REVIEW: Brach’s Cookie Candy Corn

Brach s Cookie Candy Corn

I really enjoy candy corn, despite it being a major sugar bomb. (Seriously – have you checked out those nutrition facts below? Basically, ONLY sugar. I think in this case ignorance is bliss… Don’t even get me started on calorie counts on certain restaurant menus. IHOP is NOT the place I want to know how many calories I’m ingesting. Let me eat my stack of pancakes in peace.) But I do love me some candy corn when fall/Halloween comes around.

I had two thoughts when I saw the Brach’s Cookie Candy Corn in the store.

  1. What could this possibly taste like?
  2. Why are the Fall items out when schools haven’t even started yet? I’m a firm believer in Fall/Halloween AFTER back-to-school, Christmas music the day AFTER Thanksgiving and Easter goods AFTER Valentine’s Day.

The flavors intrigued me: The bag contained four different flavors of the candy corn, all beloved cookies. You’ll find Chocolate Chip (top left in the photo below), Oatmeal (top right), Butter Cookie (bottom right), and Cookies n’ Cream (bottom left).

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I was excited to try, but I couldn’t help but wonder: Would someone pick these over Aunt Alice’s cookie tray at Thanksgiving? Read on, my friends…

I started out by determining which flavor was which – surprisingly easy based on the color combinations – and compiled notes on each. Let’s start with Chocolate Chip. Definitely one of the more basic flavors. It had a strong chocolate taste up front with a subtle finish. Tasted more like a chocolate cookie with chocolate chips than just a chocolate chip cookie.

Next up was Oatmeal, which was by far my favorite of the group. It’s a warm-up for the taste of fall and the candy corn to come. There was a hint of cinnamon aftertaste, and it was the one that tasted the least like candy corn.

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For Cookies n’ Cream, vanilla is definitely the dominant flavor. It was good, leaving a sweet aftertaste. Alas, I’d still rather have an Oreo. And finally, Butter Cookie. Although the most even-flavored, it was the sweetest by far and the flavor that tasted the most artificial. There was no aftertaste with this one.

My expert analysis is this: The Brach’s Candy Corn is good, not great. Take my advice – if you want candy corn, eat candy corn. If you want a cookie, eat an actual cookie. The mixing of the two isn’t quite up to par. But if they do decide to bag up just the Oatmeal flavor, I may be OK with that.

(Nutrition Facts – 15 pieces – 110 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 22 grams of sugar; includes 22 grams added sugars, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 9 oz. bag
Purchased at: Giant Eagle
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Fun flavors, unique spin on candy corn. Good, not great.
Cons: Just not as good as a cookie. Stick to Aunt Alice’s Thanksgiving cookie tray.

REVIEW: Mac n’ Cheetos Mac & Cheese Snacks (Creamy Cheddar & Flamin’ Hot)

Mac n Cheetos Mac  Cheese Snacks  Creamy Cheddar  Flamin Hot

The Cheetos brand has been on fire recently (pun intended, of course.) Its Mac & Cheese snacks have been rolled out at Burger King twice. There have been bizarre genius marketing tactics, like Cheetos-branded toilet paper and most recently a pop-up restaurant in New York. Since the restaurant is only a three-day event and I live hours away, though, I have to settle for the next best thing, Mac n’ Cheetos Mac & Cheese Snacks from the freezer aisle!

I tried them when they first launched at BK so I was excited to indulge again, especially with a new flavor. The shape is still a chunkily shaped cylinder with a slight curve and when preparing these snacks Frito-Lay really wants you to work for them as there are no microwave instructions. This does mean, though, that the outsides continue to be crispy and crunchy without being too greasy, which I was expecting.

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The insides are full of mac and cheese creamy goodness and I mean that in every sense of the word. It’s an intense cheddar cheese flavor, very rich actually, and with the pasta it does somewhat reach into being quite heavy for a small bite.

However, when it’s bordering on too much, the outside breading always counteracts to save it. They work together really well and I always got a little jolt of excitement when seeing the round end of a macaroni piece unearth itself. The Flamin’ Hot ones have the same cheesy flavor on the inside but with a nice, albeit small, kick of heat from the outside breading.

Now, you’re probably thinking, ”Wow, Leonard is really digging these. I need to stop everything and run out to find these immediately!!!!” There’s no bones about it, these are great mac and cheese snacks and if that’s all they were I would be a very satisfied repeat customer.

Mac n Cheetos Mac  Cheese Snacks  Creamy Cheddar  Flamin Hot 3

However, Chester Cheetah is on the packaging and that’s when everything starts to crumble. The shape and even coloration are very uniform, which is a stark contrast from the original Cheetos snacks. The Flamin’ Hot do get some points for being closer, though, in appearance, with an almost glowing red hue. However, they also get points docked for the spice level. They should almost be called simmering ember instead as the heat is nowhere near the level of their bagged counterpart.

Sure, these are “dangerously cheesy” on the inside but not on the outside where I really wanted them to be. In fact, I couldn’t even find any Cheetle dust on my hands after eating these, which is a signature trait of the Cheetos eating experience. Instead there were just breading particles.

On a scale of 1 to 10 for how dirty my hands were with 1 being I just laid out china for a dinner on a yacht and 10 being I just finished finger painting with a toddler, my hands were maybe only a 5. I even tried licking the breading and got no cheese flavor. I was dangerously disappointed and sad. I don’t even have orange paw-printed toilet paper to wipe away my tears.

(Nutrition Facts – About 3 pieces – Creamy Cheddar – 260 calories, 13 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 520 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein. Flamin’ Hot – 240 calories, 11 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 650 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.98 each
Size: 14.4 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Creamy Cheddar)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Flamin’ Hot)
Pros: Great generic mac & cheese snacks. Crispy outsides and creamy insides really working together. Macaroni noodles occasionally making an appearance.
Cons: No Cheetle Dust. Dangerously small resemblance to actual Cheetos snacks. NO CHEETLE DUST. Temporary pop-up restaurants that aren’t local.

REVIEW: Post Shredded Wheat Frosted Cinnamon Roll Cereal

Post Shredded Wheat Frosted Cinnamon Roll Cereal

I can’t help but stare at the Post Shredded Wheat Frosted Cinnamon Roll Cereal box for two reasons.

  1. From afar the cereal pieces look as if they’re the children of a block of dried packaged ramen noodles and a Twinkie.
  2. The white creamy centers in those cereal pieces on the box do not show up in the actual cereal pieces. In tiny print, it says, “enlarged to show detail.” Unfortunately, a detail is wrong.

What’s not wrong is the aroma that comes out after opening the package. It’s a nice sweet cinnamon smell that I’d love to wake up to every morning. However, the cereal itself is not one I’m sure I’d wake up for.

As you can read on the box, the part of a complete breakfast has whole grain wheat, no synthetic colors, and is “bursting with vanilla flavored chips.” It’s frosted on one side and cinnamon is an ingredient. Now, this sounds like this could be a decent cereal, and, I’ll be honest, it is when eaten dry.

The cinnamon flavor isn’t as pronounced as its aroma, but the frosting, vanilla-flavored chips, and cinnamon do a great job at acting as the Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac to deal with the depressing blandness of the shredded wheat.

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But I do wish Post upped the cinnamon dosage. It’s not Cinnabon level of cinnamon, it’s more like licking the bottom of the box a Cinnabon came in after someone else licked it. The frosting and vanilla chips add a generic sweetness and artificial vanilla-ness that help the insoluble fiber go down. The chips aren’t like what’s shown on the box, they’re more like white blobs with a texture that’s more crunchy than creamy.

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While fine when eaten dry, a problem arises when it sits in milk for a few moments, which is a situation cereal finds itself in 9 out of 10 times. The dairy bath causes the pieces lose ALL THEIR FLAVOR and turn a decent cereal into a depressing one. Now you’d think those vanilla chips might save it, but even their flavor disappeared. Actually, my mouth couldn’t even feel those chips in the soggy pieces. It’s as if they dissolved in milk.

If you’re going to eat these as a dry snack, you’ll enjoy them. They have a hearty crunch and a decent, sweet flavor. But, while milk helps strengthen bones, it hurts this cereal by washing those good things away.

(Nutrition Facts – 22 biscuits – 220 calories, 2 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 10 milligrams of sodium, 49 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 16 grams of sugar, 5 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.98
Size: 15.5 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Tastes good dry. Uses actual cinnamon.
Cons: Flavor washes off when sittin in milk for a few moments. Could use more cinnamon flavor. Deceptive image of cereal pieces on box. Looks like a dried ramen block and a Twinkie had a child.

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.

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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 🙁

REVIEW: Limited Edition Dunkin’ Donuts Mocha Oreo Cookies

Limited Edition Dunkin Donuts Mocha Oreo Cookies

A limited edition Oreo cookie gets a lot of attention. But a limited edition Oreo cookie that features another brand gets a lot more attention. The combining of two brands is what I believe marketing people call “synergy.”

We’ve seen it before with Swedish Fish and Peeps Oreo. And we’re seeing it again with these Limited Edition Dunkin’ Donuts Mocha Oreo Cookies.

While one of those earlier flavors is in the running for Worst Oreo Flavor Ever and the other one turned our poop pink, this mocha-flavored sandwich cookie seems like an idea that can’t go wrong and won’t turn poop an unnatural color.

Limited Edition Dunkin Donuts Mocha Oreo Cookies 2

The cookie looks like a regular Oreo with chocolate creme. But while the wafer is the standard one, the creme is Dunkin’ Donuts Mocha-flavored. As you all know, mocha is coffee and chocolate, and coffee has a distinguishable aroma. But these cookies smell like what they look like, Oreo cookies with chocolate creme. Despite using my nose as hard as a dog sniffing where several other dogs have peed, I couldn’t get a hint of coffee.

Limited Edition Dunkin Donuts Mocha Oreo Cookies 3

While their scent is not what I expected, I also did not expect to see a crease on the side of the creme layer. It looks as if the creme machine spit out two applications at one time. Of course, yours might look different. But the machine that made these needs some recalibration.

If you’re hoping for a decent coffee flavor from these sandwich cookies, you’re not going to get it. The creme alone does have a mocha flavor to it, and it tastes decent, but it leans more toward the chocolate than the coffee. This leads to a problem. When the two wafers are in the mix, the cookie falls completely over to the chocolate side. I thought the slight bitterness of the wafers would somehow enhance the coffee flavor, but it didn’t. I believe that’s what psychologists would call “wishful thinking.”

Limited Edition Dunkin Donuts Mocha Oreo Cookies 4

The Limited Edition Dunkin’ Donuts Mocha Oreo Cookies are mediocre. There’s no coffee aroma and no coffee flavor when eaten whole, so there’s no way I’d recommend picking them up if you’re wanting a coffee Oreo. With that said, they’re tasty as a chocolate cookie, but that’s not what I want.

They’re so disappointing that I just want to get some Hydrox cookies and dunk them in Starbucks coffee. And I believe that’s what my therapist would call “spite.”

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 40 milligrams of potassium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.98
Size: 10.7 oz. package
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Fine as a chocolate cookie. Creme has a decent artificial mocha flavor.
Cons: Creme leans more towards chocolate than coffee. When eaten whole, there isn’t any coffee flavor. Doesn’t have a coffee aroma. Seeing the word “synergy” on a PowerPoint presentation.