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.

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.