REVIEW: Krispy Kreme Gingerbread Glazed Doughnut

Krispy Kreme Gingerbread Glazed Doughnut

“Gingerbread, gingerbread, gingerbread doughnuutttss. Oh what fun it is to turn little men into fried cake. Hey!”

Building off the spicy success of last season’s Pumpkin Spice Original Glazed, Krispy Kreme is rolling out winter’s favorite spiced cake in the form of the Gingerbread Glazed Doughnut.

You may notice the absence of the word “original” in the title. This is intentional. For the first time ever, KK changed both the dough and the glaze to create the ultimate one-two punch of Christmas delight. The offering is spiced gingerbread dough with hints of cinnamon and ginger covered in a warm gingerbread molasses glaze.

When I arrived at my local Krispy in the mid-afternoon I was afraid I had missed the party. But it turns out I was just in on the most underground secret of the doughnut world. No signs, no posters, and no slot in the doughnut case for them. It seems this one got promoted exclusively through online buzz.

From what I can gather, based on the epic emptying and scrub down of the KK glazing conveyor belt happening at 4 p.m., the molasses glaze created a whole new obstacle in being able to provide these special doughnuts alongside their signature original. After talking to an employee, who described them as “super limited,” I confirmed it was cranked out once in the morning and would not be made again.

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The doughnut looks different from the OG glazed, most notably the darker color and thicker texture of the molasses. The dough is speckled with spice much like the pumpkin version but feels a bit heartier with the modified glaze’s density.

Since eating them straight from the fried belt of dreams was not an option I opted to try the doughnut at room temperature. The flavor is not very bold, and if I had to guess what the change was without knowing I’m not sure I would guess gingerbread.

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The molasses glaze is less sweet and doesn’t pop with the usual bright sweetness of the OG. There’s a nice brown sugar flavor that presides over everything else, and only a tiny hint of cinnamon in the finish that’s fleeting. I don’t get any gingery tingle, but the texture is still enjoyable, soft, and fluffy, although a bit denser than the usual KK offering.

Warmed up, for the eight seconds the box recommends, the brown sugar molasses notes become more apparent and rich, with a greasy buttery flavor, which is what I expect when venturing towards the coveted Hot Light. Still, for a doughnut that’s supposed to represent one of the most spiced breads of the year, it’s very tame and kind of disappointing.

The dough is still quality, and it’s a sugary fried treat so it does taste good. But I don’t get a whisper of ginger, let alone the nutmeg, cloves, or black pepper that make the Christmas bread what it is. As is, this seasonal remix is a downgrade from the original. Ho ho hum.

(Nutrition Facts – 200 calories, 10 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 95 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.69
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Rich molasses glaze. Classic soft fluffy texture. Balanced sweetness.
Cons: Very mellow spice. No ginger tingle. Can’t eat straight off of conveyor belt.

REVIEW: Star Wars Space Punch

Star Wars Space Punch

Star Wars is one of the highest grossing and beloved film franchises of all time. While the actual movies are the biggest draw for most fans, the amount of merchandise and branded junk food that have come from the series is unreal.

Star Wars collaborated hard with the fast food industry, creating toys and limited items with Burger King, McDonald’s, KFC, and Taco Bell. They’ve had their own boxes and shapes of Cheez-Its, Pop Chips, and Doritos. They’ve even made their own breakfast cereal and chocolates, and now, ahead of the release of The Last Jedi, they wanna quench your thirst too.

When I stumbled across Space Punch in the grocery store, I was shocked it wasn’t an energy drink. The shape, style, and placement of the cans immediately screamed Red Bull. But upon closer inspection they proudly sport “caffeine free” above the nutritional information, and low sugar to boot.

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The punch comes in twenty different character-specific cans, and choosing one is a feat. Channeling my inner-assassin I had to go with Boba Fett, even though the golden C-3PO looked real fresh.

Rather than get you artificially boosted and bouncin’ off the walls like Yoda in a deep training session, Space Punch aims to nourish you from within with a sparkling mix of vitamins and hydration to achieve ultimate Jedi zen.

So what the hell does punch in space taste like? According to the ingredients, it should taste like blackberry, blueberry, carrot, grapefruit, orange, pear, and raspberry. Wow. That is quite the combo – my brain is spinning and about to explode like the Death Star on a bad day.

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As much as I love the juice concentrates listed, I’m not a big fan of this drink. It has nice light effervescence to it, reminiscent of many energy drinks, but the taste is artificially sweet and akin to liquefied chewable vitamins. The aroma even makes me wonder if I’ve stuck my nose straight into a bottle of Flintstones’ finest.

The blackberry and raspberry notes are surprisingly more dominant than the citrus. But the most prominent taste is that of the primary sweeteners erythritol and stevia. There’s a sharp and unpleasant fake aftertaste that washes out any of the more subtle and nuanced clean flavors of the actual fruit juice, and the blending of the two is not something I want to drink more of.

For what it lacks in taste, it doesn’t deliver that much of a vitamin boost either. It has 40-50 percent of your daily recommended Vitamin B6 and B12, and that’s pretty much it. While it’s a fun idea for collectors and might be appealing to people who enjoy Vitamin Water Zero, I would much rather pop a vitamin with a glass of water, and leave this to fizzle out in a galaxy far, far away.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 can – 20 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 12 oz. can
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Awesome collectible cans. Nice tight bubbles.
Cons: Strong fake sugar flavor. Not much vitamin boost. No caffeine. Does not turn you into a Jedi.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Nutmeg & Cinnamon Triscuit Crackers

Limited Edition Nutmeg  Cinnamon Triscuit Crackers

I’ve got to admit, I only eat Triscuit once or twice a year.

My family has a tradition at holiday gatherings to make one of the simplest yet most delicious appetizers you’ll ever try. A block of Philadelphia cream cheese covered with a jar of salsa and served with Triscuit. I know, it might sound kind of bizarre, but don’t dog it ’til you’ve tried it cause it’s damn delicious. I love Triscuit in this setting, they’re perfect. Better than Wheat Thins or any other chip when combined with this dip, but I don’t ever buy them for myself.

Popcorn, Cheez-Its, Doritos – these things all find their way into my snack cabinet, but I’ve never felt compelled to buy the hard little squares of shredded wheat on my own…until now. My inner spice sense began tingling the second I saw the new and autumn-kissed Nutmeg & Cinnamon Triscuit.

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The crackers look no different than your average Triscuit – square, brown, and wheat-y. The aroma is similarly familiar – wheat with a hint of lingering sweetness.

The flavor, though, is surprisingly soft and very good. The overwhelming feeling I get when biting into these crackers is warmth. The presence of the spice doesn’t smack you over the face with artificiality or some kind of sweet pumpkin spice foil – they simply elevate the flavor of the wheat and add a wonderful spicy flourish to the already established successful profile.

Cinnamon and nutmeg are definitely the key players in the mix, but I also get a nice tingle of ginger. Nothing about the flavor is harsh and, shockingly, the crackers aren’t sweet either. In fact, they aren’t even really salty, less so than the original. Being devoid of sweet and salty would imply that they’re bland, but the spices make up for it.

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Since the flavor comes off as more of a warm feeling than bold tongue-tingling taste, they lend themselves very well to different applications. Smeared with some cream cheese? Awesome. Topped with peanut butter? Delicious. Garnished with a bit of medium cheddar? Divine. The spices don’t bully their way to the forefront of the experience and yet they stay there in the background like lovely jazz in a cozy coffee shop – never taking over the conversation, but elevating the atmosphere immensely.

If you’re a Triscuit fan and are looking for a slight festive twist on something you already love – look no further than Nutmeg & Cinnamon. They’re subtly complex and fitting for your next holiday gathering, and hey, maybe even try topping them with cream cheese and salsa – you might be pleasantly surprised.

(Nutrition Facts – 6 crackers – 120 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 8.5 oz. box
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Nice subtle but complex blend of cinnamon and nutmeg. Hints of ginger. Not sweet. Flavors work well with variety of toppings.
Cons: A Triscuit can only be so good. They will never be Cheez-Its or Sweetos

REVIEW: Quaker Limited Edition Gingerbread Spice Life Cereal

Quaker Limited Edition Gingerbread Spice Life Cereal

Gingerbread is one of the oldest cookie traditions known to man. The swirling baked concoction of ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, molasses, and honey was used to treat indigestion and painted as window decorations as far back as the 15th century. The hard spicy biscuits were not only delicious, but medicinal, and even though I’ve never eaten cookies to cure a tummy ache, I’ll gladly take that medication any day.

In true lineage with the old spirit of gingerbread, one of the oldest feeling adult-meets-kiddy cereals, Quaker’s Life, put their own spin on the multipurpose treat with this season’s Limited Edition Gingerbread Spice Life.

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The funny thing about Life is that they all look the same, with no vibrant fake coloring or powder to indicate what they’re supposed to taste like. They’re just boring little criss-cross oat wheat squares that somehow Quaker packs some flavors into. Their appearance, however, is fitting for the drab-looking gingerbread, and the flavor follows suit. Crunching into these seasonal delights dry reveals immediate notes of ginger and molasses, accented by a soft, sweet finish.

My biggest concern was that it was going to be very similar to last year’s Pumpkin Spice Life, which I’m a fan of, but I’m happy to say they’re very different. Pumpkin Spice Life had a strong cinnamon flavor and this one is surprisingly not cinnamon-y at all.

Each chomp packs a different Christmas punch. Sometimes it’s ginger-heavy, sometimes it just tastes like oat-y cereal, and one bite even had a sharp black pepper kick, which was surprising, but not strange since it’s a key component in traditional gingerbread. The more I eat the squares, the more complex they get. And one handful gave me the distinct yeasty bread flavor of a soft pretzel — delicious.

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The cereal holds up pretty well in milk too. The spiciness is dulled down a touch, but the creaminess of the milk helps bring the true gingerbread experience full circle, adding a hint of what’s missing without any gingerbread man icing decorations or frosting. The milk gets quickly absorbed into the pieces, softening them and taking away some of the signature crunch. Somehow the notes of cinnamon that I didn’t get from the cereal dry are a little more apparent with milk, but that may be the way my taste buds interpret less ginger-y ginger.

While Gingerbread Spice Life may not have the candy button whimsy of an actual gingerbread man, it definitely takes the wonderful spicy flavors of the traditional holiday cookie and delivers them convincingly to the cereal bowl.

This is the first gingerbread cereal I’ve ever had and I’m impressed. Hopefully, more companies latch onto this wonderful flavor profile and do new fun things, because after all, it’s a lot like pumpkin spice, just without all the oversaturated hate.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup – 120 calories, 15 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 18 oz. box
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Surprisingly complex gingerbread flavor. Different bites yield different notes. Somewhat healthy.
Cons: Complexity doesn’t come through as much in milk. No cute candy buttons.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Hot Cocoa Cocoa Puffs Cereal

Limited Edition Hot Cocoa Cocoa Puffs Cereal

The competitive world of junk food has given us tons of oddball mashups that seem to come out of nowhere — Swedish Fish Oreo, Root Beer Float Chips Ahoy, Jolly Rancher Sour Green Apple Pop-Tarts, and the list goes on and on.

Sometimes those products work, and sometimes they taste like absolute garbage. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, there are some combinations that make so much sense that it’s unreal they haven’t been done before. It took General Mills 59 years to put their top dog cereal masterminds together to release the insanely obvious and new for 2017 Limited Edition Hot Cocoa Cocoa Puffs.

The concept is very straightforward. Take the already established cocoa-y cocoa puffs and add some circular dried marshmallows to the mix. There’s not too much to break down here, as anyone who has ever had Cocoa Puffs (everyone?) will know exactly what they taste like — a light chocolate flavor with hints of crunchy corniness.

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The mini marshmallows are nothing fancy, and in the scheme of hot cocoa they shouldn’t be. They’re aerated and sweet with a much more mallow-y texture once they’re submerged in milk.

The two flavors work together very well — simple, but effective. The added sweetness and slight touch of creaminess does remind me of sipping a steaming cup of winter’s finest and makes the bowl a bit more intriguing than your usual Cocoa Puffs.

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The already light cocoa flavor is very much akin to the kind found in instant hot chocolate packets, and as a result, General Mills has stumbled into success. Not to mention the milk it leaves behind with the added sugary sparkle of the marshmallows is straight up rich chocolate perfection.

The immediate comparison is Count Chocula, my favorite chocolate cereal. While this is definitely similar, it still isn’t quite as good. I slightly prefer the texture of the Count’s cereal pieces, and the combination of both regular and chocolate marshmallows makes Mr. Chocula still a bit more complex and delicious – winning the battle of holiday choco-mallow cereal supremacy if that were ever a thing.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup – 100 calories, 15 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 12.75 oz. box
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Light chocolate Cocoa Puffs flavor naturally fits hot cocoa theme. Marshmallows make everything better. Amazing cereal milk.
Cons: Holiday magic still can’t take down the count.