REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition Red Velvet CupCakes

Hostess Limited Edition Red Velvet Cup Cakes

Now that both Christmas and New Year’s Eve have passed, it’s time to start planning for the next holiday: Valentine’s Day. This February 14, I got me a hot date with a box of Hostess Red Velvet CupCakes and back-to-back viewings of Road House. Perks of the single life.

Nah, I’m just kidding. I have a girlfriend, and she ain’t too crazy about Swayze. She’ll probably force me to watch The Notebook. At least I’ll have these red velvet cupcakes to keep me company while I suffer through lumberjack Ryan Gosling sucking Rachel McAdams’ face in the rain.

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The limited edition Red Velvet CupCakes are a spin on Hostess’ signature chocolate cupcakes — those ubiquitous, cream-filled treats decorated with a white swirl. The cakes are made of a red velvet base, topped with frosting, and filled with a cream center, all in an appropriate Valentine’s Day color scheme.

It only took a single bite for the disappointment to set in.

With regard to flavor, these red velvet cupcakes feel like a weak imitation of their chocolate counterparts. The sugary cream filling tastes identical, but the red velvet base and frosting offer only the slightest hint of chocolate. As a whole, the red velvet cupcake seems to highlight the flavor of the cream filling. Whereas the chocolate in the original cupcake masked many of the Hostess cake’s imperfections, the lighter red velvet cupcake emphasizes these flaws. The result is one unfulfilling snack: a dense, greasy cupcake with a one-dimensional sweetness.

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These cupcakes are boring and uninspired, and I honestly expected more from such a prominent brand. I’m well aware that red velvet cake is simply chocolate cake dyed red, but Hostess had the potential to be a bit more creative. Why not try a cream cheese frosting? Instead, we’ve been given a generic sugar frosting.

Hostess’ Red Velvet CupCakes bring nothing to the table aside from restrained flavors and a color swap — both pointless modifications to the staple chocolate cupcake. (Not literal staples. It’s never a good idea to mix office supplies and desserts. I discovered this the hard way, after my infamous Paperclip Tiramisu sent five people to the hospital for stomach surgery.)

They’re not unbearable. I just see no reason to buy these in favor of Hostess’ chocolate cupcakes, which are clearly the superior snack cakes.

This Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to forego these cupcakes and spend your money elsewhere. May I recommend a DVD copy of Road House?

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cake – 170 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of total fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 130 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 22 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Hostess Limited Edition Red Velvet CupCakes
Purchased Price: $2.98
Size: 8 cakes/box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Taste like imitation Hostess chocolate cupcakes.
Cons: Lighter flavor highlights the flaws of Hostess’ cakes. Uninspired color change. Generic frosting, not cream cheese flavored. Paperclip Tiramisu.

REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition Cherry Chocodile Twinkies

Hostess Limited Edition Cherry Flavored Chocodile Twinkies

Dear Hostess,

I would like to commend your recent decision to revive Chocodiles, those chocolate-coated, cream-filled sponge cakes. Their reappearance was honestly the most surprising comeback of something dead since Hologram Tupac did a little dance at Coachella. Kids these days, am I right?

But alas, all is not right with the world. Though our precious chocolate-covered Twinkies have returned, the beloved mascot of Chocodile snack cakes, Chauncey Chocodile, remains missing. Many years ago, you chose to remove his image from both Chocodiles boxes and the Hostess website, and he hasn’t been seen since. Without a goofy, spectacles-wearing, anthropomorphic crocodile encouraging the American youth to consume sugary treats, we are lost.

Where is Chauncey? Is he locked away in some Hostess factory basement, surviving on a diet of Zingers and stale fruit pies? Is his disappearance a result of witness protection, having seen countless victims fall to the gun-slinging Twinkie the Kid? Rumors have spread that Chauncey’s been spotted smuggling Ho Hos into North Korea alongside Captain Cupcake and King Ding Dong, but I have my doubts — everybody knows Kim Jong Un prefers Little Debbie products.

Hoping to discover a clue related to his disappearance, I recently purchased a package of Limited Edition Cherry Chocodile Twinkies. To my disappointment, I found no hostage letters inside. The box only held nine chocolate-covered sponge cakes filled with cherry-flavored cream.

Though my quest for answers will not be smothered by snack foods made with hydrogenated oil and xanthan gum, I decided to eat the cakes anyway.

Chauncey’s catchphrase was “it takes a while to eat a Chocodile,” but I’m afraid I have to disagree. Each cake is a meager 1.45 ounces, whereas the original Chocodiles were 2 ounces. Even so, I can’t decry the portion size. The snack cakes are so sugary sweet that 1.45 ounces is plenty.

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I expected the cherry flavor to be exaggerated, with a cough syrup-like sharpness, but it was surprisingly subtle. Each bite contained an ample amount of the cherry filling, which offers a creaminess reminding me of cherry-flavored buttercream. The fruity filling feels natural alongside the chocolate and sponge cake flavors of a traditional Chocodile.

Cherry and chocolate is one flavor pairing that just works, and Cherry Chocodiles are no exception to the rule. Chauncey would be impressed.

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My only complaint is that the chocolate feels low quality. As a previous review mentioned, the Chocodile chocolate glaze is somewhat waxy. After consuming just a single Chocodile, I felt the chocolate clinging to the back of my throat in a disagreeable fashion. Hostess, once you take care of this Chauncey Chocodile issue, you should probably get to work on improving your chocolate.

Ah, crap. I’ve digressed a bit. Anyway, back to my main point.

I beseech you, Hostess. Prove to the public you have nothing to hide and disclose the whereabouts of Chauncey Chocodile. It’s time for his visage to once again adorn the boxes of Chocodiles lining the aisles of my local gas station convenience store.

Sincerely,

A concerned citizen

PS – I expect to see a hologram Chauncey take the stage with Dre and Snoop at the next Coachella. Just sayin’.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cake – 160 calories, 70 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Hostess Limited Edition Cherry Chocodile Twinkies
Purchased Price: $2.98
Size: 9 cakes
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Ample filling in each bite. Subtle, creamy cherry flavor. Cherry and chocolate pairing works. Hologram Tupac.
Cons: Waxy chocolate clings to back of throat. The unexplained disappearance of a Hostess mascot.

REVIEW: McDonald’s Mozzarella Sticks

McDonald’s Mozzarella Sticks 1

McRibs, McNuggets, McFlurries — I love ‘em all. Want to know the truth? Just slap a “Mc-” prefix in front of any remotely edible substance and I’ll gladly give it a taste. McPossum, anyone?

And that’s why I’m slightly upset that these McDonald’s Mozzarella Sticks aren’t actually called “McMozzSticks” or a similar clumsily-formed name. According to The Wire, these breaded, fried strips of cheese are currently being test-marketed at select McDonald’s restaurants in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.

Because I happen to live in the state that gave the world Bruce Springsteen, Tony Soprano, and Teresa Giudice, I’ve been granted the privilege of trying these mozzarella sticks. By the way, do you guys want Teresa Giudice? We’ve had enough of her.

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For only a single dollar, I received three tiny mozzarella sticks and a packet of marinara dipping sauce. According to the accompanying cardboard box, the mozzarella sticks are made with “real mozzarella.” I’m glad to see McDonald’s chose to forego using fake mozzarella in their product. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a fake. That’s why I threw out all of my Milli Vanilli CDs, refuse to buy Chanel handbags in Chinatown, and will only look Pamela Anderson straight in the eyes.

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Lucky for me, McDonald’s Mozzarella Sticks were nothing but the real deal. The breading was well-seasoned and evident in each bite, but stopped short of overwhelming the mozzarella flavor. Although the mozzarella sticks weren’t hot enough for the cheese inside to ooze, they were still warm enough to be satisfying. The exterior was slightly crisp from the fryer, and each mozzarella stick maintained its shape when handled. Let’s face it — nobody wants a soggy, flaccid cheese stick. (Ladies?)

Though smaller in size than I had anticipated, the mozzarella sticks had exceeded my expectations, rivaling more expensive versions of the same product sold at other chain restaurants. I was ecstatic, floating in a state of cheesy bliss…

Then, I made a mistake.

I dipped my second mozzarella stick into the marinara sauce.

There are no words to describe the pain.

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I’ve eaten a lot of McDonald’s products over the years. Many of them were delicious, many of them were tolerable, but very few were truly awful. Alas, this single packet of marinara sauce is the undisputed worst-tasting item I’ve ever experienced at a McDonald’s restaurant. (As a disclaimer, I’ve never tried that strange-looking black hamburger McDonald’s Japan recently launched.)

Each taste of McDonald’s marinara sauce brings to mind overcooked tomato sauce saturated with excessive amounts of oregano in an attempt to cover up the flawed flavor. As opposed to the smooth, tomato essence of a slow-cooked red sauce, McDonald’s marinara is slightly bitter, producing a mild burning sensation at the back of the throat. In short, McDonald’s has failed to replicate any positive aspect of an Italian marinara sauce. Their bastardization would make your little Italian grandmother cry for an hour, beat Ronald McDonald with a rolling pin, and then beat you with a rolling pin — just for good measure.

Disregarding the botched marinara sauce, these McDonald’s mozzarella sticks are worth a try. Sure, they might be small, but their low price makes the temptation of buying twenty-five boxes hard to resist. If these become a regular item on the McDonald’s menu, I will definitely order them again.

But take heed of my warning: if you ever purchase these mozzarella sticks, please, for the love of God, just throw out the sauce.

(Nutrition Facts – No nutritional info available on McDonald’s USA website.)

Item: McDonald’s Mozzarella Sticks
Purchased Price: $1.00
Size: N/A
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Mozzarella and seasoned breading evident in each bite. Not limp and flaccid. Only one dollar for three. None of that fake mozzarella nonsense.
Cons: Cheese doesn’t ooze. Marinara sauce is indescribably awful. Rolling pin beatings.

REVIEW: Wendy’s BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich

Wendy's BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich

There are several places I never want to find pulled pork, including a high school cafeteria, the bathroom, and inside an open wound. Fortunately, Wendy’s has nothing to do with these three things.

Similar to Denny’s fascination with bacon, Wendy’s has a newfound obsession with pulled pork. This autumn season, Wendy’s fast food restaurants will be offering a limited-time only menu including BBQ Pulled Pork Cheese Fries, a BBQ Pulled Pork Cheeseburger, and a BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich. At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if Wendy’s introduced a pulled pork Frosty before the month ends. Wait a second…

Oh, Wendy. You sassy, redheaded minx.

Before I continue my review, I must confess: pulled pork has always confused me. Yes, it’s delicious, but I’ve never understood which part of the pig must be pulled in order to procure said barbecued meat. Behind the ears? No. Under the stomach? Nope. Between the legs? Good lord, no!

Still pondering the anatomy of hogs, I found myself inside a local Wendy’s restaurant. With five dollars in my pocket and the hunger-pangs in full effect, I decided it was high-time to try the new BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich, which features hickory-smoked pulled pork meat, a layer of coleslaw, and a toasted brioche bun. Each sandwich is finished with one of three sauces: smoky, spicy, or sweet.

The sandwich arrives in a red, cardboard box decorated with Wendy’s smiling mug. Opening this package reveals the pulled pork sandwich in all its glory, topped with a grease-soaked bun that glistens in the sunlight.

The pulled pork itself is smoky and meaty. A praiseworthy approximation of barbecue flavor, it lacks the dry, chewy qualities I’ve noticed of low-quality pulled pork. Sure, Wendy’s pulled pork might not be as succulent and flavorful as pulled pork from the finest Southern barbecue joints, but it certainly holds its own.

The pork flavor is enhanced by the sweet sauce, which has a pleasant tang reminiscent of the sauce found on both the McRib and Burger King BBQ Rib Sandwich. The amount of sauce on my pulled pork sandwich was just right; the meat was not supersaturated with sauce, but I was still able to taste the barbecue sauce flavor. The only drawback was that the sweet sauce seemed a bit lukewarm when compared to the meat. I suspect the sauce wasn’t heated before the sandwich was assembled. As I continued to eat, the residual heat from the pulled pork slightly improved the sauce’s temperature, but the first few bites were subpar.

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In comparison to both the pulled pork and sauce, the coleslaw is a letdown. Its flavor is subdued and one-note, hardly noticeable in a mouthful of smoky pork. Its main contribution to the sandwich is textural, adding a light crunch to each bite. Even so, it fails to seem as crisp as the freshest of coleslaws.

My sandwich’s contents occasionally spilled out mid-bite, but this cannot be seen as a flaw — pulled pork is an inherently messy food. Luckily, the cardboard box conveniently doubles as a tray. You will receive full protection from falling meats, just in case you decide to eat the pulled pork sandwich while in the nude, all alone in your empty apartment on a Friday night.

I finished my Wendy’s BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich feeling fulfilled. Though the coleslaw topping lacked bite, the sandwich’s balance of smoky pork and tangy sauce was deeply gratifying. For a fast food take on a Southern classic, Wendy’s pulled it off. The BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich rivals other barbecue sandwiches I’ve tasted at a competitive price.

As a disclaimer, I want to assure the reader that neither I, nor The Impulsive Buy, endorse the pulling of pigs. Furthermore, we have never engaged in any form of hog-yanking activity. Please be kind to our animal friends, no matter how tasty.

(Nutrition Facts – 410 calories, 120 calories from fat, 14 grams of total fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 4.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 1230 milligrams of sodium, 360 milligrams of potassium, 48 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 17 gram of sugar, and 24 grams of protein.)

Item: Wendy’s BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich
Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Smoky pulled pork flavor. Tangy sauce. Perfect amount of sauce. Eating in the nude?
Cons: Lukewarm sauce. Coleslaw flavor is one-note. Ethical dilemmas of pulling pigs.

REVIEW: Sonic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups & Chocolate Waffle Cone Sundae

Sonic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups & Chocolate Waffle Cone Sundae 1

An ice cream sundae is nothing without its cone. Well, except if it’s in a cup. That’s why Madonna’s cone-bra was so ingenious — it was both cones and cups at the same time. For sanitary reasons, I should probably advise against eating ice cream out of anything that’s been near Madonna’s chest.

For a limited time, Sonic restaurants will be offering the new Waffle Cone Sundae in three flavor combinations: M&M’s Candies & Strawberry, Snickers Bar & Caramel, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups & Chocolate. If you would like to take a walk on the wild side, you can also choose to customize your Waffle Cone Sundae. Or, if you’re bland, boring, and allergic to fun, you can order a plain vanilla Waffle Cone Sundae, devoid of all toppings, for only a single dollar less.

Me? I stand somewhere in the middle. I enjoy an occasional thrill, but I’m nowhere near crazy enough to try crowd-surfing at a Yo-Yo Ma concert. That’s why I went with a pre-made flavor: the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups & Chocolate Waffle Cone Sundae.

Hmm. Sonic certainly didn’t spare the peanut butter cup topping. As soon as the carhop handed me the ice cream cone, little bits of Reese’s started falling all over the place — probably the reason why he thrust a handful of napkins in my face a few seconds later.

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I needed those napkins, too. The waffle cone itself is crisp, yet fragile. On several occasions, a single bite caused large portions of the cone to shatter. I had mistakenly left my Patrick Bateman gloves at home, so I found myself licking frantically to prevent vanilla ice cream from dripping all over my beautiful, bare hands.

Even with such a delicate cone, the ice cream never leaked out of the bottom. This was convenient, as I didn’t want to be burdened with the task of explaining the origin of sticky, white stains on the car seats to my leasing agent.

The flavor of the Waffle Cone Sundae’s vanilla soft serve base is complemented by both the peanut butter cup bits and the chocolate syrup. The first few bites combine the two toppings in perfect proportion, a familiar blend of chocolate and peanut flavors.

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Regrettably, the balance doesn’t last for too long, as the top layer of the sundae disappears quickly. What remains is little more than plain vanilla ice cream in a plain waffle cone — a dessert as boring as the Christmas with Colonel Sanders vinyl record. (There was so much potential. The Little Drumstick Boy? The Twelve Days of Chicken? These songs practically write themselves.) To attain a more thorough distribution of flavors, Sonic would have been better off swirling the toppings into the vanilla ice cream base.

I was disappointed to find that the waffle cone seems weakly flavored, smothered by the vanilla ice cream during most bites. As the cone begins to double-up in an overlap toward its bottom, the waffle flavor becomes more apparent, but the cone merely serves as a vessel to hold ice cream for the majority of the sundae.

The most attractive aspect of Sonic’s Waffle Cone Sundae is the price. Ice cream isn’t always cheap in today’s economy, and I definitely don’t want to resort to eating those questionable Walmart ice cream sandwiches whenever I’m craving frozen dairy treats. For just a few cents under three dollars, the Waffle Cone Sundae is a bargain.

Despite all of its flaws, the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups & Chocolate Waffle Cone Sundae remains a satisfying and inexpensive ice cream cone. Both the quantity of toppings and the waffle cone itself were less than ideal, but for the price, its peanut butter and chocolate flavor is sufficient.

On the first day of Chicken,
The Colonel sent to me:
12 pounds of gravy,
11 herbs and spices,
10 tubs of white meat,
9 thighs and drumsticks,
8 buttermilk biscuits,
7 Chicken Littles,
6 wings and sauces,
5 DOUBLE DOOOOOOOWNS!
4 Famous Bowls,
3 Go Cups,
2 pot pies,
and a bucket of Original Recipeeeeee.

(Nutrition Facts – Not available on Sonic website.)

Item: Sonic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups & Chocolate Waffle Cone Sundae
Purchased Price: $2.89
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Sonic
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Tasty chocolate and peanut butter flavors. Inexpensive. Twelve Days of Chicken.
Cons: Fragile cone. Just plain ice cream after top layer. Forgetting my Patrick Bateman gloves at home.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Jif Whips Maple Brown Sugar

Limited Edition Jif Whips Maple Brown Sugar

Most people know maple syrup as a sticky substance coveted by Canadians, the official currency of Vermont, and something that Kanye West sips when somebody orders pancakes. Though nothing can quite take the place of that precious Acer saccharum sap, Jif envisions a world where hungry citizens never have to resort to dousing their pancakes in syrup to receive their daily dose of maple flavor.

New Limited Edition Jif Whips Maple Brown Sugar blends the traditional flavor of peanut butter with hints of brown sugar and maple, all in a whipped peanut butter form. In contrast to its non-whipped counterpart, whipped peanut butter is considerably more light and airy. As a result, it spreads effortlessly onto both white bread and body parts.

Even the packaging of Jif Whips Maple Brown Sugar helps make the peanut butter experience a bit less painful. No longer will you find yourself struggling to scrape the last bits of peanut butter from the bottom of a glass jar — the wide plastic tub provides easy access to the whipped peanut butter from all angles. It’s the work of German engineers, I’m sure.

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Peeling off the lid, we discover that Jif Whips Maple Brown Sugar shares the same off-putting, scatalogical appearance with the last Jif Whips I reviewed. Only this time, the nut butter more closely resembles what I find in my backyard when the neighbor kids feed tan crayons to my dog. In other words, Jif Whips Maple Brown Sugar looks like a big ol’ pile of pale brown shadoobie.

Jif Whips Maple Brown Sugar’s scent is pungent, a mixture of peanut butter and maple aromas — as if Mrs. Buttersworth decided to play with Mr. Peanut, if ya know what I mean.

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In comparison to this scent, the flavor of Jif Whips Maple Brown Sugar seems less intense. Initially, the taste is nutty and sweet, like any typical peanut butter mixed with a touch of maple syrup. I was expecting the maple flavor to seem either exaggerated or artificial, but fortunately, it was neither. A spoonful of this legume spread culminates with a hint of molasses, alluding to the advertised brown sugar flavor. On the tongue, the whipped peanut butter feels somewhat less viscous than traditional peanut butter, but coats the throat identically.

I’m not a huge fan of maple flavor — I tend to resist it outside of maple syrup. Even so, I have to admit that Jif Whips Maple Brown Sugar is pretty dang good. This whipped peanut butter would pair nicely with ice cream, crackers, cookies, babies, and countless additional snack foods. It even tastes great in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, as maple complements the fruity flavor of jelly surprisingly well. All things considered, I highly recommend Jif Whips Maple Brown Sugar. Disregarding the defecatory appearance, this is one flavored peanut butter worthy of praise.

Jif, you’ve made me a fan of your crazy, new-fangled peanut butter. I realize now that when a problem comes along, I must whip it.

Before the cream sets out too long, I must whip it.

When something’s goin’ wrong, I must whip it.

Whip it. Whip it good.

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(Nutrition Facts – 2 Tbsp (24 grams) – 140 calories, 100 calories from fat, 12 grams of total fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 95 milligrams of sodium, 6 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.)

Item: Limited Edition Jif Whips Maple Brown Sugar
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 15 ounces
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Easier to spread than traditional peanut butter. Balanced maple flavor. Devo references.
Cons: Resembles tan dog feces. Body parts covered in peanut butter.