QUICK REVIEW: Heinz Mayochup

Heinz Mayochup

What is Heinz Mayochup?

Initially only available in the Middle East, this mayonnaise-ketchup hybrid has finally come to the States.

Are you familiar with fry sauce, fancy sauce, Zax Sauce, or even mayoketchup? Great, because this is basically the same stuff as all of those, sold in a no-mess squeeze bottle!

How is it?

If I had to guess, I’d say mayonnaise and ketchup are probably America’s two most beloved condiments, and people have been combining the two for ages. At the very least, I can say this having come from a family that’s always enjoyed a combination of the two spread onto saltine crackers.

Considering Heinz’s position as the purveyor of America’s best-selling ketchup, I don’t think it’s any surprise that its Mayochup is anything other than pretty awesome. Sweet, salty, tangy, and just a bit sour from the vinegar, it takes everything that’s great about Heinz’s ketchup and marries it together with the velvety texture that characterizes a quality mayonnaise.

Heinz Mayochup 2

Given how versatile mayonnaise and ketchup are on their own, I can see using this as an all-purpose condiment. It’s excellent squirted on fries, spread onto crackers, and smeared on sandwiches, among other things. Better yet, it saves you the trouble of having to drag both condiments out of the fridge when your food needs a flavor boost!

Is there anything else I need to know?

Heinz Mayochup 3

Mayo-based sauces tend to be a little on the viscous side, but this stuff is super thick! As in, thick enough to hold its shape thick. It’s great on bread and stuff, but might be a little hard to scoop up like a dip without causing whatever you’re dipping in it to break or bend.

Conclusion:

Even if you’re part of the population that’s never enjoyed a ketchup/mayo combo in any of its many interpretations, Heinz’s Mayochup definitely deserves a spot in your fridge. Once it’s there, you’re going to find yourself reaching for it more often than you think. Trust me.

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 16.5 oz. bottle
Purchased at: Kroger
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2 tablespoons) 160 calories, 16 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 4 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of total sugars, 3 grams of added sugars, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Hershey’s Popcorn

Hershey's Popcorn 1

Making caramel corn is a subtle art.

Compared to regular popcorn, it has a lot more elements that have to be executed well in order for the final product to be spectacular. There has to be enough of it to carry its flavor, but it can’t be so glopped on that the popcorn is in a cocoon of sugar.

The toppings have to complement the caramel, and they have to be evenly distributed to allow most of the pieces to get some drizzle. Don’t forget about the salt, either! There has to be enough of it to balance out the sweetness from everything else, but there also can’t be so much that the entire experience veers off towards the savory side.

Given that caramel corn has so many things going on at the same time, it’s easy to see why most seem to fall short in one aspect or another. Not one to back down from such a challenge, Hershey’s has decided to give us not one, but two new takes on this classic treat!

Hershey’s Popcorn Milk Chocolate

Hershey's Popcorn Milk Chocolate

With its Milk Chocolate variety, Hershey’s topped each cocoa-and-caramel-coated kernel with a drizzle of its signature milk chocolate. Everything about it, from the delicious cocoa aroma emanating from the caramel to the smooth drizzle, was all about showing off what Hershey’s is famous for.

In fact, it featured milk chocolate so much that the caramel got a little lost along the way. While the coating helped keep the popcorn fresh, its caramel flavor was difficult to notice among the chocolate elements.

Hershey’s Popcorn Sea Salt Caramel

Hershey's Popcorn Sea Salt Caramel

Surprisingly, the Sea Salt Caramel version shared this issue. In the absence of the milk chocolate drizzle featured in the other variety, the play between the cocoa and caramel in the coating here created a scent and taste that reminded me of a toasted marshmallow. Don’t get me wrong – this version is tasty, too – but its name is a bit of a misnomer.

The one thing about it that rings true is the “sea salt” part. It has a more noticeable salt level if you compare it with its Milk Chocolate brother. Even so, it never quite reaches the level of being too savory. Instead, I welcomed the extra saltiness to counter the whole toasted marshmallow-esque vibe going on.

Hershey's Popcorn

Did Hershey’s Popcorn rise to the sweet-and-salty challenge of caramel corn? All in all, I’d say it did well! I found both to be yummy and wouldn’t have a problem watching a movie with either flavor beside me. Now if theaters could sell this stuff!

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup – Sea Salt Caramel – 120 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 17 grams of total sugars, 16 grams of added sugars, and 1 gram of protein. Milk Chocolate – 110 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 16 grams of total sugars, 15 grams of added sugars, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.98 each
Size: 6 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Sea Salt Caramel)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Milk Chocolate)
Pros: Good balance between sugar and salt. Signature Hershey’s chocolate. Perfect snacking companion for movies!
Cons: Chocolate overpowered the caramel in both flavors. Sea Salt Caramel tasted more like a toasted marshmallow than it did like caramel. Not sold at the movies.

QUICK REVIEW: Limited Edition Unicorn Power Frosted Cherry Pop-Tarts

Limited Edition Unicorn Power Frosted Cherry Pop Tarts

What is it?

Another iteration of the Instagram-fueled trend of almost-too-pretty-to-eat unicorn-themed foods.

Despite its mythical theme, Kellogg’s went with a pretty tame flavor choice for this, utilizing cherry filling and royal icing emblazoned with the image of a majestically poised unicorn head.

How is it?

They’re alright.

Were you expecting me to say something more?

At the end of the day, they’re Cherry Pop-Tarts. If you like cherry toaster pastries, then there’s no reason why you wouldn’t like these. The outer shell of each tart has the same crisp sturdiness that I’ve come to expect from such treats, and I felt its slight saltiness helped keep the cherry filling from tasting too sweet.

Limited Edition Unicorn Power Frosted Cherry Pop Tarts 3

Even so, the cherry flavor isn’t prominent. It’s red, and I can tell that it’s a fruit filling, but if you told me this was a strawberry or raspberry Pop-Tart, I would believe you.

Limited Edition Unicorn Power Frosted Cherry Pop Tarts 2

On top of Kellogg’s total lack of flavor creativity, I also feel the need to call out its decorating skills. Since the icing is the only aspect that’s genuinely unicorn-themed other than the box itself, I expected some pretty elaborate art. Instead, both designs are a bare-bones edible ink stamp that barely covers half of the surface area of each tart. On top of that, they’re both blurry, and they look worse than the multicolored sprinkles that frosted Pop-Tarts are usually sprinkled with.

Totally not Instagramable!

Is there anything else I need to know?

Even though I prefer my fruit-filled Pop-Tarts to be served cold, I ended up liking these more once they were warmed in the toaster oven, partly because warm food on cold mornings is one of the greatest simple pleasures in life, but mostly because I could pretend the cherry filling was magical unicorn blood.

Conclusion:

Don’t let the pretty box fool you – Unicorn Power Pop-Tarts are far from anything special. Even though they’re as acceptable as any other cherry toaster pastry, they aren’t worth trekking to Sam’s Club to pick up, and they’re not nearly interesting enough to make me want to finish the 32-count club pack I bought.

Purchased Price: $5.98
Size: 1 lb. 13.3 oz. (32 pastries)
Purchased at: Sam’s Club
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 pastry) 200 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of total fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 38 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 16 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

QUICK REVIEW: Little Debbie Limited Edition Sparkling Strawberry Unicorn Cakes

Little Debbie Limited Edition Sparkling Strawberry Unicorn Cakes

What is it?

Serving as a whimsical and colorful foil to Zebra Cakes, these magically-inspired second cousins of Little Debbie’s classic equine-themed treats feature strawberry-flavored cake with a strawberry filling, white icing, and bright sprinkles.

How is it?

Little Debbie Limited Edition Sparkling Strawberry Unicorn Cakes 4

Little Debbie Limited Edition Sparkling Strawberry Unicorn Cakes 2

Before I even get started on how these cakes taste, can I stop for a moment to mention how pretty they are to look at? Between their nearly perfect hexagonal shape, even coating, careful color balance, and personalized cellophane sleeve, I found these to be a pleasure to admire.

Moving on, Little Debbie lived up to my expectations by making each one of these cakes taste as great as they looked. The cake itself is appropriately soft and buttery, with a thin layer of whipped filling in the middle to separate the two cake layers.

Little Debbie Limited Edition Sparkling Strawberry Unicorn Cakes 3

The cake and filling are strawberry flavored, and I have to hand it to Little Debbie here for executing the strawberry quite well. It’s subtle, but definitely there, and I found it worked well alongside the rest of the cake. In fact, its subtlety is what allows the strawberry flavor to work in the first place because it never comes across as overly artificial. I’ve always had issues with fruit-themed cakes tasting anything but authentic in the past.

While the outer coating doesn’t add much flavor-wise, it helps keep the cakes within moist, and the glittering purple sprinkles on top give a hint of grit that keeps me entertained texturally.

Is there anything else I need to know?

Even though I’m well aware that Little Debbie isn’t the most risk-taking snack brand in the grocery store, they could have elevated the whole “Sparkling Strawberry” idea a step further by scattering strawberry-flavored popping candy pieces on the top rather than regular old sprinkles.

Conclusion:

Being a treat that’s pretty, tasty, and slightly fruity, Little Debbie’s Sparkling Strawberry Unicorn Cakes are a much-appreciated respite during a time of year that’s typically dominated by heavy autumnal spices and dark, earthy colors.

Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 10 cakes
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2 cakes) 330 calories, 160 calories from fat, 16 grams of total fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 35 grams of total sugars, 35 grams of added sugars, and 1 gram of protein.

QUICK REVIEW: Taco Bell Caramel Apple Freeze

Taco Bell Caramel Apple Freeze

What is it?

According to Taco Bell’s website, it’s a less messy and just-as-delicious drinkable alternative to the overpriced caramel apples sold at county fairs nationwide. In reality, though, it’s just a cup of green apple-flavored slush with a couple of pumps of caramel syrup thrown in.

How is it?

Do you like Green Apple Jolly Ranchers? If so, this the freeze for you. Everything about this drink reminded me of them, and I felt the apple flavor’s slight tartness helped to keep the degree of sweetness from reaching tooth-aching levels. Better yet, I found the fruity flavor and ice to be refreshing on the hot and humid day I bought it.

Taco Bell Caramel Apple Freeze 2

In stark contrast to the fruity forwardness, the caramel syrup wasn’t nearly as potent here. Maybe it was the way my particular drink was made, but I only had a small puddle of barely-detectable caramel sauce at the bottom of my cup, and I found that stirring it around caused it to get lost in a sea of bright green slush.

Is there anything else I need to know?

If you do decide to order one on a hot day like I did, be prepared to guzzle it down fast, because mine started to melt before I had even walked halfway back to my car. By the time I got to work, I basically had a cup of neon green apple juice, which prompted one of my coworkers to quip smartly, “That’s not a green juice,” to which I ended up replying, “It is, but it’s not the sort that you’re used to.”

Conclusion:

Even though I would have appreciated a couple more pumps of caramel sauce, I still ended up liking this drink overall, and, considering it’s only a dollar during Happy Hour, I think it’s worth a try if you like green apple candy.

Purchased Price: $1.00 (purchased during Happy Hour, $2.39 regular price)
Size: 16 oz.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (16 oz.) 190 calories, 50 calories from fat, 0.5 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 42 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Hostess Cookies ‘n Creme Brownies

Hostess Cookies  n Creme Brownies

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve always been one of those people that get paralyzed by the abundance of choice I have when it comes to food.

Do I want peanut butter or almond butter on my sandwich? Cinnamon chewing gum or spearmint to keep in my purse? As for coffee, don’t even get me started on Starbucks since I can easily spend half an hour trying to decide what I want.

With Hostess and its new Cookies ‘n Crème Brownies, though, at least I won’t have to agonizingly choose between cookies or brownies for dessert anymore!

Hostess Cookies  n Creme Brownies 2

Out of the box, each one of these cute little pucks come individually wrapped in Hostess-branded cellophane, which I suppose is to keep them fresh while also making them easy to eat on the go. Also, as an unintentional bonus, they help to prevent people from confusing them for especially lonely Little Debbie Zebra Cakes, which is appreciated since they look nearly identical from the outside.

Picking one of them up, I was surprised to find they’re oddly light for brownies. I associate brownies with being dense, fudgy, chewy squares of bliss, so I had a hard time believing these were going to be anything like that.

My trepidation about the texture wasn’t unfounded, either, because the brownies were as airy as I had expected them to be. They were so cakey that I don’t even think that they’re in the same galaxy as Cosmic Brownies. Compared to the decadent delights brought forth by Little Debbie, these are more like a flat, chocolate snack cake coated with Cookies ‘n Crème-styled icing.

After I stopped thinking about them as brownies and start thinking about them as any other snack cake, they get a lot more enjoyable. They smell like a combination of milk chocolate and sweet cream, and that’s the primary flavor that comes across when I chomp down on one of them. The white outer coating supplied the “cream” aspect, while the baked interior reminded me of cookies.

Hostess Cookies  n Creme Brownies 3

Expanding on the cookie aspect, Hostess didn’t nail the whole Oreo-esque flavor profile that well here. Instead, I felt the light cocoa and spongier texture used in the cake were more reminiscent of the cookies used to construct Whoopie Pies. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I still think that Hostess should have used a crème filling studded with cookie crumbs or something to bring the Cookies ‘N Crème theme around full-circle.

Even though I would consider two or three of these a worthy choice for a midnight snack, I still think Hostess should take some baking lessons from Little Debbie, because her brownies are out-of-this-world delicious by comparison.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 Brownie – 180 calories, 80 calories from fat, 8 grams of total fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 17 grams of total sugars, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.97
Size: 6-pack
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Not having to decide between cookies and brownies. Branded wrapper keeps you from confusing them for a different snack. Pretty tasty when you think of them as snack cakes. Acceptable choice for late night noshing.
Cons: Not nearly fudgy enough to be called a brownie. Doesn’t remind me of Oreos. Needs a crème filling or some cookie crumbs or something. Makes me wish that Little Debbie could teach Hostess how to make better brownies.