REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition Lemonade Stand Twinkies

Hostess Limited Edition Lemonade Stand Twinkies Box

What are Hostess Limited Edition Lemonade Stand Twinkies?

The classic golden sponge cake of a Twinkie now has a pink-colored, lemon-flavored creamy filling. It’s summertime Americana (lemonade stands) stuffed inside year-round Americana (Twinkies).

Luckily, these cakes are flavored like lemonade, not lemonade stands, which would taste like wood and paint.

How are they?

Hostess Limited Edition Lemonade Stand Twinkies Split

When I cut the Twinkie open, I could faintly smell the lemon. This was a promising sign: lemon was definitely present, but it didn’t smell like Lysol.

Fortunately, this initial impression continued when I ate the cake. It tasted primarily like a standard Twinkie, but there was just enough of a subtle lemon flavor to bring it up a notch. It’s simple, but sometimes simple is best. These Twinkies didn’t blow my socks off, but I wouldn’t mind buying them again.

Hostess Limited Edition Lemonade Stand Twinkies with Lemonade

Anything else you need to know?

According to the internet, there were lemon Twinkies back in 2012. Honestly, I don’t understand why it’s taken Hostess so long to bring them back. It seems like an obvious combination, and it works quite nicely.

Conclusion:

If you’re looking for a lemon-heavy dessert, this ain’t it. But if you like regular Twinkies and want something just a little different, these will hit the spot.

Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 13.58 oz. box
Purchased at: Smith’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2 cakes) 280 calories, 9 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 370 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 32 grams of sugar, 31 grams of added sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Starbucks Cold & Crafted Coffee Drinks

Starbucks Cold  Crafted Coffee Drinks Bottles

Even though Starbucks first brought cold brew coffee to its cafe menu in 2015, it seems to have really exploded in recent years. Cold brew coffee is, as the title would suggest, brewed in cold water (usually 24-48 hrs) as opposed to the more traditional, heated way. This process makes the coffee less acidic and gives it a much more smooth, sweet flavor profile. So it makes sense that Starbucks would want to expand its ready-to-drink (RTD) offerings to include more cold brew options.

Interestingly, the newest trio isn’t its first attempt at RTD cold brew. A few years back, it introduced an RTD Cold Brew in a very odd looking brown bottle. I remember buying it and thinking that, at a glance, it might be mistaken for a Red Stripe beer.

Coming in Coffee Sweetened Black, Coffee + Splash of Milk & Vanilla, and Coffee + Splash of Milk & Mocha, the Cold & Crafted line offers fairly standard flavor options. I imagine if these prove popular, we might see them get the seasonal treatment (PSL or Peppermint Mocha) later in the year. For now, let’s take a look at what is currently available.

Coffee Sweetened Black

Starbucks Cold  Crafted Coffee Drinks Black

“Super-smooth Starbucks coffee. Sweetened to perfection.”

Of the flavors, this was the one I was most interested in. While I enjoy my fluffy coffee drinks, the bottled versions sometimes err on the side of way too sweet. However, I was hoping the use of cold brew over iced coffee might make the flavor more balanced. As to be expected with the simple black sweetened black coffee, it came as advertised. The smooth richness of the cold brew was complemented by the sugar. It was a perfect amount of sweetness that didn’t overpower the drink.

Of the three, it ended up being my favorite. I could absolutely see myself grabbing this at a gas station for a quick pick me up.

Purchased Price: $2.28
Size: 11 fl oz bottle
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutritional Facts: (11oz bottle) 50 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 12 grams of carbohydrates, 0 gram of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, 1 grams of protein, and 135 milligrams of caffeine.

Coffee + Splash of Milk & Vanilla

Starbucks Cold  Crafted Coffee Drinks Vanilla

“Super-smooth Starbucks coffee. Just-right vanilla flavor. Plus a splash of milk”

The dark horse of the three, I found the vanilla variety to be quite delicious. Generally speaking, I rarely have vanilla-flavored coffee drinks. Not out of a strong dislike, but the artificial vanilla flavoring sometimes is just too overpowering. Luckily, in this case, it was just enough to add to the coffee without taking over. The vanilla had a very mild profile that works well with the full-bodied cold brew. The addition of the milk served to make it a well-rounded drink.

Some bottled drinks go overboard to try and cover the coffee flavor, but all the elements in this one worked very well.

Purchased Price: $2.28
Size: 11 fl oz bottle
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutritional Facts: (11oz bottle) 90 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 30 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 0 gram of fiber, 15 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein, and 125 milligrams of caffeine.

Coffee + Splash of Milk & Mocha

Starbucks Cold  Crafted Coffee Drinks Mocha
?“Super-smooth Starbucks coffee. Just-right mocha flavor. Plus a splash of milk.”

While all three were quite good, the Mocha one was easily the weakest of the trio. I thought I’d like it more than the vanilla since mocha tends to be my go-to when getting flavor in my coffee, but it just wasn’t quite right.

Unlike the Vanilla, where the addition of the vanilla and milk to the coffee made for a level drinking experience, the elements in this one stand out in a weird way. Upon the first sip, the coffee and milk are strong with the mocha coming in last. The mocha has a more artificial flavor than I’m used to in Starbucks drinks. It was a little one-note and, as best I can say, “chocolate-ish.”

It would be a fine way to get a quick caffeine boost in a pinch, but if I have a choice of the Sweetened Black or Vanilla, I’m going for those before the Mocha.

Purchased Price: $2.28
Size: 11 fl oz bottle
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutritional Facts: (11oz bottle) 90 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 30 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 15 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein, and 125 milligrams of caffeine.

Overall, I think these are a solid showing for Starbucks trying to bring cold brew to a wider audience. While they won’t ever compete with that handcrafted goodness you get going to a Starbucks, they are absolutely worth having on hand for those mornings when you are rushed or even lazy Sundays when you just want to sip some coffee goodness with minimal work. Hopefully, they do well enough to get seasonal flavorings.

Starbucks Cold  Crafted Coffee Drinks Voltron

Oh, and if you are wondering if I mixed them together to create a Voltron of Starbucks Cold Brew, yes…yes, I did. Would I recommend it? Not necessarily. Would I potentially pour all three into a 32-ounce cup to sip while driving long distances? Yet to be seen.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Key Lime Pie Kit Kat

Limited Edition Key Lime Pie Kit Kat Wrapper

What is Key Lime Pie Kit Kat?

Kit Kat’s latest limited edition bar features Key lime-flavored white crème.

How is it?

Kit Kat’s seasonal flavors always seem to hit the mark, so I’ve come to look forward to them. I especially appreciate Kit Kat’s dedication to a sensory and aesthetic experience, using creative colors and details to pay homage to its flavor inspiration. This year’s Key Lime Pie Kit Kat is no exception: its vibrant wrapper and pastel bar are as green as Kermit the Frog counting dollar bills in a grassy field.

Kermit should exchange one of those bills for a Key Lime Pie Kit Kat because the candy is all-around delightful.

Peeling off the wrapper yields a strong, divine aroma of vanilla and lime as a hint of what’s to come. The green white crème coating delivers on its promised flavor. A creamy vanilla taste is present in the coating, which is not too sweet, and adds flavor reminiscent of whipped topping.

Limited Edition Key Lime Pie Kit Kat Wafer

However, the Key lime is still the most prominent flavor. It provides just enough zesty citrus bite, especially in the aftertaste. The standard Kit Kat wafer offers a crispy crunch that mimics pie crust texture, completing the experience of what it is like to enjoy Florida’s official state dessert.

As this flavor grows in popularity, will Key lime replace lemon foods in my citrus-loving heart? Possibly. I loved Key Lime Pie M&M’s, and these Kit Kats are even better due to that hint of sharp citrus. With more product testing, I might yet achieve my life’s dream of appearing on a Food Network show, identified by an oddly-specific job title like “Key Lime Pie Expert” or “Kit Kit Historian.”

Anything else you need to know?

Limited Edition Key Lime Pie Kit Kat Fingers

It is hard to tell in photos, but embedded in the Kit Kat’s chocolate coating are flecks of what look like graham cracker crust crumbs. The crumbs don’t really carry a taste or texture. Although the bar’s ingredients list includes graham flour.

Conclusion:

Key Lime Pie Kit Kats are a subLIME experience, combining creamy and crunchy elements with a Key lime zing.

Purchased Price: 88 cents
Size: 1.5 oz (42 g)
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 220 calories, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 20 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Jack in the Box Mac & Cheese Bites

Jack in the Box Mac  Cheese Bites Boxed

What are Jack in the Box Mini Munchies Mac & Cheese Bites?

The fast food chain with a mascot that regularly ends up in my dreams and nightmares has a new limited time only side that features mac and cheese that’s been battered and then deep fried.

Jack’s Mac & Cheese Bites are available in a Mini Munchies size with six pieces, a Mega Munchies pack with 12 pieces, and a Mini Munchies Variety option that comes with an oily potpourri of three Mac & Cheese Bites, curly fries, and regular fries.

How are they?

The exterior has a decent crunchiness. I would’ve recorded audio of it to give you an idea, but then you’d have to listen to me chew, and I don’t think you’d want to hear that no matter how much of an ASMR eating fan you are. But what really matters is what’s inside that golden brown shell.

Jack in the Box Mac  Cheese Bites Innards

The macaroni that swims in the orange goo is tender. The goo itself is a combination of American, Romano, and a Cheddar & Blue Cheese blend, but it all tastes as if it’s sharp cheddar. While it has a pleasant flavor, it congealed a bit during the five minute trip home, so the interior texture wasn’t as gooey as I was expecting. But there isn’t anything here taste-wise that makes these stand out from something in the freezer aisle.

Anything else you need to know?

An order comes with a buttermilk ranch dip cup (sorry, I forgot to take an Instagrammable photo of a bite being dipped into the herbaceous white sauce), but you can get it with any sauce Jack offers. Maybe I’ve had too many Mac & Cheese bites in my lifetime, but the buttermilk ranch’s tang adds a welcomed flavor. They also bring back some creaminess that gets lost when the cheese congeals. If I wasn’t so lazy, I’d go to Burger King to try these with its Zesty Sauce.

Oh, this is not the first time Jack in the Box has had mac and cheese bites. Back in 2008, it offered wedge-shaped Cheesy Macaroni Bites, which, I’ll be honest, looks easier to dip into the sauce containers than these 2021 versions.

Conclusion:

Jack in the Box’s Mac & Cheese Bites are a decent addition to the chain’s sides menu. At their advertised three dollar price for a half dozen, they’re worth a try. But if you decide to order them, get some kind of sauce to enhance their flavor.

Purchased Price: $4.00*
Size: 6 pieces
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 330 calories, 19 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 1170 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein.

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. Most of you will probably pay three dollars.

REVIEW: Gatorade Zero with Protein

Gatorade Zero with Protein Bottles

As someone who gets thirsty, doesn’t consume the daily recommended amount of protein, and likes to drink things with names that describe how I’m feeling, I think I can get behind Gatorade Zero with Protein.

The no-sugar thirst quencher is available in three flavors, and if you’ve explored the Gatorade rainbow, your taste buds have probably come across them before in other lines the sports drink brand offers. There’s Fruit Punch (a classic G flavor), Glacier Cherry (a flavor that I always want to add red food coloring to), and Cool Blue (a blue raspberry variety with a name that could also be a cologne or aftershave product).

Because these are part of Gatorade’s sugar-free Zero line, there are artificial sweeteners, which in this case are acesulfame potassium and sucralose. As someone who regularly drinks zero sugar beverages, I’m okay with the sweetener combination here.

I would also like to note, and this is going to make you wonder if my taste buds are broken, they taste fine at room temperature. With almost every other sugar-free beverage I’ve consumed that was not chilled or was out for too long, the artificial sweeteners overwhelm the flavor. But that wasn’t the case with these. Of course, your taste buds may vary.

The cloudy drinks get their 10 grams of protein in every bottle from whey protein isolate, which makes these thirst quenchers slightly gritty. Although having had other protein beverages, I did expect that. What I didn’t expect was that the additive makes my mouth feel quenched one moment and then parched the next. It’s definitely weird. I imagine this will be a deal-breaker for some. It isn’t for me.

Look, I don’t have a physiology lab with dozens of scientists to test the recovery efforts of Gatorade Zero with Protein. But I have a tongue and thousands of taste buds to determine if these sugar-free sports drinks taste good. I think for zero sugar protein beverages, these are surprisingly good, and I enjoyed them all equally.

Purchased Price: $19.99 (3 flavor variety pack)
Size: 16.9 fl oz/12 pack
Purchased at: Amazon
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 bottle) Cool Blue – 50 calories, 0 grams of fat, 230 milligrams of sodium, 1 gram of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein. Fruit Punch – 60 calories, 0 grams of fat, 230 milligrams of sodium, 1 gram of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein. Glacier Cherry – 50 calories, 0 grams of fat, 230 milligrams of sodium, 1 gram of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein.