WEEK IN REVIEWS – 4/16/2011

banana

Here are a few product reviews posted this week from other blogs we follow.

I’ve eaten bananas. I’ve sucked on many banana Slurpees. I’ve put on Banana Boat sunscreen. I’ve put a condom on a banana. I own clothes from Banana Republic. I have a 45 rpm record of Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer.” But I’ve never consumed a banana soda. (via Thirsty Dudes)

It looks like two chocolate bunnies have been going at it like rabbits. (via Candyblog)

Boy Bawang sounds like a Filipino boy band or the name of an extremely young-looking Southeastern Asian male prostitute. I have no idea what “bawang” means, and the review I linked to would probably include a translation, but I’m just going to leave it to my imagination. (via Food Junk)

Chick-fil-A attempts oatmeal. I hope they attempt beef next. (via Tampa Bay Food Monster)

Frito-Lay Japan has a Heinz ketchup-flavored corn snack in a package that looks like a giant ketchup packet. I wonder if I’m going to struggle to open it using my fingers and then get so frustrated that I’m forced to use my teeth. (via Japanese Snack Reviews)

REVIEW: Tostitos Hint of Pepper Jack Tortilla Chips

Tostitos Hint of Pepper Jack

I am, at heart, a creature of habit. My wife is constantly irritated with me because she likes to experiment with cooking new foods, whereas I would happily spend the rest of my days eating the same five meals in rotation.  (Pizza, cheeseburgers, pasta, steaks, pancakes/waffles/French toast.  And grilled cheese.)  But honestly, once you find a formula that works, why would you want to mess with it?  I’ll take my Superman sans mullet or electrical powers, thank you.  So I’m always a little leery of the trend among snack food and soft drink manufacturers to be constantly rolling out new flavors.  If I probably won’t like them as much as the regular version and half of them won’t be around in a few months anyway, why bother?

And yet… I like pepper jack cheese.  And I really like Tostitos, for no particularly good reason I’ve ever been able to figure out.  I mean, they’re pretty much just salt and flour, right?  So watching me inhale a bowl of them during football season is basically the equivalent of watching a deer visiting a salt lick, except more pathetic because the deer doesn’t understand the concept of shame.  Nonetheless, as I told my wife, Tostitos were here when you showed up and they’ll still be around when you’re gone, so don’t try to come between us.  She understands.  It’s the same reason you don’t see me making her choose between me and wine, because there are no winners in that game.  Except wine.

The first thing you’ll notice when you open a bag of Hint of Pepper Jack Tostitos is the smell.  Regular Tostitos have an aroma that can best be described as “salt,” but the HoPJ’s definitely have more pop, a bolder scent that fits their in-your-face brand image.  It says that these chips have a statement to make and they don’t give a damn whether you like them or not.  That’s good; I like my snacks with some piss and hellfire to them.  I want chips that, if they were a movie, they’d be played by Samuel L. Jackson with a score by Isaac Hayes, and they’d call you a motherfucker a minimum of three times.  Why?  Because fuck you, that’s why.  Granted these aren’t habanero, but pepper jack often has some bite, so I was hoping the “hint” would turn out to be more of a belt.  I can take it, you sissies.

Tostitos Hint of Pepper Jack 2

Well, I have good news for those of you who read that last paragraph and thought, “Drew, you crazy” — while the chips definitely do taste of pepper jack, they aren’t going to be burning out your sinuses.  They’re eminently eatable for anyone, and that includes me; even if they aren’t overly powerful, they still taste good.  The Tostitos are more tangy than hot, and they have a slight cheese flavor, though not quite as much as I’d like.  My wife claims they taste quite a bit similar to ranch chips, for whatever that’s worth.  Personally I just liked them, though in moderation.  Like bacon-flavored beer, they’re a fun treat and a nice change of pace, but if you had to eat them every day you’d be jonesing for the regular variety before long.  If you’re feeling particularly mischievous, mix some HoPJs in with ordinary Tostitos at your next get-together and watch people’s faces.  Don’t do that with Hint of Lime Tostitos, though.  I once grabbed an innocuous-looking chip at a party and bit down, only to have to restrain myself from spitting it out because of all the people around.  First blood to you, lime chip.

Perhaps the most ringing endorsement I can offer is that after opening the bag, the Hint of Pepper Jack Tostitos lasted a total of 3 days in my house, whereas we still have 2 of chocolate creme Twinkies I reviewed last month left over.  That should tell you all you need to know.  From what I understand, the HoPJs are being treated as a permanent new flavor in the “Hint of” line, but you and I both know chips are only as permanent as there are consumers buying them.  So if you’re worried that these won’t have the mass appeal to stick it out, be sure to pick up a bag now.

(Nutrition Facts — 1 oz./about 6 chips — 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Tostitos Hint of Pepper Jack Tortilla Chips
Price: $3.99
Size: One package
Purchased at: Acme
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Five foods is all you really need.  Intriguing smell.  Being played by Samuel MF’ing Jackson.  Edible by masochists and wimps alike.  Tastes good.  Mixing with regular Tostitos and watching the fun.  “Pepper Jack” would be a cool nickname when you’re old.
Cons: One step above a salt lick.  Mulleted Superman.  More of an occasional curiosity than a regular snack food.  Lime chips.  I fought the wine and the wine won.

NEWS: Lay’s Introduces Three New Regional Potato Chip Flavors and Two New All Over Kettle Cooked Flavors

New Lay's Kettle Cooked Flavors

I’m not sure I understand the reasoning behind Lay’s regional potato chips flavors, which are special flavors that represent the region and are only sold in the region. Why not share them with the rest of the nation? I’m pretty sure no one will be upset if someone outside of their region got to try their region’s chip. It’s as if Lay’s wants to leave money on the table.

As an impulsive person, and someone who runs a blog called The Impulsive Buy, I would buy all three new Lay’s regional flavors, and I’m sure many other impulsive people would too. If I only get one flavor I’m going to buy only one. It’s simple math. You can either get my money for one bag or you can get my money for three bags. As a company that has to report to shareholders, I’m pretty sure me buying three bags instead of one would sound much better to them.

So what are the three new Lay’s regional flavors I can’t buy all at one time?

The Northeastern U.S. will get Lay’s Honey Mustard, a tangy mustard combined with a little bit of honey. Midwesterners will get Lay’s Creamy Garden Ranch, a mixture of sour cream with spices and cucumbers. Those in the Southwestern part of the U.S. will get Lay’s Chipotle Ranch, a combination of sour cream, buttermilk ranch, chipotle spice, and green chilies.

Man, that Lay’s Chipotle Ranch does sound good. But, awww, I won’t be able to try it and stuff Lay’s pockets with money because I don’t live in the Southwestern part of the United States. Awww, shucks.

A one-ounce serving of Lay’s Honey Mustard has 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 80 milligrams of sodium, and 16 grams of carbohydrates. A serving of Lay’s Creamy Garden Ranch has 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 160 milligrams of sodium, and 15 grams of carbohydrates. Lay’s Chipotle Ranch has 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 170 milligrams of sodium, and 15 grams of carbohydrates.

While I won’t be able to try all of Lay’s new regional flavors, I will have the chance to taste the two new Lay’s Kettle Cooked flavors — Creamy Mediterranean Herb and Spicy Cayenne & Cheese — since both flavors are available nationwide.

An ounce of Lay’s Kettle Cooked Creamy Mediterranean Herb has 150 calories, 9 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 140 milligrams of sodium, and 16 grams of carbohydrates. Lay’s Kettle Cooked Spicy Cayenne & Cheese has 150 calories, 9 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 140 milligrams of sodium, and 16 grams of carbohydrates.

Source: Frito-Lay Snack Chat

REVIEW: Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats Touch of Fruit in the Middle Mixed Berry

Frosted Mini Wheats Touch of Fruit in the Middle

Among the many things that I’ve learned to appreciate as I’ve gotten older (e.g. quiet time, foreign beer, green leafy vegetables, a good deal on car insurance), Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats is the newest entry to the list. Believe me, this is a big deal. I HATED THIS CEREAL when I was a kid.

I’d beg my parents to buy the variety packs of Kellogg’s cereal, strictly for the miniature boxes of Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops, and Apple Jacks, but every once in a while, we’d get one that also included a box of Frosted Mini Wheats. That small orange box would remain untouched for weeks until someone (usually my dad) finally ate them.

I was never tempted to eat the Frosted Mini Wheats, mostly because the flavor and texture were too mature for my sugar-addicted tastes. That, and my common-law marriage to Toucan Sam. But now, as an adult, I can appreciate Frosted Mini Wheats for what they are – just sweet enough to be palatable and chock-full of fiber. I even eat them dry. I know, that sounds terrible, like choking down miniature wicker baskets encrusted with powdered sugar. It is almost a thoroughly boring flavor experience, but you can’t beat the crunchiness.

I didn’t really pay much attention to the Frosted Mini Wheats line before, but now that I’ve tasted the Touch of Fruit in the Middle Mixed Berry variety, I’m curious about the others. The new addition has a filling made with “a touch of real fruit.” Don’t worry, it’s the good kind of touch, not the bad kind, and it happens to be mixed berries. It really is a small amount, so don’t expect it to be “jam-packed” with fruit filling (no pun intended… or WAS IT???). The cereal’s overly descriptive and awkward name makes me wonder if Kellogg’s intends to release a series of fruit flavors soon, and if so, have raspberry and blueberry already been represented here? I nominate strawberry and apple next. Peach and lemon can go to hell.

Frosted Mini Wheats Touch of Fruit in the Middle In A Bowl

As I mentioned before, the texture of the cereal is VERY crunchy, almost like eating twigs, which would totally gross me out if it weren’t for that fact that I topped mine with vanilla almond milk and stevia crystals. The boost of sweetness really helped take the edge off, especially once the shredded wheat biscuits themselves starting soaking up the milk and softening. The mixed berry-flavored filling reminded me of the filling in Kellogg’s Raspberry Nutri-Grain cereal bars. In other words, it was nothing really special. The sensation of biting into the crispy, fibrous shell and tasting a soft, jam-like center was unusual, to say the least. Maybe this is what happens in the wild when animals chow down on tree bark to find sticky sap and grubs. Disgusting visual, for sure, but in those animals’ minds, how different is that from this cereal?

Frosted Mini Wheats Touch of Fruit in the Middle Middle

Despite the strangeness of the whole experience for me, I didn’t hate my bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats Touch of Fruit in the Middle Mixed Berry cereal. In fact, I went back for more. It’s clear to me now that my palate has matured to the point of being able to tolerate the crispy-bordering-on-tough texture and the low level of sweetness, both of which I firmly rejected as a kid. Maybe the fruit filling is Kellogg’s way of throwing the sugar-addicted child in all of us a bone and saying, “Hey, you may be spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars paying off utility bills and smartphone data plan charges every month, but at least your taste buds still work!”

(Nutrition Facts – 21 biscuits/1.9 ounces – 190 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 0 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 10 milligrams of sodium, 200 milligrams of potassium, 45 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, 5 grams of protein, 2% calcium and 90% iron.)

Item: Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats Touch of Fruit in the Middle Mixed Berry
Price: $2.99
Size: 18 ounces
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Quiet time. Cereal that is chock-full of fiber. Common-law marriages to cartoon mascots. Touch of real fruit enhances what would probably be a very boring cereal. Great at soaking up milk.
Cons: Awkwardly-named breakfast item. Eating twigs. Mixed Berry filling tastes like same filling in Nutri-Grain bars. Sticky sap and grubs. The Bad Touch. Bills, Bills, Bills. Don’t expect a lot of fruit filling.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Cheesy Double Decker Taco

Taco Bell Cheesy Double Decker

I wanted to ask the slightly above minimum wage earning person behind the Taco Bell counter if I could buy a large container of their nacho cheese sauce.

I didn’t ask because I wanted to be a dick, I asked because if all it takes is their nacho cheese sauce to magically come up with new menu items, like turning their Double Decker Taco into a Cheesy Double Decker Taco, then I’d rather to do it myself. I could also use it as a prop to act out what I imagine the Taco Bell new product brainstorming session was like when the Cheesy Double Decker Taco was created.

Taco Bell Executive #1: We need a new product for next month and I need it right now. And I need it to be good.

(Rumbling among the other executives)

Taco Bell Executive #2: How about we offer the Crunchwrap Sandwich, which has a generous helping of seasoned carne asada steak, sour cream, and refried beans in between two Crunchwraps The tagline for it can be, “Your mind has to wrap around it before your mouth does.”

Taco Bell Executive #1: That’s a horrible idea. Are you trying to kill our customers? Let me ask, are you high right now?

Taco Bell Executive #2: Maybe.

(Taco Bell Executive #2 giggles)

Taco Bell Executive #3: I got it. Since we’ve done a red taco shell and a black taco shell, how about we make a blue taco shell and use it for a shrimp taco. It’ll look like the shrimp are swimming in water.

Taco Bell Executive #1: Really? Lemme guess. You just watched Avatar again, and you’re probably high too?

Taco Bell Executive #3: Maybe.

(Taco Bell Executive #3 giggles and then high fives Taco Bell Executive #2)

Taco Bell Chihuahua: Yo quiero Milkbone Crunchwrap Supreme.

Taco Bell Executive #1: NO!

Taco Bell Bell: DONG!

Taco Bell Executive #1: NO!

(Taco Bell Executive #1 rolls her eyes.)

Taco Bell Executive #1: All right. We’ve got a lot of this nacho cheese sauce, so let’s just squirt some of it into our Double Decker Taco and call it the Cheesy Double Decker Taco. Are you all okay with that?

(Other Taco Bell executives nod to approve)

Taco Bell Executive #1: Good.

Taco Bell Cheesy Double Decker 2

Taco Bell’s original Double Decker Taco is my favorite Taco Bell menu item and was the number one cause for my Freshman fifteen in college. The combination of a warm, soft flour tortilla, filled with refried beans, wrapped around a taco that contains seasoned beef, shredded cheddar cheese, and shredded lettuce gets my heart to beat quickly, although that could just be from the sodium. Combining the nacho cheese sauce with the refried beans obviously adds a lot more cheesiness, and that was nice. However, I didn’t find it to be better than the original, but I did think it’s just as tasty as a regular Double Decker Taco

While I didn’t think the nacho cheese sauce makes it better, I do think it makes it several times messier than the original Double Decker. Alone, the viscosity of the refried beans is high, but when combined with the nacho cheese sauce, it significantly lowers it, causing refried beans and cheese sauce to ooze out from in between the taco shell and tortilla when you bite into it. If you’re eating the taco with the wrapping it came in below you, you’ll find yourself scooping up escaped refried beans and cheese from it.

Overall, I liked the Taco Bell Cheesy Double Decker Taco, but that’s mostly because of my love for the original. Sure, it’s not very inventive and a monkey with a picture book of ingredients could develop something better, but if you think about it, it’s what we expect from Taco Bell. Personally, I think not straying too far creatively is the reason why when they introduce something a little more outside of the box, perhaps a blue shell taco, it blows our minds a little more than it should.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 taco – 350 calories, 15 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 760 milligrams of sodium, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 14 grams of protein.)

Other Taco Bell Cheesy Double Decker Taco reviews:
We Rate Stuff
Smidview
Random Dude Eats Random Food

Item: Taco Bell Cheesy Double Decker Taco
Price: $1.49
Size: 1 taco
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Just as good as a Double Decker Taco. Nacho cheese sauce brings on the cheesy. Provides 8 grams of fiber — thanks beans! I <3 Double Decker Tacos. Pretending to hold a Taco Bell new product brainstorming session.
Cons: Nacho cheese sauce makes it messier than a regular Double Decker Taco. Not inventive. A monkey with a picture book of ingredients could come up with something better.

NEWS: New Target-Exclusive Ben & Jerry’s Flavors Promote Volunteerism, But Will Also Promote Weight Gain

Target sign - Store #1

Update: Click here to read our Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter World and Ben & Jerry’s Volun-Tiramisu review

Volunteering. It’s something we should all do.

For example, I help little old ladies cross the street, and if they don’t give me a monetary tip when I hold out my hand and let out a hearty AHEM after getting them to the other side of the street, I write it off as me volunteering my time and services to help the elderly.

Target and Ben & Jerry’s are doing their part to promote volunteerism by introducing two new Target-exclusive Ben & Jerry’s flavors, Volun-Tiramisu and Peanut Butter World. These flavors join last year’s exclusive flavors, Berry Voluntary and Brownie Chew Gooder.

Volun-Tiramisu consists of coffee mascarpone ice cream with cocoa dusted coffee rum lady finger pieces. While Peanut Butter World is made with milk chocolate ice cream with peanut butter swirls and chocolate cookie swirls.

The new flavors began showing up at Target store this month, which is fitting since April is National Volunteer Month. If you’d like to find volunteer opportunities in your area, you can visit Volunteer Match or you can help little old ladies cross the street and see if they’ll give you a tip.

Source: On Second Scoop