REVIEW: Sweet Heat Skittles and Sweet Heat Starburst

Sweet Heat Skittles and Sweet Heat Starburst

Will “Sweet and Spicy” become the hot new snack trend? Brands have already had success in the “Sweet and Sour” and “Sweet and Salty” lanes, so why not give this a go? I mean, “Sweet and Spicy” isn’t exactly breaking new ground, but as far as the snack world goes we’ve been pretty limited, especially with candy.

So, are you guys as excited about new Sweet Heat Skittles and Starburst as I am?

Why wouldn’t you be? These are two candies that almost never disappoint, and foods flat out taste better when they rhyme. (Not fact checked.)

I don’t think I need to describe the textures of either candy, so I’m gonna jump right in and rapid fire through the varieties.

The Starburst have the color scheme of an original pack, while the Skittles have a pastel tint that reminded me of the “Smoothie Mix” a bit, and made for some color/flavor confusion.

Let me say that the heat is there on all of ‘em. It’s a slow burn. You can taste the fruit first and as you chew it kicks in. There aren’t different intensities. It’s not like some are mixed with certain peppers. With some, the full fruitiness came prior to the burn, while others blossomed after the spicy burst. But that could have been due to the lingering heat already in my mouth.

Sweet Heat Skittles

Skittles:

(Ranked by order of preference.)

Fiery Watermelon – Color is almost the same as Strawberry so I initially thought I didn’t get any in the bag. The delicious watermelon flavor here stuck out the most over the burn.

Flamin’ Orange – Tasted like standard orange Skittles, but spicy. No complaints.

Lemon Spark – These are regular lemon Skittles with heat. It’s great.

Sizzlin’ Strawberry – Ever have those half-mint/half-strawberry Ice Breakers? These had a similar artificial strawberry taste. I ate this first and realized they tasted better when I revisited them later. The fake strawberry didn’t hit as hard and thus didn’t taste as phony.*

Blazin’ Mango – Started hot and finished strong with mango, which I don’t really like. Not a huge mango guy.

Sweet Heat Starburst

Starburst:

Skittles are basically little bits of Starburst with a candy shell, so there isn’t that big a difference flavor-wise between the brands, obviously. Since Starbursts take longer to chew, I would say the heat is a tad more prominent here.

Sweet Heat Starburst 2

Flamin’ Orange – Tasted like a normal orange Starburst dipped in flavorless mild sauce. Excellent.

Fiery Watermelon – The best Skittle, so why would it be any different here? Well, it did have a bit of a cough drop vibe to it in this form. Still quite good.

Strawberry Mango – Neither fruit stood out. I don’t even think they mixed well, but again I’m not a mango guy. That Halls menthol cough drop sensation was here more so than the watermelon.

Pipin’ Pineapple – This had an intense, not quite ripe pineapple flavor. I thought it would work best with the heat, but it didn’t. It had a pretty awful aftertaste that the spiciness couldn’t even cover up.

In the end, they’re not excessively spicy. They’re not even Warheads candy-level, or Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, but there’s still a nice kick. It smolders for about ten minutes. If I could compare the level of spiciness to anything, it’s like you had something with hot sauce about an hour ago and your mouth is starting to get back to normal.

Some people will complain they aren’t hot enough, but I think they managed to get the heat level right. These are candies after all.

*I actually think the flavors improved slightly on the second go around. Once my mouth had settled on the kick, the fruit popped a bit more. I guess it takes time for the heat to open up the taste buds.

Sweet Heat Skittles and Sweet Heat Starburst 2

There are better varieties of each on the market, and I can’t even think of a time I’d want to eat these again, but they’re both good. If I had to pick, I’d say I prefer the Skittles.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 package – Skittles – 210 calories, 20 calories from fat, 2 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 10 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 38 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein. Starburst – 240 calories, 40 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 49 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 33 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.00 each
Size:
Purchased at: Walgreens
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Skittles)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Starburst)
Pros: Creative. Not hot enough to ruin your day. Mostly tasty flavors. Starburst and Skittles having a near flawless record.
Cons: When the heck am I supposed to eat these over other variants? May not be as hot as some would hope. Cough drop taste. Shaky Strawberry flavor. Pineapple Starbursts were bad. Skittle color confusion. Not sure the sweet and spicy candy trend will have legs.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Naked Egg Breakfast Taco

Taco Bell Naked Egg Breakfast Taco

I’ve heard of eggshells, but an egg AS a shell?! What the…

Let me clear the air here, I love Taco Bell breakfast. The A.M. Crunchwrap should win them whatever a Michelin Star is. If there was a location closer to my house, I’d have breakfast there weekly.

When it comes to fast food innovation, no one can compete with Taco Bell. So far they’ve given us “shells” made from Doritos, chicken, waffles, now an egg?! Other restaurant chains may try to match their creativity, but in the end, the marketing geniuses at Taco Bell always retain the belt.

So, you’re probably wondering, is the Naked Egg Breakfast Taco worth the extra morning drive time?

Well, it’s interesting.

I’m gonna go ahead and skip past the fact I’m not a big fan of the word “naked” when pertaining to food and get to the review.

Taco Bell Naked Egg Breakfast Taco 2

It’s not exactly the most photogenic menu item Taco Bell offers, that’s for sure. It looks like a three-day old omelet. The fried egg “shell” does its best to show off a yolk, just so you know what you’re eating.

Taco Bell Naked Egg Breakfast Taco 3

The taco came with a cardboard sleeve that I found inconvenient to eat out of, so I ditched it. Once I did, I realized why it was there. As you might expect, a fried egg taco “shell” is greasy. It’s probably best to eat it with utensils, but that kinda kills the novelty of eating a taco, right? Also to be fair, it’s not much greasier than a McGriddle cake.

Using an egg as a “shell” is all good in theory, but in order to keep some stability, it had to be firm. The egg was overcooked. I’d compare it to a rubbery hard-boiled egg white that got cold almost instantly.

The taco comes filled with cheddar cheese, nacho cheese sauce, seasoned potatoes, and the sausage crumbles I opted for.

Taco Bell Naked Egg Breakfast Taco 6

The “warm layer” of cheddar cheese they promised was actually congealed plastic, but it did act as a glue to hold the taco together. I thought there was way too much of it, but when I opened the taco to check out the other ingredients, they all kinda spewed out.

Taco Bell Naked Egg Breakfast Taco 5

The other three inner ingredients were tasty. I have no complaints there. The zesty nacho sauce added a (this is gonna sound gross) lubricant, and I’ve always been a fan of their seasoned potatoes. The sausage crumbles were standard fare.

Taco Bell Naked Egg Breakfast Taco 4

So overall, it’s kind of a mixed bag. You have a rubbery egg, some plastic cheese, and then the good warm inner contents. Mixed together, it’s not bad, but I absolutely missed a tortilla to tie everything together.

The Naked Egg Breakfast Taco is a cool gimmick, but unless you’re trying to cut a few carbs from your morning, I see no reason to ever get this over other superior Taco Bell menu items. It’s a one time purchase.

(Nutrition Facts – 300 calories, 190 calories from fat, 21 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 170 mg of cholesterol, 520 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: N/A
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Fun little gimmick. The inner ingredients all worked well. Taco Bell innovation. A.M. Crunchwrap is the G.O.A.T.
Cons: Rubbery egg “shell.” Plastic cheese. Greasy. Pretty small. The word “naked” pertaining to food. Not even close to the other breakfast options at Taco Bell.

REVIEW: International Delight Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Coffee Creamer

International Delight Reese s Peanut Butter Cups Coffee Creamer

I have a no-frills coffee routine every morning — two mugs with a splash of fat-free half and half. It’s my 30 calorie start to what will ultimately be a mundane day.

Ya see I’ve become a caffeine fiend (A Caffiend? ™The Impulsive Buy) as I’ve gotten older, and I often find the hot morning Joe isn’t enough to get by. I often stop at a 7-Eleven, Dunkin’, or Starbucks to indulge in an afternoon iced coffee or cold brew.

Over the past couple weeks I’ve noticed that 7-Eleven has stocked their little coffee nook with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups International Delight Creamer, and well, it’s troubling. A new threat to my boring coffee existence had reared its ugly head. Then, I found it in my local supermarket and there was no turning back.

I’m a Reese’s junkie. At this point, Reese’s could make toothpaste and I’d camp outside Rite Aid ’til its release. I’ve managed to bypass all the other candy-based creamers until now, but Reese’s?! Peanut butter in my coffee?! Obviously, I had to pick up a bottle.

After popping the top, I was hit with that unmistakable Reese’s smell. We were off and rolling.

International Delight Reese s Peanut Butter Cups Coffee Creamer 2

I figured the best way to do this review was to try it right from the bottle, in hot coffee, and mixed with iced coffee.

Coffee creamer is not meant to be drunk on its own, but I had to do my due diligence for the review’s sake. I took an ice-cold shot of this and it was ridiculously good. It was the melted Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup milkshake I never knew I needed. I had to stop myself from going back for more.

Next, I poured myself a mug of piping hot coffee and poured the same amount of creamer in. That Reese’s taste got a little lost. It did add a strong creaminess to the coffee, and the flavor was still there, but it’s subdued. I got some light chocolate with a nutty finish. It wasn’t all that different from a standard hazelnut coffee. The nuttiness wasn’t specifically peanut butter. I’m sure if I added more it would have tasted better, but therein lies the problem. I don’t want to start my morning with a cup of melted ice cream.

International Delight Reese s Peanut Butter Cups Coffee Creamer 3

So, while it’s still really good, hot coffee isn’t the best delivery system for this creamer. Iced coffee, however, was awesome. I got a plain cup of the aforementioned 7-Eleven iced coffee and added the splash of Reese’s. It tasted like Yoo-hoo with peanut butter mixed in. This definitely works better when cold.

I’m nitpicking because it’s pretty great. If I had the ability to cold brew at home, I’d have this every day. As far as the hot coffee goes, it’s gonna slip into the rotation every few days. I’m not quite ready to change my mundane existence just yet. Someday.

Someday.

International Delight Reese s Peanut Butter Cups Coffee Creamer 4

(Nutrition Facts – 1 tbsp. – 35 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 5 milligrams of sodium, 5 grams of carbohydrates, 0 gram of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 0 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 32 fl. oz.
Purchased at: ShopRite
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Melted Reese’s milkshake. Spices up boring coffee. Delicious in iced coffee. Reese’s anything. Available at 7-Eleven.
Cons: Tasted worst in hot coffee. I don’t make iced coffee at home. Creaminess borders on filminess. Caffeine Addiction. More than double my usual morning coffee’s calories.

REVIEW: Lay’s Kettle Cooked Everything Bagel Potato Chips

Lay s Kettle Cooked Everything Bagel Potato Chips

I’m from the tri-state, so I think I’ve been exposed to good bagels in my lifetime. I’ve also been exposed to bad bagels parading themselves as good bagels. I like to think I’m a trustworthy voice when it comes to bagel quality. So, when I heard Lay’s had a new Everything Bagel with Cream Cheese chip, I had to review them.

Everything is arguably the best bagel, but they’re a mess to eat and the seeds get stuck in my teeth, so I appreciate Lay’s attempting to bring these great breakfast flavors together without the hassle.

Everything bagel chips already exist and if these taste anything like them, I’ll be more than satisfied. Also, just to let you know, I like my bagels soft and my bagel chips teeth shattering. When people ask me my favorite form of gambling, I tell them “eating bagel chips.”

Nothing about the bag’s smell screamed “everything bagel.” It just smelled like greasy kettle chips. When I buy a dozen bagels, those tend to be the dominant scent in the bag. There’s none of that here.

Lay s Kettle Cooked Everything Bagel Potato Chips 4

They don’t look that special either. The only seasoning I could see were ACTUAL poppy seeds. Lay’s always puts flavor speckles on chips, why use actual poppy seeds? They’re the worst part of an everything bagel, and usually require floss.

As for the taste, there’s a small hint of cream cheese. Well, there’s a dairy taste at the very least, so they deliver in that department.

Beyond that, I didn’t distinguish the other elements of an everything bagel. There’s a tang at first, but it just tastes like a weak sour cream and onion. I’d let that go if the other flavors worked, but they really don’t.

Lay s Kettle Cooked Everything Bagel Potato Chips 3

Did I taste sesame? Not really. Was there anything “bready” about these chips? Nope. “Bready” chips are probably easier said than done, but we’re talking about bagels here. These don’t taste like bagels. I stared at the bagel on the bag, and still couldn’t convince my brain.

The thing about regular kettle chips is that the main flavor is oil. The grease is overpowering unless the chip is coated in a strong flavor base, which these chips do not have. The other problem, like always, is the fact the texture is inconsistent. Some chips are perfectly crunchy while some seem like they’re five years old.

Unfortunately, these don’t deliver on the bagel promise. They remind me of really weak, stale sour cream and onion chips. There’s no chance these win the Do Us a Flavor contest.

Lay s Kettle Cooked Everything Bagel Potato Chips 5

(Nutrition Facts – about 15 chips – 150 calories, 9 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 8 oz. bag
Purchased at: ShopRite
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: A strong contest choice. Cream cheese comes through. Onion and garlic are noticeable. Everything bagels are delicious. Wouldn’t necessarily be a bad chip if they weren’t falsely advertised. They taste better dipped in actual cream cheese.
Cons: Greasy kettle flavor. Weak smell. Boring looking chip. Misses on some major flavor elements. Poppy seeds.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Bacon Queso Fries

Wendy s Bacon Queso Fries

Bacon. Cheese. Potatoes.

As far as I’m concerned those are three of the major food groups. Toss some nuggets and a Chocolate Frosty in there and you’ve covered them all –- the Wendy’s Food Pyramid.

Make no mistake; Wendy’s ever evolving innovative menu makes her The Queen of Fast Food. I’m never disappointed in their releases. So when I heard about this new queso line of products, I was all in.

The ad claims queso “makes everything better.” Far be it from me to call out the validity of Wendy’s crack marketing team, but I’m not sure it’s true.

Case in point – Wendy’s Bacon Queso Fries.

I love Wendy’s fries. I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I eat them monthly, but let’s just say it’s quite often. Too often.

The large order of Bacon Queso Fries come drenched in “spicy” poblano queso, with generous helpings of shredded cheddar and strips of Applewood smoked bacon.

Okay, so, as you can see, this isn’t exactly the prettiest dish. Obnoxious people like to tell us that “we eat with our eyes first,” so these fries were already off to a rough start.

The queso was warm and immediately made me feel like I was trying Wendy’s take on nachos.

Wendy s Bacon Queso Fries 3

The little green poblano peppers added a nice heat kick, but you won’t be running for a large Frosty to offset the burn. These are probably right on par with Wendy’s Spicy Chicken products at the very bottom of the Scoville Scale.

Wendy s Bacon Queso Fries 2

The shredded cheese wasn’t necessary, but I guess it added a mild flavor balance and another textural element. Speaking of, the bacon was firm and stayed a bit crispy, so that was good. Wendy’s usually comes through with the bacon.

The first few bites were satisfying, but after a while the spice mixed with the fry and bacon saltiness got overbearing. I can’t believe I’m whining that something was too salty, but, man, were these salty. The queso spice dried out my mouth, so it intensified the salt tenfold. I definitely recommend having a drink nearby when you’re eating these, if only to re-moisten your mouth.

Wendy s Bacon Queso Fries 4

Another knock is these got unappetizing as they lost temperature. By the time I was halfway done, they were cold and clumpy, so I lost interest in shoving the rest down. I hate wasting food, but I couldn’t finish.

I appreciate Wendy’s continuing to put out fry variations, but these didn’t hold up to the previous few concoctions I tried. I’d definitely prefer a smaller portion. Maybe if I had a friend to share with, I would have given these a higher score. Plus, I’d have a friend, and I desperately need those.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 Serving – 510 calories, 30 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 630 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and less than 15 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: N/A
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Wendy’s has great fries. Bacon was on point. Queso was tasty when hot. Not too spicy. The Wendy’s Food Pyramid. The price was right for the size.
Cons: Way too salty. Got cold quickly. Clumps of plasticky cheese after a couple minutes. Pretty huge serving size. Forever alone 🙁