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.

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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.

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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.

REVIEW: Burger King Spicy Nuggets

Burger King Spicy Nuggets

It’s beginning to look a lot like Chicken Season.

Fresh off the heels of Wendy’s and McDonald’s new chicken tender options, Burger King has once again dipped their toes into the “spicy” chicken pool, this time in the form of nuggets.

I say it every time I review their food, but Burger King is smart. I always find myself fighting on their behalf. They’ve embraced the weird “Taco Bell” style menu niche, and they’re the only ones really doing it in the burger world. No matter what they add to their vast menu, it seems to pique my interest.

This isn’t the first time they’ve filled in the fast food blank either. I still don’t understand why Wendy’s took Spicy Nuggets off their menu, but Burger King is attempting to swoop in and corner that market.

Good on them, but are they actually good?

Well, it depends on your definition of good.

I won’t sit here and pretend this is high-class cuisine. Then again, I think you’re all smart enough to realize that at 15 cents a nugget, you probably shouldn’t be expecting that.

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First and foremost, I’m a fan of BK’s nuggets. I’m not only a fan of the ridiculously cheap price point, but I think they’re pretty tasty. They aren’t the best nugget on the market, but they still always provide a nice tender bite of white meat chicken, and you can buy them in bulk.

The spicy nuggets have a darker orange hue to them, with some speckled bits of pepper – that’s the universal sign you’re about to eat breaded chicken branded as “spicy.”

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Upon the first couple bites, they taste like the regular nuggets. Once you chew a few seconds, the slight heat kicks in. Sorry to say Spiceheads, but it’s slight. These aren’t even as spicy as Wendy’s nuggets were.

Getting 10 nuggets (I actually got 11 – bonus nugget!) for less than two bucks is a gift and a curse. After you eat about three or four, you start to notice that they are really salty. As the heat dries your mouth a bit, it amplifies the saltiness. You might think you need a drink for the burn, but you really need it for the salt.

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Still, I find these pretty damn satisfying and they would pair nicely with one of BK’s cereal shakes.

Like the other restaurants, BK didn’t offer any fancy new dipping sauces, but honey mustard worked well for me. No complaints there.

The nuggets also had a solid afterburn. They didn’t give me agita, but I knew I had something “spicy” for a little while. There was nothing unpleasant about the aftertaste.

So look, these aren’t gourmet, but for $1.49 you could knock out a ridiculously cheap meal one night.

I’m hoping this gets McDonald’s to attempt a spicy nugget next.

(Nutrition Facts – 10 nuggets – 530 calories, 37 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, milligrams of cholesterol, 1420 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, and 20 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.49
Size: 10 nuggets (11 for me!)
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Very tender white meat (I hope.) Cheap as hell. Filling a Fast Food void. Two free dipping sauces. Bonus nugget!
Cons: Definitely could be spicier. Increasingly salty. Not as good as Wendy’s Spicy Nuggets. Price makes you want to order more stuff.

REVIEW: Coca-Cola Coffee Plus (Japan)

Coca Cola Coffee Plus

Coffee and Coke sounds like the morning ritual of an 80’s Wall Street banker. It’s also the combination found in a new beverage in Japan that’s exclusively available at vending machines — Coca-Cola Coffee Plus.

For those of you who were in diapers a decade ago, Coke did offer a coffee-flavored cola called Coke Blãk. If you’re wondering if it was Coke Blech, I thought it was pretty good. But the rest of America didn’t think so because it wasn’t around for very long.

Since being discontinued, I could’ve easily and cheaply make a Coke Blãk-like beverage by combining the Coke and coffee already in my kitchen. But, nope, I did it the hard way by purchasing a can of Coca-Cola Coffee Plus from eBay for a ridiculous price plus international shipping from a seller in Japan, which would take two weeks to arrive.

But the thing about Coca-Cola Coffee Plus is that it’s not made by combining two liquids. It gets it coffee in the form of an extract powder. The cola and coffee combo gives the can’s contents 34 milligrams of caffeine, which is not a lot in this day of caffeine-filled espressos and energy drinks. But, granted, the can is a wee one. It holds about 6.5 ounces, which makes spending about $15 for a can a bit silly.

The beverage’s aroma is a bit weird. At times, it smells like coffee. Other times it’s coffee with cola spices. But that’s not why its weird. That’s expected. What’s odd is that sometimes, while finding out if my nose could pick out the coffee and cola, there were moments when I thought I smelled Japanese curry.

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As for its flavor, it tastes better than what I remember Coke Blãk was like. The coffee flavor hits my tongue first. It’s not bold, like drinking black coffee. It’s mild and goes well with the cola spices. From what I can taste, it doesn’t seem to have artificial sweeteners like Coke Blãk did, which is why I enjoy it more. It’s tasty enough that I’m sad it didn’t come in a larger can or bottle. Also, that would’ve meant more sweet, sweet caffeine.

So is Coca-Cola Coffee Plus worth picking up? If you’re in Japan and in front of a vending machine that offers it, then absocoffeely. If you’re a former 80’s Wall Street banker with lots of money because you quit cocaine early in your career, then go ahead and burn some cash.

But if you’re a normal person in front of your computer’s monitor looking at an online Japanese snack store or eBay seller that offers it for 10 times its regular price with shipping, then NOke-NOla. As much as I like it, its can size alone makes it not worth it.

(Nutrition Facts – 100 ml – 22 kcal, 0 grams of protein, 5.5 grams of carbohydrates, and 0.02 grams of sodium.)

Purchased Price: $5.49 + $9.99 shipping
Size: 190 ml can
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Pleasant combination of coffee and cola spices. Worth a try if you’re standing in front of a Japanese vending machine that offers it. Coffee and Coke.
Cons: Not worth $15. Wish it came in a larger can or bottle. Spending $15 to get a 6.5-ounce beverage from Japan. At times, it smells like Japanese curry.

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.

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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.