REVIEW: Hi-C Ecto Cooler (2016)

Hi-C Ecto Cooler (2016)

There’s something strange in my neighborhood. Unfortunately I didn’t know who to call. I couldn’t find one store that carried Ecto Cooler. Half of the places I called didn’t even know what I was talking about!

(That sound you hear is the collective gasps of every 90’s baby reading this blog.)

Then a little ghost told me that Cinemark Theater chains were selling cans. So while you may not go see the new Ghostbusters at the theater, you may have to go there to get your Ecto Cooler.

You remember Ecto Cooler, right?

Hi-C’s popular green “Citrus Cooler” flavor is back for the first time since 1997! I can’t believe it’s been that long since we’ve seen this school lunch staple. You’re probably wondering if it’s as good as you remember. I’m gonna try my best to not let sentimentality cloud my judgment. What exactly does nostalgia taste like?

It tastes like a sugar loaded tangerine orange drink. From what I recall, it’s the same, but it’s really not that good.

Hi-C Ecto Cooler (2016) 2

I made a Vigo the Carpathian face when I took my first sip. It was such a jolt, I couldn’t even register if it was sweet or sour. How can something citrus be so cloyingly sweet? The sugar was so pronounced, it left a film on my tongue.

Everyone remembers Ecto Cooler fondly. I don’t blame you one bit, but your adult taste buds may no longer love the taste.

Ecto Cooler has basically always been a marketing gimmick and we all know it. It’s just orange drink dyed slime green. Was the flavor ever the main appeal?

I’m an adult now (debatable), and frankly, juice isn’t my go-to beverage. I don’t drink actual juice often, let alone Hi-C “juice,” so while I’ll admit it’s cool to reminisce for a minute or two, I didn’t even want to finish this.

That aside, the taste wasn’t my biggest problem with this new incarnation of Ecto Cooler.

So far, the marketing for this Ghostbusters movie is a mess. Where the heck is Slimer on this can? I can look past some subpar trailers, but that’s the most egregious misstep imaginable!

In my opinion most of Ecto Cooler’s appeal was seeing Slimer on the box/can. No Slimer is crazier than female Ghostbusters!!!

Relax, I’m kidding. I really don’t care about that “controversy” one bit. I mean, by all accounts the new movie is something weird and it don’t look good, but this is a food blog, not some clickbait, “hot take” movie site using beloved favorites from your past to conjure up more views. 🙂

Hi-C Ecto Cooler (2016) 3

So, there’s no Slimer, but slime is well accounted for. The can looks like it said “I don’t know” on Nickelodeon’s You Can’t Do That on Television. (Whoa, super nostalgia! Click. Click.) They used a special thermal ink that glows when the drink is cold. The “Hi-C” and borders changed from yellowish to green. That’s basically it. I guess that’s kinda cool, just not Slimer cool.

There are two things I ain’t afraid of – no ghosts and telling it like it is. Ecto Cooler just doesn’t do it for me anymore. I understand I’m probably in the minority.

The can has its gimmick. The color is awesome. The name is really awesome, but the actual drink is about as good as that Ghostbusters cartoon with the gorilla.

So rejoice, 90’s kids. We may not be getting the movie we wanted, but we did get Ecto Cooler back on (some) shelves. It’s too bad we couldn’t somehow swing some Hostess Ninja Turtles Pies.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 can – 150 calories, 0 grams of fat, 25 milligrams of sodium, 41 grams of carbohydrates, 41 gram of sugars, and 0 grams of protein, 100% of your daily Vitamin C.)

Purchased Price: $3.50
Size: 11.5 oz can
Purchased at: Cinemark Theater
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: That Bobby Brown song from Ghostbusters 2. Proton Packs. Ghost traps. The REAL Ghostbusters cartoon. Turtles Pies.
Cons: Not a great flavor. Only 10% fruit juice. Having to go to movie theater to find it. No Slimer on the can. Clickbait. The new movie looks pretty weak.

REVIEW: Polar Unicorn Kisses Seltzer

Polar Unicorn Kisses Seltzer

When I was a kid, I often remember visiting a drive-thru wild animal park with my parents. Aside from the fact that the monkeys would wildly flail about while removing the piping from our minivan’s windows, it was a great place to go to take in the wonders of the savannah (albeit the Canadian savannah, but I digress).

We’d usually close our trip with a stopover at the petting zoo, my hands full of vending machine pellets ready to feed Larry the Llama and Gary the Goat. My three-year-old self was shocked at the vigor at which the animal’s tongue attacked the food in my hand – an image I still can’t forget. Regrettably, this is my only frame of reference for understanding the concept of “unicorn kisses.”

Thankfully, Polar Seltzer’s Unicorn Kisses is not a bottle of magical glitter pony saliva, but instead an April Fools’ flavor designed to elicit giggles in the grocery aisle. Polar is known for its unorthodox flavors (like eggnog and mint chocolate), but you typically have an idea of what they’ll taste like before you open them. Unicorn Kisses gives you no such advance warning.

Polar Unicorn Kisses Seltzer 2

Prepping for the worst, I set off on a quest to find a bottle. Polar released only 5,000 cases of Unicorn Kisses into the wild, so I had a difficult time finding a store that had any in stock. I felt like Dora the Explorer (minus the anthropomorphic monkey), walking from supermarket to supermarket trying to find a bottle. After what felt like countless days of searching, I finally picked some up at my local Star Market.

Upon opening, I half expected the bottle to explode into rainbows, but instead I was greeted with the scent of green apple and cotton candy. While Polar prides itself on its “all natural” label, this smell was all artificial, like a liquid Jolly Rancher. Based on my nose alone, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to drink a sip, let alone an entire glass, but I queued up “Charlie the Unicorn” for support and dove in.

Polar Unicorn Kisses Seltzer 3

Other blogs have tried to place the flavor of Unicorn Kisses, with suggestions ranging from melon to soap, but the only thing I could taste was candy necklaces. Surprisingly, the flavor wasn’t as pronounced as the smell – it actually took me some time to figure out that this seltzer tasted like penny candy. Because it was so cloyingly sweet, I couldn’t finish a whole glass, leading me to feel like I wasn’t respecting the countless unicorns who worked so hard on this product.

In the end, the takeaways from this review are as follows: Unicorn Kisses is a fun diversion but is gross to drink, and you should stay far, far, far away from Candy Mountain.

(Nutrition Facts – 8 fluid ounces – 0 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.29
Size: 1 liter
Purchased at: Star Market
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Double rainbow. No calories. Revisiting childhood memories. Alliterative animal names.
Cons:Swiper, no swiping.” Llama tongue. Overly sweet and artificial. Vintage candy.

REVIEW: Sir Bananas Chocolate Bananamilk

Sir Bananas Chocolate Bananamilk

Green, yellow, brown: there are three distinct stages in the life cycle of an edible banana, and each tastes different.

Young, green bananas are tropical, wild, and a little too immature to be useful. Yellows are in the prime of their life; from fondue to Mario Kart weapons, their potential is limitless. Finally, old and ripened brown bananas become progressively softer and sweeter, but they eventually reach the point where they must be mashed, pureed, and baked into banana bread.

I would say that this parallels the aging process of humans, but if I did, I’d probably receive a restraining order from every retirement home in the country.

The reason I’m pondering elderly bananas (please don’t arrest me) is the glass of Sir Bananas Chocolate Bananamilk that sits before me. The Sir Bananas line of milk claims to use real bananas, so I’m left wondering which of those three banana types it will taste like.

Sir Bananas Chocolate Bananamilk 2

As I take my first sip of the light brown milk, I’m happy to say that the flavor, too, is mostly “brown banana.” Much more rich, ripe, and darkly sweet than it is fruity, the banana taste here is authentic to its namesake without being overwhelming.

Strangely, though, the milk’s aftertaste does have a bit of a tropical bite. So either Sir Bananas used an 80:20 mix of brown and green bananas for their milk, or every old banana they used was a hip and youthful Betty White banana.

Hmm, on second sip, that aftertaste really lingers. Maybe there were some crankier “Where’s the Beef?” bananas in there.

As for the chocolate flavor, it’s much closer to a sugary milk chocolate (think Nesquik and M&M’s) than it is to a decadent Dutch chocolate or bitter dark chocolate. I would have appreciated a more complex cocoa sensation, but I don’t think Sir Bananas the cartoon monkey was trying to appeal to the “99% Pure Dark Midnight Cacao Organic Whole Foods Artisanal Holland Death By Chocolate” audience anyway. 99% of kids will love this stuff.

Sir Bananas Chocolate Bananamilk 3

All in all, the combo of banana, chocolate, and vanilla reduced-fat milk ironically produces a very tasty and unique whole. It’s pretty much a liquefied loaf of Grandma’s buttery frosted chocolate chip banana bread (note: I mean bread made by Grandma, not made from Grandma).

However, this Bananamilk does suffer from what I like to call the “Cookie Butter Paradox.” Sure, it’s good, but like a jar of cookie butter, what the hell are you supposed to do with all of it? If you don’t want to end up crying over spoiled milk, you’ll need to get creative.

Being the cereal geek that I am, I couldn’t resist using my Bananamilk to dabble in cereal mixology. 1 bowl of Froot Loops + 1/2 cup Bananamilk = 1 Banana Split Cereal, coming right up. Call me crazy, but after I defibrillated my sugar-shocked heart, I thought it tasted pretty good.

Sir Bananas Chocolate Bananamilk 4

For the adventurous, this milk is ripe (whoops, Freudian slip) with possibilities. If you buy Sir Bananas other, plain Bananamilk variety, pour it over Peanut Butter Crunch to make Elvis Cereal. If you want caffeine and potassium, spike your morning coffee with Bananamilk. Or just hook yourself up to an IV drip of it and die happy.

So if you buy this banana-flavored cow liquid, let it be a canvas for your imagination. Go ahead…

…wait for it…

…you knew this was coming…

…last chance to close your browser window…

…go bananas!

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup – 170 calories, 35 calories from fat, 3.5 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 1010 milligrams of potassium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams dietary fiber, 24 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of protein.)

Item: Sir Bananas Chocolate Bananamilk
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 64 oz. carton
Purchased at: Meijer
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Liquefied frosted chocolate chip banana bread IV drips. Banana Nesquik’s spiritual successor. My future career as a cereal bartender. A banana product without any Minions on it.
Cons: The “Cookie Butter Paradox.” Wishing for a near-death (by chocolate) experience. My impossible dream of “M&M’s milk.” Freudian slipping on a banana peel.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee Drink

Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee Drink

NOTE: This review was posted in 2015 when it was a Costco exclusive. In 2016, it’s no longer exclusive to Costco and is available in individual bottles.

If you want to hoard Starbucks Pumpkin Spice drinks so you can enjoy them year round, you either have to freeze Pumpkin Spice Lattes and then later warm them up in the microwave or hit the black market for expired Starbucks pumpkin spice syrup pumps. But this year there’s a third way and it’s available at Costco.

The Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee Drink may not be handmade by a Starbucks Barista who wrote PSL on the side of the cup, but because it’s Costco, it’s available in bulk. It’s 12 bottles to be exact. So if you buy a pallet of them, you’ll have enough to last you until next pumpkin spice latte season.

Unlike a pumpkin spice latte you can purchase at a Starbucks location, this version has no pumpkin in it. But it does have an ingredient list short enough that I could type it here to slightly boost the word count of this review: Brewed Starbucks Coffee, Reduced-Fat Milk, Sugar, Skim Milk, Maltodextrin, Cream, Natural Flavors, and Pectin. Mmm…pectin.

At first, I thought the ginger flavor stood out a bit too much for my tastes. I think the coffee makes the spice stand out more. But, since I purchased 12 bottles of the stuff, I’ve had to drink a lot of it. And the more I drink it the more I like it. Perhaps I’m getting Pumpkin Spiceholm Syndrome.

There’s also a little nutmeg, a bit of cinnamon, and a whole lot of sugar in each sip, which makes the beverage really sweet. There’s also a lot of milk too, but it’s not whole milk so it has a thin texture. While I could see it being too sweet for some people, me and my future cavities are fine with it.

The bottle suggests to serve it chilled or over ice, but since I’m a rebel (and have 12 bottles of the stuff), I did some experimenting and warmed up a mug of it in the microwave for 30 seconds. It was wonderful and it reminded me of a pumpkin spice latte. Actually, I think I might prefer it heated over chilled.

A question some of you might be asking is if it’s an adequate replacement for when the Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino is erased from the boards from Starbucks locations for the year. No, of course not. These bottled Frappuccinos are no match flavor-wise for those handmade, wonderful, blended, sweet, and brain freeze-inducing beverages that have a nutritional bio similar to many fast food burgers. But if you’re jonesing for a pumpkin spice coffee drink in February, this’ll do.

(Nutrition Facts – 210 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 32 grams of sugar, 7 grams of protein, and 25% calcium.)

Item: Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee Drink
Purchased Price: ???
Size: 12 pack/9.5 oz bottles
Purchased at: Costco
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Tastes good chilled or warmed up. Hoardable. Better nutritional bio than a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino you can get at Starbucks locations.
Cons: Ginger flavor might be a bit strong for some. Might be too sweet for some. Available in 12 packs, so if you don’t like it, you’ve got 11 more bottles to go through. Not as delicious as a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino you can get at Starbucks locations.

REVIEW: International Delight Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Cream Iced Coffee

International Delight Hershey's Cookies 'n' Cream Iced Coffee

If you were to hack into the databases that contain my Safeway and Target purchases, you’d know I buy a lot of International Delight Iced Coffee…and Pepto Bismol. However, because I buy IDIC regularly (yes, I’m too lazy to type its name out, but not lazy enough to type an aside that says I’m too lazy to type its name out), I’ve gotten a little tired of the flavors they have — original, mocha, vanilla, and caramel macchiato.

The overcaffienated folks at International Delight (ID) have a long history of teaming up with other brands to make a variety of coffee creamers that’ll make any burnt office coffee (Except yours, Brad!) taste so much better, like Almond Joy, Cinnabon, Heath, York Peppermint Patty, Cold Stone Creamery, and Hershey’s. And now the jittery employees at ID have done the same with their iced coffee, creating International Delight Cold Stone Creamery Sweet Cream Iced Coffee and Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme Iced Coffee.

The latter combines iced coffee with the flavor of Hershey’s I-Want-To-Say-They’re-Popular-But-I’ve-Never-Seen-Anyone-Buy-Them Cookies ’n’ Creme candy bar. If you’re one of those people who has never purchased a Hershey’s Cookies ’n’ Creme bar, it’s made with white chocolate and tiny chocolate cookie balls. Although I’ve never seen anyone else buy it, I do purchase it on occasion and prefer it over a regular milk chocolate Hershey’s bar because of its flavor and it’s like a bizarro Nestle Crunch bar.

In previous IDIC reviews, I mentioned how the coffee flavor is heavily masked by the cream, sugar, and flavoring, but it’s somewhat noticeable. Well, with International Delight’s Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme Iced Coffee it’s almost nonexistent, getting lost within the chocolate cookie balls flavoring. This causes the creamy beverage to taste more like a cookies ’n’ creme-flavored milk. This will be a problem for those who enjoy the flavor of coffee, but it appears it hasn’t been an issue for me because I’ve purchased three cartons so far. Actually, I don’t know if it’s because I’m tired of the other flavors, but this flavor is now my favorite.

What I like most about International Delight’s Hershey’s Cookies ’n’ Creme Iced Coffee is how they nailed the flavor of the chocolate cookie balls from the candy bar. It’s as if they went the cereal milk route and dumped a bunch of chocolate cookie balls into an iced coffee with a lot of milk and then strained the liquid. The creme doesn’t taste like white chocolate, which is a good thing because I don’t think white chocolate milk would be pleasing.

International Delight’s Hershey’s Cookies ’n’ Creme Iced Coffee is creamy and thick (Thanks cream and carrageenan!) and has a unique flavor that makes it taste like a fancy chocolate milk. A caffeinated fancy chocolate milk, I might add (76 milligrams of caffeine per cup). I’ll definitely be purchasing more with my Pepto Bismol.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup – 150 calories, 25 calories from fat, 2.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 23 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein, and 15% calcium..)

Item: International Delight Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Cream Iced Coffee
Purchased Price: $4.99 (on sale)
Size: Half gallon
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: My favorite International Delight Iced Coffee flavor. International Delight nailed the chocolatey cookie flavor and it’s the most dominant flavor. Thick and creamy (Thanks cream and carrageenan). If it’s like their other flavors, it has 76 milligrams of sweet, sweet caffeine. Getting to type “chocolate cookie balls” several times in a review.
Cons: Drink something else or add more coffee to this if you love the flavor of coffee, because it’s like drinking Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme milk. Still no caffeine content listed on carton.

REVIEW: Natrel Maple Milk (Canada)

Natrel Maple Milk

I’ve heard of chocolate milk. Everyone has. And strawberry milk, and vanilla milk, and any number of flavoured milks. But maple milk? I can’t say it was an idea that had even occurred to me before this product came into my life. And yet it seems so obvious, in retrospect. Maple syrup + milk. Of course! Seriously: how did I not come up with this idea myself?

I know there’s that old cliche that all Canadians love maple syrup, but isn’t that kind of like saying that all Canadians love kittens and rainbows? What I’m trying to say here is that maple syrup is the best and if you don’t like it there is something intrinsically wrong with your character; you’re damaged goods. Tell me to my face that there’s something better than maple syrup on a pancake, and you and me are going to have to bare knuckle box.

So yeah, I guess you could say that I like maple syrup.

I knew I was probably going to like this milk, though a quick gander at the ingredients reveals no actual maple syrup, which did concern me a bit (it does have “natural maple flavour,” whatever that is). I was afraid there might be off flavours here, or a strange aftertaste; happily, neither was the case.

It tastes good. It has a clean, very pronounced maple syrup flavour. Basically, it tastes exactly how you’d think it would taste, which is definitely a good thing.

Natrel Maple Milk Closeup

It’s very, very sweet, however. I wouldn’t say it’s too sweet, but it’s definitely right on the border. It’s also extremely maple-y, so if you’re one of those maniacs who isn’t crazy about maple syrup, give this one a pass. This isn’t milk with a subtle tinge of maple; it’s a full-out maple syrup assault.

I think my biggest problem here is the same problem I have with all Canadian flavoured milks: it’s only available in one percent. I don’t know who decided that every flavoured milk sold here should be one percent and one percent only, but it makes me sad. Anything lower than two percent is a bit watery for my tastes, and for stuff like chocolate milk, I really think that the richness of whole milk is where it’s at. Sure, it’s not super healthy, but there’s nothing wrong with an occasional (or perhaps not-so-occasional) indulgence, right? Right?? Hey, you’re reading a junk food blog, don’t judge me!

Anyway, it’s a moot point (or moo-t, I should say — again, please don’t judge me) because unless you want to make your own, there’s no choice in the matter.

It’s not like this maple milk has no richness whatsoever, I just wish we had the option. But it’s fine. I’m just glad that it exists. Seriously, why hasn’t this been around for my entire life?

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup (250ml) – 160 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0.1 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 390 milligrams of potassium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 25 grams of sugars, and 7 grams of protein.)

Item: Natrel Maple Milk
Purchased Price: $2.49 CAN
Size: 1 Liter
Purchased at: Sobeys
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Strong maple flavour. No weird aftertaste. The ability to consume maple syrup in a new format.
Cons: Only available in thin one percent milk. Might be too sweet for some people. Off-putting absence of maple syrup in the ingredients list.