REVIEW: Starbucks Tie-Dye Frappuccino

Starbucks Tie Dye Frappuccino

I have great news – I’ve recently opened an Instagram account! I may be a bit behind the curve, but late is better than never, and it seems I’ve joined up just in time to fully appreciate Starbucks’ newest Instagrammable blended beverage — the Tie-Dye Frappuccino.

Starbucks Tie Dye Frappuccino Shirt

Working at a store where rainbow-wearing hippies are the norm, I’m no stranger to tie-dye. In fact, I own quite a few tie-dye shirts of my own and even decided to wear one to Starbucks in hopes of matching my drink. Those hopes began to fall as I saw several people with staggeringly yellow Frapps walk by as I waited my turn in line.

Observing the lone, harried barista create my drink, I realized the tie-dye effect isn’t created by blending together multiple colors of syrup. Instead, multicolored sanding sugar was shaken onto the bottom and sides of my cup before a deluge of neon-yellow Frappuccino base was dumped on top. The colors start to bleed after everything settles for a minute, and, TAH-DAH! You’ve got a tie-dye drink.

Well, you’re supposed to have one, anyway.

Starbucks Tie Dye Frappuccino Blue Streaks

My drink, like those of the people in line before me, was colored Big Bird yellow and had only a light bluish tint going along one side of the cup. Completely missing were the vibrant reds, oranges, and greens promised by Starbucks’ in-store promotional material.

Starbucks Tie Dye Frappuccino Foam

The extra dusting of sanding sugar shaken on top of the whip was the most tie-dye thing about my drink, and even that looks like it could have been stolen off the Unicorn Frappuccino, which, by the way, was so influential in fast food history that it has its own Wikipedia page.

Although it’s hard to set looks aside concerning a treat with such visually focused marketing, the Tie-Dye Frappuccino actually tastes pretty good. It’s sweet – which is no surprise since a Tall has over 39 grams of sugar – but not cloyingly so, and it’s got a pleasant hint of banana that keeps it from tasting as blah as it looks.

I wouldn’t order this over my usual Cold Brew with Cold Foam but found it to be a pleasant departure from what I typically order, and thought it was especially refreshing on a hot and muggy July afternoon.

Even though Starbucks’ Tie-Dye Frappuccino may not be groovy enough to inspire everyone to forget their differences and love each other à la Woodstock-style, it’s still an enjoyable summer treat, and worth giving a shot while it’s still around.

Purchased Price: $4.95
Size: Tall (12 oz.)
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (Tall beverage with whip) 280 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of total fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 41 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 39 grams of total sugars, 4 grams of protein, and 0 milligrams of caffeine.

REVIEW: Kellogg’s Limited Edition Froot Loops Birthday Cake Cereal

Kellogg s Limited Edition Froot Loops Birthday Cake Cereal

What is Kellogg’s Froot Loops Birthday Cake Cereal?

Proudly serving as a fruity-smelling part of balanced breakfasts since 1963, Froot Loops has recently expanded beyond its usual selection of nonspecifically fruity breakfast cereals by releasing its new Strawberry Birthday Cake flavor, which, per the back of the box, promises to give the best that Kellogg’s has to offer in every bite.

How is it?

Kellogg s Limited Edition Froot Loops Birthday Cake Cereal 2

This certainly isn’t the best looking cereal Kellogg’s has to offer. Surprisingly pallid in comparison to the original, this cereal appears better suited for a funeral than any other celebration. Like many birthday cake-inspired cereals, each piece sports cute little sprinkles, but not nearly enough to stand out unless you examine them under a magnifying glass.

Kellogg s Limited Edition Froot Loops Birthday Cake Cereal 3

Similar to their depressing appearance, these Loops flop on the flavor front. In contrast to the nondescript yellow cake flavor often implemented by other cereals, this early morning sugar bomb attempted to remain true to its fruit-forward roots by utilizing strawberry cake as its inspiration. Since strawberry is a more definable flavor than “fruity” is, it’s too bad a negligible amount of strawberry flavor comes though here. It’s detectable, but not very strong, and certainly not distinct enough for someone to immediately think of strawberries while eating this.

Is there anything else you should know?

I take issue with these being specified to taste like Strawberry Birthday Cake. I may not be able to speak for everyone, but who considers strawberry as the flavor of choice for such celebratory cakes? Yellow cake is served at birthday parties. Save the strawberry cakes for summer barbeques.

Conclusion:

Kellogg s Limited Edition Froot Loops Birthday Cake Cereal 4

As an uglier, less flavorful take on a timeless classic, there’s no reason for Birthday Cake Froot Loops to exist. It’s only too bad this dud of a cereal didn’t sport a dodo as its mascot, because it’ll probably go the same way as them in a few months.

Purchased Price: $2.50
Purchased at: Food Lion
Size: 10.1 oz.
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts:: (1 1/3 cup) 150 calories, 1.5 grams of total fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 0 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 13 grams of total sugars, 12 grams of added sugars, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: KIND Frozen Dark Chocolate Almond Sea Salt Bar

KIND Frozen Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Bar

What is the KIND Frozen Dark Chocolate Almond Sea Salt Bar?

No, these counterparts to the famous fruit and nut bars aren’t shelved next to the ice cream by mistake. Instead, this Walmart-exclusive novelty requires frozen storage, and features an ample sprinkling of chocolate-drizzled almonds and peanuts atop a creamy almond base.

How is it?

Unassuming appearance aside, one bite is all it takes to realize these are definitely at home sandwiched in-between the frozen dessert aisle’s typical guilty pleasures. Unlike KIND’s flagship line of bars, which I feel generally emulate eating a brick of compressed bird seed, the addition of an almond-based frozen dessert layer, as well as generous amounts of dark chocolate, keep this experience 100% indulgent from beginning to end.

KIND Frozen Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Bar Halved

The almond base is really where KIND hits it out of the park. Rather than resembling an icy, chalky brick like most supposedly “creamy” plant-based frozen desserts, it’s smooth, silky, and melty as soon as it hits your tongue. Part of this superb texture may be attributable to the addition of milkfat, which makes this a rare KIND offering that doesn’t cater to the dairy-intolerant.

KIND Frozen Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Bar Top

The nuts on top provide a pleasant crunch to contrast against the creamy almond layer, and help accentuate the light nutty taste of the base itself. On the bottom, the dark chocolate coating provides an extra bit of snap, and a pleasant bittersweet note to offset the treat’s sweeter aspects.

Is there anything else you need to know?

One not-so-great thing about this treat’s readiness to melt is that it’s nearly impossible to get home without having it going completely soft. Luckily, re-freezing it doesn’t seem to hurt its texture too much, so this shouldn’t be too much of a problem as long as you’re okay with less-than-picture-perfect bars.

Conclusion:

Do the KIND thing for your body and soul by picking up a couple bars the next time you stop by your local Walmart. Just be sure to bring a cooler to carry them home in.

Purchased Price: $1.37
Purchased at: Walmart
Size: 1 bar (49 grams)
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts:: (1 bar) 190 calories, 12 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 6 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 75 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 11 grams of total sugars, 10 grams of added sugars, and 4 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Mtn Dew Liberty Brew

Mtn Dew Liberty Brew

What is Mtn Dew Liberty Brew?

Honoring all fifty states Dewnited under the Dew Nation flag, this limited edition brew promises to do its country proud by packing each bottle with 50 different flavors and enough Blue #1 to put Old Glory to shame.

How is it?

Much like shave ice in Hawaii, which you can mix and match all kinds of syrups, it’s hard to decipher where one flavor in Liberty Brew ends and another begins. If I had to pick, Blue Raspberry is probably the most prominent one of the bunch, but everything’s so blended together that it’s hard to pick any individual taste out.

Mtn Dew Liberty Brew Glass

Lacking the slight citrus-lime punch featured in regular Mountain Dew, Liberty Brew somehow seems even sweeter by comparison, and no aspect of it made me want to finish my bottle. Actually, it kind of reminds me of a melted Blue Raspberry ICEE, just without the disappointment of anticipating a frozen treat and finding out the machine is broken.

Is there anything else you should know?

This is a drink best enjoyed in one sitting. Despite the cap, it gets flat pretty quickly, and I thought it began to taste unsettlingly close to cough syrup once it wasn’t fizzy anymore.

Conclusion:

Despite its distinctly patriotic branding, I’d skip on offering Mtn Dew Liberty Brew at cookouts and gatherings this summer. Just stick to buying the original stuff.

Purchased Price: $1.88
Purchased at: Walmart
Size: 20 fl. oz.
Rating: 4 out of 10
Nutrition Facts:: (1 bottle) 280 calories, 0 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 90 milligrams of sodium, 75 grams of total carbohydrates, 75 grams of sugars, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Stuffed Puffs Filled Marshmallows

Stuffed Puffs Filled Marshmallows

What are Stuffed Puffs Filled Marshmallows?

Forget about Kraft’s Jet-Puffed, because these puffs are packing some serious stuff! Chocolate stuff, that is.

Created to be the perfect companion for celebratory bonfires and unexciting graham crackers alike, these pillowy cylinders of fluff feature a melt-ready chocolate filling packed into a soft marshmallow shell.

How are they?

In terms of packaged snacks, marshmallows are so simple that it’s hard to think of too many things to critique them on. Nearly all brands seem to be identical in appearance and made almost purely of sugar. In fact, they don’t even have to be different, because they’re generally accepted to be a homogenous kind of treat.

Stuffed Puffs Filled Marshmallows Puff

And so, Factory LLC deserves applause for bringing something different into the mallow game. Flavored marshmallows are almost standard by this point, but filled ones are still novel and unique. Better yet, the filling here helps accentuate the best aspects of a marshmallow’s vanilla flavor and chewy texture, and it even tastes pretty darn good all by itself.

Stuffed Puffs Filled Marshmallows Innards

Rather than using either a rock-solid or lava-like filling, Factory LLC instead decided to go with something in-between, creating a center that resembles a whipped Hershey bar in the process. Melting almost instantly on your tongue, it’s pleasantly creamy and smooth and showcases the use of real cocoa and cocoa butter. Honestly, if the filling itself was for sale, I’d buy it so that I could frost cupcakes with it. It’s that good!

Is there anything else you should know?

To test the package’s claim of being “Great for S’ mores!” I decided to roast a few over a backyard fire, intending to fashion them in-between some slightly stale graham crackers I had found languishing in the back of my snack cabinet. Sadly, I found it pretty much impossible to thoroughly toast one without having it fall off my roasting stick, tumbling into the roaring flames below. The issue was the center – it liquefied before the marshmallow was completely toasted, and the thin, melting exterior of the treat was insufficient to support the puff’s weight on my stick.

Stuffed Puffs Filled Marshmallows S mores

After multiple attempts, I gave up and ultimately broiled them in the toaster oven. This method worked much better, allowing the puffs to melt evenly onto graham crackers without needing to support their weight. Here, they did make for delicious s’ mores, complete with all the gooey, melty, sticky messiness that separates mediocre s’ mores from genuinely great ones.

Conclusion:

If you’re on the hunt for a switch-up from standard marshmallows and are willing to swing for the higher price tag, then I’d say these are worth a buy. Just don’t expect to be able to use them in place of typical campfire marshmallows, because they are better suited for indoor toasting.

Purchased Price: $3.98
Purchased at: Walmart
Size: 10 oz.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts:: (2 pieces) 150 calories, 6 grams of total fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 15 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 19 grams of total sugars, 19 grams of added sugars, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Red, White & Blueberry and Ice Cream Sammie

Ben  Jerry s Red White  Blueberry and Ice Cream Sammie

As spring winds down and electricity bills ramp up from air conditioning, grocery stores nationwide are busy curating their ice cream supplies to make room for this season’s newest releases.

Walmart is no exception, and it’s entirely appropriate that it, as the most distinctly “American” superstore, be the exclusive distributor of Ben & Jerry’s two newest pints celebrating summer in the USA.

Red, White & Blueberry

This Old Glory-themed pint blends pieces of shortbread cookies with raspberry, blueberry, and vanilla ice creams. Colorful name aside, this appears woefully pale under the lid, and its taste is similarly one-note.

Ben  Jerry s Red White  Blueberry

Rather than enhancing the more interesting blueberry and raspberry ice cream swirls, the intense vanilla base comprised roughly 70% of this pint’s volume, and almost entirely masked every unique component promised in this flavor’s description.

Granted, Ben & Jerry’s makes an excellent vanilla ice cream (so excellent, in fact, that Delish.com declared it to be the best vanilla ice cream you can buy in stores), but nobody is buying this Walmart-exclusive because they want something so…vanilla.

Blueberry is a woefully underrepresented flavor in the frozen dessert aisle, and I was hoping for this to be its moment to break out into the limelight. Sadly, the only blueberries I found were in the swirl’s light purple color. Somehow, the raspberry ice cream was even more indecipherable. I didn’t see a single trace of pink or red in my entire container.

Even the shortbread pieces seemed uninspired. Although not entirely terrible, they were soggy, lacked any notion of creativity, and didn’t seem up to par with Ben & Jerry’s usual “everything plus the kitchen sink” attitude.

Ice Cream Sammie

Supposedly a more expensive and less portable spin on the classic childhood treat, Ice Cream Sammie combines chocolate sandwich cookies and chocolate cookie swirls into a base of rich vanilla ice cream.

Ben  Jerry s Ice Cream Sammie

Like Red, White & Blueberry, this flavor also failed to live up to my expectations. Unlike its sister pint, however, the issue here isn’t from lack of flavor. Rather, the true nature of this pint is misrepresented by its name. The cookies used here are basically Oreo-like, not true ice cream sandwich wafers. That difference may seem minor, but the impact it has on how this ice cream comes across is enormous.

Rather than reminding me of actual ice cream sandwiches, this is more like Cookies ‘N Cream on steroids. Is it a good version of Cookies ‘N Cream? Yes, absolutely! (And if you’re into Cookies ‘N Cream, then this is something for you to pick up on your next trip to Wally World). But is it like those unmeltable ice cream sandwiches I loved so much as a kid? Not even close.

Although those in search of the ultimate Cookies ‘N Cream may dig Ice Cream Sammie, both of these Walmart-exclusives were way off the mark for me. With so many other delicious options from Ben & Jerry’s, I’d recommend sticking to your usual favorites during your next ice cream run.

Purchased Price: $3.48 each
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Red, White & Blueberry)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Ice Cream Sammie)
Nutrition Facts: (1/2 cup) Red, White & Blueberry – 220 calories, 120 calories from fat, 13 grams of total fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 19 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein. Ice Cream Sammie – 290 calories, 150 calories from fat, 17 grams of total fat, 8 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 24 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein.