REVIEW: Dunkin’ Signature Pumpkin Spice Latte

Dunkin Signature Pumpkin Spice Latte Cup

What is the Dunkin’ Signature Pumpkin Spice Latte?

If you’re searching for a slight remix on the typical Pumpkin Spice Latte, Dunkin’ has you covered.

How is it?

Quick, without looking, what’s today’s date?!

Yeah, I had no idea either, but I bet you’re a little shocked we’ve already reached Pumpkin Spice Season. Sure, it seems to come earlier and earlier every year, but if you told me it was June 10th, I wouldn’t put up a fight. Times and dates have become a complete blur.

If you need something to help shake that fog, might I suggest this new Signature Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Dunkin Signature Pumpkin Spice Latte Dunkin Logo

The word “Signature” might be fogging my thought process here, but this tastes like an “upscale” iced pumpkin spiced latte. A slightly more mature tasting Dunkin’ drink if you will. The difference here is a shot of espresso and vanilla.

The vanilla flavor definitely bleeds through nicely. The espresso balances the pumpkin flavor, which prevents it from being too overbearing or artificial tasting.

Anything else you need to know?

The downside about lattes, especially at Dunkin’, is that they ultimately end up tasting more like a milk drink than a coffee. That sounds obvious, but if I told you this was some kind of NesQuik-style coffee and pumpkin-flavored milk, you’d believe me. I acknowledge how nitpicky this sounds.

Dunkin Signature Pumpkin Spice Latte Whip

I’m hot and cold on whipped topping, but the cinnamon-topped cream here was a perfect addition. I actually think I liked the last few sips of latte and melted topping best.

Oh, and speaking of hot and cold, you can get this hot or iced. I always opt for iced.

Conclusion:

So, this really isn’t an extreme departure from the pumpkin spice fare you’re used to, but it’s still quite good.

I like the thought process. Pumpkin spice is a bit played out, so why not start mixing it with other flavors and really ramp it up? Vanilla is a good start, but I want some Mocha Pumpkin Spice stuff or something weirder like Coconut Pumpkin Spice. That should be the bridge coffee from summer to fall.

It’s fall now, right? What day is it again? I forgot already.

Purchased Price: $3.79
Size: Small
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 250 calories, 12 grams of fat, 5 gram of trans fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 20 mg of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 43 grams of total carbohydrates, 38 grams of total sugars, 0 grams of fiber, 8 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Post Dunkin’ Cereal

Post Dunkin Cereal

Don’t even talk to me in the morning until I’ve had my Dunkin’ coffee…cereal?!

That’s right folks, Post and Dunkin’ have collaborated on a coffee-based cereal.

Why it’s taken this long is anyone’s guess. But it makes sense as both coffee and cereal (along with about seven other things) have long been part of “a complete breakfast,” according to commercials. Why not combine the two?

This isn’t Dunkin’s first cereal, but it’s the first time the brand has cerealized a beverage flavor. You can now try Dunkin’s famous Mocha Latte and Caramel Macchiato in a bowl instead of a cup. I mean, you can probably use a cup if you want. You do you.

Post Dunkin Cereal Marshmallows

The cereals consist of Cocoa Puffs-style pieces with flavored marshmallows that look like little foam swirled lattes, and feature real Dunkin’ coffee, so you can add an additional, but negligible amount of caffeine to your morning. Sounds good to me.

Post Dunkin Mocha Latte Cereal Bowl

Mocha Latte hit me with a huge waft of coffee smell, which is both pleasant and mildly strange coming from a cereal. As far as taste, the cereal pieces aren’t that far off from the Cocoa Puffs they resemble. They’re chocolate heavy, with a generic coffee flavor accompaniment. The marshmallows burst with the titular coffee drink’s flavor. They taste exactly like sugary coffee foam and syrup.

If I had to narrow down a description, I’d say this is Count Chocula if you swapped coffee for milk (more on that later). Imagine a cereal called “Count Coffula” or “Café Chocula” or “Count Chock Full o’ Nutsula,” OR, don’t imagine anything. You do you.

Post Dunkin Caramel Macchiato Cereal Bowl

Caramel Macchiato smells like, and forgive me for crossing company lines, a Caramel Frappuccino. Think of any caramel centric cereal you’ve had, but with a kicker – you get a nice little coffee flavor infusion.

Imagine one of those gourmet popcorn companies making a “caramel coffee” flavor. That’s the flavor profile I keep coming back to. To use this example again, think of when you get to the bottom of your caramel Frap and its mostly ice, whipped cream, and caramel drizzle. It tastes like that.

I could have gone for even more coffee flavor, but I guess they have to appeal to kids. The cereal piece shapes are a bit uninspired, but the marshmallows are cute, and they’re the star of the show for me.

As far as the cereal milk flavor, Imagine the drinks the cereal is based on, but swap the coffee to dairy ratio. They each tasted like a coffee drink that is 75% milk or whatever your preferred dairy is.

Oh, and just out of sheer curiosity, I tried this: both cereals with coffee instead of milk.

Look out, we got a wild man here!

Post Dunkin Cereal Mixed

Why not? I had some coffee left over, threw in my splash of half and half and mixed equal parts of each cereal in. It was a half and half and half and half. I kinda loved it. The coffee sopped into the cereal pieces and gave it that extra oomph I wanted, and the mocha and caramel flavors pushed through. If you’re feeling bold, give this a shot, but obviously, use cold coffee.

So yeah, these are ultimately a winner for me. There’s just enough coffee flavor to get your fix while also not scaring off the kids. I’m probably just gonna mix the two bags together at this point. I may even isolate a bag of the marshmallows and use them as ingredients in some kind of snack mix. Feel free to leave some suggestions on what I should add.

I’m hoping this leads to more coffee cereals. You have to imagine Starbucks will put something out if these do well. Hit us with a line of Frap cereals. As for Dunkin’, I’m not sure which coffees they can mimic next, but how about a Munchkin Cereal that features ALL the Munchkin flavors in one box?

DISCLOSURE: I received free samples of the product. Doing so did not influence my review.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 11 oz boxes
Purchased at: Received from Post Cereals
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Mocha Latte), 8 out of 10 (Caramel Macchiato)
Nutrition Facts: (1 1/3 cup) Mocha Latte – 150 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 135 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein. Caramel Macchiato – 150 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 135 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 19 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Chex Mix MAX’D Chili Jalapeno

Chex Mix MAX D Chili Jalapeno Bag

What is Chex Mix MAX’D Chili Jalapeno?

Chex dropped its latest “MAX’D” variety featuring a cheesy, zesty kick with a splash of lime.

Chex Mix MAX D Chili Jalapeno Back of Bag

How is it?

It’s still hard to get used to a savory flavor on a “Muddy Buddy” textured Chex piece. When you associate a certain texture with a certain taste, it really throws you for a loop when it’s the complete opposite.

That being said, I did semi-adjust to the Chili Lime MAX’D pieces in time, and this is probably my favorite MAX’D variety. It’s slightly better than the other two I’ve tried thus far.

Chex Mix MAX D Chili Jalapeno Bowl

The chili flavor was an indiscriminate spice bomb, so the cool blast of lime on the finish was a real saving grace. The citrus balanced out the mix as a whole, which wreaked havoc on the back of my tongue. They weren’t quite Ghost Pepper Chex Mix level, but they probably rival the Flamin’ Hot line of Lay’s snacks in the heat department.

While the chili was kind of a bummer, the Jalapeno Cheddar non-blasted Chex pieces were fantastic. I’ve somehow avoided regular Jalapeno Cheddar Chex Mix my whole life, and these were a revelation. The jalapeno flavor dust wasn’t as caked on, but it was still somehow more recognizable than chili. The bag even smelled like the pepper.

Anything else you need to know?

Chex Mix MAX D Chili Jalapeno Pieces

This mix has the perfect role players in pretzels and cheddar crackers. Everyone’s favorite Chex Mix piece, (and probably my least favorite) the bagel chip, wouldn’t have worked here. I’m also glad they kicked those crappy little breadsticks to the curb.

I imagine this MAX’D line is gonna continue down the “spicy” path, but I would really love to try a sweet mix with Muddy Buddy pieces front and center.

Conclusion:

I liked MAX’D Chili Jalapeno, and I think you’ll like ’em too, but they feel like a first draft. All the pieces are there, but I wish the flavors were flipped a little. If the flavor blasted pieces were Jalapeno Lime, and the regular Chex were Chili Cheese, this snack may have been near perfect.

If anyone at General Mills is reading this, please make a Sweet Chili or Pizza Chex Mix next. I’ll even accept them in the MAX’D variety.

Purchased Price: $2.69
Size: 4.25 oz bag
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1/2 cup) 140 calories, 4 grams of fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 380 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of total carbohydrates, 3 grams of total sugars, 1 gram of fiber, and 2 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Lay’s Flavor Icons Potato Chips

Lay s Flavor Icons Potato Chips Bags

This is one of my favorite times of the year.

Seriously, I love it when Lay’s does its big multi-flavor rollouts, whether it be the jealousy-inducing “Do Us a Flavor” finalists, the recent music inspired flavors, or its “Tastes of America” campaign that these new “Flavor Icons” seem to be a continuation of, I’ve pretty much enjoyed every single special chip they’ve put out.

This year, the “Flavor Icons” are chips inspired by foods from famous American eateries. As an East Coast guy, I’ve personally dined at two of the five, so I guess I can say I have a frame of reference on a couple of these flavors.

I’ll rapid-fire through these reviews starting with the two places I’ve eaten at:

Lay’s Kettle Cooked Grimaldi’s New York Style Pizza (Brooklyn, NY)

Lay s Kettle Cooked Flavor Icons New York Style Pizza Potato Chips

Grimaldi’s is a chain of pizza places that originated where I originated, Brooklyn. I haven’t had it in years, but I do recall thinking the pizza was a little overrated. Needless to say, it’s a super famous NYC pizza joint, and that was a blasphemous opinion to anyone I mentioned it to.

Anyway, these chips hit me like a massive nostalgia bomb when I popped open the bag and got a whiff of the old Keebler Pizzeria Chips. I was probably in elementary school last time I had those, but it all came back to me.

Speaking of memories, these hit me right in my taste receptors because WOW(!!!), they tasted exactly like how I remember Grimaldi’s. The chain makes a very saucy pizza, and they definitely gave their secret recipe to Frito Lay. I’d describe it as “gourmet,” with all the ingredients you’d expect from a pizza sauce – onion, garlic, oregano, basil, olive oil, etc.

I’m more of a cheese guy, so I loved the fresh mozzarella flavor and tiny bit of parmesan on the backend. I do not think they needed to be kettle-style, but it reminded me of a crisp pizza crust, so it worked. Pizza is usually hit or miss in chip form. These may be the best pizza chips I’ve ever had.

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 7 3/4 oz bag
Purchased at: ShopRite
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (18 chips) 150 calories, 9 grams of fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 180 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of total sugars, 1 gram of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.

Lay’s Geno’s Philly Cheesesteak (I’ll give ya a hint, PA)

Lay s Flavor Icons Philly Cheesesteak Potato Chips

I’ll tread lightly because I don’t know how to talk about Philly cheesesteaks without breaking the rules. Last time I went to Philly, I got a steak at Geno’s… then I walked across the street and got one at Pat’s, so I don’t have a preference. Cheesesteaks are just awesome.

These chips start out tasting just like Cheddar and Sour Cream, but as I went on, I started to get a “meat” flavor I guess you’d classify as beefy. Beef and even a hint of peppers remain as an aftertaste. So, it starts with the cheese “whiz” (did I do that right?) and some onion, and ends with the beef and peppers. It’s actually pretty complex, and I thought these were excellent.

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 7 3/4 oz bag
Purchased at: ShopRite
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 15 chips) 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 210 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of total sugars, 1 gram of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.

Lay’s Wavy El Torito Carnitas Street Taco (Marina Del Ray, CA)

Lay s Wavy Flavor Icons Canitas Street Taco Potato Chips

Now we get to the places I’ve never been to. Carnitas were my go-to Mexican order before I decided to stop eating pork. Well, I broke my resolution because these chips actually have pork listed as an ingredient. They definitely taste like charred pulled Mexican-style pork, albeit weakly.

They start with a very slight sweetness that I attributed to the sauce El Torito must use to simmer the pork. There’s a little blast of lime and fresh chopped onion in there too. There’s a weird, dull “dryness” to these that I persuaded myself was supposed to mimic the tortilla. These don’t POP as much the rest of the lineup, but they’re still pretty tasty, and I love that they’re Wavy.

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 7 3/4 oz bag
Purchased at: ShopRite
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (15 chips) 150 calories, 10 grams of fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 210 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of total sugars, 1 gram of fiber, and 1 gram of protein.

Lay’s Cocina Azul Chile Relleno (Albuquerque, NM)

Lay s Flavor Icons Chile Relleno Potato Chips

Full transparency, I didn’t even know what this was – some kinda egg and cheese mix stuffed inside a pepper? Sure, why not, that sounds good. Well, after eating the chip, I’m gonna make it my duty to seek out the actual dish.

These chips smell and taste like a light queso dip. The chile pepper tastes both crisp and vibrant while giving off the perfect amount of heat. They’re not really too spicy, which I appreciated. There is also definitely an “eggy” taste, like cheesy scrambled eggs that peek out towards the finish. These are probably the saltiest of the bunch, and I imagine some may think they’re too mild overall, but I’m a big fan.

Purchased Price: $1.89
Size: 2 5/8 oz bag
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (15 chips) 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 180 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of total sugars, 1 gram of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.

Lay’s Party Fowl Nashville Hot Chicken (Guess Where, TN)

Lay s Flavor Icons Nashville Hot Chicken Potato Chips

Now I’ve had plenty of hot chicken in my life, but I’ve never had Nashville-specific hot chicken, so forgive me if I say anything out of line.

As you’d expect, these are the hottest chip in the bunch. I’d put them slightly under the standard “Flamin’ Hot” heat, which keeps them very snackable. These are undeniably chicken-flavored, but they mostly tasted like crispy chicken skin to me.

They had that “dryness” that I mentioned in the Carnitas review, that I can’t quite find a better word for. I like it, though. The hot sauce flavor doesn’t have any particular ingredient I can pinpoint. Google tells me they usually use cayenne and brown sugar, but I didn’t necessarily get that, nor were they listed as ingredients.

There’s a pickle on the bag, but I don’t believe this has any pickle flavor. I would have loved a little splash of dill, but not a huge deal.

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 7 3/4 oz bag
Purchased at: ShopRite
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (15 chips) 150 calories, 10 grams of fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 190 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of total sugars, 1 gram of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.

Lay s Flavor Icons Potato Chips 2

So, there ya have ’em. I pretty much loved all five, but a couple were near perfect. I can’t be super confident that three are perfectly accurate to the specific restaurant dish they’re copying, but judging from the two I know, I bet they’re pretty spot on.

Maybe I’m just an easy (Frito) lay, but I’m really impressed. These might be the most complex flavor profiles Lay’s have tackled to date, and they nailed ’em. Basically, every intended ingredient of each dish came through for me. That never happens.

According to the bags you have until 9/10/20 to try these. Don’t drag your feet. Otherwise, you’ll have to drive coast to coast to try the real things.

Oh, and if anyone from Frito Lay is reading this, I dare you to make my last flavor submission – Onion Knish with Spicy Mustard!

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Refreshers

Dunkin Refreshers

What are Dunkin’ Refreshers?

If you’re looking for an invigorating beverage this summer, Dunkin’ has you covered with the new green tea-based Peach Passion Fruit and Strawberry Dragonfruit Refreshers.

Dunkin Refreshers Flavors Closeup

How are they?

I won’t bury the lede – they live up to their name, but one definitely outshines the other.

Peach Passionfruit was the clear winner.

It tasted like Peach Tea Snapple with a splash of guava that also had a few Sour Peach Fruit Rings floating in it. Well, maybe if you mute all of the previous flavors by about 33%. It’s not nearly as sweet as that description sounds, but I appreciated that.

It started with a strong peach flavor that soon got washed with a mild sourness I can only assume came from the passion fruit that I thought tasted exactly like guava. Still, peach was in the driver’s seat, and the flavors blended well, unlike, Strawberry Dragonfruit, which was just pretty dull.

Dunkin Refreshers Top

It tasted like strawberry for a split second, but immediately turned into Power-C Vitamin Water. It makes sense, since they’re both dragonfruit flavored, but this is essentially just that Vitamin Water with some faint herbal tea notes in the background. That’s it, it’s Vitamin Water.

Anything else you need to know?

Refreshers are made with iced green tea, flavored fruit concentrate, and B vitamins, so you can see why Dunkin’ chose this name. Despite not being a big fan of one, I can’t dispute the claim. These are pretty refreshing.

Dunkin Refreshers Cuvee

For all the wine drinkers out there, I went ahead and tried a little cuvée of both flavors. Sad to say, it was a non-descript mess. Somehow the sourness rose while the peach tea flavored completely died. It ended up tasting like a flat, tangy, tropical punch seltzer.

Conclusion:

Oh, that reminds me, I wish these were carbonated. I think both flavor profiles could have benefitted from some effervescence.

There are much better menu options at Dunkin’, but if you don’t feel like a coffee or a frozen fruit drink, you might get a nice boost to your day from a Refresher – just make sure to get the Peach Passionfruit.

Purchased Price: $2.00 each
Size: Medium
Purchased at: Dunkin
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Peach Passionfruit), 4 out of 10 (Strawberry Dragonfruit)
Nutrition Facts: Peach Passionfruit – 130 calories, 0 grams of fat, 15 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of total carbohydrates, 29 grams of total sugars, 24mg of potassium, 10g of calcium, 1 gram of protein. Strawberry Dragonfruit – 130 calories, 0 grams of fat, 15 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of total carbohydrates, 27 grams of total sugars, 24mg of potassium, 10g of calcium, 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Hostess S’mores CupCakes

Hostess Limited Edition S mores Cupcakes

What are Limited Edition Hostess S’mores Cupcakes?

If you miss roasting marshmallows around the fire pit with friends, Hostess has a new s’mores spin on its classic Cupcake to hold you over.

How are they?

All the elements are here – graham flavored cake (I think?), marshmallow cream, and that delicious sheet of chocolate with the iconic white squiggle, yet I found these ultimately disappointing.

Hostess Limited Edition S mores Cupcakes Bottom

I mean, they’re delicious, but they don’t taste THAT much like s’mores.
The “yellow” cake is clearly brownish and tastes mildly like honey graham crackers, but the box does not indicate that. Assuming I’m correct, that was a great touch. They should’ve ramped up the flavor a lot more, though.

Hostess Limited Edition S mores Cupcakes Side

The cream does taste like marshmallow, but not enough to really separate it from the standard Hostess filling. If you’re expecting Marshmallow Fluff, I’m afraid you’re burnt.

Hostess Limited Edition S mores Cupcakes Top

The chocolate is as perfect as it’s always been. No complaints here*. The weird fondant-like texture has always been delicious and reminds me of my fading youth. I wish Hostess sold these in individual slices like George Costanza’s chocolate pudding skin idea.

*Complaint here instead – the squiggle should have been marshmallow flavored.

Anything else you need to know?

With all that said, there’s still just enough here to differentiate from a regular Hostess CupCake. It’s not the “s’more bomb” (which is not an actual thing people say, well, unless you wanna make it a thing) I was hoping it’d be, but I definitely think you should pick up a box.

S’mores are a hot treat, but do what I did and freeze a few of ’em. They’re phenomenal when chilled.

Conclusion:

I’ve never had a Hostess CupCake I didn’t enjoy, and this s’mores variety isn’t changing that, but it still kinda burns my marbits that S’mores CupCakes didn’t rival my all-time favorite flavor, Orange.

Here’s the thing – these might be better than the originals, but they don’t deliver on the flavor promised enough. I guess Hostess ultimately decided to take the “less is s’more” approach so people wouldn’t forget about the O.G.

Purchased Price: $2.86
Size: 12.7 oz
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 CupCake) 170 calories, 6 grams of fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 135 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of total carbohydrates, 22 grams of total sugars, 0 grams of fiber, 1 gram of protein.