REVIEW: General Mills Strawberry and Blueberry Tiny Toast Cereals

General Mills Strawberry and Blueberry Tiny Toast Cereals?
Toast is so en vogue right now. You’ve got your avocado toast, your restaurants that only serve toast, and your beer made from toast. Hell, at this point, you’d half expect toast to start singing “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It).”

Toast wasn’t always the critical darling it is today. For years, it perched precariously on the side of breakfast platters everywhere, only there to sop up the remnants of runny yolks (or last night’s bad decisions, if you know what I mean).

But then, in 1984, the cereal wizards at General Mills introduced Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and the rest was history. What then followed were years of toast cereal offshoots like French Toast Crunch and Peanut Butter Toast Crunch, which led me to believe that General Mills should just change their name to “That Cereal Company That Only Makes Toast Themed Cereal.”

Enter Strawberry and Blueberry Tiny Toast cereals to prove my point.

In what is apparently General Mills’ first new cereal brand in fifteen years (I know, I was just as surprised as you), Strawberry and Blueberry Tiny Toast cereals were developed to have an “all-family appeal.” I’m not sure where General Mills finds their test families, but I imagine that the folks who thought this cereal would appeal to everyone are the same folks who think Pop-Tarts are a good source of your five-a-day.

Upon opening the box, the tiny toast cereals have a scent reminiscent of fruit and cream instant oatmeal. While it’s totally artificial, it brings back memories of all of the times in college I didn’t have the time or the initiative to make a more nutritious breakfast. Then upon pouring it out, I was greeted by an adorable bowl full of tiny pieces of toast. We’re talking Honey, I Shrunk the Kids tiny here. Rick Moranis would be proud.

General Mills Strawberry Tiny Toast Cereal

The look of the cereal is a different story, as the specks of fruit on each piece of tiny toast look a little more like measles and mold than anything natural. If Cinnamon Toast Crunch is the “taste you can see,” this cereal is more like the “taste you should see a doctor about.”

As a cereal purist, I first tried both cereals sans milk. Upon scooping out my first bite, I noticed the toasts had a dry and dusty appearance, which was affirmed when they immediately dissolved on my tongue. While the texture isn’t the most pleasant (think arid desert), the taste is much better, with both giving off muffin-like oat flavors mixed with the fruit.

General Mills Blueberry Tiny Toast Cereal

Tired of the Sahara-like climate inside my mouth, I drowned the cereals in milk. Let me tell you – Milk. Is. A. Game. changer. The milk immediately fluffs up the tiny toasts, giving them a more pleasant appearance and mouthfeel, and making the cereal much more enjoyable to eat. It’s like that Lubriderm commercial where they apply it to an alligator – it works that well.

Overall, the Tiny Toast cereals are a pretty good, albeit artificial, addition to your balanced breakfast. Let’s just hope that General Mills doesn’t come out with a crappy sequel.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup – 120 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 9 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.99 each
Size: 11.1 oz box
Purchased at: Star Market
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Blueberry)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Strawberry)
Pros: R&B jams. “Honey, I shrunk the breakfast.” Muffin-like fruit flavor. Moisturized with milk.
Cons: Need for cereal antibiotics. Dusty texture sans milk. Remembering bad decisions.

REVIEW: Starbucks Caramel Waffle Cone Frappuccino

Starbucks Caramel Waffle Cone Frappuccino

Out of all of the different junk food options out there, I don’t think there’s a more difficult one to spell than Frappuccino. Seriously, if the Scripps National Spelling Bee folks wanted to make it hard for kids to win, Frappuccino is the word. Heck, even Starbucks baristas seem to have plenty of difficulty spelling it.

Needing a dictionary aside, the Frappuccino is an integral part of the Starbucks menu – so much so that they offer an annual happy hour in celebration of the various combinations of milk, coffee, flavorings, and “base.” Judging by my recent visit to Starbucks, the Frappuccino Happy Hour looks to be the most miserable place on Earth – high schoolers slurping syrupy drinks, whipped cream everywhere, and surly baristas getting a workout from pumping out so much “base.” Disney World this is not.

Starbucks tends to release a new Frappuccino flavor each year to kick off summer, and this year’s entry, the Caramel Waffle Cone Frappuccino, is a sugar-packed way to celebrate the solstice. Advertised as a “carnival delight, all grown up,” the blended drink is a mix of waffle cone-flavored syrup, dark caramel sauce, coffee, milk, and ice, which is then topped with whipped cream, waffle cone pieces, and more of the aforementioned caramel sauce. I guess this is what happens when an ice cream cone hits puberty.

I avoided happy hour at my local Starbucks and decided to order this Frappuccino for breakfast. Frappuccinos have a reputation amongst baristas for being horrible to prepare, so I ordered carefully and cordially. Aside from a little side-eye, my Frappuccino was good to go (except for the part where the barista spilled the waffle cone bits all over the counter while sighing heavily).

Starbucks Caramel Waffle Cone Frappuccino 2

Upon picking up my drink, I immediately noticed that my Frappuccino was a little naked – it was missing its topping of dark caramel sauce. Undeterred, I dug in, and was hit with an overwhelming blast of caramel. I welcomed the fact that the flavor was a little richer and deeper than the traditional Starbucks sauce, but it overpowered every single sip. In fact, it was hard to even taste the coffee over the cacaphony of caramel.

Other than the waffle cone bits perched on the whipped cream, the Frappuccino had no doughy notes to speak of. I’ll give Starbucks credit – the waffle cone bits stayed crunchy even after a few minutes on top of the drink – but they still lacked any flavor, and might have had more of a punch if they were blended in.

In the end, there’s nothing wrong with the Caramel Waffle Cone Frappuccino, but paying a premium for what’s essentially a caramel Frappuccino only makes sense if your name is Alanis Morissette.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 fluid ounces – 300 calories, 100 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 44 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.25
Size: 12 fl oz
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Barista upper arm workouts. Caramel. Starbucks for breakfast.
Cons: Sugared up high schoolers. No waffle cone flavor. Sauce M.I.A.

REVIEW: Polar Unicorn Kisses Seltzer

Polar Unicorn Kisses Seltzer

When I was a kid, I often remember visiting a drive-thru wild animal park with my parents. Aside from the fact that the monkeys would wildly flail about while removing the piping from our minivan’s windows, it was a great place to go to take in the wonders of the savannah (albeit the Canadian savannah, but I digress).

We’d usually close our trip with a stopover at the petting zoo, my hands full of vending machine pellets ready to feed Larry the Llama and Gary the Goat. My three-year-old self was shocked at the vigor at which the animal’s tongue attacked the food in my hand – an image I still can’t forget. Regrettably, this is my only frame of reference for understanding the concept of “unicorn kisses.”

Thankfully, Polar Seltzer’s Unicorn Kisses is not a bottle of magical glitter pony saliva, but instead an April Fools’ flavor designed to elicit giggles in the grocery aisle. Polar is known for its unorthodox flavors (like eggnog and mint chocolate), but you typically have an idea of what they’ll taste like before you open them. Unicorn Kisses gives you no such advance warning.

Polar Unicorn Kisses Seltzer 2

Prepping for the worst, I set off on a quest to find a bottle. Polar released only 5,000 cases of Unicorn Kisses into the wild, so I had a difficult time finding a store that had any in stock. I felt like Dora the Explorer (minus the anthropomorphic monkey), walking from supermarket to supermarket trying to find a bottle. After what felt like countless days of searching, I finally picked some up at my local Star Market.

Upon opening, I half expected the bottle to explode into rainbows, but instead I was greeted with the scent of green apple and cotton candy. While Polar prides itself on its “all natural” label, this smell was all artificial, like a liquid Jolly Rancher. Based on my nose alone, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to drink a sip, let alone an entire glass, but I queued up “Charlie the Unicorn” for support and dove in.

Polar Unicorn Kisses Seltzer 3

Other blogs have tried to place the flavor of Unicorn Kisses, with suggestions ranging from melon to soap, but the only thing I could taste was candy necklaces. Surprisingly, the flavor wasn’t as pronounced as the smell – it actually took me some time to figure out that this seltzer tasted like penny candy. Because it was so cloyingly sweet, I couldn’t finish a whole glass, leading me to feel like I wasn’t respecting the countless unicorns who worked so hard on this product.

In the end, the takeaways from this review are as follows: Unicorn Kisses is a fun diversion but is gross to drink, and you should stay far, far, far away from Candy Mountain.

(Nutrition Facts – 8 fluid ounces – 0 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.29
Size: 1 liter
Purchased at: Star Market
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Double rainbow. No calories. Revisiting childhood memories. Alliterative animal names.
Cons:Swiper, no swiping.” Llama tongue. Overly sweet and artificial. Vintage candy.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Donuts Sausage GranDDe Burrito

Dunkin' Donuts Sausage GranDDe Burrito

Burritos have been getting some bad press recently. From E.coli to a firefighter punching a homeless guy while waiting in line for one, the burrito is suffering from a serious PR crisis.

Enter Dunkin’ Donuts to save the day.

Dunkin’ recently announced the GranDDe Burrito – a new breakfast amalgamation, offered in both sausage and veGGie varieties. Props to the Dunkin’ marketing team for the puNNy name. It sure made me giGGle when I saw the coMMercial on the bOOb tube. I knew I just had to scuRRY to my local DD right away!

Okay. I’ll stop.

The burrito features a spicy omelet, cheese, beans, rice, corn, fire-roasted peppers, and onions wrapped in a flour tortilla, a mixture that DD suggests is JAM (emphasis theirs) packed with authentic southwest flavor. Their website also suggests that the burrito is SO (emphasis mine) heavy that you might not be able to pick it up. If that’s the case, my trips to the gym are going to need to get a lot more frequent.

After ordering my sausage burrito, I watched the Dunkin’ employee unceremoniously plop the frozen wrap onto a tray and jam it in the oven. When it was finished “cooking” the burrito got swaddled in an aluminum foil blanket, which I can only imagine is Dunkin’s attempt to bump up the authenticity factor and make me feel like I’ve stepped into a New Mexican tacqueria. Albeit it’s a tacqueria that also sells frosted donuts, but I digress.

Once I sat down, I noticed the burrito wasn’t that granDDe at all. It’s definitely smaLLer than what you’d get at Chipotle or Qdoba, but thankfully it’s half the price of what you’d find there. Upon unwrapping, I noticed that the GranDDe Burrito resembled a convenience store microwave version, complete with areas of soft and hard tortilla, and grease spots where the filling had soaked through the wrap. Authenticity!

Dunkin' Donuts Sausage GranDDe Burrito 2

Since the GranDDe burrito is not a freshly made product, the contents are layered one-by-one rather than mixed together and spread throughout. With my initial bites, I could clearly identify the omelet and sausage, but by the end, all that’s left were the rice and veggies. Thankfully the pepper, onion, and cheese did a great job at amping up the flavor, but the egg lacked any punch and got lost amongst the burrito’s other ingredients.

Dunkin' Donuts Sausage GranDDe Burrito 3

Similarly, the rice was too mushy to stand out, which makes me wonder who thought it was a great idea to put rice into a frozen breakfast burrito in the first place. I feel like a salsa or picante sauce would’ve done a great job at rounding out the taste, but the only things I could find in the disorganized Dunkin’ condiment bar were ketchup and Splenda. Guess I need to pull a Beyonce next time.

All in all, you’re getting your money’s worth with the GranDDe Burrito, but don’t expect it to be a bastion of southwest flavor (which I know you weren’t even expecting anyways).

(Nutrition Facts – 1 burrito (sausage) – 710 calories, 370 calories from fat, 41 grams of fat, 17 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 225 milligrams of cholesterol, 1660 milligrams of sodium, 56 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, 30 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Dunkin’ Donuts
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Good for bicep curls. Wrapped in swaddling clothes. Double D’s. A filling meal for the price.
Cons: Burritos in the tabloids. Soft spots and hard spots. Mushy mouthfeel. Vaguely southwest.

ANNOUNCEMENT: New Impulsive Buy Reviewer Kyle

Hey there The Impulsive Buy reader! I’m Kyle, and I’m 6 feet tall, a Gemini, and enjoy long walks on the beach and candlelight dinners.

Oh, wait. Wrong website.

Anyways, I’m as excited as the Pillsbury Doughboy/Tony the Tiger/the Trix Rabbit/any other anthropomorphic grocery store food mascot to be joining TIB as a reviewer.

I was born in Canada, and spent the early portion of my life indulging in All Dressed chips, Cadbury chocolate, and foods with an “ou” in the name. I then moved on down to Central Pennsylvania, home to scrapple (don’t look it up), soft pretzels, and Hershey’s chocolate. I like to think of it as a best of both worlds food scenario, minus the Hannah Montana and minus the scrapple.

My love affair with junk food began on my weekly trips to the grocery store with my Dad. He was, let’s say, a little lenient with the grocery budget, so I was always able to get my hands on all the new cereals, fruit snacks, candy, and frozen meals. I was always the envy of my Catholic school lunch table, showing off all of my newest spoils.

Fast-forward twenty years and now I live in Boston, also known as the “I’ll-drink-iced-coffee-even-when-it’s-negative-five-out capital of the world.” I work from 9-5 in higher education and still spend an inordinate amount of my non-work time in grocery stores checking out the chips (and simultaneously arousing the suspicion of store security because it was my fifth time there in one week).

My junk food interests are all over the place – from drinks to Little Debbie desserts – and I’m excited to sample them and share my thoughts with you. My mom is also excited about this prospect, because I’ll finally be “using” my bachelor’s degree.

I can’t wait to get started, and if I can promise you one thing, it’s that I won’t be reviewing scrapple.