REVIEW: Brach’s Desserts of the World Jelly Beans

Want to go around the world without stepping foot through TSA?

Here is your option, people.

Brach’s has offered us an invitation to journey abroad, through France, America, Japan, Spain, and… wherever lemon sorbet comes from…

(\*Rushes to Google\*)

Italy! Yes, Italy is where lemon sorbet is from. And they all come in this one, simple baggie.

But before we begin tasting, you should know: my standards for jelly beans are of the highest order. I expect a crunchy candy outside, a slightly-grainy, but-not-too-grainy jelly inside, and zero flavors of artificial dyes. There should be little air and plenty of flavor. I want sugar and a lot of it. Plus, my nickname is Jelly Bean. I must uphold my good name!

So, with that rant done, let’s begin the taste test:

Lemon sorbet: tastes like a lemon drop. Super sweet, barely tangy. Not bad, but not mind-blowing.

Strawberry mochi: Tastes a bit like a strawberry milkshake and bubble gum sprinkled with Trix on top. It’s Hello Kitty in jelly bean form. I’m impressed.

Chocolate macaron: Tastes like a bad idea wrapped in a sugary wet paper bag. Or like a super sweet, yet stale Tootsie Roll that you find buried in that coat you were about to donate.

Apple pie: Tastes like an apple Jolly Rancher that dissolved in a glass of water. Mainly sugar, very little apple.

Churro: Interesting. Tastes like brown sugar. Lacks that oomph of freshly fried, cinnamon-coated dough. May make Spain cry tears of sadness.

On the whole, the texture of these is a little lumpy, chunky, and overly sweet, which is more disappointing than when you realize your car’s back tire got a nail in it last week and it’s been slowly, slowly deflating, but you don’t want to take it to the shop because rent’s due and nothing’s happened yet, right?? So you should be good…

Look, Brach’s gave it their best here. They get props for trying something new in a space where few do. However, the strawberry mochi pieces are the only ones I’d come back for. The texture of the beans was inconsistent, the lemon, apple, and churro were uneventful, and the chocolate macaron really brought the whole bag down. You can give these a try if you like eating stuff that’s disappointing, but maybe avoid them if you want to live a happy, non-disappointing life.

Purchased Price: $3.50
Size: 10 oz bag
Purchased at: Five Below
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (21 pieces) 110 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 5 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Nestle Coffee mate Zero Sugar Twix Coffee Creamer

What is it?

It is a dream.

A big dream.

Sure, sometimes we have dreams that are terrifying and recurring, thus inciting a visit to a therapist… BUT sometimes you’ll find a good dream. The good ones? We make them come true. Need proof? Take a look above. This was a dream made real at Coffee mate headquarters. In this subtle “cardboard box” shade of brown container, Twix has been made into liquid form. What mad science is this? Let’s find out…

How is it?

Kinda disappointing.

Look, I’m impressed by the smell. It has the exact poof of sugary fragrance that happens when you open a Twix wrapper: caramel, cocoa, all with a hint of cookie in the background.

But the taste? Well, I was hoping it would taste like a melted Twix. But no. Alone, it tastes like white sugar and some weak, weak NesQuik. In coffee, it tastes like what happens when you forget about a s’more in the fire and the whole thing comes out a mangled mess and then you accidentally set off the fire alarm from the s’mores and now the fire trucks are here and you have to deal with that AND the burnt s’mores. It’s just a feeling of overwhelming disappointment.

Anything else you should know?

If you just melt a Twix in the microwave, you’ll have a much more fulfilling experience.


Coffee mate really had an opportunity to bank on the Twix flavor. But it ended up tasting like cheap caramel with a dash of something brown. It was worth trying, if only to fulfill my unending sense of curiosity, but I wouldn’t go out of your way for this one. On the whole, this Twix-inspired creamer was ambitious, but not even Cookie Monster would touch this one.

Purchased Price: $3.98
Size: 32 fl oz
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 tbsp) 20 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 5 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Frankford Gummy Lunchables Cracker Stackers

Frankford Gummy Lunchables Box

Behold! Nostalgia in edible gelatin form!

I confess I tried every Lunchable as a kid. The crackers. The pizza. The tacos. And while I love lunch and I love gummies, do they go together? It is with a quiver in my soul and a trembling of my hands that I find out today!

Frankford Gummy Lunchables Tray

I appreciate that all the gummies have separate compartments, but those crackers look claustrophobic smooshed in there. Let’s take them out!

Frankford Gummy Lunchables Tall Stack

Sugar, dextrin, and yellow number 40. That’s what this little girl is made of, and thank goodness because these Lunchable gummies have plenty of it! They smell like Froot Loops and taste like what happens when you eat every Starburst and Skittle flavor in one gulp. I’m sure each shape is supposed to have a distinct flavor, but they all smell and taste the same: tangy, sweet, slightly citrus-y, not bad, but not amazing.

The texture is a mix of Haribo gummies, Fruit by the Foot, and those squishy candy corn pumpkins that I pluck out of the bag every year. After eating all of them, I have enough energy to hurl a jumbo jet across Central Park.

Aside from the obvious benefit of getting to shovel your face with flavored sugar, you also get to stack your gummy crackers into whatever formation you like. Like a Lego tower. Only not made of plastic. And not ridiculously expensive. So better than a Lego tower! Stacked together in a sandwich, they are about the size of an eyeball and, according to research, there are a lot of good reasons to eat neon-colored gummies the size of an eyeball.

Frankford Gummy Lunchables Small Stack

So if you want a Lunchable without the lunchbox, weirdly shaped turkey slices, or smelly school cafeteria, you can eat these and still feel a sense of triumph (or maybe that’s the sugar rush?). These may not have particularly distinct flavors, but the shape is unique, they’re fun to smoosh together, and they beat overcooked cafeteria green beans any day.

Purchased Price: $5.00
Size: 6.2 oz. pack
Purchased at: Five Below
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1/6 of the tray or 30 grams) 100 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 14 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

QUICK REVIEW: Sugar Cookie PEZ Candy

Sugar Cookie PEZ

What are Sugar Cookie PEZ?

Pressed dextrose hyperrectangles promising to taste like sweet, crisp sugar cookies. They are predominantly made of corn syrup and natural flavors and very well might steal a spot on your Santa cookie plate.

Sugar Cookie PEZ crunchies of sorrow

How are they?

Munching in, I’m… well, disheartened. It’s got the classic crunchy sweetness of PEZ, but tastes of very little. It’s not a sugar cookie flavor so much as it is a really crunchy Smartie. Not a fruity Smartie. The little taste-free white ones. Yes, it is very, very sugary (like a sugar cookie), but it comes without the key buttery nuttiness found in the aforementioned baked good.

I was hoping for something distinguishable, perhaps even a sweeter version of Popcorn Jelly Bellies, but these are just corn syrup with a bit of crunch and humbuggery.

Is there anything else you need to know?

These are admirably crunchy, yielding a chomp louder than four bowls of Cap’n Crunch. The dispenser also came with two other flavors so, if one doesn’t strike your fancy, you’ll still have a solid variety of others to give you a sugar burst throughout the day.

Sugar Cookie PEZ humbuggery


If you like to munch on unflavored, cavity-threatening sugar cubes straight from the bag, let it be known! PEZ has a flavor for you!

Yet, should you be hoping for a little more zing to your sugar cookie-inspired candy, these shall disappoint – they taste of very little aside from the corn syrup and don’t echo the buttery, nutty, sweet-and-salty majesty of sugar cookies enough to warrant them credit.

Moreover, if you leave Sugar Cookie PEZ out on your Christmas cookie plate, they’d make Santa sad. Don’t make Santa sad! Go getcha some Lofthouse cookies and don’t fret if you pass on these.

Sugar Cookie PEZ Pong

Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 1 Dispenser with 6 Candy Packets
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 4 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 roll) 35 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 0 gram of dietary fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Hostess Peanut Butter Ding Dongs

Hostess Peanut Butter Ding Dongs

Sometimes, life presents small, yet pressing emergencies that must be addressed at once: the printer is out of ink, your car engine’s sputtering fumes, your roommate ate all the popsicles on the first 80-degree day of spring (always share the popsicles!).

These are the everyday, yet highly significant crises, the things that cannot wait for some imagined perfect time on your agenda. And today? That crisis is the craving for peanut butter and chocolate. To ignore this need would be reprehensible, so let us not dilly-dally. Onward! To the snack cake!

Hostess Peanut Butter Ding Dongs 2

I have tried all the snack cakes – the rolls, the crispies, the fluffies, the strange holiday shapies — and, I dare say, this iteration is quite pleasant. While not nouveau or flashy by any means, this humble pastry circle does good on its promise to highlight the cake’s prima donna: chocolate and peanut butter.

Biting in, there’s an ample floof of creamy peanut butter filling much akin to peanut butter-fied frosting from the tub. Surrounding it is a milk chocolate-y coating that’s been drizzled together with peanut butter confection, which has enough nutty, cocoa-y chime to remind me why I shovel Reese’s into my mouth like a Hungry Hippo.

The chocolate portion of the coating is a tad thin, yet quite tasty. Sure, it’s not Ghirardelli by any stretch of the imagination, but it brings flavors of fudge, milk chocolate, chocolate frosting to the fore and, like all the Hostess goods of my youth, combines into an experience that is deliciously familiar and so crammed with sugar, I probably have enough energy to perform Riverdance blindfolded right now.

Now, the cake is another story. Maybe I got a crummy batch, but when it comes to being light and fluffy, this pastry has hitched a one-way ticket on the struggle bus. It’s dense, flavorless, and nothing more than ho-hum. That said, I didn’t expect some extravagant cake straight from the ovens of the Great British Bake-Off, especially when a pack of two is only 50 cents.

The cake’s really just a neutral vehicle to hold all the chocolate and peanut butter together, which it does quite well and for a super inexpensive price. So if, and I’m just thinking ahead, you know, thinking of us, you were to buy, say, 29 packs, it may prove to be one of the best decisions you’ve made in 2018.

Hostess Peanut Butter Ding Dongs 3

If you’ve ever been charmed (understandably) by a Reese’s, these are not going to replace the confection in the chocolate-and-peanut-butta-lovin’ pocket of your soul, but if you’d like a pretty good, no-nonsense snack cake, these are chocolate-y, peanut butter-y, and sturdy enough that you can add ice cream and they will not turn to mush.

Simple and to-the-point, they require little thought other than ripping open a little tag of cellophane and even make a nice breakfast on a Wednesday. And don’t we all deserve a nice breakfast on a Wednesday?

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cakes – 350 calories, 160 calories from fat, 18 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 36 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: 50 cents
Size: 2-pack
Purchased at: 99-Cent Store
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Chocolate coating. Peanut butter drizzle in coating. Frosting-like peanut butter floof inside. Reason to use “floof” in everyday language. Clogging Riverdance blindfolded.
Cons: Dense, flavorless cake. Could have greater ratio of chocolate coating. Discovering you’re out of printer ink. Roommates who eat all the popsicles without asking.