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.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Chocolate Fudge Brownie Oat Milk Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert

When Ben & Jerry’s first began its foray into non-dairy “ice cream” pints in 2016, it chose one base option to replace its coveted creamy dairy – almond milk. Since then, there have been sunflower butter experiments, but all that is about to hit the wayside. A lot has changed since the B&J’s non-dairy inception, one of which is the widespread popularity of oat milk. The nut-free alternative has taken over in bougie third-wave coffee shops and cereal bowls. By 2024, every Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy pint and scoop shop offering will transition to an oat base, which the company claims creates a creamier texture that allows the flavors to shine as intended.

The reformulation begins with two classics: original launch flavor Chocolate Fudge Brownie, which features chocolate non-dairy frozen dessert with fudge brownies, and fan favorite, more recently vegan-ified, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, which boasts vanilla non-dairy frozen dessert with chocolate chip cookie dough and fudge flakes.

The timing of this changeover is interesting for me, personally. I was visiting family recently, some of whom are vegan, and they brought out a pint of non-dairy The Tonight Dough. I remarked how Ben & Jerry’s almond base seems to have gotten markedly better over the years, and I was impressed with its creaminess and flavor. Not only that, but my favorite new B&J’s pint of 2023 is the non-dairy Oatmeal Dream Pie, which has a sunflower butter base, and I thought the vegan version of Lights! Caramel! Action! was just as good as its dairy counterpart. That said, I was primed to go into these new oat milk pints with a plethora of experience with the older formula as recently as last week.

So, how does the oat milk stack up? It’s pretty good! Both bases have a solid flavor but a slightly thinner, almost watery finish that tends to be the case for most non-dairy bases not made with coconut. There’s no true fatty density to leave a creamy imprint on your tongue, but there also isn’t any almond or coconut aftertaste. There’s a bit of an oat taste that lingers in the finish, but it isn’t as aggressive as its nutty counterparts. The “ice cream” is incredibly smooth and tempers wonderfully. It takes longer to get there than dairy, but once you let it sit for 15 minutes or so, it has a delightfully smooth and pleasant texture that provides a clean background for the cocoa and vanilla, respectively.

From the beginning, Ben & Jerry’s mission statement has been all about the chunks, and they really shine in these pints. Although both flavors are very basic, the brownies and cookie dough taste and feel nearly identical to those submerged in cow’s milk. The brownies are soft, chewy, and have a chocolatey pop, while the cookie dough brings a gritty brown sugar blast accented by crunchy yet melty chocolate chips. For non-dairy pints you can pick up at the grocery store, the mix-ins don’t get much better than this.

These are two very safe flavors for Ben & Jerry’s to launch its new base with, and I don’t think any vegan ice cream lovers will be disappointed in the change, but I don’t find them mind-blowingly better, either. The chocolate base has less of an aftertaste, and the cookie dough has a more dynamic chunk-age, so they’re both equally tasty but fairly standard in my rankings. The real test of this new recipe will be how it performs in the true non-dairy standout exclusives like Oatmeal Dream Pie, Coconut Seven Layer Bar, and Peanut Butter & Cookies.

DISCLOSURE: I received free product samples. Doing so did not influence my review.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: One Pint
Purchased at: Sent samples for review from Ben & Jerry’s
Rating: 7 out of 10 (for both)
Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough – 340 calories, 13 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 50 milligrams of sodium, 55 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 33 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

Chocolate Fudge Brownie – 260 calories, 9 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 25 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Ghost Rainbow Sour Strips Energy Drink

In recent years, Sour Strips, the social media-savvy candy company founded in 2019, has gone from relative gourmet obscurity to a sweet and sour force to be reckoned with. Popping up in big box stores like Target and gourmet sugar shops all across the United States, the brand has now officially aligned with another of the modern sweet and sour overlords — Ghost Energy. This didn’t come out of nowhere though, as Sour Strips founder Maxx Chewning is a longtime collaborator with Ghost, including last year’s fantastic Ghost Energy flavor Strawbango Margarita.

This year’s limited edition collab is a bit more on the nose, turning one of Sour Strips’ most popular flavors, Rainbow, into a drinkable sugar-free elixir chock-full of 200 milligrams of natural caffeine and focus ingredients, including L-Carnitine, Taurine, and Alpha-GPC.

Like many great candy companies that came before it, Sour Strips makes a type of typically tough, leathery gummy candy belts covered in sugar that come in a myriad of whimsical fruity flavors. The difference with Sour Strips is they feel like the softest, thinnest, and freshest version of candy belts I’ve ever had, with punchy flavors and a legitimate sour finish to go along with the crunchy sugar crystals. I know we’re not reviewing the candy here, but I wanted to show you my credentials that I do, in fact, know what this drink should taste like.

So what does a rainbow taste like? It tastes like many other rainbow-flavored Skittles-adjacent drinks with one huge difference — there’s no grape. Oftentimes, with Taste the Rainbow-type concoctions, whether from Alani Nu’s Cosmic Stardust or C4’s Skittles, the grape comes in with authority and can be a touch overpowering, but not here at all. This rainbow is a beautiful blend of cherry first, then blue raspberry, and a lemon-forward citrus that’s really refreshing. I think I even get a hint of strawberry, which helps differentiate it from a more typical Bomb Pop-type of profile.

The flavor is delicious and packs a pretty decent sour punch too. Again, much like the Sour Pink Lemonade, it’s not going to take the sourness to Warheads heights, and I wouldn’t want it to, but it has a sour bite that stacks as you drink it to back up the dense sweetness at the forefront. It’s nice and bubbly bright with zero thick syrupiness, and I think it’s safe to say Maxx should be very proud of his second excellent flavor with Ghost.

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 16 oz can
Purchased at: Vitamin Shoppe
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: Ghost Sour Pink Lemonade Energy Drink

Pumpkin season hitting its first prominent September peak seems like a strange time to release a new summery pool-side sip of a flavor, but Ghost Energy doesn’t play by the rules. To be honest, though, is there ever really a bad time or season for lemonade? The latest release from Ghost packs 200 milligrams of caffeine into a sleek pink and yellow can of sugar free sour pink lemonade.

Well, regardless of the time of year it is, we have another caffeinated doozy on our hands, folks. The most simplistic way I can describe this drink to my fellow candy enthusiasts is it tastes like a pink Starburst mixed with a classic Lemonhead. The flavor begins with a crisp, bubbly lemon that quickly becomes a smooth and sweet “pink” strawberry-adjacent taste with just a touch of creaminess, like a Starburst. This is not a milkiness or dairy creamy, but that backend touch of smooth creaminess that every chewy Starburst gets rounded out by.

The flavor finishes on a more tart lemon flavor that leaves the lingering presence of a zesty Lemonhead almost to a T. It’s absolutely delicious. The mouth-puckering factor is present but much less intense than the Ghost WarHead flavors and much closer to the Sour Patch Kids RedBerry can. The word “sour” is definitely earned here, but there’s still plenty of strawberry sweetness.

This drink is amazing — I love it. It delivers everything I want from a sweet and full-flavored pink lemonade. My only issue is that it’s currently tough to find. It’s been out for over two weeks, and I’ve been able to track down exactly one can in one store after scouring tons of 7-Eleven, GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, and random gas station locations. Fortunately, the hunt was worth the payoff, and as far as I know, this is a permanent addition to the Ghost Energy lineup that should be readily available everywhere once distribution catches up with its (warranted) demand.

Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 16 oz can
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 10 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 10 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Jeni’s Lonely Ghost Double Dough Ice Cream

Jeni's Lonely Ghost Double Dough Ice Cream Pint

Orange Blossom Chiffon.

Powdered Jelly Donut.

Sweet Potato with Torched Marshmallow.

Everything Bagel.

These are all Jeni’s Ice Cream flavors that existed before the company had its own chocolate chip cookie dough. Until now, the super premium ice cream company from Columbus, Ohio has steered clear of the American favorite made popular by Ben & Jerry’s in the 80s; yet apparently, the scoop-shop-staple is in demand on the other side. A brand new limited time collaboration with streetwear brand Lonely Ghost has gifted basic flavor lovers with Double Dough — chocolate chip cookie dough swirled into a buttery brown sugar custard.

Jeni's Lonely Ghost Double Dough Ice Cream Top of pint

The premium price tag of Jeni’s pints comes at the cost of the premium ingredients they source, and this flavor is a shining example of just how good a top-tier grocery store ice cream can be. The brown sugar custard is incredible. It is dense, it is rich, it is sweet, and it is surprisingly salty. There is an impressive buttery depth to the texture from the use of egg yolks that makes the execution of custard versus ice cream really apparent. It’s beautiful, and it really does bring the rich molasses-adjacent notes of brown sugar to the foreground in a way that perfectly honors eating raw cookie dough.

Jeni's Lonely Ghost Double Dough Ice Cream Spoon with bits of cookie dough

The lone mix-in is the dough itself, and while initially I was thrown off by their small size, what they lack in heft, they make up for in density. The pieces are small, pea-sized balls of cookie dough that are far from what most chunk-enthusiasts want to see when popping off the lid on a premium pint. However, they’re everywhere, and they’re packed full of gritty cookie dough texture that really brings the double dough concept to life. With how strong the brown sugar is in the base, there isn’t a ton of extra flavor from the pieces, but the crunchy bittersweet chocolate chips stand pretty firmly against the wash of lovely sweet and salty custard.

While it doesn’t push the boundaries of ice cream innovation like many of Jeni’s more recent releases, Double Dough is an elevated take on a fan-favorite flavor that is sure to satisfy both creamy connoisseurs and more standard scoopers alike.

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

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: One Pint
Purchased at: Received from Jeni’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup, 127g) 330 calories, 20 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 80 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 28 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.

Click here to read our previous Jeni’s Ice Cream reviews