REVIEW: Cinnamon Toast Crunch Rolls Cereal

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Rolls Box

General Mills’ Cinnamon Toast Crunch brand name reaches far and wide, allowing consumers to experience its beloved cinnamon-sugar flavor via cookie dough, creamy spread, and even bottled Cinnamilk. Through its newest offering, the brand now offers consumers the chance to eat 87 cinnamon rolls in one sitting without becoming dreadfully sick.

Of course, each of those “cinnamon rolls” is a piece of cereal. (Do not mistake the previous paragraph as an endorsement to consume 87 Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls, which also bear the Cinnamon Toast Crunch name.) Cinnamon Toast Crunch Rolls Cereal consists of cinnamon roll-shaped sweetened wheat and corn cereal. Each piece is cinnamon-flavored and boasts a delightful swirl design to emphasize the cinnamon roll comparison.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Rolls Dry

Further supporting the comparison is the cereal’s intense cinnamon scent, which seems to leak through the product packaging. Remember going to the mall and smelling the cinnamon roll kiosk all the way from inside the department store? (Remember department stores? Remember malls?) That’s how strong and enticing the scent of Cinnamon Toast Crunch Rolls is.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Rolls Size

Weirdly and sadly, the cinnamon smell is Cinnamon Toast Crunch Rolls’ siren song. The scent is much stronger than the flavor, which has an artificial aftertaste. Minus the artificial quality, the taste itself is fine. It just lacks the punch that OG Cinnamon Toast Crunch has. I think this is because the cereal pieces themselves are cinnamon-flavored, while their dusty coating is spare and more sugar-heavy than the Cinnadust we know, love, and sometimes buy in bulk to sprinkle on our popcorn. A different coating–maybe a vanilla powder to mimic a cinnamon roll’s icing–may have been more successful in elevating Cinnamon Toast Crunch Rolls.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Rolls Milk

Hope is not lost. In milk, the artificial quality dissipates, and the cinnamon livens up a little bit, getting closer to that sweet center-of-the-roll ideal. This enhanced flavor arrives at the expense of the cereal’s texture, though. Dry, the pieces have the light, airy texture of other corn-based or partially corn-based cereals. Wet, their texture softens to mush quickly.

For best results, you should eat the cereal with milk — but fast. Like within a minute. Maybe this is why the cartoon cinnamon roll on the front of the box has such powerful-looking teeth. He’s trying to show you his technique.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Rolls Mascot

Compared to other cinnamon cereals on the market, Cinnamon Toast Crunch Rolls is only average. The original Cinnamon Toast Crunch, which I count among my favorite cereals, bests the Rolls in terms of flavor. Kellogg’s Cinnabon and Cinnamon Mini Buns cereals both provided a more satisfying texture, and I long for their return. (If you remember the latter product, you probably also remember malls and department stores.)

While Cinnamon Toast Crunch Rolls Cereal makes for a passable breakfast, it is not quite deserving of the Cinnamon Toast Crown.

Purchased Price: $4.29
Size: Family Size – 16.7 oz (473 g)
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 1 cup) 150 calories, 4 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 180 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Van Leeuwen Grey Poupon Ice Cream

Van Leeuwen Grey Poupon Ice Cream Pint

When social media alerts you to Grey Poupon ice cream, there are only two possible explanations: April Fools’ Day is upon us, or the mad geniuses at Van Leeuwen are at it again.

Given that it’s late May and you are reading this review, you can probably deduce that Van Leeuwen’s Grey Poupon with Salted Pretzels Ice Cream is a very real product. Considering the brand’s propensity for wacky, experimental flavors, including Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and Pizza, we shouldn’t be surprised. Of all possible unconventional savory pairings for ice cream, why not choose mustard? Why not mustard that tastes so good, gentlemen request it from neighboring vehicles?

You may have a lot of answers to that question that you will share in the comments IN ALL CAPS, but I love mustard. I sometimes eat certain foods solely so they can serve as vehicles for mustard. Ice cream isn’t one of them, so the prospect of mustardy ice cream left me curious and considerably trepid. For the sake of adventure and sharing my experience with you, dear readers, I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.

Van Leeuwen Grey Poupon Ice Cream Top

My mouth, overall, was not displeased with the purchase. The French ice cream base does not taste like mustard, but rather rich vanilla. The flavor is simple but very high quality: delicious, rich, and creamy. (According to the container, French ice cream contains double the egg yolks than standard ice cream, which contribute to its richness.)

Van Leeuwen Grey Poupon Ice Cream Pretzel

Pieces of thin pretzel sticks are generously spread throughout the base. They add a hint of saltiness, but their texture is lacking. The ultra-creamy base begs for a crunchy element, but the pretzels range from soft to soggy.

Van Leeuwen Grey Poupon Ice Cream Swirl

At this point, I wondered if the product WAS a belated April Fools’ joke, but then I hit the bright yellow swirl running throughout the base. Mustard time. However, this swirl, which has the consistency of very loose caramel, does not share the vinegary, spicy pungency of Dijon mustard. The flavor is much more consistent with honey mustard. Honey is listed as an ingredient, which is likely lending that sweetness to the swirl’s notable mustardy tang.

The honey mustard flavor is prominent in some pockets of the pint. The thinner ribbons are more subtle; they offer just a bit of bright flavor and acidity to cut the rich base. Together, all components of the ice cream give a French- fries-and-milkshake vibe, if the French fries were replaced by pretzels lightly seasoned with honey mustard powder. The flavor is certainly unusual, and while I wouldn’t want a cone full of it, I don’t regret buying it.

Van Leeuwen Grey Poupon Ice Cream with the Mustard

Van Leeuwen’s latest creation may not inspire this devout mustard-lover to ask the ice cream truck: “Do you have any Grey Poupon?” But its adventurous blur of sweet and savory defies expectations, resulting in a surprising, interesting dessert experience. When soggy pretzels are the biggest downside of a condiment-themed ice cream, that’s a win for creativity.

Purchased Price: $4.98
Size: 14 fl oz
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 2/3 cup) 310 calories, 18 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 100 milligrams of cholesterol, 280 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 26 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Blueberry Muffin Kit Kat

Blueberry Muffin Kit Kat Wrapper

Whenever Kit Kat releases a new flavor, I think of someone who once asked me why consumers get so excited about “stuff that tastes like other stuff.”

Obviously, this person is not our friend, but I explained there are several reasons:

  • Candy is fun. The more varieties, the better.
  • Novelty breaks up the drudgery of everyday existence.
  • There is an artful and glorious alchemy involved in combining two perfect substances into one.
  • I don’t need a reason. Mind your business.

In the case of the Blueberry Muffin Kit Kat, all of the above apply. However, reason #3 is particularly apt because Blueberry Muffin Kit Kats are a beautiful representation of the bakery staple in candy bar form.

Blueberry Muffin Kit Kat Fingers

This limited edition bar is an earthy lavender-colored confection. (In real life, it looks a lot less sludgy gray than my best efforts at photography produced.) The wrapper describes the bar as “naturally and artificially flavored crisp wafers in blueberry muffin flavored creme.”

What makes a “blueberry muffin flavored creme?” This Kit Kat’s creme combines the flavors of blueberry and buttery cake batter, with strong undertones of brown sugar and warm cinnamon like you’d find in a crumble topping. I wasn’t expecting a touch of cinnamon, but that detail was exactly what my soul and taste buds wanted. The creme tastes delicious and complex, even if the sweetness is more reminiscent of cake than muffin. Because muffins let us brazenly blur the line between bread and cake at breakfast, this feels like a minor complaint.

Blueberry Muffin Kit Kat Wafers

What’s really cool is that the distribution of the realistic blueberry flavor is a little uneven, resulting in occasional strong pops of blueberry goodness. In one or two morsels alone, the Kit Kat recreated the experience of finding those especially juicy blueberries in a bite of the baked good. As I ate, I felt like Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — before the severe physical and emotional damage.

Flecks of graham embedded in the creme support the wafers’ crisp texture. It is difficult to isolate their flavor, but they may contribute some of that crumble-like toastiness.

Blueberry Muffin Kit Kat Graphic

As fans of “stuff that tastes like other stuff” know, products can sometimes promise big flavors and deliver ho-hum results. (Public service announcement: lemon flavoring alone does not make something like lemon meringue pie, and it never will.) Happily, the Blueberry Muffin Kit Kat is not just blueberry flavoring dressed in a muffin’s wrapper. While Kit Kat reliably concocts delicious limited editions, the Blueberry Muffin variety is special for its inventiveness and complexity of flavor.

Because I would rank it within my top three Kit Kat flavors and because I can’t think of a reason not to, I am rating the Blueberry Muffin Kit Kat a rare 10 out of 10.

Purchased Price: 98 cents
Size: 1.5 oz bar (42 g)
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 10 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.

REVIEW: Snapple Elements (2022)

Snapple Elements  2022 Bottles

What are Snapple Elements?

First launched in 1999 and discontinued in the mid-2000s, the Snapple Elements line associated inventive fruit flavors with natural phenomena. Snapple has re-launched the line starting with three flavors: Fire (dragon fruit), Rain (agave cactus), and Air (prickly pear and peach white tea).

Now with updated formulas, Snapple Elements contain no artificial sweeteners and 45% less sugar than other Snapple varieties.

How are they?

If you loved Snapple Elements enough to buy one of the original curvy glass bottles on eBay or sign an online petition begging for their return, this review is for you. Although my memories of the line are not clear enough to compare the old and new formulas, I’m here to report my experience, unclouded by a nostalgic haze. If only your Tamagotchi were alive to see this!

Snapple Elements  2022 Fire

The ruby red Fire variety achieves its dragon fruit flavor through a mixture of pear and grape juice concentrates and natural flavors. While dragon fruit is a mild flavor that is difficult to get right, Fire gets it pretty close. It tastes like sweet pear enriched with subtle floral notes.

Snapple Elements  2022 Rain

Rain’s agave cactus flavor was most intriguing. I associate cactus flavor with prickly pear flavor, sometimes with a hint of sourness, and the drink delivers shades of this expectation. It tastes like watered-down white grape juice (which does not appear in the ingredients list) mixed with mild pear and agave (which do). A subtle ribbon of tartness runs through the drink, and the agave’s flavor smoothes it out. The flavor is pleasantly light, refreshing, and subtle in a way that reminds me of drinking coconut water or aloe water. Rain was definitely the most unique drinking experience of the three flavors, and approaching it with an open mind and nebulous expectations made it easy to enjoy.

Snapple Elements  2022 Air

Finally, Air promises prickly pear and peach white tea flavors. Ironically, it is the only variety of the three not to contain pear juice or even much pear flavor. Its ingredients (white tea, acerola fruit extract, and natural flavors) contribute to a mellow peachy flavor paired with the crispness of white tea.

Although each contains a decent amount of added sugar, all varieties taste light, refreshing, and highly palatable. I would choose any one of them over Snapple’s current juice offerings, which (despite my affinity for Kiwi Strawberry) I find too sweet to finish in one sitting.

Anything else you need to know?

I struggled to locate all three varieties in my area, so stock up if you find your favorite. Also, although Snapple has swapped its iconic glass bottles for plastic, the Snapple facts printed beneath the caps live on. Did you know that humans can encourage precipitation with cloud seeding? Diploma, please!


Snapple Elements  2022 Glasses

All three Snapple Elements flavors provide light, refreshing flavor experiences which are exciting contributions to the brand’s current line-up. Nostalgia aside, I hope the Elements line expands.

Purchased Price: $1.39 (Target) and $7.99 (Amazon)
Size: 15.9 fl oz bottles
Purchased at: Target (Fire and Rain) and Amazon (Air)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Fire), 8 out of 10 (Rain), 7 out of 10 (Air)
Nutrition Facts: (1 bottle) Fire – 110 calories, 0 grams of fat, 10 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 25 grams of sugar (including 20 grams added sugars) , and 0 grams of protein. Rain – 110 calories, 0 grams of fat, 10 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 25 grams of sugar (including 19 grams added sugars), and 0 grams of protein. Air – 110 calories, 0 grams of fat, 10 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 25 grams of sugar (including 25 grams added sugars), and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: AHA Fuji Apple + White Tea, Blackberry + Lemon, and Pineapple + Passionfruit Sparkling Water

AHA Fuji Apple + White Tea Blackberry + Lemon and Pineapple + Passionfruit Sparkling Water Cans

Since its debut in 2020, AHA Flavored Sparkling Water has become a standout in the beverage aisle due to its refreshing flavor combinations and vibrant, colorful packaging. The Coca-Cola-backed brand, along with popular competitors like La Croix, bubly, and Spindrift, leads a surge in seltzer sales by appealing to crowds who want a healthier, just-as-fizzy alternative to soda.

When AHA first appeared on shelves, I had only dipped my toe in the sparkling water, uh, waters and generally missed the sweetness I’d become accustomed to in other carbonated beverages. But, determined to cut back on my diet soda intake, I bought a few cans of AHA, which lists only carbonated water and natural flavors as ingredients. Two years later, the brand remains a favorite.

At my local Giant Eagle, I recently discovered three new AHA flavors: Fuji Apple + White Tea, Blackberry + Lemon, and Pineapple + Passionfruit. I exclaimed, “Aha!” before loading them into my cart because I couldn’t resist. (One day, you’re cool, and before you know it, you’re making puns at the grocery store.)

AHA Fuji Apple White Tea

First, I sampled the Fuji Apple + White Tea flavor. Unlike the other two flavors, this variety is caffeinated, containing 30 milligrams of caffeine per can (about the equivalent of 1/2 cup of green tea). It is also the only variety to include electrolyte sources (calcium and magnesium chlorides and potassium bicarbonate) in its list of ingredients.

Although I don’t often gravitate toward apple flavors, I love this product. The water’s carbonation had the same sharp, refreshing bubble quality as other AHA products. It perfectly recalled the taste of a sweet, crisp Fuji. The white tea component was mellow but still detectable in the drink’s smooth finish. Also a fan of AHA’s caffeinated Citrus + Green Tea and Mango + Black Tea flavors, I will add this newest variety to my rotation.

AHA Blackberry Lemon

Up next: Blackberry + Lemon. This flavor sounded the best to me on paper but was my least favorite of the three. I detected no lemon notes, which left a dominating blackberry flavor that didn’t taste very realistic. Its perfume-y quality left a harsh aftertaste. The product is not undrinkable, but I won’t buy it again.

AHA Pineapple Passionfruit

Last was Pineapple + Passionfruit. This one made me double-check the ingredients list for fruit juice or sugar. Nope. The sweet, smooth tropical taste, including a subtly tart undercurrent of passionfruit, was purely the product of natural flavors. This product was not only my favorite of the bunch, but also a rival to my favorite AHA flavor, Peach + Honey.

AHA Fuji Apple + White Tea Blackberry + Lemon and Pineapple + Passionfruit Sparkling Water Glasses

“Aha!” is defined as “an expression of triumphant discovery, surprise, or derision,” so it is appropriate that my reaction to AHA’s new flavors involved a little bit of all three. See? Zero calories, zero sweeteners, and zero sodium do not have to equal boring.

Purchased Price: $3.99 each
Purchased at: Giant Eagle
Size: 8 pack of 12 oz cans
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Fuji Apple + White Tea), 10 out of 10 (Pineapple + Passionfruit), 4 out of 10 (Blackberry + Lemon)
Nutrition Facts: (per 12 oz can – all varieties) 0 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.