REVIEW: Canada Dry Bold Ginger Ale

Canada Dry Bold Ginger Ale Can

What is Canada Dry Bold Ginger Ale?

Canada Dry Bold teases a more intense ginger flavor in this variety of its sweet, dry ginger soda.

How is it?

Greetings from the land of illness and misery, otherwise known as Julie’s place of employment. Luckily, my immune system of steel has prevented me from falling prey to a cocktail of insidious germs, but my poor colleagues can’t say the same. On a lunchtime run to pick up Kleenex and hand sanitizer, I stumbled upon Canada Dry Bold Ginger Ale, a new product from, in my opinion, the best commercial ginger ale brand out there. Although I associate the beverage primarily as a panacea for everything from colds to hangovers, I always enjoy a fizzy ginger drink…but is bolder better?

Canada Dry Bold Ginger Ale Fizzy

Upon first pour, Canada Dry Bold has a richer, gold color and more fizz compared to the original variety, along with a sharper scent that brought a tickle to my nose. The first sip tasted very similar to Canada Dry or any other standard ginger ale: sweet and refreshing, with a hint of ginger, although missing a hint of its characteristic crispness. With another sip, the ginger taste became more noticeably more pronounced. But at this point, “bold” seemed like a strong word — more like “enhanced” or “elevated.”

Canada Dry Bold Ginger Ale Color

After a few moments, the drink built up to spicy sensation, a peppery warmth without flavor, that lingered in the throat for several minutes. The feeling was definitely pleasant, and because of my tendency to rely on the brand for comfort in times of sickness, I appreciated the “burn” as an extra kick in a still-soothing, palatable drink.

Because that kick hesitates, the drink may disappoint enthusiasts looking for a fresher, more robust flavor in the vein of ginger beer.

Is there anything else you need to know?

You don’t NEED to know this, but I found it interesting: Both the original and bold varieties contain less than 2% ginger extract, which is apparently not enough to merit the claim that Canada Dry is “made with real ginger” and boasts related health benefits. After a 2019 false advertisement lawsuit, the brand opted to relinquish that statement, instead describing their drinks as having “real ginger taste.” Don’t let that knowledge ruin the placebo effect the next time you reach for a Canada Dry to soothe your queasy stomach.

Conclusion:

Canada Dry Bold is more like Canada Dry Moderate, but its enhanced ginger taste and resulting warm spice sensation will still refresh and soothe whatever might ail you.

Purchased Price: $5.79
Size: 12 pack of 12-ounce cans (2-liter size also available at some locations)
Purchased at: Giant Eagle
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 12 oz. can) 140 calories, 0 grams of fat, 50 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 36 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Galactic Fruit Gushers with a Mystery Flavor

Limited Edition Galactic Fruit Gushers Mystery Flavor

What are Limited Edition Galactic Fruit Gushers with a Mystery Flavor?

General Mills is re-releasing a limited edition lunchbox favorite: Galactic Gushers, featuring Asteroid Apple, Berry Star Clusters, and a Mystery Flavor (“Unidentified Flavored Object”). The product is available exclusively at Walmart.

How are they?

First, if you have never eaten a Gusher, a) do you eat vicariously through junk food bloggers? and b) they are kind of their own species. Not quite gummy candy, not quite fruit leather, Gushers are dense and chewy with a burst of fruit-flavored liquid in the center.

Galactic Gushers, to reinforce the outer space theme, are the Jupiter of Gushers in that they are large in mass and volume. This box – well-decorated with glittery letters and a rich purple celestial background – contains 20 pouches, each of which holds about 8-10 Gushers.

Limited Edition Galactic Fruit Gushers Mystery Flavor Colors

The flavors are distinguished by color: bright green (Asteroid Apple), sapphire blue (Berry Star Cluster), and dark purple (Mystery Flavor), a color combination that could be recycled if Jewel Tone Gushers or Cool Side of the Color Wheel Gushers ever hit shelves. Details like a swirl motif and edible glitter to resemble planets and stars would have been a fun addition to boost the galaxy imagery.

The Asteroid Apple’s hint of tartness tastes like a typical artificial green apple flavor, and the Berry Star Cluster mimics the concentrated sweetness and flavor of blueberry jam.

Limited Edition Galactic Fruit Gushers Mystery Flavor Innards

The Mystery Flavor was harder to pinpoint, because the taste of each purple Gusher seemed to vary slightly. Perhaps primed by its purple shade, I first guessed grape, then recognized a sweet note that reminded me of boysenberry.

For help, I turned to the Galactic Gushers promotional site, which lists the following as potential flavors:

  • Big-Bang Blue Raspberry
  • Meteorite Mandarin-Melon
  • Satellite Strawberry-Kiwi
  • Light-Year Lemon-Lime

One more taste detected acidity in the Gusher goo that seemed to point to Big-Bang Blue Raspberry as the Mystery Flavor.

Is there anything else you need to know?

Limited Edition Galactic Fruit Gushers Mystery Flavor Back

You can guess the mystery flavor at GalacticGushers.com daily through April 30th for a chance to win prizes like gift cards and Gushers swag.

As of this writing, “Big-Bang Blue Raspberry” is in the lead with only 48% of the vote. I wonder if Gushers purposefully designed the Mystery Flavor pieces to taste inconsistent, or if the minor flavor differences I detected among them were just my imagination.

*X-Files theme plays*

Conclusion:

After the novelty of the Mystery Flavor wears off, you are left with three perfectly acceptable Gushers flavors and perhaps a reinvigorated urge to storm Area 51.

Purchased Price: $5.88
Size: 16 oz. box (20 – 0.5 oz. pouches)
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 pouch) 80 calories, 1 gram of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 45 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: General Mills Hershey’s Kisses Cereal

Hershey s Kisses Cereal

What is Hershey’s Kisses Cereal?

General Mills and Hershey’s have joined forces to bring the Hershey’s Kiss to your breakfast table with Hershey’s Kisses Cereal: chocolate-flavored corn puff pieces shaped like the classic candy.

How is it?

Half of the fun of candy- or dessert-inspired cereals is discovering how closely the it physically resembles the original product. While Hershey’s Kisses Cereal does not precisely replicate its namesake, its appearance is clearly inspired by Hershey’s Kisses: its dime-sized pieces are shaped like triangles with flat sides and smoothed edges.

Hershey s Kisses Cereal Comparison

Most of the pieces boast a droopy, rounded stem in place of the candy’s signature pointed tip, so whether you perceive the cereal as tiny Hershey’s Kisses or something else is a matter for Rorschach. (To me, they resemble the poop emoji. I’m sorry, but it had to be said, and I promise not to bring it up again.)

Hershey s Kisses Cereal Pieces

Anyway, a chocolate cereal by any other shape would be just as sweet, which Hershey’s Kisses Cereal definitely is. It tastes very similar to Cocoa Puffs, with its cocoa powder sweetness and crunchy texture. It took a few bites to discern a difference, but I tasted just a hint more richness with this.

Hershey s Kisses Cereal Milk

Adding milk enhances the dry cocoa flavor to something closer to milk chocolate. With only one or two stirs, the milk begins to turn brown, and with more time (or if you are like me, impatient agitation), a rich, thick chocolate milk appears.

Although I haven’t broken out my crazy straw in a couple of decades, the cereal milk did remind me of using Hershey’s syrup to make chocolate milk, as visible chocolate swirls move throughout the milk and streak the sides and bottom of the bowl. As this transformation occurs, the cereal retains its taste and texture. Although this is a solid chocolate cereal when eaten dry, I highly recommend adding milk for the full chocolate-y effect.

Is there anything else you need to know?

Hershey s Kisses Cereal Bowl

In a blind taste test, I could not have pinpointed the Hershey’s association, but the list of ingredients does include Hershey’s Cocoa Processed with Alkali as the brand’s contribution.

Conclusion:

Although comparable to many chocolate cereals on the shelves, Hershey’s Kisses Cereal is enjoyable and, with milk, will give you two chocolate treats for the price of one.

Purchased Price: $3.64
Size: 19.8 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 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Raspberry + Creme Kit Kat

Kit Kat Raspberry + Creme

What are Raspberry + Crème Kit Kat bars?

In time for Valentine’s Day, Kit Kat hopes to woo you with its newest limited edition flavor, featuring a festive pink-tinted raspberry crème enrobing its signature crisp wafers.

How are they?

Kit Kat Raspberry + Creme Unwrapped

Have you ever ventured into a circumstance thinking only of all of the things that could go wrong – only to be pleasantly surprised when all of your fears are unfounded? This describes my experience trying Raspberry + Crème Kit Kats, which, with their coating as pink as Cupid’s blushing cheeks, I worried would be a case of style over substance.

Upon opening the bag, I was greeted by a strong, worrying artificial scent — think fruit-scented lip balm — that I do not normally associate with edible things. Luckily, however, the scent was not an accurate predictor of the tastes to come.

Kit Kat Raspberry + Creme Cross Section

Upon first bite, I tasted a pleasant fruity sweetness that mimicked raspberry flavor well, without any of the acid or tartness. As I chewed, the coating’s crème component worked to mellow the bar’s sweetness rather than add to it. While crème or white chocolate can often be cloying, this Kit Kat’s coating was smooth and creamy in both flavor and texture, which paired well with the light, crispy wafers we all know and love. The result was a surprisingly subtle and wholly satisfying balance of flavors.

Is there anything else you need to know?

“Once bitten, twice shy” doesn’t just apply to bad relationships. My last encounter with fruit-flavored Kit Kats was with its Strawberry flavor in crème coating, which to me tasted too artificial, somehow both too sweet and too sour.

When I chanced upon Raspberry + Crème Kit Kats, I remembered the Strawberry variety and wished Hershey’s had paired raspberry with milk or dark chocolate instead. While I still think raspberry and traditional chocolate would be a delicious pairing appropriate for a Valentine’s Day-inspired flavor, I was not disappointed with this year’s offering. Kit Kat got berries and cream right this time.

If you disliked the Strawberry Crème product or, like many junk food aficionados, are lamenting the loss of seasonal Red Velvet Kit Kats, Raspberry + Crème Kit Kats may be the rebound you need.

Conclusion:

Pretty in pink and tasty too, Raspberry + Crème Kit Kats are worth trying, whether you choose to share with someone special or keep them all to yourself.

Purchased Price: $2.98
Size: 9 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (4 pieces) 170 calories, 9 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 30 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 15 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Hot Pockets Sweet Treats

Hot Pockets Sweet Treats  Apple Cinnamon and Cinnamon Roll

Like the illustrious Meryl Streep at the Academy Awards, Hot Pockets on a junk food blog need no introduction. If you’ve never kept a stash of Hot Pockets because they were the only food your kid would eat or because you were too tired to cook or wait for delivery, then you a) are a liar or b) need to tell me your life secrets.

Tongue burns aside, Hot Pockets has done a lot for us over the years, providing shoppers with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options, and now with the Sweet Treats line, it’s moving to desserts.

Why hasn’t the brand thought of this before? Turns out it has. This time, it’s ditched the icing and purchased stock in cinnamon, offering two varieties: Cinnamon Roll and Apple Cinnamon. Each package includes four servings (“sticks”) that measure about two by five inches in size and, after one minute in the microwave, amount to several bites if you want to be a dainty eater.

Hot Pockets Sweet Treats Cinnamon Roll 1

Cinnamon Roll was first on my menu, and immediately noticeable was the thorough sprinkling of ground cinnamon over the stick’s crust. Except for the cinnamon, the crust was similar to what you would expect from a savory Hot Pocket: a stiff, bready vessel that can be held in your hand and still contain filling without falling apart. While the cinnamon flavor was apparent, I detected almost no sweetness or other accompanying flavor from the crust itself.

Hot Pockets Sweet Treats Cinnamon Roll 2

Described on the package as a “sweet cream cheese filling,” the contents tasted primarily of (surprise!) warm cinnamon, margarine, and a tinge of underwhelming sweetness. In the microwave, the filling suffered from a little spillage, as Hot Pocket fillings tend to, but in this case, it helped to moisten and flavor the crust’s exterior.

Hot Pockets Sweet Treats Cinnamon Roll 3

The inside of the stick was under-filled with an oddly-textured mixture that, when scraped out with a fork, could be best described as thick blobs of cinnamon-flavored paste. Only one bite yielded a tang reminiscent of cream cheese but with none of the sweetness promised, and I might not have noticed the taste at all if I hadn’t been searching for it. And as someone who could eat cream cheese/cream cheese icing out of a plastic bag on the highway, I promise I was searching.

So did this Sweet Treat remind me of a cinnamon roll? Not really. While the cinnamon and margarine flavors worked well together, the treat’s lack of pillowy dough and a sweet, creamy component stopped it from achieving middle-of-the-cinnamon-roll-level greatness.

Hot Pockets Sweet Treats Apple Cinnamon 1

Hot Pockets Sweet Treats Apple Cinnamon 2

After the disappointment of Cinnamon Roll, how did Apple Cinnamon fare? Utilizing the same crust, Apple Cinnamon was much less aggressively seasoned, instead balancing the cinnamon and sugar to provide the crust with some extra sweetness and a little bit of crunch.

Hot Pockets Sweet Treats Apple Cinnamon 3

Inside contained a well-balanced mixture of diced apples, thickened sweet goo, and a hint of cinnamon that let the apple flavor shine. While Apple Cinnamon too could have used more filling, the presence of the fruit made the filling feel more ample and satisfying than Cinnamon Roll’s. I would buy this one again as an apple pie substitute in a pinch.

Despite their varying levels of success, Hot Pockets Sweet Treats suffer from a lack of both identity (are they desserts? sweet breakfast options? holiday cinnamon novelties?) and creativity in flavors. With varied crusts and fillings (think peaches in a flaky pie crust or chocolate hazelnut cream in a croissant), Hot Pockets Sweet Treats could have the potential to make a trip to the microwave a little more exciting.

Purchased Price: $2.79 each
Size: 10 oz. box/4 sticks per box
Purchased at: Giant Eagle
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Cinnamon Roll), 6 out of 10 (Apple Cinnamon)
Nutrition Facts: (1 stick) Cinnamon Roll – 230 calories, 10 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 14 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein. Apple Cinnamon – 160 calories, 4 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 95 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Kellogg’s The Elf on the Shelf Sugar Cookie Cereal with Marshmallows

Kellogg s The Elf on the Shelf Sugar Cookie Cereal

What is Kellogg’s The Elf on the Shelf Sugar Cookie Cereal with Marshmallows?

Everyone’s favorite hide-and-seek-obsessed holiday imp is plotting to hide in the pantries of festive families this holiday season. Kellogg’s has devised a breakfast cereal fit for denizens of the North Pole: red and green cereal stars infused with sugar cookie flavoring and accompanied by dried marshmallow bits.

Kellogg s The Elf on the Shelf Sugar Cookie Cereal Hand

How is it?

High on the list of things that nurture my inner child (next to jelly shoes and Rugrats reruns) are the holidays and sugary cereal, so I was excited to taste this dessert-inspired breakfast.

Kellogg s The Elf on the Shelf Sugar Cookie Cereal Bowl

The first bite did not deliver the toothache-inducing sweetness I expected, but it did mimic the flavor profile of a cookie. Subtly sweet, the dominant artificial flavor of the crisp, light-as-air cereal was mildly buttery with hints of vanilla in the background. I noted minimal or no aftertaste from the flavorings.

In milk, the vanilla essence awakened, emphasizing the flavor and infusing it into the milk left in the bowl. Unfortunately, the cereal pieces absorbed the liquid so quickly that there was not much milk left to enjoy, and the cereal became as soggy as the bottom of Santa’s boots. Because of the milk’s effect on the texture, I preferred the cereal dry despite its comparatively one-note flavor.

Kellogg s The Elf on the Shelf Sugar Cookie Cereal Closeup

No fun cereal is complete without marshmallows, but dry or with milk, the Elf on the Shelf’s marshmallow bits were so tiny and so few in number that they added no discernible flavor or texture to the cereal.

I’m not afraid of a scavenger hunt and have been known to rake through my box of Lucky Charms in search of the marshmallows so I can eat them first. (Favorite Lucky Charms marshmallow, anyone? There are wrong answers.) But in my one-cup sample, I found approximately two marshmallow bits, a ratio that greatly disappointed both me and my inner child.

Is there anything else you need to know?

The box features a QR code leading to craft ideas, printable activities, and ads for other elf-branded products, including Assorted Fruit Flavored Snacks and Pop-Tarts Crisps. These other products don’t promise new or holiday flavors, though — just a smiling elf figure’s endorsement.

Conclusion:

Kellogg’s product is an aesthetically-pleasing, cookie-mimicking cereal that won’t send you or your kids bouncing off the walls in a sugar high. But its one-note flavor and lack of marshmallows won’t send you running back to the store for a second box, either.

Purchased Price: $3.64
Size: 12.2 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 1/3 cup) 150 calories, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 15 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.