REVIEW: Dunkin’ Donuts Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut and Gingerbread Cookie Donut

Dunkin Donuts Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut and Gingerbread Cookie Donut 1

There are a few jobs I hope I never have. Aside from everything Mike Rowe has tried, Santa’s personal chef and copyeditor for his Naughty and Nice List come to mind. Also, the guy who has to develop “new” holiday-themed products for fast food chains.

Between the cookie exchanges, parties, and all those special childhood foods your mom is going to cook for you, there’s a lot of pressure to efficiently maximize your calories. If I’m going to eat a donut during December, I don’t want to waste my time on some plebeian attempt to deconstruct hot chocolate in cruller form.

So consider this an early Christmas present — taking one for the team so you don’t have to feel massive guilt (in addition to feeling massive) for scarfing down holiday flavors that may or may not fall in the “meh” spectrum of taste.

Dunkin Donuts Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut and Gingerbread Cookie Donut 2

Dunkin’ Donut’s new Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut combines sugar cookie and chocolate chip cookie flavors, which, when you think about it, is sort of like the cookie version of Chrismukkah.

Oddly enough, the combo works, even though the cookie dough-flavored filling doesn’t taste much like cookie dough. Actually, I’m not quite sure what it tastes like. Brownish sugar, maybe? Whatever it is it’s not bad, but the real star of the donut is the frosted sugar cookie crumble topping. It’s like a hybrid of vanilla Chex, puppy chow, and streusel topping.

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Overall, the cookie crumbles give the usual (if not underrated) combo of white icing and airy donut an extra level of yumminess.

Sadly, the Gingerbread Cookie Donut doesn’t have the same level of yumminess. While the gingerbread cookie topping has a strong gingerbread flavor, the pieces are stale, as if they’re from a box of ginger snap cookies that’s been open since 2012.

Dunkin Donuts Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut and Gingerbread Cookie Donut 4

I have a friend who swears by salted caramel vodka, which sounds disgusting. However, after trying the caramel frosting I’ll have to down a fifth to get the sticky cloying taste out of my mouth. It’s not the most inauthentic caramel taste in the world, but it lacks any depth and tastes of nothing but sugar.

I tend to treat donuts by the pizza maxim (even when bad, they’re good) but the Gingerbread Cookie Donut comes close to legitimately sucking, meaning it’s frankly a toss-up between it and a piece of fruitcake.

All things considered, Dunkin’s new holiday-themed donuts are a mixed bag, like your childhood stocking filled with candy but also socks. Still, for as bad as the Gingerbread Cookie Donut is, the Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut might be good enough to leave out for Santa, if you don’t eat it first.

(Nutrition Facts – Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut – 420 calories, 21 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 410 milligrams of sodium, 52 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of dietary fiber, 30 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein. Gingerbread Cookie Donut – 310 calories, 17 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 360 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of dietary fiber, 14 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.09 (each)
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut)
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Gingerbread Cookie Donut)
Pros: Sugar Cookie Donut topping is one of the better toppings I’ve had on a Dunkin’ donut. Good quality freshness in donut bases.
Cons: Gingerbread cookie topping is as stale as your great uncle’s Christmas jokes. Cookie dough filling doesn’t really taste like cookie dough. Caramel frosting is cloying and out-of-place.

REVIEW: Mountain Dew Holiday Brew

Mtn Dew Holiday Brew

I, for one, hope this holiday-themed Dew trend continues. Hot on the heels of the oh-so-patriotic DEW.S.A. from earlier this summer, PepsiCo’s now hoisting Mountain Dew Holiday Brew on us, which could be the tip of the iceberg.

Why not release a special Dew variation for President’s Day called Grape-raham Lincoln? Or a special edition Mountain Dew Rosh Hashanah Raspberry while they’re at it? (I can see the tagline already – “you’ll want to Yom Kippur another one.”)

While we’re probably a few years away from that Thanksgiving tie-in Pecan Pie Mountain Dew or a special Saint Paddy’s brew (might I suggest the namesake Dew-U-I?), we can all take solace in the fact this year’s Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa/New Year’s/Wright Brothers Day-themed beverage ain’t too shabby.

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As the product name and hue would lead you to believe, this special edition Holiday Brew is apparently one half Mountain Dew Code Red and one half regular old Dew. The beverage looks a little pinker than Code Red, though, and it doesn’t smell that much like either variation of Mountain Dew (I personally got a pureed cake batter vibe from mine, but your olfactory glands may detect something else.)

But taste-wise is where things get very interesting. As soon as the beverage hits your tongue, the taste is unmistakable – this stuff is Code Red Mountain Dew, straight up, with no additional flavorings. BUT when the aftertaste hits you, WHAM! It’s unmistakably the traditional green Dew flavor we’ve been slurping on forever. So we’ve got this downright bizarre mouthfeel thing going on where every five seconds or so, the flavor of the beverage shifts from Code Red to traditional Dew.

I can’t recall ever tasting a soda that did that, not even the aforementioned DEW.S.A. Whereas that tri-branded brew created a new synthesized flavor, the divergent flavors of Holiday Brew are pretty much locked in gustatory mortal combat – and that one-of-a-kind sensation might be worth purchasing the newfangled soda all by its lonesome.

Of course, if you never cared for either permutations of Dew in the past, I guess the prospects of Code Red Dew and normal Dew having a liquid kung fu fight on your tongue probably won’t convert you as a consumer.

I can’t say that Dew and Code Red Dew combined results in a better product than either as stand-alone beverages, but as far as Franken-sodas go, it’s still quite flavorful. That, and it opens the floodgates for even wackier novelty sodas in the future. Come on, Pepsi – you know you want to combine Pitch Black and LiveWire as All Hallow’s Eve Dew. You just KNOW you do. Or is that dew?

(Nutrition Facts – 20 ounces – 290 calories, 0 grams of fat, 110 milligrams of sodium, 77 grams of total carbohydrates, 77 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.49
Size: 20 oz. bottle
Purchased at: Circle K
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: The alternating citrus/cherry flavor is unlike anything you’ve probably tried before. It’s a very thick and filling beverage. The packaging is festive.
Cons: It really doesn’t taste any better than Code Red or regular Dew. The cross-pollinated flavors aren’t as harmonious as DEW.S.A. Wondering which two brands Pepsi’s going to merge together for the inevitable Bastille Day Berry.

QUICK REVIEW: Nestle Toll House Limited Edition Pumpkin Cobbler Cookie Dough

Nestle Toll House Limited Edition Pumpkin Cobbler Cookie Dough

I’ve had my share of unusual pumpkin items, and I’ve made some unique cobblers (leek cobbler, anyone?). But I have never even heard of pumpkin cobbler. I’m sure someone’s made it somewhere, but as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t exist.

Nestle has made a cookie flavored like something that doesn’t exist with this Toll House Pumpkin Cobbler dough. It’s described as “cookie dough with pumpkin, oats, spices and a pumpkin pie filling.”

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All the cookies are stuck together in cubes. They didn’t separate perfectly along the dough perforation, but it was good enough. In a matter of seconds, they were ready to go in the oven. Preheating takes longer than preparation.

Nestle Toll House Limited Edition Pumpkin Cobbler Cookie Dough 3

They took longer to bake than the 11–12 minutes recommended on the package, but I think that’s because I used a cooking stone instead of a metal baking sheet, and I live at an elevation of 5,000 feet.

My biggest disappointment was the pumpkin filling. I expected it to be the texture of pumpkin pie or even apple butter, but it was a syrupy, sticky substance, reminiscent of the residue leftover in the jam jar.

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But just because the filling wasn’t what I had hoped doesn’t mean the cookie wasn’t good. I can definitely taste the oats, and while the ingredients don’t specify what spices are in it, I could detect cinnamon and probably nutmeg. I had a harder time noticing the pumpkin, but I think it’s there.

There’s a tendency to regard these premade, preportioned cookie doughs as utterly plebeian, inferior to cookies made from scratch. I don’t disagree, but there’s something to be said for warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies without mixing bowls in the sink or flour spilled on the counter. These are a tasty option for two dozen quick treats on an autumn afternoon.

Purchased Price: $2.79
Size: 16 oz. package
Purchased at: Dick’s Market
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 cookie) 80 calories, 3 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1 gram of monounsaturated fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 12 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Cinnamon Vanilla Lucky Charms Cereal

Limited Edition Cinnamon Vanilla Lucky Charms

Guys, wow. This is big. This is Lucky the Leprechaun (aka Sir Charms, which is how I will now and forever more think of him) doing a Babe Ruth point to the center field bleachers.

Since its debut in 1964, Lucky Charms has changed its marbits (another LC name I was unaware of until now, and love almost as much as Sir Charms) quite often, reflecting holidays and general times-a-changin’. I still remember my world being somewhat rocked when red balloons came out in 1989. In my defense, I was eight; my world was rocked on pretty much a daily basis.

But the oats, the oats were a constant. Minus the no-brainer introduction of Chocolate Lucky Charms in 2005, it’s always been oats and marbits, living harmoniously together in a well-balanced ratio.

But now, in this year that has been so tumultuous, so uncertain, Sir Charms comes along and brings us a gift: Limited Edition Cinnamon Vanilla Lucky Charms.

Gosh darn, if that isn’t a lovely winter wonderland of a box. It’s October as I write this, but I’m hearing jingle bells instead of spooky ghosts. You truly are magic, Sir Charms!

Limited Edition Cinnamon Vanilla Lucky Charms 2

And that magic continues on the back. There are several fun puzzles to solve, although I could have done without the snowman with no eyes. There’s also a riddle: “If snowmen can’t take baths, how do they keep clean?”

Limited Edition Cinnamon Vanilla Lucky Charms 3

There are only three unique marbits in this limited edition cereal, but surprisingly, they differ from 2005’s Winter Lucky Charms, although they are much less varied. While not explicitly listed on the box, it appears they were going for a snowball, a snowflake, and a snowman. What actually came out was a generic aspirin, a rejected asterisk and…listen guys, I’m trying to keep it clean here because this is such a darn cute box of cereal. A bowling pin? Does that work?

Limited Edition Cinnamon Vanilla Lucky Charms 4

Upon opening the box, it smelled only of oats. Which was a bit of a relief, since I didn’t want to be blasted with cinnamon. Tasted dry, it came off as a nice, warm cinnamon paired with a hefty amount of sugar – sort of like a Cinnamon Toast Crunch Light.

Limited Edition Cinnamon Vanilla Lucky Charms 5

In milk, the cinnamon flavor almost entirely disappears, much to my disappointment. The marbits fulfill the vanilla part, but I wanted more of that warm cinnamon flavor. I was hoping for an oat-y Cinnamon Toast Crunch with bonus marshmallows, but I got a mostly regular Lucky Charms with a hint of cinnamon instead.

That said, Lucky Charms rock, and adding a touch of cinnamon makes them a little bit better. Plus, we got some special winter (they tried) marshmallows, and the cereal milk was a very light cinnamon vanilla flavor, which was lovely.

Limited Edition Cinnamon Vanilla Lucky Charms didn’t charm my pants off. It could be better. But a new LC is special in and of itself, so they get some extra points for trying.

By the way, did you figure out the answer to the riddle?

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup – 110 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 55 milligrams of potassium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 10 grams of sugar, 11 grams of other carbohydrates, and 2 grams of protein,.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 11.5 oz. box
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: A new Lucky Charms flavor. Learning about “Sir Charms”. Hints of warm cinnamon. Great box design. Tasty cereal milk.
Cons: For once, I wanted a stronger cinnamon flavor. Snowmen with no eyes. Vanilla seemed to only come from marshmallows. Marbits shapes are…questionable.

REVIEW: Doritos Crunch Mix (Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch)

Doritos Crunch Mix  Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch

I recently hit up 7-Eleven for a post-workout protein bar, because I’m super muscular and fit, and also extremely strong and powerful! While admiring my pythons in the drink case window’s reflection, something caught my eye — a stocked shelf of little Doritos branded cartons.

Variety is, as they say, “the spice of life,” and that expression has never rung truer than when pertaining to snack mixes. Why eat a pretzel when you can eat a pretzel with a corn chip, an M&M, a cashew, cereal, and a peanut butter cup?

Better question, why did it take so long for something like Doritos Crunch Mix to hit the market?

Doritos Crunch Mix  Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch 2

For a long time, Munchies was the only mix available with Doritos, but we live in wild snack concoction times and Frito-Lay is at the forefront.

The “Crunch Nut” is what you think it is – a peanut inside of a Dorito. Picture a Peanut M&M, except instead of chocolate and candy shell, it’s a Dorito. That’s probably how this idea was initially pitched to a T.

As you’d imagine, Crunch Nuts are pretty good. I found that the peanut flavor pushed through more with the Nacho mix than Cool Ranch. It somehow made itself known, almost making it too nutty. The cheese mixed with the creaminess of the chewed peanut had a different dynamic than with the Ranch, which was almost dulled by the peanut if anything.

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I was pretty satisfied with the main attraction. How was the supporting cast?

The triangles are basically mini versions of those Doritos Jacked 3D chips and thus are the closest in texture to a regular Dorito.

The puffs are appropriately flavored, very light and airy cheese balls. They’re a stark contrast to the next two players in the mix.

The pretzels are essentially Snyder’s Nacho Cheese/Ranch Pretzel Pieces, and the corn sticks only exist to make you nervous you’re gonna crack a tooth. Naturally, they were the most abundant.

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I don’t understand why every snack mix insists on having that one ingredient that could break your molar on any given chew. Chex has the bagel chips and trail mixes have 25-year-old almonds.

This mix would have been fine with the pretzel pieces. The corn sticks, while tasty on their own, served very little purpose other than adding a rocky texture that wasn’t necessary to the enjoyment of the other pieces.

In case you’re wondering, they sell packs of the Crunch Nuts alone, but why even bother when the mix exists?

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I preferred the Cool Ranch one, but that’s always been my Doritos preference.

So, if you don’t have any dental paranoia like me, you’ll enjoy the Doritos Crunch Mixes. Frito-Lay continues to go onward and upward with their selection. Hopefully, a Doritos 3Ds revival is in our future. Let’s make that happen.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – Nacho Cheese – 210 calories, 12 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 260 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 4 grams of protein. Cool Ranch – 210 calories, 12 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 250 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.99 each
Size: 3 oz. package
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Nacho Cheese)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Cool Ranch)
Pros: Any new snack mix is a good thing. Doritos never fail. Resealable carton packaging. My impressive physique despite eating multiple cartons of Doritos Crunch Mix.
Cons: Some pieces are rock hard. Corn sticks are just filler. Peanut taste is a bit too prominent in Nacho mix. Is a single Doritos chip technically called a “Dorito?” I miss Doritos 3Ds. I lie about my muscles a lot.

QUICK REVIEW: Baskin-Robbins Candy Bar Mashup Ice Cream

Baskin Robbins Candy Bar Mashup Ice Cream

According to everyone’s favorite feline, this time of year is all about the candy, candy, candy, candy. Fortunately, instead of placating him with an unholy lasagna ice cream, Baskin-Robbins has brought us the Candy Bar Mashup as October’s Flavor of the Month. Chocolate ice cream is swirled with caramel and then stuffed with Snickers, Twix, and Milky way pieces. 

First things first, either let yours temper before eating or don your Rockbiter costume. The sample I tried of the returning and pun-awesomely named Trick Oreo Treat contained a Baby Ruth bite that was equivalent to chewing cement.

Baskin Robbins Candy Bar Mashup Ice Cream 3

After letting it sit, my Candy Bar Mashup was the perfect consistency, no trip to the dentist necessary beyond the cavity it probably induced. If you have tried the aforementioned candy bars, then you know what to expect from this by and large. The chocolate ice cream is tried and true; and while good, the caramel swirl doesn’t bring anything new to the table as it’s a core component of the traditional bars.

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Unfortunately, my scoop consisted primarily of Twix which crowded out its cohorts and left only a couple of small Snickers pieces and a hint of Milky Way for the other bites. The experience as a whole is chameleonesque, becoming a frozen version of whatever candy bit you happen to nosh. This makes the uneven ratios an even greater shame as despite Milky Way being my least favorite of the group as just a candy bar, I quite enjoyed it in this context.

Oddly, the ingredient list mentions Twix last of the three. One would expect it to be roughly equivalent to the other pieces at worst rather than reigning as the Jack Skellington of Candy Bar Mashup Town. All in all, this is more treat than trick, and I could see myself grabbing it again while I await the Great Pumpkin on Halloween night.

Purchased Price: $2.79
Size: Large scoop (4.0 oz.)
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (Single Scoop) 290 calories, 15 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 28 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.