REVIEW: Kellogg’s Frosted Bran Cereal

Kellogg’s new Frosted Bran is made up of crunchy bran flakes with a perfect amount of sweetness. A part of me wishes it was called Frosted Flakes Bran with Tony the Tiger and the Sun giving each other a high five on the front of the box, with the tagline, “They’re gr-r-reat…for your digestive system.” What could’ve been!

Don’t let the sun smiling on the box fool you into thinking these are the exact same bran flakes found in Kellogg’s Raisin Bran because they aren’t. While they are not as frosted as those found in Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, there’s enough of a coating to make them sweeter and crunchier than what’s in a bowl of plain ol’ Raisin Bran.

But here’s the thing, it tastes like Kellogg’s took the sugary coating from the raisins and then put them on the bran flakes because the cereal is not sweeter than regular Raisin Bran and has the same fibrous flavors as the classic cereal minus the raisins. That sweet coating also prevents the flakes from getting soggy the instant they’re introduced to milk, which happens with regular bran flakes.

To be honest, there needs to be a Frosted Bran with Raisins because it would make eating Raisin Bran less annoying and more tasty. I’ve let out so many sighs when I end up with raisin-less spoonfuls of bran mush that I probably let out enough air to blow up balloons for a child’s birthday party.

As for nutritional differences between this and Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, a one-cup serving of this new cereal has 150 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 10 grams of sugar. While a serving of the original has 190 calories, 7 grams of fiber, and 17 grams of sugar.

I’m surprised by how much I like Kellogg’s Frosted Bran, but I don’t know if I should be surprised. After all, I like Raisin Bran when I can secure at least one raisin on my spoon. It has the right amount of sweetness, and its sugary coating helps maintain a decent crunch. I wish it came in a bigger box, but overall, I think this cereal is gr-r-rand…for your digestive system.

Purchased Price: $4.49
Size: 12.7 oz box
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 cup w/o milk) 150 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar (including 9 grams of added sugar), and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Monster Rio Punch Energy Juice

I thought about starting this review using the lyrics for Duran Duran’s song “Rio.” Who’s Duran Duran, you ask? And that is why I decided against the reference. But much like I can’t get the song “Rio” out of my head when I bring it up, I haven’t gotten the taste of Monster Energy’s Rio Punch out of my mind ever since drinking it.

According to the description on the side of the can, Rio Punch is a blend of exotic fruit flavors with a hint of spice. Scanning the ingredients list shows it’s flavored with papaya and mango purees. The can also says Brazil is home to over 70% of all fruits ever known, but I’m too lazy to fact-check that. Something else I’m unsure of is that “hint of spice.” Is there a hint? If there’s a hint, it’s as much of one as r4lkfot4$v2jhi4t2 is a hint to my bank’s password because all I taste are the fruits.

When poured into a glass, its orange hue makes it look like it’s flavored with papaya and mango, but it smells like a red fruit punch. There’s definitely a tropical vibe going on with this energy drink’s flavor. At first, it also tasted like a fruit punch, but with subsequent sips, I started tasting the individual fruits with the papaya being stronger than the mango. I’m not going to complain about that because mango is a common drink flavor, while the equally as delicious papaya isn’t. The more I drank this, the more I enjoyed it. Although, there’s a bit of an artificial sweetener finish, which takes away from the tasty start.

Like Monster Energy’s Ultra line, I can’t think of being disappointed with any Monster Juice product, which continues with Rio Punch. It has a great tropical flavor that I won’t soon forget, much like the lyrics to Duran Duran’s “Rio.” Although, I much prefer Pipeline Punch and Pacific Punch over this new flavor.

Purchased Price: More than one should pay on eBay
Size: 16 oz can
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 140 calories, 0 grams of fat, 180 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 33 grams of sugar (including 33 grams of added sugar), 0 grams of protein, and 160 milligrams of caffeine.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Breakfast Burrito

“It’s bigger than I thought it would be,” my girlfriend said, starting down at my lap. But before you get any weird ideas, we were leaving the Wendy’s drive thru, and she was referring to the new breakfast burrito I’d recently procured. And to be fair, she was right.

While Wendy’s entry into the crowded world of breakfast burritos isn’t necessarily akin to the infant-sized behemoth you might find on a working person’s local food truck, it is close to twice the size of a McDonald’s burrito, and maybe 25% larger than oh, say, Sonic’s. (I’ve never had a Burger King breakfast burrito, provided they sell one, and it’s been a decade or more since I had Hardee’s version, so I can’t speak to that one, either.)

Unlike its closest fast food competitors — and really, unlike most other breakfast burritos in general — Wendy’s sets itself apart in a few ways. First, it’s using two “fresh cracked eggs.” Think “fried” egg instead of the scrambled you typically find in most burritos. If you’re into that sort of thing, you’ll love this; personally, I found myself missing the consistent bite provided by the scrambled kind.

Second, it’s including its “seasoned breakfast potatoes” in the mix. If you haven’t had the chain’s answer to the standard hash brown, you might be pleasantly surprised. The right amount of seasoned, the right amount of externally crispy, and the right amount of internally fluffy, these wedge-like tubers fill up space within the burrito normally occupied by scrambled egg. Without them — due to the flat nature of the fried eggs — this burrito would be quite thin.

And finally, Wendy’s is setting itself apart by employing a “Swiss cheese sauce.” The idea of a Swiss cheese sauce is pretty intriguing, don’t get me wrong, but I was hard-pressed to notice it in the mix. All I really noticed from a cheese perspective was the American. It did what American cheese always does — it got melty and gooey and served its purpose well.

Same goes for the bacon. Wendy’s uses “Applewood smoked” bacon, which are oven-baked. Wendy’s bacon is pretty good, if you’ve never had it. It comes across as less genetically engineered than McDonald’s, and thicker than Burger King’s. Wendy’s claims there are six strips in the burrito, but that wasn’t my experience. Either their strips are an inch long or they’re fudging the numbers, but I don’t know that I believe mine had anything close to that number.

It’s also worth noting that Wendy’s is including a Cholula hot sauce packet with your burrito. I’m not normally a “hot/taco/picante sauce on my burrito” kinda guy, but I tried it for the sake of science, and predictably, it didn’t really do much to elevate my experience. If you’re a Cholula on your breakfast burrito person, though, this is a thoughtful inclusion.

While this burrito was fine, I’d only eat one again if I found myself requiring a fast-food breakfast and there was nary a McDonald’s in sight. It wasn’t good enough to make me seek out another one, and when it comes to a new product, that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Purchased Price: $4.99
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 700 calories, 40 grams of fat, 16 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 2210 milligrams of sodium, 53 grams of total carbohydrates, 4 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fiber, and 32 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Ghost Energy FaZe Up Energy Drink

When Ghost Energy debuted in 2020, it had four core flavors, one of which was vaguely titled “Citrus.” That can gave me big time lemon-lime Gatorade vibes with a hint of Mello Yello, which always reminds, affectionally, me of a C-tier fast food soda fountain. Ghost’s “Citrus” is a solid, full-flavored energy drink that I revisited recently ahead of this review and still enjoy quite a bit. For its follow-up foray into the lemon-lime category, the brand has once again teamed up with heralded esports gaming group FaZe Clan for the even more cryptically titled “FaZe Up.”

Reading the name “FaZe Up,” I instantly expect a clean, sharp, and crisp lemon-lime flavor, a la 7UP or Sprite, but that’s not what I get. The flavor starts off eerily similar to the original Ghost Citrus, with a bit more of a Mountain Dew aura to go along with the Mello Yello I tasted before. There’s no background signature Dew taste (you know the one), but that blend of lemon-forward sweet citrus dominates the opening sip. Then the flavor changes and steers away from that lemon-sphere into lime-land and finishes with a pronounced sour pucker. It’s really good.

In essence, “FaZe Up” does have some of the sharpness of a 7UP or Sierra Mist (ahem, sorry, Starry), but only in the backend of the flavor. This is a Mountain-Dew-meets-7UP-meets-sour-candy-energy-drink for the lemon-lime lovers that really does hit the spot like a proper jolt of citrusy electricity. As always with Ghost, the flavor is dense and endlessly drinkable with a nice, tight effervescence that goes down smooth without feeling flat. It’s delicious, and with 200 milligrams of caffeine and solid doses of other focus ingredients, it is absolutely one I will come back to again and again.

Purchased Price: $3.29
Size: 16 oz can
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 10 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 30 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Sonic Pulled Pork BBQ Cheeseburger

There are many things that pop into my mind when I think of Sonic: their magical, perfectly chewable ice nuggets, the amazing variety of drink and frozen treat options…and the time my wife spilled an entire Route 44 Cherry Coke on herself when she snagged the lid on the car door. Thankfully, she doesn’t read my reviews. She does not find nearly as much humor in that memory as I do.

One thing I don’t associate with Sonic is BBQ because, well, it’s Sonic. So I wasn’t sure what to expect when I ordered the new Sonic Pulled Pork BBQ Cheeseburger. To my mild surprise, it was quite good. Mind you, it’s not good like one of those BBQ places where you wait in line for 45 minutes and pray they don’t run out before you get to order, but if you have a hankering for some pulled pork and are pressed for time, this gets the job done.

This sandwich contains what you would expect based on the name — a burger patty, cheese, and pulled pork. The pork didn’t really wow me, but it was juicy and tender as it should be. It’s the little extras that make this shine. The meats are nestled in a pillowy, slightly sweet brioche bun with a blanket of pickles to add some crunch and acidic kick. Sonic claims it has “cherrywood smoke sauce,” which I quite enjoyed, despite detecting only the slightest hint of smoke flavor and certainly not enough for my palate to detect the type of tree from which any smoke might originate. The sauce did have a more complex flavor than what you might expect from a typical fast food BBQ condiment.

The end result was a juicy tag team of beef and pork with some tasty sauce that paired nicely with the pickles and mild cheese flavor. The great-tasting bun holds it all together beautifully. My only quibbles are that this thing is pretty salty, as the 1,590 milligrams of sodium confirms, and the $6.39 price tag seems a touch pricey, especially since mine wasn’t overflowing with pulled pork as the Sonic app led me to believe.

Sonic says this is a limited time item, so I plan to get it at least once or twice before it disappears. It’s also available as a simple pulled pork sandwich without the burger and as Totchos with cheese sauce, shredded cheese, pulled pork, and sauce on top of tots.

Purchased Price: $6.39
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 700 calories, 40 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 100 milligrams of cholesterol, 1590 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 14 grams of sugar, and 38 grams of protein.