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.

REVIEW: Pop Secret Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Popcorn

Pop Secret Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Popcorn

Pumpkin makes me pop. It isn’t just pumpkin though. I’m a bonafide cinna-slut, and all things swirling with the spice makes me feel real nice.

Building off of the success of chasing junk food trends and releasing the birthday cake flavored and damn delicious Popfetti earlier this year, Pop Secret are back at trying to win over our trendy hearts with a pumpkin spice microwaveable popcorn.

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Pushing my nose up against the un-popped Pop Secret package gives off the classic microwave popcorn artificial buttery smell with just the slightest tickle of cinnamon in the background. Poppin’ the corn into the micro releases a bit more a distinct spicy aroma, once again accompanied by a more dominant and in-your-face butter presence.

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The popped bag, warm and spewing steam, has a surprisingly nice a ginger smell to it that joins in on the butter party for a little extra nostril tingle. The signature artificial bright-ish yellow color is replaced by a slightly orangey tan that does good enough to channel the skin of a pumpkin.

The flavor of the popcorn is confusing. On my first bite, I get a little squashy pumpkin flavor, but that might be my mind playing tricks in the way it interprets the slightly greasy buttery essence that all good micro-pop carries. But the flavor quickly fades.

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There’s no doubt this is different than regular Pop Secret, but that’s less apparent in any big spicy pumpkin notes and much more about how un-salty it is. There’s barely any saltiness, which could work if it was replaced by cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, but there isn’t really much of that either. Every couple of handfuls I get a soft smooch of cinnamon and ginger, and I like it, but it’s far from the bold flavors I’ve come to expect from microwave popcorn.

Even though there are zero grams of sugar per bag, there is an underlining sweetness to the popcorn, thanks to sucralose (Splenda). Luckily, there’s no weird artificial sweetener aftertaste, but again, there isn’t much autumn intrigue going on either. This popcorn doesn’t taste bad, it simply tastes like kettle corn minus the crucial salty factor that completes the yin and yang of that classic flavor profile.

Does this popcorn taste like popcorn? Definitely. Is it warm and comforting and slightly sweet? You betcha. Does it deliver on the big polarizing flavor that is pumpkin spice? Unfortunately not. It’s still an enjoyable sidekick to a night in with a slasher flick, but not something you need to seek out like the almighty Popfetti from earlier this year.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 Tbsp Unpopped – 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: Three 3 oz. bags
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Nice pumpkin-y color. Decent sweetness. Mellow hints of ginger and cinnamon.
Cons: Not much pumpkin spice flair. Tastes more like corn than cinnamon. Could use more salty pop.

REVIEW: Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Pumpkin Spice Doughnut

Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Pumpkin Spice Doughnut 1

This time of year people love to refer to those who adore pumpkin spice as “basic,” and they aren’t using that word in lieu of “standard” or “classic” – it’s a negative thing.

But basic doesn’t always have to be bad, and truth be told, pumpkin spice isn’t really all that basic compared to a lot of other flavors. Starbucks simply bred a generation of UGG-boot clad young girls that fawned over their PSL’s and tarnished the rep of us truly spicy folk forever.

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Some things are truly basic though, and I mean it in a good way. Sometimes the most basic things are the greatest, like chocolate chip cookies, white cake, vanilla bean ice cream, and a classic glazed doughnut. In a natural collision course of good versus bad basic, Krispy Kreme has cranked out a fresh spin on their money-making staple for several days only (for a second year) with the Pumpkin Spice Original Glazed Doughnut.

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The doughnut smells almost identical to Krispy Kreme’s iconic Original Glazed – yeasty, greasy, and sweet. Its color is notably darker, taken from a pure light tan to deep speckled brown. The size, shape, and overall appearance, aside from the color, is a classic KK affair.

The flavor is subtly spicy with little flourishes of cinnamon poking through the soft yeasty fried profile. There aren’t any deep earthy notes of cloves or nutmeg, and no discernible squashy pumpkin flavor either. The ingredient list didn’t offer me any clues, but to my palate, this is a KK glazed doughnut that’s spiked with a decent, but not aggressive, amount of cinnamon. Texturally, this pumpkin pastry is everything I’ve come to expect and love from the Kreme family – soft and doughy with a very light and airy bite that nearly dissolves on the tongue.

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Although the spice-level doesn’t thwart me into a cascading pile of crunchy leaves, what it does do very well is temper the usually hyper-sweet OG Krispy Kreme Doughnut. The presence of cinnamon helps balance out the intense sugariness of the glaze and makes it a much more well-rounded eating experience. I have no issues with the strong smack of sweet that the original version delivers but I know some people’s complaint about KK is they can be too cloying, and this may be a very short lived solution to that problem.

When washed down with coffee, as all doughnuts should be, the spicy cinnamon flavor becomes much more pronounced. Whereas the bitter coffee usually acts as a much-needed relief from most sugar-forward doughnuts, the bitterness actually causes a bit of a spicy sparkle that proves the existence of all those little brown dots and begins to channel the post-chew tingle of ginger.

Krispy Kreme’s Pumpkin Spice Original Glazed Doughnut isn’t a must-try by any means, but it isn’t a downgrade from their already stellar OG offering either. It’s a mellow and fun take on one of the best items the fast food industry offers, and if you’re in the area the next time this flavor inevitably pops up for “one day only,” it’s worth a stop, but don’t drive too far.

(Nutrition Facts – 190 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.29
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Airy, crisp glazed texture. Presence of spice helps balance out the sweetness. Cinnamon all over my errythang.
Cons: Subdued spices until activated by coffee. No true pumpkin flavor. Only available on special days.