REVIEW: C4 Energy Popsicle Energy Drink Flavors

A caffeinated popsicle? Sign me up!

Okay, I’m actually not that fond of eating my caffeine, I love coffee way too much, but I do like drinking things flavored like other things I’m supposed to chew. The latest collaboration between a sugar-laden childhood treat and a sugar-free energy drink company comes courtesy of C4 Performance Energy and Popsicle. A 16-ounce can contains 200 milligrams of caffeine, some beta alanine for muscle endurance, and one of three nostalgic flavors — Cherry, Grape, and Hawaiian Pineapple. All three drinks use no coloring and have a middle-of-the-road carbonation that isn’t too aggressive but doesn’t feel flat — nice, tight, sharp bubbles that let their impact be felt without a trail of trapped gassiness.

Cherry is undoubtedly the most classic of the three, with a sweet and slightly muted cherry flavor that delivers on the Popsicle theme really well. Eating an actual Popsicle as an adult, you realize how much less rich and more watery they are than an ice cream bar, and this drink has that slightly diluted watery finish after the initial cherry rush. It’s a good drink, but for me, it’s held back by its dedication to the bit. I’m left wanting a bit more flavor, especially when compared to C4’s already available best-in-class Midnight Cherry energy drink. Still, I have to commend C4 for making a drink that honors the collaboration and isn’t just a simple rebrand of something that already exists.

Hawaiian Pineapple is a Popsicle I’m not sure I have ever had, but I am delighted it was chosen as one of the flavors for this line — it is excellent. The flavor starts off very smooth and juicy pineapple that finishes with just a touch of orange. It seems exceedingly rare to find a nearly pure pineapple drink, as it’s often paired with coconut for a piña colada flare, and this one stands out as not only the most unique in the line but one that warrants repeat purchases and a permanent spot in the C4 lineup.

Grape is another classic and iconic Popsicle flavor but also one of the most divisive, and as a grape lover…C4 Energy nailed it. This may be the best grape energy drink I have ever had, and I’m blown away by how dense yet not cloying the flavor is. The taste is a big, bold, candy-like grape, that familiar taste you either love or hate, and the watery Popsicle element that worked against the cherry works like a charm here. The flavor is an undeniably potent punch of grape, yet it never gets syrupy or weighed down in the way grape can trend towards medicinal. It’s classic, it’s nostalgic, and it’s perfect.

Purchased Price: $3.49 (each)
Size: 16 oz cans
Purchased at: Vitamin Shoppe
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Cherry), 9 out of 10 (Hawaiian Pineapple), 10 out of 10 (Grape)
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 5 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 0grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 0 grams of total sugars, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Marshmallow Sky Ice Cream

When you stroll into the grocery store ice cream aisle, one thing will usually jump out at you more prominently than most — the Ben & Jerry’s section. It’s usually more prominent than any others in the area, and with as many limited, new, and classic flavors as they have stocked, you would think that is all Ben & Jerry’s has to offer…but it is not.

Ben & Jerry’s keeps some of its treasured flavors quietly close to the chest and only available in Scoop Shops. One of my favorites, a dairy-laden version of Seven Layer Bar, can only be found in the dip case, and if you make it into one of B&J’s shops, you may find a couple of other surprises, too.

Good news for those without a shop nearby: a Scoop Shop exclusive has become a Limited Batch pint for the first time in a long time (ever?). Marshmallow Sky features marshmallow ice cream with marshmallow swirls and gobs of chocolate chip cookie dough and chocolate chocolate chip cookie dough.

The blue base ice cream, colored naturally with spirulina extract, is delightfully creamy with a robust vanilla flavor that isn’t as aggressively sweet as I was anticipating, and I’m totally okay with it. Marshmallow is usually a two-note flavor — sugar, then vanilla — and this base has the same two notes, but it’s much more vanilla than sugar, which is a welcomed surprise given the presence of the mix-ins. The marshmallow swirl is sticky and sweet and brings both the sugary element and texture to the mallow-sperience, thoroughly doing its job to bring the sweet taste of the summer sky to the spoon.

The double punch of dough chunks is prominent throughout and helps bring some much appreciated texture to the bites. The classic chocolate chip cookie dough’s brown sugar flavor blends in a bit with the bold vanilla backdrop of the base. But its gritty, chewy crunch and hints of chocolate poke through well. However, the bells of the ball are the chocolate chocolate chip cookie dough gobs, which REALLY make their mark with deep bittersweet notes of cocoa that cut through the base like butter. The blast of chocolate really delivers the dynamic pop I want from a good mix-in that elevates marshmallow sky oh so high into a pint that you should certainly buy.

This flavor is essentially B&J’s classic cookie dough on steroids. The base is a more robust and full-bodied vanilla than the original, and the double chocolate dough gives it a layering that the original lacks, all tied together with the sweet, sticky bow of a marshmallow swirl. Coming from the company that created cookie dough ice cream, this eats like a love letter to those who consider the classic their favorite flavor and shouldn’t be missed by those who adore the gobs of dough and vanilla with a colorful twist.

DISCLOSURE: I received a free product sample from Ben & Jerry’s. Doing so did not influence my review.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: One Pint
Purchased at: Received from Ben & Jerry’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup, 132g) 340 calories, 15 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of carbohydrates,0 grams of fiber, 35 grams of total sugars, and 5 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Ghost Energy FaZe Up Energy Drink

When Ghost Energy debuted in 2020, it had four core flavors, one of which was vaguely titled “Citrus.” That can gave me big time lemon-lime Gatorade vibes with a hint of Mello Yello, which always reminds, affectionally, me of a C-tier fast food soda fountain. Ghost’s “Citrus” is a solid, full-flavored energy drink that I revisited recently ahead of this review and still enjoy quite a bit. For its follow-up foray into the lemon-lime category, the brand has once again teamed up with heralded esports gaming group FaZe Clan for the even more cryptically titled “FaZe Up.”

Reading the name “FaZe Up,” I instantly expect a clean, sharp, and crisp lemon-lime flavor, a la 7UP or Sprite, but that’s not what I get. The flavor starts off eerily similar to the original Ghost Citrus, with a bit more of a Mountain Dew aura to go along with the Mello Yello I tasted before. There’s no background signature Dew taste (you know the one), but that blend of lemon-forward sweet citrus dominates the opening sip. Then the flavor changes and steers away from that lemon-sphere into lime-land and finishes with a pronounced sour pucker. It’s really good.

In essence, “FaZe Up” does have some of the sharpness of a 7UP or Sierra Mist (ahem, sorry, Starry), but only in the backend of the flavor. This is a Mountain-Dew-meets-7UP-meets-sour-candy-energy-drink for the lemon-lime lovers that really does hit the spot like a proper jolt of citrusy electricity. As always with Ghost, the flavor is dense and endlessly drinkable with a nice, tight effervescence that goes down smooth without feeling flat. It’s delicious, and with 200 milligrams of caffeine and solid doses of other focus ingredients, it is absolutely one I will come back to again and again.

Purchased Price: $3.29
Size: 16 oz can
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 10 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 30 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Impretzively Fudged and PB S’more

Kicking off the new year in sweet and salty style, the master churners at Ben & Jerry’s are back with two fresh additions to their vaunted lineup of chunk-laden pints: Impretzively Fudged and PB S’more.

Impretzively Fudged is chocolate ice cream with fudge-covered pretzel pieces and pretzel swirls.

This is a straightforward but delightfully effective take on a chocolate-covered pretzel. Simple isn’t always bad; in this case, it makes the pint simply stunning. The chocolate base is as good as ever, with some of the salt from the pretzel swirl bleeding into the ice cream for a more nuanced and rich chocolate flavor than the average chocolate provides — and I love it. The gritty, subtly crunchy pretzel swirl is pretty present throughout, and with only one swirl and one mix-in, the intended sweet and salty profile is inescapable and captivatingly delicious.

The fudge-covered pretzel pieces are different than I expected. Even though the description says “pieces,” I envisioned pretzel nuggets, but they are, in fact, pieces. Pieces to the point that they feel almost like shattered fragments of a chocolate pretzel bark. They have a nice crunch and genuine salty pop that makes each spoonful incredibly satisfying. This pint eats more like a chocolate chip ice cream than one with massive boulders of chunk-age, but in this case, the chocolate chips are flecks of chocolate pretzel, and it’s pure indulgent fun. The profile is a bit of a one-trick pony, but it’s a pony that I love and a trick I will gladly embrace time and time again.

PB S’more is toasted marshmallow ice cream with peanut butter cups, graham cracker pieces, and marshmallow swirls.

S’mores ice cream is usually hard to pull off, nailing the nuanced layers of flavor and texture that make the summertime treat so fantastic, and this new PB-ified iteration falls down that same tricky trajectory. Anytime I see marshmallow and graham swirls in an ice cream, I am sold, and they both do their job in this pint convincingly as some of B&J’s best mix-ins. Where it gets a bit muddied is in the toasted marshmallow base. It comes across as really sweet, and I love sweet, but this teeters on cloying. Not enough to ruin the experience, but enough to make me wish it was different. I don’t get much of a toasted flavor either, and some smokiness would have been more than welcome to temper the intense sweetness of the base and swirls.

The peanut butter cups change the pint’s dynamic for the better, bringing a big, bold crunch and semisweet chocolate punch that helps break up the overlapping monotony of the double-mallow-whammy. They are full-sized PB cups broken into giant chunks. But sadly, my pint only had four sizable pieces throughout with a couple of fragmented shards, and I only occasionally got the salty peanut butter reprieve I was hoping for. I love this flavor conceptually, but in execution, I think it would have been much better with a different base — graham, peanut butter, or even chocolate — to make the scoop more balanced in moments without the excellent boulders of PB cups.

All in all, these are fun ways to start the new year for one of the most prolific brands in grocery store ice cream. This drop steps away from the novelty of a Topped or Core’d pint to deliver a slightly tweaked version of Gimme S’more and a more bare-bones spin on Glampfire Trail Mix. If you’re a fan of those, this will likely appeal to you and should be arriving on shelves now!

DISCLOSURE: I received free product samples from Ben & Jerry’s. Doing so did not influence my review.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: One Pint
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Impretzively Fudged), 7 out of 10 (PB S’more)
Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) Impretzively Fudged – 390 calories, 23 grams of fat, 14 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 260 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 32 grams of total sugars, and 6 grams of protein. PB S’more – 370 calories, 19 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 45 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 35 grams of total sugars, and 6 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Gingerbread Toast Crunch Cereal

The 2021 holiday season began with a bang when the Toast Crunch gang dropped a Thanksgiving-leaning limited edition Apple Pie version of its beloved cinnamon cereal that instantly became a fan favorite. It’s back for a third year, but a new potential holiday hero has emerged — the twinkling blue-boxed Gingerbread Toast Crunch.

Let me get my personal bias out of the way: Cinnamon Toast Crunch is the greatest cereal ever. Whew, I said it. Growing up, it was all about Reese’s Puffs, and I still champion them, but for the last decade or so, no sweet cereal has delivered the way that CTC has. Even the Toast Crunch releases from the previous four years have been solid, especially CinnaGraham Toast Crunch, which, dare I say, might be even better than the original?

Now that you know where I’m coming from, this new cereal is something I’ve been dreaming about for years. In my head, it was always Pumpkin Spice Toast Crunch, but gingerbread is a slightly less crowded space, and I appreciate the nuance it has over its more in-demand pumpkin cohort. The texture of the squares is the same delightful little airy but gently crunchy one you know from the original — it’s perfect.

I’m more of a dry cereal snacker or enjoy putting it on top of bowls of yogurt or ice cream, so that’s how I tend to judge my CTC varieties, but it usually performs very well in milk, too. The flavor of these squares is delicious but a bit less spicy than I imagined. Specifically, they’re not very gingery. When I think gingerbread or ginger cookies, I expect a little bit of a tingle, and while these boast a nice undercurrent of molasses with some spice, I’m mainly getting cinnamon, and there isn’t much of a tingle. That doesn’t stop me from having handful after handful of crunchy, buttery, mildly spicy delight, but I expected a more potent flavor punch like 2021’s Apple Pie.

Milk doesn’t bring any spice to the table, but it does bring some creaminess that I suppose you could stretch your imagination to say emulates the cookie’s frosting. Either way, a decent amount of the Cinnadust comes off into the milk and creates some of the best cereal milk in the game (you know the vibes), which has a bit more of a special Christmas-y aura than the usual CTC milk.

For some, the mild ginger punch will be a welcome surprise, and for others, like me, it could leave you wanting a bit more. I think General Mills played it safe with this one, and for a sugar-laden cereal aimed at children, I’m totally okay with that because there’s still enough warm, molasses-y holiday magic to get me feeling festive.

Purchased Price: $6.49 (man this inflation is a DRAG)
Size: 18.8 ounces
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 cup, 41g) 170 calories, 4 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 230 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.