REVIEW: Great Value Late Night Cravings Donut Cheeseburger

Great Value Late Night Cravings Donut Cheeseburger

I’ve never wondered what a sponge that’s been used to clean a frying pan tastes like. But thanks to the grease-soaked donut used as a bun for Great Value’s Late Night Cravings Donut Cheeseburger, now I know.

You may think the paragraph above is hyperbole, but the translucent paper towels in my kitchen’s trash think otherwise. Every time I picked up the burger and put it down, the soggy cake donut made my fingers look and feel like they’re combatants in a baby oil wrestling battle royale.

If that’s not enough to encourage you to avoid this microwaveable burger, then maybe the amount of saturated fat it has will cause you to think twice. ONE burger has 90 PERCENT of your daily recommended intake of saturated fat. Not even eating one-fourth of a stick of butter will get you to 90 percent.

Now if that’s not enough to make you say “whoa” to buying this donut cheeseburger, then maybe the way it made my kitchen smell like grease and burnt meat as it was being heated up in the microwave will.

And, if not that, maybe saying the donut hole looks like a butt hole will.

Do you still want to buy it?

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I’ve made a few donut cheeseburgers over the years when the food stars align because someone happened to bring donuts to a cookout. I’ve also eaten a few microwaveable cheeseburgers because if you run a blog about processed food for over a decade, you’re bound to eat a few. Both are serviceable, but this microwaveable donut cheeseburger is not.

Besides the grease-soaked cake donut, the cheeseburger comes with a slice of American cheese, hot pepper berry bacon jam, and chopped beef steak. Yes, “chopped beef steak” appears to be a fancy name for beef patty because it tastes like a beef patty, albeit a thin, dry beef patty.

The cheese doesn’t do anything flavor-wise, but its color prevents the burger from looking even more depressing. It adds a little contrast. Without the cheese, looking at this burger’s doom and gloom colors of brown, black, purple, and grey would’ve brought me down to a level of depression that makes me wonder if I should ask a psychiatrist if Zoloft Is right for me.

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The one ingredient that gave me the most worry before putting the burger into my mouth was the hot pepper berry bacon jam. But it ended up being the least scariest ingredient of the whole burger. The topping tasted more like a sweet barbecue sauce and it, along with some sweetness from the cake donut, helped make the sandwich taste like a BBQ burger and somewhat tolerable. But it’s not enough to overcome the soggy, greasy cake donut.

As much as I didn’t enjoy Great Value’s Donut Cheeseburger, I applaud the smart, and I assume munchies-driven, folks who developed it. Creative. Yes. Will I eat the second one that came in the box? No.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 sandwich – 610 calories, 350 calories from fat, 38 grams of fat, 18 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 85 milligrams of cholesterol, 1040 milligrams of sodium, 270 milligrams of potassium, 47 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 20 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $6.44
Size: 2 sandwiches
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Hot pepper berry bacon jam tastes like barbecue sauce. Creative.
Cons: Greasy, soggy cake donut. One has 90 percent of your daily saturated fat. Donut hole looks like a butt hole. Makes my kitchen smell like grease and burnt meat.

REVIEW: Crystal Pepsi (2016)

Crystal Pepsi (2016)

Full disclosure: I’m a Coke person. But I like Pepsi.

The sweetness of a cherry Pepsi contrasts particularly well with the sodium bomb of an extra crispy two-piece KFC meal, flanked with a side of comfortingly bland mac and cheese. And on Friday nights before I knew anyone with a car, Pizza Hut would deliver a meat-lovers pizza to the house, accompanied by bulbous onyx two-liter tanks of soda—always Pepsi.

I just like gross, adult stuff now: Bitter, sour, spicy, stuff that tastes like medicine, Coca-Cola. I like the harsh carbonation of Coca-Cola. If we’re picking teams, I’m Team Coke. But Pepsi is fine. And I definitely got my mother to buy me Crystal Pepsi multiple times the twenty-or-so odd years ago it was available.

Crystal Pepsi is back. It’s visually striking, the label’s bold blue and red logo against a foggy clear backdrop. The nostalgia factor is enough to get one buy out of me, but even on pure aesthetics, it’s compelling. A 20-ounce bottle of regular Pepsi looks like a familiar product. A 20-ounce bottle of Crystal Pepsi looks like the absence of Pepsi. It looks naked, vulnerable, honest even. It looks like it’s missing something. And it is.

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What Crystal Pepsi lacks is the almost-metallic taste that hits the back of the throat that regular Pepsi has. It’s hard to tell if the subtraction of the caramel coloring is the reason for this, but without the light medicinal quality, it kicks the balance of the drink into being really sweet. I would say too sweet. If you took a poll of what people thought of OG Pepsi, I think a lot of the answers would be “sweet,” especially in comparison to Coke. So this is even more than that.

At first taste it has the same sugary hit of Pepsi regular. Without the complexity of the rest of Pepsi regular, though, it seems like the soda boosts into maple syrup, lip-curling sweetness territory. I would have assumed a taste test between Crystal and regular would have been at least interesting, but it’s really not difficult to tell them apart. It’s an entirely different beast. It carries the lightness of a ginger ale with the sugary ceiling of an apple juice.

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Crystal Pepsi also has a smoother finish, and the carbonation is less harsh than most other sodas, so the texture in the mouth is also not compensating for the added perceived boost in sweetness. The sugar contents compare to regular Pepsi, however, and the ingredient differences are “gum arabic” and “sodium citrate.” Sure. Who knows what that means. Crystal Pepsi does now contain caffeine, which it didn’t have in the 90’s. So for people looking for a weird ass coffee replacement, that’s good information. “Nothing better in the morning than a cheese Danish and a mug of hot Crystal Pepsi.”

With 90’s nostalgia in full swing, Pepsi is surfing the trend wave. I mean, look at that label. I can’t remember if this is how Crystal Pepsi tasted like this in the 90’s but if it did, it was too sweet then. I probably just didn’t care. I was too busy playing pogs at Taco Bell while listening to Dookie. Now I sit in my breakfast nook and do my taxes and listen to a self-made Train’s Greatest Hits. And I drink Coke. Diet Coke. You got me to buy one, Crystal Pepsi. But I think that’s all you’re gonna get.

(Nutrition Facts – 20 oz – 250 calories, 0 grams of fat, 90 milligrams of sodium, 69 grams of carbohydrates, 69 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.89
Size: 20 fl oz
Purchased at: Walgreens
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Nostalgia factor. Nice looking label.
Cons: Too sweet.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Swedish Fish Oreo Cookies

Limited Edition Swedish Fish Oreo Cookies

“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Dr. Ian Malcolm famously spoke this line in Jurassic Park, and ever since, it echoes in my brain whenever a particularly weird, strange, or repulsive snack food is released. But I bet even Dr. Malcolm would choose an ocean cruise in a plesiosaur’s stomach over a tall stack of Swedish Fish Oreo Cookies. Nabisco might as well have printed the word “WHY?” on the side of every wafer.

But I plan to eat these Oreo cookies with an open mind. Why?

Because I may not be a Jurassic paleontologist, but I am a self-described gummy-ologist. I’ve documented every species of gummy bear. I once caught a 30-pound blue gummy shark with a single gummy worm. Heck, I even rallied for gummy octopus rights when I discovered their intelligence was nearly on par with humans.

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But Swedish Fish Oreos are an entirely different creature. Even though they have Oreo’s iconic, pleasantly crunchy, and cocoa buttery chocolate cookie wafers, Swedish Fish Oreo have a unique creme filling the world hasn’t tasted since the Paleozoic era.

Or so I’m assuming, since the decision to make Swedish Fish Oreo could’ve only been made by either a Neanderthal or a giant roulette wheel in Nabisco’s office.

See, this creme isn’t perfectly pillowy, soft, and squishy. It’s a little more sticky, chewy, and dare I say…slimy. It cracks and falls apart like a child’s Play-Doh diorama of the Berlin Wall, and each Oreo I opened contained a different Rorschach test image in its pasty folds. Below I see Donald Trump angrily looking out a castle window:

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The creme’s taste, though, is just like Swedish Fish. It has potent, puckering pops of candied cherry and a slightly off-putting finish of waxy gelatin. I could probably recreate it with a box of Swedish Fish and a blender, but like shooting fish in a barrel, eating fish in an Oreo is way easier.

I can’t say if it’s more pleasant, though. Eating the cookie and creme together, I can really only taste the overpowering cherry creme. There’s a processed chocolate aftertaste, but even then, it has to battle for supremacy with the cherry cough syrup layer that the creme plastered on the back of my throat.

I really wanted to like Swedish Fish Oreo, but the “crispy fruit medicine puree” textural contrast is too much for even a quasi-licensed gummy-ologist. I thought dunking them might intensify the chocolate flavor, but I worried that dipping these bizarre things in milk might make the beverage renounce Oreo as its favorite cookie.

So since I already felt ridiculous, I dipped ‘em in Kool-Aid instead.

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Surprisingly, it wasn’t even bad. When soggy, the cocoa wafers are “activated,” and the whole Oreo starts to taste like a vaguely pleasant Dirt Pie.

Remember Dirt Pies? Those chocolate pudding cups with scattered Oreo crumb soil and gummy worms on top? The desserts you haven’t had since your cousin’s 4th grade Halloween party? They’re delicious, and after squinting my eyes and eating a juice-soaked Swedish Fish Oreo, I relived a little of that nostalgia.

For 99 percent of people, these cookies will be a major “no.” The texture’s weird, the flavor’s medicinal, and the smell would scare a coyote. But for those rare one percent who are eternal kids-at-heart and want to scratch a doozy off their “Culinary Adventure Bucket List,” then oh boy, does Nabisco have an Oreo for you.

As for me? I’m just gonna lay down and dream about Dirt Pies for a week.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 35 milligrams of potassium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 10.7 oz package
Purchased at: Kroger
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Wistful Dirt Pie memories. Completing my Gummy Pokédex. Cookie creme ink blot tests. Googling pictures of plesiosaurs to cleanse my palate.
Cons: Chemical cherry fish paste. Chocolate flavor that disappears faster than Houdini. Scraping the bottom of the flavor idea fish barrel. “Oreo: Milk’s Recently Divorced Cookie.” The falling Frankenstein piñata that broke my nose at my cousin’s 4th grade Halloween party.

REVIEW: Polar Unicorn Kisses Seltzer

Polar Unicorn Kisses Seltzer

When I was a kid, I often remember visiting a drive-thru wild animal park with my parents. Aside from the fact that the monkeys would wildly flail about while removing the piping from our minivan’s windows, it was a great place to go to take in the wonders of the savannah (albeit the Canadian savannah, but I digress).

We’d usually close our trip with a stopover at the petting zoo, my hands full of vending machine pellets ready to feed Larry the Llama and Gary the Goat. My three-year-old self was shocked at the vigor at which the animal’s tongue attacked the food in my hand – an image I still can’t forget. Regrettably, this is my only frame of reference for understanding the concept of “unicorn kisses.”

Thankfully, Polar Seltzer’s Unicorn Kisses is not a bottle of magical glitter pony saliva, but instead an April Fools’ flavor designed to elicit giggles in the grocery aisle. Polar is known for its unorthodox flavors (like eggnog and mint chocolate), but you typically have an idea of what they’ll taste like before you open them. Unicorn Kisses gives you no such advance warning.

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Prepping for the worst, I set off on a quest to find a bottle. Polar released only 5,000 cases of Unicorn Kisses into the wild, so I had a difficult time finding a store that had any in stock. I felt like Dora the Explorer (minus the anthropomorphic monkey), walking from supermarket to supermarket trying to find a bottle. After what felt like countless days of searching, I finally picked some up at my local Star Market.

Upon opening, I half expected the bottle to explode into rainbows, but instead I was greeted with the scent of green apple and cotton candy. While Polar prides itself on its “all natural” label, this smell was all artificial, like a liquid Jolly Rancher. Based on my nose alone, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to drink a sip, let alone an entire glass, but I queued up “Charlie the Unicorn” for support and dove in.

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Other blogs have tried to place the flavor of Unicorn Kisses, with suggestions ranging from melon to soap, but the only thing I could taste was candy necklaces. Surprisingly, the flavor wasn’t as pronounced as the smell – it actually took me some time to figure out that this seltzer tasted like penny candy. Because it was so cloyingly sweet, I couldn’t finish a whole glass, leading me to feel like I wasn’t respecting the countless unicorns who worked so hard on this product.

In the end, the takeaways from this review are as follows: Unicorn Kisses is a fun diversion but is gross to drink, and you should stay far, far, far away from Candy Mountain.

(Nutrition Facts – 8 fluid ounces – 0 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.29
Size: 1 liter
Purchased at: Star Market
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Double rainbow. No calories. Revisiting childhood memories. Alliterative animal names.
Cons:Swiper, no swiping.” Llama tongue. Overly sweet and artificial. Vintage candy.

REVIEW: Angie’s Hot Cocoa Marshmallow Kettle Corn

Angie’s Holidrizzle Hot Cocoa Marshmallow Kettle Corn

Every time I see a bag of Angie’s kettle corn with the words “BOOM CHICKA POP” in gigantic type, 70’s porn music pops into my head. Why? Because “bow chicka wow wow” is like the emoji for porn movie music.

But I did not buy Angie’s Holidrizzle Hot Cocoa Marshmallow Kettle Corn because of the porn music bumpin’ in my head. I bought it because there hasn’t been an Angie’s Holidrizzle flavor that’s disappointed me, and I thought this flavor would continue that streak.

And you’ve probably figured out that by ending the previous paragraph with that sentence, I’ve pretty much told you I did not care for this hot cocoa and marshmallow-flavored kettle corn.

Opening the bag brings out a pleasant Cracker Jack—like aroma, but one opened bag and two minutes later I asked myself, “Where did Angie’s go wrong?”

The front of the bag says, “contains nothing but ingredients you’ll love.” Cane sugar…love. Popcorn…love. Sunflower oil…like. Palm kernel oil…like. Nonfat dry milk…like. Cocoa powder…love. Sea salt…love. Natural flavors…not sure what they are. Soy lecithin…I could go either way.

So I love most of its ingredients, but I don’t love its flavor. It just doesn’t taste right. It doesn’t come close to tasting anything like hot cocoa and marshmallows. At times, there’s a flavor that reminds me of toffee. But at other times, there’s a flavor that I would describe as sweet plastic. Maybe the kettle corn’s flavor is an abstract interpretation of hot cocoa and marshmallows, and the sweet plasticiness represents the marshmallow and its pliability.

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Where does this sweet plastic flavor come from? My guess is that I should be blaming the chocolate drizzle, which fortunately wasn’t liberally drizzled over the kettle corn. But once the chocolate drizzle melts away, it tastes like standard kettle corn.

Angie’s Holidrizzle Hot Cocoa Marshmallow Kettle Corn isn’t gross enough to make me throw away four-fifths of the bag, go back to Target to demand my money back, or use it as coal in a Christmas stocking to punish the naughty. After all, I did end up finishing the bag, albeit slowly. But out of all the new hot cocoa-flavored products I’ve tried this year, this has got to be my least favorite.

(Nutrition Facts – 1.5 cups – 140 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 3.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Angie’s Hot Cocoa Marshmallow Kettle Corn
Purchased Price: $3.29
Size: 4.5 oz. bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Not totally gross. Least favorite hot cocoa-flavored product I’ve tried this season. Contains ingredients that I love.
Cons: Doesn’t taste like hot cocoa and marshmallows. At times it has a sweet plastic flavor. Having 70’s porn music pop up in my head every time I see a bag of Angie’s popcorn.

REVIEW: Skippy P.B. Bites (Pretzel and Double Peanut Butter)

Skippy Pretzel P.B. Bites

When it comes to peanut butter and the pronunciation of animated internet images, I – like all of those choosy moms – always choose Jif. I can’t even remember the last time I had Skippy. In fact, I’m so trained on my Simply Jif; I almost forgot Skippy was even a brand. One might say I skipped…

Nope, this one is not gonna roll with that cornball pun. Let’s get to the review instead.

A couple months back, these popped up in the “Spotted on Shelves” section of this site. A commenter named “JETKITTY” mentioned these reminded him or her of the greatest snack in the history of our time – Planters PB Crisps. Just off that mere mention alone, I made it my life’s mission to track these down. If they were anywhere near the quality of the dearly departed PB Crisps, I would have found the heir apparent to one of my five favorite snacks of all time.

So do they stack up?

Drumroll, please…

No! But they aren’t bad.

Pretzels and peanut butter are a marriage made in heaven. How could these be bad?

The peanut butter coating is creamy and not nearly as synthetic as I anticipated it to taste. I was expecting the fake peanut butter type filling from say a Nutter Butter or a Peanut Butter Oreo, but this is really smooth.

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It’s also a reasonably thick coating, giving each piece a nice balance with the pretzel inside. There’s a brief sweetness to the peanut butter, but once you crunch into the pretzel, it’s gone. That was a tease. Skippy P.B. Bites basically land on the “savory” side of the snack scale. As you eat them, your mouth gets saltier. So if you expect these to be a sugary snack, you might be a bit disappointed.

Peanut butter on its own isn’t exactly “sweet” per se, but I always expect a snack built around it to be really sweet. I needed more of that out of the peanut butter. If it somehow held the brief hint through the entire bite, these would be excellent. All I could think while eating them was how much I’d appreciate a thin layer of chocolate around the outside.

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I dig the shape and “poppability” of the bites. If they sold a bag of pretzels in this shape, I’d snatch them up, because they’d be fun to eat. You’d think by having a pretzel that small and compact, it would be on the hard side, but these have a really palatable crunch.

So while they’re not “Top 5 Dead or Alive” like PB crisps, they’re tasty and worth a buy. Just make sure you get the pretzel flavor, because…

Double Peanut Butter is terrible. While it has the same creamy peanut butter coating, the center has a texture I can barely describe. Once you get past the good peanut butter, you hit a square of hard, gritty chalk-like peanut butter. Have you ever gotten Cookie Dough Bites at the movie theater? Think of the cookie dough inside. Now age that 7 years and give it a considerably worse flavor. That’s what these taste like. The inner peanut butter tastes like a hardened block of sand. Horrible. They shouldn’t exist.

(Nutrition Facts – Pretzel – 15 pieces – 160 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 300 milligrams of sodium, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein. Double Peanut Butter – 10 pieces – 160 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.)

Item: Skippy P.B. Bites (Pretzel and Double Peanut Butter)
Purchased Price: $2.98 each
Size: 6 oz. tub
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Pretzel)
Rating: 3 out of 10 (Double Peanut Butter)
Pros: Creamy peanut butter coating. Shape and size. Tasty pretzels. “Poppability.” Any reason to reminisce about PB Crisps. You can reuse the container should you choose.
Cons: Melts very easily. Double Peanut Butter is awful. “Jif” vs. “Gif” battles rages on. RIP PB Crisps.