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.

REVIEW: Cool Whip Mix-Ins Birthday Cake

Cool Whip Mix Ins Birthday Cake

What is Cool Whip Mix-Ins Birthday Cake?

Cool Whip is the kind of product that you notice when it’s not there. No, not in the good “Oh, my God we don’t have any Cool Whip? This is a disaster!” kind of way. It’s the “Oh! We have real whipped cream instead of Cool Whip? Nice!” kind of way. Everyone wants the real thing but will be fine with the tub of Cool Whip that’s been sitting in the freezer since last Thanksgiving.

Kraft Heinz Foods is trying to change that by introducing new varieties of the ubiquitous dessert topping, and its latest is Cool Whip Mix-ins Birthday Cake.

How is it?

I didn’t know what to expect from this product. Birthday cake frosting can have an overpowering sweetness, and bad frosting always leaves a waxy residue on your tongue. Neither would be welcome on top of my pie. Plus, how will the sprinkles work in this context? Will I have a bunch of loose sprinkles in my mouth once the Cool Whip has dissolved? There’s a conspicuous lack of pie in my house right now, so I’ll have to try this eat this with a spoon. A finger would be more typical for me, but I decided to bring out the good silver for this review.

Cool Whip Mix Ins Birthday Cake Spooned

I think this Cool Whip would work just as well on top a piece of pie as a spoon (or finger) because its flavor is subtle enough not to overwhelm anything. It has a distinct taste that’s really reminiscent of a birthday cake but won’t turn your mom’s famous apple pie into a monstrous birthday-pie hybrid. The sprinkles are more than coloring but dissolve quickly and without any waxy residue.

Is there anything else you need to know?

There are a lot of new flavors popping up these days, and I’m getting a bit confused. What exactly is unicorn flavor? Is cotton candy flavor more than just sugar? And what’s the difference between cake batter and birthday cake flavor? More importantly, how do manufacturers decide what to call their new stylishly mysterious concoctions when there are so many options?

Cool Whip Mix Ins Birthday Cake Top

In this case, the Cool Whip people knew that one option was off the table: unicorn. You know why. C’ mon. I can’t be the only one thinking it. Cool Whip Birthday Cake Mix-ins is exactly what unicorn… excreta.. would look like.

Yes, unicorns are sacred, majestic, and importantly, not real animals, but they’re theoretically biological entities and need to undergo the natural biological processes such as waste removal. Now that I’ve put the thought in your head, enjoy Cool Whip Mix-ins Birthday Cake! It’s good!

Conclusion:

Cool Whip’s newest flavor threads the needle of being distinct enough from regular Cool Whip to be an enjoyable novelty without overpowering whichever dessert it’s topping.

Purchased Price: $1.84
Size: 8 oz. tub
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2 tbsp) 25 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, 3 grams of carbohydrates, 2g of Total Sugars, 2 grams of added sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Jimmy John’s Frenchie

Jimmy John s Frenchie

What is the Jimmy John’s Frenchie?

Jimmy John’s vaguely problematically-named “Frenchie” sandwich contains salami, capicola, provolone, and salted butter on a thinner version of its standard French bread. They’re premade in limited quantities each day, so plan on an early lunch if you want to be sure to get one.

How is it?

As the name suggests, the Frenchie is Jimmy John’s take the popular French jamon-beurre sandwich. I went to a fancy culinary school, and speak culinary French, and so can tell you that jamon-beurre means ham-butter. (That’s not true. The only language skills I picked up during my time working in restaurants was to answer to “Oi! Pinche pendejo!”). As the name suggests, it’s a straightforward sandwich of ham and butter on a baguette, which requires all three elements to be of top quality for it to work.

Jimmy John s Frenchie Side

I’m a fan of Jimmy John’s, but its ingredients aren’t up to the task. The bread is soft with a nice bite to its crust, but it doesn’t have the chew and crackling crust of a great French baguette. The cold cuts and cheese are better than Subway’s, but you could find the same in your grocer’s deli. I’m not looking for the Frenchie to transport me to a café in Paris, but without really top-quality ingredients this is a fairly plain sandwich.

Jimmy John s Frenchie Meats and Cheeses

Jimmy John’s tries to overcome this shortcoming by replacing the traditional ham with salami and capicola, but neither stands out, neither adding nor subtracting from the sandwich, making me think they should’ve simply stuck with ham.

Is there anything else you need to know?

The only ingredient Jimmy John’s added to their menu for this sandwich is the salted butter. For some, this may not seem enough to justify a whole new sandwich, but as a Wisconsin native, I must disagree. The home of the Butter Burger knows that butter can improve any recipe. I had a friend in grade school who had peanut butter and butter sandwiches for lunch every day. We like butter so much that we once outlawed margarine. Though I was generally disappointed in the Frenchie, the butter adds a salted richness that serves to meld the flavors is a pleasing way.

Conclusion:

The Frenchie is a good option if someone is looking for a few simple ingredients combined in a satisfying arrangement. Fans of the franchise’s “Plain Slim” options with only meat and cheese may find something to like. Others will be better served by ordering something else, unless they really like butter. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for the annual butter sculpture eating contest.

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Jimmy John’s
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 760 calories, 34 grams of fat, 17 grams of saturated fat, 115 milligrams of cholesterol, 2130 milligrams of sodium, 75 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 37 grams of protein.