REVIEW: IHOP Blueberry & Syrup Mini Pancake Cereal

Breakfastception: noun

When one style of breakfast mimics the flavor(s) of another style of breakfast.

“IHOP Mini Pancakes Cereal is the latest form of Breakfastception.”

I should admit I never really understood the Christopher Nolan film Inception, and have zero idea if this very topical reference makes sense. Anyway, General Mills and IHOP have partnered on a Blueberry and Syrup flavored cereal.

I could be wrong, but the only pancake cereal I can even recall from one of the major companies was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Cap’n Crunch version. We’ve had plenty of waffleinspired cereals, a few that were muffin-based, and even French toast, but how many have been distinctly pancake? I didn’t anticipate these to taste much different from a waffle cereal, but that was still the main intrigue.

An IHOP pancake cereal is interesting, but will these blueberry and syrup mini pancakes be the cereal of your Incepted dreams? Probably not.

Will I ever properly reference the Christopher Nolan film Inception? Also, probably not.

I’ll give this cereal credit where it’s due. It smells perfect. Well, I mean, it smells like a Blueberry Eggo waffle, but it’s really all just batter, right? The difference, especially in cereal form, is negligible, and let’s be real, waffles are just pancakes that go to the gym. Beyond the smell, I have to pretty much discredit this cereal from here on out. It’s one of the worst textured cereals I’ve had in a long time, even after soaking in milk.

The pieces are similar to Cookie Crisp but denser, and for some reason, these blueberry specs are a lot sharper than I recall the chocolate chips being. If you love a good crunch from your cereal, these may be your jam, but it’s not very satisfying because the pieces taste stale.

The flavor itself is decent, but I’d classify it as “Crunch Berry Lite.” While there is a mildly pleasant hint of maple, and the base flavor reminded me of waffle or pancake batter, the blueberry really just reminded me of a weak Crunch Berry. It ends up being the dominant flavor before it all fades away into a weird aftertaste.

I was surprised at how soft and bland the overall flavor was. Honestly, this has the sweetness level of an “adult” blueberry cereal with the shape and texture of a kid’s cereal. It’s living in a dead zone for no one in particular.

I’ll be fair and say it’s not entirely bad because the cereal does turn the milk into a sweet sky-blue color that would make even Aunt Beru proud, but everything else is meh.

The “IHOP” here stands for “I Have Other Preferences” because this one ranks near the bottom of cereals based on other breakfast staples. I don’t know how long you’ve got to try these, but I feel they’re gonna be one and done. I wouldn’t mind seeing IHOP regroup and try again, but hopefully not as IHOB.

Actually, ya know what? Go for it. I’d try your burger-flavored cereal. Take it up another level because that right there would truly be an inception. I think. Maybe. Perhaps.

Probably not.

Purchased Price: $4.48
Size: 19 oz box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 3 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 cup) 140 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 180 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Spicy Nacho and Cool Ranch Jalapeno Doritos Dips

I’m sure by now you’ve all seen TikTok’s hottest new dance craze, the Dorito Dip.

What’s that? You haven’t? That’s probably because I just made it up.

Here’s something you won’t believe I’m not making up – Frito Lay makes Doritos-flavored dips now.

Do you love Doritos but wish they came in a wetter and gloopier form? Have you ever wanted a chip to taste like a Dorito, but inexplicably just didn’t get Doritos? Then you’re in luck because new Spicy Nacho and Cool Ranch Jalapeno Doritos Dips are hitting shelves nationwide.

I don’t know if I’ve ever actually dipped a Dorito, but you better believe I wanna dip stuff into the essence of Dorito… so that’s exactly what I did.

My dippers of the day were Santitas Tortilla Chips (underrated chips that someone once told me are literally repackaged unflavored Doritos), ridged potato chips, a soft pretzel, and Chicken McNuggets.

Starting off, Cool Ranch Jalapeno was only decent, and I actually liked it more for the addition of the jalapeno.

I didn’t necessarily think they’d be able to match the absolute perfection of Cool Ranch Doritos flavor, but I still needed more. It’s there, but the intensity is dialed down a ton. While the jalapeno gives it a nice crisp and spicy pepper flavor, the Cool Ranch takes a back seat. This flavor needs to be a dusty coating. It just doesn’t work as well as a sour creamy base.

To be fair, it still tasted pretty good with the Santitas and the soft pretzel, but it’s probably not even better than your run-of-the-mill ranch or onion-style dip.

As for Spicy Nacho, well, it just doesn’t need to exist. If I were to rank Spicy Nacho on the Dip Scale™, I’d put it slightly above the dip from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

It’s no better than a mid-tier queso or nacho cheese. Fine, but whatever. I had to concentrate to get the distinct Nacho Cheese Dorito flavor that really only popped on the finish and was masked by the “spicy” of it all. Push comes to shove, you’ll know it’s based on Spicy Nacho Dorito, but it pales in comparison to the chip.

It’s not a bad pretzel companion, but it just didn’t enhance any of the other stuff. Santitas worked fine enough with both, but plain potato chips were a bust, and every McNugget dipping sauce works better.

Dorito flavor only succeeds as a dust. I’d steer clear of these unless you’re having a big spread and looking to pick up a couple of dips anyway. Just get the Cool Ranch and opt for a queso. Frito-Lay has a better Tostitos-branded one right down the aisle.

These don’t mention refrigeration after opening and are apparently shelf-stable for six months. Maybe I’m a wuss, but I find that pretty off-putting, just as I found the texture to be that of an off pudding. Wordplay.

These feel like they were dumped on shelves with no fanfare or marketing, and maybe for good reason. They’re a strange release at a strange time of year. They probably coulda done okay in the summer, but during Christmas? We’ll see how far the Doritos name takes them. I don’t think they’ll fly off shelves, but it’s not too late to try and move some units with the soon-to-be viral Dorito Dip.

Purchased Price: $4.98 each
Size: 10 oz.
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: (Spicy Nacho) 4 out of 10, (Cool Ranch Jalapeno) 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2 tbsp) Spicy Nacho – 40 calories, 3 grams of fat, .5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein. Cool Ranch Jalapeno – 50 calories, 5 grams of fat, .5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 230 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Peppermint Frosty

Wendy s Peppermint Frosty Cup

My gym’s cardio room stares directly at a Wendy’s – dead central, right in your face, can’t miss it.

There’s no better cardiovascular inspiration than accepting that you’re almost certainly getting fast food the minute your workout is over. It’s embarrassing how many times I’ve tricked my brain into pretending a 6-piece nugget is just as good as a protein shake.

It’s all good, though, because staring at that building has propelled me to run* 12 miles** at a time in preparation. (*walk **1.5 miles.)

Anyway, a few days ago, while plodding along at breakneck speeds upwards of 4, and fighting the inevitable call of that redheaded siren, I noticed Wendy’s had an entirely new seasonal menu. There were new burgers, chicken sandwiches, fries, and the pièce de résistance – a Peppermint Frosty.

That’s… kinda like a protein shake. There’s milk, right? Naturally, I immediately fired up my app and had one ready and waiting.

While I found Wendy’s recent Strawberry Frosty to be “mid,” I gotta say, its Peppermint Frosty is a Yuletide miracle. Whereas “mid” meant “meh” in Strawberry’s case, I’ll use it here as the ultimate compliment. The Peppermint Frosty is a perfect middle ground between vanilla and mint-flavored ice creams.

I’m a mint ice cream lover, but I feel it can sometimes start to taste like you’re chewing gum after a couple of scoops. This had just enough peppermint flavor to balance off the vanilla base.

Wendy s Peppermint Frosty Top

The texture was everything I wanted a Frosty to be – not quite shake, not quite ice cream, with enough tiny ice crystals for that distinctly gritty Frosty consistency.

The faint pink color is even a midway point between a Vanilla Frosty and the Pepto-esque Strawberry.

This Frosty is perfectly balanced, as all things should be. If Thanos had one, he would’ve never snapped. I genuinely think everyone will enjoy this. Some might say the peppermint flavor isn’t big enough, but ya know what I say? If you want a mint bomb, brush your teeth!

Wendy s Peppermint Frosty Spoon

Actually, brush your teeth anyway. Proper hygiene is always encouraged, and this is so good even the 5th dentist agreed he enjoyed it.

I’m ready to put the Peppermint Frosty on my Wendy’s Mount Run-more. There’s no doubt I’ll have a few more of these after my rigorous sprints (slightly inclined walks), but I won’t even feel guilty about it.

Wendy s Peppermint Frosty Bottom Cup

This will almost certainly be a limited holiday release, which is a shame, but the recent new Frosty flavor drops are very encouraging. I hope Wendy takes a cue from the Oreo and Kit-Kats of the world and puts out a unique Frosty flavor every month moving forward. I know international Wendy’s have dabbled. Give us a Peanut Butter Frosty. Salted Caramel. Banana! Whatever! Just keep ’em coming.

Add a topping bar while you’re at it. I’m still waiting for Wendy’s HQ to hit me up about my brilliant “Wendy’s Blendies” idea. This Peppermint Frosty is an all-timer, but it may be even better with little crunchy candy cane bits.

Ok, time for me to get back to “the gym.”

Purchased Price: $1.89
Size: Small
Rating: 10 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 330 calories, 7 grams of fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 35 mg of cholesterol, 130 milligrams of sodium, 58 grams of total carbohydrates, 50 grams of sugars, 0 grams of fiber, 7 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Pancake Wake-Up Wraps

Dunkin Pancake Wake Up Wrap Both

Wake up (wake up)
Grab a coffee eat all that pancake-up
Dunkin’s got a brand-new breakfast shake-up
Why’d you leave the keys up on the table?

Nah, seriously, why? Grab your keys, and head over to Dunkin’ for its new Pancake Wake-Up Wraps. I promise they’ll leave a better taste in your mouth than that weird System of a Down parody I just opened this review with.

Pancake Wake-Up Wraps are right in my wheelhouse. I think McGriddles are one of the modern food marvels. I love when BK gets frisky and uses French Toast as “bread,” and I truly enjoyed all the wacky Taco Bell breakfast items that Pete Davidson is apologizing for. If you mix a sweet carb with eggs and meat, I’m first in line.

I mean, these aren’t exactly rocket science. Dunkin’ took traditional breakfast sandwich ingredients and folded them into a mildly sweet and fluffy pancake. There’s brilliance in its simplicity, and I gotta say, Dunkin’ did not disappoint me one bit. I can confirm what I already assumed to be true – these are great.

You can order a wrap with sausage, bacon, or meatless. I opted for one sausage and one plain egg wrap.

Dunkin Pancake Wake Up Wrap Sausage

If you’re a fan of Sausage McGriddles, you’re gonna love the sausage version because it’s essentially a taste doppelganger in a different form.

Dunkin’s previous attempt at mini pancakes didn’t really blow me away, but the chain killed it here. As I noted, the pancake wrap’s texture is impressively fluffy.

The eggs weren’t rubbery and probably about as good as fast-food eggs can be. The sausage patty has a pretty overwhelming flavor that kinda masks the subtle sweetness of the pancake, but you’re given a maple syrup dipping cup, so you can control how sweet you want each bite to be. There’s also a slice of cheese that provides a nice salty punch that balances everything out.

Dunkin Pancake Wake Up Wrap Egg

I also got a plain egg version because it was free with a purchase in the app. I actually have a bone to pick with Dunkin’s new rewards program, but I appreciated it here, at least for one day.

I honestly may have liked the meatless wrap more. Without the sausage flavor bully, the pancake provided just enough sweetness that I didn’t even bother with the dipping cup. It was just a nice, soft few bites of food. I see this becoming a regular in my rotation when I need a quick breakfast bite –- and make no mistake, they are “bites.” These are really just half sandwiches, so they go down quickly. You only get half an egg, half a cheese slice, and half a sausage patty, but I’m not complaining.

Dunkin Pancake Wake Up Wrap Side

Dunkin’s Pancake Wake-Up Wraps are one of the best things I’ve ever eaten from Dunkin’, and it didn’t leave me with that “ah man, I just fast food” feeling of regret I get after a McGriddle. The price is also right at less than three bucks.

So yeah, I can’t recommend these enough. If you haven’t already, grab those keys and get moving.

Purchased Price: $2.19 (Egg), $2.69 (Sausage)
Size: n/a
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Egg 180 calories, 10 grams of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 120 milligrams of cholesterol, 710 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of total sugars, 10 grams of protein. Sausage 290 calories, 21 grams of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 470 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of total sugars, 7 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Snickerdoodle Oreo Cookies

Limited Edition Snickerdoodle Oreo Cookies Package

Well folks, “Spooky Season” is just about over.

Crazy, right? It feels like it just started.

No, seriously, it feels like “Spooky Season” literally just started. That term seemingly appeared out of thin air and now every single person insists on saying it fourteen times a day.

For that reason alone, I was relieved to see Christmas snacks like Snickerdoodle Oreo Cookies starting to hit the shelves.

Are snickerdoodles even a Christmas thing? I’ve never really thought of them as distinctly Christmassy, but who am I to argue?

Snickerdoodle Oreo has both cinnamon-flavored cookies and crème, which are both speckled with red and green crunchy flavor crystals, so ya know what? Sure, these are Christmas cookies.

I love a good snickerdoodle. I love Oreo. Surely, I love these, right?

Ehhhh, I have some gripes. Bah humbug and whatnot.

Limited Edition Snickerdoodle Oreo Cookies Stack

First of all, there’s something very “synthetic cinnamon” about the scent these cookies emit. There’s a fine line between appetizing and “candle,” and these smell like the latter.

The cookie wafer itself has a very mild cinnamon flavor. There’s no mention on the package, so I may honestly just be tasting a cinnamon Ghost of Christmas Past radiating from the crème. These might just be decorated Golden Oreo, but I think I’m right. Either way, it’s a pretty bland cookie.

The crème is nice, but not exactly bursting with cinnamon. It’s like the classic Oreo crème with a dash of cinnamon. They’re not cloyingly sweet as a result, so that’s a positive.

Limited Edition Snickerdoodle Oreo Cookies Creme

Don’t get me wrong, there’s no mistaking the cinnamon, but these are a little on the boring side. I do love the colorful flavor crystals though. They’re basically the sprinkles you’d decorate Christmas sugar cookies with, and they made the wafers look like Doritos Cool Ranch Oreo, which excited me for some strange reason.

I should acknowledge that while I find these tame, they do a nice job of emulating the cookie’s flavor. It’s not like snickerdoodles typically burn your mouth like a shot of Fireball or a stick of Big Red, so I’m not sure what I was ultimately expecting.

Another thought I couldn’t shake was that snickerdoodles are usually as much a textural cookie as they are a flavor experience. If I’m eating one, I want it to be soft. I associate this cinnamon profile with a soft cookie, so maybe these never even had a chance to be a favorite.

Snickerdoodle might literally be the center point on an Oreo flavor scale. I don’t really remember the exact taste of the Cinnamon Bun Oreo, but I’m positive I liked those more. In reality, these probably aren’t that much of a far cry from those, but they’re definitely worse.

Limited Edition Snickerdoodle Oreo Cookies Sleeves

With these being released in October, I’m curious to see if Oreo has an even more Christmassy variety up its three sleeves. If not, you’re stuck with Snickerdoodle, which is… fine. They’re fine. They’re inoffensive and probably worth a try, but they certainly don’t pack enough of a punch to eat during something called “Spooky Season,” so maybe wait a week or two. Merry Christmas.

Purchased Price: $4.69
Size: 12.2 oz package
Purchased at: Shop Rite
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2 Cookies) 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.