REVIEW: Jif Cookies ‘n Cream Hazelnut Spread

Jif Cookies ‘n Cream Hazelnut Spread

Hybrids are all the rage right now. Half-electric/half-gasoline cars are zipping around our roads, bakeries are selling Cronuts by the dozen, and scientists have successfully merged blobfish DNA with the human genome to create a hybrid known as “Kim Kardashian.”

It was only a matter of time before mankind witnessed a fusion of two of the most delicious foods: cookies and butter.

Okay, okay. Cookie butter isn’t technically a hybrid of cookies and butter, but it’s close enough. If you believe otherwise, I encourage you to watch the forthcoming televised debate on the topic between Paula Deen and Cookie Monster: Speculoos Exposed.

Strangely, Jif’s new Cookies ‘n Cream Hazelnut Spread doesn’t actually label itself a cookie butter, even though “cocoa cookies” are one of its main ingredients. It seems similar to Trader Joe’s Cookies & Creme cookie butter, which I shamelessly ate straight from the jar. This Jif spread needs to be just as delicious if it’s going to be worth my time.

Jif Cookies ‘n Cream Hazelnut Spread 2

Cracking open the lid reveals a swirl of cookies ‘n cream and hazelnut spreads, with a scent evoking Oreo cookies and Nutella — a good sign, for sure. Texturally, it’s not as thick as Nutella, or even peanut butter, but the consistency is standard for a cookie butter.

I held myself back from voraciously attacking the jar and tasted the two spreads individually.

Jif Cookies ‘n Cream Hazelnut Spread 3

Light gray and speckled with little black bits of cookie, the cookies ‘n cream spread is incredible for one reason alone — it tastes like melted Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme candy bars. Jif really nailed this flavor. The cookie bits mixed throughout provide a satisfying crunch without feeling too gritty, complementing the spread’s blend of chocolate flavor and sweet creaminess.

Sadly, the hazelnut spread is a disappointment. In comparison to Nutella, the gold standard of all hazelnut spreads, it feels too oily. Though hazelnut can be detected in its flavor, the cocoa flavor is stressed and reminds of cheap chocolate. In addition, as the hazelnut spread is swallowed, it lingers in the back of the throat, resulting in a mild stinging sensation that’s more unsettling than that song Hulk Hogan wrote for a dying child.

Jif Cookies ‘n Cream Hazelnut Spread 4

I tried the spread on a waffle, fresh from the toaster. As the hazelnut and cookies ‘n cream parts of the spread mixed together, the flavors merged, making it hard to notice the hazelnut spread’s undesirable qualities. Sadly, the creamy aspects of the cookies ‘n cream component were also drowned out, resulting in an uninspired cocoa flavor. I don’t think I would be able to identify the blended spread as cookies ‘n cream in a blind taste test, as it’s closer to a cheap Nutella knockoff with a heavier chocolate flavor.

That dang hazelnut swirl ruined everything. Jif really would have been better off marketing an entire jar of the cookies ‘n cream spread by itself.

I guess I’ll have to get my fix of cookies and butter somewhere else. Ya know, I’ve been meaning to try out a recipe I found in an early copy of Paula Deen’s next cookbook: “Southern-style frozen butter patties dipped in Oreo cookie crumbs.” Mmm, I can taste my arteries clogging.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 Tbsp. – 210 calories, 120 calories from fat, 13 grams of total fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 30 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Jif Cookies ‘n Cream Hazelnut Spread
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 13 oz.
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Cookies ‘n cream component tastes like the Hershey’s candy bar. Spread has a satisfying crunch from cookie bits. Paula Deen debating a Muppet.
Cons: Spread feels oily. Hazelnut component tastes cheap, leaves stinging sensation in back of throat. Hazelnut ruins the cookies ‘n cream flavor when they combine. The fact that Hulk Hogan’s music album never went platinum.

REVIEW: Skippy Limited Edition Creamy Peanut Butter Spread with Salted Caramel

Skippy Limited Edition Creamy Peanut Butter Spread with Salted Caramel

I guess Skippy has to keep up with the Joneses…I mean, keep up with the Jifeses.

While Skippy has flavored peanut butter spreads, dark chocolate and honey, Jif’s Whips line has seen so many flavors that it makes me wonder if it’s called Whips not only because it’s an airy peanut butter, but also because whips are what Jif uses to “encourage” their flavor scientists to pump out so many flavors.

For the sake of those who don’t follow airy peanut butter spreads as closely as I do and to inflate the word count of this review, Jif Whips have come in the following flavors: Original, Chocolate, Pumpkin Pie Spice, S’mores, Chocolate Mint, Maple Brown Sugar, and Salty Caramel.

But Skippy is trying to play catch up with their Limited Edition Creamy Peanut Butter Spread with Salted Caramel.

From what I can tell, salted caramel, sea salt caramel, salty caramel, and its ilk have been popping up as a new flavor with many products. I’d list them to further extend the word count of this review, but I shall spare you the monotony of reading dozens of commas. Salted caramel has reached the point where we could call it the non-holiday pumpkin spice.

Skippy’s salted caramel-flavored spread smells burnt with a hint of chemicaliness. Granted, I’ve never smelled the combination of peanut butter and caramel before or walked into someone with an open jar of peanut butter while I was unwrapping Werther’s Originals and then yelled “Hey! You got your peanut butter on my Werther’s Originals,” so maybe burnt with a hint of chemicaliness is what those two are supposed to smell like.

Oh, “chemicaliness” is an abomination of a word? Well then, it’s appropriate because I feel Limited Edition Creamy Peanut Butter Spread with Salted Caramel is an abomination of a peanut butter spread.

Skippy Limited Edition Creamy Peanut Butter Spread with Salted Caramel 2

Okay, maybe not an abomination because I don’t gag while eating it on bread (it spreads just like regular Skippy), on a spoon, or on my finger, but it makes my tongue surf waves of flavors that encourages it to paddle to shore and go home. First, there’s the peanut butteriness, which has a slight caramel-ish flavor. It isn’t offensive, but the caramel flavoring does a great job at muting the peanut butter flavor. Next, there’s a burst of saltiness, which makes sense since it’s salted caramel. But, at times, it can be a bit too much.

However, that saltiness prepares my mouth for the final rough wave of flavor. Remember how I said it smells burnt? Well, it also tastes burnt. To be more exact, this last wave of flavor reminds me of burnt popcorn.

But I’m not really surprised I don’t care for it. The “artificial flavoring” printed on the front of the bottle was a red flag.

I don’t see myself ever coming close to finishing this bottle of Limited Edition Creamy Peanut Butter Spread with Salted Caramel. Right now, it sits four-fifths full in the back of the cupboard, hidden behind some bottles of the Jifeses.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 Tbsp – 190 calories, 140 calories from fat, 16 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 6 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of protein.)

Item: Skippy Limited Edition Creamy Peanut Butter Spread with Salted Caramel
Purchased Price: $3.22
Size: 15 oz.
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: It spreads like regular Skippy. Looks like regular Skippy. Doesn’t make me gag.
Cons: Tastes like burnt popcorn. Smells burnt with a hint of chemicaliness. Using long words that my computer’s spell check doesn’t like.

REVIEW: Heinz Sriracha Tomato Ketchup

Heinz Sriracha Tomato Ketchup

If you love sriracha, there’s a very good chance you have a bottle of it in your kitchen right now.

And there’s a much greater chance you have a bottle of ketchup in your kitchen or, at least, several ketchup packets you’ve accumulated from generous fast food drive-thru workers who dumped an uncounted amount of ketchup packets into your bag after you said “yes” to the question, “Would you like ketchup?”

If the idea of sriracha ketchup excites you, and you have bottles of sriracha and ketchup in your kitchen, you’re better off combining the two instead of purchasing Heinz’s Sriracha Ketchup.

When I first heard about Heinz’s Sriracha Ketchup, I was excited because I love sriracha. But when I started thinking harder than anyone should over a condiment, I realized if I want a sriracha-flavored condiment for burgers, fries, hot dogs, and limp Kid Cuisine chicken nuggets, wouldn’t it be better to use sriracha over a sriracha-flavored ketchup?

Also, while thinking harder than anyone should over a condiment, I might’ve realized why Heinz decided to make a sriracha ketchup. The difference between ketchup and sriracha is as small as the difference between humans and chimpanzees. Because both condiments have salt, sugar, vinegar, garlic and/or onion, if I was somehow able to remove the tomatoes in ketchup and replace it with chili peppers, I’d have something that tastes similar to sriracha. And if I were to remove the chili peppers from sriracha and replace it with tomatoes, I’d have ketchup.

You’d think combining sriracha with ketchup would create a new Asian condiment. Well, it doesn’t. But it does taste like a old Mexican condiment — taco sauce.

Yeah, not what I was expecting.

After doing more research than anyone should on condiments, I learned it makes sense Heinz’s Sriracha Ketchup tastes like taco sauce, because the combination of ingredients IS taco sauce. Here are the ingredients found in Ortego Taco Sauce: Tomato Puree, Water, Corn Syrup, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, Modified Corn Starch, Spices, Paprika, Citric Acid, Green Chile Powder, and Onion Powder.

Heinz Sriracha Tomato Ketchup Closeup

Regular ketchup (top) Heinz Sriracha Ketchup (bottom).

The back of the Heinz Sriracha Ketchup bottle says it has a “hint of garlic,” but when I ate them with fries, I couldn’t detect it. Garlic isn’t listed in the ingredients list, but I imagine it’s included with “Natural Flavorings” on the list. While I didn’t taste any garlic, I did notice the ketchup had some heat to it. Its spiciness was slightly less than the rooster sauce I have in my kitchen.

Speaking of the sriracha in my kitchen, since I have some and a bunch ketchup packets, I decided to combine the two and compare it with the Heinz Sriracha Ketchup. The condiment mixture, which had more ketchup than sriracha, had a better flavor. I could taste the garlic and it wasn’t similar to taco sauce.

Overall, if you’re a fan of sriracha, I can’t recommend Heinz Sriracha Ketchup. But if you’re a fan of taco sauce, I can recommend this.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 Tbsp – 20 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 5 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Heinz Sriracha Tomato Ketchup
Purchased Price: $5.19
Size: 14 oz. bottle
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Not horrible. Pleasant spiciness. Having sriracha in the kitchen. Having ketchup in the kitchen. Fast food drive-thru employees who make it rain ketchup packets.
Cons: Tastes like taco sauce. Lacks garlic flavor. Garlic isn’t listed in the ingredients list. Limp Kid Cuisine chicken nuggets. Thinking harder than anyone should over condiments. Mixing rooster sauce and ketchup tastes better.

REVIEW: Reese’s Spreads

Reese's PB Choc Spread

The challenge is issued, the gloves are dropped, the physicians wait at the sidelines, ready to dress the wounds of the wounded. Who will stand above: the candy or the spread? The Modernist or the Traditionalist? Call the bluff. Claim your honor. The pistols are loaded.

Reese's PB Choc Spread Reese's Traditionalist

With cat-like reflexes, the Traditionalist makes the first move. The Reese’s candy ever remains a classic, the very foundation upon which all peanut butter candies attempt to stand. It sharpens its brass knuckles on its well-grounded history: the gritty, crumbly peanut butter insides, the hyper-sweet, milk chocolatey outsides, all nestled away in its charming paper cup. I can’t even keep it around long enough to consider if it’s less than perfect.

But then…

Reese's PB Choc Spread Reese's PB Choc Spread is made of Goodness

Stronger than a 3-horsed chariot driven by Ron Swanson, the spread busts out with a perfume of peanut butter and chocolate. Smooth, shiny, a smidge gritty from itty candy chunkies, this Righteous Goodness combines all the textural traits of a nut butter with the classic chocolate-and-honeyed-peanut-butter taste of its candy contender.

With a flavor that combines peanut butter, Nutella, and sweetened condensed milk, it’s easy to eat from the jar or spread on those 48 leftover Christmas cookies from the office party. It goes on toast. It goes on waffles. It goes on ice cream. It would make an easy job for marketers conspiring to brainwash humankind with a catchy jingle that would subconsciously influence us [i.e.: me] to buy more of it. I already blame my subconscious for the excessive number of jars I will be purchasing in the future.

Reese's PB Choc Spread Reese's Spread is trying to hypnotize you

So the shots have been fired, the dust has cleared, the cowboy audience got bored and returned to the Tavern to nurse their beer bellies. But which product emerged victorious?

Reese's PB Choc Spread Reese's duel finale-which wins?

When you’re in a duel, you are acutely interested in NOT dying, so why kill your fellow compatriot? If you shoot, s/he may very well fire in return, rupturing your aorta and, well…sayonara to that vacation to Puerto Rico. Both versions of Reese’s realize this and offer their respective qualities. One, a munchable, melty candy. The other, a smooth, chocolatey peanut spread that integrates well with anything you consider suited for peanut butter. Me? I prefer something that I can carry around in my pocket, but, dang if this spread isn’t delicious.

Perhaps more importantly, the spread proves an important point: that, despite its long history, peanut butter and chocolate live in the gullet of the confectionary world with justifiable cause. The salty-sweet combination, combined with a gritty, sugared goodness, fills a special pocket of the stomach without overwhelming. It punches you and embraces you at the same time. Like a good man hug. And what better way to start the year than with a good man hug?

(Nutrition Facts – 2 Tbsp – 190 calories, 100 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 19 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Item: Reese’s Spreads
Purchased Price: $3.29
Size: 13 oz. jar
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Sugary. Chocolatey. Peanut-buttery. Nubbins of candy/chunky peanut butter stirred in. Tastes just like spreadable Reese’s. 3-horsed chariots driven by Ron Swanson. Beer-bellied cowboys. Man hugs.
Cons: May induce sugar rush. May induce buying too many jars. May induce lack of pantry space after buying too many jars. Not quite as awesome as the candy, but still very awesome. Reminder that those leftover Christmas cookies are very, very stale. Catchy jingles that get stuck in your head. Vacations in Puerto Rico that don’t exist.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Jif Whips Pumpkin Pie Spice

Jif Whips Limited Edition Pumpkin Pie Spice

Plunging pretzels, crackers, and yes, even fingers into the peanut butter jar have always been saved only for the dead of night while shooting paranoid, cautionary looks over each shoulder.

That is, of course, until Jif Whips came along.

Jif knew our secret all along, and last year they finally acknowledged that PB&Js aren’t the only things that the good people of the world have been gracing with the spreadable goodness of everyone’s favorite legume. Now, the inviting wide-mouthed tub of Jif’s Whips welcomes those same activities that once made us feel so dirty inside. George Washington Carver would have been proud.

With the warmest days of summer behind us and the flashing lights of the Christmas season already looming in the back room of every Target, Walmart, and dollar store, the brief(ish) window we call the “Fall Season” is finally, and thankfully, upon us. To celebrate, Jif Whips has whipped up something special for us (and it’s way better than my puns): A limited edition Pumpkin Pie Spice flavor of their crowd-pleasing whipped peanut butter.

To get myself in the mood, I grabbed a warm chai and put on my most autumnal sweater. I would have carved a ceremonial pumpkin too, but I didn’t really feel like moving. Also, I was itchy from the sweater.

Fixed in my chair, I decided that the best vehicle to deliver the peanut butter concoction into my mouth, without overshadowing the Pumpkin Pie Spice, would be graham crackers, a snack so boring on its own that they were actually invented to make everyone masturbate less. The outcome was definitely spectacular.

Jif Whips Limited Edition Pumpkin Pie Spice Closeup

The texture of Jif Whips Pumpkin Pie Spice is much creamier and palpably sweeter than traditional ol’ PB. It’s also much lighter, making dipping with even the most flimsy cracker possible. While maintaining that base peanut butter flavor of brown-bagged happiness Jif is known for, the cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice work cohesively to bring back cozy memories of last fall.

Unlike many seasonal products that feel like someone at corporate just checking off the typical flavors, the pumpkin pie spice (despite being the king of obligatory seasonal flavors) complements the robustness of Jif’s whipped peanut butter. From all angles, Jif Whips Pumpkin Pie Spice is a great combination of two beloved flavors. And while you’re welcomed to follow my graham cracker example, scooping with your fingers work just as well.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 Tbsp – 140 calories, 100 calories from fat, 12 grams of total fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 6 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.)

Item: Limited Edition Jif Whips Pumpkin Pie Spice
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 15 oz. tub
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Combining pumpkin pie and peanut butter. Very spreadable. Not having to feel bad about using your fingers to eat peanut butter.
Cons: Probably shouldn’t be used to replace all peanut butter. Getting caught dipping your fingers in the peanut butter jar.