REVIEW: Reese’s Peanut Brittle Peanut Butter Cups

Reese s Peanut Brittle Peanut Butter Cups Bag

Maybe it’s my short attention span or the fact that I can barely watch Hocus Pocus without having nightmares, but I enjoy seeing autumn wind down as anticipation for winter holidays grows. Swapping snowmen for skeletons and poinsettias for pumpkins has become a familiar, comforting routine in transitioning from one holiday to the next.

As the shelves of my local stores trade fall staples for time-honored winter favorites like peppermint and hot cocoa, Reese’s caught my attention with something unique. The brand’s newest offering features a peanut brittle-flavored crème cup stuffed with a mixture of peanuts and peanut butter filling.

While peanut brittle wouldn’t have been my number-one answer in a holiday food-themed episode of Family Feud, it makes sense. You find that delicious hard candy nestled in gift tins, offered at holiday potlucks, and as the object of longing gazes from your elderly relatives who just might risk their dentures for a taste.

Reese’s Peanut Brittle Peanut Butter Cups will be available in miniatures, King Sized, and Big Cup varieties across retailers, and I snagged a bag of miniatures. Honestly, I was half-expecting the “peanut brittle-flavored crème” to be the same peanut butter-flavored crème you find in Ultimate Peanut Butter Lovers Cups, with the “brittle” label tacked on as a bit of holiday razzle dazzle to get you humming “White Christmas” in October.

But upon opening the bag, the candy’s aroma indicated I was in for something a little different. It smells a lot like kettle corn–like caramelized sugar with butter and peanuts–and has me begging for a Reese’s/Yankee Candle collaboration.

Reese s Peanut Brittle Peanut Butter Cups Unwrapped

The cups not only live up to their intoxicating scent, but also really deliver on the peanut brittle flavor. The creamy shell tastes like a combination of white chocolate, peanut butter, and caramelized sugar. It reminds me of the short-lived Hershey’s Gold bar, which had a caramelized crème base that tasted nutty. The peanut brittle crème here tastes very similar, but a touch sweeter, creamier, and with fewer toasty notes.

Reese s Peanut Brittle Peanut Butter Cups Split

The filling pairs creamy peanut butter with crunchy peanut pieces. The filling is pretty salty, which balances the crème cup’s sweetness. My cups only had a few peanut pieces resting near the bottom of the cup. Candied peanuts may have added an additional brittle-like crunch–as well as potentially dangerous sugar shards. (Considering that the process of making peanut brittle involves boiling sugar goo to dangerously hot temperatures, fans of the stuff live on the edge already.) When eaten in one bite, however, the cup’s flavors compensate for the generally soft texture. The flavor combination reminds me of finding a salted peanut studded in a piece of sweet brittle.

Reese s Peanut Brittle Peanut Butter Cups Lonely

Reese’s products have always been one of my favorites, whether they adorn a holiday cookie or fill my trick-or-treat bag. Although some of their recent products have underwhelmed (see: Reese’s Mallow Cups, Reese’s Snack Cakes), Reese’s Peanut Brittle Peanut Butter Cups nail the peanut brittle flavor and serve as an unexpected homage to a traditional treat. Whether you are bored by brittle or have your grandmother’s recipe committed to memory, any Reese’s fan will be pleased with this sweet-and-salty holiday treat.

Purchased Price: $4.49
Size: 7.4 oz (209 g) bag
Purchased at: CVS
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 3 cups) 140 calories, 8 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 65 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Jack in the Box Bacon Cheddar Loaded Cheeseburger

Jack in the Box Bacon Cheddar Loaded Cheeseburger Whole

Short story: I ordered the Jack in the Box Cheddar Loaded Cheeseburger, which has a beef patty topped with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and cheddar ranch sauce on a cheddar cheese bun.

However, I received the more loaded Bacon Cheddar Loaded Cheeseburger that has everything the smaller burger does but includes hickory-smoked bacon, another beef patty, and another cheddar slice.

Fin.

So this review will be about the larger one. Thanks for the upgrade, Fast Food Gods…and the person who made my burger!

Jack in the Box Bacon Cheddar Loaded Cheeseburger Bun

Since it sticks out the most, let’s start with that cheddar bun. There’s obviously cheese baked into it, so it looks the part. But when I tried the bun on its own and as part of the sandwich, I couldn’t taste the cheese with most bites. That was also the case with the cheddar slices.

Despite three different cheddar vessels, it’s not a cheesy-tasting cheeseburger. The only times I really got any really noticeable cheesiness was whenever my mouth pulled in a decent glob of the cheddar ranch sauce, which was slathered on both buns.

Jack in the Box Bacon Cheddar Loaded Cheeseburger Split

But most of the time, it was a slightly juicy meat fest in my mouth with those two patties taking center stage and the bacon in the background as a porky hype man coming in every so often. And the lettuce and tomato weren’t any help. They’re just there to add some color to the party and distract you from the sweating cheddar slices.

Jack in the Box Bacon Cheddar Loaded Cheeseburger Tomatoes

The Bacon Cheddar Loaded Cheeseburger isn’t loaded with cheddar flavor like this review is loaded with the words “cheddar” and “cheese.” Maybe if I got what I originally ordered, the less loaded Cheddar Loaded Cheeseburger, I might’ve tasted an intense cheesiness since there’s one less patty to get in the way.

Purchased Price: $6.99*
Size: Small combo
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 910 calories, 37 grams of fat, 25 grams of saturated fat, 3 grams of trans fat, 165 milligrams of cholesterol, 1190 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 56 grams of protein.

*Price is for the regular Cheddar Loaded Cheeseburger combo, which I ordered. But as I mentioned at the beginning, I received a Bacon Cheddar Loaded Cheeseburger. Also, because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did.

REVIEW: Twix Shakers Seasoning Blend

Twix Shakers Bottle

Twix Shakers Seasoning Blend attempts to bring together the flavors of the popular candy bar – chocolate, caramel, and cookies – but does it in a powder form that was, unfortunately, not made using a proprietary Twix Shredder that granulates Left and Right Twix bars left and right.

Twix Shakers Macro

After taking a sniff, but not a deep one for fear of sneezing and blowing the seasoning all over my kitchen, I could smell the caramel and chocolate, but not the cookie. If you’re able to notice it, you have a better nose than mine or you’re a dog. And if you’re a dog and can read this, that’s a good doggie. Who’s a good doggie who can read? You are. Do you want belly welly rub rubs? Yes, you do.

Twix Shakers on Twix

Since brown sugar is the second item in the ingredients list, it’s not surprising that Twix Shakers looks like brown sugar’s cousin. Much like its aroma, its flavor lacks a cookie presence, but the chocolate and caramel are there. However, they don’t taste like Twix’s chocolate and caramel. To test this further, I ate a mini Twix with enough of the sweet seasoning to partially bury it, and the candy bar ended up not tasting like a Twix.

Twix Shakers on Popcorn

While its Twix-ness is questionable and it tastes a bit odd on its own, the sweet powder does a tasty job enhancing other foods. Well, not an actual Twix, but I did find that it pairs well with a number of foods, many of which are recommended on the bottle. Here’s a short list of things it worked well with — iced coffee, hot oatmeal, overnight oats, ice cream, Cheerios, popcorn, and a banana smoothie. However, in order to get the seasoning’s flavor in most of those, I had to triple the serving size (1 teaspoon).

Twix Shakers Water

Because there’s almost a pound of this stuff in the bottle, I decided to go off the beaten path with my what I put this on. I tried it on foods like French fries, green grapes, eggs, and in plain water. All were bad choices.

Like most refrigerated coffee creamers from International Delight and Coffee mate, Twix Shakers doesn’t taste very good when it’s consumed on its own. Its chocolate and caramel flavor is definitely a downgrade from the actual candy bar. But when it’s added to the right foods, it does make them taste better. It’s worth giving it a fair shake.

DISCLOSURE: I received a free product sample from B&G Foods. Doing so did not influence my review.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 13.5 oz bottle
Purchased at: Received from B&G Foods (currently a Sam’s Club exclusive)
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 tsp) 15 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, 4 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of sugar (including 3 grams of added sugar), and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Cantina Crispy Melt Taco

Taco Bell Cantina Crispy Melt Taco Shell

I used to hate crunchy tacos.

My grandfather would try so hard to get me to like them when we went to Taco Bell for “39-cent crunchy taco night,” but usually ended up paying the extra 10 cents so I could get soft tacos instead. I can’t tell you why I didn’t like them, but it was a preference that followed me well into my late 20s until something clicked.

It is probably too dramatic to say I heard angels singing, but it’s the truth. Since then, they have been my preferred taco of choice, particularly Taco Bell’s crunchy beef taco (sorry, Grandpa). Its simplicity is one of the reasons why they are so satisfying. Rarely will I venture out of the standard build (shell, meat, cheese, lettuce), but every so often, Taco Bell will tempt me away with a new product, like it did with its Cantina Crispy Melt Taco.

The menu item is made with a white corn tortilla that is fried in-store daily, then layered with nacho cheese sauce, three-cheese blend, seasoned beef, tomato, lettuce, sour cream, and (yet more) shredded cheddar cheese. Two things about this item caught my attention immediately: the freshly fried in-store white corn tortilla and the sheer amount of cheese involved with it. With the white corn shell, I was curious how it would differ from the standard yellow corn shell in both structural integrity and flavor. I was a bit wary about the amount of cheese involved, particularly the nacho cheese.

Taco Bell Cantina Crispy Melt Taco

Look, I’m no stranger to cheese, but crunchy tacos can go from crunchy to soggy rather quickly, and I was worried the dairy would expedite that process. Much to my surprise, it all held up exceptionally well. The white corn offers a much more mild flavor than the yellow corn. I wouldn’t quite say it’s bland, but it’s certainly not the star flavor-wise.

Its texture, though, exceeded my expectations. It was airy and light, but managed to stay strong after the 15-minute car ride home. With my first bite, it didn’t shatter or split. In fact, it did not break apart until the end.

The nacho cheese was the strongest flavor, with the seasoned beef and sour cream coming in next. I couldn’t quite tell you if the three cheese blend added to it in any way, but it didn’t detract. I was also pleasantly surprised that the cheese didn’t cause the seam to get soggy and split apart. The rest of the toppings (lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese) felt sort of like a take-it-or-leave-it situation, but I often find those Taco Bell ingredients to be that way.

Taco Bell Cantina Crispy Melt Taco Sleeve

While I don’t find the Cantina Crispy Melt Taco too groundbreaking, it’s an interesting detour from the standard crunchy taco, and it’s worth trying once. The standout was the shell, but mostly for how well it held up and not because it added to the taste profile. But if you are a fan of the nacho cheese, I think you will very much find this to be a home run.

Purchased Price: $2.19
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 280 calories, 17 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 540 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Frosted Mocha Latte Pop-Tarts

Frosted Mocha Latte Pop Tarts Box

What are Frosted Mocha Latte Pop-Tarts?

Pop-Tarts brewed up a chocolate- and espresso-inspired pastry that won’t require you to wake up early to beat the rush at your favorite cafe.

Exclusive to Walmart, Frosted Mocha Latte Pop-Tarts are sold in a value pack of 16 pastries. I think this falls somewhere between grande and venti on the Pop-Tart/Coffee Equivalency Scale.

How are they?

Frosted Mocha Latte Pop Tarts Whole

Upon rustling open that iconic silver wrapper, I was impressed that Frosted Mocha Latte Pop-Tarts took the “frosted” descriptor seriously. A generous layer of white icing, topped with a light brown squiggle, covers each pastry. The icing doesn’t impart much flavor, but it acts like a crisp shell of sweetness that enhances each bite.

Frosted Mocha Latte Pop Tarts Filling

Although its strong coffee aroma beckons, the pastry crust is typical Pop-Tarts fare: dry, crumbly, and subtly chocolate-flavored. If you’ll indulge the topical metaphor, the pastry is like an old coffee mug: functional and not too exciting by itself, but a wonderful support for flavor-packed filling. Rich and thick, the Pop-Tart filling perfectly balances chocolate flavor with a strong, realistic coffee taste. It’s not too sweet and manages to maintain some bitter notes, which are really interesting and surprisingly nuanced.

Frosted Mocha Latte Pop Tarts Split

Because the toaster at my office has been emitting sparks (and if I’m going to set the place on fire, it’s going to be in a completely different context), I warmed a Pop-Tart in the microwave for about 10 seconds. I highly recommend this method. The warmth softens the crust and the filling, waking up the already-impressive coffee flavor. It provides all of the comfort of a hot drink with none of the caffeine jitters.

Anything else you need to know?

A few years ago, Pop-Tarts released a limited edition Chocolate Mocha flavor as a tie-in with Dunkin’ Donuts. The Frosted Mocha Latte flavor looks almost identical to that product. If you’ve tried both, share your comparisons in the comments below.

Conclusion:

Frosted Mocha Latte Pop-Tarts deliver strong flavor with the right balance of sweet and bitter notes. Whether you’re a kid with grown-up tastes or an adult who isn’t afraid to indulge in a favorite childhood brand, this flavor warrants a refill.

Purchased Price: $3.94
Size: 27 oz (768 g) box (16 pack)
Purchased at: Walmart (Exclusive Flavor)
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 2 pastries) 360 calories, 9 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 400 milligrams of sodium, 69 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 36 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.