Just in time for the Halloween season, Hershey’s has introduced Vampire Kisses, a variation of its classic milk chocolate candy. Along with the chocolate, it’s filled with strawberry-flavored crème.
How are they?
The milk chocolate shell is the same tangy butyric acid-infused Hershey’s chocolate to which American consumers are accustomed. I’ve recently heard the flavor described as “yogurty,” which is all I can think of when tasting it now.
According to the package, the filling is a strawberry-flavored crème, but there’s a lack of distinct strawberry flavor in it. It’s better described as generically fruity and without creaminess either.
Though, in a bit of flavor serendipity, the combination of acidic chocolate and fruity filling combine to remind me of the berries and Greek yogurt parfait I had for breakfast. I doubt that’s intentional.
Anything else you need to know?
The fanged Kisses depicted on the packing suggest that the candies themselves have been turned to undead creatures of the night. That’s ridiculous, of course. Instead, I propose that these are candies meant for vampires. Here’s how I think some famous blood-suckers would consume a Vampire Kiss.
Count Orlok – This rodent-looking guy nibbles the top off, then attempts to suck the strawberry filling out. Unfortunately for Orlok, I can confirm that the filling is much too viscous to be consumed in this way.
Vlad “The Impaler” Dracula – Individually, with a toothpick. It can be done, but the candy shell is liable to crack unless it’s well-chilled, and no self-respecting vampire is going to devour a victim that’s gone cold.
Louis de Pointe du Lac (A.K.A. Brad Pitt in Interview with a Vampire) – After monologuing about the dark-as-night chocolate and filling sweet as the crimson sun at dawn that shall never again greet him, Louie quickly tires of them, lamenting that each Kiss is dust to his undead palate.
The Count – This denizen of Sesame Street knows that these are 55 individual Kisses in his bag. Being a nobleman with an appreciation for aesthetics, he doesn’t eat any since 55 is such a pleasing number.
Edward Cullen – Edward’s fervor for Hershey’s Kisses is unparalleled, but he knows that to succumb to temptation inevitably leads to their destruction. He keeps a bag in the back of the cupboard, knowing it’s only a matter of time before he gives in.
Angel/Angelus – Angel, the beau of Buffy, the vampire slayer, would never risk a Kiss. Kisses lead to more intimate encounters, which lead to the one moment of perfect happiness that would rip his soul away, turning him to the evil Angelus. Angelus is a total chocoholic, so he eats the entire bag.
In fiction, a kiss from a vampire (that is, being bitten) has one of two consequences. Either you’re turned superhuman being beyond human reckoning, or you’re a left a lifeless husk drained of all vitality. There’s not much in-between, which is why these candies falling into mediocrity is so disappointing.
Purchased Price: $3.59 Size: 9 oz bag (255g) Purchased at: Piggly Wiggly Rating: 5 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (6 pieces) 120 calories, 5 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 20 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 16 grams of sugar including 13 grams of added sugar, and 2 grams of protein.
Well, actually, there’s more than one in a box, and they aren’t cinnamon rolls. They are bite-sized, pillows of dough, adhered together with cinnamon, and placed into paper cups. I guess you could consider them rolls if they’re made Katamari-style. There are four individual pouches with a vanilla-flavored icing packet for each.
How is it?
Maybe my Cinnabon and Costco infant head-sized cinnamon roll consumption has spoiled my taste buds, but I wish these Pillsbury Heat & Eat Cinnamon Rolls had a bit more of a cinna-plosion. I mean, there’s an adequate amount of the sweet spice throughout the dessert, and some bites are heavier than others, but for half of the forkfuls, I thought they could use a bit more of it.
Gooey cinnamon globs do end up on the paper cup, but even using the dough as sponges to wipe up as much of it as possible didn’t help elevate the flavor to Cinnabon-level.
Beyond the not-quite-enough cinnamon, the doughy pillows have a pleasant soft chew, and the icing amped up the sweetness. I do wish the white topping had a bit of a cream cheese tang, though.
Despite not giving me the cinna-perience my taste buds hoped for, these sweet treats are, for the most part, satisfying. I also wish they were a little bigger, but not as monstrous as Cinnabon and Costco cinnamon rolls.
Anything else you need to know?
These are refrigerated and microwaveable.
Although my microwave’s wattage isn’t listed, looking at the table above, it’s safe to assume the heating time for my 1100-watt microwave would be 21 seconds. As for the claim that preparing one will take less than 30 seconds, I have yet to accomplish that. Squeezing out the icing surprisingly takes a bit of time. So if you have a 700-watt microwave, it’ll be impossible to do it in less than 30 seconds.
While Pillsbury’s Heat & Eat Cinnamon Roll didn’t completely satisfy my taste buds’ somewhat unhealthy desire for cinnamon, it’s a tasty, quick, and convenient sweet treat.
DISCLOSURE: I received free samples of the product. Doing so did not influence my review.
Purchased Price: FREE Size: 10.8 oz/4 pouches Purchased at: Received from General Mills Rating: 7 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1 roll) 250 calories, 6 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 19 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.
When was the last time you bought regular Chips Ahoy! Cookies?
I’m talking about those run of the mill, plain ol’ blue bag Chocolate Chip Chips Ahoy!?
I bet it wasn’t recently. Why would you? I did the math, and there are approximately 394 better cookie options sold in any supermarket at any given time. Hell, Chips Ahoy (no more exclamation points) spinoffs probably equate for about 50% of those.
They’re iconic, but they’re just not that good anymore. They’ve been lapped. I have no time for the old school “meh” flavor and texture of a regular Chips Ahoy, so why do I wanna try them as an ice cream topper so badly?
I guess I can chalk it up to loving the Chipwich. And the McDonald’s McFlurry.
The newest member of the McDonald’s frozen family blends chunks of Chips Ahoy cookies and caramel in its classic vanilla soft serve ice cream.
A blended Chipwich with caramel swirls? That sounds damn good to me regardless of the cookie.
If you’ve ever had a McFlurry – and I know you have – you know that iconic vanilla soft serve is a perfect base.
McDonald’s soft serve will forever hold a soft spot in my heart. I always reminisce about getting one of those complimentary tiny cones when I went there as a kid. I wish they sold it as a standard vanilla ice cream in stores, so I can mess around and make my own McFlurry Frankenstein monsters at home.
The aforementioned “meh” texture of Chips Ahoy makes for an ideal ice cream add-in. They never lose that crunch, and I just find that it works better in morsel-sized bites.
The heaping blob of caramel piped into the ice cream is the star of the show. It acted as a binding agent that delivered a generous bite of cookie with every scoop of ice cream.
As I ate on, I realized exactly what this reminded me of — a coconut-less Girl Scout Samoas Sundae.
I don’t know how I could dislike a cookie so much but love it when it’s added to ice cream. But here we are. I feel the same way about the original Milk Chocolate bag of M&M’s. I would never buy them on their own, yet I can’t get enough of them in ice cream.
This was one of the better McFlurries I’ve had in ages. It also acted as a delicious neutralizing dessert for the Spicy McNuggets (I’d give them a 7 out of 10) I ate before it.
I went in knowing it would be decent at worst. Vanilla ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, and caramel, how could it be bad? I came out shocked at just how good it was. Usually, a “snack size” McFlurry hits the spot just fine, but I was actually bummed I didn’t opt for at least a medium.
I plan on trying the McNuggets again, so you better believe I’ll be chasing them with another Chips Ahoy McFlurry, exclamation point. I hope the ice cream machine is operational next time you hit up Mickey D’s because you need to give this a try.
Purchased Price: $2.79 Size: Snack Purchased at: McDonald’s Rating: 9 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: 460 calories, 13 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 77 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 53 grams of sugar, and 9 grams of protein.
Cinnabon has been dabbling outside of its mall kiosks for quite some time now. Some Pillsbury Grands Cinnamon Rolls over here, an International Delight creamer over there, and even some K-Cup pods in the room temperature aisles.
Maybe after testing the waters of the Cinnabon brand, it decided enough is enough; it’s time to make a splash! A splash the size of a Mack truck it seems. I like your style Cinnabon. It debuted not just one, not even two, not three, four? (Nope!), not five (Dang!), but six glorious new breakfast creations for America to satisfy their Cinnabon craving between mall visits.
They are all frozen food delicacies but encompassing both the sweet and savory side of things. Please brace yourself as the list includes Caramel Pecan Ooey-Gooey Rolls, Frosting Filled CinnaPastries, Frosted CinnaSweet Swirls, a CinnaBiscuit Chicken Sandwich, Jalapeno Cheddar Sausage Bites, and a CheddarRoll Sausage & Egg Sandwich.
Caramel Pecan Ooey-Gooey Rolls
These are sweet cinnamon rolls filled with Cinnabon ooey-gooey brown sugar cinnamon, covered in caramel sauce with pecan pieces, and baked to golden perfection.
Upon my first tasting, I didn’t flip them out of the tray and came away underwhelmed. So, make sure you do as the package describes to release them as you do get a pretty spot-on product from the image on the packaging.
They definitely live up to their name in regards to the caramel and their ooey-gooeyness. The pecans take a bit of a back seat, but still offer a slight nutty flavor with some good, albeit softened crunch. However, the cinnamon also gets pushed aside by the overwhelming sticky and sweet caramel. These are good, but make sure you are a fan of caramel before taking the plunge.
Purchased Price: $4.83 Purchased at: Walmart Rating: 6 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1 Roll) 510 calories, 20 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 580 milligrams of sodium, 75 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 39 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of protein.
Frosting Filled CinnaPastry
This one is described as a light and fluffy cinnamon streusel pastry that is filled with the ooey-gooey goodness of Cinnabon brown sugar cinnamon and irresistible cream cheese frosting.
This one has many components as it is kind of a cross between a Cinnabon, a piece of coffee cake, and a croissant. I have to be honest, I’m digging it. It has a great cinnamon flavor, and I love that the streusel topping comes in and cuts through a little bit of the straight sugar sweetness at times. It could be a little flakier and have more frosting inside, but otherwise, it’s delicious and a neat combo of well-known things.
Purchased Price: $6.68 Purchased at: Walmart Rating: 8 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1 Pastry) 450 calories, 23 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 430 milligrams of sodium, 55 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 26 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of protein.
Frosted CinnaSweet Swirls
These are two mini cinnamon rolls baked together, swirled with Cinnabon ooey-gooey brown sugar cinnamon, and topped with the chain’s signature cream cheese frosting. But I have a better name for them, Baby Cinnabons. Because that is precisely what they are, smaller versions of its famous mall offerings.
While it has been awhile since I have had an authentic one, I’m pretty sure the flavors and execution here are spot-on. They are incredible, and I couldn’t believe how much they reminded me of a fresh one even though I had just nuked it right after pulling it straight out of my freezer. The dough, frosting, and cinnamon all coalesce into something magical. These are exactly why Cinnabon is a well-known brand to this day.
Purchased Price: $9.24 Purchased at: Walmart Rating: 10 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1 Roll) 280 calories, 12 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 240 milligrams of sodium, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.
CinnaBiscuit Chicken Sandwich
Now this is where the true fun begins as we get into the wilder offerings. This is a tender fried chicken sandwiched between a sweet, buttery biscuit filled with Cinnabon cinnamon and cream cheese frosting chips.
I think I had the highest hopes for this one, and unfortunately, they were not really met. The chicken was a little chewy, and I am not sure what happened to the biscuit. It was a tough and kind of dry. Not sure where the frosting chips were or even the cinnamon pockets.
The cinnamon sauce was a nice touch adding some signature gooeyness. But it certainly didn’t have the flavor that I experienced in the Frosted CinnaSweet Swirls. And there’s definitely not enough cinnamon sauce to save this tragedy.
I prepared it in the microwave (damp paper towel wrapped around as instructed), so maybe the toaster oven is how to go on this one. It was disappointing on many levels.
Purchased Price: $4.47 Purchased at: Walmart Rating: 4 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1 Sandwich & 1 Sauce Packet) 320 calories, 12 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 700 milligrams of sodium, 41 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of protein.
Jalapeno Cheddar Sausage Bites
Ok, now we’re getting weird in Cinnabon land with Cinnabon-flavored cinnamon chip dough wrapped around a jalapeno and cheddar pork sausage link. So this incorporates spicy, cheesy, and smokiness flavors into a Cinnabon?
Hmm. Now this one couldn’t be more different than the chicken sandwich as the dough is so incredibly soft. It’s divine. The sausage is gloriously cheese-filled, and there is a slight spice kick from the jalapenos at the end of the chew. It’s more like a hot dog though than a breakfast sausage. Is there any cinnamon flavor? Absolutely not. I mean I see the specks on the dough but can’t taste a lick of it. It doesn’t suffer too much as this is a pretty tasty jalapeno cheese pig in a blanket for breakfast.
Purchased Price: $6.28 Purchased at: Walmart Rating: 8 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1 Sausage Bite) 170 calories, 8 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 370 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein.
CheddarRoll Sausage & Egg Sandwich
So this one completely baffles me. There is no cinnamon element. I repeat, THERE IS NO CINNAMON ELEMENT. It is a light and flaky croissant rolled with cheddar cheese baked to golden perfection and served with savory sausage and fluffy eggs.
Now, even though I just partially ate five different breakfast items in one sitting when I got to this one, I couldn’t put it down. It’s not amazing, but I do love breakfast sandwiches, and this item is probably the most well rounded of the bunch.
There are some misgivings as the bread is more of a soft bun than a croissant with only a touch of cheese flavor. While the eggs are a preformed patty and kind of on the thinner side, but still slightly on the fluffy side. However, the sausage is the star here, as it is outstanding. It’s your typical breakfast sausage, but I mean that in the absolute best way possible. The flavor is just phenomenal without being too salty as most breakfast sausages can be. While it’s under the Cinnabon brand and there isn’t any sweet about it, it’s a wonderful savory indulgence.
Purchased Price: $6.28 Purchased at: Walmart Rating: 9 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1 Sandwich) 360 calories, 21 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 590 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of protein.
Cinnabon has certainly made a splash in the freezer aisle. With the six items, some are in the running for the Olympic team (Swirls and CheddarRoll), some maybe deserve a ribbon at your local swim meet (Sausage Bite and CinnaPastry), one that bellyflopped (Caramel Roll), and one that should be just completely banned from the local lap pool for all eternity (Chicken Sandwich).
If you are looking for the perfect one-two punch in the morning, go for the CheddarRoll and CinnaSweet Swirls for an epic and convenient Cinnabon-branded breakfast.
Maybe my head is broken, but I swear this Red Bull Winter Edition Arctic Berry Energy Drink smelled and tasted like blueberry with my first sip. Of course, that’s impossible because there’s already a blueberry-flavored Red Bull. And it clearly states it’s a “cool raspberry” flavor on the can.
This Winter Edition Red Bull started being available in Summer 2020. Yes, it’s a bit early, but not surprising anymore since the brand released its 2020 Summer Edition in Winter 2020. Ugh. I feel I broke my head a little more by typing the first half of this paragraph. I could really use something that vitalizes my body and mind. Arctic Berry replaces Plum Twist, which was the Winter Edition from 2018-2019 in the U.S.
The energy drink looks like a pre-freezer or melted Louie-Bloo Raspberry Otter Pop, but it doesn’t taste like one was poured into a Red Bull. It’s a blue raspberry-flavored Red Bull, but its tartness is heavier than an Otter Pop. And, of course, there’s that medicinal aftertaste the energy drink is known for. The blueberry scent I initially sniffed turned into a cotton candy-like aroma as I nursed the can.
It’s an okay flavor, but I wouldn’t repurchase it. There’s something about it that I don’t quite like, and I’ve been wracking my possibly broken head trying to figure out why. I enjoy blue raspberry-flavored products (Louie-Bloo Raspberry has always been my favorite Otter Pop), but maybe my taste buds think it doesn’t go well with Red Bull. I dunno. I asked my friends Little Orphan Orange, Alexander the Grape, and Poncho Punch, but they don’t know why either.
Like all 12-ounce cans of Red Bull, this also has 114 milligrams of caffeine, which gave me a decent energy boost. Also, I kind of like the muted baby blue can color.
Arctic Berry is not my favorite Winter Edition Red Bull. Granted, there have only been two in the US, so it can either be the best or second-best (or worst) US Winter Edition Red Bull at this time. So I guess it’s the second-best. It’s definitely much lower down the list when it comes to all the brand’s flavors.
Purchased Price: Paid way too much on eBay Size: 12 fl oz can Purchased at: eBay Rating: 5 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 160 calories, 0 grams of fat, 125 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 38 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.
There is a semi-large, local to Kansas City pizza chain that makes a really fine cheeseburger pizza. I just thought I’d throw that out there to let it be known that a tasty cheeseburger pizza is within the realm of possibility.
What this local chain does right, it’s worth noting, is add pickles (you know, sliced pickle “chips”) and gobs of mustard. Now, I’m not even a mustard and pickle person on my REGULAR cheeseburger, let alone when I consume a pizza masquerading as a cheeseburger. But on this particular pie, it works.
Sadly, unless you are in the KC Metro area, you can’t have this unorthodox delight. Instead, I present to you, Domino’s depressing new cheeseburger pizza. According to the chain, their pizza is made with “a ketchup-mustard sauce, American cheese, beef, fresh onions, diced tomatoes, shredded provolone and cheddar cheese.” Opening the box, I was pleasantly surprised to see how well it had been constructed. The smell was appealing, too, but only in a generic, “yep, that smells like a pizza, alright” sort of way.
The visual and olfactory positives would be the high points of this forgettable dining experience.
The first thing I noticed when taking a bite was the overpoweringly obnoxious falsity that is American cheese. I’ve unwittingly ended up with American cheese on another Domino’s pizza at some dark point in the past, and all I really want to know is why? American cheese has its place in the world, sure – on an actual cheeseburger, mixed up in some scrambled eggs, melting messily atop a McDonald’s breakfast sandwich – but the desire to include it on a pizza is peculiar, no matter what the pizza purports to be.
The next thing I noticed was that I DIDN’T notice the sauce. As previously stated, the pizza was supposed to have a ketchup-mustard sauce. There was something under the cheese, I think, but all I really detected were subtle notes of slightly tangy wet.
Onions were present, but there were few and they added little, and the beef was your standard pre-formed, pre-cooked, straight-from-a-box, hamburger pellet that seems to find its way onto any national chain pizza when “beef” is involved. (Somewhere there is a beef pellet factory churning out hundreds of thousands of pounds of this product annually, I’m sure.)
Two things surprised me in a good way: the diced tomatoes added a pleasant and necessary juiciness to the proceedings (and I say this as someone who is generally anti-hot tomatoes in most situations) and the hand-tossed crust tasted fresh and flavorful, with a buttery, crunchy exterior and a soft, pillowy interior.
In fact, the crust was so enjoyable, and the construction and freshness of the overall pizza so impressive, I found myself excited to try Domino’s again at some point in the near future. Only, you know, not this particular pizza. And okay, probably not for full price. But the next time they run one of their 50% off specials? I will definitely consider probably giving them another shot. Maybe.
Purchased Price: $11.99 (promo price) Size: Large Rating: 4 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1 slice) 380 calories, 19 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 880 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 15 grams of protein.