REVIEW: Snickers Pecan

1 Snickers Pecan

What is Snickers Pecan?

Mars has created a new iteration of its Snickers chocolate bar for fall! To put it in simple math terms, Snickers – nougat – peanuts + pecans = Snickers Pecan. This one’s just nuts, caramel, and chocolate.

2 Snickers Pecan

So far, it’s only hit the market in a limited edition 15-pack that comes in a drawer-style box. This release is all about Texas – the pecan are from Texas, the wrappers say “Proudly produced in a Mars Facility in Waco, TX.” The graphics all reference the Texas flag, but in muted tones. “Texas Proud,” “Fixin’ To Satisfy,” and “Dig In, Ya’ll,” are printed on the box and wrappers. It’s a beautiful presentation.

3 Snickers Pecan

4 Snickers Pecan

How is it?

On first bite, these Snickers bars screamed THE SOUTH. Like you just picked them off the Formica counter of some sun-baked granny with a drawl who whipped them up along with a batch of pralines.

5 Snickers Pecan

The chocolate and caramel were the familiar Snickers formula (although the caramel felt stickier to me somehow), but the pecans brought a deeper, darker nut flavor than the usual peanuts. It worked really well. They were very sweet and felt indulgent enough as a once-in-a-while treat as opposed to an everyday snack. I really missed the nougat in these (big nougat fan here) so I dinged them a point for that.

6 Snickers Pecan

Is there anything else you need to know?

These were offered online only and sold out in less than 24 hours. No word on whether they’ll be released in stores, but they SHOULD BE. They’re far better than Fiery Snickers and those got shelf space. Don’t ask if you can have any of my 15-pack, it ain’t gonna happen.

7 Snickers Pecan

Conclusion:

If you don’t have any sweet old ladies to crank out pralines for you, definitely get these. Even if you do, get them anyway. They’re great, y’all.

Purchased Price: $30.00
Size: 15-pack Limited Edition Carton
Purchased at: snickerspecan.com
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 bar) 250 calories, 14g grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 25 grams of total sugars, 23 grams of added sugars, and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Oreo China Six Flavors

1 Oreo Six Flavors

I’ve never been to China, but I feel like I’ve eaten enough of their Oreo flavors to be named Ambassador. Hot Chicken Wing and Wasabi, Seaweed, Strawberry, Blueberry, Orange-Mango, Grape-Peach and now – Six Flavors. Is “Cookie Ambassador” a thing? Can I be that?

A collaboration with the Palace Museum in Beijing, Oreo Six Flavors are inspired by traditional foods eaten by Chinese royalty at The Forbidden City. I took to eBay recently to track them down, since they haven’t been released here in the U.S.

2 Oreo Six Flavors Wrappers

The Six Flavors are: Green Tea Cake, Red Bean Cake, Lychee Rose Cake, Vintage Haw, Chaoshan-style BBQ Pork Pastry, and Spicy Pepper Pastry. They sounded both delicious and challenging.

3 Oreo Six Flavors Boxart

4 Oreo Six Flavors Boxart

The packaging on this collection is fantastic. The box was telling me an epic story, and each flavor had a unique wrapper with a gorgeous design. There were five cookies per flavor – a perfect size to sample and share. China – KILLING IT on Oreo beauty and practicality.

5 Oreo Six Flavors Green Tea

I’ll get right to the flavors. First up was Green Tea Cake. I wasn’t sure about this one – sometimes green tea tastes like dirt to me. But here, it was really nice. Earthy but low-key, it worked really well with the slightly-less-sweet chocolate cookie that I notice all the Chinese Oreo have in common.

The Red Bean Cake Oreo was also earthy, but not as sweet as other red bean desserts I’ve had. My first reaction was “interesting, but not awesome,” but they grew on me the more bites I took.

6 Oreo Six Flavors LycheeRose

Next up – Lychee Rose Cake. Now, Rose is a very tricky flavor. One molecule too much, and it tastes like the smell of a Granny’s bathroom. It was surprisingly well done here, though – definitely present and dominant, but not annoying. The lychee was more of a background fruit taste, but it did a lot to keep the rose in its place. I really enjoyed these.

I didn’t know what Vintage Haw flavor was, but I wanted to taste it blind. It was sweet and flowery – something in the neighborhood of strawberry, grape and a gorgeous tropical bloom. These were my favorite of the six – I could eat a whole bag. Afterwards, Google told me that Hawthorn (Haw) is a Chinese berry. I’m on board the Haw train after these Oreo cookies!

7 Oreo Six Flavors Pepper

I left the savory flavors for last. Spicy Pepper Pastry Oreo smelled a lot like black pepper, but on first taste, it was very subtle. But when I tried the creme filling alone, it was quite strong – the chocolate cookies cut the spice on it considerably. They weren’t terrible, but I wouldn’t buy them again.

And lastly, Chaoshan-Style BBQ Pork Pastry. This flavor worked a lot better than the Hot Chicken Wing Oreo – less salty, meatier, very BBQ’y (a little sweet, a little tangy). Still not a flavor I need more than one shot at, but not totally disgusting!

8 Oreo Six Flavors Cookies

These were the most fragile Oreos I’d ever handled. Some had broken in transit, which I expected, but even the intact cookies seemed to crumble when I tried to twist them open.

I really enjoyed this collection of flavors and the presentation. They were well worth the money and the wait for overseas shipping. I hope they get an official release here in America.

Purchased Price: $17.99 + free shipping
Size: 291g box (30 cookies)
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Green Tea Cake)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Red Bean Cake)
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Lychee Rose Cake)
Rating: 10 out of 10 (Vintage Haw)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Spicy Pepper Pastry)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Chaoshan-Style BBQ Pork Pastry)
Nutrition Facts: (per 100g) 489 calories, 21.5 grams of fat, 480 milligrams of sodium, 67.5 grams of carbohydrates, and 5.3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Oscar Mayer Ice Dog Sandwich

1 OscarMayer Ice Dog Pkg

When French’s recently announced they were dropping a mustard ice cream for National Mustard Day, it clearly sent shockwaves through the processed-food industry, because the very next day, Oscar Mayer waded into the turgid waters of inedible-sounding treats with its own concoction.

“The Ice Dog Sandwich” consists of a cookie “bun,” hot dog sweet cream ice cream with candied hot dog bits, and spicy dijon gelato – handed out at the newly-white Wienermobile.

I would normally assume that Oscar Mayer was trying to bite into French’s publicity with the suspiciously-timed release, but 13 days seems like a tight turnaround to make enough product, repaint the ride, and get it to NYC. Coincidence? I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

2 Oscar Mayer Ice Dog Mobile

Having just sampled two versions of French’s ice cream, I was revved and ready when that White-Walker-phallus truck pulled up steps away from the public restrooms of Bryant Park. Coincidence? Probably.

3 Oscar Mayer Ice Dog Wrapper

The standard paper hot dog trays, foil wrappers with logo stickers were underwhelming. French’s had branded cups, decorations, and napkins. Just sayin’. But I was fascinated by the ingredients list on the back – celery juice? Cherry powder?

4 Oscar Mayer Ice Dog Ingredients

The sandwich didn’t look like the advance photos. It was half the thickness and none of the color. The pink candied meat bits were the only way to tell the hot dog side from the mustard side.

5 Oscar Mayer Ice Dog Sandwich Split

Image on left via Oscar Mayer

I was not a fan of the cookie bun. Flavor-wise, it was a decent sugar cookie, but the texture was like a wet blondie. It didn’t hold a candle to the lovely Coolhaus pretzel cookie at French’s truck.
The spicy dijon gelato tasted exactly like what I expected when I tried the French’s ice cream – tangy, strong, and extremely mustardy. I didn’t like it at all. It didn’t mesh well with the hot dog ice cream, which was delightful.

Yes, I’ll say it again – the delightful hot dog ice cream. Its flavor was mostly vanilla (like French’s) but with meaty/savory hints when you got to the candied hot dog bits. It felt like a spin on ice cream with bacon. I would eat it again, but not in this combination.

Proving that we should all stay in our lanes, Oscar Mayer’s Hot Dog Ice Cream, French’s Mustard Ice Cream, and Coolhaus’ Pretzel Cookies would be an amazing trio.

Now, where is my Pizza Sorbet?

Purchased Price: Free
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Received at Oscar Mayer Ice Dog mobile
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Hot Dog Ice Cream alone – 9 out of 10)
Nutrition Facts: Not available.

REVIEW: French’s & Coolhaus Mustard Ice Cream Truck

French s  Coolhaus Mustard Ice Cream

You really get to know who your friends are in the moments after you yell across the office, “There’s a French’s Mustard Ice Cream Truck pop-up today for National Mustard Day – who’s going with me?!?!” 

I thought I’d drag my co-workers, kicking and screaming, into my novelty-flavored world. I dared them into trying Wasabi and Spicy Chicken Wing Oreos. I buttered them up with Strawberry Cheesecake Kit Kats. But there I was, standing solo on a hot Rockefeller Center sidewalk, gleefully spooning bright yellow, mustard-flavored ice cream into my gaping maw. I couldn’t miss something as potentially horrifying as this.

French s  Coolhaus Mustard Ice Cream 2 Truck

My co-workers missed out, because, defying all odds and expectations, French’s Mustard Ice Cream was GOOD. 

First things first – based on color alone, there was no question this was mustard ice cream. French’s and Coolhaus ice cream perfectly replicated that signature shade. The serving was a good size for a free sample – about a scoop and a half. It came with a Coolhaus pretzel cookie that was absolutely delicious. 

French s  Coolhaus Mustard Ice Cream 3 Cup

My first impression when the ice cream hit my taste buds was “vanilla plus something.” The mustard flavor was far more subdued than I expected. There was none of the sharp tang that the condiment is known for. It took a moment for the mustard flavor to even land on my palate, and even then, it took a back seat to the milk/cream/vanilla. I wondered if anyone would correctly identify it if they didn’t already know, or have the visual cue of the color.

Overall, I thought it was an enjoyable ice cream that I might actually buy again if it were in stores.

French s  Coolhaus Mustard Ice Cream 4 Empty

In case you weren’t in New York/Los Angeles, or had something more pressing to do with your day (can’t imagine what would qualify), the French’s website has a home recipe you can use to recreate the magic of the Mustard Ice Cream Truck, albeit without the intoxicating perfume of Manhattan in the summer. I decided to give it a whirl. 

It’s a no-churn recipe, so you don’t need an ice cream machine, just a blender. It came together in under five minutes, but needed a few hours in the freezer. I left mine overnight and it was a good scoopable consistency in the morning. 

French s  Coolhaus Mustard Ice Cream 5 DIY

Taste-wise, it was on-par with the truck ice cream, but the texture was more like a frozen whipped topping, because it’s essentially a whipped cream base. I think I added a pinch more mustard than the truck, because I noticed it more here, but it’s an easy and pretty accurate copy of what I had on the street.

I have to hand it to French’s for creating a quirky, fun food instead of just another “experience” that’s all about taking Instagram photos with their logo.

And guess who’s going to work tomorrow with a batch of mustard ice cream and a bunch of spoons?

Purchased Price: FREE / DIY
Size: N/A
Purchased at: French’s & Coolhaus Mustard Ice Cream Truck
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Not available.

SPOTTED AT THE 2019 SUMMER FANCY FOOD SHOW (CHRISTMAS IN JULY EDITION)

Spotted on Shelves is back for more at the 2019 Summer Fancy Food Show (FFS) in New York City. I scoped out new products from familiar brands and interesting things from up-and-coming companies.

I, and everyone else present, ate many free samples. So many samples. This did not affect what was chosen to appear in this column or my opinions of the products.

Depending on where you live, you might have only just shed your winter coat or spring rain boots, but inside the Fancy Food Show, holiday merchandise is in full swing! In fact, it’s almost over – they’re talking Valentine’s Day. Well, I’ve been to the future, and brought some photos back…and a couple of samples.

Chuao Exploding Coal Chocolate Bar

Xmas chuaocoal

Well, I didn’t think it was possible to make a coal-related novelty Christmas stocking stuffer that wasn’t groan-inducing, but Chuao has done it! Exploding Coal is made with popping candy (fun!) and black cacao – aka black onyx cocoa powder. I am obsessed and bake with it all the time – it’s ultra-deep chocolate flavor without the bitterness of traditional dark chocolate. I haven’t seen black cocoa in a chocolate bar before, so it’s exciting. But it is still a dark-chocolate-based bar, so there is that familiar dark bitterness, but the black cacao cuts it a bit. Overall, a really tasty bar. It might say it’s for naughty folk, but I would only give this to people I truly like.

Available starting October 2019 at Amazon, big box retailers and supermarkets nationwide.

Tate’s Bake Shop Hot Chocolate Cookies and Toasted Almond Cookies

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Xmas tates2

I’m not sure Tate’s can make a cookie I don’t love. They won me over this summer on coconut, even! Its upcoming holiday flavors were on display at FFS, and I’m ready for them. The Hot Chocolate variety reminded me a lot of this summer’s S’mores cookies, without the graham cracker element. They’re a light cocoa with white chocolate chips and a strong caramel flavor.
The Toasted Almond cookies had a strong but not overwhelming or artificial almond flavor. They had a very “Cookies Grandma Made That We Didn’t Really Appreciate Until Adulthood Because As Kids We Just Wanted Sprinkles” vibe.

Available starting in October 2019 online, in mass supermarket chains, big box retailers and specialty food stores

B. Nutty Cinnamon Sugar Cookie, Peppermint Brownie, and Joyful Cranberry Dark Chocolate Gourmet Peanut Butters

Xmas Bnutty

I’m not a peanut butter fanatic per se, but I can put a real dent in a jar of B. Nutty’s peanut butters (shout out to Blissful Blueberry and Irresistable Pretzel!), so I was happy to see them at FFS with some new holiday flavors. I tried the Cinnamon Sugar Cookie, which was a sweet, cinnamon-y peanut treat and the Joyful Cranberry with Dark Chocolate, which was pretty low-key but delicious.

Available now online and on QVC, coming to Amazon late October, retail outlets November/December 2019

Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle Gingerbread

Xmas browniebrittle

Brownie Brittle has a new seasonal flavor hitting shelves soon as well – Gingerbread with white chocolate chips. Sadly, there weren’t samples on hand of this flavor, but I’m looking forward to trying it when it pops up in stores.

Available starting in September/October 2019 in supermarkets nationwide.

Crafty Cooking Kits Hanukkah Sugar Cookie House, Cabin in the Woods Gingerbread Kit

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Xmas craftyKits2

Just because someone doesn’t celebrate Christmas doesn’t mean we should rob them of the chance to buy a holiday house kit with all good intentions, then eat the cookie walls at midnight on a random night in November in a fit of hunger, right? That’s where the Hanukkah Sugar Cookie House comes in handy. And, as a horror fan, my brain lit up with decorating possibilities when I saw the Cabin in the Woods Gingerbread Kit. It’s about time that movie got a Christmas baking kit.

Available starting September/October 2019 in supermarket chains and discount retailers.

Pop Art Gingerbread Caramel Gourmet Popcorn

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Xmas popart2

Finding Gingerbread Caramel Popcorn at FFS made me think, “Why haven’t I seen THIS before?” The elements all make sense together, but it hasn’t been a regular holiday product…until NOW! Pop Art’s Gingerbread Caramel Popcorn was delicious and well-coated, but not too sticky. The packaging artwork was super-fun, too.

Available now online, starting in October 2019 in select regional grocery chains on the West Coast and Utah.

Pelican Bay Elf Snot Sour Apple Liquid Candy

Xmas elfsnot

Chances are, there’s a kid in your family that would LOVE to eat sugar “snot” out of a test tube this Christmas. Or maybe YOU would love to eat sugar “snot” and have a child in your life you can use as an excuse to buy TWO tubes and keep one. Either way, you need Elf Snot. I didn’t get to sample this Sour Apple-flavored liquid candy, but when I see it out in the wild, bet all my friends’ kids are getting some.

Available starting September 2019 in specialty and discount retailers and select supermarket chains nationwide.

Skinny Syrups Winter Trio and Cozy Coffee Collection

Xmas skinnysyrups

If you’re trying to escape the holidays without busting out of your pants, Skinny Syrups can help. They’re dropping some new zero-calorie coffee syrups (which I use in everything but coffee) in festive flavors like White Chocolate Mocha, Salted Caramel Swirl, Cinnamon Vanilla, S’mores, and Cinnamon Dolce.

Available starting July/August 2019 in discount retailers and specialty stores nationwide.

Walkers Pure Butter Shortbread Gingerbread Men and Mini Gingerbread Men Shortbread Biscuits

Xmas walkers

When I saw these gingerbread-flavored shortbread cookies in the Walkers booth at FFS, I didn’t think much of them. They were cute and I figured people who love shortbread would like them. Then I tasted the sample and OH MY GAWD. So buttery and rich. Ginger is present, but I’m not sure I’d identify them as gingerbread (or shortbread) without seeing the name first. It’s much more about the molasses. I will be eating more of these this holiday season. They’re dangerously addictive.

Available starting November 2019 in mass grocery chain, big box retailers and specialty retailers.

SPOTTED AT THE 2019 SUMMER FANCY FOOD SHOW (IT’S MADE OF WHAT? EDITION)

Spotted on Shelves is back for more at the 2019 Summer Fancy Food Show (FFS) in New York City. I scoped out new products from familiar brands and interesting things from up-and-coming companies.

I, and everyone else present, ate many free samples. So many samples. This did not affect what was chosen to appear in this column or my opinions of the products.

Part of the thrill of the Fancy Food Show is discovery. Finding ingredients you’ve never heard of. Finding products that use familiar ingredients in new and novel ways. It’s a novelty addict’s dream come true!

Sun Tropics Soursop Guanabana Nectar

What soursop

There seems to always be a fruit at FFS that I’m totally unfamiliar with but delighted to be introduced to, and this year it’s Soursop (aka Guanabana). At first, I mistook it on the label for cherimoya – turns out they’re cousins. This nectar was the right amount of sweet, tangy and creamy. I’d love to try working this into baked goods somehow.

Available now in select big box retailers on the West Coast and East Coast.

Nova Crisp Sea Salt, Maui Onion, White Cheddar, and Barbecue

What novacrisp1

What novacrisp2

Nova Crisps are air-popped snacks made with cassava, a South American root vegetable. I’m not sure if cassava is a new ingredient to most Americans since I keep mixing it up with casaba melon. In any case, the packaging on these crisps caught my eye – the Sea Salt and Maui Onion flavors fit right into the current unicorn/mermaid aesthetic, with a deep-space twist. Love it. The crisps themselves were tasty – the Maui Onion was my favorite. The texture was similar to a rice cake, but more delicate.

Available now on Amazon, coming to select regional grocery chains in August

Goldthread Tulsi Clarity and Schisandra Supreme Tonics

What goldthread

Goldthread had two plant-based tonics with flavors that were new to me. Tulsi Clarity features tulsi (aka holy Basil), a plant leaf native to Southeast Asia that gives you – you guessed it – clarity…and calmness for good measure. The tonic also includes hibiscus and goji berry and tastes very fruity. The Schisandra Supreme features a medicinal berry from China/Russia that gives uplifting energy, similar to ginseng. This tonic has goji berry, ginger, and mint. Both were fruity and delicious.

Available now online and in select Whole Foods, regional grocery chains, independent groceries and health food stores

Pan’s Mushroom Jerky Original, Salt & Pepper, Zesty Thai, and Applewood BBQ

What pansjerky1

What pansjerky2

Mushrooms are not a new food to any of us, but they appear in an unusual format here. I’m kind of a sucker for anything with the word “jerky” in it, so I had to try this, and I wasn’t disappointed. Based on a family recipe from Malaysia, all the familiar deep, meaty, savory beef jerky elements were present, and the BBQ and Thai flavors added a nice dimension. The texture was a little softer than I anticipated, but still with the bite and chewiness of more familiar jerky products.

Available now online and specialty food markets and independent grocers nationwide.

Garden of Flavor Cold-Pressed Energy Pear Reishi, Aronia Berry Blackberry, Wheatgrass Pineapple, Turmeric Root Ginger Root, and Aloe Collagen Drinks

What gardenflavor

Garden of Flavor’s Cold-Pressed Energy Drinks were based on a new-to-me ingredient: the guayusa leaf, from Amazonian caffeinated holly trees. Two of its flavors also featured foods I hadn’t heard of – Reishi, a Chinese medicinal mushroom, and Aronia (aka Chokeberry) a berry native to the Eastern United States and Canada. This entire range of juices were delicious – the wheatgrass was shockingly not overly grassy (I didn’t think that was possible), aloe ginger was a tart shot of lemon and ginger, and while the Pear Reishi was earthy, it didn’t scream mushroom.

Available now in select Whole Foods and specialty grocery stores on the East Coast and Midwest, West Coast distribution in Fall 2019.

Yolélé Fonio African Supergrain

What yolele1

What yolele2

Now that we all know what quinoa is, let’s find the new quinoa — FONIO! This grain, that’s barely larger than sand granules, is grown in West Africa. It’s gluten-free, high in protein, cooks in five minutes and has a neutral flavor that makes it a great base like rice, quinoa, or couscous. The samples on hand were mixed with tomato and herbs into a delicious pilaf. Yolélé as a company is also working to boost West African small farmers and female-owned collectives.

Available now on Amazon and specialty grocery stores in the Northeast, wider distribution TBD.

Kamsa Superfood Infused H2O Deep Forest Hibiscus/Berry, South Island Mango/Peach, High Mountain Lemon/Ginger, Wild Tropics Pineapple/Coconut, and Low-Key Peach/Ginger

What kamsa1

While a lot of novel ingredients at FFS were geared towards herbs or fruits that have medicinal or health-boosting properties, Kamsa are flavored waters featuring a familiar sweetener in a more natural form. Panela is a raw cane sugar product from Colombia that retains the original flavor of sugarcane juice that’s lost in refining it into white or brown sugar. Because these waters were dominated flavor-wise by the fruits and vegetables in them, I couldn’t really tell the difference in sweeteners, but overall they were tasty drinks.

Available now online and in select grocery stores and gas stations in Florida, wider distribution TBD.

Matzo Project Harissa Matzo Chips

What matzo1

What matzo2

Again, Matzo is not a new ingredient here in the US, but I haven’t seen it as chips before, and I’m loving it. First, the packaging is adorable – I’m pretty sure I’ve met that Granny on the bag a hundred times. Second, the texture and flavor of the new Harissa variety is great – crunchy and spicier than I would usually prefer, but I couldn’t stop eating them.

Available now online and at specialty food stores nationwide.