REVIEW: Dunkin’ Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

What happens when a store known for donuts tries to make banana bread?

Dunkin’ fudged around and found out with its new Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.

Well, actually, chocolate chips were used, but you catch my drift.

Launched on National Banana Bread Day, Dunkin’ made a bold statement that it was making the classic bakery treat even better by adding chocolate chips. It specifically mentioned that it’s pre-packaged to ensure it doesn’t dry out. I refuse to use the M-word that rhymes with “voiced” the brand used.

Upon hearing about this new item, I couldn’t help but compare it to Starbucks’ offering because that’s where I usually get my banana bread on the go. So, I decided to do a banana bread face-off.

Starbucks’ version has walnuts and pecans, and I’m calling this out because that could be a non-starter for people with a tree nut allergy. If that’s you, Dunkin’s Banana Chocolate Chip bread is not made with walnuts or pecans! But, you’re going to get literally more with Starbucks’ slice. It was thicker and only 50 cents more.

While the Starbucks one smelled slightly more cinnamon-y, the bites were similar. They both delivered on what you expect banana bread to be — banana-forward but not artificial banana tasting like a banana-flavored Runts or taffy. Texture-wise, the crumb on both was tender and not too densely packed. While the nuts added better textural contrast with the Starbucks one, the chocolate chips in the Dunkin’ one made it a bit more indulgent for me. However, I wish chocolate chunks were used to get the indulgence AND texture.

So it ended up being a pretty close matchup, and both were tasty!

While I’m impressed by how well Dunkin’ executed its Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, I’m still left scratching my head about it. If I want a treat or something to go with my coffee, I will get a donut. Munchkins, for the win!

Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 1 slice (3.45 oz)
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 330 calories, 15 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 280 milligrams of sodium, 45 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 27 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Churro Signature Latte

At some point in the last few years, we must have run out of cookies, cakes, and pies to try to mimic the flavor of, and the wandering eye of some product developer landed on churros as the next great flavor to reproduce in a different format. Churros are delicious! Surely, this will work!

Who could blame someone for trying to capture that magic in another form, and who could blame the next 200 companies who decided they needed to try their hand at it too? Me, apparently. The spring menu at Dunkin’ is leaning heavily into the churro trend, and the newest Signature Latte tries to capture the essence of the cinnamon and sugar-dusted fried pastry in a cup of coffee. The Churro Signature Latte is made from espresso, milk, and churro syrup topped with whipped cream, caramel drizzle, and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar.

It’s good! I like this drink! It’s smooth, creamy, and perfectly sweet without being too sweet. So what’s the problem? It doesn’t remotely remind me of a churro. We’ve already seen the likes of Ben & Jerry’s, Kit Kat, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch try and fail to crack the churro code, and Dunkin’s attempt might be the weakest of them all.

When I see something churro-flavored, I now assume it will be heavy on the cinnamon/sugar aspect because the taste and texture of fried dough are much more challenging to replicate in anything that isn’t actually fried dough. This latte misses the mark on capturing any pastry taste, and it somehow misses out on cinnamon too. The churro syrup doesn’t seem to contribute anything besides sweetness. If there’s supposed to be something more complex there, it’s so subtle that I’m unable to pick up on it and the cinnamon, even if I get a swoop of whipped cream flecked with it, is barely noticeable. While I find this extremely drinkable, nothing distinguishes it from a dressed-up latte you could get any time, anywhere.

I can’t say I’m disappointed in this drink because my expectations that it could capture the spirit of a churro were pretty low, and it’s a tasty beverage. In terms of a limited time offering though, it feels lazy and like the “churro” label is there just to capitalize on a fad. You wouldn’t sprinkle oregano on a stick and call it an Italian sub so why is it acceptable to add a pinch of cinnamon to something and call it churro? I wouldn’t discourage anyone from ordering it, but I think there’s an element of beating a dead dessert craze here. Can we let churros just be churros and go back to stuffing them in our mouths instead of half-heartedly cramming them into every other foodstuff? I’d consider ordering this again if I’m in the mood for a whipped cream-topped latte but I’m confident that long after the churro syrup is gone, Dunkin’ will still be able to make me this same drink.

Purchased Price: $5.29
Size: Medium
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 350 calories, 13 grams of total fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 49 grams of total carbs, 0 gram of dietary fiber, 43 grams of total sugar, and 9 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ SPARKD’ Energy Drink

Dunkin’ is introducing some fruity new ways to get your caffeine (and your apostrophe) fix this spring with its new SPARKD’ Energy drinks. The jewel-toned beverages look like they belong alongside the Refreshers drinks Dunkin’ already serves, but SPARKD’ swaps the green tea for sparkling water and the syrups have a caffeine boost from guarana along with some vitamins and minerals. Available in Berry Burst and Peach Sunshine, these drinks are kind of interesting, if not totally successful.

Served over ice and pleasantly effervescent, both are visually appealing and feature a blend of two fruit flavors. Berry Burst is a mix of raspberry and strawberry, and Peach Sunshine mixes peach, obviously, with lychee. While I’d normally gravitate towards a berry flavor over peach any day, I was intrigued by the lychee and had high hopes for its inclusion.

Trying the berry first, I enjoyed its bubbly nature and had no real complaints about the flavor, but it didn’t wow me either. It’s somewhat generic in its berry-ness, which isn’t a bad thing, but I expected it to be more interesting. The longer it sat and the ice melted, the more I started getting a Kool-Aid vibe from it. Again, not exactly a complaint, but it also wasn’t what I was looking for.

The Peach Sunshine variety left me similarly disappointed. It’s predominantly peach and if I didn’t know it included lychee, I wouldn’t have guessed it. The orange color had me hoping for more citrusy notes, but it’s very peach-forward. And in a medium size, it ended up just too peachy for me. Dunkin’ has had some really good flavor combos in its Refreshers line so I had higher expectations for these that just weren’t met. I have a preferred brand of energy drink (Red Bull), and both of these flavors reminded me of something I might get from a Celsius or other canned energy beverage that I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy but will pick up when my grocery store offers them as a “free item of the week” thing.

One might assume these are packed with caffeine with a name like SPARKD’, but they actually fall kind of in the middle of that spectrum. A medium of either flavor contains 144 milligrams of caffeine, which is more than a Refresher but less than a Dunkin’ iced coffee and considerably less than a Panera Charged Lemonade.

I don’t have anything truly negative to say about Dunkin’s foray into the energy drink market, but the initial offerings didn’t spark any desire in me to purchase them again. The fizz is fun and the overall drink is fine but not memorable. I’m going to root for these to stick around in the hopes that future flavors will be more exciting.

Purchased Price: $3.32
Size: Medium
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Berry Burst), 6 out of 10 (Peach Sunshine)
Nutrition Facts: Berry Burst – 130 calories, 0 grams of total fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of total carbs, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 27 grams of total sugar, 0 grams of protein, and 144 milligrams of caffeine. Peach Sunshine – 120 calories, 0 grams of total fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of total carbs, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 27 grams of total sugar, 0 grams of protein, and 144 milligrams of caffeine.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Brownie Batter Coffee Creamer

Dunkin’s Brownie Batter Coffee Creamer is influenced by the chain’s Brownie Batter Donut. And this coffee creamer has influenced me to buy more of it because it’s a limited edition flavor that may disappear for all eternity, and I think it’s one of the best chocolatey creamers I’ve ever had.

When I try new creamers, I pretend I’m the basin of a coffee creamer fountain and pour it from the spout directly into my mouth. When I did that with this one, I noticed that it’s sweet and chocolatey and lacks that artificialness that other chocolate-focused creamers I’ve tried have. As I mouth mainlined it, I thought it tasted like brownie à la mode with chocolate ice cream. I also wondered if I could flavor a milkshake with it. (Has anyone flavored a milkshake using coffee creamer? Let me know in the comments.)

When I added it to my inexpensive brewed ground coffee, it made it taste like chocolatey inexpensive brewed ground coffee. I didn’t get the same brownie notes I got when pouring it directly into my mouth, but it’s definitely chocolatey, and it’s terrific. But I should mention that I put enough creamer in my java to make any nutritionist cringe. Also, TMI, if I burp after drinking this with coffee, what comes up tastes like chocolate ice cream. That’s some Willy Wonka magic right there!

If I wish to make my morning Hydro Flask of coffee taste chocolatey, using Dunkin’ Brownie Batter Coffee Creamer would be my first choice. But because it’s available for a limited time, I’ll have to get my chocolate creamer fix from one of the many lesser options once it’s gone. Perhaps I should try to influence the powers that be to make this a permanent addition.

Purchased Price: $4.79
Size: 32 fl oz
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 Tbsp) 30 calories, 1 gram of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 6 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar (including 5 grams of added sugar), and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Breakfast Empanada

My local Dunkin’ was giving out free samples of the new Churro donut the other day, so I pocketed one to eat later in the day. Ya know, because I didn’t wanna spoil my supper.

Alright, I lied, I grabbed three little baggies on my way out when they weren’t looking. I know, you don’t have to say it – I’m what’s wrong with society. Believe me, I fully expect to see a printed camera shot of me on the wall with the words, “Do Not Serve This Slob,” next time I get a coffee.

Anyway, when it came time to sample said donut bites, two of them weren’t donuts at all. They were little bites of the new Breakfast Empanadas – ice cold bites of a sausage, egg and cheese empanada.

Serves me right, I guess… but ya know what? As gross as an empanada sitting in the car for five hours sounds, it wasn’t bad. In fact, it was good enough to go back the next day and try one hot out of the (microwave) oven.

The breakfast empanada consists of egg, cheese, and sausage paste baked inside a pastry shell. That’s not the most appetizing description, but it’s essentially what it is. The contents are like that of a Pillsbury Toaster Scramble, while the taste was similar to Dunkin’s Omelet Bites, just not as dry.

The crust is greasy and flakey but still quite enjoyable. I wouldn’t say it’s completely authentic to a traditional empanada, but maybe closer to a pot pie. It has a “sheen” to it, like a knish from a Jewish deli. I actually think the crust may have been the best part.

The inside is fine but leaves a little to be desired. The flavors blend well, but it can’t shake an underlying “cheap” taste that I don’t think a lot of other Dunkin’ foods have to this degree. I think it stems from the scrambled eggs that needed to be a little firmer. Some bites were so mushy they bordered on liquid and really relied on the crust to sop it up.

The sausage crumbles also didn’t have much texture, but they still boasted one overwhelming spice I couldn’t pinpoint. It made me think the empanada might’ve needed a zesty sauce or salsa to counter it. If the middle wasn’t an egg porridge, I’d say the crust-to-filling ratio was too high, but I appreciated the empanada shell’s role in this situation.

It’s funny; the hot version wasn’t much better than the cold. I should’ve Goldilocks’d it and waited about fifteen minutes, so it was just right.

In the grand scheme, this is probably a one or two-time purchase, but it’s not surpassing the Wakeup Wraps or Breakfast Tacos for me.

Still, you know how the menu works. The empanada will probably be gone in a month, so it’s worth a try. It’s a pretty convenient and satisfying meal. If not, you can always just steal three samples instead.

Purchased Price: $4.29
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 470 calories, 33 grams of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 grams of saturated fat, 130 milligrams of cholesterol, 760 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of total carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 4 gram of total sugars, and 12 grams of protein.