REVIEW: Starburst All Pink Strawberry Drink Mix

Starburst All Pink Strawberry Drink Mix

What is the Starburst All Pink Strawberry Drink Mix?

When I think of pink drinks, two notable ones come to mind – Pepto Bismol and the Starbucks Pink Drink, which I always hear people talk about but never see anybody order. Joining the ranks of these two bubblegum-hued beverages, Starburst’s new All Pink Drink Mix promises to transform this candy’s most popular flavor into a sugar-free, family-sized, and chuggable delight.

How is it?

If nothing else, the box certainly was right in describing this drink mix as “All Pink.” It’s so pink that I’d say this stuff actually gives Pepto Bismol a run for its money.

Starburst All Pink Strawberry Drink Mix Closeup

Color aside, I think we all can agree the more pressing issue at hand is how this stuff tastes. Does it adequately emulate Starburst’s fan-favorite flavor, or is it more similar to every other strawberry drink mix on the shelf?

After unearthing a pitcher big enough to mix up one of these gallon-portioned stick packs from the dark depths of my kitchen cabinets, I didn’t find this mix to be reminiscent of either of those things. It’s much too sweet to taste like actual strawberries – which is okay, I suppose, since fruit-flavored-candies hardly ever taste like real fruit either. The problem here is that I found this to be too sweet to come close to Starburst’s take on strawberry. Maybe it’s the cloying blend of artificial sweeteners at work here, but I thought this tasted closer to aspartame-sweetened cotton candy than it did to strawberry Starburst.

Is there anything else you should know?

For what it’s worth, Mars, who owns and manufactures Starburst candy, doesn’t make this mix. Instead, this drink mix is licensed and produced by Jel Sert, who seems to specialize in cooking up branded drink mixes that taste nothing like they’re supposed to.

Conclusion:

Although I’ve choked down water enhancers worse than this, I can’t imagine anyone ever wanting to buy it in a family-sized bulk box like I did to write this review. On the bright side, though, at least the internet seems to have plenty of recipes for Starburst-themed mixed drinks to give me some ideas for how to use the other seven stick packs I’m stuck with.

Purchased Price: $7.96
Size: 4.34 oz. (8 packs)
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1/11 of a stick pack) 5 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, 1 gram of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Campfire S’more Pops

Campfire S more Pops

What are Campfire S’more Pops?

Move over cake pops because there’s a new sweet-on-a-stick in town! Designed to deliver a perfectly portable take on the classic treat, each pack of pops consists of Campfire’s standard-issue marshmallows enrobed in a milk chocolate and graham cracker shell.

How are they?

If you’ve ever eaten a regular s’ more, then you should know what to expect here. The milk chocolate and marshmallows both taste like any generic equivalent, and the graham cracker crumbs are identical to the dust at the bottom of a box of Honey Maid. Oddly enough, even though I suppose everything tastes more or less as they’re intended to, I can’t think of any better word to describe these pops than “adequate.”

Campfire S more Pops Size

Each component of the traditional toasted dessert is here, but what these treats lack is the messy, gooey nostalgia that makes s’ mores a special occasion kind of food. You don’t eat s’ mores on any old Tuesday night, because nobody wants to go through the work of gathering the ingredients, tending the fire, and cleaning everything up at the end if they know they have to wake up to go to work the next morning.

Campfire S more Pops Innards

Although I suppose some people might like that these s’ mores-on-a-stick are ready to eat, I think Campfire’s taken a midsummer culinary icon and removed the shared sense of cultural experience that makes it special in the first place.

Is there anything else you should know?

Campfire S more Pops Plated

Considering how lackluster these were to me in every other regard, I have to knock Campfire a little for how expensive these are. I mean, two bucks for only three pops? Seriously? Even if I’m only eating by myself, I’d want at least five of these to feel somewhat satisfied. By the time I’ve invested enough money to buy a reasonable portion, I may as well have bought a bag of Campfire’s regular roasters and cooked my own s’ mores at home in the toaster oven.

Conclusion:

Although these might look cute sitting in a candy shop, or nested in the pastry case of a chic café, I’d advise passing on these in favor of making your own s’ mores at home.

Purchased Price: $1.98
Size: 3 pops
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (3 marshmallows) 190 calories, 6 grams of total fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 55 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 24 grams of total sugars, 23 grams of added sugars, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Toasted Coconut Cheerios Cereal

Limited Edition Toasted Coconut Cheerios Cereal

What is Limited Edition Toasted Coconut Cheerios Cereal?

Fall might have begun on September 23rd, but it seems like neither the weather, nor General Mills got the message that summer is said and done. Promising to pack a tropical, toasted coconut punch, and sporting an island-inspired motif, Toasted Coconut Cheerios are here for a limited time only to bring the beach to your breakfast bowl.

How is it?

Unassumingly similar to Honey Nut Cheerios in size and appearance, the main aesthetic setting these toasted oat o’s apart from their famous predecessor is the slight coconut-y aroma. Even so, it’s quite light, and I can easily imagine sleep-deprived individuals overlooking it while they devour a mound of whatever cereal falls out of their cabinet, eagerly awaiting their initial fix of freshly-brewed caffeine.

Limited Edition Toasted Coconut Cheerios Cereal 2

Falling in line with their subtle coconut scent, these Cheerios are similarly light on any kind of tropical taste. There’s a slight hint of it if I chew slowly – intentionally – and really hunt for it, but it doesn’t really jump out at me and make me recognize that I’m eating anything more unique than, say, Frosted Cheerios.

Even so, I don’t really fault General Mills for that. I imagine tackling coconut is tricky business in food science. Too little flavor and nobody will even taste it; too much and the resulting creation could become more reminiscent of a bottle of sunscreen than of the famous hard-to-crack drupe. For once, I actually applaud General Mills for exercising restraint, as I thoroughly enjoyed being able to finish a box of coconut-flavored anything without getting sick of how they taste.

Is there anything else you should know?

Eating these in a bowl of regular milk erases any and all coconut flavor to be had, but recent innovations in the non-dairy milk industry have got coconut-lovers covered. Just substitute your normal moo-juice with any one of the countless coconut milk beverages in your grocer’s dairy cooler to boost this cereal’s flavor.

Conclusion:

Even though I liked Toasted Coconut Cheerios well enough, I just can’t seem to get behind them enough to give a solid recommendation. Maybe they’re not eclectic enough to stand out against Cheerios’s other offerings, or maybe they were released after my interest in summertime seasonal flavors waned, but I think I’ll probably stick to Honey Nut Cheerios from here on out.

Purchased Price: $3.79
Size: 10.8 oz. box
Purchased at: Food Lion
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (3/4 cup) 110 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 65 milligrams of potassium, 23 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 9 grams of total sugars, 12 grams of other carbohydrates, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Hershey’s Milk Chocolate & Whoppers Bar

Hershey s Milk Chocolate  Whoppers Bar

What is the Hershey’s Milk Chocolate & Whoppers Bar?

This is the newest addition to Hershey’s flagship line of candy bars, and it features a milk chocolate brick studded with Whoppers malt-flavored cookie pieces.

How is it?

Hershey s Milk Chocolate  Whoppers Bar Top

As to be expected from a company best known for its ubiquitous milk chocolate bars, this treat doesn’t disappoint on the cocoa front. Smooth, creamy, and only slightly-too-melty on the 95-degree day I was eating it, I found myself all too easily plowing through all 340 calories of the King Size bar I brought home with me.

Hershey s Milk Chocolate  Whoppers Bar Bottom

In contrast to the chocolate’s velvety texture, the Whopper cookie pieces provide a pleasant hint of crunch. They are similar to the chocolate cookies pieces in Hershey’s Cookies ‘n Crème bars. Their small size seems to limit how malty they come across as, but I honestly didn’t find that to be a bad thing. In the context of the entire candy bar, they taste more like crunchy little cookie dough bits than they do miniature Whoppers.

Hershey s Milk Chocolate  Whoppers Bar Cross section

And, you know, I’m pretty okay with that. Whoppers have always been one of those candies I only ever ate in the weeks following Halloween, after having already inhaled all the fun-sized Milky Way, mini Twix bars, and every other treat in a kid’s candy bucket that overshadows them. This is a candy bar that brings Whoppers back into the spotlight and causes people to realize, “Oh yeah, those are a thing.”

Is there anything else you should know?

I’d recommend having a couple of napkins on hand while you’re eating this. Maybe it was the unusually hot weather causing my bar to be so eager to liquefy, but I can’t imagine being able to eat one of these without getting it all over your hands. Even so, I wouldn’t recommend anyone to eat this on the road unless they want it to be all over them.

Conclusion:

Even though Hershey’s new Milk Chocolate & Whoppers Bar might not be as malty as one might expect, chocolate and cookie chunks are always a winning combo in my book. I’d advise those unafraid to get their hands a little dirty to pick one up on their next trip to the store.

Purchased Price: $1.49
Size: King Size 2.5 oz bar
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1/2 pack) 170 calories, 9 grams of total fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 18 grams of total sugars, 16 grams of added sugars, and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Crunch ‘n Munch Popcorn Clusters (Birthday Cake and Brownie Brittle Crunch)

Crunch  n Munch Popcorn Clusters  Birthday Cake and Brownie Brittle Crunch

Who needs an actual birthday cake when you can have birthday cake-flavored popcorn instead?

“Not me,” I thought as I gleefully tossed a bag of Crunch ‘n Munch Birthday Cake Popcorn Clusters into my shopping cart in lieu of a pricey bakery cake. Internally praising myself for frugality, I decided to throw in a bag of Brownie Brittle Crunch variety too. Turning 22 deserves celebration, after all.

Birthday Cake Popcorn Clusters

Created to bring an entire birthday party to your mouth, this flavor features rainbow-sprinkled, cake batter-flavored popcorn alongside miniature sugar and birthday cake cookies.

Crunch  n Munch Birthday Cake Popcorn Clusters

Aesthetically, I’ve got to admit this is one of the most attractive popcorn treats I’ve ever seen. Beyond color, each kernel was visibly loaded with a thick coating of candy, cookies, and surprisingly large confetti sprinkles. It’s one of those snacks you only have to glance at to know you’re in for a great experience.

It doesn’t disappoint on the taste front, either. Although the layer of candy enrobing each kernel didn’t taste as strongly of birthday cake as I would have liked, I’m willing to give it a pass anyway for being so sweet, thick, and pleasingly crunchy.

In addition to being delicious in its own right, the candy coating’s strength also helped the cookie chunks adhere to the popcorn, causing small clusters to form in the process. The bits, although tasty and a nice textural contrast from the candy coated-popcorn, didn’t have much flavor by themselves. In fact, I found it pretty much impossible to discern the birthday cake cookies from the regular sugar ones, and it would be easy to forget the inclusion of two distinct types of cookies pieces if it weren’t for the description on the back of the bag.

Brownie Brittle Crunch Popcorn Clusters

Throwing a bone out to chocoholics everywhere, Crunch ‘n Munch’s Brownie Brittle Crunch flavor includes chocolate-glazed popcorn alongside brownie brittle, brownie cookies pieces, and praline almonds.

Crunch  n Munch Brownie Brittle Crunch Popcorn Clusters

Unlike the Birthday Cake Popcorn Clusters, this variety isn’t as photogenic – sporting a brown-on-brown color scheme that reminds me more of burnt Jiffy Pop than a decadent treat. Normally, this wouldn’t be much of an issue for me because I don’t typically expect my popcorn to be worthy of a full-page color spread in Food Network Magazine, but its flavor was also a flop.

The biggest problem was the popcorn’s coating. It wasn’t terrible, but I was expecting it to taste much more cocoa-forward than it was. Instead, I found its taste to be more similar to a chocolate-flavored hard candy than a chocolate lover’s dream come true.

The brownie cookies and accompanying brittle didn’t fare much better. Much like the birthday cake and sugar cookies on the Birthday Cake one, the cookies and brittle pieces here were nearly indistinguishable from one another, and you’d be hard-pressed to identify where one starts and another one ends when chomping down on a large cluster of popcorn.

Speaking of indistinguishable components, I’d say the praline pieces fall into this category. After eating a couple of handfuls and not detecting a single one, I poured my bag out into a bowl and embarked on a personal mission to find and consume every praline I could find. For all my trouble, I was beyond sad to discover only five lonely pieces in my bag, which was a real shame, considering pralines almonds are one of humanity’s crowning achievements in confectionery.

Minor flaws and laughably minuscule serving size aside, I found both of these loaded ‘n coated popcorn snacks to be a step up from your everyday caramel corn. While neither may be entirely able to entice me to forgo a traditional birthday cake in the future, I can certainly see myself stashing these in my purse on future trips to the movies.

Purchased Price: $2.68 each
Size: 5.5 oz.
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Birthday Cake), 6 out of 10 (Brownie Brittle Crunch)
Nutrition Facts: (1/2 cup) Birthday Cake – 140 calories, 4 grams of total fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 16 grams of total sugars, 16 grams of added sugars, and less than 1 gram of protein. Brownie Brittle Crunch – 130 calories, 3.5 grams of total fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 14 grams of total sugars, 14 grams of added sugars, and less than 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Smartfood Flamin’ Hot White Cheddar Popcorn

Smartfood Flamin Hot White Cheddar Popcorn

What is Smartfood Flamin’ Hot White Cheddar Popcorn?

Summer may be winding down, but things in the snack aisle are just heating up! Combing Frito-Lay’s flagship cheddar-dusted popcorn with a burst of its flagship heat, Smartfood’s Flamin’ Hot White Cheddar Popcorn is here to keep things toasty long after sweater weather has arrived.

How is it?

Smartfood Flamin Hot White Cheddar Popcorn Closeup

Red. So very red. Even after seeing the bag, I didn’t quite expect the popcorn to be as generously coated in fiery cheese dust as it was. Even though Frito-Lay decided to shy away from artificial flavors, it didn’t hesitate to break out the whole arsenal of FD&C food colors in a way that would make a box of crayons jealous.

Eye-catching color aside, this whole-grain snack doesn’t have much else that makes it stand out. Unlike Route 11’s regionally-famous Mama Zuma chips, which I’m positive only exists to appeal to the same people who found Sonic’s Reaper Spicy Margarita enjoyable, the heat in Smartfood’s Flamin’ Hot Popcorn is woefully lukewarm by comparison.

That’s not to say it’s terrible, though. The popcorn starts super mild, but the heat gradually builds as you keep eating it. It never got to the point where my eyes began to tear, but it was present. Also, I found it to be just strong enough to make me keep eating – much like how the super-secret spice on Doritos makes them dangerously addictive.

Unfortunately, Smartfood’s signature white cheddar flavoring ends up playing second fiddle to each kernel’s red-hot coating. It’s just barely present – providing a bit of buttery creaminess desperately needed in pre-popped popcorn – but it’s just not sharp enough to stand up against the heat.

Is there anything else you should know?

Let me clarify something – although this popcorn is a little on the warm side, it’s not spicy. With all its heat stemming from a mysterious blend of proprietary natural flavors, this popcorn lacks the complexity of a heavily spiced meal at your local Mexican joint. Instead, it tastes more similar to the blind heat of having just eaten a spoonful of cayenne pepper.

Conclusion:

Although Smartfood’s new Flamin’ Hot White Cheddar Popcorn isn’t nearly as fire-hot as it looks, it packs just enough heat to keep things interesting, and I didn’t have any problems with finishing off a bag in quick order. Just don’t expect anything especially unique.

Purchased Price: $2.98
Size: 7 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2 1/2 cups) 150 calories, 10 grams of total fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 1 gram of total sugars, and 3 grams of protein.