A new mystery flavored zero-sugar sparkling water from Sparkling Ice just in time for summer! It comes in festive packaging complete with palm tree leaves and one cool sunglass-sporting toucan. Now are those elements supposed to relate to the flavor or are they simply a ruse celebrating its seasonal debut? Hmmmmmmm.
How is it?
I’m a fan of Sparkling Ice’s drinks as they are refreshing, light, and not too sweet. This one is no different and checks all those boxes. As for the flavor, though? It’s a tasty fruity flavor is about all I can say. Interestingly this one does have peach juice as an ingredient, and I definitely smelled it upon opening. I feel like it comes through in the taste as well but just ever so slightly. However, let’s not forget what happened last time when yours truly tried to conquer a mystery Sparkling Ice. There was lemon juice as an ingredient and the flavor turned out to be… wait for it… Passion Fruit Punch.
I wish there was some crazy flavor to ingredient algorithm where I could input in peach juice to see what it comes up with. Although, I am digging the glimmering foil on the packaging used for the question marks. Since I got nothing else, I’m gonna take it and run with it. It’s making me think of starfruit which would be a fun, out of left field flavor to have. Since there is a bit of peach, I’m gonna follow suit from last year. The flavor is Starfruit Punch! Boom.
Is there anything else you need to know?
The drink is clear, low calorie, and caffeine free. It also contains a few vitamins, including antioxidant vitamin A. Also, the toucan is telling us you can guess the flavor to win some prizes. As you can see on the back, there is a cruise with Holland America Line to be won, so get guessing!
If you enjoy a diet beverage and want something refreshing and fruity to deal with the warm weather, this will most certainly do the trick. If you want something that will make you ponder for hours about what the heck the flavor is, because it’s kinda hard to tell, then this will also satisfy you.
Purchased Price: $1.00 Size: 17 fl. oz. bottle Purchased at: Target Rating: 7 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: 0 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.
I have not been a huge fan of the recent mug mix obsession. I love the concept and the experimentation that has come about from them (a pancake breakfast version? – sure!, a color changing one? – neat!) and I have seen some glimpses of hope for the future but for the most part to me they have been sugary abominations to the point of inedibility.
Betty Crocker’s newest line takes the mug mixes and turns them in a new chilled dessert direction. They retain the same easy directions to prepare and also the addition of drizzle toppings: Thoroughly mix the powdered contents with some milk, chill in the refrigerator for at least five minutes and VOILA chilled dessert bliss for one.
There are four flavors at launch: Lemon Mousse with Lemon Drizzle Topping, Chocolate Mousse with Chocolate Ganache Topping, Key Lime Mousse with Lime Drizzle Topping, and French Vanilla Topping with Salted Caramel Topping.
I picked a good one to start with as the lemon one is pretty tasty. It has a pleasant citrusy flavor throughout both the mousse and the topping. With the mousse, it’s a little more subdued and definitely a sweeter take on lemon.
I love the way the topping complements it because it’s more intense, but also crazily tart and tangy. This one is fun to eat as the experience shifts based on the amounts of each per bite.
Purchased Price: $3.99 Size: 4-pack box ?Purchased at: ShopRite ?Rating: 9 out of 10 ?Nutrition Facts: (1 Mix & Topping) 240 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 380 milligrams of sodium, 48 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 38 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.
If at first glance you weren’t sold on these and thought why I would pay for more just elevated pudding that I have to make myself, then definitely don’t purchase the chocolate one. If you are a chocolate lover then you are likely to be pleased, but it comes in a form that tastes nearly identical to those shelf stable lunch box puddings.
That’s all I thought of when eating, even if the format is a bit thicker and fancily aerated. The topping isn’t that great either. It’s chocolatey but in a slightly gritty form as if it was Hershey’s iconic syrup, but there was something a little off about it.
Purchased Price: $3.99 Size: 4-pack box ?Purchased at: ShopRite Rating: 5 out of 10 ?Nutrition Facts: (1 Mix and Topping) 290 calories, 11 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 360 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 35 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.
Key Lime Mousse
I thought this variety would be exactly like the lemon one except with a pleasant key lime flavor. As a whole, it does evoke a key lime pie, but there were some shortcomings. The appearance of the topping is underwhelming as it is a very dingy yellow green not as vibrant as the packaging would leave you to believe. The lime flavor is in both components, again at a stronger concentration in the topping, but overall it leads to more of a sour taste than a crisp, tart, and tangy lime.
Purchased Price: $3.99 Size: 4-pack box ?Purchased at: ShopRite ?Rating: 7 out of 10 ?Nutrition Facts: (1 Mix and Topping) 230 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 380 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 38 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.
French Vanilla Mousse
I took a nibble of each before they chilled and I thought this one would be my favorite as the flavor was off the charts delicious. It had a French vanilla flavor so intense that it tasted like Breyer’s French vanilla but in straight liquid form. When prepared, the flavor is still there, but it’s a bit too sweet and a hair artificial tasting. The caramel topping is also good. It’s very buttery, but again a tad sweet and with the mousse together both become a bit heavy.
Purchased Price: $3.19 Size: 4-pack box ?Purchased at: ShopFoodEx.com ?Rating: 7 out of 10 ?Nutrition Facts: (1 Mix and Topping) 250 calories, 6 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 430 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 39 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.
I first used a spoon to mix these but realized I needed something more substantial and even though I whisked them, all four had a slightly gritty texture that I could feel. When you prepare, don’t skimp on the stirring.
The texture is hard to describe. They are definitely a step above lunch box puddings by being a little thicker and obviously closer to a true mousse, but they fall short of a restaurant’s offering with the aforementioned grittiness coming from a do-it-yourself creation. So, thick and creamy but slightly gritty.
The box mentions some alternate preparation instructions for your preferences or if you have a lack of time – you can get a firmer mousse by chilling in the refrigerator for 10 minutes, or you can chill faster by placing in the freezer for 2 minutes.
M&M’s debuts its newest flavor which features a hazelnut spread center covered in milk chocolate all encased in a colorful candy shell. And yes it’s a riff on Nutella which is synonymous with hazelnut spread in most people’s minds. Look at the container on the package that Blue is holding! A clear jar. Verrrrrry interesting. Basically, these are bootleg Nutella M&M’s.
How are they?
These were announced way back in September which means a long time to get excited and build your anticipation for them. So how did they do? At first glance, they’re larger than standard M&M’s and breaking one opens reveals its two-toned interior. There’s the obvious chocolate layer and then the inner hazelnut portion, which is surprisingly light almost like a cookie butter color. It did seem to have speckles (maybe chocolate?) throughout though.
Initially, they were disappointing because they tasted like regular M&M’s. However, as I ate more, the hazelnut flavor came through. They were sufficiently nutty! I can’t mention Nutella as much as I have without putting the real thing to the test, so I grabbed a jar from my cupboard and dug in to compare.
It dawned on me instantly what these really are. They aren’t fake Nutella M&M’s or even Hazelnut Spread ones; they’re just Hazelnut M&M’s. What’s a more accurate comparison? They’re unlicensed Ferrero Rocher in a different form. While Nutella is insanely creamy with the chocolate and hazelnut as one, these aren’t creamy in the slightest. Also, chewing the crunchy shell along with the unmarried chocolate and hazelnut components evoke that gold wrapped confection way more than Nutella spread.
Is there anything else you need to know?
These aren’t the first hazelnut M&M’s to come to market as the UK got a version way back in 2017 although it looks like those contained actual hazelnuts instead of the mixture inside these.
These are a pretty good new take on M&M’s, which makes you wonder why it hasn’t been done before. Just don’t go in expecting the next coming of Nutella in a new portable form. These are more like smaller, cheaper Ferrero Rocher. If you like those, you’ll have no problem finishing a bag of these as quickly as I did.
Purchased Price: 99 cents ?Size: 1.35 oz. bag ?Purchased at: Wegmans ?Rating: 8 out of 10 ?Nutrition Facts: (1 Bag) 190 calories, 10 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 22 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.
Not content with occupying half an aisle with its 150 flavors (slightly exaggerated, obviously, but have you seen how many there are?), Duncan Hines expands its Perfect Size for 1 cake mix line to include other established brands and fun toppings.
There are four flavors at the moment – Chocolate Chip Cake Mix with Chips Ahoy Cookie Pieces, Chocolate Cake Mix with Chocolate Candy Pieces, Cookies and Cream Cake Mix with Oreo Cookie Pieces, and S’mores Cake Mix with Honey Maid Graham Cracker Pieces.
They all have straightforward instructions like the previous mug mixes – it’s pretty much add water, stir, and microwave! One interesting thing is that while the official instructions tell you to sprinkle the toppings on after baking there is also a suggestion to try them blended in before nuking. I decided to do both and put some of the toppings in before and then sprinkled some afterward so that I could have the full experience.
This one had a nice and fluffy texture with good chocolate flavor throughout. Considering it’s a microwaveable powdered cake mix it’s not entirely fair to compare to a regular cake. It’s all about being economical and convenient, and this suffices in that regard. Sure, it could be a little more moist and flavorful, but it gets the job done.
I had a hunch the reason the toppings are added later is that the cooking process would affect them and that was the case with this one especially. The pieces added before blending in too well by turning into different colored elements of the cake. Those added later maintained their consistency and added a nice crunch. The chocolate pieces added a decadent touch and seemed evenly dispersed. In essence, this is like a very simplistic version of a dessert at a fancy restaurant in which it would be called Chocolate Chip Cookie – TWO WAYS.
Purchased Price: $3.19* Size: 2.4 oz. cup Purchased at: ShopFoodEx.com Rating: 8 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1 Container) 300 calories, 9 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 350 milligrams of sodium, 51 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 29 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.
Candy Coated Chocolates
This one is heavy on the chocolate, like really, really heavy and almost to the point of being too rich. It’s a one-note chocolate cake with more chocolate. I’m sensing a theme here as the toppings seem to be the stars here.
The cake part, like the previous one, was serviceable as it was nice and fluffy, but a little dry. The bootleg M&M’s though are amazing in this one and make up for the mediocre cake. Whether you add them before baking or after, the heat melts them so that the insides are like molten chocolate. It’s like you’re digging for treasure and when you find one of the candies, it’s oh so satisfying. Again, the crunch adds another satisfying element when eating this. This one is a joyous textural adventure through chocolate.
Purchased Price: $3.19* Size: 2.4 oz. cup Purchased at: ShopFoodEx.com Rating: 8 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1 Container) 290 calories, 8 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 350 milligrams of sodium, 53 grams of carbohydrates, 2 gram of fiber, 32 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.
Not breaking with the trend with the others, this was also fluffy, but a bit dry. It has Oreo cookie crumbles as part of the batter with what seemed like white chocolate chips.
With the topping, there’s a little bit of a cookies and cream flavor, but this whole endeavor ended up tasting mostly like sugar to me even though it has about the same amount as the other three. The white chips weren’t large enough to stay molten, so they blended in and faded away, while the Oreo topping pieces weren’t as crunchy as I was expecting them to be. In a nutshell, this was a lightly chocolatey and creamy, but way too sweet cake.
Purchased Price: $3.19* Size: 2.4 oz. cup Purchased at: ShopFoodEx.com Rating: 6 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: 1 Container – 300 calories, 9 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 380 milligrams of sodium, 52 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 29 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.
This one perplexed me. I prepared it in the same way as the others, but the cake here turned out to be a little gummy, which was very odd. It’s supposed to be a s’mores base, but I didn’t get any of that except for the little bits of chocolate.
There’s no graham flavor even though I added a few of the pieces and there’s certainly no marshmallow even if I did see a few white chips buried in there. The graham pieces were a nice addition that added a bit of extra flavor, but they were not as crunchy as the other toppings. Unfortunately, though, nothing could save this one as I couldn’t get past the weird texture.
Purchased Price: $3.19* Size: 2.5 oz. cup Purchased at: ShopFoodEx.com Rating: 5 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: 1 Container – 310 calories, 9 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 370 milligrams of sodium, 55 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 30 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.
You’ll notice that three of four are all well-known brands. This is because Duncan Hines partnered up with Mondelez to gain access to their snacking portfolio that includes those three. M&M’s, though? It’s another company entirely, so I’m assuming it wasn’t worth the effort, hence why the generic candy-coated chocolates make an appearance.
I tried the toppings both as an add-in with the cake batter and afterward on top. Here are my suggestions for you: Chips Ahoy – Add them later as they pretty much vanish once cooked. Candy Coated Chocolates – Do what I did and put half before and half after. You will get a range of molten chocolate that’s glorious. Cookies and Cream – The batter already contains small bits of the Oreo wafer so save them all to add as toppings. Honey Maid – I would skip this one entirely but if you do partake, add the graham as a topping.
Regardless of the actual food product, one thing that’s a total upgrade with these is the single serve cup. With the boxed versions, you had to take the plunge on four servings and with so many different flavors to try one may end up with too many extras. Also, all you have to dirty up to indulge is a spoon whereas previously it was a spoon, mug, and measuring utensil.
*Editor’s Note: The cups were purchased from an online grocer, so the prices are slightly higher than they are at stores.
After the brilliant or infuriating (depending on who you ask) debut of Heinz’s Mayochup, the company has branched out to other mayonnaise condiment mashups with the launch of Mayomust and Mayocue. Following Mayochup’s lead, and as the back of the bottles tell me, these combine the delicious taste of yellow mustard (or classic BBQ) with mayonnaise and a special blend of spices.
Full disclosure: I loved Mayochup. Everything about it tickled me pink (perfect considering the pinkish nature of the product) from the genius name to the social media frenzy all the way to the actual sauce. I was of course very excited to try these new additions to the growing saucy sauce family.
How are they?
Mayomust is a light yellow color and has a nice whipped consistency, but the taste is not what I was expecting. It’s heavy on the mayo with a bit of mustard at the end of the bite. It seems like the ratio should have been adjusted on this one because a better name would be Mayomu.
It’s as if someone used a bottle of mustard but then accidentally refilled it with mayonnaise and it picked up the remnants in the container. It’s kinda like a deviled egg filling but without any eggy goodness or pop of heat. And with vinegar being the second highest ingredient, there’s a little bit of tang, but it ends up more sour tasting.
Mayocue is a light brown color and, when I took the cap off, the smell instantly reminded me of something right off the bat, but I couldn’t figure out what.
A second later it hit me – this is freakin’ Chick-fil-A sauce! My olfactory system was 100 percent correct when I tried it, and I should’ve known since I have investigated recreating it at home. This saucy sauce tastes exactly like that golden delicacy I am completely head over heels for. Both the mayo and BBQ work harmoniously for a delicious sauce that is equally creamy, tangy, and smoky. Unlike the mustard in the other one, I could taste the BBQ here.
Is there anything else you need to know?
Both of these have a special blend of spices like the original Mayochup, but it is hard to tell if Heinz’s blend of spices is the same across the board or perhaps they adjust it accordingly for each sauce. The ingredients list doesn’t help either as they all contain one component listed simply as SPICES, so who knows.
As you can see from the picture, I tried these with some good ol’ fashioned chicken strips to help with my judging and even included my special sauce cup to show you how much I love sauces with my food. They both held up well with the chicken as they are thick.
For these wacky condiment mashups and their success you ultimately have to decide if they stand on their own as a new entity that warrants being in its own bottle. With Mayomust, I kinda wanted to put it aside and run to the refrigerator so that I could indulge in both mayonnaise and mustard separately. Each part seemed to bring the other down.
With Mayocue, the combo ends up being greater than the sum of its parts as I was like, “What’s mayonnaise?” And who needs straight up BBQ sauce? So, pick up the Mayocue if you love Chick-fil-A sauce and skip the Mayomu unless you’d like a decorative mayonnaise.
Purchased Price: $4.59 each ?Size: 16.6 oz. bottle (Mayomust) 16.7 oz. bottle (Mayocue) ?Purchased at: Amazon.com ?Rating: 5 out of 10 (Mayomust) Rating: 10 out of 10 (Mayocue) ?Nutrition Facts: (2 tbsp) Mayomust – 160 calories, 16 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 280 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 2 grams of sugar and 0 grams of protein. Mayocue – 140 calories, 14 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 4 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of sugar and 0 grams of protein.
Hostess celebrates its centennial with a limited edition themed version of its iconic cupcake in a birthday variety. It’s a frosted speckled yellow cake with creamy filling complete with Hostess’ signature squiggle and tons of rainbow colored sprinkles.
How are they?
In some of my past reviews I have sometimes decreed something as a sugar bomb, but I need to rethink my definition because these things take the cake (and yes pun intended, of course). Between the squiggle, the sprinkles, the icing, and the cream on the inside, these were hard to eat and to be honest I had trouble finishing just one.
If there was more cake a la a regular Twinkie or a different flavor going on to break it all up, it wouldn’t be so bad. But sadly it’s just sugar on top of sugar on top of more sugar filled with sugar that overall tastes like sugar.
To be fair, I guess that’s what a tried a true birthday cake is but again with not enough of the cake part and in such a compact form it comes together as disappointing. The biggest offender though is the icing which has a little bit of vanilla flavor but is on the harder side and overall seems sort of stale. It reminds me of fondant which isn’t known to be delicious, but it makes up for it because it’s used to create insanely decorated cake masterpieces, of which these are not.
Is there anything else you need to know?
It’s not all birthday tears as there are some positives since the cake is sufficiently moist and Hostess didn’t skimp on the sprinkles, which are full size and represent every color of the rainbow.
Also, here’s some fun history about Hostess: Did you know the its cupcake was the first commercially produced one and it may have been the first snack cake ever introduced to the market? Although, rival Tastykake refutes this.
I love snack cakes, birthday things, and all things Hostess, but these are not that good unless you have an extreme sweet tooth as they’re pretty one-note taste-wise. They’re festive with the colorful adornments, but it’s nothing mind-blowing (hello, Funfetti) that you need to see in person like those cool slime Ghostbusters Twinkies from years’ past.
If you want to celebrate Hostess’ birthday, pick up the O.G. chocolate ones and hum happy birthday as you indulge. There’s a reason they’ve lasted a century.
Purchased Price: $2.97 Size: 13.1 oz. box/8 count Purchased at: Walmart Rating: 3 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1 cake) 190 calories, 9 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 23 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.