REVIEW: Jelly Belly Bean Boozled Fiery Five Challenge

Jelly Belly Bean Boozled Fiery Five Challenge

What is the Jelly Belly Bean Boozled Fiery Five Challenge?

There’s no official connection between Bertie Botts Every Flavor Bean and Jelly Belly’s Bean Boozled line of jelly beans. Yet, I imagine we have Mr. Bott to thank for not knowing if the next candy confection we eat is chocolate pudding or canned dog food flavored.

Similarly, I like to imagine we have a pyromancer to thank for the Bean Boozled Fiery Five Challenge, which features five chili flavorings of escalating spiciness.

How is it?

I was impressed to notice the ingredient statement included actual chili puree from each of the chili varieties. Perhaps the R&D process for these involved less magical fire manipulation and more Magic Bullet Blender manipulation. Either way, I’m encouraged to think these beans might offer the kind of authentic chili flavor a heat seeker like me wants.

Sriracha

Jelly Belly Bean Boozled Fiery Five Challenge Sriracha

I pop a single bean into my mouth, and there’s a quick spicy bite at the back of my throat, just like actual sriracha sauce. The heat is immediate, but its rapidly quenched by sweetness. These would never be included in a normal mix of jelly beans, but if they were, I’d think the amount of spice was surprisingly bold. As a spicy novelty, they’re fairly tame.

Jalapeno

Jelly Belly Bean Boozled Fiery Five Challenge Jalapeno

There are some grassy, vegetal flavors from the puree that set these apart from the sriracha. The spice level is similar, but is better balanced by the jalapeno flavor and so seems milder.

Cayenne

Jelly Belly Bean Boozled Fiery Five Challenge Cayenne

These have a slower buildup of heat, with a deeper burn that fills the mouth. I must admit that I was a bit nervous going into the Fiery Five Challenge, but this middle entry has a very manageable amount of heat. Bring it on, Jelly Belly.

Habanero

Jelly Belly Bean Boozled Fiery Five Challenge Habanero

Now we’re getting somewhere. The heat is still very tolerable, but I had to do that thing when you suck in air through your mouth to cool the tongue. The fruity sweetness balances the spice to provide a pleasant experience.

Carolina Reaper

Jelly Belly Bean Boozled Fiery Five Challenge Carolina Reaper

I was getting a bit cocky up until the habanero, but that one was spicy enough so that I’m apprehensive going into this one. I pop it into my mouth and immediately taste Tabasco. It’s spicy enough that I actually get up from my seat and start searching the kitchen for something to cool my mouth. By the time I arrive, the heat had diminished enough so that ice water sufficed. The Carolina Reapers are certainly very spicy, but I declare victory over the Fiery Five Challenge.

All at One Time

Do you think more people eat jelly beans individually or willy nilly by the handful? I’m more of a one-by-one, guy myself, with some artful flavor mixing after I’ve sampled them all.

In the spirit of challenge, I take a handful and glance at them to make sure there’s a generally representative mix (and maybe not too many Caroline Reapers) and shovel them into my mouth.

Uh oh.

You know that scene at the end of Terminator 2, where the T-1000 falls into the vat molten metal, loses control of its mimicry, and then randomly morphs through all the forms it’s taken throughout the film? That’s what this is like. The heat of 15+ beans is much greater than when daintily sampling them one by one, with each bean’s distinct flavors randomly rising and falling.

Ice water won’t be enough, and I don’t have ice cream, the gold standard chile cure. Full-fat Greek yogurt does enough so that I’m not flailing around like a robot assassin from the future in a foundry, but only time completely cools my mouth.

Jelly Belly Bean Boozled Fiery Five Challenge Game

Anything else you need to know?

I work in food manufacturing and have participated in hundreds of sensory panels during my career. Let me tell you that the surest way to remove all joy from a food you love is to eat small bites of it every day for years.

This can actually be helpful because the question you’re supposed to be answering when sampling a sensory sample isn’t “Is this good?” or “Do I like this?” but, “Does this taste like it’s supposed to?”

I bring this up because I enjoy imagining the sensory testers in the Bertie Botts and Bean Boozled factory tasting vomit flavored beans and asking, “Do these taste enough like vomit? Or should they be more vomity?”

Conclusion:

The fact that Jelly Belly was able to get real chile flavor into these is impressive. Despite that, this isn’t the kind of product you eat because they taste good. They’re a fun challenge, and you knew if you were up for it even before you read this review. Go with that when deciding to purchase or not.

DISCLOSURE: I received a free sample of the product. Doing so did not influence my review in any way.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 3.5 Oz (99 grams)
Purchased at: Received from Jelly Belly
Rating: 7 out of 10

Nutrition Facts

110 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 45 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 20 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Chocolate Bar

Hershey s Cookies  N Chocolate Bar

What is Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Chocolate Bar?

I imagine that the Hershey’s product development team, having run the gamut by adding nuts, candies, pretzels, and even uh…air to its chocolate bars, must have turned to Xzibit in a moment of desperation for their latest offering.

After a period of intense thought, he came back to them and said, “Yo dawgs, I heard you like chocolate, so I put some chocolate in your chocolate, so you can eat some chocolate while you eat your chocolate!”

Presenting the Hershey’s Cookies “N’ Chocolate Bar.

How is it?

Hershey s Cookies  N Chocolate Bar Bricks

The familiar flavor of Hershey’s milk chocolate with its light, butyric acid tang is the dominant flavor here. The chocolate cookie inclusions are the same as with the cookies and crème bar, but without the creamy white chocolate to offer contrast they only add a bit of textural interest. They’re like the puffed rice in a Crunch Bar that way, though these are much heartier. Anyone who has eaten a Hershey’s chocolate bar (a.k.a. everyone) has tasted this before.

Hershey s Cookies  N Chocolate Bar Innards

Is there anything else you need to know?

The Xzibit meme is more than ten years old, which is so long in Internet years that one almost expects to find it written on a clay cuneiform tablet. The fact that I remember it tells you that I’m old, and so I claim the privilege of being a crotchety old man to say: People eat chocolate wrong! And it’s because of bars like this!

Chocolate is best enjoyed by allowing it to luxuriously melt in your mouth. You know, like the famous old person candy Werther’s Original. If you do that with Hershey’s Cookies’ N’ Chocolate Bar, you end up with a mouth full of soggy cookie bits. And so people are taught to munch down on their chocolate, and the world spins further off into chaos.

Conclusion:

There’s nothing to particularly recommend about this candy bar. The cookie bits add texture, which some youngsters may like, but do nothing to heighten its flavor.

Purchased Price: $1.48
Size: 2.5 oz./70 grams (King Size)
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (35 grams) 170 calories, 9 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 75 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 18 grams of sugar including 16 grams added sugar, and 3 gram of protein.

REVIEW: The Cheesecake Factory at Home Ice Cream

The Cheesecake Factory at Home Ice Cream

As I walk through the deserted streets, I see empty Golden Corrals, abandoned Chinese buffets, and all-you-can-eat specials replaced with takeout options. What’s a person who wants to eat a large amount of “acceptable” quality food to do?

The Cheesecake Factory!

Unfortunately for me, the nearest Factory is over 100 miles away, and traveling two hours to eat takeout in my car isn’t something I’m desperate enough to do. Yet.

Thankfully, The Cheesecake Factory has released a new line of ice creams inspired by its namesake dessert.

Original

The Cheesecake Factory at Home Ice Cream Original

This new line of ice cream is off to a strong start. The Original flavor has real cream cheese flavor and tang. The graham cracker crust pieces remain firm and have an appropriately gritty texture.

Eaten by itself, the crust pieces might be too salty, but when mixed with a bit of ice cream it obtains the perfect balance of sweet and salty. As someone who loves a nice slice of rich, dense, sit-like-a-rock-in-your-stomach cheesecake, ice cream can never replace that, but this will do in a pinch.
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Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (124 g serving size) 360 calories, 23 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 29 grams of sugar (including 25 grams of added sugar), and 4 grams of protein.

Chocolate

The Cheesecake Factory at Home Ice Cream Chocolate

The Chocolate flavor is less strongly reminiscent of cheesecake. I can taste an underlying acidic bite from the cream cheese and sour cream, but it’s difficult to detect and only barely manages to distinguish this dessert from plain chocolate ice cream. The chocolate fudge swirl adds some interest, but I miss those crust pieces.

Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (124 g serving size) 330 calories, 20 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 29 grams of sugar (including 26 grams of added sugar), and 4 grams of protein.

Strawberry

The Cheesecake Factory at Home Ice Cream Strawberry

There’s not much mystery here. This tastes like strawberry ice cream mixed with Original flavor, and I heartily approve of this simple approach. The richness of the ice cream base mixes well with the slight acid of the fruit.

There are real strawberries mixed in here, so it avoids the off-putting artificial flavor that strawberry ice cream sometimes has. The graham pieces make a triumphant return, and make me wonder if there are snackable graham cracker crust pieces available. Maybe a cookie kind of thing? No, not just graham crackers. Someone should get on that.

Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (124 g serving size) 350 calories, 21 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 32 grams of sugar (including 28 grams of added sugar), and 3 grams of protein.

Salted Caramel

The Cheesecake Factory at Home Ice Cream Salted Caramel

The ice cream itself seems only slightly caramel flavored, but when combined with the salted caramel swirl and especially salty graham cracker crust pieces, it’s very salt forward. There’s not as much cheesecake flavor as I’d like, but as with the Chocolate, the cream cheese and sour cream adds a mild tang that manages to set it apart.
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Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (124 g serving size) 370 calories, 22 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 270 milligrams of sodium, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 32 grams of sugar (including 28 grams of added sugar), and 4 grams of protein.

Birthday Cake

The Cheesecake Factory at Home Ice Cream Birthday Cake

Here’s a question: if cheesecake is better than birthday cake (and it is), why would you make a birthday cake-flavored cheesecake? Though I was dubious of the concept, this ice cream has some good qualities.

The sprinkles melted away immediately without leaving waxy residue, and the cake pieces remained firm, with a nice chew. The blue goo swirls were…gooey. The flavor is vanilla, with hints of butter. It really tastes like birthday cake, but once again I feel that the cheesecake character should be taking center stage here, but is lacking.

Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (124 g serving size) 310 calories, 19 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 29 grams of sugar (including 26 grams of added sugar), and 3 grams of protein.

Cookies & Cream

The Cheesecake Factory at Home Ice Cream Cookies  Cream

I feel like I’m repeating myself, but there’s not enough cheesecake flavor here. This mostly seems like regular cookies and cream ice cream. The cream element allows some of the cream cheese to peak through, but not enough for me. Cheesecake Factory, listen to me: no one looks to you for a nuanced culinary experience. I want to be knocked out by the richness of your decadent desserts, even in an at-home offering.

Oh, and it looks like there are not only cookies pieces here, as is often the case, but full sandwich cookie pieces mixed in. That’s cool.

Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (124 g serving size) 320 calories, 19 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 28 grams of sugar including 25grams of added sugar), and 4 grams of protein.

Key Lime

Not Available.

Let me ask you, what kind of psychopathic grocery store manager decides to stock six of seven flavors of a new product line? Sure, one might decide to only stock two or three flavors to test the local market, or maybe decide to go all in and order a full complement. But six out of seven? That’s a recipe for a full Moby Dick, Captain Ahab-style obsession with tracking down that last flavor.

I don’t know who’s who in this analogy. Am I the captain here and the store manager Moby Dick? Or is the white whale the Key Lime ice cream? Or am I the whale now, after eating so much ice cream? The point is, I have a new mission is life, and it’s to find new ice cream to eat. So, I guess nothing much has changed…

Overview

I wouldn’t turn any of these flavors away after putting away a giant plate of Cheesecake Factory’s Louisiana Chicken Pasta, several pieces of buttered brown bread, and an Ultimate Margarita or two. In for a penny, in for a pound (or several), after all. Yet, with the exception of the Original flavor and a few others, they don’t set themselves apart from their non-cheesecake flavored alternatives.

Purchased Price: $4.29 each
Size: 14 fl. oz.
Purchased at: Woodman’s Markets

REVIEW: Reign Inferno Thermogenic Fuel by Monster Energy

Reign Inferno Thermogenic Fuel

What is Reign Inferno Thermogenic Fuel?

The new Reign line of energy drinks has a brand extension that promises an even more Xtreme performance boost than its standard offering. Fortified with Branch-Chained Amino Acids, Citrulline, and 300 milligrams of caffeine, Reign Inferno Thermogenic Fuel makes some big promises, like burning calories and accelerating metabolism. After tasting all three flavors (Red Dragon, True Blu, and Jalapeno Strawberry), I fully expect my mortal frame to combust spontaneously, unable to contain the energies contained therein.

How is it?

Red Dragon

Reign Inferno Thermogenic Fuel Red Dragon

I didn’t expect their colors to be clear. Reign has seemingly decided to target the consumer who desires to unleash the beast within via scientifically formulated supplementation, but is also very concerned about artificial colors. The flavor tastes of generic red fruit. Strawberry? Cherry? Fruit Punch? Who knows? It tastes red.

True Blu

Reign Inferno Thermogenic Fuel True Blu

I went into this thinking True Blu would be a blue raspberry flavored, but instead, it tastes like a classic energy drink, very similar to Red Bull. The citric acid adds a puckering tang that always reminds me of Sour Patch Kids gummies. This one will please those who are looking that the classic energy drink kick, but it doesn’t offer something unique.

Jalapeno Strawberry

Reign Inferno Thermogenic Fuel Jalapeno Strawberry

My midwestern taste buds were suspicious of this one going in. Spicy strawberries? What’s next, chili-infused chocolate? Oh wait, that exists. The scent is unexpectedly pungent, and actually caused some nasal irritation, like when you smell horseradish. Conversely, the flavor is quite smooth and pleasant. The sweet berry flavor plays very well with the jalapeno. There’s a very slight spiciness at the end that doesn’t linger.

Is there anything else you need to know?

The True Blu’s flavor transported me back to middle school in the ’90s, when I first tasted Red Bull. It was perhaps the boldest thing I’d ever done in my life to that point (maybe still?).

You have to understand that the ’90s were a different time. The Simpsons was the most audacious, boundary-pushing thing on TV. There wasn’t the internet as we know it, only vague rumors of a kid the next town over who took a sip of Red Bull and then his heart exploded on the spot. I survived the 80 milligrams of caffeine found in an 8-ounce can of Red Bull. In comparison, Reign Inferno contains 300 milligrams per serving, which is only a portion of my daily caffeine intake. We’ve come a long way, baby.

Conclusion:

Other than their high caffeine content, Red Dragon and True Blu don’t offer anything new. Their flavors will be familiar to energy drink aficionados. Jalapeno Strawberry was a surprise and provided a pleasant flavor combination.

Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 16 FL OZ.
Purchased at: Woodman’s Market
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Red Dragon), 5 out of 10 (True Blu), 8 out of 10 (Jalapeno Strawberry)

Nutrition Facts: (1 can) Jalapeno Strawberry and True Blu – 10 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 3 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, 0 gram of protein, 2% Potassium, 120% Vitamin B6, 130% Niacin (Vitamin B3), and 250% Vitamin B12. Red Dragon – 10 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 3 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, 0 gram of protein, 2% Potassium, 120% Vitamin B6, 130% Niacin (Vitamin B3), and 250% Vitamin B12.

REVIEW: Mountain Dew Zero Sugar

Mountain Dew Zero Sugar

What is Mountain Dew Zero Sugar?

PepsiCo has released Mountain Dew Zero Sugar, a new formulation with 0 calories and 0 sugar. Wait, what’s going on here? Isn’t there already Diet Mountain Dew?

Calorie and sugar-conscious consumers may have noticed some weirdness with the calorie counts for various sizes of Diet Mountain Dew. A 12-ounce can will have 0 calories, but larger serving sizes will have 5, or even 10 calories.

This is because the FDA requires companies to round to the nearest 5 calories, with anything below 5 calories per serving able to be stated as 0. If these calories and carbs have been a barrier from choosing PepsiCo’s citrus soda, this is the Dew for you.

How is it?

The question of Mountain Dew Zero Sugar isn’t how it compares to regular Mountain Dew, but how it stands next to Diet Dew. To test this, I poured a sample of each and carefully considered their attributes.

Mountain Dew Zero Sugar Comparison

The color is identical, though I detected a slightly sharper citrus scent in the Zero Sugar sample. I take a sip of each, being sure to aspirate the beverage and thereby allowing the aerosolized droplets to fully coat my palate. This reveals the samples to have very similar flavors. There’s a rounder flavor to the original Diet Dew, with Zero Sugar once again being a bit more acidic. I suspect the small amount of concentrated orange juice in the original formula accounts for this.

Is there anything else you need to know?

Mountain Dew Zero Sugar Closeup

My careful organoleptic analysis revealed some subtle differences that will be clear to the mindful drinker. The flaw here is that no one actually sips Mountain Dew. No, Mountain Dew is meant to be chugged while snowboarding down some sick powder, brah, or perhaps while pwning some n00bs in Call of Duty.

I would’ve liked to replicate those conditions, but I can’t snowboard and am terrible at competitive video games. Instead, I slammed down a glass of each while playing Death Stranding and as a snow plow added to the grey pile of slush in front of my driveway.

They taste the same.

Conclusion:

Mountain Dew Zero Sugar succeeds at removing an obstacle for calorie and sugar-conscious drinkers from Doing the Dew without sacrificing Diet Dew’s flavor.

Purchased Price: $2.68
Size: 16.9 oz (6 bottles)
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 9 out of 10

Nutrition Facts: 0 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: General Mills Jolly Rancher Cereal

General Mills Jolly Rancher Cereal

What is Jolly Rancher Cereal?

Regular readers of The Impulsive Buy will have noticed in recent years the bounty of breakfast cereals based on other sweet confections. Whether it be Twinkies, Pop-Tarts, or Dippin’ Dots, there seems to be no limit to manufactures’ desire to rebrand known properties into something that will fit in a bowl.

The latest is General Mills’ Jolly Rancher Cereal. A hard candy doesn’t seem like a natural candidate to convert to breakfast time (we get these before Ding Dong or Ho Hos cereal?), but let’s see if The Big G can move these from the office candy bowl to the kitchen cereal bowl.

How is it?

General Mills Jolly Rancher Cereal Dry

Upon opening, I can tell these are going to be more than a rebranded Trix. There’s a tangy scent that I’ve never encountered in a cereal before. I pour a measured 36 gram portion into my bowl and am once again disappointed at how small a suggested serving of cereal is.

General Mills Jolly Rancher Cereal Wet

As I pour in the milk, I notice that the cereal pieces are more pillow-shaped than the spherical pieces on the front of the box. The flavor has some of the tang I detected, and that really works to remind me of the cereal’s candy namesake. Each different fruit piece has a distinct flavor, though you can’t really tell in a mixed spoon. The green apple has an especially nice green apple flavor.

Is there anything else you need to know?

I have to admit I’ve never really cared for the original Jolly Rancher candy. It’s amazing how they manage to take an ordinary flavory like “cherry” and make it taste just a little bit weird, like the manufacture gave free rein to the guy who designed the artificial watermelon flavor.

Still, I have to admit this cereal somewhat won me over. Most fruit cereals only manage to be overly sweet and generically “fruity.” These manage to offer a more distinct fruit flavor, at least if you manage to get a spoonful of a single flavor. Which I did. Multiple times. Because I live a full and interesting life.

Conclusion:

I’m not going to wake up excited to have my bowl of Jolly Ranchers, but it’s a good option if you’re looking to change things up. I have a feeling that we’re at peak novelty cereal, so I don’t know how long these will last on store shelves. Give them a try.

Purchased Price: $3.64
Size: 18.7 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (36 grams) 140 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.