REVIEW: Golden Grahams S’mores Bites

Golden Grahams S mores Bites

What are Golden Grahams S’ mores Bites?

It’s a bit of food history irony that graham crackers, the base of so many sugary desserts and after school snacks, were originally created as a health food. Sylvester Graham advocated a vegetarian diet consisting mostly of bread made from coarsely home-ground flour.

He theorized a bland diet was essential to not only physical, but moral health as well, and that flavorful food was too, ahem, “stimulating.” Products made from graham flour proliferated in the late 19th century, and would slowly morph into the myriad of crackers, crusts, and cereals we enjoy today.

General Mills has released its latest assault on poor Sylvester’s theories in the form of Golden Grahams S’ mores Bites. Will the combination of marshmallow and chocolate surrounded by a “Graham” cracker pastry be the last straw, the thing that causes Sylvester Graham, who I assume has lived to 225 years due to his healthful diet, take his vengeance on us all?

How are they?

Golden Grahams S mores Bites Cooked

I was surprised to see there were no conventional oven directions for these bites. 20 to 30 seconds in the microwave are the only cooking instructions listed on the packaging. Even this short time results in the filling bursting through the graham cracker shell.

So as to not burn my mouth, I wait a minute before taking a bite and find the filling to be hot, but not scalding. The primary flavor is chocolate, with the marshmallow not making much of an impact at all. The graham cracker shell doesn’t taste much like Golden Grahams or graham crackers, but is a generically sweet pastry shell. They must be baked at the factory because they have the baked-then-frozen flavor shared by other mass-produced baked goods.

Golden Grahams S mores Bites Inside

The soft and doughy texture isn’t a surprise given the microwave-only directions, but is still disappointing since a crunchy texture is essential to the enjoyment of both Golden Grahams and s’ mores.

Is there anything else you need to know?

Another surprise is that these don’t need any cooking at all. According to the packaging, allowing them to defrost to room temperature is all that’s required.

Here’s a question: would Sylvester approve of this?

On the one hand, it’s the more slothful method. On the other, it eliminates the corrupting influence of microwaves, which are no doubt of infernal origins. After about ten minutes at room temperature, I pop a bite into my mouth and have much the same experience as the heated version. There’s the barest hint of honey graham cracker, but the overall experience is still of chocolate and pre-baked pastry.

Though not explicitly recommended anywhere, I also munch into a completely frozen bite. This “solves” the texture issue by adding some resistance, but doesn’t add the crunch I’m looking for.


Golden Grahams S’ mores Bites are sweet and inoffensive (assuming you’re not a 19th century minister with very particular dietary opinions), but miss out on the combination of crunchy, melty, ooey-gooey goodness that makes real s’ mores great.

We’re safe from Sylvester Graham for now, not because we’re not a fallen, decadent society, but because these bites aren’t worth getting all worked up over.

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 14.7 oz. (30 count)
Purchased at: Woodman’s Market
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (4 bites) 190 calories, 6 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 350 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Off The Grid Vanilla Buttermilk Waffles

Off The Grid Vanilla Buttermilk Waffles

What are Off The Grid Vanilla Buttermilk Waffles?

From the folks who brought us the Eggo comes Off The Grid which are frozen waffles with 12 grams of complete protein per serving and made with 100% whole grains and cage-free eggs.

I bought the Vanilla Buttermilk ones because it’s the only one my local Target carries. But there are also cinnamon brown sugar and wild blueberry varieties.

How are they?

Although they come from Kellogg’s and look like a tanned version of America’s most popular frozen waffle, they definitely do not taste like an Eggo.

When eaten sans syrup, the vanilla and buttermilk flavor are noticeable, but they’re not potent enough that I can imagine me eating these without some kind of sweet condiment. Toasting them makes the exterior a little crispy and the interior soft. Of course, that’s prior to me giving them a syrup shower.

Off The Grid Vanilla Buttermilk Waffles Tanned

While the whole grains do give these a slightly grainy texture and different flavor compared to an Eggo, I thought they tasted decent. But Eggo Homestyle Waffles do taste a little better to me. Store brand pancake syrup that has been carefully added to the brim of every pocket in the waffle adds a much-needed flavor. (Yup, that’s how I do syrup on waffles.) Thankfully, it doesn’t completely mask the vanilla and buttermilk.

Is there anything else you need to know?

A serving of two waffles has 13 grams of protein (12 grams of complete protein), which is 24 percent of your daily recommended intake. Unfortunately, unlike regular Eggo waffles, they’re not fortified with 20-25% of your RDA of a bunch of vitamins and minerals, like calcium, folic acid, vitamin A, etc, All you’re getting with these is protein, some fiber, and a minuscule amount of vitamin D, iron, calcium, and potassium.

According to the box, complete proteins contain all nine of the special essential amino acids in the right amounts. Our bodies don’t make or store these amino acids so we have to get them through food.

If you’re wondering how these differ from Kodiak Cakes Power Waffles, I have to admit I haven’t had them. But what I do know is that a box of Kodiak Cakes has 10 waffles per box, while Off The Grid has eight. And I also know protein waffles are expensive.


Off The Grid Vanilla Buttermilk Waffles are fine for what they are — frozen waffles. If you’re looking for a product that provides protein, these are a decent tasting option. But they don’t convince me to completely leggo the Eggo.

Purchased Price: $6.49*
Size: 8 waffles/box
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2 waffles) 230 calories, 11 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 310 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 13 grams 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: White Castle Desserts On-A-Stick

White Castle has had a line of frozen tiny sliders for years. But now there are White Castle Desserts to help you complete your White Castle meal from the freezer aisle.

I know it says “mini” on the boxes, but I didn’t realize how so until I opened one. They fit comfortably in the palm of my hand. They’re super adorbs! I just want to cup them in my hands and tell them how cute they are, like a pet mouse.

There are four White Castle Desserts to choose from: Fudge-Dipped Brownie, Fudge-Dipped Peanut Butter Pie, Fudge-Dipped Strawberry Cheesecake, and Gooey Butter Cake.

Fudge-Dipped Brownie

White Castle Desserts Fudge Dipped Brownie On A Stick

This is similar to the Fudge-Dipped Brownie offered at White Castle restaurants. I’ve never had one, so I can’t compare the two, but the freezer aisle version is mostly like biting into a pie shaped piece of fudge. I know it’s fudge dipped, but the whole thing feels and tastes like I’m eating fudge. Look at the cross section photo below; it looks more like fudge than a brownie.

White Castle Desserts Fudge Dipped Brownie On A Stick 3

The section closest to the stick, the unfudged part, does taste more like a box mix brownie, than fudge. There are chocolate chips, but with my taste buds overloaded with fudge flavor, it’s impossible to distinguish them. So they’re there more for show.

White Castle Desserts Fudge Dipped Brownie On A Stick 2

It may be tiny, but it’s dense. How dense is it? It’s more so than the number of times I used the word “fudge” in the last two paragraphs. It’s so much so that there’s no way I could eat another right after eating one.

Purchased Price: $6.99
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 240 calories, 100 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 26 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

Fudge-Dipped Peanut Butter Pie

White Castle Desserts Fudge Dipped Peanut Butter Pie On A Stick

Before trying any of them, I thought this variety would end up being my favorite because the chocolate and peanut butter combo has almost always made my lips emit an “MMMM.” But with this mini dessert, my mouth thought about letting out a “meh.”

The peanut butter part of the pie tastes similar to a PB cookie. It’s dense, much like the brownie one. It’s also gritty and has a noticeable saltiness to it. The fudge coating also seems to have gained some of that nutty flavor. There’s also a cocoa cookie crust on the bottom that enhances the fudge flavor.

White Castle Desserts Fudge Dipped Peanut Butter Pie On A Stick 2

The dessert as a whole tastes like a generic peanut butter cup, which sounds like a good thing. But much like the Fudge-Dipped Brownie, it’s also bit too dense and rich for me, which makes it less appealing. Also, its saltiness is a little more than I’d like.

White Castle Desserts Fudge Dipped Peanut Butter Pie On A Stick 3

Surprisingly, this ended up being my least favorite. It’s far from terrible, but when I compare it with the others, I prefer the others more.

Purchased Price: $6.99
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 280 calories, 190 calories from fat, 21 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 14 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.

Fudge-Dipped Strawberry Cheesecake

White Castle Desserts Fudge Dipped Strawberry Cheesecake On A Stick

This is the one that stood out for me. It’s the one where I said to myself, “Sugar count, be damned! I want another.”

White Castle Desserts Fudge Dipped Strawberry Cheesecake On A Stick 2

The flavors come in waves. The strawberry hits first, which reminds me of strawberry ice cream, then a cheesecake tanginess comes across my taste buds. The graham cracker-like crust adds a bit of saltiness to the dessert that enhances the other flavors. But it also adds a texture that’s like compacted wet sand falling apart. I thought the fudge would make this more like a chocolate dipped strawberry, but the coating doesn’t play a strong role with the dessert’s flavor.

White Castle Desserts Fudge Dipped Strawberry Cheesecake On A Stick 3

There are darker bits in the strawberry filling and a few streaks that are strawberry jam-like, which help make the fruit flavor stand out and lessen the fudge’s impact. Those streaks are under the coating, so in real life it doesn’t quite look like what’s on the box.

Also, being lighter than the brownie and peanut butter pie varieties helped make me enjoy this more.

Purchased Price: $6.99
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 180 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 110 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

Gooey Butter Cake

White Castle Desserts Gooey Butter Cake On A Stick

Gooey is not the most accurate adjective to describe this frozen Butter Cake. Dry and crumbly are probably more correct. Even after letting it sit for the recommended 5-10 minutes, its lack of gooey-ness didn’t change.

I’ve never had a butter cake, but as I chewed my way through this dessert, all I could think about was pound cake, which I very much enjoy. According to the ingredients list, there also a cream cheese component to it, but I didn’t taste it.

White Castle Desserts Gooey Butter Cake On A Stick 2

It’s not as dense as the other White Castle Dessert because there’s cake involved, which is the reason why the whole thing is dry and crumbly. The top layer is dense and drier than the lower tier and gives the dessert a cookie-like crunch. Both layers need to eaten together to get the optimum flavor because individually they taste just okay.

Even though its textures aren’t optimal, its flavor almost wholly makes up for it. It’s not overly sweet like some of the others, and I could see myself double fisting this.

Purchased Price: $6.99
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 220 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 22 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.

Other Things

White Castle Desserts On A Stick

  • Except for the Gooey Butter Cake, they’re quite solid when pulled out of sub-zero temperatures. So if you do try to take a bite out of them at that point, pulling a piece away is going to make it feel as if any teeth aligning work you’ve gotten done has just gone to waste.
  • The long-winded instructions on most of the boxes say to let them thaw for 5-10 minutes before eating. But, for some reason, the brownie one says to wait 15 to 30 minutes. Fortunately, I found all of them to be soft enough after three minutes.
  • The White Castle logo is on the sticks, but with half of the dessert I’ve eaten the logo is face down. It’s a minor thing, but I guess I’m a sucker for consistency.

REVIEW: Oreo Chocolate Crunch State Fair Cookies

Oreo Chocolate Crunch State Fair Cookie

I was watching the Food Network recently, and one of the dozens of “Best of…” programs was featuring State Fair food. I hadn’t been to so much as a county fair in a long time, so I was not mentally prepared for the monuments to gluttony that I saw.

The last time I checked, funnel cake with powdered sugar or maybe an extra long churro was peak-indulgence. I’m not complaining, but we’re living in a world with fried cheesecake hot fudge sundaes topped with caramel, pralines, brownie pieces, and whipped cream, so I needed to reorient my worldview.

When I saw Oreo’s new Chocolate Crunch State Fair Cookies at Walmart, I knew I had to try to try them. Can the State Fair experience be recreated at home?

Oreo Chocolate Crunch State Fair Cookie 2

There are two cooking instructions on the box, conventional and microwave oven, so in the interest of experiencing everything these cookies had to offer, I tried both methods. The conventional oven preparation is pictured on the left and microwave on the right. I’m pleased that neither preparation has resulted in Oreo Crème leaking out the sides. I get inordinately angry at burst filling.

Right out of the oven, the scent immediately reminds me of french toast sticks. That’s a bit…strange, but not too off-putting. As I bite into it, my first impression is of chicken nuggets.


No, the sharp chocolaty sweetness is quickly apparent, followed by the filling’s mild creaminess. So, they taste like Oreo cookies, but what’s going on here? Both the conventional and microwave oven samples share the same aroma, and I realize that what I’m detecting the ubiquitous essence that all deep fried and frozen snacks share, like fryer oil that should’ve been changed sooner. These also have the soggy breading that is the fate of so many other freezer-to-oven items.

Oreo Chocolate Crunch State Fair Cookie 3

These are not the little morsels of bliss that I was hoping for, so I decide to deconstruct them in an effort to see where everything went wrong. The crème is ordinary Oreo filling that thankfully never gets too hot or melty. (Imagine burning your tongue on molten crème filling.) The Oreo cookie is plain Oreo cookie that’s a bit soggy. The breading is plain breading that, despite the name, doesn’t taste like chocolate and never gets very crunchy. Combine all this and you get something that’s edible, but doesn’t even surpass common Oreo cookies, much less something you could get at a State Fair.

In the end, these State Fair Oreo Cookies are a bit disappointing. Perhaps Food Network programming has set my expectations for decadence too high. Will normal deserts now turn to ash in my mouth, forcing me to seek ever-loftier sensual delights until the line between pleasure and pain, virtue and vice are blurred? I dunno, but normal Oreo still taste pretty good, so I’m probably safe.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cookies – 130 calories, 6 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 10 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Warm Oreo Crème doesn’t leak out the sides and is very tasty.
Cons: Odd-yet-familiar deep-fried frozen item scent and flavor. Doesn’t get very crisp even in a very hot oven.

REVIEW: Hostess Deep Fried Banana Twinkies

Hostess Deep Fried Banana Twinkies

Before I start, I have one simple request.

Every time you see the words “Deep Fried Banana Twinkies” in this review, read it in a sensual Barry White-esque voice. Pump some smooth bedroom music through your speaker to set the mood. If by the end you don’t want a box of Deep Fried Banana Twinkies, you might not be human. 

What? Oh come on, don’t make it weird. You’re making it weird.

You made it weird. Forget it. Read the words normally. It’s a free country.

Despite having one of just about everything under the sun fried, this was my first *flicks on romantic tune* Deep. Fried. Ba-na-na. Twinkie. Awww, yeahhhh. Okay, I’ll stop.

Hostess Deep Fried Banana Twinkies 2

I cooked said Twinkie in the oven (which is recommended) but you can also use a toaster oven, or deep fry them again. I’m not going to judge.

Out of the box the Twinkies look like potato croquettes. Maybe even a fat chicken tender. That sight messed with my mind a bit. I started to think I was all set to have a savory snack.

After a couple minutes, I made a cooking faux pas and opened the stove to get a whiff. I’d say there was almost a churro-like aroma. Nice.

Hostess Deep Fried Banana Twinkies 3

I took it out at the seven minute mark, which ended up being perfect. The cake was just hot enough to differ from a normal Twinkie, and the cream wasn’t like molten lava.

Deep Fried Banana Twinkies are breaded in a graham cracker coating, and maybe it was my mind playing games with me, but that portion almost tasted savory in the end. There was a serious lack of sweetness before the banana cream hit.

The familiar sponge cake is still underneath, and the overall texture was okay, if not a little doughy. I now understand why I’ve seen fried Twinkies smothered in syrup or powdered sugar at county fairs. It needed another sweet element. 

Hostess Deep Fried Banana Twinkies 4

I wondered if the warmth might ruin the taste of the banana cream, but it was just like a normal Banana Twinkie. Still, there wasn’t enough to overpower the graham and sponge cake’s lack of sweetness. Next time I eat one, I’ll probably drop a dollop of chocolate syrup on top.

Look, it sounds like I’m complaining, but the graham cracker did give the Twinkie a nice outer crisp. It just wasn’t particularly flavorful. It also had an odd aftertaste, but I actually think the fried sponge cake was the culprit there. 

Regular Deep Fried Twinkies have a funnel cake coating, and now I’m kinda bummed I didn’t get those. That just sounds better.

In the end, the outer fried portion wasn’t sweet enough, and probably too doughy, but once the cream hit, Deep Fried Banana Twinkies are still pretty good. They’re definitely worth a try.

I will say that the price is ridiculous, and as an Impatient American (I’m the Union President) I don’t love the idea of waiting for an oven to preheat, 6-8 minutes to cook, and two minute to cool off before eating a snack cake. Yeah, I enjoy a homemade cookie or brownie, but that’s a different mindset. You want a Twinkie? Open a box and eat a Twinkie. Who has time for this waiting nonsense?

If the graham coating was tastier and the price was lower, these could become a snack I regularly keep in the freezer, but for now I probably won’t go back unless they put out some crazy flavor concoctions in the future. Awwww yeahhhh, baby. 

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cake – 230 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 420 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 15 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $5.49
Size: 7 cakes/box
Purchased at: Shop Rite
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Banana Cream never fails. Nice outer crisp. Fried Fair Food Fare. Barry White voice. Potato Croquettes.
Cons: Graham cracker not flavorful enough. Expensive. Time consuming. “Dollop” is my least favorite word in the English language. Funnel Cake > Graham Cracker.

REVIEW: Hostess Original Golden Deep Fried Twinkies

Hostess Deep Fried Twinkies

As someone who grew up in a town that hosts the so-called “Biggest Small Town Fair in the Country,” I’m familiar with novelty fried foods. And oxymorons, apparently.

So yes, I have had a deep-fried Twinkie before, and for all I know, that barely digestible monstrosity is still hanging out somewhere inside me. It probably has a better memory of Summer 2004 than I do, too.

That’s why I wasn’t scared of Hostess’ new Deep Fried Twinkies. I mean, these things are pre-fried, frozen, boxed, and conveniently stocked in Walmart’s freezer aisle endcap! “That’s like eating fried food on easy mode!” my inner Twinkie shouted from somewhere in my large intestine.

Hostess Deep Fried Twinkies 2

But I shouldn’t have treated these Deep Fried Twinkies like declawed kittens. Because despite their sad frozen appearance, which is like Han Solo in carbonite crossed with a belt-sanded fish stick, these unassuming Twinkies are more like rattlesnakes wearing silencers.

Ever-curious, I took a nibble of a still-frozen cake. It tasted like a Krispy Kreme doughnut stuffed with frozen custard. That was all the heart-fluttering inspiration I needed to fire up my toaster oven* to 350° and spend the next eight minutes eagerly glued to my warmly radiating fried food boob tube.

The Deep Fried Twinkies’ packaging warns not to over bake them, as the cream inside can disappear. Not wanting my Twinkie’s hot, buttery goo to transcend this earthly plane, I wondered how long to wait. But right as I actually spoke the words, “How do I know if it’s done?” aloud, the golden tube leaked a prophetic drop of sizzling crème onto the toaster’s bottom.

Hostess Deep Fried Twinkies 3

As emergency rescue, extraction, and cooling of my Twinkie began, I drank in its authentic county fair aroma like a Looney Toon next to a windowsill pie. Once my Deep Fried Twinkie’s leaky wounds cauterized, I dug in.

DMG! (Dough My Goodness!) What was once a chewy, doughnutty shell was now crispy, oily, and buttery sweet—like the shell of a cannoli or the wrapper on a dessert egg roll.** But the oil didn’t leak into the fluffy, warm, and golden sponge cake inside. This created a tasty puff pastry blanket around the cream center instead of the oily mess you might find in other deep fried treats.

I’m looking at you, Taco Bell Cap’n Crunch Delights.

Hostess Deep Fried Twinkies 4

And can we talk about my Deep Fried Twinkies’ crème filling? Because it was fantastic. It tasted just like the creamy vanilla innards of a normal Twinkie, except half-liquefied. It had the flavor of whipped cream mixed with doughnut glaze and the viscosity of runny maple syrup.

This means that you can squeeze the delicate treat and quite literally suck up the crème like the world’s most dangerous Capri-Sun juice box. And I’ll proudly testify in front of a judge and jury that this, your honor, is exactly what I did with my Deep Fried Twinkie.

Maybe it’s my hometown nostalgia talking, but I adore these Deep Fried Twinkies (which have a Chocolate variety, too). They have a charming novelty with the part-doughnut, part-Twinkie, part-funnel cake taste to back it up. You owe it to your inner child to give one of these a try.

And I promise, that’s not just my inner deep-fried Twinkie talking.

*Note: You can also oven bake or actually deep fry these. I chose a toaster oven because I was impatient and thought McDonald’s would kick me out if I asked to use their fryer.

**Note: I made up the term “dessert egg roll” for this review, but apparently it’s a real thing. What a time to be alive.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cake – 220 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 300 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 16 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.79
Size: 7 cakes
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 10 out of 10
Pros: The buttery lovechild of a county fair, a bakery, and a snack cake aisle. Wanting (and planning) to pour this crème onto a Belgian waffle. Frozen custard cylinders. Winning my town fair’s pie-eating contest in high school.
Cons: Being unable to decide whether to eat my next Twinkie frozen or hot. Only come 7 to a package. Smelling burnt crème in my toaster oven for the next two weeks. Shuddering memories of Cap’n Crunch Delights.