REVIEW: Doritos Crunch Nuts (Nacho Cheese & Crunch Nuts)

Doritos Crunch Nuts  Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch

Doritos has two new products — the Crunch Mix and Crunch Nuts. Not since Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Tacos have I ever been so excited for a new Doritos-branded product to hit the market.

My fellow reviewer was pleased with the new Doritos Crunch Mixes, but how does the star items in those, the Crunch Nuts, stand on their own? A Doritos Locos Taco home run? Or a Doritos Loaded strikeout?

Regardless of how they are, they do have cool packaging. It’s futuristic looking with a unique shape that’s square at the bottom but then tapers to completely flat at the top. Its shape and design makes it perfect for snacking in the car.

Upon opening up each container I got blasted with a strong peanut aroma. I could tell right off the bat both flavors have a significant amount of seasoning. The Nacho Cheese is intensely orange, while the Cool Ranch is a lighter tan with a few dark speckles. Each Crunch Nut has an outer crunchy coating that’s covered with seasoning and then an inner portion that’s a full peanut.

Doritos Nacho Cheese Crunch Nuts

With both varieties, they nailed the Doritos flavor as each one tastes exactly their chip counterpart. Also, the name Crunch Nuts isn’t a misnomer as the crunch on them is epic as well. I found the best way to eat these is to soak up the seasoning a bit on your tongue so you get the full flavor and then swing for the fences with your teeth to get the crunch.

Doritos Cool Ranch Crunch Nuts

Once you get to the peanut part, though, it starts striking out. It completely overpowers the shell. It’s as if the Doritos essence vanished and never happened. I mean, I love peanuts as much as anybody, but the flavors together for these aren’t working. The Cool Ranch ones fare a little bit better as the flavor lasts longer and seems to meld better with the peanut, but with Nacho Cheese, not so much. The more I ate, the stronger the peanut flavor got and so I could only eat a few before it bored me.

Doritos Crunch Nuts are nowhere near a home run. They’re more of a line drive that looks like a double and you run past first base on your way to second but then have to quickly shuttle back to first as you realize your hit wasn’t as deep into the gap as you thought.

(Nutrition Facts – about 3 Tbsp – Nacho Cheese – 130 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 4 grams of protein. Cool Ranch – 130 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 12 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.99 each
Size: 3 oz.
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Nacho Cheese)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Cool Ranch)
Pros: Futuristic packaging. Plentiful seasoning and great crunch. Baseball analogies.
Cons: Overpowering peanut flavor. Cheese flavor and peanuts not quite having a beautiful marriage. Not suited to be a solo act.

REVIEW: Snyder’s of Hanover Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Pretzel Pieces

Snyder s of Hanover Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Pretzel Pieces 1

Pumpkin Season is in full force and new this year is Snyder’s of Hanover’s Pumpkin Spice Pretzel Pieces, which got me excited since pretzels seemed to be an interesting and novel way to show of the much-loved flavor.

Recently, though, I have been tackling new pumpkin-flavored items with some hesitation because it seems like the flavor can vary greatly in execution. It’s best when the pumpkin-to-spice ratio is masterfully in sync, usually with one not overpowering the other. It also helps to have real pumpkin included. Let’s see how Snyder’s did.

Snyder s of Hanover Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Pretzel Pieces 2

As I break open the bag, I am hit with intense spice aroma. I can definitely smell the cinnamon and nutmeg. Pumpkin, though? Not so much. The pieces are all different shapes and sizes with a nice orange hue affixed to a majority of the pieces. It’s not bright enough to be mistaken for a cheesy seasoning, but not too dull either.

Snyder s of Hanover Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Pretzel Pieces 3

There’s also some dark speckling on top of the orange. As far as size, most of the pieces are bite-sized except for one that was still largely intact. As I stare at it more it kind of resembles a finger and with this being a fall flavor before Halloween it oddly fits right in.

The pieces are as crunchy as you would expect from a well-crafted sourdough hard pretzel. There’s a nice doughy kind of flavor that pops up as you break down the pieces in your mouth. Once you get it going after the crunch, the coating’s flavor comes through.

How does the flavor taste, exactly? Is it packed full of pumpkiny goodness? No, not really. Is there an explosion of earthy spices in your mouth? Maybe, but just a little.

Snyder s of Hanover Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Pretzel Pieces 4

Honestly, though, all I tasted was cinnamon. There was cinnamon, more cinnamon and then some more cinnamon all backed by the sweetness of sugar. I kept eating more to try to convince myself I could taste the pumpkin or some of the other spices, like nutmeg, especially because I had smelled it earlier. However, no luck.

It’s surprising because pumpkin powder is listed as one of the ingredients. In the end, though, these are just very, very good cinnamon pretzels with a nice festive orange color. Next year, these should be rebranded as festively colored cinnamon sugar pretzel pieces for Halloween. Either that or the pumpkin powder needs to move up the ingredient list significantly.

(Nutrition Facts – about 1/3 cup – 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 25 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, Less than 1 gram of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: 10 oz. bag
Purchased at: Shopfoodex.com
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Crunchy and delicious sourdough base. Pleasant orange coloring. Accidental shapes that turn out to be festive. Real pumpkin powder.
Cons: Off balanced pumpkin spice ratio. An aroma that didn’t match in taste. Faint to non-existent pumpkin flavor. Glorified cinnamon sugar pretzels.

REVIEW: Arby’s Cookie Butter Shake

Arby s Cookie Butter Shake

Arby’s releases a brand new cookie butter shake the very same week Oreo debuts its cookie butter cookies? Hmmm, very interesting.

Was it a mere coincidence? Or something more nefarious, like the cookie butter gods strong-arming companies into spreading their flavor for world domination????!!!! Then again, the flavor has kind of been growing in popularity so maybe that’s just it too.

The drink has a vanilla base mixed in with a cookie butter syrup and it is topped off with whipped cream and Biscoff cookie crumbles. It is described by Arby’s to be indulgently sweet with cinnamon spice. Following the debut of the Oreos that I thought were fantastic this shake has a tough act to follow.

Arby s Cookie Butter Shake 2

It’s off to a good start with the toppings. Even though the whipped cream is your run of the mill type, it happens to be very creamy and goes great with the Biscoff cookie crumbles that shine on the first bite. Arby’s definitely didn’t cut corners with these as going with the well-known Biscoff brand was a great choice. They are crunchy, very buttery, and have a noticeable cinnamon spice flavor at the end. The texture pairs greatly with the soft and fluffy whipped cream. I just wish there were more!

After eating most of the topping, I was excited to dive into the rest of the shake to continue my cookie butter adventure. Unfortunately, though, it was a kind of a letdown. My shake was a bit thick so it was a struggle to get it up through the straw. When I was able to suck it up you can definitely taste the vanilla base but after that it varies a lot between each sip.

Arby s Cookie Butter Shake 3

I could occasionally pick up some cinnamon and spice, but very faintly. There was definitely a more overt buttery flavor and it was tasty, but a tad too sweet at times. It just needed a little bit more of the spice because all the other flavors related to cookie butter shined through.

For example, if a friend handed me this and said it was a brand new butterscotch milkshake, I would be like “yum!” Or if they said just kidding it’s in fact a new caramel shake I would be like “delicious!” Cookie butter just didn’t immediately come to mind when thinking about the flavor of the shake itself.

Don’t think for a second, though, that I didn’t enjoy the shake as I finished the entire thing. All 960 calories and, good heavens, 139 grams of sugar of it. Next time this is available I’ll probably get a small and use it to wash down the cookie butter cream that I am scraping off the Oreo cookies to really hedge my bets and get maximum flavor. Oh, and also to please those cookie butter gods who went to a lot of effort for these to come about.

(Nutrition Facts – Large – 960 calories, 30 grams of fat, 20 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 670 milligrams of sodium, 155 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 139 grams of sugar, and 23 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.19
Size: Large
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Legit cookie pieces. A pretty delicious milkshake overall. Cookie butter gods trying to take over the world.
Cons: Shake flavor that kinda tastes like cookie butter but also kinda tastes like it could be at least three other things. Playing second fiddle to Oreo cookies. Calories and sugar content that is better left unacknowledged.

REVIEW: Mac n’ Cheetos Mac & Cheese Snacks (Creamy Cheddar & Flamin’ Hot)

Mac n Cheetos Mac  Cheese Snacks  Creamy Cheddar  Flamin Hot

The Cheetos brand has been on fire recently (pun intended, of course.) Its Mac & Cheese snacks have been rolled out at Burger King twice. There have been bizarre genius marketing tactics, like Cheetos-branded toilet paper and most recently a pop-up restaurant in New York. Since the restaurant is only a three-day event and I live hours away, though, I have to settle for the next best thing, Mac n’ Cheetos Mac & Cheese Snacks from the freezer aisle!

I tried them when they first launched at BK so I was excited to indulge again, especially with a new flavor. The shape is still a chunkily shaped cylinder with a slight curve and when preparing these snacks Frito-Lay really wants you to work for them as there are no microwave instructions. This does mean, though, that the outsides continue to be crispy and crunchy without being too greasy, which I was expecting.

Mac n Cheetos Mac  Cheese Snacks  Creamy Cheddar  Flamin Hot 2

The insides are full of mac and cheese creamy goodness and I mean that in every sense of the word. It’s an intense cheddar cheese flavor, very rich actually, and with the pasta it does somewhat reach into being quite heavy for a small bite.

However, when it’s bordering on too much, the outside breading always counteracts to save it. They work together really well and I always got a little jolt of excitement when seeing the round end of a macaroni piece unearth itself. The Flamin’ Hot ones have the same cheesy flavor on the inside but with a nice, albeit small, kick of heat from the outside breading.

Now, you’re probably thinking, ”Wow, Leonard is really digging these. I need to stop everything and run out to find these immediately!!!!” There’s no bones about it, these are great mac and cheese snacks and if that’s all they were I would be a very satisfied repeat customer.

Mac n Cheetos Mac  Cheese Snacks  Creamy Cheddar  Flamin Hot 3

However, Chester Cheetah is on the packaging and that’s when everything starts to crumble. The shape and even coloration are very uniform, which is a stark contrast from the original Cheetos snacks. The Flamin’ Hot do get some points for being closer, though, in appearance, with an almost glowing red hue. However, they also get points docked for the spice level. They should almost be called simmering ember instead as the heat is nowhere near the level of their bagged counterpart.

Sure, these are “dangerously cheesy” on the inside but not on the outside where I really wanted them to be. In fact, I couldn’t even find any Cheetle dust on my hands after eating these, which is a signature trait of the Cheetos eating experience. Instead there were just breading particles.

On a scale of 1 to 10 for how dirty my hands were with 1 being I just laid out china for a dinner on a yacht and 10 being I just finished finger painting with a toddler, my hands were maybe only a 5. I even tried licking the breading and got no cheese flavor. I was dangerously disappointed and sad. I don’t even have orange paw-printed toilet paper to wipe away my tears.

(Nutrition Facts – About 3 pieces – Creamy Cheddar – 260 calories, 13 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 520 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein. Flamin’ Hot – 240 calories, 11 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 650 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.98 each
Size: 14.4 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Creamy Cheddar)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Flamin’ Hot)
Pros: Great generic mac & cheese snacks. Crispy outsides and creamy insides really working together. Macaroni noodles occasionally making an appearance.
Cons: No Cheetle Dust. Dangerously small resemblance to actual Cheetos snacks. NO CHEETLE DUST. Temporary pop-up restaurants that aren’t local.

REVIEW: Lay’s Crispy Taco Potato Chips

Lay s Crispy Taco Potato Chips

First off, let me address the large potato chip in the room. Or seven potato chips, actually.

Lay’s decided to reveal the ten semi-finalists before announcing the top three and my taste buds were bouncing off the walls of my mouth with the imminent possibilities.

Smoked Gouda and Honey? Interesting, but still sounds yummy. Toasted Ravioli? Now you’re talking, Lay’s! Bring ‘em on! However, this new information soon turned to dread when the ten were whittled down to three.

This is it? The best you could do? Where’s the really off the wall flavor, like Cappuccino? Are you telling me Avocado Toast didn’t make it??? But it’s so trendy right now!!!

I was thoroughly disappointed. But, of course, I had to try the finalists.

Crispy Taco was the one I was the least excited about because it was probably just some of taco seasoning on a chip. Wow, how innovative Lay’s (here is exactly where I would be sending a side-eye emoji if I was texting my BFF). After opened the bag I got a big whiff of, yep, taco seasoning, just as I had suspected. The chips themselves are intensely covered with an red/orange color and a plethora of seasoning.

Lay s Crispy Taco Potato Chips 2

My first few bites were pretty uneventful. I only tasted taco seasoning. However, I was eating these with a friend who mentioned biting into a head of lettuce. I was very perplexed. But then, as I put another few in my mouth and focused, it hit me.

These are the Willy Wonka of potato chips! As in, instead of a three-course meal in one piece of chewing gum, these are potato chips that embody an entire crispy taco with all the toppings. Once you start chewing you get a little bit of the lettuce flavor then it morphs to the creaminess of some sour cream. I swear there were also tiny hints of cheese and tomato. The end of the bite turns into the common taco seasoning but you also get the meaty, ground beef flavor as well. There also seemed to be a bit of a corn taste representing the shell at the very, very end.

Lay s Crispy Taco Potato Chips 3

The more I ate these chips the more I liked them as it seemed like each time I would notice a new component in the flavor profile. The flavor is intense though, so I could only eat so many before it was too much to handle. I was also slightly concerned about succumbing to Violet Beauregarde’s fate and perhaps transforming into the world’s largest crispy taco that would have to be carted off somewhere for processing.

Even though my fingers are still crossed for Avocado Toast, these were fun and tasty. I’m sorry for suspecting they were made with just a simple seasoning packet, Lay’s.

I’ll never doubt you again!

(Nutrition Facts – about 15 chips – 150 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.48
Size: 7.75 oz. bag
Purchased at: ShopRite
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Willy Wonka’s chewing gum in taco-flavored chip form. Multiple layers of flavor. Not judging a potato chip by its boring flavor name. Eating new chips with friends.
Cons: ay’s pulling back the curtain on some of the Do Us a Flavor Competition while crushing dreams at the same time. Big flavor that is sometimes overpowering. Turning into a giant taco that can’t be simply juiced like a blueberry. RIP Avocado Toast. Not having emojis when you desperately need them.