably my favorite part of this experience — cleverly gives no spoilers about what the heck these candies actually taste like, making for a prime opportunity for a prank or just a gimmicky surprise.


Whether you find the concept queasy, uneasy, or just plain cheesy, Frankford’s Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Gummies probably have more shock value than flavor value, and only one of those values lasts past the first bite. I think they’re still certainly fun enough to justify a one-time novelty purchase, but fittingly for the store where they’re found, I can’t bring myself to rank them above a five (at least it’s not below)!

Purchased Price: $4.00
Size: 5.64 oz box
Purchased at: Five Below
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (7 gummies) 90 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 13 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: DiGiorno Stuffed Pizza Bites

DiGiorno Stuffed Pizza Bites Bags

Tearing open my two bags of DiGiorno Stuffed Pizza Bites (which I keep wanting to call pizza rolls à la Totino’s), I was hit with the powerful feeling that I’d just gotten home from fourth grade soccer practice and was racing to prep my afternoon snack before my favorite cartoon started.

The bag suggests three ways to cook these adorable little Hot Pockets lookalikes, but since I don’t have an air fryer, I was limited to using my oven (for 22 minutes at 350° F) and microwave (for 1 minute and 15 seconds). Regardless of appliance used, the cooked pizza bites emitted the immensely comforting smell of warm dough, grassy herbs, and tangy marinara sauce, with just a hint of processed uncanniness to really drive the nostalgia home.

The bag advises you to use the oven or air fryer if you like a crispier texture and the microwave if you seek a softer pizza bite. The bites that I baked in the oven were impressively firm with a satisfying crunch. The microwaved ones, though… varied. One of the two that I put in the microwave came out noticeably softer but not mushy or falling apart as I’d feared, and in fact, I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I preferred it to its oven-ed counterparts. The other, though, somehow ended up extremely overcooked, a thick brick with even the filling nuked stiff. Whoops. Anyway!

DiGiorno Stuffed Pizza Bites Outsides

The two flavors were unsurprisingly pretty much impossible to distinguish just by looking at their outsides, though even after a bite I couldn’t immediately identify which was which. The one that I eventually pegged as the four-cheese was an oozy, vodka sauce-looking shade of orange. The other was flecked with dark red chunks that I immediately guessed were flecks of tomato from the sauce, but ended up being the pepperoni. Whoops again!

DiGiorno Stuffed Pizza Bites Insides

The four cheese flavor’s titular cheeses are reduced fat mozzarella, parmesan, asiago, and romano. The best way I can think to describe the potent results of mashing them all together is “funky.” I could make out a fresh, creamy flavor that probably came from the mozzarella, but there were also undertones of sharpness. According to Google, that would be the Romano. There’s also a sort of earthy nuttiness that Google also tells me is typical for both parmesan and asiago. With the pepperoni flavor, mozzarella is the only one from the cheesy cacophony invited to the pizza party, so the taste was dominated instead by the meaty, faintly spicy tang of the pepperoni and marinara sauce. The four cheese flavor wasn’t bad, but I definitely preferred the simpler, more classic taste of the pepperoni.

At the end of the day, these were about what you’d expect from a pizza roll, er, bite. I appreciated their unique heft (“2x the size per piece,” the bag crows), but the experience wasn’t notably different than, say, the aforementioned Totino’s. These pizza bites might have briefly flashed me back to my childhood, but now that I’m old enough to simply order myself an actual pizza instead of rooting through the freezer for my mom’s purchases to satisfy my dough-sauce-cheese cravings, I’d rather just do that.

Purchased Price: $6.49 each
Size: 14 oz bag
Purchased at: ShopRite
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (3 bites) Four Cheese – 200 calories, 8 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 340 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of protein. Pepperoni – 230 calories, 12 gram of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 550 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Salted Caramel Cream Cold Brew

Dunkin Salted Caramel Cold Brew Cup

This was a hard review to write, and by that, I mean I gave in to the temptation to take a tiny taste of cold foam immediately after leaving Dunkin’ and then had to exert a downright colossal amount of willpower to make the suddenly-excruciating three-minute walk home without downing the entire thing.

First, I need to shine a spotlight on the lid that delivered this sweet sneak peek. If you’ve had a drink with cold foam before, you’re probably already familiar with its wider-than-usual opening that serves a mouthful of intact foam with each no-straw-required sip (before the foam inevitably melts, anyway).

Dunkin Salted Caramel Cold Brew Foam

Next, I need to thank said lid for allowing me to experience such a delicious flavor. The Salted Caramel Cream Cold Brew name is predictably accurate, as right off the bat, the foam packs a mix of salt, caramel, and cream flavors. Interestingly, though, while I don’t usually think of either salt or caramel as being subtle, they were not what stood out to me in my sampling. That honor goes to the foam’s creaminess, and I don’t just mean its soft, luxurious texture. The flavor that it most reminded me of was actually Twinkie filling. Sure, its rich, sweet taste played a large part in that, but so did the sheer feeling of comfort it brought me. Coffee tends to get a bad rap through its association with the stressed out, overworked, and under-slept, but this saccharine cold foam had me feeling childlike wonder.

Dunkin Salted Caramel Cold Brew Half Full

The cold brew (which I ordered black, though you can opt for cream) felt pretty standard with its dark, almost chocolatey flavor profile. While it was velvety and milder than a brew of the non-cold variety, I didn’t get much of the tang of saltiness nor the buttery richness of caramel from the drink itself. Notably, it performed a bit of color-changing magic. Remember that inevitably melty foam? The coffee started out a very deep brown but ended up practically tan from foam seepage, which presumably contributed to its rich, silky taste. I’ve witnessed the occasional schism between “serious” coffee drinkers who prefer a plain and simple experience and those like myself who welcome every frilly flavor out there, but I don’t think this offering is any less elegant for its sweetness, achieving a middle ground that can appeal to both sides.

I will say, I’m not sure why this is specifically a spring menu item. Maybe I’m just distracted by the thought of caramel apples, but the flavor strikes me as autumnal, if anything. So it’s a bit of a seasonal stretch, but eh, tomayto, tomahto (or cair-a-mel, car-mel).

Ultimately, if you’re not already a cold brew fan, I don’t think this will be the drink to convert you. But if you are a curious connoisseur — or if you’re just looking for some extra pep in your step and want a smooth, multifaceted flavor to help you achieve it — I’d recommend checking this one out.

Purchased Price: $5.00
Size: Small (12 oz)
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 140 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 75 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of total carbohydrates, 27 grams of total sugars, 0 grams of fiber, and 1 gram of protein.