REVIEW: Papa John’s Shaq-a-Roni Pizza

Papa John s Shaq a Roni Pizza

In 2019, the garlic sauce-soaked pizza that defined my early 2000s video gaming marathons got a massive upgrade – Shaquille O’Neal.

Shaq came into Papa John’s not only as a brand ambassador, but also a board member and part-owner of nine franchises. (LeBron James and a Blaze investment who?!) Fast forward a little over a year later and the NBA Hall of Famer gets to break the backboard of 2020 with his first signature pizza.

The Shaq-a-Roni Pizza channels the energy of Shaq and promises an epic experience of extra large, extra pepperoni, and extra cheese. Sounds like I’m gonna need some extra cardio!

Not only does this pizza sound like a good time, the chain also donating $1 for every pizza sold to the Papa John’s Foundation for Building Community – bringing relief not only to our rumbling tummy’s but the community too. Count me in.

Papa John s Shaq a Roni Pizza Box

First things first – this pizza was supposed to come in a special box with Shaq’s face on it and the saying “everyone loves pizza – pizza loves everyone” along with a QR code to unlock another level of fulfillment via Snapchat. The location I went to didn’t have the box, but the pizza itself still felt big and substantial in my hands.

Papa John s Shaq a Roni Pizza Slice

All awesome NBA tie-ins aside, this is Papa John’s attempt at making a NY style pizza, which harkens back to Pizza Hut’s The Big New Yorker that I absolutely adored in the late 90s. The dough is spread out thinner than your average Papa John’s pizza but maintains a doughy soft chew without any of the crackery crunch one might associate with a “thin” crust pizza. Picking up the slices, they flip and flop all over the place like James Harden driving into the lane, and even though I can’t stand that kind of offense, I love this kind of eating.

Papa John s Shaq a Roni Pizza Pepperoni

The pizza is large and intimidating with tons of pepperoni often overlapping each other fighting for space across the vast cheesy landscape. As you might expect, the initial taste is salty and just a touch spicy with spotted greasy pepperoni taking the star player role as I chew.

Papa John s Shaq a Roni Pizza Crust

I’ve always enjoyed Papa John’s for its slightly sweet crust that pairs oh-so-beautifully with its signature (and included!) garlic dipping sauce, and the crust and sauce are just as good as I remember. The cheese definitely feels abundant, but it’s more of a gooey texture than distinct flavor with the overlapping ‘ronis that control each bite.

This is a solid take on a big and thin, but chewy NY style slice, but it does falter a bit in its excess. While I appreciate the extra everything mentality, the sauce gets lost in the mix kind of like Shaq’s free throwing ability. I miss that sweet and zesty zing that ties everything together.

Papa John’s Shaq-a-Roni Pizza is good, and I would definitely eat it again, but it lacks that perfect balance and feels one note after a couple of slices. Fortunately for Shaq, just like his ability to dunk on whoever he wants, that garlic sauce switches it up whenever I want a little extra depth and keeps me coming back for more.

Purchased Price: $12.00 (allegedly normally $27.99!)
Size: one XL pizza
Purchased at: Papa Johns
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (One Slice) 285 calories, 17 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 690 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of total sugars, and 10 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Sweet Corn Pringles

Sweet Corn Pringles

What are Sweet Corn Pringles?

If you’re reading a review on this website, you probably like junk food and the creativity behind those products. And, as a result, you’re prepared to try some weird products, like pumpkin spice hummus or cheeseburger-flavored crackers. But the latest Walgreens-exclusive Pringles seem even more of a head-scratcher — corn-flavored potato crisps.

How are they?

It should be noted that these aren’t just imitating corn, but rather, sweet corn, which is a flavor much more popular in Japan than in the United States. As such, I have not had much experience with this outside of one comically-shaped gummy.

Sweet Corn Pringles 3

These are weird. They smell mostly like your average can of Pringles, but the flavor is wild. The taste lands somewhere between a SunChip and a buttered popcorn Jelly Belly, with a hint of garlic and onion lingering in the background.

It’s buttery and slightly sweet with a bizarre aftertaste that reminds me of something fluffy and sugary like cotton candy. They carry a solid balance of sweet and salty without steering too prominently in either direction to give the impression of salty butter on a vibrant yellow corn on the cob.

Anything else you should know?

Sweet Corn Pringles 2

Pringles are already the most Frankenstein’d of all potato chips, not actually being chips but crisps, so this makes this green can of dried and pressed together potatoes seasoned like corn all that much funnier.

Conclusion:

I said it once, and I’ll say it again — these are weird. But it doesn’t necessarily mean bad. When I first tried them, I ate 15 straight trying to wrap my head around what I was tasting. But the more I ate them, the more the flavor mellowed, and I enjoyed it.

I can’t say I would crave these when they’re done with their limited run, but it’s a fun snack that does an impressive job at corn impersonation.

Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 11 ounces
Purchased at: Walgreens
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (15 Crisps) 150 calories, 9 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Exclusive Flavor Berry Sweet Mascarpone Ice Cream

Ben  Jerry s Exclusive Flavor Berry Sweet Mascarpone Ice Cream

What is Ben & Jerry’s Berry Sweet Mascarpone Ice Cream?

While it’s commonplace for Target, Walmart, Safeway, and even 7-Eleven to have their own exclusive Ben & Jerry’s flavors, the now Amazon-owned Whole Foods enter spring 2020 with its first special pint. Berry Sweet Mascarpone combines blackberry and mascarpone ice creams with shortbread cookies and fudge-covered almonds.

How is it?

Ben  Jerry s Exclusive Flavor Berry Sweet Mascarpone Ice Cream Top

I love blackberry ice cream, and sadly, this one really misses the mark. I get virtually no berry flavor at all from the pleasantly light purple base, and its blandness completely confuses my mind while I eat. It looks so pretty but tastes like nothing. On the plus side, the mascarpone ice cream is the same one used in the recently revived Cannoli, and it has a solid creamy and cheesy flavor with a sweet frosting finish.

Ben  Jerry s Exclusive Flavor Berry Sweet Mascarpone Ice Cream Spoon 2

The mix-ins here are good but not good enough to offset the bland berry base. The shortbread is soft and sweet with a vanilla flavor and a texture that reminds me more of cake than cookies, akin to a madeleine soaked in milk. Tasty.

Ben  Jerry s Exclusive Flavor Berry Sweet Mascarpone Ice Cream Spoon 1

I love chocolate covered nuts in ice cream, and these are the same almonds that absolutely sing in Target’s exclusive Glampfire Trail Mix. But here, without any salty component to balance out their crunch, they aren’t nearly as good and generally feel out of place.

Anything else you need to know?

As is the case with most Ben & Jerry’s pints, if there isn’t a gooey swirl of some sort to tie things together, I always wish there was. And this is no exception. Something sweeter or saltier than the other elements could elevate this mishmash of flavors. But as it stands, it just feels flat.

Conclusion:

While it’s far from inedible and far from the floppiest of Ben & Jerry’s flops, this springy pint is lacking the tart berry punch I had hoped for and is simply a franken-flavor that just doesn’t deliver.

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Whole Foods (Exclusive Flavor)
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 350 calories, 22 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 27 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dunkaroos (2020)

Dunkaroos  2020

The 1990s were an incredible time.

The internet popped into our daily lives, the economy was lush, Disney had its animation reawakening, Nintendo and Sony ushered in the three-dimensional era, and fashion was neon and expressive. There was also a flurry of new kid-targeted snack foods — Fruit by the Foot, Gushers, Lunchables, Doritos 3D, Trix yogurt, and…

I need to stop before I start weeping.

While so much that we ate back then was truly frightening and delicious, no snack food may have better encapsulated the feel of the 90s and the hearts of millennials more than the discontinued Dunkaroos.

But they’re back, baby!

For those who missed out during its peak, Dunkaroos is a simple concept – a package of cookies with a small serving of frosting to dunk them in. The original Dunkaroos lineup had several different cookie and frosting pairings. Cinnamon graham with chocolate frosting, chocolate cookies with vanilla frosting, and even one with chocolate chip cookies and rainbow sprinkle frosting.

The 2020 reboot chose to dip just one foot into the pool of nostalgia with one crowd-pleasing flavor – vanilla cookies with vanilla frosting and rainbow sprinkles. Bless you, Betty Crocker!

Dunkaroos  2020 Cookies

During its snack dominance, Dunkaroos appeared in many different shapes, the most prominent in my memory being that of Sydney, the brand’s kangaroo cartoon mascot. Betty simplified this decade’s cookie into a classic circle with a bold “D” and little ridges around the sides. The cookies are vanilla flavored, thin with a crisp crunch, and a slightly salty finish, not too far off from a buttery shortbread. I miss the touch of cinnamon the 90s version had, but they’re far from boring and are commendable on their own.

Dunkaroos  2020 Frosting

The rainbow sprinkle frosting is a staple of anyone’s childhood. Sweet and vanilla forward with little multicolored chunks that add some texture and playfulness to the action. The frosting is the best part of the whole experience, and if you don’t use your finger to scrape every last bit of it out of the container, we definitely couldn’t have been on the same dodgeball team in 1998.

So this brings us to the ‘Roos classic 90s tagline, “How do you do your Dunkaroos?” I can’t honestly remember exactly how I dunked back in 1997, probably like a total savage, but I have an opinion about how you should dunk in 2020.

The new cookies are a bit thin, and since the frosting is a sacred commodity, the best way to dunk these new-aroos is two at a time with ample frosting. Put them together, back to back, so you have two D’s facing outward and get a sizable scoop of that rainbow chip goodness on your ‘Roo. It’s perfect, with the frosting steering the flavor boat just as it should be.

Dunkaroos  2020 Lid

This Dunakroos relaunch is everything that any of us sentimental millennials could have asked for. From the throwback design of the package with retro colors and logo to the perfectly ridiculous website that teased us into submission – they all rule. Dunkaroos are available first and only as single servings at 7-Eleven, and will roll out to more stores in July. Should you make a trip to 7-Eleven and get these immediately? No duh, dude!

Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 1.5 oz
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 10 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 tray with frosting) 190 calories, 8 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 18 grams of total sugars, 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Rold Gold Recipe No. 5 Savory Butter Pretzel Twists

Rold Gold Recipe No 5 Savory Butter Pretzel Twists

What are Rold Gold Recipe No. 5 Savory Butter Pretzel Twists?

We may never know what happened to recipes one through four, but recipe number five kicks off Gold Rold’s new presumably premium line of pretzels. Savory Butter is the name of this game, and it tastes like these pretzels came to play.

How are they?

Despite the vague “savory butter” title, these pretzels pack a lot more flavor than I expected. They’re definitely buttery, but they also have a prominent garlic and onion flavor that’s just bold enough to let the butteriness shine. They have a soft toothy crumble and decisive salty pop that make them nearly impossible to stop eating.

Rold Gold Recipe No 5 Savory Butter Pretzel Twists 2

I would have no problem if these were branded as garlic bread pretzels because the sharp and addictive flavor reminds me distinctly of two things – Texas Toast and Papa John’s Special Garlic Sauce. They also taste like Rold Gold’s Butter Checkers with the shape and texture of the brand’s Honey Wheat Braided Twists that’s been dunked in garlic bread seasoning. And, honestly, it’s a beautiful combination.

Anything else you need to know?

As we often get swept up in the latest Sour Patch Kids or Oreo collaboration, it’s good to be reminded that oftentimes simpler is better. Adding a new seasoning on a classic twisty pretzel might be all we need to feel truly at peace with our snacking self.

Conclusion:

Much like their “No. 5” name can allude to, these pretzels are an absolute symphony of flavor. For a mainstream snack food, they carry a bit of a hefty price, but that comes along with a hefty experience that should not be missed.

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 11 oz. bag
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 10 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (15 pretzels) 140 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, less than 1 gram of sugar, 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Limited Botch Chip Happens Ice Cream

Ben  Jerry s Limited Botch Chip Happens Ice Cream

Way back in 2011, before The Tonight Dough, Ben & Jerry’s and Jimmy Fallon collaborated for Late Night Snack, which threw clusters of chocolate-covered potato chips into vanilla bean ice cream with swirls of salted caramel. It was a great flavor that I regrettably only scooped once until it disappeared in 2015.

In 2020, appearing right around the annual 4/20 festivities, Ben & Jerry’s has a new collaboration with another TV giant, streaming content king Netflix, that also also features potato chips.

Chip Happens, inspired by the baking competition show Nailed It, combines “a cold mess of chocolate ice cream with fudge chips & crunchy potato chip swirls.”

Ben  Jerry s Limited Botch Chip Happens Ice Cream Pint

The chocolate ice cream isn’t listed on the container as anything unique or new for B&J’s, but it looks lighter in color than what I’m used to in classics like Phish Food.

The initial flavor also tastes slightly different. It’s milkier and lighter with an almost malty undertone. It has a lightness to it that reminds me of vintage malt cups, but in the best possible way. Is this an altered base, or has the salty swirl seeped so much into the chocolate that it modifies it by accident? Either way, it works well as a base for this flavor.

Ben  Jerry s Limited Botch Chip Happens Ice Cream Spoon

The fudge chips are nothing to write home about, just a smaller, more palatable version of B&J’s oft-used fudge flakes. Even though they’re unremarkable in flavor, I appreciate their smaller size, which leads to a softer texture. Not like actual fudge or ganache, but meltier and darker than the milk chocolate-leaning base.

Where this pint shines, and no doubt had to shine to be anything close to a stand out scoop, is the potato chip swirl. It’s thick, crunchy, and salty in a way that I can’t really wrap my head around.

The only times chips, pretzels, or cereals have been successful in ice cream is when they’re coated in chocolate or a thick glaze, and as far as I can tell, this is pure chip. It tastes like someone took a handful of Lay’s and tossed them right on top of the ice cream, maintaining all of the texture and fried potato flavor like they came straight from the bag.

I’ll admit I wasn’t too excited when I found this limited release Netflix flavor at Target before the first one, Netflix & Chill’d. It’s chocolate chocolate chip ice cream with some potato chips. How good could it be?! Turns out a lot better than I thought, and oddly addictive.

If this also had a caramel swirl, it would’ve ranked among my favorite Ben & Jerry’s of all time. But even without it, if you’re a fan of sweet and salty or not-too-sweet chocolate indulgences, this one’s for you. A simple textural treat that I will be happily buying again.

Purchased Price: $5.49
Size: One Pint
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 390 calories, 24 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 80 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 31 grams of total sugars, 6 grams of protein.