REVIEW: Salted Caramel Brownie Oreo Cookies

Limited Edition Salted Caramel Brownie Oreo Cookies Packaging

Someone at Oreo has a weakness for chocolate, and we are reaping the benefits. Earlier this year, we saw the releases of Brookie-O, Chocolate Hazelnut, and Java Chip Oreo, and when the news of Limited Edition Salted Caramel Brownie Oreos broke earlier this month, another chocolate offering from the brand still felt like a welcome surprise.

Although Oreo is no stranger to caramel and brownie flavors (see: Salted Caramel Oreo Thins, Brownie Batter Oreo, and the aforementioned Brookie-O variety), this is Oreo’s first attempt at a salt-dusted chocolate wafer cookie. Two kinds of creme (brownie and caramel-flavored layers) complete the sandwich.

Limited Edition Salted Caramel Brownie Oreo Cookies Salt

Mere days after the product announcement spread over social media, Limited Edition Salted Caramel Brownie Oreo Cookies graced my shopping cart. Why was I thrilled to give these a try?

A. Despite accusations of overstaying its welcome as a fad flavor, salted caramel remains among my favorites.

B. I enjoyed the Brookie-Os and need some brownie creme back in my life.

C. The promise of a new Oreo flavor hitting store shelves periodically halts my desire to escape society and live in the woods as an urban legend slash bog witch.

D. I’ll take any possible opportunity to reinforce that “caramel” has three syllables.

E. All of the above

(If you guessed E, you are correct. Have an Oreo!)

With these reasons in mind, the Salted Caramel Brownie Oreo mostly satisfies.

Limited Edition Salted Caramel Brownie Oreo Cookies Layers

First, adding salt to the outside of the cookie is truly an inspired choice. Biting into the sandwich yields a pleasant experience, much like eating a sea salt caramel or any other salt-topped sweet: a strong saltiness hits the mouth first, but quickly melts into and enhances the sweetness of the other flavors.

Limited Edition Salted Caramel Brownie Oreo Cookies Brownie Side

Unfortunately, the Oreo’s caramel creme layer needs more help than the salt can give. Besides a delicate brown sugar vibe, it doesn’t offer a ton of flavor. A hint of browned butter flavor would have gone a long way to recreate the taste of salt’s tri-syllabic life partner. Swapping the caramel creme entirely for a dot of sticky caramel sauce would have been an interesting choice too. (Maybe two novelties — real caramel and a salted cookie — would have been too much excitement for one launch?)

Limited Edition Salted Caramel Brownie Oreo Cookies Caramel Side

Happily, each Double Stuf-size cookie contains proportionally more brownie creme. It definitely overshadows the caramel layer — but that’s for the best. The brownie creme is rich and fudgy, just like the batter I make sure to salvage from the bottom of my mixing bowl, and works well with the salt.

Overall, these Limited Edition Salted Caramel Brownies feature a successful salty hit, but it is hard to overlook the imperfect caramel creme. If you purchase them, take a bite of the entire sandwich for a sweet-and-salty chocolate experience that includes — if you pay attention — a whisper of caramel. If you insist on twisting open your Oreo cookies to indulge in the creme first, you might become salty yourself.

Purchased Price: $3.79
Size: 12.2 oz (345 g) package
Purchased at: Wegmans
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 2 cookies) 140 calories, 6 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Kellogg’s Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats

Kellogg s Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats Box

What are Kellogg’s Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats?

Rice cereal and marshmallow treats are a lunchbox classic, but to recall the prevailing wisdom of Alice Cooper, school’s out for summer. The time is right to freshen up a classic with the flavor of sweet summer strawberries.

How are they?

If you have ever felt sorry for the lonely strawberry ice cream stripe that seems to get overlooked in a container of Neapolitan ice cream, you will be happy to unwrap this pretty pink Rice Krispies Treat and know it is strawberry’s time to shine. If you are normal, still consider giving these simple new treats a try, because they are very good.

Kellogg s Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats Whole

The treats are straightforward as can be: rectangular bars of crisp rice cereal bound together with a chewy, strawberry-flavored marshmallow mixture. Although Kellogg’s produces Strawberry Krispies cereal, the original variety of Rice Krispies were utilized to create these treats, allowing the strawberry flavor to come from the sticky pink marshmallow that coats every cereal grain.

Even the pink shade is no-fuss, more like the color of rosé in gentle lighting and not like the strawberry Kool-Aid stain on the carpet that your mom grounded you for making.

Although strawberries do not appear in the list of ingredients, the “naturally flavored with other natural flavors” treats smell and taste remarkably like freeze-dried strawberries. The result is a realistic, not-too-sweet strawberry flavor that is very easy to eat. The sweet cereal and strawberry combination reminded me slightly of the discontinued and much-missed Special K with Red Berries cereal bars.

Kellogg s Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats Pull

Are the treats too simple? If you enjoy the Rice Krispies Treats varieties that boast drizzles, mix-ins, or chocolate-coated bases, you might be bored with humble strawberry, but I didn’t miss the extra frills.

Anything else you need to know?

Also available is a Rice Krispies Treats Mini Squares variety pack that includes the Strawberry treats alongside Chocolate and Original varieties. There are 64 mini squares in the variety pack, so if anyone is planning to buy one and smush together all three varieties to make Neapolitan Rice Krispies Treats, please invite me.

Conclusion:

Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats are successful in their simplicity and deliver a more realistic berry flavor than you might expect.

DISCLOSURE: I received a free product sample. Doing so did not influence my review in any way.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 6.2 oz box (8 bars)
Purchased at: Received from Kellogg’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per bar) 90 calories, 2 grams of fat, .5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 0 gram of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Lemon Creme Pie Pop-Tarts

Lemon Creme Pie Pop Tarts Box

What are Lemon Crème Pie Pop-Tarts?

Pop-Tarts has experimented with inventive flavors like sodas, cupcakes, and even Jolly Ranchers, but this time the brand is keeping it classic with a toaster pastry inspired by the summertime favorite, lemon cream pie.

Lemon Crème Pie Pop-Tarts join a lineup of new flavors hitting shelves, including Peach Cobbler, Banana Crème Pie, Tropical Mango, and the limited edition Mister E Flavor.

How are they?

Although lemon is a simple (and, to me, underrated) flavor, Lemon Crème Pie Pop-Tarts dressed up for their debut. Each tart features a swipe of pastel icing and crunchy golden sprinkles that lend extra sweetness and flair.

Lemon Creme Pie Pop Tarts Split

The pastry carries a subtle lemon taste, like a flavored shortbread. Thinking about the inspiration dessert, I expected the filling to be lighter and creamier, the sort of texture found in a Strawberry Milkshake variety. Instead, the filling is that of a standard fruit Pop-Tart: concentrated and a little jam-like.

Lemon Creme Pie Pop Tarts Frosting

The lemon flavor is sharp and citrusy but artificial, with a hint of vanilla mixed in. The filling tastes good, but the vanilla flavor doesn’t represent a cream element that well. A streak of vanilla or even marshmallow cream filling would have helped to recreate the experience of enjoying a fluffy, creamy pie.

Lemon Creme Pie Pop Tarts Filling

While I have bigger dreams for the filling than Pop-Tarts realized, I still wish there were more of it. The thin layer sits in the center of the tart, as the thick edges protect all of the lemony goodness. More filling, please, Pop-Tarts! This is how the “Is a Pop-Tart a ravioli?” debate got started!

Anything else you need to know?

Fresh from the toaster, these are still enjoyable, but I found the pastry lost its lemon-tinged flavor when heated. (I tend to prefer my Pop-Tarts untoasted, an opinion that others react to as though I’ve just spit on the graves of their ancestors, so I was surprised to see that the box suggests serving them frozen. Does eating frozen Pop-Tarts classify as deviant behavior?)

Conclusion:

Lemon Crème Pie Pop-Tarts deliver scant filling and simpler flavor than their name suggests. They won’t replace your favorite variety but are tasty enough to satisfy a citrus craving.

Purchased Price: $2.19
Size: 13.5 oz box / 8 pastries
Purchased at: Wegmans
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 2 pastries) 380 calories, 10 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 340 milligrams of sodium, 69 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 28 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Muddy Buddies Pretzel Bites

Muddy Buddies Pretzel Bites Pouches

What are Muddy Buddies Pretzel Bites?

General Mills extends its Muddy Buddies line with crunchy pretzels covered in sweet coating and powdered sugar. Pretzel Bites come in two varieties: Peanut Butter & Chocolate and Cookies & Cream.

How are they?

A decade after introducing Chex Muddy Buddies, General Mills has asked, “What else can we muddy, buddy?”

The answer to that question (and countless life dilemmas, really) is “When in doubt, add salt.”

Thus, Muddy Buddies Pretzel Bites were born. With their flavor, texture, and ability to be eaten by the bowlful before you realize what you’ve done, pretzels seem like a natural swap for Chex cereal pieces as vehicles for sweet coating.

Muddy Buddies Pretzel Bites CPB Pour Size

Tearing into the Peanut Butter & Chocolate variety first, I was surprised by their small size. The pebble-sized pretzels are made for nibbling rather than biting. They could easily blend into a trail mix or masquerade as a dessert topping.

Muddy Buddies Pretzel Bites Chocolate  Peanut Butter Split

Although the bites are small and the coating looks thin, the peanut butter and chocolate taste is big, complementing the pretzel taste and texture well. While the pretzel salt isn’t discernible on its own, it seems to enhance the chocolate and peanut butter. This was a welcome change from the Chex version, which I’ve found to lack flavor despite its sweetness.

Muddy Buddies Pretzel Bites Cookies  Cream Pour

The Cookies & Cream variety delivers the same size and satisfying crunch, but this time with a white cream coating and chocolate cookie crumb speckles. The bites smell and taste like the inside of an ice cream shop: that sugary, creamy vanilla that is somehow both rich and refreshing.

Muddy Buddies Pretzel Bites Cookies  Cream Split

While the chocolate cookie crumbs don’t contribute much to the flavor, the saltiness is much more noticeable than in the Peanut Butter & Chocolate variety.

Anything else you need to know?

For the uninitiated, the homemade version of muddy buddies has long been a staple of holiday parties and other celebrations, especially in the Midwest. (In northwestern Pennsylvania, where I live, the delicacy is most commonly called puppy chow, a name that I admit is not particularly appetizing but to which I have a begrudging loyalty.) As social media has made the treat and its several variations more popular, it’s exciting to see “muddiness” being embraced.

Conclusion:

Muddy Buddies Pretzel Bites deliver big flavor and crunch in a tiny bite. Sweet and salty fans might prefer Cookies & Cream, while Peanut Butter & Chocolate traditionalists will enjoy the twist on the original product.

Purchased Price: Free
Purchased at: Received from General Mills
Size: 4 oz (113 g) bags
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Peanut Butter & Chocolate), 7 out of 10 (Cookies & Cream)
Nutrition Facts: (per 1/3 cup) Peanut Butter & Chocolate – 130 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 240 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein. Cookies & Cream – 130 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 250 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Reese’s Crunchy Peanut Bar

Reese s Crunchy Peanut Bar Wrapper

Some new Reese’s products are announced with great fanfare —- social media announcements, television commercials, or (as I like to imagine) a red carpet dotted with Reese’s Pieces to lead the way to the closest candy aisle. Other products seem to surprise us, one day gracing shelves with an air of nonchalance that makes you think they’ve been around for years.

For me, at least, the Reese’s Crunchy Peanut Bar falls into the latter category. After all, it seems like a simple idea and consists of everything Reese’s does best: chocolate, peanut butter, peanut butter creme, and, of course, crunchy peanuts. When I first saw the bar in stores, I wondered if it was the Cheshire Cat of Reese’s products, disappearing and re-appearing to play tricks on my mind, until social media confirmed its brand-new status.

Reese s Crunchy Peanut Bar Coating

Despite its unassuming entrance into the Walmart checkout and, therefore, my growing sugar stash, one thing about the bar isn’t unassuming: its size. This King Size packet contains one hefty bar, which comprises three servings of Reese’s goodness and measures about 3/4 of an inch in thickness.

Reese s Crunchy Peanut Bar Split

The combination of flavors in Reese’s Crunchy Peanut Bar is a sweet-and-salty lover’s dream. Inside the standard chocolate coating are a substantial layer of peanut butter and lots of roughly chopped peanuts, densely packed and held together by peanut butter and creme. The peanuts are the dominant force, providing a nice hit of salt that plays beautifully with the other components. The bar has a greater peanut-to-filling ratio than any crunchy-filled peanut butter cup I’ve tried and maybe even enough peanuts to make a PayDay feel insecure.

Although the wrapper lists peanut butter and peanut butter creme as separate components, they taste similar and are initially hard to distinguish. The visible layers of soft peanut butter filling are deliciously sweet with a lighter, smoother texture than your standard Reese’s filling.

Reese s Crunchy Peanut Bar Crumble

Meanwhile, the subtle peanut butter creme seems closer to a peanut butter-flavored version of the “white creme” (oil-based white chocolate substitute) that we all know. Delicate layers of hardened creme are remarkable more in function than taste, acting as a binding agent to hold the peanuts in place. Because of this, the bar crumbled apart easily, like a dessert bark, and sometimes felt like an odd choice. At times, I wished for more of a creamy element to add some moisture, especially when the loose peanut crumbles felt like trail mix in my mouth.

If you are a believer in the peanut butter war that pits Team Crunchy against Team Creamy, the Reese’s Crunchy Peanut Bar is definitely a victory for Team Crunchy. As a member of Team I Shouldn’t Have to Choose, I enjoyed this new product, but found it easy to detect small flaws due to its simplicity. Peanut fans will revel in Reese’s latest release, while others yearning for more daring or complex flavors might find that, among other options, this bar fades into the background.

Purchased Price: $1.48
Size: 3.2 oz (90 g)
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 1/3 bar) 170 calories, 12 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 12 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.