REVIEW: Fudge Brownie M&M’s

Fudge Brownie M M s

What are Fudge Brownie M&M’s?

Fudge Brownie M&M’s promise to be “everything you love about homemade brownies without even turning on the oven!”

How are they?

I was skeptical that candy could deliver the same experience as a baked good, but they really captured the essence of it!

The candy piece itself is large, like the size of a peanut M&M. But instead of a peanut center, it’s a chewy chocolate core that represents the fudge brownie.

Fudge Brownie M M s Innards

There’s definitely something to be said about the textural contrast of the hard candy shell with the chewy center. That something is: it’s good and creates a candy eating experience that I haven’t had before.

On the flavor front, when I first eat it, I get the classic M&M’s taste from the shell, followed with a subtle fudgy note. This fudginess becomes more pronounced as the shell dissolves. I wouldn’t mind even more brownie flavor, but I get it – there’s only so much “batter” you can pack into a half-inch candy piece.

Is there anything else you need to know?

Fudge Brownie M M s Colors

Aren’t M&M’s usually pretty uniform? I noticed that they were a bit lumpy looking. However, this did not take away from the flavor or overall eat for me!

Conclusion:

How many flavors are there now?! It’s a bit overwhelming on-shelf, but this one is worth a try — look for the light purple bag with Ms. Brown!

Purchased Price: $2.98
Purchased at: Walmart
Size: 9.05 oz.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 oz/28g/11 pieces): 140 calories, 6 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 25 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 18 gram of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition Iced Lemon CupCakes

Hostess Limited Edition Iced Lemon CupCakes

What are the Hostess Limited Edition Iced Lemon CupCakes?

A new limited-time citrus variation on the OG grocery store/gas station/convenience store cupcake that you know and love! It’s an iced lemon flavored cake with a creamy filling.

Hostess Limited Edition Iced Lemon CupCakes Train

When you read the box, you may think that “iced lemon” is a flavor. But, I think it means it’s an iced cake that is lemon-flavored. Note that this “iced” designation is different from the “frosted” designation on the other flavors.

How are they?

Hostess Limited Edition Iced Lemon CupCakes Icing

These perfectly machine-formed cupcakes, with their cute lil’ Charlie Brown hair squiggle, are delicious. In my opinion, lemon-flavored foods are difficult to get right because it’s really easy to lean into cleaning product territory.

But, Hostess got it right! The flavor reminded me of the way lemonade is – not too tart with a fair amount of sweetness. The sugary filling also helped to temper the lemon flavor, so there was no puckering here!

Hostess Limited Edition Iced Lemon CupCakes Bite

The texture was as good as expected: nice and – trigger warning: I’m going to use the word because it’s fitting – moist. I enjoyed the textural bite of the iced topping with the soft cake and the luscious filling.

Is there anything else you need to know?

Hostess Limited Edition Iced Lemon CupCakes with Hostess Ice

This is by far superior to Hostess’ Iced Lemon Cake, which tasted a bit bitter as if straight lemon zest was used. It also left a weird aftertaste. Plus, the more artificial yellow color wasn’t as pleasing to the eye, but to be fair – the cupcake itself looked interchangeable with a vanilla cupcake. Despite having the taste of lemon through and through, only the topping has a lovely pastel yellow hue.

Conclusion:

Lemon is the new spring LTO flavor du jour, and Hostess nailed it with its Iced Lemon CupCakes!

Purchased Price: $3.50
Size: 12.7 oz box (8 individual wrapped cakes)
Purchased at: Meijer
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 Cake [45g]) 170 calories, 6 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 23 grams of sugar, and 1 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Nestle Toll House Funfetti Edible Cookie Dough and Edible Fudge Brownie Batter

Nestle Toll House Funfetti Edible Cookie Dough and Edible Fudge Brownie Batter

Friends, edible cookie dough is so 2019.

It’s 2020, and it marks the brave new world of EDIBLE BATTER. Nestle Toll House has one foot in the past and one foot in the future with its launch of Funfetti Edible Cookie Dough and Edible Fudge Brownie Batter.

I thought the first two flavors were outstanding. And even though I didn’t need another flavor, I’m never going to say no to colorful candy sprinkles!

Nestle Toll House Funfetti Edible Cookie Dough

Upon opening, the color and smell reinforced birthday cake. Like with the other flavors, I marveled at how easy it was to scoop as it wasn’t goopy or too hard. I was also happy to see that the color of the sprinkles didn’t bleed the way the M&M’s did in the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Monster flavor.

The taste delivered Funfetti, which is like sugar cookies. As expected, the sprinkles didn’t add much except a little color.

What caught me off guard was the texture. There was a distinct grittiness that I didn’t notice in the other flavors. I mean, one could argue there’s more realism with it – like you’re getting the granulated sugar that you mixed into your real dough! Or maybe it was the texture from the sprinkles that created this experience. Either way, it read as extra gritty to me.

One last gripe about this flavor, the “Made with 100% Real Fun” claim on the container made me roll my eyes. I have a personal vendetta against useless claims like this because it cheapens us all!!

Nestle Toll House Edible Fudge Brownie Batter

As for the edible batter – two words: HECK YES!

The smell immediately reminded me of Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker chocolate cake mix, and it took me back to elementary school with me in my parents’ kitchen mixing away. The ability for this new flavor to conjure up intense nostalgia, just from its smell, is part of its magic.

The batter itself was dense, rich, and delicious – quite cocoa forward and chocolate-intense, so calling it Devil’s Food Cake wouldn’t be off!

So, which is it, Tiffany, cake or brownie?!

This could easily be a base batter for making Devil’s Food Cake OR fudge brownies! BUT, I find brownie more fitting because the firmer texture of cookie dough translated into this new batter reminds me of eating the ooey-gooey core of a slightly underbaked fudge brownie.

I did notice there were white unmixed bits that were a stark contrast to the deep chocolate brown. OK, Nestle, that’s a bit TOO MUCH realism. I know I was a terrible cake mixer as a kid, but no need to remind me. But jokes aside, I have no idea what these bits were, and I could see how they could be off-putting.

Nestle Toll House Funfetti Edible Cookie Dough and Edible Fudge Brownie Batter 2

All in all, these edible goodies were executed quite well. Yes, there were small issues, but I didn’t find them egregious. However, what could be a deal-breaker is the new price! I was a bit taken aback by the price increase from $4.49 to $6 on all flavors. The food is good, but dang that is premium!

Purchased Price: $5.99 each
?Size: 15 oz. container
?Purchased at: Meijer
?Rating: 7 out of 10 (Funfetti), 9 out of 10 (Fudge)
?Nutrition Facts: (2 Tbsp) Funfetti – 140 calories, 4 grams of total fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 9 milligrams of cholesterol, 110 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 14 grams of total sugars, 14 grams of added sugars, and 1 grams of protein. Fudge Brownie Batter – 140 calories, 4.5 grams of total fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 14 grams of total sugars, 14 grams of added sugars, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Papa John’s Papadias

Papa John s Meatball Pepperoni Papadia

While your favorite pizza chain is still 2000 and late by adding more things to the crust, my favorite pizza chain – Papa John’s – is doing the most with its new Papadias. Inspired by the piadina, a Northern Italy flatbread sandwich, these were tested back in July and clearly did well enough to be launched nationwide. Thank you, test markets!

I was surprised to see ALL four varieties (Italian, Philly Cheesesteak, Grilled BBQ Chicken & Bacon, Meatball Pepperoni) made it through, but I’m making an educated guess the Philly Cheesesteak was the crowd favorite because it’s the hero image on all posters, website, etc.

I’m going to cut right to the chase; these part pizza, part sandwich phenoms are legit! I have eaten many a Subway flatbread sandwiches and it simply can’t compare to flatbread created with Papa John’s fresh, never frozen dough that has a fantastic springiness to it.

I can see why this portable form would work well for lunch. Thanks to the uniform fold-over, it was really easy to hold and didn’t come undone. There was no chance of me accidentally eating more of the top than the bottom and making a mess. Additionally, there wasn’t much oil residue on my fingers – just the tolerable, manageable dustiness that comes with eating pizza.

I was also very impressed by the amount of food for $6 each. It was one of the rare times that the press photos actually mirrored the size of the food in real life!

Here’s my ranking, in order of would order/eat again to likely would not order/eat again:

Meatball Pepperoni

Spicy meatballs, pepperoni, pizza sauce, mozzarella, and classic Italian seasoning. Served with a Pizza sauce dipping cup.

Papa John s Meatball Pepperoni Papadia Box

I didn’t want to put this one down. I don’t usually order meatballs as a topping at Papa John’s, so I was a blank slate on this one. I found that the beef and pork meatballs had good flavor and a pleasant overall texture – easy to bite into without weird tough bits or strange gamey-ness. And the pepperoni complemented these very well!

Papa John s Meatball Pepperoni Papadia 2

The meatballs were also cut in half, which helped with the distribution – I always had bites with meatball and/or pepperoni – and ensured that it all stayed in the flatbread. I was a bit disappointed the meatballs weren’t actually spicy though. On the bright side, no need for Alka-Seltzer! Spicy meatball reference, anyone? Overall, this Papadia had all the tastiness of a meatball sub without any of the messiness.

Grilled BBQ Chicken & Bacon

Grilled chicken, bacon, fresh-cut onions, and mozzarella. It’s drizzled with sweet and smoky BBQ Sauce. Served with a BBQ sauce dipping cup.

Papa John s Grilled BBQ Chicken  Bacon Papadia Box

What I noticed immediately about this one was the smell. The BBQ sauce was quite pungent, but it was welcomed! The plethora of sweet and smoky BBQ sauce was well-balanced with the mild mozzarella, savory bacon, and sharp onion strips. The first thing that came to mind was that it reminded me of a Carl’s Jr Western Bacon Cheeseburger except way easier to eat. Again, I can get a version of another favorite with LESS MESS? YAS.

Papa John s Grilled BBQ Chicken  Bacon Papadia

Italian

Alfredo sauce, spicy Italian sausage, salami, mozzarella, and banana peppers. Served with a Pizza sauce dipping cup.

Papa John s Italian Papadia Box

I LOVE Italian sandwiches because of the nuanced cold cut meat flavors balanced by the fresh crunch of banana peppers. The Papadia interpretation lost me a little bit because by having it all warm/cooked, the flavors and textures blended together too much.

Papa John s Italian Papadia

It blended so much so that I didn’t even realize there was Alfredo sauce! Furthermore, the salami and spicy Italian sausage melded together so much that the salami flavor couldn’t be discerned. And once again, no heat. Luckily, I was able to get some fuego from the standard pepperoncini fixin’ on the side. From a texture perspective, I could definitely taste the tangy banana pepper, but I wanted that added crunch!

Philly Cheesesteak

Sliced Philly steak, fresh-cut onions, green peppers, mozzarella, and the chain’s Philly sauce. Served with a Garlic sauce dipping cup.

Papa John s Philly Cheesesteak Papadia Box

The flavor was unmistakably a Philly cheesesteak with that green bell pepper and onion-forward flavor. However, my biggest gripe was the texture of the “sliced” Philly steak. Sliced is in quotes because it felt like ground beef and I couldn’t get past that. I’m no Philadelphian, but even I know that’s blasphemy! The flavor couldn’t make up for the faux pas on texture. However, even if the texture was right, it still would not leap frog the other flavors in tastiness.

Papa John s Philly Cheesesteak Papadia

Besides personal preference on flavors and textures, the only thing I thought was gratuitous across the board was the sauce on the side. All of the Papadias were really well-sauced and didn’t need any extra love.

Given the tastiness and viability of this innovation, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Hutadias or Domdias soon.

Papa John s Papadias

Purchased Price: $6 each
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Meatball Pepperoni), 7 out of 10 (Grilled BBQ Chicken & Bacon), 6 out of 10 (Italian), 6 out of 10 (Philly Cheesesteak)
Nutrition Facts: (1 Papadia) Meatball Pepperoni – 950 calories, 50 grams of fat, 21 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 140 milligrams of cholesterol, 2460 milligrams of sodium, 81 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 42 grams of protein. Philly Cheesesteak – 850 calories, 39 grams of fat, 16 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 2180 milligrams of sodium, 81 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 40 grams of protein. Grilled BBQ Chicken & Bacon – 880 calories, 30 grams of fat, 14 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 165 milligrams of cholesterol, 2630 milligrams of sodium, 91 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 36 grams of sugar, and 59 grams of protein. Italian – 960 calories, 55 grams of fat, 21 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 140 milligrams of cholesterol, 2760 milligrams of sodium, 77 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 38 grams of protein..

REVIEW: Arby’s Fish ‘N Cheddar Sandwich

Arby s Fish  N Cheddar Sandwich Wrapper

What is Arby’s Fish ‘N Cheddar Sandwich?

“WE HAVE THE FISH,” declares Arby’s new Fish ‘N Cheddar Sandwich wrapper.

Arby s Fish  N Cheddar Sandwich We have the Fish

I guess it does because Arby’s has THREE limited time fish sandwich options: the Crispy Fish Sandwich (crispy fish, tartar sauce, lettuce, sesame seed bun), Fish N’ Cheddar (crispy fish, cheddar cheese sauce, tartar sauce, lettuce sesame seed bun), and the King’s Hawaiian Fish Deluxe Sandwich (crispy fish, cheddar cheese, tartar sauce, lettuce, tomatoes on a King’s Hawaiian bun).

We’ve seen the Crispy Fish and the King’s Hawaiian Fish Deluxe before, but not the Fish N’ Cheddar. But let’s be real. It’s basically the crispy fish sandwich with cheddar cheese sauce.

Arby s Fish  N Cheddar Sandwich Hang off the Bun

Arby’s also boldly declares that the fish lineup is “Hang Off The Bun Huge.” As someone who lived in Indiana and has experienced a Pork Tenderloin sandwich, which is known for the meat outsizing the bun, I can appreciate this.

How is it?

Arby s Fish  N Cheddar Sandwich Profile

If the meat is going to outsize the bun, it better be dang good. Unfortunately, in this case, the fish wasn’t. The flavor was fine, but the texture was its downfall. To be fair, it wasn’t like a soggy wet nap, but it simply didn’t have that desirable deep-fried crunch.

In my opinion, they were way too fair on the breading-to-fish ratio. I wouldn’t have been upset if Arby’s skimped just a bit to make the breading a smidge more robust to create a delicious, crispy exterior.

Arby s Fish  N Cheddar Sandwich Cheese

Now on to what makes the sandwich “new” — the cheddar cheese sauce. This sauce was basically a less liquid-y nacho cheese. I concluded that even though it provides a more favorable melted texture than a square of American cheese, its flavor doesn’t complement the rest of the sandwich.

Is there anything else you need to know?

Arby s Fish  N Cheddar Sandwich Comparison
Fish ‘N Cheddar (left) Filet-O-Fish (right)

I ate this side-by-side with McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish. Arby’s offering was bigger, wasn’t doused in tartar sauce, and contained iceberg lettuce and cheese sauce, but these differences didn’t really give it an edge over the Filet-O-Fish and is not worth the extra couple of bucks.

Conclusion:

I would pick the Filet-O-Fish over this any day. If Arby’s brought back its Nashville Hot Fish Sandwich, I may consider making it my fast food fish fix. But, when it comes to a basic fried fish sandwich, I prefer the McDonald’s classic.

Purchased Price: $4.29
Size: N/A
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 540 calories, 22 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 1030 milligrams of sodium, 65 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 20 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Caramel Coconut Oreo Cookies

Caramel Coconut Oreo Cookies

Oreo is starting the new decade with a FLAVOR BANG. The brand announced four new flavors (Chocolate Marshmallow, Caramel Coconut, Dark Chocolate Fudge-Covered, and Tiramisu) and launched three of said flavors this month.

I was most excited for the Caramel Coconut flavor because I know and love coconut crème. Probably like most folks, my mind went to Girl Scout Samoas or Caramel deLites Cookies. But, it’s SO MUCH tastier.

Caramel Coconut Oreo Cookies Sleeves

The caramel aroma really drew me in. The smell isn’t like your sundae caramel syrup or even what’s in a Ben & Jerry’s pint. It’s a deliciously deep scent that twinkles with a warmth that I ascribe to honey and/or brown sugar. And no, it’s not artificial like a Yankee Candle either. Oddly, there’s nothing about the scent experience that would even remotely hint at the coconut part of this flavor.

The scent makes up for the look because frankly, the brown crème doesn’t look very appetizing. It’s not something that would stop me from eating the cookie, but the off-tan seems to lean more like a pumpkin or maybe even maple crème.

Caramel Coconut Oreo Cookies Creme

Despite the creme color, I enjoyed eating every single cookie in this Family Size pack. Speaking of, why was I forced to buy Family Size?! I would’ve been so irked if this didn’t deliver. Yes, I checked if I could buy a regular-sized pack. I’m fairly certain a smaller size wasn’t made.

Anyways back to the cookie — it’s definitely more caramel forward but does have a coconut finish. If you’re not familiar with Oreo’s execution of coconut, I can see how it’s easily missed.

I also didn’t see any coconut bits when examining the crème, but I did discover small pieces wedged in my molars. That didn’t bother me too much as the stringy texture of longer strips of dried coconut isn’t my favorite.

Caramel Coconut Oreo Cookies are so wonderful that I’m going to drop this controversial thought: How about the Little Brownie Bakers and ABC Bakers reformulate their respective Girl Scout coconut and caramel cookies to be more like this Oreo? I would buy SO many boxes.

Purchased Price: $3.56
Size: 17 oz.
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2 cookies) 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, 2.5 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 13 grams of total sugars, and less than 1 gram of protein.