REVIEW: Ruffles Double Crunch Honey Mustard Potato Chips

Ruffles Double Crunch Honey Mustard Potato Chips Bag

What are Ruffles Double Crunch Honey Mustard Potato Chips?

Ruffles adds to its extra crunchy repertoire a sweet and tangy honey mustard flavor.

How are they?

A fellow snack-lover recently told me that the only thing greater than the variety of potato chip flavors is the speed at which we consumers demand them. I would have to add that the only thing faster than our demand rate is the speed at which we buy. This commentary is not based in economics or science, but rather my speedometer reading as I rushed to the store in search of this product, which combines my loves of sweet, salty, and savory all in one bite.

Ruffles Double Crunch Honey Mustard Potato Chips Plated

These Ruffles perfectly recreate what I consider to be the ideal honey mustard profile: the tang of dark mustard balanced with bright, sweet honey. Faint hints of paprika and horseradish flavors contribute some spice without resulting in a building heat sensation. Although their bright yellow color would suggest otherwise, the chips are not overly-coated with seasoning. At first, I wanted a touch more mustard flavor, but now I think any more seasoning would risk overwhelming the chip, which is more delicate than its hardy pretzel cousin.

Although other varieties exist, I had never tried a Double Crunch product before, and now I am never going back. Similar to a kettle-cooked chip, the crunch of the deep, chevron-angled grooves is intensely satisfying. Along with big flavor and crunch, these Ruffles deliver a big chip; several were the size of my admittedly elfin palm.

Ruffles Double Crunch Honey Mustard Potato Chips Super Closeup

In short, these chips are tasty and addictive. A family member (a Sensible Eater who measures out salad dressing by the teaspoonful) and I demolished the bag in under 24 hours.

Anything else you need to know?

A Google search informed me that Ruffles released an Ultimate Tangy Honey Mustard flavor in 2013. Although I never had the opportunity to try them, the product images and ingredient list appear nearly identical to the Double Crunch variety. If you remember and pine for that product like a long-lost lover, the Double Crunch Ruffles may fill the hole in your chip-loving heart.

Conclusion:

Honey mustard fans of the world will happily set pretzels aside for this flavorful and addictive Double Crunch product.

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 7 3/4 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 28g/about 10 chips) 150 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 125 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Marie Callender’s Confetti Birthday Cake Cream Pie and Chocolate Brownie Cream Pie

Marie Callender s Confetti Birthday Cake and Chocolate Brownie Cream Pies Boxes

What are Marie Callender’s Confetti Birthday Cake and Chocolate Brownie Cream Pies?

Birthday cake and brownies take new forms in these thaw-and-eat frozen cream pies from Marie Callender’s.  

How are they?

For someone who writes for a junk food blog, I have tendencies toward dessert snobbery. I recoil at the sight of canned pie filling. If grocery store sheet cake is my only option, I’d rather have none. While watching cooking shows, I cry out to the contestants “The rose water essence will overwhelm your pate e choux filling!” as my microwave dings to announce my Lean Cuisine is ready.

There are two wolves inside of me: one that yearns for authentic French patisserie, and one that can’t resist an oatmeal cream pie peddled by a certain curly-haired lass. I am at peace with the contradiction, but when presented with the opportunity to try Marie Callender’s two newest products, I wondered how my snobbish preferences would influence my opinion. As it turns out, my two inner wolves, bonded by their love of sugar, have more in common than I thought. I was pleasantly surprised by both desserts, although each possessed imperfect features.

Confetti Birthday Cake

Marie Callender s Confetti Birthday Cake Cream Pie Full

The star of the Confetti Birthday Cake Cream Pie is its crust, a soft sugar cookie base that tastes homemade. The pie’s exterior is inviting — topped with confetti cake pieces, rainbow chips, and a halo of piped whipped topping. The cake pieces are cookie-crispy, and, along with the chips, provide nice taste and a textural contrast, even if it is not particularly cake-like.

Marie Callender s Confetti Birthday Cake Cream Pie Slice

The sticky whipped topping is a bit too heavy and coats the mouth with the slickness of hydrogenated oils. It tastes like the coating often found on ice cream cakes – that not-quite-frosting, but not-quite-whipped cream decorative sugar fluff – and ultimately doesn’t add much to the pie.

This leaves the thick, smooth filling to tie the pieces together. A pleasant (although very sweet) vanilla flavor, the filling would have benefitted from more vanilla or butter notes and less sweetness. In a bite, all elements evoke the concentrated sweetness of a sugar cookie more so than a sprinkle cake.

Chocolate Brownie

Marie Callender s Chocolate Brownie Cream Pie Full

The Chocolate Brownie Cream Pie filling has the same thickness, texture, and sweetness as the Confetti Birthday Cake’s, but its flavor – this time, a rich chocolate – is much stronger. Sprinkled with chocolate chips and sizable chewy brownie cubes, this pie delivers an extra chocolate burst that’s clearly inspired by a brownie. Only a small slice will satisfy even the most ravenous sweet tooth.

Marie Callender s Chocolate Brownie Cream Pie Full Slice

While a little oily, the whipped topping here is light and smooth, effectively complementing the rich chocolate components of the pie. Again, the pie’s crust – a dark chocolate cookie crust – is impressive.

Anything else you need to know?

The package directions recommend thawing the pies for at least 1.5 hours before eating. My descriptions above reflect the results of the minimum thaw time, because the apocalypse could occur at any second and I don’t want to experience it on an empty stomach.

Within a day or two, the pies’ textures evolved slightly: the toppings softened, and the filling had a looser texture, similar to oil-based whipped topping. While the softer filling was more characteristic of a cream pie, I overall preferred the first-day textures. The package also recommends that consumers eat the products within three days of thawing and do not refreeze them.

Conclusion:

Both varieties are intense sugar bombs with enough components to find satisfaction among the highs and lows. The Chocolate Brownie Cream Pie is a more successful homage to its inspiration dessert.

Disclosure: I received free samples of this product. Doing so did not influence my review.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 25 oz.
Purchased at: Received from Marie Callender’s
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Confetti Birthday Cake), 7 out of 10 (Chocolate Brownie)
Nutrition Facts: (per 1/6 pie) Confetti Birthday Cake – 530 calories, 34 grams of fat, 19 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 350 milligrams of sodium, 50 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 36 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein. Chocolate Brownie – 530 calories, 34 grams of fat, 19 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 270 milligrams of sodium, 49 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 35 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Funfetti Cereal

Funfetti Cereal Box

What is Funfetti Cereal

If you seek a socially acceptable way to eat cake for breakfast, Pillsbury is here to guide you with rainbow-speckled cereal puffs that recreate the taste of the company’s trademark sprinkle cake.

How is it?

Sugary cereals are one of my favorite comfort foods. I especially enjoy them as a snack between my third and fourth hours of languishing after work. While I often acknowledge kids as potential consumers when writing these reviews, I can’t help but feel like Funfetti Cereal was developed by Pillsbury especially for suckers like me.

If you purchase it, be sure to take a deep breath when you first open the bag. The vanilla aroma is wonderfully strong, the perfect imitation of Funfetti cake mix or batter. Because I have very few baking-related traumas, the scent evokes only pleasant memories of baking, birthdays, and other wholesome events worthy of a Pillsbury commercial.

Funfetti Cereal Sprinkles

The taste is equally spot-on: very vanilla-forward, not overly sweet, and with hints of buttery flavor. The colorful flecks — stand-ins for sprinkles — on the puffs themselves do not add flavor or texture, but are very visually appealing. The color presents opportunities to re-purpose the cereal in other snacks: as the base of a marshmallow cereal treat, part of a snack mix, or garnish on top of a confetti cake.

Funfetti Cereal in Milk

The cereal is made with corn flour, which I don’t typically prefer because the texture can turn gummy after a few bites, especially in milk. I was pleasantly surprised that the cereal pieces avoid this tendency, maybe in part due to their size. Each piece is about 1.5 times the size of a Cocoa Puff, so their lightly crunchy texture holds up pretty well in milk. Milk also seems to amplify the cereal’s sweetness, so if you really are debating between eating a bowl of cereal and a slab of icing-lathered cake for breakfast, choosing Funfetti cereal with milk might bring you closer to a reasonable compromise.

Anything else you need to know?

For those ambitious enough to cook their breakfasts, Pillsbury also offers a Funfetti pancake mix.

Conclusion:

Funfetti Cereal perfectly recreates the sweet vanilla flavor of its namesake cake. For anyone with a sweet tooth, it is satisfying, colorful comfort food at any time of day.

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

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 17 oz box
Purchased at: Received from Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 1/4 cup) 160 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 180 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 16 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Kellogg’s Limited Edition Mashups Frosted Flakes + Froot Loops Cereal

Kellogg s Limited Edition Mashups Frosted Flakes + Froot Loops Cereal

What is Kellogg’s Limited Edition Mashups Frosted Flakes + Froot Loops Cereal?

This cereal is a mixture of Kellogg’s favorites Frosted Flakes and Froot Loops. I like to imagine it as an answer to the question: “What hijinks would ensue if Tony the Tiger and Toucan Sam were best friends?”

How is it?

Kellogg s Limited Edition Mashups Frosted Flakes + Froot Loops Cereal 2

I haven’t seen any promotional material elaborating on the question posed above, thus robbing me of the opportunity to see the two mascots exchange sparkling dialogue such as “You got your Froot Loops in my Frosted Flakes!” and “You got your Frosted Flakes in my Froot Loops!” However, this imagined scenario essentially delivers the main idea of what Kellogg’s Mashups offers: equal parts of crispy, lightly sweet corn flakes, and sugary fruit-flavored hoops.

The strong scent of Froot Loops emanating from the bag foreshadowed the taste experience to come. Dry, the cereal’s flavor was dominated by the Froot Loops, but the Frosted Flakes amped up each bite’s crunchiness. My sample appeared to contain a 1:1 ratio of each cereal, so the experience was pretty consistent from bite to bite.

When eaten separately, the Frosted Flakes still taste like their sweet, corny selves, but that kind of defeats the purpose of a mashup, doesn’t it?

Kellogg s Limited Edition Mashups Frosted Flakes + Froot Loops Cereal Milk

With milk, the disparity in texture became more apparent, because the Froot Loops approached soggy territory much faster. For this reason, I am not a huge fan of Froot Loops in milk, so the Frosted Flakes improved the experience by maintaining a much-needed crunch.

Anything else you need to know?

In dreaming up the hypothetical adventures of Tony the Tiger and Toucan Sam, my yearning was less about advertising and more about answering the question at the heart of this product: Why? Why, after Kellogg’s limited edition All Together cereal and General Mills’ Lucky Charms with Frosted Flakes, did Kellogg’s choose to combine two familiar brands when consumers could easily buy two boxes and do the work themselves?

My theory is that Kellogg’s knows there are two kinds of cereal lovers in this world: 1) those who are too lazy, busy, and/or frugal to become cereal mashup engineers and 2) those who will be inspired to buy multiple boxes, searching for the ideal cereal combination. Either way, Kellogg’s drums up business, and I get my heart set on a bowl of Strawberry Rice Krispies with Special K Red Berries.

Conclusion:

Froot Loops and Frosted Flakes pair well in texture, although the Frooty taste dominates. If mixing cereals is your thing, Kellogg’s Mashups saves you time and money, but it seems uninspired compared to other (real or imagined) combinations.

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

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 9.8 oz. box

Purchased at: Received from Kellogg’s
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 1/4 cup – cereal only) 160 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 230 milligrams of sodium, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 15 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

WAYSNACK MACHINE: Wonka Bars, Oompas, and Xploder Chocolate Bar

A thread of nostalgia connects many of my interests and tastes, so it’s not surprising that candy from my childhood tops the list of snacks I miss. I loved candy that combined great taste with an element of fun, and nothing delivered both quite like the Wonka brand.

In the early 2000s, I–an elementary school student, candy fiend, and voracious reader–was infatuated with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. By the time I had read the book for the tenth time, the Nestlé-owned Wonka brand had released several new treats that brought me closer to Dahl’s world of chocolate rivers, color-changing caramels, and candy eggs that hatch sugar birds.

(Side note: A chocolate lover and historian, Dahl would have liked The Impulsive Buy. Each year, Cadbury’s sent Dahl and his boarding school classmates boxes of chocolate, which the students tested and reviewed for the company — an experience that inspired Dahl to write Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.)

Wonka Bars were my favorite because they had a certain presence that captured the imagination. At 2.5 ounces, the bars were larger than your average grocery store checkout find, wrapped in gold foil and covered in a royal purple sleeve that featured an image of Willy Wonka’s whimsical purple top hat. Every time I held one, I experienced the tiniest of thrills, wondering if a golden ticket lay inside.

Even though I wasn’t as lucky as Charlie Bucket, I was never disappointed. The bars consisted of incredibly smooth and creamy milk chocolate with bits of graham cracker for added taste and texture. I loved them, and because the bars were not widely available in my area, finding one always felt like a successful treasure hunt until they were discontinued in 2010.

Much shorter lived were two of my other favorites from the Wonka line: Oompas and the Xploder chocolate bar. Oompas, chewy fruit-flavored candies, tasted similar to Skittles, but were more brightly colored and at least triple the size.

The Xploder–although smaller and less creamy than the Wonka bar–was exciting. As its fireworks-inspired wrapper hinted, the bar featured unflavored popping candy that crackled in your mouth as the chocolate began to melt.

I hold out hope that one of these products will return. Although Ferrero’s recent acquisition of Nestle’s American brands casts uncertainty on the future of the Wonka line, Netflix’s plans for two animated series inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory create possibilities for promotional tie-in products.

Although I hold similar nostalgic fondness for Wonka mainstays like Laffy Taffy and Everlasting Gobstoppers, they are a little boring compared to the products I miss. When I remember the magical inventions presented in Roald Dahl’s novel, I can’t help but wonder if the Wonka line ever fully reached its creative confectionary potential.

REVIEW: Birthday Cake Kit Kat

Birthday Cake Kit Kat

What is Birthday Cake Kit Kat?

This limited edition Kit Kat features frosting-flavored white crème and rainbow sprinkles.

How is it?

Artificial birthday cake flavor has its fans and its detractors, but, despite its arguable overuse, I am definitely a fan. The rich sweetness and pops of color always evoke childhood memories of opening a fresh can of Funfetti frosting — and plunging a spoon into its creamy depths.

However, I write this review now as a sophisticated adult who eats vegetables of her own accord and no longer considers Lunchables to be “unpretentious charcuterie boards.” (Okay, only most of this sentence is true some of the time.)

Nowadays, I enjoy birthday cake flavor mostly in smaller doses and when it is paired with a complementary flavor or texture. If you like Birthday Cake Oreo Cookies, but thought Birthday Cake Hershey’s Kisses left something to be desired, then we might be of the same icing ilk.

Birthday Cake Kit Kat Wafers

Birthday Cake Kit Kat meets this most important criterion, as its crispy wafer insides pair well with the sweet white crème coating. The crème’s frosting-inspired flavor is spot on. I detected a hint of buttery taste that is often lacking in other birthday cake products that rely too heavily on sugar and artificial coloring as substitutes for flavor.

Birthday Cake Kit Kat Fingers

The rainbow nonpareils stand out beautifully against the white crème coating, giving the candy a cheery, fun appearance. They also provide a bit of extra crunch, which is not evident in every bite. Initially worried that the sprinkles would overwhelm the product and result in a gritty texture, I was pleased with their subtle effect.

The only thing I did not like about this Kit Kat is that the oil in the coating left a feeling of “mouth coat” that I haven’t experienced with other Kit Kat products.

Is there anything else you need to know?

Celebrating its 85th anniversary of production this year, Kit Kat has experienced a recent renaissance, with the release of its Duos line and lemon and raspberry seasonal varieties — all of which I have really enjoyed. With more flavors rumored for release this year, Kit Kat is proving an old dog can learn new tricks.

Conclusion:

Birthday Cake Kit Kat executes a familiar flavor perfectly and enhances both texture and flavor with rainbow sprinkles. Kit Kat fans and frosting fiends will celebrate having another reason to visit the candy aisle.

Purchased Price: 88 cents
Size: 1.5 oz (42 g)

Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 220 calories, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 20 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.