REVIEW: Gluten Free Oreo Cookies

Gluten Free Oreo Cookies Pkg

Nabisco has introduced Gluten Free Oreo Cookies in both regular and Double Stuf varieties. Made with rice and oat flours instead of wheat, Nabisco hopes to make the best-selling cookie in the world available to the gluten-intolerant. Can it recreate the iconic sandwich cookie, or was gluten the secret to its success this whole time?

I open the lily-white packaging using the convenient tear strip and see the cookies lined up in their orderly rows, just as I have dozens of times before. I pick one from the middle row to inspect more closely and see that “GLUTEN FREE” has been incorporated into the classic Oreo design.

Gluten Free Oreo Cookies Split

The chocolate wafer tastes the same, with a hint of bitterness that’s perfectly balanced with the sweet white creme. It has the same crispness. It smells the same. These are indistinguishable from classic Oreo, as far as I can tell.

Yet, first appearances can be deceiving. No one grabs an Oreo and just…eats it. They’re meant to be twisted, licked, dunked, and crushed. Will the Gluten Free Oreo stand up against more strenuous testing? I suspected that I would have to do some science to these to fully assess them. So I picked up some traditional Oreo cookies to do some comparison testing.

Both twist cleanly apart so I can scrape off a full serving of crème from each and confirm they are the same. The chocolate wafer sans crème also remains indistinguishable in flavor and texture.

Gluten Free Oreo Cookies Side by Side

Next, I dunk each in milk for a full 30 seconds to see how they hold up. I place them on a plate and notice that they have similar sogginess levels.

For the final test, let me tell you what’s been my favorite way to eat an Oreo since I was little: complete submergence. Simply float the cookie in a glass of milk and wait. Slowly, very slowly, the milk will penetrate the cookie island.

Gluten Free Oreo Cookies Floating

As a kid, I would imagine this was an ancient Atlantis-like nation. As the milky sea flooded the roads formed by the embossed design, I would imagine the world being lost. What secrets were being consigned to the opalescent depths? What technologies would need to wait centuries to be rediscovered? What people clung to each other in their last moments?

I was an, um, imaginative child. Anyway, Gluten Free Oreo work just as fine for this too. Even when completely saturated, it retains enough integrity for a spoon to recover it from the depths and then into my mouth, a much worse fate.

Coming to a final judgment about Gluten Free Oreo is difficult, in a way. Is there anything new or exciting here? No. That’s the point. There’s no reason for a shopper not avoiding gluten to pick these up, but they do perfectly replicate the world’s favorite cookie.

Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 13.29 OZ (376g)
Purchased at: Woodman’s Market
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (3 cookies) 160 calories, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 130 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 14 grams of sugar including 13 grams of added sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Marmite Peanut Butter (U.K.)

Marmite Peanut Butter Jar

In the last years of the 19th century, Justus von Liebig, inventor of Marmite, looked into an empty beer barrel, saw the yeast gunk there, and thought, “Yeah, Imma gonna eat that.” More than a century later, Unilever has released a new spread that combines Justus’ salty yeast extract with another culinary innovation of the late 19th century: peanut butter.

I have to ask, who is this product for? Peanut butter isn’t very popular in the Marmite-loving United Kingdom, and the peanut butter-loving people of the United States hate Marmite, if they’ve had it all.

Me. It’s for me. As someone who loves both ingredients in this spread, it’s possible I’m a target demographic of one, so I knew I had to try it.

Marmite Peanut Butter Spoon

Upon opening the jar, I give the contents a stir. This is an all-natural peanut butter with no sugar or added oils, so it’s separated. Then, I take my mixing spoon and give it a lick (because I’m efficient). The first flavor is of the familiar roasted peanut butter, quickly followed by salty yeast extract. It can be difficult to describe the taste of yeast extract spreads like Marmite if someone hasn’t had them before. It’s salty, and meaty, and a bit beery, and very, very intense.

The peanut butter and Marmite complement each other very well, but there’s no sweetness whatsoever. The Marmite even covers the peanuts’ natural sweetness, so the savory character can be a bit overwhelming. I usually prefer peanut butter without added sugar, but I have to wonder if this spread would have benefited if it had a salty-sweet thing going for it.

Part of the reason Marmite and peanut butter go so well together is that they’re versatile ingredients with savory and sweet applications, and have a fandom willing to explore the culinary limits. I’ve spent countless hours exploring Instagram looking for weird peanut butter sandwich combinations. Think peanut butter and pickle is weird? Try the next-level peanut butter with sauerkraut and onion, or peanut butter on eggs. On the other hand, a thin swipe of Marmite is a great addition to marmalade or cheese on toast.

Marmite Peanut Butter Spread

To test the versatility of this combined spread, I knew I had to do more than lick a spoon. I prepared a piece of toast with the classic peanut butter and strawberry jelly combination, as well as peanut butter and sharp Wisconsin cheddar. The Marmite PB&J proves I was right that this spread benefits from some sweetness. It tastes like standard PB&J with an umami flavor boost. The peanut butter and cheddar is a bit more challenging. It’s already a combo that leans in hard to unctuousness, and the Marmite does nothing to cut the fatty flavor. I liked it, but I also like peanut butter on sloppy joes, so your mileage may vary.

Look, I know I’m weird. I’m willing to pay $19.99 to have a small jar imported. Is it worth that price? No. Is it worth the much more reasonable £2.40 at Tesco? Yeah. Or, you could just buy some peanut butter and Marmite and mix them yourself.

Purchased Price: $19.99
Size: 225g
Purchased at:
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (15g) 88 calories, 6.8 grams of fat, 0.9 grams of saturated fat, 280 milligrams of sodium, 1.8 grams of carbohydrates, 1.2 grams of fiber, 0.9 grams of sugar, and 4.2 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Starbucks Tripleshot Energy Zero Sugar

Starbucks Tripleshot Energy Zero Sugar Cans

What is Starbucks Tripleshot Energy Zero Sugar?

Starbucks’ regular Tripleshot line of beverages promises an extra energy boost thanks to added B vitamins, guarana, and ginseng, with the latter two helping to lift the caffeine content to 225 milligrams. The new Zero Sugar line, available in Black and Vanilla flavors, promises all that without sugar.

How is it?

Starbucks Tripleshot Energy Zero Sugar Black

Both flavors pour black. Unlike most Starbucks grocery items, there’s no added milk here. I taste the Black first and am pleased that it’s not overly sweet and without an artificial sweetener aftertaste. The coffee itself is fairly nondescript, without any overtly positive or negative characteristics. It’s not bitter, or astringent, or flat-tasting, but there’s nothing of much interest either.

Starbucks Tripleshot Energy Zero Sugar Vanilla

I tend to agree with those who think Starbucks roasts its beans too darkly, so the roasted flavor dominates and lingers too long for my taste. The same can be said of the Vanilla variety. Although in this case, the vanilla flavor has an artificial character that battles with the dark roast to see which is more slightly off-putting. Both are entirely drinkable, but neither offers anything to highly recommend them.

Anything else you need to know?

In my experience, there are two kinds of people who are perhaps a bit too proud of the coffee they drink. Some will breathlessly tell you about their favorite third-wave tasting studio that just got in a new Yirgacheffe that can only be found on a single Ethiopian hill and must be harvested by the light of the full moon during a leap year. Then there are those who will regale you of the absolute swill they’ve drunk, just the worst dregs imaginable. Maybe it was actually scrapings from a hospital cafeteria grease trap? They don’t know, but they drank it, dammit!

Starbucks regularly earns the contempt of both these groups. Luckily for Starbucks, that leaves the vast majority of coffee drinkers: those who want to be able to go to any random street corner and find a cup of coffee that’s consistent and better than what their Mr. Coffee can produce. The Tripleshot Energy Zero Sugar beverages are for people who like coffee just fine. So if they’re in a convenience store, they might choose it instead of their usual Red Bull.


As someone with a locally roasted Ethiopian Yirgacheffe on my coffee shelf right now, these Tripleshots taste like decent coffee that’s been allowed to get too cold. It’s not a terrible option if you’re looking for a quick pick-me-up, but it’s not something I’d regularly drink. Then again, I am an unbearable hipster, so your mileage may vary.

Purchased Price: $2.09
Size: 15 fl oz (442 ml)
Purchased at: Woodman’s Market
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 25 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 25 milligrams of sodium, 5 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnadust Seasoning Blend

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnadust Seasoning Blend Bottle

What is Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnadust Seasoning Blend?

I can’t be the only cereal lover to receive a face full of debris as I tip nearly empty bags of Cinnamon Toast Crunch into my maw, attempting to extract the pure, concentrated essence of deliciousness found at the bottom of every bag. To save us from ourselves, there’s now Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnadust Seasoning Blend.

How is it?

Call me cynical, but I was half expecting this seasoning blend to consist solely of sugar and cinnamon. A look at the ingredient statement assures me that there’s more going on here than what a 7-year-old can throw together while running late for school.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnadust Seasoning Blend Closeup

I pour a generous mound on a plate, lick my finger, and dig in. I’m surprised by the quick, sharp spice flavor given how mild the cinnamon is in the namesake cereal. This doesn’t taste much like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but offers a greater depth and variety of flavors.

The sweetness follows, but there’s also vanilla, caramel, and salt. Yes, salt. It’s the third ingredient on the ingredient statement, so salted caramel fans will find a lot to like. It’s salty enough that I imagine there are some savory applications. Cinnamon Toast Crunch sweet potato, anyone? Popcorn? Maybe even dipping some breakfast sausage? There are lots of possibilities for this seasoning blend.

Anything else you need to know?

Readers may be shocked to hear that I’ve never had a Complete Breakfast™ before today. I’ve had a Full English Breakfast, stacks of pancakes bigger than the platter they were served on, and Moons Over My Hammies aplenty. Yet, a Complete Breakfast™ is something that only existed in the cereal commercials that interrupted the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles every Saturday morning when I was a kid.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnadust Seasoning Blend Complete Breakfast

Even back then, I knew that cereal was the fastest, lowest effort breakfast option, so the idea of serving it with sides of buttered toast, fruit, juice, and another glass of milk always seems ridiculous. Yet, the Complete Breakfast™ has remained an aspirational ideal for decades now, so I knew I had to take this opportunity to assemble one and try Cinnadust on various items.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnadust Seasoning Blend Cereal

I know I’m not alone in shoveling sugar on top of already sugar-loaded cereal, so it doesn’t seem outrageous to sprinkle Cinnadust on my bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch to create Super Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Since it doesn’t exactly replicate the namesake cereal’s powdery coating, it adds some interesting flavors. But the cereal is too sweet for much nuance to come through.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnadust Seasoning Blend Toast

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnadust Seasoning Blend Fruits

On the other hand, it is a fantastic topping for buttered toast, apples, and bananas. Cinnadust toast is like cinnamon sugar toast, but better, with the salted caramel flavor accentuating the golden brown bread. Likewise, the less sweet fruit allows the spicy cinnamon notes to come through, and the light saltiness offers a flavor boost.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnadust Seasoning Blend Milk

The only failure here was adding Cinnadust to milk. This isn’t a drink mix, so it is not surprising it didn’t work, but I was hoping for some instant cereal milk. Instead, it only made slightly sweet milk with floating cinnamon clumps.


Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnadust Seasoning Blend doesn’t precisely replicate the flavor of the cereal. But it still tastes great and complements a wide variety of sweet treats.

Purchased Price: $5.48
Size: 13.75 OZ (282g)
Purchased at: Sam’s Club
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts (1 tsp) 15 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 45 milligrams of sodium, 4 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar including 4 grams added sugars, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Hershey’s Vampire Kisses

Hershey s Vampire Kisses Bag

What are Hershey’s Vampire Kisses

Just in time for the Halloween season, Hershey’s has introduced Vampire Kisses, a variation of its classic milk chocolate candy. Along with the chocolate, it’s filled with strawberry-flavored crème.

How are they?

Hershey s Vampire Kisses Chocolate

The milk chocolate shell is the same tangy butyric acid-infused Hershey’s chocolate to which American consumers are accustomed. I’ve recently heard the flavor described as “yogurty,” which is all I can think of when tasting it now.

Hershey s Vampire Kisses Filling

According to the package, the filling is a strawberry-flavored crème, but there’s a lack of distinct strawberry flavor in it. It’s better described as generically fruity and without creaminess either.

Though, in a bit of flavor serendipity, the combination of acidic chocolate and fruity filling combine to remind me of the berries and Greek yogurt parfait I had for breakfast. I doubt that’s intentional.

Anything else you need to know?

The fanged Kisses depicted on the packing suggest that the candies themselves have been turned to undead creatures of the night. That’s ridiculous, of course. Instead, I propose that these are candies meant for vampires. Here’s how I think some famous blood-suckers would consume a Vampire Kiss.

Count Orlok – This rodent-looking guy nibbles the top off, then attempts to suck the strawberry filling out. Unfortunately for Orlok, I can confirm that the filling is much too viscous to be consumed in this way.

Vlad “The Impaler” Dracula – Individually, with a toothpick. It can be done, but the candy shell is liable to crack unless it’s well-chilled, and no self-respecting vampire is going to devour a victim that’s gone cold.

Louis de Pointe du Lac (A.K.A. Brad Pitt in Interview with a Vampire) – After monologuing about the dark-as-night chocolate and filling sweet as the crimson sun at dawn that shall never again greet him, Louie quickly tires of them, lamenting that each Kiss is dust to his undead palate.

The Count – This denizen of Sesame Street knows that these are 55 individual Kisses in his bag. Being a nobleman with an appreciation for aesthetics, he doesn’t eat any since 55 is such a pleasing number.

Edward Cullen – Edward’s fervor for Hershey’s Kisses is unparalleled, but he knows that to succumb to temptation inevitably leads to their destruction. He keeps a bag in the back of the cupboard, knowing it’s only a matter of time before he gives in.

Angel/Angelus – Angel, the beau of Buffy, the vampire slayer, would never risk a Kiss. Kisses lead to more intimate encounters, which lead to the one moment of perfect happiness that would rip his soul away, turning him to the evil Angelus. Angelus is a total chocoholic, so he eats the entire bag.


In fiction, a kiss from a vampire (that is, being bitten) has one of two consequences. Either you’re turned superhuman being beyond human reckoning, or you’re a left a lifeless husk drained of all vitality. There’s not much in-between, which is why these candies falling into mediocrity is so disappointing.

Purchased Price: $3.59
Size: 9 oz bag (255g)
Purchased at: Piggly Wiggly
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (6 pieces) 120 calories, 5 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 20 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 16 grams of sugar including 13 grams of added sugar, and 2 grams of protein.