REVIEW: Salted Caramel Milky Way

Milky Way Salted Caramel

What is Salted Caramel Milky Way?

I’m of two minds when it comes to salted caramel. On the one hand, “We added salt!” seems like the absolute bare minimum a company can do to differentiate its product. On the other, salt is a magic rock that makes everything taste better, and salted caramel demonstrates this particularly well.

Mars’ latest addition to its famed Milky Way line of products is the Salted Caramel Milky Way. According to the nutrition facts, a typical Milky Way 2 to Go bar has 75 milligrams of sodium, and this one has 170. Will adding 95 milligrams of rock be enough to rise above the competition?

How is it?

Unlike the more gourmet salted caramels that you might find, there are no salt flakes on the outside of these bars – they look like plain Milky Ways. As I bite into the bar, the saltiness is striking but not overwhelming. I’ve always found Milky Ways to be a bit too sweet, so it takes a fair bit of saltiness to balance it out.

Milky Way Salted Caramel 2

I take another bite and am surprised at the crunch. If this was a plain Milky Way, visions of insect endoskeletons and other foreign objects being ground into nougat would flash through my mind. In a salted caramel confection, it’s very pleasant. Context is everything. There may be not salt flakes on the outside, but they’re somewhere.

Is there anything else you need to know?

Given the vivid salty crunch, I expected to see some sizable flakes mixed in to the caramel, but close inspection doesn’t reveal any. This makes me think the caramel itself may not be the salted component in this bar.

But how to isolate the famously ooey-gooey bar into its constituent parts? The results of my freezer + meat mallet solution can be seen below.

Milky Way Salted Caramel Shattered

Picking through the shards of candy, I taste some bits that are mostly caramel and mostly nougat and am convinced that this is actually a “Salted Nougat Milky Way.” Salted Nougat sounds like the kind of weird old-fashioned candy that your grandfather ate at the 1904 World’s Fair, so it’s understandable that Mars went with the more popular Salted Caramel moniker.

Conclusion:

The Salted Caramel Milky Way bar is an excellent addition to the Milky Way line. It’s noticeably salty with crunchy bits, which may be off-putting for some, but if you’re a fan of salted caramel, you’ll love it.

Purchased Price: $1.48
Size: 3.16 oz.
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 bar) 210 calories, 8 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 27 grams of sugar (including 25 grams added sugar), and 2 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Golden Grahams S’mores Bites

Golden Grahams S mores Bites

What are Golden Grahams S’ mores Bites?

It’s a bit of food history irony that graham crackers, the base of so many sugary desserts and after school snacks, were originally created as a health food. Sylvester Graham advocated a vegetarian diet consisting mostly of bread made from coarsely home-ground flour.

He theorized a bland diet was essential to not only physical, but moral health as well, and that flavorful food was too, ahem, “stimulating.” Products made from graham flour proliferated in the late 19th century, and would slowly morph into the myriad of crackers, crusts, and cereals we enjoy today.

General Mills has released its latest assault on poor Sylvester’s theories in the form of Golden Grahams S’ mores Bites. Will the combination of marshmallow and chocolate surrounded by a “Graham” cracker pastry be the last straw, the thing that causes Sylvester Graham, who I assume has lived to 225 years due to his healthful diet, take his vengeance on us all?

How are they?

Golden Grahams S mores Bites Cooked

I was surprised to see there were no conventional oven directions for these bites. 20 to 30 seconds in the microwave are the only cooking instructions listed on the packaging. Even this short time results in the filling bursting through the graham cracker shell.

So as to not burn my mouth, I wait a minute before taking a bite and find the filling to be hot, but not scalding. The primary flavor is chocolate, with the marshmallow not making much of an impact at all. The graham cracker shell doesn’t taste much like Golden Grahams or graham crackers, but is a generically sweet pastry shell. They must be baked at the factory because they have the baked-then-frozen flavor shared by other mass-produced baked goods.

Golden Grahams S mores Bites Inside

The soft and doughy texture isn’t a surprise given the microwave-only directions, but is still disappointing since a crunchy texture is essential to the enjoyment of both Golden Grahams and s’ mores.

Is there anything else you need to know?

Another surprise is that these don’t need any cooking at all. According to the packaging, allowing them to defrost to room temperature is all that’s required.

Here’s a question: would Sylvester approve of this?

On the one hand, it’s the more slothful method. On the other, it eliminates the corrupting influence of microwaves, which are no doubt of infernal origins. After about ten minutes at room temperature, I pop a bite into my mouth and have much the same experience as the heated version. There’s the barest hint of honey graham cracker, but the overall experience is still of chocolate and pre-baked pastry.

Though not explicitly recommended anywhere, I also munch into a completely frozen bite. This “solves” the texture issue by adding some resistance, but doesn’t add the crunch I’m looking for.

Conclusion:

Golden Grahams S’ mores Bites are sweet and inoffensive (assuming you’re not a 19th century minister with very particular dietary opinions), but miss out on the combination of crunchy, melty, ooey-gooey goodness that makes real s’ mores great.

We’re safe from Sylvester Graham for now, not because we’re not a fallen, decadent society, but because these bites aren’t worth getting all worked up over.

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 14.7 oz. (30 count)
Purchased at: Woodman’s Market
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (4 bites) 190 calories, 6 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 350 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition Moonberry Twinkies

Hostess Limited Edition Moonberry Twinkies

What are Hostess Limited Edition Moonberry Twinkies?

Just in time for the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon, Buzz Aldrin’s second steps, and Michael Collins achieving humanity’s greatest dream of getting as far away from other people as possible, Hostess has released Moonberry Twinkies.

How are they?

Hostess Limited Edition Moonberry Twinkies Cake

Everyone wants to know what a moonberry is and, more importantly, what do they taste like? I open the single-serving package and give the dark blue cake a sniff. It has a fruity scent, and as I bite into the Twinkie, it tastes vaguely red. They’re good because red candies are always my favorite. Be it Starbursts, gummies, or those strawberry-shaped hard candies; red candies are always the best.

Hostess Limited Edition Moonberry Twinkies Filling

The filling isn’t colored but seems to be where the fruit flavor is located. On the other hand, the colored cake seems to be the same vanilla cake as regular Twinkies.

There’s not a huge difference between these and standard-issue Twinkies. They’re good, but not, if you’ll excuse me, “out of this world.”

Is there anything else you need to know?

It seems like Hostess is stretching a bit to brand these with a moon theme. They say the dark blue color is supposed to look like the night sky, but I don’t buy it. Twinkie the Kid is not equipped for space travel. First, he’s a kid and so has not undergone the rigorous training needed to assure mission success. Second, he’s a pastry. I’ve gotten off track, but my point is Twinkies and the moon aren’t naturally associated with each other. So it’ll take more than a fictitious berry to convince me that Hostess isn’t simply trying to cash-in on the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 with as little work as possible. It’s a shame because there are some excellent moon-adjacent desserts out there ready to be Twinkified.

Here’s three of them:

  • Banana filled with vanilla coating (think Moon Pie)
  • Red Velvet with cream (moon)cheese filling
  • Blue Moon Ice Cream flavored

Those are free, Hostess. I just ask for a free box when you bring them to market. Make it two boxes if you decide to go with Blue Moon ice cream flavored one because that would be amazing.

Conclusion:

Moonberry Twinkies may be a lazily-themed quick cash grab, but they’re tasty if you’re looking for a fruity alternative to your usual filled snack cake.

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 2 cakes (77g)
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2 Twinkies) 270 calories, 9 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 370 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 31 grams of sugar (including 31 grams of added sugar), and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Hershey’s Caramel Whipped Topping

Hershey s Caramel Dairy Whipped Topping

What is Hershey’s Caramel Whipped Topping?

Hershey’s Caramel Whipped Topping joins the Milk Chocolate and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup toppings as one more option to add a bit of pizzazz to your desserts.

How is it?

Is anyone else amazed by canned whipped cream? It takes at least five minutes to whip actual cream with my KitchenAid mixer, but this stuff explodes from the can fully formed in a split second. It’s like magic. I mean, I could certainly do a few minutes of internet research and learn the science behind it, but I’d rather assume dark magicks with some wizard opening a portal to a pocket universe of pre-whipped cream, no doubt.

Hershey s Caramel Dairy Whipped Topping 2

The name of the game for whipped cream is to complement a dessert without dominating it. A bit of sweetness and maybe a hint of vanilla is all it usually takes. Alone, this topping has the creamy sweetness one expects, with enough caramel flavor to make it interesting. The flavor is closer to butterscotch, with the characteristic sharp bite. (As a kid, I thought scotch would taste like butterscotch and was sorely disappointed when I finally tried it. I became less disappointed with time.) Despite the butterscotch flavor being stronger than expected, I don’t think it will overwhelm your treats.

Is there anything else you need to know?

I suspect a sizable portion of canned whipped topping never really tops anything unless dispensing directly on one’s tongue counts. Yet, Hershey’s prominently displays its whipped cream atop a brownie and coffee on the product’s can, so I doubt “spray directly into your mouth” is a serving suggestion. It appears Hershey’s expects this to be artfully swirled on a double-layered fudge brownie with a gooey caramel layer and an expertly crafted coffee beverage. I have some lukewarm gas station coffee and a half-eaten M&M’s brownie.

Hershey s Caramel Dairy Whipped Topping 3

The tepid coffee was still warm enough to slowly melt the cream, which lent a bit of needed creaminess to the otherwise mediocre coffee. If you’re looking to add something special to your morning cup, this is a good option. The brownie, on the other hand, didn’t benefit from the addition. Prepackaged brownies often have a chemical-like aftertaste, and the butterscotch flavor of the whipped cream only accentuated that. I have no doubt this whipped cream would be great on a better brownie, but it does nothing to elevate a bad one.

Conclusion:

Hershey’s Caramel Whipped Topping makes a great addition to your dessert. It adds a hint of caramel flavor without losing the creamy goodness one looks for in whipped cream.

Purchased Price: $4.39
Size: 7 oz. can
Purchased at: Festival Foods
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 2 Tbsp): 10 calories, 1 gram of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 5 milligrams of sodium, 1 gram of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Urge Glazers Donut Flavored Potato Chips

Urge Glazers Donut Flavored Potato Chips

What are Urge Glazers Donut Flavored Potato Chips?

Kwik Trip is a chain of convenience stores found exclusively in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. As a Wisconsin native, I know I can count on a Kwik Trip to have clean bathrooms, fresh coffee, and decent-for-a-gas station food. It’s solid and dependable, like the folk that live ’round these parts.

That’s why I was surprised to hear Kwik Trip was releasing doughnut-flavored chips in the form of Limited Edition Urge Glazer Potato Chips. Personally, I’m always willing to try the newest mad food science franken-snack, but it seems awfully daring for ol’ reliable Kwik Trip, more of a showy Illinois kind of thing, ya know?

How are they?

Urge Glazers Donut Flavored Potato Chips 2

Speaking of mad food science, how exactly does one make a potato chip taste like a glazed doughnut? Simply adding sugar seems like a bad idea, but is the flavor of a plain Glazer more complicated than that?

There are no visual clues, as these look like the same plain potato chips that sit next to the dip (in Wisconsin, it’ll be taco and beer-cheese dip). The scent is subtle, but with familiar caramel and vanilla notes. These smell like ice cream waffle cones.

The sweetness is immediately present as I taste one, but it doesn’t become dessert-like. The vanilla and caramel come through, with some creaminess I wasn’t expecting. These really do taste like a glazed doughnut without losing the savory quality I look for in a potato chip. They’re great.

Urge Glazers Donut Flavored Potato Chips 3

Is there anything else you need to know?

Though I enjoy trying the cornucopia of flavors that chip makers offer us these days, a drawback to many of them is that they’re often not very versatile. Do you really want to dunk southern biscuits and gravy flavored chips in the French onion dip? Or put cappuccino chips next to your tuna sandwich for lunch?

To see if these chips are more than a gimmick, I brought a bag to my family’s 4th of July party to see if they held up to the plethora of dips present. It worked well with the French onion and beer-cheese dips, both of which have a certain sweetness already. It worked less well with hot dips like chili queso and Rueben dip, which didn’t allow the glazed flavor to come through.

I can also confirm they taste good with the unholy mixture of ketchup, mustard, sauerkraut, baked beans, taco dip, and marshmallow jello salad that was left on my paper plate after I was done with it. Truly, these are a chip for every occasion.

Conclusion:

Kwik Trip’s Urge brand Glazer Potato Chips are a tasty and versatile snack. They’re great alone and with a variety of dips.

Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 6 oz. bag
Purchased at: Kwik Trip
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (28 grams) 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 15 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: New Coke (2019)

New Coke  2019

As an older millennial, born in 1985, I never quite know how I should think of the ‘80s. Am I an 80’s kid? On the one hand, I distinctly remember hiding my He-Man themed Slap Bracelet in my Transformers Trapper Keeper because some kid two towns over had allegedly accidentally slit his wrist with one. Further evidence: that Trapper Keeper would later be lugged home in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles duffle bag and the map on the classroom wall still had an ominous swath of red labeled “USSR” on it.

On the other hand, my ‘90s kids sense of ironic detachment says it’s kinda sad so many of my early memories are dominated by commercial properties. Plus, I only saw The Breakfast Club last week, and still haven’t seen Labyrinth.

Whether I’m a child of the ‘80s or not, there’s one relic from the era that I regret missing: New Coke. The soda always seemed to symbolize something essential about the ‘80s. It’s an updated, new take on a decade’s old classic, ready for the next generation and eager to face a hopeful future. Yet, it failed.

(‘90s kids says, “Dude, it’s just flavored sugar water, get over it and go live an authentic life!”)

Ever ready to capitalize on nostalgic desire, Netflix and Coca-Cola have collaborated on the Stranger Things 1985 Limited Edition Collector’s Pack featuring New Coke. Will trying it fill in some ineffable hole from my childhood? Let’s find out!

According to internet lore, New Coke was actually Coca-Cola’s attempt to replicate Pepsi’s sweeter tasting formula, which performed better in blind taste tests. You can thank my internal internet-obsessed ‘00s teen for that factoid.

New Coke  2019 2

So, this seems like a perfect opportunity to perform a comparison: New Coke vs. Pepsi vs. Coca-Cola Classic.

Before tasting, I gave each a quick sniff. Coke Classic has a very mild scent, with both Pepsi and New Coke being much sharper. As I taste each, this pattern remains. Coke Classic is less sweet, with a rounder flavor. New Coke and Pepsi are sweeter and have a more acidic bite. I can see how Pepsi would perform better in a taste test. It’s also more carbonated, so it’s more exciting to drink in the moment.

A bit more internet research reveals that cola flavor is actually a combination of vanilla, cinnamon, and citrus. The citrus element of Pepsi is supposedly more lemon-forward, with Coke Classic relying more on orange. This unverified and poorly sourced research conforms to what I already thought, and so I will believe it. I would bet the primary differences between New Coke and Coke Classic are that the former is sweeter with more lemon in its cola formulation.

New Coke  2019 3

Additionally, Coke Classic has some caramel flavor that’s lacking in Pepsi. If there’s a difference between New Coke and Pepsi, it’s that New Coke also has some of this caramel flavor.

It turns out there’s a reason they don’t make New Coke anymore. It doesn’t deliver anything that Pepsi doesn’t already, and Coca-Cola Classic is better than both. (Don’t @ me Pepsi fans. 2019 adult me doesn’t need to be dragged through the mud on social media.)

Purchased Price: $19.85 (Included in Stranger Things Collector’s Pack)
Size: 12 fl. oz. can
Purchased at: Cokestore.com
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts:: 160 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 45 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of carbohydrates (includes 42 grams Added Sugars), 0 grams of fiber, and 0 grams of protein.