REVIEW: Lay’s Layers (Sour Cream & Onion and Three Cheese)

Lay s Layers Bags

As a part of the TIB community, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I enjoy, or well, would TRY any flavor release that the whackos in the Frito-Lay flavor labs concoct. That commitment hits nary a roadblock when I see they’ve come up with a new chip format! No, crisp! No, “crispy layered potato bites.” Alright, fine, that. Gimme it!

Lay’s Layers come in two crowd-pleasing and fairly standard flavors — Sour Cream & Onion and Three Cheese. I’m on board with the flavors since the “New” aspect of this snack is absolutely its extruded physical format. And yes, Frito-Lay does make Doritos 3D, which initially launched in the ’90s and made a nostalgic comeback last year. Does anyone remember the mini 3D Doritos snack tube? That thing blew my middle-school brain. However, those are corn-based and only contain a single plebian layer! Lay’s Layers are potato-based and have a whole second floor of crunch — an ENTIRELY new snack.

Lay s Layers Sour Cream  Onion Inside Bag

I decided to start with the Sour Cream & Onion flavor and was immediately unimpressed at the level of air in the bag but assumed this must be the case as they don’t want all those painstakingly created layers to get crushed. The next thing I noticed was how incredibly crunchy the layers are. When you munch on these, everyone within earshot will know. The texture reminded me of Bugles (not affiliated with Frito-Lay) but much lighter and broke down faster in the mouth, presumably because they are made from potato, not cornmeal. The Sour Cream & Onion flavor was light, but something was off about the aftertaste. I think it’s tough to deliver such an iconic flavor profile in a new format, but while I enjoyed eating these, the lingering flavor in my mouth was like onion-flavored potato powder. Not the best.

Lay s Layers Smooshed

I should also mention that I don’t believe I encountered a single one that maintained the perfectly circular shape as advertised on the front of the bag. It didn’t detract from the crunch delivery, but that little Pepsi logo shape is definitely not what these look like IRL.

Lay s Layers Three Cheese Inside Bag

Moving on to the Three Cheese, I was encouraged by the vibrant color and hoped this would indicate its cheese flavor level. I mean, if you’re going to claim you used three, it better taste cheesy. Much to my delight, the Three Cheese Layers were spot on, and the lingering potato taste wasn’t nearly as prevalent. They were crunchy, salty, cheesy, and reminded me very much of Cheddar & Sour Cream Ruffles but without so much oily residue. There was no mention of sour cream in the ingredient line, but I did catch buttermilk and onion powder, so maybe that’s where that profile came from? Either way, a winner in my book.

Lay s Layers Side by Side

Overall I’d say Frito Lay is on to something with this format. The added crunch layer delivers a new texture experience, but they have a bit of an aftertaste curveball to manage with the lingering dehydrated potato flavor. I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next flavor iterations.

Purchased Price: $3.99 each
Size: 4.75oz Bag
Purchased at: Mariano’s (a Kroger store)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Sour Cream & Onion), 9 out of 10 (Three Cheese)
Nutrition Facts: (22 pieces) Sour Cream & Onion – 150 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, and less than 1 gram of protein. Three Cheese – 150 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, and less than 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Oreo Frozen Dairy Dessert Bars and Sandwiches

Oreo Frozen Dairy Dessert Bars and Sandwiches Boxes

Cookies n’ cream ice cream is a choice that feels too obvious and not obvious all at once. I asked friends and family to name their favorite frozen flavors and only one said cookies n’ cream, yet the International Dairy Foods Association says it’s America’s third favorite behind only vanilla and chocolate.

Perhaps it’s like when you ask someone their favorite movie; chances are they’re going to name the flick they’ve seen a handful of times that’s creatively stimulating, not the comfort film they’ve put on every single time it’s been on cable. No one thinks of Grease 2, and no one thought of cookies ‘n cream, including me. However, once I mentioned the flavor, most recognized it was a favorite, with many then naming a version that included Oreo. So, a lot of you may be latently excited to hear Oreo has released new frozen dairy dessert bars and sandwiches.

Oreo Frozen Dessert Bars Wrapper

The Oreo Bars come in a box of five and, to my delight, include Per Container nutrition facts alongside the Per Serving. Want to eat all five in a row? Oreo knows you do and doesn’t judge. They’re wrapped up in cute little sleeves reminiscent of Oreo cookie packaging, but the bars themselves aren’t the cutest.

Oreo Frozen Dessert Bars Shell

The outside of each treat is lumpy and dull, but it communicates it’s going to taste like an Oreo wafer. While they could’ve rolled the bar in Oreo crumbles, I appreciate that cookie chunks are instead mixed into the chocolate coating. The texture was unlike any I’ve experienced. If there was a more delicious way to say sandy I would, but please take my word that it’s incredibly satisfying sand. The coating didn’t have the crack many may be seeking, but with the crunch of the cookie I didn’t mind it being a bit softer.

Oreo Frozen Dessert Bars Split

The ice cream was a sweet and thin cookies n’ cream. This is definitely not America’s bronze medal wearing variety since it lacked velvety depth, but paired with the Oreo cookie pieces it made perfect sense as a stand in for the crème. I went back and forth wishing it was richer but enjoying that it tasted like its namesake. Though if that’s what they were going for, I think a nut milk-based ice cream would’ve fared similarly and it felt like a missed opportunity to make these dairy-free like the cookies.

Oreo Frozen Dessert Sandwiches Side

The Oreo Sandwiches are a delight! I couldn’t help but feel like a kid holding what looked like a giant Oreo sandwich cookie. No “Per Container” here (all four are 840 calories for those interested), but that may be because they’re more substantial. The wafers tasted just like an Oreo cookie wafer. Not as crunchy, but crunchy for an ice cream sandwich. They didn’t soften as I munched through them, yet I was able to eat the whole thing without the wafers smushing down the ice cream and pushing it out the sides.

Oreo Frozen Dessert Sandwiches Dunk

The sandwiches held the same ice cream as the bars and I felt the same about it in this format, but it was more at home against the bitter cocoa taste of the wafers than the sweet chocolate coating on the bar. Here it made the whole bite taste like an Oreo dipped in milk. And yes, the sandwiches will twist open.

Oreo Frozen Dessert Sandwiches Twist

Oreo Frozen Dairy Dessert Bars and Sandwiches Back Box

Both boxes tease that each frozen treat is an Oreo playfully reimagined, and I would say each one was exactly that and would recommend either. But if you want the unquestionable “you’d still know it’s Oreo flavored with a blindfold on” experience, go for the sandwiches.

All in all, Oreo has put out some spectacular cookies n’ cream ice cream novelties that may just have me more likely to name the flavor as my favorite.

Purchased Price: $4.99 each
Size: 5-pack box (Bars), 4-pack box (Sandwiches)
Purchased at: Ralphs
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Bars), 9 out of 10 (Sandwiches)
Nutrition Facts: Oreo Bars – (1 bar) 190 calories, 11 grams of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 5 mg of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of total carbohydrates, 15 grams of total sugars, 0 grams of fiber, and 1 gram of protein. Oreo Sandwiches – (1 sandwich) 210 calories, 6 grams of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, less than 5 mg of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of total carbohydrates, 17 grams of total sugars, 1 gram of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Kit Kat Duos Strawberry + Dark Chocolate

Kit Kat Duos Strawberry + Dark Chocolate Wrapper

Having previously released Mint + Dark Chocolate and Mocha + Chocolate varieties, Kit Kat Duos now introduces a third dynamic Duo of the candy bar aisle: Strawberry + Dark Chocolate. This addition to the line is described as “crisp wafers in strawberry-flavored crème and dark chocolate.” While the bar will be available in standard size wherever Kit Kats are sold, I recently found a King Size version at my local GetGo.

“Oooooh, this looks GOOD!” exclaimed the cashier who rang up my purchase.

Kit Kat Duos Strawberry + Dark Chocolate Layers

And she was right! The bar’s appearance is striking. The top of the Kit Kat consists of strawberry-flavored crème, colored a rich pink rose. The bottom base offers the stark contrast of dark chocolate’s nearly black hue. The color combination is bright, gorgeous, and made for dessert charcuterie boards, if that’s your jam.

In junk food and in life, however, appearances aren’t everything. Luckily, this Kit Kat delivers a pretty bite beneath the aesthetically-pleasing crème coating. Opening the package, I caught a strong whiff of strawberry that was definitely more appetizing than artificial, giving me a hint of the taste to come.

Kit Kat Duos Strawberry + Dark Chocolate Pink Creme

The strawberry-flavored crème successfully combines realistic fresh strawberry taste with confectionary sweetness. The flavor reminds me of the strawberry cream-filled chocolates found in Valentine’s Day assortment boxes, except less sugary-sweet. While Kit Kat has issued berry flavors (Raspberry Crème, Flavor of California Strawberry) before, this strawberry crème seems comparatively less sweet on its own, making it an interesting partner for a second flavored coating.

Of course, the dark chocolate complements the strawberry wonderfully by providing a bitter edge. My only qualm: even though the pink crème covers more of the bar’s surface area, the dark chocolate at times overshadows the more delicate strawberry flavor. Despite these moments, the flavors still make a strong team. If no one has yet identified a metaphorical representation of Batman and Robin rendered in chocolate, this Kit Kat could be it.

Kit Kat Duos Strawberry + Dark Chocolate Split

At first, I thought the wrapper art depicted reddish shading between the wafers, potentially indicating another (jam? chocolate?) layer. But my eyes were deceiving me; the wafers here are the usual delicious Kit Kat fare. A third flavor integration would be stuff for Kit Kat Trios, which exists only in my dreams.

Kit Kat Duos Strawberry + Dark Chocolate Top Bottom

As Valentine’s Day approaches, a strawberry and dark chocolate pairing may seem either apropos or glaringly obvious, depending on your attitude toward novel flavors. But unlike those Valentine’s chocolate-covered strawberries that will grow soggy in your refrigerator after two days, dampening the chocolate and possibly your spirits, Kit Kat Duos Strawberry + Dark Chocolate is here to stay as a permanent addition to the Duos line. Because I love a classic flavor combination executed well, I plan to revisit this product to satisfy my next fruit-and-chocolate fix.

Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: 3 oz (85 g) – King Size
Purchased at: GetGo
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per package) 420 calories, 24 grams of fat, 14 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 54 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 40 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Flamin’ Hot Cool Ranch Doritos

Flamin Hot Cool Ranch Doritos Bag

Look out! Chester Cheetah and his mischievous buddy Sparky are unleashing their wild sides again, this time blasting fiery clouds of spicy, neon red Cheetle all over poor, unsuspecting Cool Ranch Doritos. What exactly is fueling this fire? Did the folks at Frito-Lay accidentally make way too much Hot dust and the solution to this abundance is to dump it on everything?

Okay, I’m a little biased. I enjoy spicy foods but just can’t get behind Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. It isn’t that they’re too hot, but I find whatever the hot stuff is detracts from my enjoyment of the classic Cheetos taste. I acknowledge that I’m in the minority here because Flamin’ Hot Cheetos have a fierce and loyal following, and Frito-Lay knows it. It’s no accident that they’re sprinkling this seasoning on every product they make. More red dye 40 means more sales. Hot is popular and it’s my own fault I’ve never warmed to the concept.

Flamin Hot Cool Ranch Doritos Compare

With probable disappointment in mind, I still couldn’t help but pick up the familiar blue Cool Ranch bag, now featuring its corny triangle engulfed in flames. A peek inside revealed the expected aggressively red powder, and I figured I knew what I was in for. Some of the chips are liberally coated, but others seem almost like regular Cool Ranch Doritos that were spared the dousing of hell pollen.

Flamin Hot Cool Ranch Doritos Closeup

I ate one. Then three more. These chips still taste like Cool Ranch! In fact, Cool Ranch is the first thing I taste and continue to taste, even if my fingers are bright red. I have to eat several of them before the heat starts creeping in, and when it does make its presence known, it doesn’t overwhelm. It’s a pleasant pepper heat, and the ranch flavor never takes a back seat to it. I actually like these. I like them a lot.

Flamin Hot Cool Ranch Doritos Plated

How hot are they? I’m not sure I’d call them Flamin’ because I have to eat a lot of these before I even begin to feel the need to reach for a cooling beverage, and they certainly aren’t so hot that I ever need to take a break from eating them. My almost empty bag can attest to that. I think a pretty perfect balance has been struck here. These taste like the chips everyone already loves but pack just slightly more of a punch. I can’t say that I prefer them to regular Cool Ranch Doritos, but I can embrace them in a way I’ve never been able to with Flamin’ Hot editions before.

Now that this door has been opened, does it mean I should finally make that box of Flamin’ Hot mac and cheese that’s been sitting in my cupboard for a year and a half? If I do, you can be sure I’m going to pour these Dorito crumbs on top.

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 9 1/4 oz bag
Purchased at: Mariano’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (28 grams – about 12 chips) 150 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: KFC Beyond Fried Chicken Nuggets

KFC Beyond Fried Chicken Nuggets Plated

I am still shocked by how ubiquitous meatless has become, especially at fast food restaurants. As the quality of meatless proteins has improved, the cost has also come down enough to make it more commercially viable. Plus, with the social media popularity of #MeatlessMonday, you’ve got a lot more people seeking out a meatless option when going through the drive-thru. KFC recently rolled out its entry into the meatless market: Beyond Fried Chicken Nuggets.

Starting with regional testing in 2019, KFC has taken its time to tweak the nuggets to be uniquely KFC. After trying the Beyond Chicken Tenders last year and being fairly underwhelmed, I was worried these nuggets would be more of the same. Thankfully it seems KFC and Beyond spent three years of research and development to deliver an absolutely delicious product. While these particular items seem to be the most expensive of the fast food meatless options (12 nuggets cost $13.99), considering their special nature, it makes sense. They are a one-of-a-kind product that can’t be found in stores like most other fast food meatless items can.

It has been quite some time since I went to a KFC. With the plethora of fried chicken options available, the chain never seems to fall into our rotation. If these Beyond Chicken nuggets become a standard menu item, that will change.

The first thing I noticed was the strong, familiar smell of KFC while opening the box. This was a promising sign. As I mentioned, I was worried these would be just a deep-fried version of what you can get in the store. Thankfully, they weren’t.

KFC Beyond Fried Chicken Nuggets Closeup

The breading has that unique flavor of 11 herbs and spices, accented with grease that makes these about as authentically KFC as possible. The “meat” was what we’ve come to expect from meatless items: firm and, sometimes, tough. I think your mileage will vary when it comes to these nuggets, and it’ll depend on the location. One of the difficulties with meatless is they are easy to overcook. I know the store employees are doing their best, but just know your nuggets might end up more on the tough side.

For me, these ended up being a home run. I don’t mind the firmer texture of the meatless proteins. The breading is the absolute star and, when paired with the KFC Sauce, it hits all the right notes.

KFC Beyond Fried Chicken Nuggets Split

Much like other meatless fast food products, these aren’t going to fool you into thinking they are real meat. But they are absolutely worth trying if you go in with that expectation. They aren’t a cheap option, but their uniqueness justifies the price tag for me. They are also extremely filling and were easily split between myself and my husband. I’m already planning my next outing to get them and maybe see if I can substitute the popcorn chicken on the Famous Bowls with the Beyond Fried Chicken.

Purchased Price: $13.99
Size: 12 Pieces
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 960 calories, 54 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 2880 milligrams of sodium, 60 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 72 grams of protein.