REVIEW: Limited Edition Nutmeg & Cinnamon Triscuit Crackers

Limited Edition Nutmeg  Cinnamon Triscuit Crackers

I’ve got to admit, I only eat Triscuit once or twice a year.

My family has a tradition at holiday gatherings to make one of the simplest yet most delicious appetizers you’ll ever try. A block of Philadelphia cream cheese covered with a jar of salsa and served with Triscuit. I know, it might sound kind of bizarre, but don’t dog it ’til you’ve tried it cause it’s damn delicious. I love Triscuit in this setting, they’re perfect. Better than Wheat Thins or any other chip when combined with this dip, but I don’t ever buy them for myself.

Popcorn, Cheez-Its, Doritos – these things all find their way into my snack cabinet, but I’ve never felt compelled to buy the hard little squares of shredded wheat on my own…until now. My inner spice sense began tingling the second I saw the new and autumn-kissed Nutmeg & Cinnamon Triscuit.

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The crackers look no different than your average Triscuit – square, brown, and wheat-y. The aroma is similarly familiar – wheat with a hint of lingering sweetness.

The flavor, though, is surprisingly soft and very good. The overwhelming feeling I get when biting into these crackers is warmth. The presence of the spice doesn’t smack you over the face with artificiality or some kind of sweet pumpkin spice foil – they simply elevate the flavor of the wheat and add a wonderful spicy flourish to the already established successful profile.

Cinnamon and nutmeg are definitely the key players in the mix, but I also get a nice tingle of ginger. Nothing about the flavor is harsh and, shockingly, the crackers aren’t sweet either. In fact, they aren’t even really salty, less so than the original. Being devoid of sweet and salty would imply that they’re bland, but the spices make up for it.

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Since the flavor comes off as more of a warm feeling than bold tongue-tingling taste, they lend themselves very well to different applications. Smeared with some cream cheese? Awesome. Topped with peanut butter? Delicious. Garnished with a bit of medium cheddar? Divine. The spices don’t bully their way to the forefront of the experience and yet they stay there in the background like lovely jazz in a cozy coffee shop – never taking over the conversation, but elevating the atmosphere immensely.

If you’re a Triscuit fan and are looking for a slight festive twist on something you already love – look no further than Nutmeg & Cinnamon. They’re subtly complex and fitting for your next holiday gathering, and hey, maybe even try topping them with cream cheese and salsa – you might be pleasantly surprised.

(Nutrition Facts – 6 crackers – 120 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 8.5 oz. box
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Nice subtle but complex blend of cinnamon and nutmeg. Hints of ginger. Not sweet. Flavors work well with variety of toppings.
Cons: A Triscuit can only be so good. They will never be Cheez-Its or Sweetos

REVIEW: Quaker Limited Edition Gingerbread Spice Life Cereal

Quaker Limited Edition Gingerbread Spice Life Cereal

Gingerbread is one of the oldest cookie traditions known to man. The swirling baked concoction of ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, molasses, and honey was used to treat indigestion and painted as window decorations as far back as the 15th century. The hard spicy biscuits were not only delicious, but medicinal, and even though I’ve never eaten cookies to cure a tummy ache, I’ll gladly take that medication any day.

In true lineage with the old spirit of gingerbread, one of the oldest feeling adult-meets-kiddy cereals, Quaker’s Life, put their own spin on the multipurpose treat with this season’s Limited Edition Gingerbread Spice Life.

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The funny thing about Life is that they all look the same, with no vibrant fake coloring or powder to indicate what they’re supposed to taste like. They’re just boring little criss-cross oat wheat squares that somehow Quaker packs some flavors into. Their appearance, however, is fitting for the drab-looking gingerbread, and the flavor follows suit. Crunching into these seasonal delights dry reveals immediate notes of ginger and molasses, accented by a soft, sweet finish.

My biggest concern was that it was going to be very similar to last year’s Pumpkin Spice Life, which I’m a fan of, but I’m happy to say they’re very different. Pumpkin Spice Life had a strong cinnamon flavor and this one is surprisingly not cinnamon-y at all.

Each chomp packs a different Christmas punch. Sometimes it’s ginger-heavy, sometimes it just tastes like oat-y cereal, and one bite even had a sharp black pepper kick, which was surprising, but not strange since it’s a key component in traditional gingerbread. The more I eat the squares, the more complex they get. And one handful gave me the distinct yeasty bread flavor of a soft pretzel — delicious.

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The cereal holds up pretty well in milk too. The spiciness is dulled down a touch, but the creaminess of the milk helps bring the true gingerbread experience full circle, adding a hint of what’s missing without any gingerbread man icing decorations or frosting. The milk gets quickly absorbed into the pieces, softening them and taking away some of the signature crunch. Somehow the notes of cinnamon that I didn’t get from the cereal dry are a little more apparent with milk, but that may be the way my taste buds interpret less ginger-y ginger.

While Gingerbread Spice Life may not have the candy button whimsy of an actual gingerbread man, it definitely takes the wonderful spicy flavors of the traditional holiday cookie and delivers them convincingly to the cereal bowl.

This is the first gingerbread cereal I’ve ever had and I’m impressed. Hopefully, more companies latch onto this wonderful flavor profile and do new fun things, because after all, it’s a lot like pumpkin spice, just without all the oversaturated hate.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup – 120 calories, 15 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 18 oz. box
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Surprisingly complex gingerbread flavor. Different bites yield different notes. Somewhat healthy.
Cons: Complexity doesn’t come through as much in milk. No cute candy buttons.

REVIEW: Burger King Farmhouse King

Burger King Farmhouse King
 
Usually when you order a fast food burger the product is considerably smaller than the item advertised. In the case of Burger King’s Farmhouse King, however, it’s just the opposite – as soon as the cashier handed me the bag, I thought they had accidentally dropped a napkin dispenser in there.

Be forewarned, the Farmhouse King is not for the faint of heart. Packing in a monstrous 1,220 calories, it surpasses the calorie count of Arby’s Meat Mountain sandwich. Indeed, this item could be considered the breakfast version of Arby’s aforementioned Noah’s Ark Sammich (since it pretty much contained two of each animal under its buns.)

We’ve got nearly a pound of burger going on here. That includes about half a pound of flame-kissed beef in the form of two Whopper patties, plus a heaping helping of smoked bacon, plus a double shot of melted American cheese, plus a handful of crispy onions and – the kicker – a fried egg capping the whole thing off like an angel atop a Christmas tree. And underneath the toasted sesame seed buns you’ve got a smattering of ketchup and BK’s proprietary “creamy sauce,” which to me, tastes a lot like honey BBQ sauce.

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Needless to say, this stuff is intense. All by itself it makes up more than half of one’s recommended daily allowance of calories, and with more than 2,000 milligrams of sodium, it does constitute an entire day’s worth of USDA-approved salt intake. That said, it’s undeniably a yummy novelty burger, and if absolutely nothing else, one of the most filling single-serve fast food items in recent memory.

I suppose the first question most people would ask is whether the addition of the egg improves or worsens the product. To be perfectly honest, the taste of the egg itself is pretty hard to distinguish from the goulash of meats and sauce, which ultimately coalesces into this extremely tasty medley of BBQ sauce, beef, bacon, and onion (which, for whatever reason, most fast food places describe as “Western”). I mean, if you really focus you can pick up the yolky aftermath, but it’s nowhere near as prominent as you’d imagine. I wouldn’t go as far as to say the egg is superfluous, but it’s certainly downplayed once you start chowin’ down.

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If you’re looking for a satiating sandwich, unless you’re a world class competitive eater, this sucker ought to have you down for the count. About halfway through my sandwich I was getting winded and by the time I finished the last bite, full-fledged the itis had set in. In hindsight, it wouldn’t surprise me if that BK “secret sauce” was actually Nyquil-laced Thousand Island dressing.

I wouldn’t want to down a Farmhouse King every week, but for a one-time, super-gluttonous fast food treat it’s downright marvelous. But if you’re going to eat it, be prepared; not only are you going to need a small army of napkins, you better have a pillow handy, too.

(Nutrition Facts – 1,220 calories, 720 calories from fat, 80 grams of fat, 28 grams of saturated fat, 3 grams of trans fat, 335 milligrams of cholesterol, 2050 milligrams of sodium, 62 grams of carbohydrates, 15 grams of sugar, and 63 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $6.29
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: The beef, bacon, cheese, onion and BBQ sauce medley is downright delicious. It WILL fill you up. the egg taste is subtle, yet distinct.
Cons: The price point is pretty steep. Some might find the egg flavor too downplayed. Eating the sandwich at noon and having a duel to the death with The Sandman until 5 p.m. rolls around.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Hot Cocoa Cocoa Puffs Cereal

Limited Edition Hot Cocoa Cocoa Puffs Cereal

The competitive world of junk food has given us tons of oddball mashups that seem to come out of nowhere — Swedish Fish Oreo, Root Beer Float Chips Ahoy, Jolly Rancher Sour Green Apple Pop-Tarts, and the list goes on and on.

Sometimes those products work, and sometimes they taste like absolute garbage. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, there are some combinations that make so much sense that it’s unreal they haven’t been done before. It took General Mills 59 years to put their top dog cereal masterminds together to release the insanely obvious and new for 2017 Limited Edition Hot Cocoa Cocoa Puffs.

The concept is very straightforward. Take the already established cocoa-y cocoa puffs and add some circular dried marshmallows to the mix. There’s not too much to break down here, as anyone who has ever had Cocoa Puffs (everyone?) will know exactly what they taste like — a light chocolate flavor with hints of crunchy corniness.

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The mini marshmallows are nothing fancy, and in the scheme of hot cocoa they shouldn’t be. They’re aerated and sweet with a much more mallow-y texture once they’re submerged in milk.

The two flavors work together very well — simple, but effective. The added sweetness and slight touch of creaminess does remind me of sipping a steaming cup of winter’s finest and makes the bowl a bit more intriguing than your usual Cocoa Puffs.

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The already light cocoa flavor is very much akin to the kind found in instant hot chocolate packets, and as a result, General Mills has stumbled into success. Not to mention the milk it leaves behind with the added sugary sparkle of the marshmallows is straight up rich chocolate perfection.

The immediate comparison is Count Chocula, my favorite chocolate cereal. While this is definitely similar, it still isn’t quite as good. I slightly prefer the texture of the Count’s cereal pieces, and the combination of both regular and chocolate marshmallows makes Mr. Chocula still a bit more complex and delicious – winning the battle of holiday choco-mallow cereal supremacy if that were ever a thing.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup – 100 calories, 15 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 12.75 oz. box
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Light chocolate Cocoa Puffs flavor naturally fits hot cocoa theme. Marshmallows make everything better. Amazing cereal milk.
Cons: Holiday magic still can’t take down the count.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Hot Cocoa Oreo Cookies

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The Oreo factory has been cranking out limited edition flavors like a proliferative hen laying her eggs. The latest to come out of the Mondelez coop is the Hot Cocoa Oreo. I thought this was a curious move as they recently launched their Hot Cocoa Mix – maybe they’re running out of ideas.

I also thought it was odd that there was a new packaging bubble on the front stating that it’s “Always Made With Real Cocoa.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve never thought about it being/not being made with real cocoa. It has always been in its own league – dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, and Oreo. Oreosities (oreo + curiosities!) aside, I thought this latest flavor was a nice break from all the pumpkinundation, caramel apple, and gingerbread flavors.

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Lifting the flap, they looked and smelled like regular Oreo cookies. The only difference was the crème which was half chocolate and half regular. Of course, it’s never as pretty in real life as it is on the outside packaging shot, but, whatever, when it comes to food aesthetics – I always say that it’s all going to the same place (my stomach).

I tried it in multiple ways — whole sandwich form, then layer-by-layer (cookie, regular crème, chocolate crème then cookie), then dunked in milk (per standard Oreo protocol!), and finally compared it with the Oreo Hot Cocoa Mix.

I thought it tasted best whole because I experienced more of the hot cocoa, or what I interpreted as such because of the subtle marshmallow flavor. Like a regular Oreo, the last taste in your mouth is still the chocolate cookie, but the marshmallow was definitely there.

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When eaten layer-by-layer, it was like a disappointing peek behind the curtain of magic. They just replaced half of the regular crème with some chocolate crème, which I was able to peel away. But, it’s surprising to find the marshmallow flavor was actually coming from the chocolate crème. My least favorite combination was the cookie dunked in milk because the marshmallow flavor was completely washed out, which made it taste like a regular Oreo.

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Finally, I compared it with the Oreo Hot Cocoa Mix. Depending on how you look at it, it could be a good or bad thing that they taste nothing alike. Dipping the cookie into the hot chocolate also didn’t do much; it was a chocolate cookie wash. But, I thought the cookies were better than the drink.

Even though this new flavor is very subtle, I think subtlety is an art! Plus, I don’t know how else they would’ve done a better job capturing hot cocoa experience – except to make something pie in the sky like a self-heating Oreo or something. These still don’t dethrone my favorite limited edition flavor (Reese’s), but it’s still a tasty addition.

(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, 21 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 10.7 oz.
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Nice break from all the pumpkinundation, caramel apple, and gingerbread products. Marshmallow! Doesn’t taste like the Oreo Hot Cocoa Mix.
Cons: Subtle flavor gets drowned out if dunked in milk. I don’t know how else they could’ve better captured hot cocoa since a self-heating Oreo doesn’t exist.