REVIEW: Chips Ahoy Limited Edition Hershey’s S’mores Cookies

When making s’mores, the only chocolate that comes to mind is a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar. The thought of constructing a graham cracker, marshmallow, and chocolate masterpiece with a Ghirardelli Chocolate Square, Cadbury Dairy Milk Bar, or, heaven forbid, a Palmer Milk Chocolate Gold Coin. So it seems right, at least to me, that these new Chips Ahoy Limited Edition Hershey’s S’mores Cookies have that famous Pennsylvania chocolate in them, along with marshmallow-flavored chips and Chips Ahoy’s usual chocolatey pieces.

The Hershey’s chocolate comes in the form of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Mini Bar Pieces. They are tiny and, I think, even have “Hershey’s” stamped into them. I didn’t know bars came in this size. That’s some extreme portion control and must not be very satisfying unless you eat dozens of them. But in these cookies, they are extremely satisfying, and along with the vanilla marshmallow-flavored chips, they make me forget the usual chocolate is even there. It’s as if the three morsels are in a production of Romeo and Juliet, and while the Hershey’s chocolate and white chips are in the two leading roles, the usual chips have been relegated to the roles of servants of the Capulet and Montague houses.

However, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate has a distinct taste, and I don’t notice it here. Its flavor might be skewed by the regular and marshmallow morsels. But those chunks make the cookies taste much more chocolatey than regular Chips Ahoy. As for the white chips, they have an enticing artificial marshmallow flavor, and if there’s ever a Chips Ahoy Peeps Cookie, these will do the trick nicely.

Now, this wouldn’t be a “s’mores” cookie if it didn’t have any graham cracker flavor, and I’m happy to report that it’s there…I think. The cookie part definitely doesn’t taste like a standard Chips Ahoy, but I wouldn’t say it’s like honey-kissed Honey Maid or Teddy Grahams. But there’s something about it that evokes the essence of graham. There’s no graham flour or graham anything. But it does complete the whole s’mores vibe these cookies have.

If there was one thing that irritated me about these, it was how quickly they disappeared from the packaging. I mean, that’s obviously my fault because I lack self-control sometimes, and sometimes I want to make ice cream sandwiches with the cookies I buy. But I wish this limited edition offering came in a weight that went beyond double digits.

Chips Ahoy Limited Edition Hershey’s S’mores Cookies are outstanding and worth a purchase during this s’mores season.

Purchased Price: $5.29*
Size: 9.58 oz package
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2 cookies) 140 calories, 6 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 11 grams of sugar (including 11 grams of added sugar), and 1 gram of protein.

*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: Pizza Hut Cheeseburger Melt

Did Pizza Hut always have fries?

I hate to start a Pizza Hut Cheeseburger Melt review with a short review of Pizza Hut’s fries, but that’s what I will do here. They are surprisingly good and go great with this Melt. Although I shouldn’t be surprised since Yum Brands, who owns Pizza Hut, also owns KFC and Taco Bell, which have decent fries. They’re somewhat like Taco Bell’s fries but crispier. The interior is pleasantly fluffy, and they have seasoning on the coating, but I’m not sure what it is. But whatever it is, it makes these fries tasty.

Now, let’s delve into the star of this review, which features beef, Applewood-smoked bacon, onions, mozzarella, and cheddar, all nestled in a parmesan-crusted thin crust that’s folded with a Burger Sauce on the side.

Without the sauce, the Melt has a combination of flavors that’s not recognizable as cheeseburger-like and not too flavorful. Nothing really stands out like the meat and cheese does with an actual cheeseburger. Thankfully, the Burger Sauce exists and helps enhance everything so that it does remind me of the fast food classic. The creamy and tangy sauce has the same flavor profile as other burger “secret” sauces and is tangy enough to make the Melt taste as if it had pickles in it. Like the pickle seasoning on cheeseburger-flavored potato chips, that tang helps bring the fast food menu item to mind. It’s not a Thousand Island dressing or a fry sauce (ketchup and mayo). It’s something in between that. But whatever it is, it makes his Melt taste much better. Also, ask for a second container, because one is not enough for a whole Pizza Hut Melt.

So far, the photos I’ve shown you are from my third order of the Cheeseburger Melt. I didn’t purchase three because I adore this Melt so much that I can’t go days without having one. I had to buy it three times because my local Pizza Hut locations didn’t have the Burger Sauce the first two times I ordered it online, the day of release (I got it with the fries), and the day after at a different location. I believe the famous saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me a third time…not gonna happen because I will order it in the store and ensure it has the Burger Sauce in stock.”

If you’re interested, here’s a photo of the first one I bought with a side of Pizza Hut fries and marinara sauce.

Would I buy Pizza Hut’s Cheeseburger Melt a fourth time? I definitely would, as long as I’m 100 percent sure I can get the Burger Sauce. I’d also get it with the fries again.

Purchased Price: $9.49
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 Melt) 1180 calories, 76 grams of fat, 25 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 140 milligrams of cholesterol, 2290 milligrams of sodium, 86 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 41 grams of protein.

REVIEW: McDonald’s Grandma McFlurry

The cruelest words you can hear in a McDonald’s are, “The ice cream machine is broken,”… but a kindly guardian grandmother must have been watching over me on my most recent visit because no technical difficulties came between me and the new Grandma McFlurry.

Yes, I can hear you scratching your head from here. The new what now? So, I’m just going to come out and say it—the ambiguous name has to be a reference to the Werther’s Original hard candies that just seem to universally, perpetually, magically accumulate in the homes of people of a certain age, right?

Or maybe not, because, unlike those classic caramel treats, the new geriatric-named McFlurry (whose true flavor was sneakily never actually mentioned in the initial press release, drumming up quite the mystique) has turned out to be butterscotch-based.

Atop the creamy pillow of vanilla ice cream, there are both butterscotch crumbles and a butterscotch swirl. In my McFlurry, the crumbles rested pretty much entirely on top, and while there was some syrup there too, I found that most of it quickly sunk to the bottom. That meant that mine didn’t look much like the promotional image—a bountiful, evenly-swirled beauty with alternating layers of copious syrupy gold—but the ratio of toppings to ice cream was great, and the taste was even better, so I had nothing to complain about.

Though some grandmas have a reputation for being crotchety, this treat made me feel more crochet-y—as in so joyful that, like a tender-hearted elder, I felt the urge to craft a sweater for my (not-yet-existent) grandchild. My McFlurry was sweeter than Grandma’s cookies. Yet with such a well-rounded creaminess, plus a tinge of saltiness from the butterscotch, that the sugariness never overwhelmed.

The ice cream had a silky texture and a full flavor, but of course, the butterscotch bits were the stars of the septuagenarian-inspired show. For me, the crumbles, in particular, knocked it out of the park/nursing home. As I mentioned, I went in with hard candy on the brain, so it was a pleasant surprise to find that these, while solid, were also unexpectedly tender: crumbly and satisfyingly yielding when I bit down but practically melt-in-your-mouth when I didn’t. They reminded me of the inside of a Butterfinger bar, and while they don’t contain any peanut butter, the orange-y color, crackly texture, and sweetness certainly felt familiar (and delicious). (And speaking of comparisons, I also found the whole thing to smell, comfortingly and nostalgically, just like Waffle Crisp cereal.)

As for the syrup, it was thinner than I would have thought but still retained an impressively rich taste. In fact, the blending together of the runny syrup with the ice cream that started to melt and pool at the bottom of the cup resulted in a malty, cereal-milk-esque experience that I really enjoyed.

No matter what exactly the Grandma McFlurry reminds you of, I think it pulls off its job of evoking warm, cozy, happy memories perfectly. No matter your age, gender, or preference in seemingly-endlessly-refilled household candies, I suggest you slide on your slippers, grab your walker, and embrace your inner senior citizen at McDonald’s today.

Purchased Price: $6.19
Size: Regular
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 600 calories, 12 grams of fat, 340 milligrams of sodium, 102 grams of carbohydrates, 86 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Blue Bell A&W Root Beer Float Ice Cream

There’s a saying that if at first you succeed, then do something very similar so you can succeed again. OK, I might not have that exactly right, but the folks at Blue Bell know what I’m talking about. Last year, they introduced the Dr Pepper Float flavor, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and apparently, many others did as well because it’s now a permanent member of the Blue Bell lineup. For this summer, they have introduced the A&W Root Beer Float Ice Cream, which, despite its name, is only partly ice cream, namely vanilla, and the rest is root beer-flavored sherbet. Just like its Dr Pepper sibling, the A&W version is an instant classic in my book.

Through some kind of magic, which is vaguely explained in the ingredient list as “natural and artificial flavors,” the sherbet perfectly duplicates the taste of root beer. Plus, the consistency of the sherbet, which has a slightly more granular texture compared to the creamier ice cream, delivers a taste experience that almost made me think it was carbonated.

And here’s a tip: if you let this sit out for a few minutes instead of digging in right out of the freezer, the ice cream starts to melt a little faster than the sherbet, and it adds a bit more of the rich and creamy vanilla flavor to the mixture. Whatever Blue Bell did to make the Dr Pepper Float flavor so good, it did it again with this one.

Of course, I did have to try making a float with this ice cream and some actual A&W Root Beer, and the results were quite good, though perhaps not as mind-blowing as I was expecting, especially considering my choice of drinking vessel.

It turned out to just be a root beer float with a little extra root beer punch. So, if you have a busy schedule and don’t have the time for the two minutes of preparation that goes into making an actual root beer float, the Blue Bell version serves as a fine—perhaps even superior—substitute. You don’t have to worry about getting the right ice cream-to-root beer ratio; there’s no danger of the foam spilling over the top of the glass, and you’ll have tons more free time on your hands if you don’t have to do the mixing yourself. I just hope this version joins the Dr Pepper Float as a year-round product.

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: One Pint
Purchased at: H-E-B
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 170 calories, 5 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 50 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Chocolate Chunk Cookie

Dunkin’ has a new chocolate chip cookie, but this time it’s not giving us the recipe. The new Chocolate Chunk Cookie comes pre-packaged and measures four inches wide.

The coffee and donut chain says the treat is loaded with a generous amount of chocolate and has pretzel bits and notes of savory brown butter. Dunkin’ ain’t kidding when it says “loaded.” Unless you’re a bird or eat like a bird, I guarantee you’ll get a bit of chocolate with every bite. There are huge morsels spotted all over it, but split it in half, and it appears there’s a chocolate layer within it. Generous, indeed, Dunkin’.

While munching my way through it, my molars came upon cereal-sized bits of something crunchy. Since I didn’t read the ingredients or the press release before biting into the cookie because I thought there were just choco chunks baked into them, I was pleasantly surprised by the crunchy bits. After learning they were pretzel bites, I was then confused by them because I didn’t notice a pretzel flavor, just a hearty crunch.

While there’s ample chocolate, the snack seems to be 50-50 cookie and chocolate, so it doesn’t seem like I’m eating a candy bar. It has a chewy texture that reminded me of fudge brownies. Oddly, some bites were noticeably salty. I’m pretty sure it’s from the savory brown butter and not the pretzel bits because I detected more saltiness with bites that didn’t include them. It bothered me a little, but I imagine some might find it to be a little too savory to their liking for a sweet cookie.

Dunkin’s Chocolate Chunk Cookie is an okay pre-packaged offering that has the same amount of saturated fat as a Big Mac if you eat the whole thing. I love the amount of chocolate in it, my sweet tooth enjoyed it, and I was pleasantly surprised by the crunch of the pretzel bits, but it’s not a must buy.

Purchased Price: $2.99
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 370 calories, 18 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 440 milligrams of cholesterol, 50 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 28 grams of sugar (including 26 grams of added sugar), and 5 grams of protein.