REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert

Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert

As a young lad, I used to think the term “lactose intolerant” was really “lack toast and tolerant,” and I was fascinated whenever I met someone with the condition.

In my mind these people lacked sufficient amounts of toast and were extremely understanding. Not having friends who were lactose intolerant, I never heard the phrase much other than a few times growing up, so my illusion was shattered when I figured out what the term really meant in high school.

They say you don’t really know someone until you walk a mile in their shoes, then have your faces surgically switched like in the Travolta/Cage classic Face/Off, drop their kids off at school, work their job, come home, tell your new family about your day over dinner, and sleep with their spouse. Unfortunately I’ve never done this because I don’t have the patience to talk about my day with strangers, but I have, at select points in life, went a few days without having dairy. And it stunk!

I mean, could you imagine not having Ben & Jerry’s ice cream? Well, now you don’t have to. Nor should you. It’s not a fun scenario to imagine.

Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert 2

Ben & Jerry’s answered non-dairy prayers everywhere with their new line of Non-Dairy Frozen Desserts, which are made with almond milk. Now lactose intolerant peeps everywhere can be friends with two of the coolest dudes around!

But how does it compare to regular Ben & Jerry’s ice cream? Pretty darn good. There are many noticeable differences but given the aim of the product is for non-dairy folk to be able to partake, they’re easily looked over.

Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert 3

The flavors are most modeled after already existing flavors, like this one, Chocolate Fudge Brownie. I noticed right upon opening the pint there is no distinct smell to the ice cream. The moment you dig your spoon in you’ll find the consistency is very different from the dairy version. The dessert is crumbly when you bite into it. It’s not nearly as creamy as the dairy version; it’s actually kind of dry.

The chocolate flavor is not nearly as sweet as the dairy kind. It’s more of a bitter flavor, kind of like a light dark chocolate. Although not as good as the ice cream, it’s something you would be happy eating if you couldn’t have the dairy version.

I don’t know for sure if the brownies are made with almond milk, too, but if I had to guess I would say they were. They are packed with flavor like the dairy version but they are much drier. Usually Ben & Jerry’s brownies have some moistness to them but these brownies have the feel of next day brownies, when you leave the brownies out for a bit and they dry out. Still really tasty, just a tad dry.

The brownies actually come from Greyston’s, a bakery in New York, which aims to provide jobs for low-income residents, so you can feel extra good about eating them.

Overall, the non-dairy frozen dessert isn’t as good as the ice cream version but it’s still really tasty and would please lactose intolerant folks and ice cream snobs alike. The worst part is the price, which ran me $5.49 for the pint. Yikes! A bit excessive, but if you’ve never experienced Ben & Jerry’s because you’re lactose intolerant, it’s worth the plunge.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 200 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 45 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 16 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $5.49
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Wegmans
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Good flavors for not being real ice cream. Face-switching surgery. Non-dairy folks having prayers answered.
Cons: Ice cream and brownies are a tad dry. Lacking sufficient toast. Having your illusions shattered.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Coconuts for Caramel Core Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's Coconuts for Caramel Core Ice Cream

Perusing through the frozen foods section of a grocery store – specifically the ice cream section – is a joyous activity indeed, yet sometimes it can be overwhelming. Like, for example, when you see Ben & Jerry’s just dropped not one, not two, but three new flavors on you, and you’re presented with a conundrum: which flavor is right for me? Then you have to look deep inside yourself and do a quick cavity search on your soul to come to a decision.

I settled for Coconuts for Caramel, one of the most recent additions to the ever-expanding Core line. Well, I wouldn’t call it settling. It sounded scrump, and my older brother did send me a text along the lines of, “OMG YOU MUST TRY COCONUTS FOR CARAMEL IT IS SO GOOD (SNOWMAN EMOJI)” So, it was a pretty easy choice. Wait, why snowman emoji? There are like, three different ice cream ones.

So you probably guessed the ice cream contains coconut and caramel. I hope you did, otherwise you’ll never be a detective. A core of gooey caramel sits in the middle, surrounded by sweet cream coconut and caramel ice creams. Yes, it’s a much less obvious concoction than the early Core entries the flavor team probably spent all of five minutes on – Peanut Butter Fudge Core, ahem – so that’s pretty neat. Good to see them continuing in a less played out direction.

The caramel side of things is amazing. The core is real rich, resembling caramel you’d normally find residing in a truffle. The caramel ice cream is more mellowed down than the core. The flavor reminds me of a caramel macchiato. If you scoop it along with the core, which you will, it’s like collecting a caramel power up in a Super Mario game. Or going down a random pipe and collecting caramel coins? You get the idea. Either way, yes.

The sweet cream coconut ice cream can complicate matters a bit. It has so much coconut in it, plus chocolate chips, I had trouble discerning the taste of the actual ice cream. It’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack that is made out of the filling in a Mounds bar. It can get frustrating. Much like watching the slow, clueless contestants on the old game show Supermarket Sweep. It’s like, “come on, go get the Farmer John Hams!” But no! They’re dilly-dallying in the personal care aisle.

Ben & Jerry's Coconuts for Caramel Core Ice Cream 2

Ben & Jerry’s is famous for having lots of mix-ins in their ice cream – they used to have a fan club called “Chunk Spelunkers,” which is sadly now defunct – but this was coconut overkill. The texture is not like normal ice cream, it’s more gritty than creamy, and was tough to eat on its own.

Your best bet is to combine the two ice creams together and scoop out some of the caramel core in the same bite. This is where the pint is money. The caramel from the core and the creamy caramel ice cream cover up the overabundance of fillings in the coconut ice cream and combines into something like a caramel covered Mounds bar.

It would have worked better if the chocolate chips were in the caramel ice cream and there was half the amount of coconut. That may just have balanced things out. Plus, caramel has to be lonely over there. Sweet cream coconut has ice cream and two fillings. That’s not fair at all. Why does the coconut side get everything?

Another minor issue I had was the core basically disappeared towards the bottom quarter of the pint, which I have pointed out in other Core flavors. I wish they would get the cores to reach the bottom more consistently. But not everything can be perfect.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 280 calories, 150 calories from fat, 17 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 65 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 25 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Wegman’s
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Sweet, different caramel flavors. Snowman emojis. Going down pipes and collecting things.
Cons: Coconut overkill. Bad texture for ice cream. Awful “Supermarket Sweep” contestants.

REVIEW: McDonald’s McCafe Oreo Frappe

McDonald's McCafe Oreo Frappe

It took 27 years but I’ve finally learned you can’t always have your cake and eat it too. Sometimes you just get to have the cake, and you can’t eat it, you just get to possess it. We all have to settle at times.

Like how the escaped prisoners in New York had to settle for eating Pop-Tarts without a toaster. Cold Pop-Tarts?! Bleh! You’d have to be pretty desperate to eat those. Oh…yeah…escaped prisoners on the run. Ahem.

Or how in a fantasy draft you have to settle because the jerk picking before you takes the player you had your hopes and dreams set on, and you have to instead draft your fallback option. I cringe just thinking about the time Buster Posey was picked right before I could get him, and I panicked and blurted out John Axford. Please don’t laugh at me too hard, baseball fans.

My most recent case of settling came when I tried to save a few extra bucks by opting to go to McDonald’s for a tasty frozen beverage instead of Starbucks. I know what you’re thinking…life can be a real bitch! Yeah, I’m thinking the same thing!

But McDonald’s Oreo Frappe ended up being so good that I didn’t have to settle for anything. And being cheaper than a Starbucks drink it’s a win in both taste and price. Of course it’s also a win in the sense that I get to say “small” like a normal person, instead of “tall” at Starbucks, which sounds like it’s a large drink, but as most of us know it’s the smallest size.

McDonald's McCafe Oreo Frappe 2

At first glance it’s clear there are Oreo cookies blended throughout the drink. It also has Oreo chunks on top of the whipped cream. I suggest stuffing the whipped cream and cookie chunks into the drink and then mixing it, but that’s just my style. You do you, faithful TIB reader.

The cookie taste is strong with this one. Right away you’ll get a heavy chocolate cookie flavor. Along with frappe, I also noticed notes of vanilla. The drink is made with a cookies & crème syrup, and the crème flavor is definitely noticeable. To put it into fractions, it’s 3/5 Oreo cookie flavor, 1/5 frappe flavor, and 1/5 Oreo cream flavor.

I got a small since I was headed for a Dibella’s sub right afterward, and though my intentions were to sip on it so there would be some left to have with the sub, the Oreo Frappe was so good that it lasted only about a minute and thirty seconds.

There were a couple of issues with the drink. It has a thinner consistency compared with other Frappe flavors. It also has a higher calorie count and much higher fat count than my normal Starbucks choice, the always trusty Green Tea Frappuccino. Normally this would be a huge turnoff for me and I wouldn’t get the drink again but the taste is such a win that it easily negates these issues.

We all do have to settle at times, but when it comes to the Oreo Frappe, there isn’t any settling involved.

(Nutrition Facts – Small – 540 calories, 180 calories from fat, 20 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 82 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 68 grams of sugars, and 7 grams of protein.)

Item: McDonald’s McCafe Oreo Frappe
Purchased Price: $3.01
Size: Small
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Great Oreo flavor. Can taste both cookie and crème flavors. Cheaper than Starbucks. Possessing cake. Not having to say “tall” when asking for a small drink.
Cons: Thinner consistency than other Frappes. Not the healthiest drink. Panic picking John Axford.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Donuts Chips Ahoy! Crunch Donut

Dunkin' Donuts Chips Ahoy! Crunch Donut

Ever eaten a food that doesn’t live up to the only descriptor in its title? Like a spicy dish that was not spicy at all? If you have, you know it’s a frustrating experience. It’s kind of like a broken promise.

This was the case with Dunkin’ Donuts’ new Chips Ahoy! Crunch Donut. See the word crunch there? I saw it too, and like a sad mindless sheep I gave DD my unconditional trust. Yet not one time did I hear something that even slightly resembled a crunching sound in my mouth whilst eating the donut. It was a more irksome experience than reading the children’s poem “Five Little Ducks” as a grown up.

So here’s the gist of the poem: Five little ducks went out one day, over the hill and far away. Mother duck said, “quack, quack, quack,” but only four little ducks came back.”

The trend continues until one little duck remains, and that little duck doesn’t come back either. And it isn’t until the last duck is gone that the mother duck shows any sign of worry. What kind of irresponsible parenting is that!? Don’t you think she would’ve called the duck authorities to put out a duck Amber Alert after her first kid disappeared? No, she waits until they’re all gone.

At the end she says, “quack, quack, quack,” and all the little ducks come back, but there’s no telling what kind of traumatic event they went through. They’ve probably been brainwashed by a duck cult, or a group of duck terrorists. Either way, the mother’s awful brand of parenting has assured these kids are going to live some ducked up lives.

Dunkin' Donuts Chips Ahoy! Crunch Donut Closeup

Oh yeah, the donut. So it’s basically a fluffy donut with chocolate frosting on top, which is then sprinkled with crumbled Chips Ahoy! Cookies. Sounds good, and it was good, but the big problem is that the cookie crumbles aren’t big enough and they are not crunchy in the slightest.

The donut was almost like a cruller, not in looks or taste but in how light it was. It wasn’t totally filled with cake the whole way through, as there were air pockets in the middle of the donut. Because of this, it’s not a meal like some donuts, but more of a snack. The chocolate frosting was rather rich, and not having had a donut from DD in a hot minute, I forgot how good frosted donuts were. Hope this doesn’t put me back on the wagon…

Back to those cookie crumbles. They were more of a tease than anything else. Mine did not have big enough chunks to get a true Chips Ahoy! cookie taste, and again, there was a total absence of the promised crunch. The cookies were kind of soft. Maybe the crunch is supposed to come when I slam my fist down on the table in anger after eating it and realizing I’ve been lied to?

I almost went for the Chips Ahoy! Crème donut, but I’m a crunch guy so I went with my gut. I noticed that one also had crumbled cookies on top, and If I were you I would go that route. Again, this donut does not taste bad, but it’s a horrible lie. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice… you won’t fool me twice, Dunkin’ Donuts, this is the last time! I’ll not subscribe to your tomfoolery any longer! FREEEEEDDOOOOMMMMM!!!

(Nutrition Facts – 310 calories, 150 calories from fat, 17 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 360 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 15 grams of sugars, and 4 grams of protein.)

Item: Dunkin’ Donuts Chips Ahoy! Crunch Donut
Purchased Price: $1.07
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Dunkin’ Donuts
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Tasty donut. Rich chocolate frosting is great. FREEEEEDDOOOOMMMMM!!!
Cons: Absence of crunch. Cookie pieces aren’t big enough and aren’t present enough. Irresponsible mother duck.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Save Our Swirled Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry’s Save Our Swirled Ice Cream

Usually when I go get a pint of Ben & Jerry’s it’s because I’m in a state of hunger or self-loathing. Either way, it always makes me feel better. But when I saw the new flavor, Save Our Swirled, I felt horrible and wasn’t sure the ice cream could make me feel better. The container is so bleak, showing a cow on a melting piece of ice, wearing an SOS sweater, holding a sign, which reads, “if it’s melted, it’s ruined.”

That’s messed up! I was already in self-loathing mode, and now I have to think about global warming and sweater cows falling into the cold arctic waters and there’s nothing I can do to stop it! Well, I could stop throwing Styrofoam burning parties, but damn those are always a great time.

If they keep going in this direction the next new flavor may as well be called “Swirled War 3,” and the cow on the container will be standing in some post-apocalyptic scene similar to Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road,” wearing a tattered sweater, holding a sign that says, “This is the end!”

The thoughts of Swirled War 3 and ceasing my infamous Styrofoam burning parties made me sob uncontrollably in Wegmans. So, it was just like every other trip to Wegmans. But the sobbing stopped once the ice cream eating began.

Ben & Jerry’s Save Our Swirled Ice Cream Top

A light, airy raspberry ice cream makes up for the base of Save Our Swirled. It had a different flavor than recent raspberry ice creams, like the one in That’s My Jam. It’s not too strong but at the same time it isn’t too weak either. It’s the Goldilocks of raspberry ice creams.

Complementing the raspberry ice cream is a raspberry swirl. It’s unlike the raspberry jam that was in the aforementioned That’s My Jam, and more like a raspberry… goo? Whatever the proper term is, it has a stronger raspberry flavor than the ice cream, and when you get them both in one bite it’s a ras-gasm.

Ben & Jerry’s Save Our Swirled Ice Cream Spoon

Also joining the mix is a marshmallow swirl, which I personally didn’t think was going to get along with two flavors of raspberry but it does, and it excels.

Lastly, and absolutely least, are the chocolate and white chocolate fudge cones. At first I thought these were fudge covered waffle cones, but they are simply half chocolate/white chocolate ice cream cone-shaped chocolate. They are tasty, but for me personally they were too constant throughout the pint. And when you consider the fact the ice cream is called “Save Our Swirled,” wouldn’t you think ice cream cones are kind of irrelevant?

If Ben and Jerry want to get their point through, the fudge cones should be fudge melting polar ice caps. Then when people eat the ice cream and really look at what they’re eating they may think, “Oh my god, what have I done! I’m devouring the world!” and change their Styrofoam burning party ways.

See, when I saw the ice cream cones I just thought of a hot, carefree summer day, where I don’t think about saving our swirled, er, I mean world. But if I saw a fudge melting polar ice cap I would actually be concerned.

I know Ben and Jerry run an ice cream company, but ice cream isn’t the answer to everything. If it was, I’d be a happy billionaire who lived in a mega tower and hang glided to work everyday. But alas, I’m just a poor salaryman who eats way too much ice cream.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 250 calories, 110 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 50 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 27 grams of sugars, and 4 grams of protein.)

Item: Ben & Jerry’s Save Our Swirled Ice Cream
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Wegmans
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Raspberry ice cream is delicious. Swirls blend really well together. Styrofoam burning parties. Hang gliding off a mega tower.
Cons: Too many fudge cones. Sobbing in Wegmans. Swirled War 3. Helpless sweater cows.

REVIEW: Mountain Dew Kickstart Hydrating Boost (Pineapple Orange Mango and Strawberry Kiwi)

Mountain Dew Kickstart Hydrating Boost

When I saw the bizarre, trippy commercial for Mountain Dew Kickstart Hydrating Boost energy drinks during the Super Bowl, I got pretty excited. An energy drink with some kind of hallucinogen in it? WOOHOO! Well, at least that’s what the commercial led me to believe, but I was intent on finding out for myself.

The description on the bottles are kind of interesting. Flavored sparkling juice beverage blend from concentrate with other natural flavors. I was under the impression it was a normal energy drink, but right away I noticed they weren’t as acidic and sugary as others on the market.

It has coconut water, contains 10 percent juice, and with the can being only 12 ounces and 60 calories per can, it’s definitely healthier than a lot of other energy drinks.

It comes in two flavors, Energizing Strawberry Kiwi and Energizing Pineapple Orange Mango. Did they really need to use the word “energizing?” I mean, it’s called Kickstart, and it’s sold amongst other energy drinks. And they use the same term on both flavors. They should use different ones, like, I don’t know, “Pump You Up Strawberry Kiwi.” Just my thoughts.

Mountain Dew Kickstart Hydrating Boost Orange Pineapple Mango

Pineapple Orange Mango beats out Strawberry Kiwi big time in the taste department. It has three fruit flavors, and though you might think something would get lost in the mix, all three flavors actually come through, with pineapple and orange being the most prominent. It drinks like a mix between a soda and a sparkling juice, and isn’t as carbonated as much as normal energy drinks are. It was very pleasant to drink.

The cans say, “with just the right amount of KICK” because they have 68 milligrams of caffeine.

But they don’t say anything about containing acid or some other drug that will make my cat dance or my statues come to life and have deep philosophical conversations with me, but I saw the commercial. I know what’s going on here.

Mountain Dew Kickstart Hydrating Boost Strawberry Kiwi

The Strawberry Kiwi was kind of weak. I really just tasted strawberry, and since the flavor wasn’t nearly as potent as the Pineapple Orange Mango, the carbonation is more noticeable and it just doesn’t work as well as its companion flavor.

Both contain coconut water, but it must not be much. I couldn’t taste a hint of the distinctive flavor in either. But I’m not really complaining, as coconut water doesn’t have the greatest taste.

I drank half of each so I could see what was up with the energy boost I was supposed to receive, but honestly I didn’t really get too much of the kick I was promised. Now you may drink this and get a decent kick, but it didn’t do much for me.

But despite the lack of boost, I did find the hydrating part to be true. I would normally stay away from an energy drink if I needed a thirst quencher, but these drinks were darn refreshing.

As for the hallucinating… well, it never came. That commercial was so misleading. Promising me free drugs in a can that would make me dance and hallucinate, on top of giving me an energy boost. And what do I get? Nothing. Well, I did get a tasty Pineapple Orange Mango drink that I would have again. And I gained the knowledge that Strawberry Kiwi isn’t worth my time.

But most importantly, I realized that you shouldn’t seek out hard drugs inside cans of Mountain Dew energy drinks. You should just call your shady friend Peanut and see if he’s currently in or out of jail and whether or not he can hook you up.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 ounces – 60 calories, 0 grams of fat, 130 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 14 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, 68 milligrams of caffeine, 0 grams total fat, 130 mg of sodium, 15 grams total carbohydrate, 14 grams sugars, 0 grams protein, 68 milligrams of caffeine, 75% vitamin c, 60% niacin, 60% vitamin b6, 45% pantothenic acid, 10% phosphorous. Strawberry Kiwi – )

Item: Mountain Dew Kickstart Hydrating Boost
Purchased Price: 2/$3.79
Size: 12 oz. can
Purchased at: Gulf Gas Station
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Pineapple Orange Mango)
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Strawberry Kiwi)
Pros: Pineapple Orange Mango was quite tasty. Less sugary and acidic than typical energy drinks. Only 60 calories per can. Having a shady friend named Peanut.
Cons: Strawberry Kiwi was pretty weak. Drinks did not offer much of a kick. Misleading commercials. Having a shady friend named Peanut.