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.

Doritos Crunch Mix  Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch 3

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?

Doritos Crunch Mix  Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch 4

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: Burger King Cinnamon Toast Crunch Shake

Burger King Cinnamon Toast Crunch Shake

Having retired from gracing the cover of cereal boxes, Chef Wendell has teamed up with the brilliant minds behind the cereal-flavored shake line at Burger King to bring us the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Shake.

Wendell’s cinnamon sugar stained hands are all over the latest offering, combining what Burger King describes as cinnamon cereal-flavored syrup and cinnamon toast crunch pieces with vanilla soft serve.

Outwardly, it dons the unassuming guise of a ho-hum vanilla shake, but just as with many superhero origin stories, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. The first sip will blast even the most underdeveloped taste buds into sugary oblivion, but a warm cinnamon aftershock is definitely in play as well. This thing screams Cinnamon Toast Crunch and that beloved flavor is uniform and omnipresent.

Burger King Cinnamon Toast Crunch Shake 2

As much as I praise the shake for capturing the essence of its namesake, there are some missteps. Unsurprisingly, the cereal pieces do not fare as well as one would like. There was some crunchiness to be found, but overall, they were more soggy than not. This being the first semi-watery shake I’ve received from BK may have hastened the demise of my poor cereal bits.

For breakfast cereal junkies, and especially CTC lovers, this is a dream come true. But, while excellent in flavor, this cereal turned dairy delight hits hard and lingers, possibly even to a cloying extent for those sans adamantium pancreases forged by the cereal fueled Saturday morning cartoon bingeing of their youth.

Burger King Cinnamon Toast Crunch Shake 3

Because of those shortcomings, I cannot objectively give this a higher score. Personally though, this is everything I wanted it to be; a decadent portal to the halcyon days of color changing Ninja Turtle bowls filled with sugary goodness.

Purchased Price: $3.29
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (Large) 780 calories, 19 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 570 milligrams of sodium, 137 grams of carbohydrates, 113 grams of sugar, and 16 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Oreo Hot Cocoa Mix

Oreo Hot Cocoa Mix

Oreo has become a D-list celebrity that gets paid for club appearances.

Want the iconic cookie to show up in your milkshake, on your doughnut, or attached to your nuts? That can happen for the right price. Yes, Oreo is the Scott Disick or Lil’ Jon of the snack world. YEAH!!!

The latest company to pay the cookie an appearance fee is Kerry, who has Oreo in its hot cocoa mix. No, not you, Kerry, who’s reading this review right now. Kerry, a food company headquartered in Ireland.

The Oreo Hot Cocoa Mix box says it contains “Oreo Cookie Crumbs,” and a quick look at its ingredients list and what’s on an Oreo package shows that’s the case. While both have the same ingredients, the hot cocoa mix doesn’t appear to be a collection of dark cookie crumbs. Instead, it looks like something from Swiss Miss, Nestle, or a quarry.

Oreo Hot Cocoa Mix 2

I made a cup with water, and, because of my Swiss Miss experiences, I expected it to be, well, um, watery. But that was not the case with the Oreo Hot Cocoa Mix. Swirling it around in the mug like I was aerating wine shows it has a viscosity that makes it difficult to tell water was used. I don’t know if that means thickening agents or I need to wash my dishes better.

But its consistency might also be the result of the amount of powder in each envelope that goes into the six ounces of liquid the instructions say to use. Each one has about 70 percent more than what’s in a Swiss Miss packet. While that creates a thicker beverage, the amount also makes it difficult to dissolve all the contents in hot liquid. Despite my vigorous stirring, many small powder clumps remained.

Oreo Hot Cocoa Mix 3

The hot cocoa mix smells like the wafer from the popular cookie, but, in beverage form, it doesn’t make me think I’m drinking molten Oreo. But there’s a bit of the cookie’s dark cocoa flavor in the aftertaste. While it doesn’t fully taste like a chocolate Oreo wafer, it’s a darker, more decadent hot chocolate than I’m used to. It’s quite good.

I also made a cup with vanilla soy milk, but, despite it being creamier than the one made with water, it’s less pleasing because the non-dairy milk hides whatever Oreo flavor there is.

Like Scott Disick’s club appearances, I thought Oreo Hot Cocoa Mix was a desperate money grab. But while Mr. Disick has nothing to offer society, the Oreo Hot Cocoa Mix offers a warm, sweet beverage that’ll hit the spot when the temperatures start dropping.

YEAH!!!

Thanks to reader Robbie for sending me a box!

(Nutrition Facts – 1 packet – 150 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3.5 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 23 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.98
Size: 8-pack
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Smells like chocolate Oreo wafers. A step above Swiss Miss and Nestle hot cocoa mixes. Tastes really good when made with water.
Cons: Is Oreo Yoo-hoo next? Oreo is like a D-list celebrity that gets paid of club appearances. Oreo flavor disappears when made with vanilla soy milk.

REVIEW: White Pumpkin Pie M&M’s

White Pumpkin Pie M M s

These White Pumpkin Pie M&M’s are simply white chocolate with a pumpkin pie flavor. But it got me thinking that a pumpkin pie engulfed in hardened white chocolate would actually be an epic holiday dessert. If you make this, you’re officially invited to my family Thanksgiving.

These M&M’s are your standard specialty M&M’s, slightly larger in size and featuring several different colors. (Side note: Is it me or do M&M’s and Oreo seem to be in a competition for who can create the most flavors? I’m certainly not mad about it. Let’s get Mars and Nabisco in on this, stat.)

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I LOVE all things pumpkin, so I was super PUMPed (see what I did there?) to try these guys. I had my hesitations, of course, because oftentimes I find that food supposedly flavored as pumpkin really just tastes like “fall” (nutmeg, spices, etc.) and not really pumpkin itself. Beer is the perfect example of that. More spice and less pumpkin.

I’m super happy to report that the White Pumpkin Pie M&M’s DO in fact taste like pumpkin pie. But boy, are they sweet. Not in a bad way, just in a “You better be ready for dessert way.” The sweetness becomes more prevalent as you go, and there’s also a nice cinnamon aftertaste to them. I could only eat a small handful each time I opened the bag.

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When I bit into one for a cross-section photo, that’s when I could see the inside looks like white chocolate, which is the first ingredient listed on the bag. (Above anything pumpkin, please note.) Now I’m wondering what white chocolate flavor M&M’s comes up with next…

Anyway, I did like these a lot. So much so that when my husband tried to hijack the bag to take to a work meeting, I immediately stopped him because I enjoyed them so much and wanted the bag for myself. (First rule of marriage: Let your wife have all the candy!) They’re a good fall treat and good for grabbing a quick handful as I enjoy my morning coffee. Now, who’s up for a Pumpkin Beer and White Pumpkin Pie M&M’s tasting?

(Nutrition Facts – 1.5 oz – 210 calories, 11 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 28 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 8 oz. bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Tasty pumpkin flavor, perfect fall treat.
Cons: Too sweet for more than a handful. Should have added “Chocolate” in the product title.

REVIEW: Cinnamon Toast Crunch Bites

1 Cinnamon Toast Crunch Bites

Ah, the end of summer. A magical time when sleeves appear on clothes again, Halloween candy starts popping up in store aisles and I can finally turn the oven on and bake again (without feeling like I’m living inside it). Thankfully, Cinnamon Toast Crunch Bites hit shelves in near-autumn, when I could truly enjoy them.

2 Cinnamon Toast Crunch Bites

On first look, the sparkling sugar coating promised on the package was nowhere to be found. I guess sugar crystals would likely dissolve after just a short thaw, but still – bummer. When tempted with glitter/twinkle/shine/sequins/shimmer, I take it hard when real life comes up short.

3 Cinnamon Toast Crunch Bites

After the suggested eight-minute oven bake, the aroma was subtle – enveloping the stove area with a “something’s baking” cinnamony scent. The bites looked exactly the same after baking – I photographed them with my oven mitt in the frame to tell the before & after shots apart.

4 Cinnamon Toast Crunch Bites

The cinnamon coating gave the bites a density and a flavor kick, but it was more like a crust than crunch. Flavor and texture-wise, the outer shell of the bites screamed “Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls” with that familiar doughy feel. The tops even looked like those cinnamon shards that get half-stuck to the roll below it when you separate them from the exploding cardboard tube. I am a huge fan of the rolls, so I was happy with this development.

5 Cinnamon Toast Crunch Bites

Inside, the warm cinnamon filling stayed put and didn’t ooze out when cracked open. (I’ll let you decide if that’s a good thing or not.) It was slightly thicker than pudding and had a lovely cream cheese-like flavor taking second billing behind the star of the show, cinnamon.

6 Cinnamon Toast Crunch Bites

The biggest issue here was the lack of Cinnamon Toast Crunch in these Cinnamon Toast Crunch Bites. They didn’t have the eggy undertones of the cereal or the grit of the cinnamon sugar. We need Maury to run a DNA test!

The box has oven and microwave directions, so I nuked a batch too. This only takes 30 seconds and while the taste is the same, the texture changes. The al dente feel is instead a soft bite and moist top.

7 Cinnamon Toast Crunch Bites

I tried to turn that into a positive, however. With Halloween right around the corner, I deployed my collection of candy eyeballs and edible whatnots. The sticky surface was perfect for grabbing and holding decorations. They also add a crunch that the bite itself doesn’t have.

Overall, I thought these were fun, easy and delicious – a great treat to make with kids. If you want them as-is, take the time to bake them. If you want to glam them up, put ‘em in the blaster.

(Nutrition Facts – 4 bites – 180 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 380 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 13 grams of sugars and 3 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 8.8 oz. box (18 bites)
Purchased at: ShopRite
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: More like Pillsbury Cinnamon Roll Bites, amiright? Fun size & shape, nice cream-cheesy filling. Oven and microwave options. Begging for H’ween decorations.
Cons: Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, you are NOT the father! Don’t ever promise a glitter girl sparkle and not deliver.

REVIEW: Sweet Heat Skittles and Sweet Heat Starburst

Sweet Heat Skittles and Sweet Heat Starburst

Will “Sweet and Spicy” become the hot new snack trend? Brands have already had success in the “Sweet and Sour” and “Sweet and Salty” lanes, so why not give this a go? I mean, “Sweet and Spicy” isn’t exactly breaking new ground, but as far as the snack world goes we’ve been pretty limited, especially with candy.

So, are you guys as excited about new Sweet Heat Skittles and Starburst as I am?

Why wouldn’t you be? These are two candies that almost never disappoint, and foods flat out taste better when they rhyme. (Not fact checked.)

I don’t think I need to describe the textures of either candy, so I’m gonna jump right in and rapid fire through the varieties.

The Starburst have the color scheme of an original pack, while the Skittles have a pastel tint that reminded me of the “Smoothie Mix” a bit, and made for some color/flavor confusion.

Let me say that the heat is there on all of ‘em. It’s a slow burn. You can taste the fruit first and as you chew it kicks in. There aren’t different intensities. It’s not like some are mixed with certain peppers. With some, the full fruitiness came prior to the burn, while others blossomed after the spicy burst. But that could have been due to the lingering heat already in my mouth.

Sweet Heat Skittles

Skittles:

(Ranked by order of preference.)

Fiery Watermelon – Color is almost the same as Strawberry so I initially thought I didn’t get any in the bag. The delicious watermelon flavor here stuck out the most over the burn.

Flamin’ Orange – Tasted like standard orange Skittles, but spicy. No complaints.

Lemon Spark – These are regular lemon Skittles with heat. It’s great.

Sizzlin’ Strawberry – Ever have those half-mint/half-strawberry Ice Breakers? These had a similar artificial strawberry taste. I ate this first and realized they tasted better when I revisited them later. The fake strawberry didn’t hit as hard and thus didn’t taste as phony.*

Blazin’ Mango – Started hot and finished strong with mango, which I don’t really like. Not a huge mango guy.

Sweet Heat Starburst

Starburst:

Skittles are basically little bits of Starburst with a candy shell, so there isn’t that big a difference flavor-wise between the brands, obviously. Since Starbursts take longer to chew, I would say the heat is a tad more prominent here.

Sweet Heat Starburst 2

Flamin’ Orange – Tasted like a normal orange Starburst dipped in flavorless mild sauce. Excellent.

Fiery Watermelon – The best Skittle, so why would it be any different here? Well, it did have a bit of a cough drop vibe to it in this form. Still quite good.

Strawberry Mango – Neither fruit stood out. I don’t even think they mixed well, but again I’m not a mango guy. That Halls menthol cough drop sensation was here more so than the watermelon.

Pipin’ Pineapple – This had an intense, not quite ripe pineapple flavor. I thought it would work best with the heat, but it didn’t. It had a pretty awful aftertaste that the spiciness couldn’t even cover up.

In the end, they’re not excessively spicy. They’re not even Warheads candy-level, or Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, but there’s still a nice kick. It smolders for about ten minutes. If I could compare the level of spiciness to anything, it’s like you had something with hot sauce about an hour ago and your mouth is starting to get back to normal.

Some people will complain they aren’t hot enough, but I think they managed to get the heat level right. These are candies after all.

*I actually think the flavors improved slightly on the second go around. Once my mouth had settled on the kick, the fruit popped a bit more. I guess it takes time for the heat to open up the taste buds.

Sweet Heat Skittles and Sweet Heat Starburst 2

There are better varieties of each on the market, and I can’t even think of a time I’d want to eat these again, but they’re both good. If I had to pick, I’d say I prefer the Skittles.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 package – Skittles – 210 calories, 20 calories from fat, 2 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 10 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 38 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein. Starburst – 240 calories, 40 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 49 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 33 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.00 each
Size:
Purchased at: Walgreens
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Skittles)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Starburst)
Pros: Creative. Not hot enough to ruin your day. Mostly tasty flavors. Starburst and Skittles having a near flawless record.
Cons: When the heck am I supposed to eat these over other variants? May not be as hot as some would hope. Cough drop taste. Shaky Strawberry flavor. Pineapple Starbursts were bad. Skittle color confusion. Not sure the sweet and spicy candy trend will have legs.