REVIEW: Cinnamon Pebbles Cereal

Cinnamon Pebbles Cereal

Churros existed before I discovered them in 2009, or so I’m told. But that fateful March afternoon in a Barcelona café was a personal turning point. As in – I turn my head any time I hear the word now. “Did someone say churros?” I ask, more a plea than a question.

When Cinnamon Pebbles cereal was announced last month, it was immediately linked with churros. Blog posts breathlessly asked if the breakfast flakes would taste like them. News articles suggested making Cinnamon Pebbles-covered churros.

My churro buds were aching when I ripped open the box of Cinnamon Pebbles. The scent was definitely cinnamon, but not churro-y. It was familiar, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it reminded me of.

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I threw a dry handful into my mouth. The size, weight and texture are the same as the classic Pebbles varieties. Then the taste revealed itself. These were not Churro Pebbles. They were the simple cinnamon sugar of my youth.

I instantly flashed back to 8 years old, finding an ancient shaker of Domino’s “Sugar ‘n Cinnamon” in the back of the kitchen cabinet. I started dumping clumps of cinna-sugar (emphasis on the sugar) over my plain Rice Chex cereal. That is precisely the taste of Cinnamon Pebbles.

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The cereal absorbed milk quickly, in typical Pebbles (and most rice cereal) fashion. The flavor stayed pretty true wet or dry, which makes me think it’s really baked in, not just a coating. It did impart some cinnamon-sweetness and a beige tint to the leftover milk, but visually not the party of brown flecks I expected.

While I loved the cinna-sugar/rice cereal combo in 1984, and eating it now was a bit of fun nostalgia, it’s 2017 and tastes have changed. Flavors have gotten more complex, exotic and sometimes silly. Hence, I can’t say that this cereal was exciting or “new.” It needed a hook to make it more modern.

Cinnamon Pebbles might have been greatly improved by adding a dash of red pepper, so I set out to do just that. I spread a layer of the cereal on a cookie sheet, sprinkled a mixture of water, ground cayenne and roasted Saigon cinnamon on top and gave it a quick toast in the oven (250 degrees, 5 minutes or so).

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The results were beyond my expectations. The extra cinnamon knocked down the overwhelming sugar and the red pepper brought a delayed warmth that hit just as I was ready to take the next spoonful. This was a cereal worth buying again.

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I also tried using the Cinnamon Pebbles as a pie crust. Filled with devil’s food instant pudding and a bit of cayenne, it was an easy and decent approximation of churros and chocolate.

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(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup cereal only – 120 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 180 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.69
Size: 11 oz. box
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Yep, they’re Pebbles alright! Pleasant throwback cinna-sugar flavor.
Cons: Too simple for novelty-seekers. Needs something to offset or amp up the cinnamon.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Dunkin’ Donuts Frosted Vanilla Latte Pop-Tarts

Limited Edition Dunkin' Donuts Frosted Vanilla Latte Pop-Tarts

Ugh. Coffee. Know what I hate about coffee?

  1. The taste. Gross.
  2. Endless choruses of “I can’t function until I’ve had my kawfeee.”
  3. Griping of coworkers choking on the terrible brew they insisted I make as an intern, despite my warnings that I was bad at it.
  4. This:

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So why am I reviewing COFFEE Pop-Tarts? Because, as a woman of many contradictions, I love java-flavored foods. Jelly beans, ice cream, potato chips – I’ll eat ‘em. Kahlua? Yessir! When the short-term marriage of Pop-Tarts and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee was announced, I was ready. I particularly coveted the Frosted Vanilla Latte flavor – I imagined it would be like eating a non-alcoholic White Russian.

But for the sake of scientific review, I had to compare them to the genuine article. So I popped next door to the Dunkin’ where they give me extra Munchkins if I go in 10 minutes before closing, got a small Vanilla Latte and hunkered down with it and my Box O’ Joe Tarts.

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I took deep breaths of each. The same lovely coffee and vanilla aroma was present in both, but the Pop Tarts had an additional, nutty/wheaty scent, which I assumed was the pastry.

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The appearance wasn’t exactly exciting. They looked pale – not like the rich tones Pop-Tarts usually come in. The pastry, frosting and filling were all a washed-out monochromatic tan with a white squiggle blended in on top. It reminded me of squirting SPF50 on my embarrassingly colorless skin during a tropical vacation.

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On first bite, I loved the taste. As I suspected, this was a Pop-Tart White Russian. (I know there’s a Big Lebowski joke to be made here, but I’ve never seen it, so…) They were coffee-ish, milky and sweeeeeet – exactly what I hoped for.

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Next, I downed a mouthful of the DD Vanilla Latte, which confirmed my hatred of coffee. The Pop-Tarts don’t have the bitter punch of the latte. I appreciated that, but if you’re looking for that edge, it’s not there. That could be due to the lack of actual coffee product in the ingredients list. I guess “natural and artificial flavors” don’t impart quite the same zip.

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Overall, I really enjoyed these Pop-Tarts, but I’m cool with a less-than-authentic flavor. If you’re not, you might want to dunk them in the real McCoy.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 pastry – 200 calories, 50 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 16 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.00 (on sale)
Size: 14.1 oz. box/8 pastries
Purchased at: Food Lion
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: It’s a White Russian Pop-Tart! Spot-on coffee aroma. Delicious, sugary approximation of taste.
Cons: Won’t get you drunk like a real White Russian. Ghostly appearance. If you want authentic coffee flavor, look elsewhere.

REVIEW: Trader Joe’s It’s Sedimentary, My Dear Cookie

Trader Joe's It's Sedimentary My Dear Cookie

On picking up Trader Joe’s It’s Sedimentary, My Dear Cookie mix, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes a little. The precious Mason jar, the muted tones of the “candy coated chocolate drops,” the cutesy crowd-sourced name. I wanted to trust the company that’s kept me in Speculoos Cookie Butter all this time, however. I read the instructions – mix butter and egg, dump entire jar in.

Wait. What?

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First rule of Cookie Baking Club is: cream the butter and sugar first. Most cookie recipes (and all mothers) will tell you that whipping the sugar and butter together until pale and fluffy before everything else is cookie gospel. It’s what makes them light and airy. Now Trader Joe was telling me not to. I feared ending up with hockey pucks – something your childhood friends’ hippie parents would give you, saying “These are better than Chips Ahoy, trust me!”

Initial impression opening the jar was the smell of OATS! The oat force was strong with this one. Peanut Butter chips and graham cracker crumbs were present, although aromatically invisible. The dough came together quickly in my mixer – less than 30 seconds. Second rule of Cookie Baking Club: Don’t overmix!

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Using a loosely-packed 2-Tbsp scoop, I was able to form 30 cookies, despite the label stating it would make 18. That’s a pretty good yield. Next – refrigerate the dough for two hours.

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TWO HOURS? What kind of patience and willpower does Trader Joe’s think I have? With a tiny fridge, I had to cram every other cold item I own into the crisper bin so these free-range oat balls could chillax.

Eventually, it was time to bake. Since they were cold, the dough didn’t spread or flatten much – more like puffed out into domes.

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I must admit, these cookies surprised me.

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They’re dense, but not potential deadly weapons in a food fight. More than 4 might leave you feeling like there’s rocks in your belly, though. They were crumbly on the outside and soft on the inside.

After baking, the oats piped down and let the peanut butter chips and graham cracker crumbs dominate the flavor, which I appreciated.

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I would have liked more “candy coated chocolate drops” for color, but overall, this was a pretty decent cookie mix. Could be a nice gift for busy parents, kids, or anyone who wants to upgrade from the “cut and bake” pre-made cookie dough.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/8 cup (as prepared per directions) – 200 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 23 oz. jar
Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Easy to make. Nice earthy peanut butter and graham cracker flavor. Presentation is gift-appropriate.
Cons: Could use more “candy coated chocolate drops.” Cynics might contract charming-itis from the whole thing.

REVIEW: Shimmery White Chocolate M&M’s

Shimmery White Chocolate M&M’s

I am of the opinion that there’s very little in life that can’t be improved by a bit of glitter. So you can imagine how excited I was to hear about Shimmery White Chocolate M&M’s – a limited edition with sparkles! Visions of glitzy holiday food crafts danced in my head.

After locating a small stash in the barely-yet-stocked holiday aisle of Target, I hurried home – careful not to jostle too much for fear of dislodging any shimmer. I sliced open the bag and feasted my eyes on…what’s the opposite of glitter?

Crusty patina?

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There wasn’t a whiff of twinkle in this bag. Not even a glint. The smooth, dull red and green candies were mottled with pale opaque flecks. It looked a bit like the white-ish “bloom” you see on old chocolate – the stuff that instinctively makes people hurl perfectly edible chocolate across the room like a flaming snake. The white candies were just solid white, no patina or glow. I’m curious if they rolled off the production line like this, or if something happened in transit. In any case, they were a 100 percent shimmer fail.

The taste is the familiar M&M’s white chocolate that we’ve seen in other editions like Candy Corn and Boo-tterscotch – sweet and milky, but without additional flavor in this case. I do generally love the larger, rounder size and shape of the limited-edition M&M’s. It’s a tactile reminder that you’re indulging in something apart from the classic. But considering that the appeal of this particular product rests almost entirely in the visuals, I have to consider them a flop.

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My dreams of Pinterest-worthy, shiny M&M-studded baked goods were out the window like a gin-soaked Santa who couldn’t manage the chimney. So I grabbed some edible glitter from the baking supply shop and fixed them for you, Mars. You’re welcome!

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…and craft nirvana achieved.

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(Nutrition Facts – 1.5 ounces – 210 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 28 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.19
Size: 8 oz. bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Taste is solid – the basic M&M’s white chocolate base.
Cons: I was promised shimmer! I want my shimmer!

ANNOUNCEMENT: New Impulsive Buy Reviewer Rachel

Finally, the fact that I spent my formative years stuffed with Chicken McNuggets and Cherry Pop-Tarts is paying off! Thanks, Mom – I couldn’t have done it without you and your complete disregard for nutrition.

I’m Rachel, and like all of you, I love junk food, fast food, novelty flavors, and limited edition foods. Originally from New York’s Hudson Valley, I currently live in Manhattan and work as a freelance television producer. As a long-time Impulsive Buy reader, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute.

Oreo cookies are my #1 obsession – 31 flavor notches in my belt so far – but Pop-Tarts, M&M’s, Hershey Kisses, potato chips, and popcorn are high on my list as well. I’m currently hoarding four boxes of Frankenberry cereal in the linen closet, and made a point of trying the infamous Kuro (Black) Burger at Burger King Tokyo. If I were trapped on a desert island with an endless supply of a single food of my choice (it could happen), it would be chicken noodle soup.

I also love re-purposing snack and dessert foods into other treats – what could possibly make chocolate chip cookies better than chopped-up Oreos? I’ve been decorating cakes for 16+ years, making everything from a Star Wars Death Star to KISS babies.

Other random obsessions of mine: Hello Kitty, 80s-90s-era heavy metal music, IKEA, Halloween (the holiday), The Golden Girls, cats, British soap operas, the 1939/1964 New York World’s Fair, the artist Shag, monster trucks, and horror movies.

My flavor wish list:

  • Maple Oreo Cookies
  • Peach Cobbler Pop-Tarts or M&M’s
  • Hello Kitty Oreo Cookies (vanilla-pomegranate flavor)
  • Savory Pop-Tarts (Roasted Garlic & Onion Jam)
  • Orange Blossom White Chocolate M&M’s