REVIEW: Yoplait Delights Parfait (Chocolate Eclair & Cherry Cheesecake)

Yoplait Delights Parfaits (Chocolate Eclair & Cherry Cheesecake)

I’m a woman, so I know how to eat indulgent foods. When I found out about the two new flavors of Yoplait Delights Parfaits (Chocolate Éclair and Cherry Cheesecake) I knew the occasion called for the Ultimate Feminine Eating Method (UFEM). For those of you unfamiliar with the Method, the first thing you should know is that it requires a lot of smiling. And dancing. And spoons.

With the Chocolate Éclair Delights in hand, I curled up, barefoot, on the window seat in my sunlit, carefully-arranged, shabby chic living room to sample its dense, chocolate-y goodness. The velvety texture of the vanilla custard yogurt layered on top of the rich, dark chocolate yogurt base was sufficiently happiness-inducing, though it wasn’t really what I define as a parfait due to its lack of layering with other foods (e.g. fruit, granola). When I read the label and saw that my delicious and life-affirming snack was only 100 calories, I leapt to my feet to change into some tight, faded denim jeans so that I could prance wildly in front of my full-length mirror and pull my waistband away from my mid-section with glee.

Yoplait Delights Parfaits Chocolate Eclair

The fact that it is scoop-able was also a plus for me because the Ultimate Feminine Eating Method dictates that I only indulge upon things I can eat with a spoon; it simplifies the Method’s standard of luxuriating in a food’s low-fat flavor by allowing you to suck on the spoon for 10 seconds in ecstasy while your eyes roll back in your head. But 10 seconds is all you get. Any longer, and you’re a big, fat pig, and no one will love you.

Still strictly adhering to the UFEM, I took the Cherry Cheesecake Delights to the shore for some impromptu, self-important beach yoga. With the sun’s rays blessing my energetic Virabhadrasana/Warrior II pose, I helped myself to a single spoonful. It wasn’t terrible, but the artificial cherry flavored yogurt left a lot to be desired, and the creamy, cheesecake-flavored base didn’t really taste like cheesecake. Believe me, I know what cheesecake tastes like. I’ve eaten the low-cal, sugar-free, spoonable, mini cheesecake bites offered by other lady-friendly snack lines, and you, sir, are no cheesecake.

Yoplait Delights Parfait Cherry Cheesecake

Despite the Cherry Cheesecake Delights’ shortcomings, it earned a Method-certified, spoon-cleaning lick, and I suddenly felt compelled to abandon my Garudasana and launch into a series of slow-motion cartwheels in the sand, overcome by the sugariness of it all. Then I got dizzy and face-planted in a little kid’s sand castle. Eating a spoonful of food per day leaves you pretty weak. But I sure look great in my yoga outfit.

Yoplait Delights are like deluxe pudding cups (another food item that makes me want to salsa dance with a sexy, faceless stranger in a fancy dress while laughing my head off), and their texture is not too far off from that. They come in four ounce cups, perfect for hiding in one’s purse for ultimate deniability. The Ultimate Feminine Eating Method dictates that a lady must never be seen eating things in public. She must only consume food in private… and partake in a side-splitting laugh or two while doing that.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 container/4.0 oz (113 grams) – Chocolate Éclair – 100 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 13 grams of sugar, 200 milligrams of potassium, and 9 grams of protein. Cherry Cheesecake – 100 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 12 grams of sugar, 180 milligrams of potassium, and 9 grams of protein.)

Item: Yoplait Delights Parfait (Chocolate Éclair and Cherry Cheesecake)
Price: $1.99 (on sale; regular price $3.79)
Size: 4 pack
Purchased at: Vons
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Chocolate Éclair)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Cherry Cheesecake)
Pros: Sexy faceless strangers. Chocolate Eclair was sufficiently happiness-inducing. 100 calories per serving. Spoons. Mirror dancing. Laughing alone with food.
Cons: Big, fat un-loveable pigs. Lack of adequate parfait layering. Cheesecake-flavored base didn’t really taste like cheesecake. Artificial cherry flavored yogurt left a lot to be desired. Snacking with a utensil while maintaining a standing yoga pose. Cheesecake impostors. Sand in your face. Eating in public.

REVIEW: Kellogg’s Eggo Thick & Fluffy Waffles (Original & Cinnamon Brown Sugar)

Kellogg's Eggo Thick & Fluffy Original Waffles

Borrowing things from overseas to sell on our shores is a tricky business. As with any translation, we run the risk of not getting it quite right. Like turning the infinitely-watchable E4 series Skins into a show that no one (save for The Parents Television Council who wants to kill it with fire) cares to watch… or transforming the delicioso Mexican corn-cake-style gordita into the well-known and often-devoured Taco Bell Gordita that is basically a taco made with pita bread. How they made the leap to the Middle East by way of Mexico, I have no idea. I guess, to them, foreign food is foreign food. We’re lucky they didn’t try to stuff haggis in there.

The process of repackaging these things for consumption in the United States is clearly an attempt to make them more palatable for Americans, however unrecognizable they become. But it doesn’t explain why Kellogg’s would revise the Belgian waffle for their Eggo brand by making them toaster-sized instead of plate-sized and octagonal instead of round (or square) and calling them “Thick & Fluffy ” waffles. Did they think consumers wouldn’t understand these waffles if they used the word “Belgian”? They’ve been around for 50 years. I think we get it. Semantics aside, what it really comes down to is whether the waffles have deep pockets and taste good. For the most part, they do.

Eggo Thick & Fluffy waffles come in two flavor varieties: Cinnamon Brown Sugar and Original Recipe. The name “Original Recipe” conjures up visions of crispy, golden fried chicken offered by string-tied Southern gentlemen with dubious military origins, yet as a Roscoe’s devotee, I can attest to the fact that fried chicken does pair well with waffles. Maybe this title wasn’t unintentional.

The Original Recipe waffle was exceptional. It has a certain extra something (probably sodium) that makes the waffle taste extra malty. I scoured the ingredients list and didn’t see anything about malt, though, so I could just be imagining it. Maybe my previous experiences with other Belgian fluffy and thick waffles created an expectation for malt flavor.

Kellogg's Eggo Thick & Fluffy Cinnamon Brown Sugar Waffles

On the flip side, I was all ready to love the Cinnamon Brown Sugar waffle, being the brown sugar & cinnamon addict that I am, but it was just OK. The flavor just doesn’t “pop.” It’s not super sweet, but it’s also not very cinnamon-y. Blah Sugar. Cinna-Zzzzz. The experience is underwhelming. Way to not be an enabler, Kellogg’s. I’m one step closer to recovery.

Despite the fact that it’s a toaster waffle, I was expecting preparation to be a breeze. Logistically, it is pretty easy. Place in toaster… Toast… The End. But the toasting instructions specify that you may need to use two toasting cycles in order to evenly heat the waffle. That’s far too long for a toaster-based convenience breakfast. I hate double-toasting. It ruins the feeling of relief you experience once the toaster pops up because as soon as it does, you just have to push it back down again and start all over. It’s totally defeating. Bad way to start the day.

Kellogg's Eggo Thick & Fluffy Cinnamon Brown Sugar Waffle Naked

Another negative is that even though these are Thicker & Fluffier, they don’t make you feel any fuller — just the opposite. The extra carbs and sugar you ingest in the thicker waffle make you crash faster… and if you double-up on the serving size (eating two waffles instead of one), it just makes things worse.

That’s another thing. The serving size is just one waffle, but the box shows two. WHY MUST YOU TOY WITH MY EMOTIONS, EGGO??? Sorry, that’s the cinnamon brown sugar withdrawal talking.

I appreciate Eggo’s take on Belgian waffles, though the Original Recipe flavor makes a tastier breakfast than the Cinnamon Brown Sugar one. They should try making crépes next… though they’ll probably call them “Eggo Thin & Flat Pancakes.” How gauche.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 waffle/55 grams – Original Recipe – 160 calories, 70 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 3.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 300 milligrams of sodium, 50 milligrams of potassium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, >1 gram of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein. Cinnamon Brown Sugar – 170 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 3 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 270 milligrams of sodium, 50 milligrams of potassium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, >1 gram of fiber, 9 grams of sugar and 3 grams of protein.)

Item: Kellogg’s Eggo Thick & Fluffy Waffles (Original & Cinnamon Brown Sugar)
Price: $2.00 (on sale)
Size: 11.6 oz
Purchased at: Vons
Rating: 10 out of 10 (Original Recipe)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Cinnamon Brown Sugar)
Pros: Corn cakes. Southern gentlemen. Invisible malt. Octagons.
Cons: Witch hunts. Haggis. Understanding waffles. Boring me with cinnamon. The long toast. Small serving size.

REVIEW: Amy’s Light & Lean (Soft Taco Fiesta and Pasta & Veggie)

Amy's Light & Lean (Soft Taco Fiesta and Pasta & Veggies)

January needs to be re-named “National Feel-Bad-About-What-You’ve-Done-To-Your-Body-The-Past-90-Days Month.” With all the commercials for Zumba, The Lap-Band, free gym membership trials, and conveniently-placed banner ads referring you to the “Top 10 Best Ways to Bust Your Booty,” it’s a wonder we don’t all suddenly gain 120 pounds from guilt and start rolling ourselves down the street to work each day. Why do we engage in this bizarre ritual of kidding ourselves every year when all anyone wants to do is eat yummy food and feel convinced that if they ran into Tom Hardy on the way to the Laundromat with their filthy socks and scads of unmentionables piled in a basket and their baggy, faded sweatpants on, he’d still give them the sexy-eye because daaaamn, they look good?

To combat the inevitable struggle of many of those hoping to shed pounds, the Amy’s team has done a pretty great job here, translating these normally fattening foods into the language of diet organic cuisine. Filling out the roster of new items: Spinach Lasagna, Black Bean & Cheese Enchilada, Pasta & Veggies, and Soft Taco Fiesta.

Amy's Light & Lean Soft Taco Fiesta Bowl

I went for the Soft Taco Fiesta first because I’d just bought a piñata and needed a reason to bust it open. No, I’m lying. I didn’t need a reason.

The colors used for the soft taco’s packaging are pretty muted for something that’s supposed to evoke a wild food party. The design is more circa 1990 Southwest Adobe-style retiree living room, and I felt more like taking a siesta than having a fiesta. WOCKA-WOCKA-WOCKA! No? Go to hell.

I have to say that once cooked, the contents of the bowl look pretty N-to-the-Asty. But, you see, this soft taco contraption is more like a taco pie without the crust than a street taco. The corn tortilla is layered between a mound of mild salsa with black beans and cheese and a bed of nicely-seasoned brown rice, corn, and vegetables. As a result, the tortilla isn’t necessarily firm, but it could be a lot worse. It doesn’t disintegrate under the weight of the sauce and seasonings. The ranchero salsa flavor is spicy, but not overpowering, and mingles nicely with the tomatillo blend. The result is a dish that has plenty of flavor and barely any of the sogginess one comes to expect from nuked Mexican food.

Amy's Light & Lean Pasta & Veggies Bowl

The Pasta & Veggies bowl is another convincing re-design of a popular ethnic food – thick, hearty sauce and grated parmesan cheese accompany a pretty filling bowl of rotini, crunchy asparagus, broccoli florets, and shallots, for fewer calories. Similar to the somewhat-robust tortilla in the Fiesta bowl, the noodles retain a nice texture and come out, as the Italians say, al dente. That’s right. I just got all Rosetta Stone on that azz. Another plus: there doesn’t appear to be any excess water at the bottom of the bowl after cooking, which tends to happen a lot with frozen pasta meals.

The ultra-literal name isn’t really something I can get behind, since it’s clearly pasta marinara in there… but, hey, if slapping the word “Veggies” on the box in order to align with the company mission statement – creating healthy, organic, vegetarian meals by any means necessary or something like that – helps you sleep at night, then go for it, Amy’s.

Though it also suffers from the same yawn-worthy pastel color scheme that turned my awesome personal taco party into a sober and mature taco observance, the Pasta & Veggie bowl’s flavor is kick-ass. I was shocked – SHOCKED to actually taste the parmesan cheese. So many of these so-called “diet” items really skimp on important accents such as cheese, but the Pasta & Veggies meal delivered. It tasted like the real thing, not some limp, flavorless imitation.

If National Freak-Out Month (January) is gonna be tough for you because you inhaled a metric shit-ton of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and mini Snickers bars in October, followed by plates and plates of cornbread stuffing and mashed potatoes coated in gravy in November, and then topped it all off with frosted Snowman cookies, latkes and gallons of egg nog in December, don’t throw yourself under the Little Debbie snack cake delivery truck just yet. There is hope, little plump one. Delicious hope.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bowl/227 grams – Soft Taco Fiesta – 220 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 560 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar and 7 grams of protein. Pasta & Veggies – 210 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 470 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar and 10 grams of protein.)

Item: Amy’s Light & Lean (Soft Taco Fiesta and Pasta & Veggie)
Price: $3.00 (on sale)
Size: 8 ounces
Purchased at: Vons
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Soft Taco Fiesta)
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Pasta & Veggie Bowl)
Pros: Tastes like the real thing. Tom Hardy. Low-fat/low-cal. Piñatas. Fozzie Bear.
Cons: Looking like a hot mess on laundry day. “Veggie.” Grandma’s condo in Santa Fe. The Lap Band.

REVIEW: McDonald’s Holiday Pie

McDonald's Holiday Pie

Of all the great rivalries we have in this country — Democrats vs. Republicans, Yankees vs. Red Sox, Edward vs. Jacob — there is only one that will truly last the test of time: Pie vs. Cake. Epic battles have been waged between these two desserts (I counted 120 on YouTube, alone), but it appears that this holiday season, McDonald’s has bravely attempted to bridge the gap, so that we may all bask in the glow of holiday togetherness. Behold, the Holiday Pie, a 250-Calorie hybrid for those who like a little pie in their cake and a little cake in their pie.

I bought mine for 69 cents PLUS tax, which is a travesty, considering they were sold for much less last year. It appears that McDonald’s may have come upon hard times and is scraping up every last nickel to spend on magical unicorn oil or whatever it is that they use to cook those awesome fries. Case in point, the McDonald’s where I purchased my Holiday Pie had been forced to hang old coffee cups from the ceiling as their Christmas decorations. Le sigh…

The presentation of this pie is a bit off-putting. First of all, there is a guy on the box who looks like he’s frantically trying to avoid having to kiss his amorous girlfriend who has most likely just polished off a limited-time-only McRib and now has killer onion breath. Second, the Holiday Pie is a “Special Order.” It says so on the sticker that someone lovingly placed on the box. How special? It’s special enough that it has sprinkles that remind no one of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan or Boxing Day. Which holiday does this thing represent, exactly? Sugar Puff Glitter Ponies Remembrance Day? The man on the box seems to beg for answers through his twisted scowl. But there are none to be had.

McDonald's Holiday Pie Innards

A fairly sweet and crumbly “sugar cookie” crust encapsulates a nuclear yellow pudding, which tastes an awful lot like yellow cake. You’ll notice I put a space in between the words “yellow” and “cake” in order to differentiate between the tasty baked food and the uranium-derived powder used in nuclear reactors. Strange that they both produce the neon colors present in this menu item. Coincidence? Only Mr. Kissy-Face on the box may know for sure. Maybe his desperate expression is meant to be a warning.

The Holiday Pie isn’t terrible. It’s sweet without being too sugary, and it’s served warm without scalding your mouth (like their molten lava-style apple pie). On the downside, the texture of the crust is slightly silty… like fine sand. There is also a strange, chemical aftertaste that accompanies the pudding, which makes me think I’m going to go home later and suddenly develop super powers. I call dibs on X-ray vision!!!

What? I like to watch.

So, yeah, the Holiday Pie. I’m not hating it… but I’m not lovin’ it.

(Nutrition Facts – 260 calories, 120 calories from fat, 13 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of total carbohydrates, 12 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein, and a single, solitary gram of dietary fiber)

Item: McDonald’s Holiday Pie
Price: 69 cents
Size: 1 pie (2.7 oz)
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Pie/Cake hybrid, sweet & warm, 69 cents, Glitter Ponies, Special Order, The Holidays, super powers.
Cons: Possible nuclear components, 69 cents plus tax, onion breath, inexplicable sprinkles.

REVIEW: Aunt Jemima Cinnamon French Toast Instant Oatmeal

Aunt Jemima Cinnamon French Toast Instant Oatmeal

Regarding syrup-topped breakfast items, if pancakes are the Britney Spears (sort of plain without all the fixins) and Belgian waffles are the Christina Aguilera (foreign-sounding and crispy), then French toast has got to be the Jessica Simpson of the three. In my book, French toast will be forever doomed to third place. However, if I see French toast on a menu coupled with the words “cinnamon” or “vanilla,” I will order it without hesitation. It’s like those two words make it magically different – it’s no longer stale bread in egg batter. It’s sweet, golden heaven on a plate.

This must be what the good folks at Aunt Jemima had in mind when they conjured up their newest entry into the world of store-bought breakfast, Cinnamon French Toast Instant Oatmeal. Along with their other new flavor, “Maple Syrup” (…thinking OUTSIDE the box, Aunt J!), they have attempted to provide us with a modest simulacrum of the griddle breakfasts they are known for, in porridge form. Previously, you had to choose between a vaguely religious figure on the Quaker Oats box and a vestigial icon of racialized domesticity on the Cream of Wheat box. Now with Aunt Jemima in the mix (which has been owned by the Quaker Oats Company since the 1920s), we’ve got a new smiling logo in town.

I immediately went for the Cinnamon French Toast flavored oatmeal because, yes, it added the word “cinnamon.” The Maple Syrup flavored one was a no-go. Why anyone would choose to eat a meal that is named after a topping rather than an actual food is beyond me. The bright red packaging is inviting, reminding me of the boxes of frozen pancakes, frozen waffles, and frozen blueberry pancake-wrapped sausage I’ve scarfed down in the past. The oatmeal comes in boxes of four and ten. The 4-pack is cheaper ($1.00!) but still yields portions that are a bit on the small side. However, you should be doing what every cereal commercial commands and eating this as PART OF A COMPLETE BREAKFAST. So shut up.

Aunt Jemima Cinnamon French Toast Instant Oatmeal In A Bowl

Overall, Aunt Jemima Cinnamon French Toast Instant Oatmeal tastes pretty good. There is a rich brown sugar and cinnamon flavor which gives it just the right amount of sweetness. It’s not diabetic coma territory, but we’re not in Bland Town, either. Preparation is extremely easy, but adding boiling water and stirring don’t allow the rolled oats to really grow. Instead, they stay mostly flat as they soak, so it lacks that really filling quality you’d find in other brands. The oats do get tender, though, and the cinnamon flavor is rather robust. It doesn’t exactly recreate the flavor of authentic French toast, but it’s close… and for what amounts to about 25 cents per bowl, it’s an easy pick on a cold winter’s morn.

So, for those of us who prefer our hot breakfast in a bowl, Aunt Jemima has provided us with a pretty decent initial foray into the highly competitive world of instant hot cereal. As she goes up against Big Daddy Quaker Oats and Cream of Wheat in our local grocery aisle, here’s hoping Aunt J. takes home more than the bronze medal. Everyone knows that Third Place = mom jeans, and nobody likes that.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 packet – 140 calories, 2 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 0.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 100 milligrams of potassium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 1 gram of soluble fiber, 11 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein, 4% iron, 10% phosphorous and 8% magnesium)

Item: Aunt Jemima’s Cinnamon French Toast Instant Oatmeal
Price: $1.00
Size: 4 count box with 1.34 oz packets
Purchased at: Price Chopper
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Delicious cinnamon. Tasty brown sugar. Marginally convincing French toast flavor. 25¢ per bowl. Easy prep. Part of a complete breakfast.
Cons: The Jessica Simpson of breakfast foods. Small portions. Rolled oats stay flat in water. Mom jeans.

ANNOUNCEMENT: New Impulsive Buy Reviewer Stephanie

Hi everybody! I’m Stephanie, one of the newest writers for the Impulsive Buy.

When I was a kid, I wanted to write comic books, despite having a teacher tell me I would make more money writing novels. (Ha! You’d think he’d know more about penury, being, you know… a teacher and all.) So naturally, 80 bajillion years later, I wound up writing for an awesome product review blog! Yay, me!

I live in Los Angeles and work in the entertainment industry. Having come from Kansas (after a four-year collegiate stint in Michigan… Go Blue), it was here in LA where I learned the strange local custom of simultaneously loving food and hating one’s body. We partake then we self-punish. Dining out often fosters whining. Office birthdays inevitably bring mental suffering. (On that note, why buy a dozen cupcakes if nine out of ten people aren’t going to eat them, and the one outsider is just going to slice the tiniest sliver from one cupcake and leave the rest? They should just buy one cupcake and make it be for everybody. Then the sugar addicts can get their effing cake shavings, no one will abuse themselves for hours on end with kettlebells, and we can all shut up about it. I’m shutting up about it right now.)

Anyway, I eat food, and I love it. I’m a rebel, I guess. I can’t stand sliced avocado on sandwiches, but I keep an open mind about mostly everything else. That is what brings me here to The Impulsive Buy. I like to try new things, and I blow a gasket become terribly disappointed when a product doesn’t live up to the hype.

I’m here to give you the straight story. So, think of me as your epicurean private eye… a gumshoe endlessly thumbing through a stack of blurry, black & white telephoto snapshots of new and exciting products that may look like sugar and spice but is really poison through and through. It’s sad that you can hardly trust a soul out here in this filthy city, but it’s a sad world, doll… and I’m just here to save you the tears.