REVIEW: Hostess Bakery Petites

Hostess Bakery Petites

Hostess’ new Bakery Petites line looks classier than the company’s iconic gang of treats — Twinkies, Ho Hos, and Ding Dongs. While the old school treats continue to be the definition of convenience store chic and have names that probably have different meanings when looked up on Urban Dictionary, the new ones come in resealable bags with classy, curvy graphics and photos that put them on an actual pedestal to show that they’re better.

Hostess’ Bakery Petites are available in six varieties, which I’ve listed and reviewed below in no particular order.

Hostess Bakery Petites Chocolate Chunk Brownie Delights

Chocolate Chunk Brownie Delights

The Chocolate Chunk Brownie Delights look like mini unfrosted Hostess Cupcakes rejects. Each one is slightly wider than a quarter and has a sunken middle, which I thought is a no-no when it comes to baking. But it’s not a production error because that’s how they look on the packaging. If that bothers you, I imagine frosting would make a great toupee to hide it.

If you’re someone who loves corner brownies and thinks because they’re round they must be all-corner brownies, slow your roll. While a little chewy, it’s not edge-chewy and I wish they were a little less cakey, but that’s a personal preference. There are chocolate bits inside each one, providing a delightful creamy bite and punching up the cocoa.

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They taste like chocolate cake Hostess products and there are moments when I taste a little greasiness, but it’s still a pleasant chocolatey treat. They’re tasty enough that I ate more than the three-piece serving size in one sitting.

Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts (3 mini brownies): 170 calories, 80 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 16 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

Hostess Bakery Petites Chocolate Raspberry Brownie Delights

Chocolate Raspberry Brownie Delights

The Chocolate Raspberry Brownie Delights look exactly alike its Chocolate Chunk sibling, even the dent on top of every piece. They’re so much alike that the photo below is actually not a photo of the raspberry mini brownies. Just kidding. They are.

But, while its sibling has chocolate chunks, this has real raspberries. Although, they come in a form I’ve never heard of before — raspberry flakes. They’re like Ben & Jerry’s Fudge Flakes in that they’re made from chocolate and aren’t flakes. They’re chunks, SO WHY AREN’T THEY CALL CHUNKS!!! Anyhoo, they give the brownie bites a familiar raspberry aroma that I’ve smelled with other confections and a tart candied raspberry flavor.

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While almost all the raspberry flavor comes from the flakes, the brownie part has a little fruitiness. This causes the chocolate to take a back seat. While these mini brownies are fine and I don’t have a problem with the fruit flavor, the Chocolate Chunk ones were more pleasing.

Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts (3 mini brownies): 170 calories, 80 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 15 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

Hostess Bakery Petites Double Chocolate Cake Delights

Double Chocolate Cake Bites

These are like Cake Pops except without the sticks, so if you want to impress folks with cake pop, BYOS. They feature a chocolate creme center surrounded by chocolate cake that’s dipped in chocolate icing and sprinkled with white nonpareils.

The white nonpareils do the following — give a color contrast, add a crunch that contrasts the soft, chocolatey parts, and make them look more than chocolate balls. They don’t add any flavor and that’s a little disappointing because, just like the the Chocolate Chunk Brownie Delights, they have that familiar Hostess chocolate cake flavor.

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While those brownies look like mini unfrosted Cupcakes, the chocolatey icing layer helps these taste a lot like Hostess Cupcakes but without the vanilla creme filling. With so much chocolate, it’s hard to taste the different components, especially creme. Wait. Why am I complaining about too much chocolate? I’m being such a chocolate grinch. The cake is moist and the icing layer has a satisfying bite like a sugary glaze on a donut. The Double Chocolate Cake Bites are the ones I finished first and they’re my favorite.

Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts (3 mini cakes): 180 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

Hostess Bakery Petites White Fudge Vanilla Cake Delights

White Fudge Vanilla Cake Bites

Out of all of these fancy treats, from the packaging, these look the fanciest — colorful sprinkles on white fudge that coats a yellow cake ball filled with creme. They look so neat that I just want to take a photo of them, post it to Instagram, and wait for the Likes to start rolling in.

But they look a little less impressive in real life. The colorful sprinkles’ brightness is muted because they’re in the fudge coating and not on top of it. With that said, even with the way they are, they still look fancier than the others.

But they also don’t taste impressive.

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Despite not having anything regarding cherries in its ingredients list, they smell and taste like maraschino cherries. Also, the cake is dryer than the chocolate one. As for the creme filling, its flavor reminds me custard, but it gets overwhelmed with that fruity flavor. The sprinkles do add a crunchy element to the ping pong ball-sized treats, but they don’t help make them less odd tasting.

Since I don’t think white fudge vanilla cake when I eat these, and I find that to be a bit odd, they ended up being my least favorite of the six varieties.

Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts (3 mini cake): 210 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 135 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 24 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

Hostess Bakery Petites Fudge Blondie Crispi Thins

Fudge Blondie Crispi Thins

Hostess totally misspelled “Crispi.” It should be spelled C-O-O-K-I-E.

Their rectangle shape makes me think of blond brownies, but when I eat them, all I think about are chocolate chip cookies. They’re crispy, have a brown sugar vibe, and hard to stop eating. Well, the only times I stopped eats by them as to see if the piece I picked up had chocolate on it.

If you look at the photo on the packaging you’ll see that every piece has at least two chocolate dots on them, but in real life that’s not the case. A number of my pieces didn’t have any chocolate which is disappointing because the chocolate adds a creaminess that’s the opposite of the crispy texture. The chocolate looks like they’re a little melted but without the mess of being melted.

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The brown sugary goodness, I guess, helps it taste more like a blondie brownie, but I still think chocolate chip cookie when I eat them.

Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts (1 ounce): 130 calories, 60 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 95 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

Hostess Bakery Petites Chocolate Brownie Crispi Thins

Chocolate Brownie Crispi Thins

While the Fudge Blondie Crispi Thins taste like a chocolate chip cookie, the Chocolate Brownie version tastes more like a brownie thanks to a little bit of dark fudginess. But I could also see these being mistaken flavor-wise as chocolate chocolate chip cookies.

Unlike the blondie version, almost every piece has a chocolate or two. There was even a piece that had five chocolate chips. BONUS!!! They have the same crispiness as the blondie version and the chocolate has the same soft texture. But without the chocolate chips, the thins are bland.

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Brownie thins aren’t a new idea. Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle has been around for years, but I’ve never had it, so I can’t compare. But I can compare the two brownie Crispi Thins, and they’re equally tasty.

Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts (1 ounce): 120 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

Sooo, that’s all the flavors.

Overall, I like the idea of Hostess’ Bakery Petites. Cake bites, mini brownies, and brownie thins aren’t new, but they also aren’t very common in the snack aisle. So it’s nice to see a big brand offer them. They use real vanilla and chocolate, and aren’t made using high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavor or colors, which I’m pretty sure is not the case with their popular treats. I guess they show that Hostess is capable of something more than convenience store chic.

Thanks to Impulsive Buy reader Carla for sending me all the varieties.

REVIEW: Pop Secret Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Popcorn

Pop Secret Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Popcorn

Pumpkin makes me pop. It isn’t just pumpkin though. I’m a bonafide cinna-slut, and all things swirling with the spice makes me feel real nice.

Building off of the success of chasing junk food trends and releasing the birthday cake flavored and damn delicious Popfetti earlier this year, Pop Secret are back at trying to win over our trendy hearts with a pumpkin spice microwaveable popcorn.

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Pushing my nose up against the un-popped Pop Secret package gives off the classic microwave popcorn artificial buttery smell with just the slightest tickle of cinnamon in the background. Poppin’ the corn into the micro releases a bit more a distinct spicy aroma, once again accompanied by a more dominant and in-your-face butter presence.

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The popped bag, warm and spewing steam, has a surprisingly nice a ginger smell to it that joins in on the butter party for a little extra nostril tingle. The signature artificial bright-ish yellow color is replaced by a slightly orangey tan that does good enough to channel the skin of a pumpkin.

The flavor of the popcorn is confusing. On my first bite, I get a little squashy pumpkin flavor, but that might be my mind playing tricks in the way it interprets the slightly greasy buttery essence that all good micro-pop carries. But the flavor quickly fades.

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There’s no doubt this is different than regular Pop Secret, but that’s less apparent in any big spicy pumpkin notes and much more about how un-salty it is. There’s barely any saltiness, which could work if it was replaced by cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, but there isn’t really much of that either. Every couple of handfuls I get a soft smooch of cinnamon and ginger, and I like it, but it’s far from the bold flavors I’ve come to expect from microwave popcorn.

Even though there are zero grams of sugar per bag, there is an underlining sweetness to the popcorn, thanks to sucralose (Splenda). Luckily, there’s no weird artificial sweetener aftertaste, but again, there isn’t much autumn intrigue going on either. This popcorn doesn’t taste bad, it simply tastes like kettle corn minus the crucial salty factor that completes the yin and yang of that classic flavor profile.

Does this popcorn taste like popcorn? Definitely. Is it warm and comforting and slightly sweet? You betcha. Does it deliver on the big polarizing flavor that is pumpkin spice? Unfortunately not. It’s still an enjoyable sidekick to a night in with a slasher flick, but not something you need to seek out like the almighty Popfetti from earlier this year.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 Tbsp Unpopped – 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: Three 3 oz. bags
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Nice pumpkin-y color. Decent sweetness. Mellow hints of ginger and cinnamon.
Cons: Not much pumpkin spice flair. Tastes more like corn than cinnamon. Could use more salty pop.

REVIEW: Hostess Chocolate Peanut Butter Twinkies

Hostess Chocolate Peanut Butter Twinkies

As a lifelong Hostess Cupcake devotee, when Chocolate Cake Twinkies hit the market earlier this year, my first response was “Stay in your lane, Twinkies!”

I just didn’t think this flavor swinger’s club was a good idea. The “golden” iterations of Cupcake were just Twinkie knockoffs to me. Any other flavor in the universe is fair game for either product, but chocolate belongs to Cupcake and vanilla is Twinkies, in my mind.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Twinkies has softened that stance just a bit.

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(I’m at my mother’s house – everything here is quilted. If I leave this Twinkie unattended, it will self-quilt.)

On opening the individually-wrapped cakes, the aroma that greeted me was all cocoa. Dark, rich cocoa. No peanut at all. Interesting, but it didn’t put me off.

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Next – the grease test. One Twinkie on a paper napkin for 15 minutes. I find modern Twinkies much oilier than when I was a child. Maybe they always left a shiny slick and I only notice it now as an adult who struggles to fit into the same pants I wore last year. But these Twinkies felt less greasy, and left a sheen so subtle my camera couldn’t capture it. Definitely a plus.

Like the scent, my first bite was 100 percent cocoa. It almost overwhelmed the peanut butter, which I picked up on increasingly with each bite. I was expecting the teeth-achingly-sweet peanut butter buttercream filling that seems to be the default recently, but Hostess got it right. There’s some sugar, but for the most part, they let the peanut butter be itself. PB is a perfect taste that doesn’t need a lot of window dressing, in my opinion. The texture here is closer to a fluffy frosting than the usual PB thickness.

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The cake was much better than I expected – a moist, velvety, deep chocolate. Very much like the Hostess Cupcakes I adore – which begged the question: why is this a Twinkie and not a Hostess Cupcake? With a big gob of filling in the center and slab of PB icing on top, the flavor may have taken more of a front seat than in the Twinkie. Or – why not this filling with the usual golden Twinkie cake? Have chocolate and peanut butter become so synonymous that we can’t partner them with other flavors?

Overall, I enjoyed these very much, and would buy them again, but might have been in rapturous love had it been a Hostess Cupcake. That’s just my cupcakes bias.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cakes – 260 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 370 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 28 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 10-pack box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Lovely not-too-sweet peanut butter filling. Hostess Cupcake-y cake. Less grease!
Cons: Why isn’t this a Hostess Cupcake? Needs a PB icing and squiggle.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Cotton Candy Twinkies

Limited Edition Cotton Candy Twinkies

I have a sinking suspicion someone from Hostess got drunk at a carnival and had way too much fun with some cute carnies. I envision the deep fried Twinkie stand being manned by a fun young lass who dared the Hostess rep to create the ultimate ode to her and her young child, who was cradling a big wispy whirly stack of cotton candy. Trying to win over her affection he made a promise then and there to put something exclusively on Walmart shelves that would honor her forever, and in that moment, the Cotton Candy Twinkie was born.

Or something like that.

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Pulling out my first cellophane beauty from its cardboard carnival house it’s no surprise that I’m greeted with a lovely smear of grease on the clear plastic, like the Twinkie was desperately trying to escape its factory sealed prison the entire time it was inside.

Releasing the ‘twink from captivity I’m immediately hit with a distinct cotton candy smell, and I’m impressed that I got such a strong aroma even before breaking into the cake. Unfortunately my hands are now already uncomfortably slimy and I’m not even eating bacon. Sigh.

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Biting into the cotton concoction is when the fun really begins. The outside sponge cake is the same as always – greasy and mediocre and has my mouth feeling the same as if my shoulders were endlessly shrugging. The bright pink cream filling legitimately tastes like cotton candy and what I imagine poison tastes like.

What starts as a distinct artificial cotton candy flavor that reminds me of one of my favorite ice creams growing up gradually transforms and finishes with a nagging, astringent, and harsh food dye flavor that is downright bad.

The sweet cotton candy flavor is there, and the texture is represented through the general creamy fluffiness of filling, but everything gets completely washed out by the aftertaste, which lingers and resides over second or third bites – if you can make it that far. The taste is so strong it reminds me of trying to eat something sweet immediately after brushing my teeth, and my mouth and mind join forces to let out one resounding NO.

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Simply put, these are not enjoyable to eat – at all. I’ll give props where props are due to Hostess for actually getting cotton candy flavor into the Twinkie, but if that flavor comes with a side dose of cringe-inducing astringency I will pass, and pass hard.

I’m starting to wonder if the people creating these products are even tasting them before they hit the shelves or if they just assume that everyone who consumes these will be high, drunk, or broken. Steer clear of these unless you legitimately like punishing your tastebuds like some sick twisted S&M carnival-themed eating game.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cakes – 260 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 340 milligrams of sodium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 31 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 13.59 oz./10 pack
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Uhhh…they actually taste like cotton candy? Momentarily? A pretty blue box? I’m reaching here.
Cons: Awful astringent poison-esque aftertaste. Usual mediocre greasy Twinkie cake. I had to buy ten of them.

REVIEW: Keebler Limited Batch Strawberry Cheesecake Fudge Stripes Cookies

Keebler Limited Batch Strawberry Cheesecake Fudge Stripes Cookies

This is the tragedy of Keebler’s Fudge Stripes cookies – adulthood steals your ability to wear them as a ring.

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As a girl, I delighted in prancing around in pretend evening gowns with a rock of a Fudge Stripe on my finger. Of course, it was far too ostentatious and impractical, so I nibbled around the edges to reduce it to a more modest size.

Inevitably, it would crack and fall apart in the process, so I would have to eat it and start all over again. Now my fully-grown fingers are too thick to sport the beloved shortbread & frosting jewelry of my youth. My FS consumption dropped off considerably.

Then Keebler started wooing me back with “Limited Batch” flavors. Peppermint. Red Velvet. Birthday Cake. Cinnamon Roll. Lemon Cream Pie. I loved them all. I was still a little sore about the ring thing, but I was definitely back in the fold.

Hence, I’d already written this review in my head when I lifted the package of Strawberry Cheesecake Fudge Stripes from the grocery shelves. 9 out of 10! How could I NOT love them?

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When I opened the package, I was greeted by the rosy pink color of the base cookie and a strong scent of tangy cheesecake. I wasn’t getting strawberry, however. No worries, I was sure the taste would make up for it.

On first bite, my expected explosion of Frankenberry-ish fake strawberry didn’t materialize. The cheesecake frosting flavor was good despite being a hair more acidic than most cheesecake flavored items. The strawberry shortbread apparently called in sick today, however. Instead of a fruity delight, it tasted more like eating a flour-flavored cookie with a chemical aftertaste. It’s surprising since the last two Fudge Stripes flavor releases, Lemon Cream Pie and Cinnamon Roll, were spot-on with flavor tone and intensity.

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This may be the only time in my life I’ve said this, but I’m probably not going to finish this package of Fudge Stripes. Every bite screams “not worth the calories.” They’re a fail for me.

But Keebler, how ‘bout an adult-finger-size Fudge Stripes release? Eh? Eh?

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, calories from fat (not listed), 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 75 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 10g total sugars incl. 9g added sugars and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 11.5 oz. package
Purchased at: ShopRite
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Great color and tasty cheesecake frosting.
Cons: “Knock knock.” “Who’s there?” “Not strawberry.”