SPOTTED AT THE 2019 SUMMER FANCY FOOD SHOW (DRINKS 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.

We’ve seen the savories. We’ve seen the sweets. We have to stay properly hydrated, though, so let’s hit on all the wet stuff at FFS that will keep us refreshed and moist. (Yeah, that’s right – I said it. Moist.)

Maud Borup’s Very Cherry and Blue Raspberry Fizzy Drink Bombs

Drinks FizzyBombs1

One of my favorite finds at FFS were these little bath-bomb-like spheres that you drop into water to make a fizzy fruit drink. The ball spins, rises and sinks, and sheds edible glitter as it dissolves. The resulting drink is a bright cherry or raspberry flavor. I totally want to drop these into champagne. I just hope Grandpa Joe and I don’t bump into the newly-washed and sterilized ceiling.

Available in specialty grocery stores starting in Mid-August 2019.

Don Pablo Bourbon Infused Coffee

Drinks DonPablo

My attempts to find interesting coffee products at FFS were hampered a bit by my complete disinterest in coffee as a drink. So I imagined them as hot cocoa products instead, and a bourbon-infused hot cocoa sounded interesting to me. I did take a hearty whiff of the coffee grounds and they smelled lovely, so I’m thinking they taste pretty good as well. It’s made by soaking coffee beans in bourbon, drying them, then roasting (which cooks off the alcohol but leaves the flavor).

Available in September online, Amazon and select big box retailers.

Nestea Peach Black Tea, Lemon Black Tea and Raspberry Green Tea

Drinks Nestea

It wouldn’t be summer without some iced tea, now would it? Nestea was showing some new flavors and new formulas of its bottled iced teas. All three had nice flavors that weren’t too tart or overwhelming. The Raspberry Green Tea was pretty light on green tea taste and sweetened with beet sugar. The Peach and Lemon had beet sugar but also Stevia to sweeten.

Available now at select grocery chains and discount retails, more outlets coming.

Republic of Tea The Bates’ Tea, Violet & Mary’s Tea, and Lord & Lady Grantham’s Tea

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Get out your corsets, the Downton Abbey movie is coming! And now you can trade zingers with your favorite salty granny over a cup of Republic of Tea’s new Downton movie themed tea bags. I didn’t taste these, but they smelled lovely. The Lord & Lady Granthams’ flavor is Black Tea with Royal Spices, Violet & Mary’s is Caffeine-Free Ginger Mint Herb Tea (because can you picture Violet amped up on caffeine?), and The Bates’ Plum Pudding Black Tea.

Available starting August (leading up to the movie release in September) in specialty and natural foods markets and CostPlus World Market.

iQ juice Vitalize w/CBD

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The CBD sign drew me in to the iQ juice booth, but what made it really interesting to me were the juices themselves. My jury’s still out on this whole craze, so I didn’t taste its Vitalize with CBD pre-production samples, but another variety I did try – Fat Burner – was truly delicious. I find the idea of a really good base juice with CBD as an ingredient more appealing than something where flavor is secondary to the CBD. The owners told me they chose fruits for Vitalize with anti-inflammatory properties (like dark berries), to play off of CBD’s similar benefits.

Available before the end of 2019 at specialty grocery and health food stores and select mass-market retailers.

Mingle Blood Orange Elderflower Sparkling Mocktails

Drinks Mingle

Mingle is a line of non-alcoholic sparkling mocktails that can be enjoyed as-is, or mixed with your tipple of choice. Obviously a great option for non-imbibers, but I also think it’s handy for lazy folks like myself who never seem to have all the ingredients for classy cocktails. Its new blood orange elderflower flavor was refreshing and fruity but not overly tart.

Available starting in Mid-July at regional grocery chains and select domestic retailers.

Tap Drops Tokyo, London, Vienna, Paris, Rome, and New York

Drinks TapDrops

TapDrops sells tiny bottles of liquid that, when added to purified water, recreate the water of other major cities of the world. You could have the bagel-perfecting water of New York City in Peoria. Apparently the coffee in Rome is something wonderful, and you can get closer to recreating it at home with these drops – or just enjoy the tap water of your favorite metropolis without all the annoying travel.

Available now online, retail distribution TBD.

Jardin Floral Infusions Rose, Honeysuckle, and Lavender

Drinks Jardin1

Jardin Floral Infusions are one of the most visually attractive items I saw at the show. I mean – look at those pearly swirls! These are meant to be mixed with champagne or spirits as an enhancer, but I can see them going nicely into any clear drink. I tried the Lavender and Honeysuckle. They’re very subtle flavor-wise, which is great because flowers can get overwhelming fast. The bottles are so lovely I’d totally bring them as hostess gifts.

Available now at specialty grocery and wine stores across the Northeast.

SPOTTED AT THE 2019 SUMMER FANCY FOOD SHOW (SWEETS 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.

Somehow, I managed to leave FFS on my own feet, not hauled out on a stretcher in a sugar coma. I tried and saw some really interesting and delicious sweet treats that have just landed or will in the future.

Jelly Belly Candy Cupcakes

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Last year at FFS, Jelly Belly was showing its mellowcreme ice cream cones. This year, it’s mellowcreme cupcakes. Again, each piece has two halves with its own flavors. In this case, the bottoms are cupcake-flavored, the top is frosting – vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, blueberry or banana. I like the texture of these – I love candy corn, and these are like a refined version of candy corn with more flavors.

Available starting September 2019 in grocery stores, candy shops and retailers nationally

Pechkek’s Misfortune Cookies

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Sometimes you find a product that resonates with you on a level that makes you wonder if it was plucked from your brain while you slept. This was one of those times. These fortune cookies are heavy metal black, have delightfully Halloween-ish packaging and are filled with fortunes that are bleak, clever, and funny. If I am ever reincarnated in cookie form, I will be a Pechkek’s Misfortune Cookie. Sadly, they only had paper prototypes on hand at FFS, so I didn’t get to taste them, but I didn’t need to. I want them. I am them.

Available mid-September 2019, outlets TBD

Loacker Double Choc Crispy Wafers

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I’m surprised to call a wafer cookie “decadent,” but Loacker’s Double Choc felt so over-the-top rich. The wafers are deep cocoa (but not dark/bittersweet). The filling is thin, gooey, and delicious but left me with choc hands – which I promptly got all over my shirt. Maybe eat them wearing black satin elbow-length gloves just to be safe.

Available in the US starting early 2020, available internationally now.

Red Vines Made Simple Cherry Twist

Sweets RedVines

Some people do not discuss politics at the dinner table. I prefer not to discuss which red licorice is better. There is no right answer – the best red licorice is the red licorice that’s there in front of you. At FFS, Red Vines’ upcoming Made Simple Cherry Twist were in front of me. Well, the packaging was. I didn’t get to sample them, but based on the Made Simple Mixed Berry Twists that I did have, they’ll be pretty close in texture to the original Red Vines with a slightly different flavor.

Available in grocery stores, convenience stores and major retailers starting November 2019

Hammond’s SodaPop and Coconut Cream Pie Milk Chocolate Bars

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Hammond’s, of “Pigs N’ Taters” chocolate bar fame, has just dropped two new flavors. My favorite, SodaPop, is a cola-flavored chocolate bar with popping candy inside. As a cola fanatic, I am always skeptical of cola flavoring, but it’s done really well here (thanks for not making it cherry cola!) and the popping candy worked really well. The Coconut Cream Pie has a finely-shredded coconut and ganache filling that will make coconut lovers happy.

Available now online and at specialty stores nationally.

Belgian Boys Dark Chocolate and Salted Caramel Lava Cakes & Cookies & Cream, Raspberry, Cookie Butter, Key Lime and New York Cheesecakes

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There’s no better way to get me to stop at your booth at FFS than to dangle cookie butter (aka – speculoos) in front of me, and that’s exactly what The Belgian Boys did. They were showing its new freezer-aisle desserts – single-serving cheesecakes and lava cakes in little glass bowls. The cheesecakes are thaw and eat, the lava cakes are freezer-to-oven. I tried the Cookie Butter flavor, which delivered on specu-locity with a slab of the spread of the Gods on top, a light, creamy cheesecake layer and a cookie crumb crust at the bottom. Bonus points for the tiny shovel-shaped spoons at the booth.

Available in grocery chains and Whole Foods in the MidAtlantic area and regional retailers starting in September 2019.

Mamie’s Pies Peach, Cherry, Pumpkin, Apple, and Blueberry

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Mamie’s Pies has been on QVC and Oprah’s “Favorite Things” list, but they’re moving into your local grocery stores soon. These hand pies come individually packaged and frozen – they can be oven-baked, air fried, or deep fried. The samples I tasted were baked the previous day and served at room temperature, but still had flaky crusts and delicious fillings.

Available starting end of Summer 2019 in mass grocery chains nationally

Hot Scream Spicy Ice Cream Salted Caramel Swirl, Strawberry Swirl, Espresso Swirl, Chocolate Swirl, Black Raspberry Swirl, Ginger Swirl and Peach Swirl

Sweets HotScream

Novelty addicts and hot sauce addicts, gather ‘round. Somebody made an ice cream just for you. Hot Scream is basically a good, solid vanilla ice cream with flavor ribbons and a dash of heat. It sounds like a “WHY?” moment, but these ice creams were really good. The heat didn’t compete with the ice cream flavors, it just added a little kick. I’m not enough of a chili fan to crave this, but it was fun to try all the flavors. They would be great for a summer party or outdoor barbecue.

Available now in grocery chains in the Northeast, nationwide distribution TBD.

Waffle Shots Limited Edition 8-packs Peanut Butter & Brownie and Peppermint Bark & Hazelnut

Sweets WaffleShot

Waffle Shots, the company that makes espresso-shot-sized waffle cone cups, is releasing new flavors for the fall/winter. I didn’t sample these because they were being served with coffee (I hate coffee!) but they’re so cute and useful – I’m definitely going to try them with hot cocoa or cider.

Available starting in September/October 2019 online, Amazon, select department stores and gourmet food markets.

SPOTTED AT THE 2019 SUMMER FANCY FOOD SHOW (SAVORIES 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.

I love sampling savory foods at FFS. They feel slightly less sinful than the 9:00 a.m. ice cream scoops I managed to do all three days of the show. Sometimes they give me the momentary illusion I’m eating an actual meal, instead of the incalculable single mouthfuls that leave me unsure, at the end of the day, if I’m stuffed or starving.

Swiss Rösti Chili Cheese, Baked Potato and Swiss Raclette Filled Potatoes

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Savory Rosti2

I’ve never had a traditional Swiss rösti before, but clearly I’m missing out, judging by these convenience-food versions of them. They are balls of shredded potato with savory fillings that go right from the freezer to the oven and are toasty brown in minutes. I found them a little addictive, but not overly indulgent. The browned crust reminded me of a breaded coating, the potato inside fluffy, and the filling were well-proportioned and tasty. The raclette was my favorite, with its oozy swiss cheese.

Available in late July in select Whole Foods, Kroger, H-E-B, and other grocery chains.

Vegan Rob’s Burger Puffs

Savory VeganRobs

My first question at Vegan Rob’s booth was, “How do you make a vegan beef-flavored puff?” (Turns out it’s not beef-flavored – it’s vegan-beef-flavored – think Impossible Burger.) But the question I should have asked was, “Who eats vegan-beef-flavored puffs?” Vegans with fond memories of hamburgers? Meat fanatics with blocked arteries? We novelty addicts who’ll eat anything new and unusual? All of the above? These were beefy, but not overly. I enjoyed them, but my tastes lean toward cartoonishly-beefy, so if you prefer a more subtle flavor profile, you’ll love these.

Available in Fall/Winter 2019 online and in health food stores.

Truff Hot Sauce, Truff Hotter Sauce, Truff White Truffle Infused Hot Sauce

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Truff has sidestepped the decades-long arms race of who can produce the most ridiculous hot sauce packaging. I mean, these things wouldn’t look terribly out of place on a wedding registry (note to self – quit job, launch hot sauce wedding registry business in 2020). This spice wussy enjoyed the truffle-forward flavor, and thought the heat was mid-range on the black-label version.

Available now online and select grocery and gourmet stores.

Savorly Cocktail & Party Bites – Mini Tarts, Mezze Bites, Cocktail Bites, Mini Pies, Mini Gratins, Croquettes and Mini Bagels

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LOOK HOW TINY THEY ARE! EEEEE!!! I’m a sucker for anything mini, so I was instantly charmed by these. They’re freezer aisle products that you thaw & eat or heat straight from the freezer. The mini bagels retained the bagel flavor and chewy texture, but without the usual hard, shiny exterior (which I think might not work well in such a tiny, one-bite item). I’ll be having a teensy food/mega cocktail soiree when I find these out in the wild.

Available Fall 2019 at select specialty grocery stores.

Caulipower Chicken Tenders

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…And the award for “Sample I Felt the Least Guilty Eating” goes to Caulipower Chicken Tenders! Not only was this freezer-to-oven chicken delicious, the crust tasted great. If I hadn’t seen the logo beforehand, I wouldn’t have known it was a cauliflower-based breading. My mother thanks you for convincing me to eat a vegetable.

Available Fall 2019 in mass grocery chains and big box retailers.

Xochitl American Style Corn Chips

Savory Xochitl

The usually-Mexican-style chips have wrapped themselves in the American flag for the summer holidays! These are the standard thin, crunchy, salted Xochitl chips with red and blue color variants mixed in. The packaging also has a dedication to the United States Armed Forces.

Available now online and in grocery chains nationally.

Stonewall Kitchen Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Sriracha Horseradish Cream Sauce, Apple Blueberry Salsa, Bacon Queso, Malt Vinegar, Seafood Remoulade Sauce, Lemon Teriyaki Sauce, New England Cranberry Grape Jelly, Bourbon Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup, Cilantro Lime & Avocado Oil Dressing, and Bacon Vinaigrette

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Stonewall Kitchen is one of my go-to condiment brands, so I’m always interested in seeing what they’ve got in store. I wanted to highlight two items of its new lineup. First, the Bacon Vinaigrette had a nice, strong bacon flavor, but was also very tangy. It might be a nice change of pace from the usual mellow vinaigrettes. The Lemon Teriyaki sauce was, similar to its Garlic Teriyaki, sweet, deep savory soy-ginger, with a really strong lemon flavor – more than I expected, but not mouth-puckering. I really liked it.

Coming in July to specialty grocery stores, gourmet shops and select retailers.

Field Trip Brooklyn Style Everything Bagel All Natural Beef Jerky

Savory FieldTrip

Everything bagel – the new pumpkin spice! I love trying to predict what things will get sprinkled with that poppy-seed-sesame-garlic-onion ambrosia next. Beef jerky wasn’t even on my radar, but I must say it works. But now, as a society, we have to tackle getting poppy seeds out of our teeth for mid-mountain hiking selfies.

Available now at Amazon and RaceTrac convenience stores, soon in CostPlus World Market and other specialty retailers.

Hanakifujin Pink Soy Sauce, Pink Wasabi and Pink Curry Sauce

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As a card-carrying member of the “Too Old to Love Hello Kitty This Much, But Don’t Care” Club, you can see why I stopped at this booth. Pink condiments are just too good to pass up. The soy sauce was thicker and less salty than regular soy sauce, had a hint of sweetness and I loved it. I didn’t try the wasabi, but the curry sauce was also tasty.

Available now in Japan, distribution in US TBD.

REVIEW: Seaweed Oreo, Strawberry Oreo, and Blueberry Oreo (China)

Chinese Oreo 1

What are they?

First, just look at this package. Nothing says “I have a problem” clearer than when your snack foods arrive looking like they were crowbarred out of the quarter panel of a car crossing the border.

Chinese Oreo 2

China has figured out the optimal way to sell novelty flavored Oreo cookies – in a variety pack! (Meanwhile, we’re still stuck with 20-packs of Swedish Fish Oreo.) This box had two identical sleeves containing eight Oreo of varying bizarro-ness. Genius.

Chinese Oreo 3

There was a classic Oreo, Chocolate, Mango, Spicy Chicken Wing, Strawberry, Wasabi, Blueberry, and Seaweed (a flavor I haven’t seen sold on its own yet).

Chinese Oreo 4

How are they?

I expected the aroma inside the sleeve to be a mishmash of sweet and savory, but it was a general chocolate and slightly citrus-y sweetness.

Chinese Oreo 5

I’ll skip the classic and chocolate because they’re basically the same cookies we have here and the Spicy Chicken Wing and Wasabi, as they’ve been reviewed before. The Mango I’ll also skip because it tasted the same as the Orange & Mango that was reviewed earlier, just with a single color filing.

The first cookie I tried was Blueberry, which was really lovely. Not totally natural, but not unpleasantly fake. It was tangy and went nicely with the chocolate cookie. I picked up a good amount of raspberry as well, which made me think this is a single-color version of the Chinese Blueberry/Raspberry Double-Fruit Oreos (Orange/Mango). In any case, I could have eaten a whole package of these.

Chinese Oreo 6

The Strawberry didn’t work as well, mostly because it was so subtle that it almost disappeared under the chocolate. On its own, the filling was OK – actually a hair more authentic than the blueberry – but anything it’s paired with will overwhelm it.

Chinese Oreo 7

Lastly, the Seaweed. In the words of Rihanna, this is what you came for. The filling was a beige tint with little green flecks and some tiny yellowish chunks (still haven’t figured out what those were). They still tasted like the basic Oreo, but with a savory overlay. It wasn’t particularly fishy or salty, but that vaguely defined “umami.”

Unlike the Chicken Wing and Wasabi, which were downright horror shows, these were edible and genuinely interesting. I can easily see them finding an audience with people who prefer their treats on the less-sweet side. While I wouldn’t want a 20-pack of them (two is perfect for me), I liked them a lot more than I thought I would.

Is there anything else you need to know?

The flavors in the sleeve did not match the running order on the back of the box. Very upsetting for us OCD-adjacent folk.

Conclusion:

Blueberry(/Raspberry) I want more of. They’re worth buying on their own if they come here. Strawberry – meh – not great enough to seek out. Seaweed – better than I expected and worth a try for the adventurous snackers or to goad your friends into eating at a party.

Purchased Price: $14.95 + free shipping
Size: 155g box (16 cookies)
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Blueberry)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Strawberry)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Seaweed)
Nutrition Facts:: (per 100g) 486 calories, 21.2 grams of fat, 440 milligrams of sodium, 67.6 grams of carbohydrates, and 5.2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Herr’s Orange Cream Pop Snack Balls

Herr s Crunchy  N Sweet Orange Cream Pop Snack Balls

What are Herr’s Orange Cream Pop Snack Balls?

I’m 70% sure this is how this product was developed:

“Ok, what flavor are we making these new orange crunchy balls?”

“How about orange?”

“Don’t be so obvious, Jim. Anybody else? Ideas? Anything? No? OK, orange it is!”

Hence, we have Herr’s Orange Cream Pop Snack Balls – orange cream-flavored, orb-shaped puffs.

How are they?

The aroma in the bag is straight-up, not-screwing-around-with-subtlety orange. After cracking it open, I left the room and could smell them when I walked back in. Not the Epcot Soarin’ orange grove mist variety, more like candy or soda. I liked it, but it’s hardcore fakey-fake.

Herr s Crunchy  N Sweet Orange Cream Pop Snack Balls 2 Back

Ironically, they’re not even orange – they’re cream-colored with orange flecks.

Herr s Crunchy  N Sweet Orange Cream Pop Snack Balls 3 Balls

I expected the flavor to be a sweet/savory combo, since I associate the puff format with cheese, but these were all sweet with just the slightest hint of savory from the puff base.

The orange was much more laid back in taste than aroma. The cream was definitely present, along with a wheaty/baked flavor, which gave the whole thing a breakfast-cereal vibe. I thought about dumping them in milk, but it only occurred to me after I’d finished them all. Whoops.

Herr s Crunchy  N Sweet Orange Cream Pop Snack Balls 4 Closeup

Is there anything else you need to know?

No day-glo dust means no orange fingers. No one would even know these hands just pawed through an entire bag!

Herr s Crunchy  N Sweet Orange Cream Pop Snack Balls 5 Fingers

Conclusion:

These were tasty, and a novel flavor I haven’t seen in this form. Not Epcot-orange, but a fun snack that’s worth a try. I binge-ate them.

Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: 6 oz. bag
Purchased at: Five Below
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (39 pieces) 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, including 6 grams of added sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Mtn Dew Cyclone

Mtn Dew Cyclone 2 Sign

What is it?

The gods of sugary soda-crack Mountain Dew have bestowed a “citrus punch” flavor variation upon the Club Chill dispensers at Speedway gas stations.

How is it?

I was expecting the signature Dew combo of vaguely citrus tang and who-knows-what (sweat?) plus some hints of generically unidentifiable fruit, because that’s my impression of the word “punch.'” But it turned out this Dew SCREAMED raspberry. I could pick out some citrus in the background, knowing it was in there, but in a blind taste-test, I would’ve said, “Ohh – raspberry! Nice.” This is a tasty soda, but “citrus cyclone” it ain’t. Strange, since I think raspberry is a better selling point than punch.

Mtn Dew Cyclone 3 Disp

The flavor here had a little more bite and brightness than the regular Dew. I enjoyed it and it was a nice change from the soda flavors I’m usually drawn to (cola/lemon-lime), but it was just intense enough that I didn’t want more than the 22-ounce cup’s worth. The raspberriness landed somewhere between actual fruit and those candies that your grandma left in her candy dish so long they fossilized, but you ate them anyway.

Mtn Dew Cyclone 4 Cup

Is there anything else you need to know?

This is a REALLY red drink. Like maroon. Crimson. Burgundy. With summer white shirts and pants, one spill and you could look like a stabbing victim. Make sure the lids are tightly sealed on those Club Chill cups, friends.

Mtn Dew Cyclone 5 Closeup

Conclusion:

If you’re a Dew fan, love raspberry candy, don’t mind the potential of looking like a horror movie extra, and live near a Speedway, you should definitely try Mtn Dew Cyclone.

Purchased Price: 79 cents (all sizes)
Size: 22 oz. cup
Purchased at: Speedway (Exclusive)
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts:: (12 oz) 170 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 45 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 45 grams of total sugars, 45g of added sugars, and 0 grams of protein.