REVIEW: Cheetos Crunch Pop Mix

Cheetos Crunch Pop Mix Bag

What is Cheetos Crunch Pop Mix?

If you have tiny panic attacks trying to decide which popped or fried processed corn snack you want to buy at the grocery store, Frito-Lay has swooped in and made things worse with another option — Cheetos Crunch Pop Mix. As a follow-up to 2020’s Cheetos Popcorn, the popped corn has a new corny best friend that goes by the name of Crunchy Cheetos.

How is it?

I won’t lie, when I first saw the announcement of this product, I thought it was kind of dumb, but this cheesy mix SMACKS. I’m a bigger lover of popcorn than I am Cheetos, and I don’t buy regular Crunchy Cheetos very often, but this serves as a great reminder of how satisfying the classics are. The bag is loaded with cheesy seasoning (cheetle) and is as beautifully luminously orange as ever.

Cheetos Crunch Pop Mix Closeup

In general, Cheetos are a solid snack but can be kind of heavy and greasy when eaten in large quantities, no matter the flavor. The popcorn acts as a perfect companion to the denser, greasy Cheetos. It allows for a full-on salty and creamy snack spiral without the heftiness.

It’s a fun textural juxtaposition to have two totally different types of corn with the same seasoning. They taste and feel pretty different but maintain the intense glowing cheesy symphony that builds as I crunch and crunch and crunch.

Anything else you need to know?

I would love to see a bag with Cheetos’ classic cheesy and spicy flavors combined. Perhaps incorporating Cheetos popcorn with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos for an addictive back and forth.

Conclusion:

This simple little snack surprised me, and if you like the salty cheddar explosion from Chester, there’s no way you won’t enjoy going for a cheesy dive into Crunch Pop Mix.

Purchased Price: $3.50
Size: 2.75 oz bag
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 cup/28 grams) 160 calories, 11 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 250 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Driftwell by Pepsi

Driftwell by Pepsi Cans

The number of times I’ve had a drink to turn up: 9,356

The number of times I’ve had a drink to get ready for bed: 0

Well, until now.

In a world run by Dunkin’, overflowing with Starbucks, and exploding (or, BANG-ing?) with pre-workout energy drinks, the latest PepsiCo’s brand addition came as a massive surprise to me. Sure, some people like a little whiskey nightcap or swear by a soothing cup of warm milk. But aside from a much needed shot of NyQuil to literally pass out when sick, I have never tried, or even seen, a drink designed and advertised to go down like a gentle lullaby.

Driftwell is an enhanced water beverage designed to help you “sip into relaxation” via 200 milligrams of L-theanine in each 7.5 ounce can. The company claims it designed the drink not as a knockout punch (like booze or marijuana) but as a stress reducer. L-theanine is an amino acid most commonly found in tea leaves and sometimes taken as a supplement in pill form that can increase relaxation without causing drowsiness or reducing your resting heart rate.

Unlike grabbing a can of REIGN from the fridge and expecting to be able to run through a wall in 15 minutes (love it!), Driftwell suggests to the brain it’s time to sleep in an even milder way than melatonin. Halfway through the can I felt a noticeable shift in my headspace and was seemingly more sleepy. It was already late, and about 30 minutes before I planned on getting in bed, so the context was right. My eyes didn’t force themselves closed, but I was excited to get in bed. My attention gently drifted away from the excellent movie I was finishing (Batman Returns), and once I hit the pillow, it was easier than usual to slip into a dreaming state. I haven’t been having problems falling asleep recently, so take it for what it is, but I think this stuff kind of works!

Driftwell by Pepsi Glass

The flavor is very subtle and mostly pleasant; it is more or less what I expected from a product that boasts zero sugar and zero calories. Blackberry Lavender is a pretty unique flavor that interestingly tastes a lot like a combination of cantaloupe and honeydew with notes of chamomile. There’s definitely a tea-like aura to the whole Driftwell experience.

I tried it both cold and room temperature on separate nights. Since the box and website have no indication of how to consume this new sleep aid, I’m going to give a formal recommendation for room temp. It reminds me a lot of Hint Water, which I find is very hit or miss with its execution. Fortunately for PepsiCo, this is a pretty solid starting point in terms of taste for a drink that isn’t supposed to erupt with flavor.

Driftwell by Pepsi Box

PepsiCo was the first of the soda titans to respond to the sparkling water craze, launching its own brand Bubly in 2018, well ahead of Coca Cola’s AHA brand in early 2020. Does Driftwell’s slow trickle into the market indicate the company is ahead of the curve again? Or is this a crazy overpriced niche market drink for yogis? I’m edging towards the latter, but time will tell. Hopefully, this makes its way into stores in smaller packs or even single cans so people can test it out for themselves. Even though it does as advertised, it is more expensive than booze, and ten cans is a lot to commit to.

Purchased Price: $22.98
Size: 7.5 oz cans/10-pack
Purchased at: Amazon
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 0 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 0 gram of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Ghirardelli White Chocolate Sugar Cookie Squares

Ghirardelli White Chocolate Sugar Cookie Squares Pouch

What are Ghirardelli White Chocolate Sugar Cookie Squares?

The latest addition to this year’s sugar cookie craze comes from none other than San Francisco’s own Ghirardelli Chocolate. Ghirardelli’s stocking stuffer-ready interpretation of the quintessential holiday treat combines rich white chocolate with cookie bits and festive sprinkles.

How are they?

Ghirardelli White Chocolate Sugar Cookie Squares Wrapped

For a company based on a reputation for high-quality chocolate, these cheery little squares definitely deliver. Unwrapping one of the extremely eye-pleasing twinkly teal wrappers gifts a lush and smooth white chocolate experience. It’s subtly sweet, crunchy, and creamy in a way that activates all of my mouth’s senses. Yet, it doesn’t feel too over the top or excessive like how white chocolate sometimes can.

Ghirardelli White Chocolate Sugar Cookie Squares Split

For how thin the squares are, there is a surprising amount of cookies embedded, and they manage their way into every bite. Although the label doesn’t indicate it’s flavored white chocolate, you could have fooled me with how much of a genuine cookie flavor sneaks through. It’s not just white chocolate; it really tastes like a cookie.

Anything else you need to know?

Ghirardelli White Chocolate Sugar Cookie Squares Unwrapped

Sugar cookies can run the gamut from soft to crunchy, sprinkled or frosted, buttery or sweet. While they have a very particular flavor, they’re also very versatile. The closest grocery cookie comparison I can give to these little squares is an extra creamy and rich Mother’s Circus Animal Cookie – and that’s a damn fine thing.

Conclusion:

Of the other sugar cookie-flavored varietals I’ve tried this year – M&M’s and Kisses – these are the best representation of a buttery and nostalgic sugar cookie. Joining the ranks of Sugar Cookie Pop-Tarts and Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch, Ghirardelli has nailed cramming Christmas magic into proper white chocolate.

Purchased Price: $4.49
Size: 2.75 ounces
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (3 squares) 180 calories, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 16 gram of sugar, 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Frankford Fruity Pebbles Candy Bar

Frankford Fruity Pebbles Candy Bar Wrapper

What is the Frankford Fruity Pebbles Candy Bar

The oldest surviving cereal based on a TV show gets a modern portable makeover from the leader of branded candy. It features Frankford’s white creme packed with Fruity Pebbles.

How is it?

Frankford Fruity Pebbles Candy Bar Top

This bar is simple and absolutely excels in its simplicity. Fruity Pebbles have an extremely unique and sharply fun flavor and aroma that erupts when opening the package. That familiar zing of lemon-lime-citrus with a heavy dose of sugary sweetness translates perfectly from the scent to the taste, with an excellent crunch to boot.

Frankford Fruity Pebbles Candy Bar Bottom

The white creme foundation is an impeccable support system for the technicolor cereal pieces. It brings the creaminess of milk and a huge flourish of extra sugar that makes this taste like the sweetest bowl of cereal you’ll ever have.

Anything else you need to know?

Personally, Fruity Pebbles has always been the best fruity cereal, but its only weakness has been getting soggy quickly. This bar alleviates that problem and then some. Never gets soggy!? Am I dreaming?

Conclusion:

Frankford’s Fruity Pebbles Candy Bar is straight forward and straight fire. If you’re a fan of the #1 cereal during the prehistoric age and aren’t afraid of a little sugar rush, you need to get to Walmart and buy this immediately.

Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 2.75 ounces
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 10 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1/3 bar) 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 30 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 17 gram of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Rold Gold Recipe No. 4 Zesty Buffalo Pretzel Twists

Rold Gold Recipe No 4 Zesty Buffalo Bag

What are Rold Gold Recipe No. 4 Zesty Buffalo Pretzel Twists?

Recipe No. 4 is autumn’s inverse follow up to summer’s absolutely bangin’ Recipe No. 5. Rold Gold’s latest soft and slightly sweet braided pretzel twist gets a punchy makeover with a little help from zesty buffalo seasoning.

How are they?

Rold Gold Recipe No 4 Zesty Buffalo Out of the Bag

These Buffalo-flavored pretzels are heavy on the tangy, zesty buttermilk, and relatively light on the spicy tingle I associate with the word “Buffalo.” They taste like a proper hot wing dunked in a very generous amount of ranch, with a lot less of the pretzel sweetness coming through than with the first incarnation of the “No.” line. Garlic and onion linger in the background of a surprisingly creamy and unsurprisingly salty snack that finishes with a touch of peppery heat.

Anything else you need to know?

I was absolutely in love with the No. 5 pretzels. No joke, I smashed eight bags over two months. I was addicted in a way I had never been addicted to a pretzel before, so I came into this review with pretty massive expectations. My expectations weren’t met, but that doesn’t make these bad. They’re actually well executed, but I would never in a million years pick them over my beautiful and precious No. 5.

Conclusion:

Rold Gold Recipe No 4 Zesty Buffalo Line

Does the arrival of No. 4 indicate Rold Gold will be counting backwards to eventually reach No. 1? Will No. 1 be the best? Since I found No. 5 to be better than No. 4, maybe they’ll get gradually worse until we reach the end. But I highly doubt that’s the case, and I will continue to have high hopes for this premium pretzel line.

As for numbers 1-3? Here are my suggestions/desires: cinnamon sugar, honey mustard, and spicy queso.

DISCLOSURE: I received a free sample of the product from Frito-Lay. Doing so did not influence my review.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 16 oz bag
Purchased at: Received from Frito-Lay
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (14 pretzels) 130 calories, 5 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 370 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Gingerbread Oreo

Limited Edition Gingerbread Oreo Cookies 2020 Package

“Gin-ger-bread gin-ger-bread gin-ger-bread Or-eee-ooo. Oh what fun it is to snack-on-you even though-there-is-no snow. Hey!”

That’s right, baby! It’s only October, and there’s ZERO snow in sight, but my heart is-a-singin’ cause Gingerbread Oreo are back! Sort of. Originally released way back in 2012 and making appearances for several years after, Gingerbread Oreo have returned to usher in the 2020 holiday season in a new festive form.

The original Gingerbread Oreo, last seen in 2015, was a standard Golden Oreo cookie filled with a gingerbread-flavored creme. The newest iteration is a gingerbread-flavored cookie filled with classic Oreo creme and crunchy sugar crystals. The wafers are garnished with five wintery designs to warm our holiday hearts.

Limited Edition Gingerbread Oreo Cookies 2020 Designs

I’m an autumn boy through and through, and spice is the name of my game. The last three years, Pumpkin Spice Oreo have vanished from shelves, and while Maple is a nice addition, it doesn’t quite hit with the same punch as those lovely warming spices. Needless to say, I love the new Gingerbread Oreo.

Limited Edition Gingerbread Oreo Cookies 2020 Sleeves

Opening the package is like a cozy holiday nostril massage full of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, rounded out with a cool vanilla sweetness. Gingerbread is at its best when its aggressive spice is complimented by a sweet, soothing and creamy, frosting. The cookie itself isn’t over the top spicy, but it’s more pronounced in its assertiveness than Cinnamon Bun and a whole helluva lot more impressive than the lackluster Cookie Butter.

Limited Edition Gingerbread Oreo Cookies 2020 Creme

The balance between the cookie and the creme is great. While I wouldn’t have been mad at a cream cheese flavored filling, the original Oreo “white stuf” does a convincing job at bringing the sugary blast my tinsel-y tastebuds want.

The crunchy sugar crystals add a nice little textural intrigue. Their red color, paired with the undeniably cute designs on the outside, really brings the jingle bell vibes full circle. The Oreo actually look like a perfect cookie representation of an inverted slice of gingerbread loaf, and I find the visual-meets-taste appeal to be hard to stop eating. I just want to keep going. Run run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the gingerbread man!

Yes, it’s still spooky season, and I actually dug into these right before watching “The Thing” for the sixth time. But it’s my first taste of Christmas this year, and quite frankly, Nabisco won me over. Whether these are better than the sweeter and more vanilla-forward Gingerbread Oreo of the past will be totally subjective. But for this spicy boy they’re right in the same tier of junk food greatness.

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 10.7 oz
Purchased at: Walgreens
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2 cookies) 150 calories, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 75 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 12 grams of total sugars, and less than 1 gram of protein.