REVIEW: Domino’s New York Style Pizza

Where can you find Domino’s hometown, Joe’s Pizza’s first non-NYC location, the OGs of Detroit-Style pizza, AND Little Caesars’ hometown within a 30-mile radius?

The lower “thumb*” area of Michigan, of course! And I just happen to reside in this microcosm of pizza. So when Domino’s introduced its New York Style Pizza, I felt particularly compelled to try it because of Domino’s hometown roots AND because there’s a legit NYC institution (Joe’s Pizza) down the street.

Domino’s offers five types of pizza crusts: pan, hand tossed, crunchy thin, gluten free, and now New York Style.

Ordered as-is, the New York-style pie was an X-large 16″ pizza with the standard “Robust Inspired Tomato Sauce” and a cheese blend of cheddar, mozzarella, and provolone. It was also cut into six slices, rather than eight, to enable folding.

Compared to the regular hand tossed, it was noticeably flatter and less seasoned looking. This wasn’t surprising as the hand tossed crust includes a garlic-oil seasoning blend. Unfortunately, this visual translated to a lack of flavor. It was rather bland and cardboard-like, especially with the thinner nature of it. Also, despite the robust tomato sauce (rather than the hearty marinara sauce), it didn’t impart any robust flavor.

Domino’s achieved the texture, though! It folded nicely, stayed firm, and wasn’t super greasy. I must mention that I clearly did not test it with any other toppings except for cheese, so the foldability was not rigorously tested. While I would test this further, none of the other toppings really interested or screamed NYC to me. Like, where’s the white pizza at?!

However, if we’re really nitpicking here, while the texture was foldable and structurally sound, it lacked that slight chewiness and springiness in the classic NYC crust.

If you want to switch up crusts, why not try the New York Style? I won’t stop ya. But if you’re on the fence, I don’t really find it worthy of replacing your go-to order.

*Because the physical state of Michigan is shaped somewhat like a mitten (Mitten State!), Michiganders use their hands to show where they generally reside – e.g., the thumb area, the palm area, the fingertips, etc.)

Purchased Price: $13.99
Size: XL (16”)
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (199g) 510 calories, 24 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 1050 milligrams of sodium, 48 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 5 grams of total sugar, and 23 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Reese’s Cluster Bites

Reese’s is the elite, the S-tier. So, when it came out with its new Cluster Bites, I was immediately intrigued. All its new items have been pretty fire so far, from the DiPPeD line to the Big Cups with various inclusions.

While the name itself is a mashup of the now-discontinued Reese’s Bites and the current Reese’s Clusters, the offering is a bit different from both. It touts “creamy peanut butter, gooey caramel and crunchy peanuts, all covered in smooth milk chocolate.” So, unlike the clusters, there are no pecans! But honestly, it may have benefitted from it.

I ripped open the bag to find bigger clusters than expected. I thought it would be smaller because of the bites part of the name. For once, the food itself actually matched the size of the picture on the bag!

Unlike a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, it smelled more like peanut butter. But, it was its texture that shook me. It was quite a different eating experience compared to a Reese’s cup, which has that distinct texture of the thin chocolate snapping under the pressure of your teeth. Instead, these clusters were soft and squishy, particularly because of the caramel. The texture primarily came from the whole peanut rather than tempered chocolate. Its flavor was like eating a softer, smaller nougat-less Snickers bar. Meh.

All good things come to an end, including Reese’s streak of fire innovations. This was just OK, but maybe it’s because Reese’s other new items have been so good that they set the bar way too high.

I will say that the new Cluster Bites are indeed more “snackable,” and I can appreciate the volume. I can eat many without feeling as guilty or full as I would if I ate an equivalent number in mini cups or DiPPeD pretzels. Even so, I don’t see this replacing or being added to my weekly Reese’s rotation.

Purchased Price: $4.42
Size: 7 oz pouch
Purchased at: Menard’s
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (4 pieces – 30 grams) – 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 45 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 13 grams of sugar (including 11 grams of added sugar), and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

What happens when a store known for donuts tries to make banana bread?

Dunkin’ fudged around and found out with its new Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.

Well, actually, chocolate chips were used, but you catch my drift.

Launched on National Banana Bread Day, Dunkin’ made a bold statement that it was making the classic bakery treat even better by adding chocolate chips. It specifically mentioned that it’s pre-packaged to ensure it doesn’t dry out. I refuse to use the M-word that rhymes with “voiced” the brand used.

Upon hearing about this new item, I couldn’t help but compare it to Starbucks’ offering because that’s where I usually get my banana bread on the go. So, I decided to do a banana bread face-off.

Starbucks’ version has walnuts and pecans, and I’m calling this out because that could be a non-starter for people with a tree nut allergy. If that’s you, Dunkin’s Banana Chocolate Chip bread is not made with walnuts or pecans! But, you’re going to get literally more with Starbucks’ slice. It was thicker and only 50 cents more.

While the Starbucks one smelled slightly more cinnamon-y, the bites were similar. They both delivered on what you expect banana bread to be — banana-forward but not artificial banana tasting like a banana-flavored Runts or taffy. Texture-wise, the crumb on both was tender and not too densely packed. While the nuts added better textural contrast with the Starbucks one, the chocolate chips in the Dunkin’ one made it a bit more indulgent for me. However, I wish chocolate chunks were used to get the indulgence AND texture.

So it ended up being a pretty close matchup, and both were tasty!

While I’m impressed by how well Dunkin’ executed its Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, I’m still left scratching my head about it. If I want a treat or something to go with my coffee, I will get a donut. Munchkins, for the win!

Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 1 slice (3.45 oz)
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 330 calories, 15 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 280 milligrams of sodium, 45 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 27 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Starbucks Chicken, Maple Butter & Egg Sandwich

Guess who’s back? Back again?

Not Slim Shady, but Starbucks’ Chicken, Maple Butter & Egg Sandwich! It officially joined the permanent menu this past January after a brief week-long stint in June 2022.

I tried it when it debuted and have similar thoughts about it this time around. So basically, it’s the same sandwich – breaded white meat chicken, eggs, and maple butter spread on a toasted oat-biscuit roll – just with all the undisclosed kinks figured out.

This breakfast combo of chicken, egg, and biscuit seems so familiar, yet there’s distinctiveness. There is nothing quite like it at other quick service establishments or on Starbucks’ current food menu. Plus, a toasted oat-biscuit roll just sounds unique and fancy.

As I pulled my freshly heated sandwich bag from the hand-off counter and peered at it while making my way to a table, I was immediately hit with a sweet honey smell. My Pavlovian response to the sweet and savory breakfast was, “Oooh, McGriddle!”

Visually, though, it was pale and almost looked underbaked, which was unsurprisingly unlike the golden tones of the re-touched menu photography. The chicken looked like an oversized chicken nugget, which gave me grade school cafeteria food vibes. I noticed and appreciated that the egg layer was equal in size to the chicken patty. It was a plus to me because it seemed like it would be more filling and, thus, worth the nearly $6 price tag.

I was disappointed to find just a thin layer of maple butter on just one side of the sandwich. It was impressive that such a small amount packed such big smells but meh flavors. This, unfortunately, made me think that maybe it was just artificial flavoring. This realization detracted from my perception that it was a premium sandwich made with high quality ingredients. Boo.

All put together, it was really dry. Also, like in grade school, the chicken was a touch rubbery with no crispiness whatsoever. The oat biscuit roll didn’t do the sandwich any favors. It had the dryness of a biscuit and biscuit-ish flavors (see: butter) without actually being one. After a few bites, I ended up deconstructing it and just eating the chicken and egg together. I solved the dryness issue and still got the sweetness of the maple butter because it attached itself to the chicken breading.

The bright side to all of this was that at least it was heated thoroughly. I’ve unfortunately had many Starbucks sandos and wraps that were still cold in the middle.

Does this dethrone my latest bacon gouda sandwich kick or the chain’s outstanding Potato, Cheddar & Chive bites? (Pro tip: ask for hot sauce.) Nope. But I can understand why some folks looking for something with more protein or sweet and savory flavors might be into this.

Purchased Price: $5.45
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 sandwich – 150g) – 450 calories, 24 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 160 milligrams of cholesterol, 1040 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 17 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Cheetos Pretzels

Chester the Cheetah is on a quest for snacking domination.

With his latest conquest, he sprinkled cheetle dust onto pretzels to create the new Cheetos Pretzels!

If you’re not familiar with cheetle, you definitely know of it. There’s just a name now for the cheese powder left on your fingertips after eating Chester’s creations. Cheetle. If you didn’t know, now you know.

While he seems too cool to have an evil genius muahaha laugh, it was still what I envisioned as I tried the two new offerings: Cheddar and Flamin’ Hot Pretzels. As a Flamin’ Hot fanatic, I was stoked to see a spicy version. Although, it wasn’t that surprising seeing that Flamin’ Hot is everywhere these days!

What was surprising, however, was the shape. It had been a minute since I’d consumed a classic, thick pretzel like this. Usually, I nosh on bites like Synder’s, thin Pretzel Crisps, or twists from Dot’s, but Chester went classic.

This shape probably made the most sense to retain as much seasoning as possible, and it definitely did a good job of that. Even though it was only supposed to be seasoned on one side, there was quite a bit of transfer, so everything was nicely distributed for maximum flavor with both offerings.

Unfortunately, though, the cheddar flavor tasted muted compared to regular Cheetos. My layman’s working hypothesis focuses on the base. Pretzel uses wheat, whereas regular Cheetos are on a corn base, so the wheat is somehow muting the cheddar. It also smelled kind of weird and cardboard-y, which was not an appetizing smell.

The Flamin’ Hot flavor, on the other hand, was fire! It smelled exactly like all other Flamin’ Hot flavors and tasted as expected. The pretzel surprisingly didn’t tame the heat, which was a win.

The downside to both flavors? The thick pretzel combined with cheetle made me more thirsty than usual. The gummy pretzel-ness also globbed around my molars in true pretzel fashion. By the way, I found them next to the other molar globbers in the snacking section rather than next to the other Cheetos in the chip section.

The opportunities here are limitless with this new launch. I would 100% try a soft Auntie Anne’s pretzel dusted in Flamin’ Hot.

Are any snacks safe from Chester? Methinks not.

Purchased Price: $4.38 each
Size: 10 oz bags
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Flamin’ Hot), 6 out of 10 (Cheddar)
Purchased at: Walmart
Nutrition Facts: (28g – about 10 pretzels) Flamin’ Hot – 130 calories, 5 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 360 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein. Cheddar – 130 calories, 5 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 350 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.