REVIEW: Ghost Cherry Limeade Energy Drink

What is it?

As GHOST Energy continues to rise, starting to pop up in huge chains like Walmart, the brand has set its sights on making Shirley Temple smile, with a bubbly twist on Cherry Limeade — chockfull of 200 milligrams of natural caffeine and focus ingredients.

How is it?

It’s good. It’s quite good, and it’ll grow on ya! It took me multiple cans to figure out how I felt about this one (I know, I’m an addict). The flavoring here isn’t quite as strong and punchy as I’ve come to expect from GHOST Energy. I’m used to being walloped over the head with flavor, and while this is still pretty strong, it isn’t as intense, especially when compared with the WarHeads and Sour Patch Kids candy collabs.

The flavor is nearly a 50/50 split of cherry and lime, with a touch more lime than I expected. That sharp citrusy lime keeps the drink from getting too sweet, and while I wouldn’t have opposed a bolder sugary cherry flavor, the balance also helps prevent it from tasting medicinal. It’s a super smooth sip that goes down easily, thanks to some tight and not too aggressive effervescence. As a big time supporter of Shirley Temples and Cherry 7Up (and Dirty Shirleys when I’m feeling wild), this one ends up really hitting the spot.

Anything else you need to know?

The first time GHOST made a cherry limeade flavor, it was a collaboration with Sonic for its powdered Legend pre-workout line. It’s still available and co-branded with Sonic, but that endorsement doesn’t come with the Ready-To-Drink canned version for whatever reason. I’ve had the pre-workout in the past, and the flavor is denser and more intense. But carbonation typically changes the experience, and I’m not certain whether this is the same or an entirely new formula for the profile.

Conclusion:

This drink is only held back by how unbelievably elite a lot of the other releases from GHOST Energy have been. In the grand scheme of energy drinks, this is probably a 9 out of 10 and the best cherry limeade on the market — certainly better than Reign and Alani Nu. But when graded and curved against the other straight slam dunks from GHOST, it might be closer to a 7, which lands me very comfortably at a median of 8, and a damn fine one at that.

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 16 oz can
Purchased at: GNC
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 10 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates,0 gram of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Starry Lemon Lime Soda

PepsiCo is aiming higher by replacing Sierra Mist with the new lemon-lime soda Starry. Mist Twist, the previous rebranding effort, failed to unseat the current king of the lemon-lime mountain, Sprite. Will aiming for the stars be enough to achieve the stratospheric sales growth Pepsi desires?

Let’s get to brass tacks: Starry tastes like every other lemon-lime soda I’ve ever had. The difficulty in describing this soda is how similar it is not only to its precursor but all lemon-lime sodas. If you taste a Coke next to a Pepsi, you can tell they’re the same flavor but also have notable differences. A Mug Root Beer tastes different than Barq’s. Sprite and 7Up or Sierra Mist and Starry? Not so much.

I tasted both the regular and zero sugar versions, and there was more of a difference between these two than between Starry and the competition. I prefer the zero sugar version because I’m used to diet sodas, and it tastes crisper. Full sugar Starry was comparatively syrupy, but I imagine someone with different preferences would think otherwise.

If I had to guess a change between Starry and Sierra Mist, it would be that Starry has a slightly more natural citrus aroma. To test this, I ran to my local Kwik Trip again to pick up a remaining bottle of Sierra Mist before they either were sold out or agents of PepsiCo confiscated them. A head-to-head comparison between old and new sodas revealed that I wasn’t mistaken in thinking the aroma was different, but it’s so negligible that you have to be looking for it.

Because the lemon-lime sodas are so similar, the best way to differentiate Sierra Mist from Starry is through their labeling. And on that count, Starry comes out on top. Sierra Mist’s combination of lemon, lime, mountains, and color palette creates something light and crisp but also a bit busy, making it easy to overlook. Starry removes the mountain, uses a more vivid yellow and green, and most importantly, has bold black outlining. The black banding on the Zero Sugar version is especially striking.

Starry is another solid entry in the lemon-lime soda market. It may not do anything new, but taken on its terms as a rebranding effort, it succeeds.

Purchased Price: $ 1.39
Size: 20 fl oz bottles
Purchased at: Kwik Trip
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Regular), 7 out of 10 (Zero Sugar)
?Nutrition Facts: Regular – 240 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 mg milligrams of cholesterol, 55 milligrams of sodium, 65 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 65 grams of sugar (including 65 grams added sugars), and 0 gram of protein. Zero Sugar 10 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 mg milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Cheez-It Extra Toasty Cheddar Jack Crackers

What are they?

Intentionally overbaked Cheez-It crackers in a flavor that’s as divisive as the idea of slightly burning your snacks on purpose. People seem to either love the original Extra Toasty Cheez-It crackers or not understand why they exist. Similarly, the Cheddar Jack variety ranks higher than the original for many people, while others find it overly cheese-powdered and weird.

How are they?

Really tasty and just how they’re supposed to be. They live up to their extra toasty name with every square bronzed on both sides. It’s a carefully controlled browning and none of the crackers come close to tasting burnt. The cheddar jack flavor is assertive; it’s tangy but also smooth and very cheesy. The cheese powder seems less prominent on these as compared to the regular Cheddar Jack Cheez-It, so if that was a sticking (dusting?) point for you, these should be less offensive.

Anything else you need to know?

They have a bit of a “pizza-flavored snack” taste to them. The extra toasting reminds me of the browned spots on pizza cheese and the overall flavor has a familiarity with some pizza-flavored chips and crackers I’ve had before.

Conclusion:

They’re not going to become my favorite Cheez-It, but that being said, I couldn’t stop eating them and would buy them again. If you’re a fan of the regular Extra Toasty or Cheddar Jack flavors, I think you’ll love these. If you don’t have a strong opinion on Cheez-It crackers but appreciate salty, cheesy snacks, these are definitely worth a try.

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 12.4 oz box
Purchased at: Jewel-Osco
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (26 crackers) 150 calories, 8 grams of total fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of total sugar (0 grams of added sugar), and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Limited Edition The Most Oreo Oreo Cookies

Weird Al once brilliantly parodied the New Kids on the Block song, “The Right Stuff,” with an ode to the crème in the middle of an Oreo cookie. I’ll give you a second to ponder what the title of Al’s tune could’ve been.

Did you guess, “The White Stuff,” or did you know that already? If you did, then you also know, it’s a bop. The reason I’m bringing this up is to manifest a Super Bowl commercial in which Al and the “Kids” (Jordan, Donnie, Joshy… uh, I wanna say Boris? and, Skippy) unite to promote the newest Oreo. The biggest Oreo. The Most Oreo!

So, if anyone at Mondelez (more of this later) is reading this, there’s a golden Oreo idea for ya.

The Most Oreo is kinda like that ancient Xzibit meme in cookie form. “Yo dawg, we heard you liked Oreo cookies so we crushed up some Oreo and shoved them between an Oreo.” This one is pretty simple. Your thoughts on the Most Oreo will be dependent on how much you like Double Stuf Oreo, because these are essentially double stuffed Double Stuf.

These babies are thick. They’re so thick, they’re thicc with 2 “c’s,” and each “c” stands for “crème.” What you’re looking at is an Oreo with an almost inch wide layer of crème. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but lemme tell ya, it’s a lot. The crème is cookies-n-crème flavored, which just means it tastes like they pureed an Oreo and spread that between the chocolate wafers.

They’re very good and they’re exactly what you think. Each isolated frisbee of crème does have a cookies-n-crème flavor, but as a whole, it just tastes like an obese Oreo. It’s the Most Oreo!

Joey! Joey was a New Kid, not Joshy! Joshy is the Hydrox to Joey’s Oreo.

What was I talking about?

Oh right, the Most Oreo. I like them, but they’re still a little too “extra.” That’s a pretty lame complaint, but you assumed that, right? They’re like that theater kid you knew growing up. By all means, she was delightful… if not just a little extra. She was better in small doses.

Also, let’s be real, there’s nothing “creamy” about Oreo crème, and you really get that distinctly gritty texture here in droves. I did enjoy teeth scraping it out like an artichoke leaf though.

While I’m “complaining,” I don’t like the name. It’s too final. What if the market demands more of the most? Where do you go from there? Oops All Crème? Do they break form and make the cookies double wide? Can they possibly top “Most?!”

I guess the only important things are they’re good and the world needs that Super Bowl commercial.

I address Mondelez again, because they’re the only brand name on the bag. No Nabisco. Nabisco is a subsidiary of Mondelez, but since when has the name “Nabisco” been left off an Oreo package?

It doesn’t matter – Mondelez, you have less than one week to unite Weird Al Yankovic, Jordan, Donnie, Joey, Boris and everyone’s favorite, Skippy. Let’s make this a Super Bowl to remember.

I included a pic of a QR code that takes you into the Oreoverse, if you are so inclined. It’s just some mindless AR stuff, but maybe you can win something or find inner peace in the digital cookie landscape.

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 13.4 oz package
Purchased at: Shop Rite
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 Cookie) 110 calories, 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 50 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Malt-O-Meal Maple Bacon Donut Cereal

What is it?

Although I typically associate Malt-O-Meal as being a purveyor of “hot cereal” (porridge? runny oatmeal? gruel?), it makes over THIRTY varieties of the cold stuff, and the latter actually equates to 75% of its sales. So I guess the joke is on me. While most of its offerings mimic those of its biggest competitors — Kellogg’s and General Mills — its newest flavor is a bit of an original: Maple Bacon Donut.

How is it?

It’s decent, but I don’t know that “maple bacon donut” is what I get from it. Mostly, it tastes like an extra sugary Honey Nut Cheerios with a liberal dash of artificial smoke and a bit of salt. And that description may sound kind of awful, but I assure you that the actual result is not. Every once in a while I got a little something maple-like, but mostly, it was “general sweetness.” Again, with a little smoke. And some saltiness.

Anything else you should know?

Like most Malt-O-Meal cereals, this variety comes in a resealable bag, and the bag is the size of a pillow. This is a really great thing if you like the Malt-O-Meal you purchased; if you weren’t a fan, however, congrats to your children on the giant bag of cereal they’ll inherit upon your passing.

Conclusion:

While I appreciated this new and unusual flavor, I’d be reluctant to buy again. It was only slightly better than okay, and there’s just SO much of it. As it is, I’ll probably already be passing this bag down to the next generation. (Which I mean, kind of a steal for less than $6.)

Purchased Price: $5.48
Size: 30 oz bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 cup) 150 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 250 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 17 grams of total sugars (including 17 grams of added sugar), and 2 grams of protein.