REVIEW: Mountain House Freeze Dried New York Style Cheesecake Bites

Mountain House Freeze Dried New York Style Cheesecake Bites

Amazon is creepy.

I search for astronaut ice cream ONE TIME on the online shopping site and the next day I get an email from them with a recommendation list of other freeze-dried snacks I might enjoy. So that is how I ended up with a bag of Mountain House’s Freeze Dried New York Style Cheesecake Bites.

And a 25-foot long outdoor extension power cord.

And a microphone.

The snack was an “Add-on item” so I had to spend $25 to get free shipping. You know how it is, Amazon Prime members.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Mountain House, it’s a company that specializes in freeze-dried meals. It has varieties like biscuits and gravy, lasagna with meat sauce, chili mac with beef, and breakfast skillet. Just add water, wait 10 minutes, and you’ve got yourself a meal. But don’t look at it. The company also offers dessert because what better way is there to end your freeze-dried meal than with freeze-dried dessert.

Thankfully, no water is involved in order to enjoy these freeze dried cheesecake bites. Like insects to a bird, they’re ready to eat.

Mountain House Freeze Dried New York Style Cheesecake Bites 2

Each bite is a half-inch cube and appears to have a graham cracker-like topping. They look good and crunch like a school cafeteria shortbread cookie, but they taste like nothing for the first couple chews.

Only when the pieces break down in my mouth do I get any flavor. But it doesn’t remind me of cheesecake even though there is a slight graham flavor. Instead, I instantly think of lemon cookies or lemon cake because the bites are missing that distinct level of tang cheesecake has.

Even though they don’t remind me of cheesecake, Mountain House Freeze Dried New York Style Cheesecake Bites are pleasant. I imagine they would be a nice ice cream topper, albeit an expensive one. One pouch, which is also one serving, is $3.50 on Amazon. But it’s good enough that it’s made me curious about Mountain House’s just-add-water meals.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 package – 240 calories, 120 calories from fat, 14 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 14 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 1.94 oz pouch
Purchased at: Amazon
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like lemon cake or cookies. Crunchy. Eating freeze-dried desserts is cool. No refrigeration needed. Ready to eat.
Cons: Doesn’t remind me of cheesecake. First couple of chews taste like nothing. Pricey for what you get. Amazon Add-on Items.

REVIEW: Kobi Dogs “Kobi Competition Pack”


Where were you on the Fourth of July? Were you outside, barbecuing with friends and family? Spending the day at the beach? Illegally purchasing copious amounts of explosive pyrotechnics in hopes of putting together the world’s greatest firework show?

This past Independence Day, I was parked on the sofa, staring mindlessly at the television screen while shoveling fistfuls of Cheetos into my mouth. ESPN was broadcasting the 2013 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, where America’s greatest competitive eaters gather to engorge themselves with frankfurters, ingesting frighteningly high amounts of calories.

Though many find the Nathan’s competition to be unpleasant and off-putting, I find it bizarrely fascinating. Nothing screams “AMERICA!” more than a bunch of grown men racing to shove hot dogs down their throats as quickly as possible. This year, Joey “Jaws” Chestnut of San Jose, California set a new official world record with sixty-nine hot dogs consumed in ten minutes.

However, something was missing from this year’s competition.

Nay, someone was missing from this year’s competition!

Since 2010, Japanese competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi has been barred from competing in the Nathan’s event due to contract disputes with Major League Eating. Kobayashi, one of the world’s most famous competitive eaters, is largely credited with popularizing the Nathan’s contest, where his unnatural skill earned him the Mustard Belt six years in a row. As a result of the contract disputes, Kobayashi is presently limited to taking part in competitive eating events not sanctioned by Major League Eating.

However, Kobi hasn’t let this hold him back. Last year, Kobi set a new world record with thirteen grilled cheeses consumed in sixty seconds. He took first place at Wing Bowl XX by devouring an unprecedented 337 buffalo wings. On the Wendy Williams Show, Kobayashi set another record of fourteen Twinkies eaten in one minute. Kobi clearly hasn’t lost his touch.

On this most recent Fourth of July, Takeru Kobayashi revealed his new line of hot dogs, appropriately called “Kobi Dogs.” Next to Oscar Ferdinand Mayer, Takeru Kobayashi is one of the most recognizable names in the hot dog world. It seems almost natural for him to start promoting wieners.

Kobi Dogs, manufactured by Rastelli Direct, are hickory smoked, seasoned with natural spices, and made from “100% source verified Western Beef.” At the moment, they can only be ordered from in a “Kobi Competition Pack” of thirty hot dogs. Most people wouldn’t dare to order so many hot dogs, but I’m a chump. Slap Kobi’s name on anything and I’ll buy it.

The Kobi Dogs arrived in a large styrofoam cooler along with a chunk of dry ice. I had imagined an epic cloud of smoke rising forth from the cooler as I opened it, slowly clearing to reveal thirty gold plated hot dogs engraved with the name of Takeru Kobayashi. Naturally, things were nowhere near as epic as I had hoped. The cooler only contained a small cardboard box featuring a sticker of a cartoon Kobi head and the “Kobi Dog” logo.


The cardboard box held two vacuum sealed plastic containers of Kobi Dogs, each housing fifteen hot dogs. Sadly, the containers bore no mark designating them as Kobi Dogs; they were your average, transparent plastic hot dog packages. It’s completely possible that Rastelli Direct packaged up their generic brand of hot dog and relabeled them as Kobi Dogs. (I’ve never tasted Rastelli Direct’s other hot dogs, so I wouldn’t know!)

I feel a little bit cheated, actually. After spending my hard-earned money on thirty hot dogs, I would have liked to see some fancy Kobi packaging or promotional add-ins. Maybe a little card from Kobayashi thanking me for my Kobi Dog purchase? How about a Kobi poster to hang on my bedroom wall? Anything, really!

Nevertheless, holding the Kobi Dogs in my hands made me feel energized, as if I could down all thirty in less than five minutes. Could this be my moment? Was I born to be a competitive eater? It was time to find out.

I tore open the first bag of hot dogs and gave ‘em a whiff. Surprisingly, the seasoning of the hot dogs is evident in their scent even when uncooked. They actually smell pretty appetizing for raw hot dogs! The Kobi Dogs seem to be shaped a little strange, though, having a sort of spiral form. This is most likely due to compression from the packaging.

After cooking a few of the hot dogs, I decided it would be best to experience my first Kobi Dog sans bun and condiments. Too often, hot dogs are rubbery and resistant in texture, but the casing of the Kobi Dog provides the perfect give to the bite, revealing a juicy all-beef interior.

As I expected, the spices used in the seasoning of the hot dog are immediately evident in its flavor. The flavor seems very salty with subtle pepper undertones. The hot dogs are all beef, but after significant chewing, seem to have a flavor slightly reminiscent of pork. Although I failed to detect the “hickory smoked” flavoring, the seasoning fittingly complements the flavor of the beef. To be honest, I can’t recall ever having tasted a hot dog as well seasoned as the Kobi Dog.

Next, I chose to experience a Kobi Dog fit for the man himself. During his Reddit Ask Me Anything, Takeru Kobayashi stated that his favorite toppings for a hot dog are “Basic mustard and ketchup. It’s not just for the taste, but it’s so pop looking having the red and yellow stripe on it.”


Sadly, when combined with a bun, mustard, and ketchup, the flavors of the Kobi Dog are dulled. The seasonings of the hot dog seem lost to the strong combination of mustard and ketchup. The condiments blend to drown out the Kobi Dog’s flavor profile and make it seem as if I’m eating just another run-of-the-mill hot dog.

The Kobi Dog excels in flavor when consumed without condiments, truly impressing with its well-seasoned flavor profile. Sadly, the hot dog’s favorable qualities become masked by the addition of ketchup and mustard. If I could order less than thirty hot dogs at a time, I might consider purchasing Kobi Dogs in the future, but the lack of creative packaging and add-ins fail to make the Kobi Dog seem like a value.

For a product so specifically tied to one person, more incentive needs to be added for the purchase of thirty hot dogs to seem worthwhile. Here’s a recommendation: bundle the hot dogs with a limited edition Takeru Kobayashi action figure, complete with a miniature “Free Kobi” shirt. Now that would be a deal!

And for those wondering, I was unable to eat all thirty in less than five minutes. I guess I’ll never be a professional wiener face-stuffer.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 hot dog – 195 calories, 135 calories from fat, 16 grams of fat, 7.2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 34 milligrams of cholesterol, 450 milligrams of sodium, 4 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 1.5 grams of sugars, and 7.5 grams of protein.)

Item: Kobi Dogs “Kobi Competition Pack”
Purchased Price: $19.99 (plus shipping)
Size: 60 oz. (30 hot dogs)
Purchased at:
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Well seasoned. Good texture. Flavorful and juicy. Televised hot dog eating competitions.
Cons: Must purchase packs of thirty hot dogs. Condiments drown out flavor of hot dog. No add-ins or creative packaging. Contract disputes. Failing to eat thirty hot dogs in less than five minutes.

REVIEW: Armour Syrup Flavored Vienna Sausage

Armour Syrup Flavored Vienna Sausage

There are certain cravings that make sense.

I want an ice cream cone on a hot summer day. Watching Chris Davis go yard at the Yard, I feel a sudden urge for peanuts and Cracker Jack.

Other cravings are a little more “out there,” but understandable given extenuating circumstances. It’s what excuses adding pork rinds to your milkshake after a night at the bar, or what allows pregnant women to justify eating Pillsbury brownie mix right out of the bowl. Some cravings, though, just make no sense whatsoever.

Take me and canned meat. Growing up with a bountiful supply of, well, your typical American upper-middle class food, I always had the blessing of fresh meat to eat during my formative gastronomic years. Likewise, in college, I enjoyed an all-you-can-eat dining hall which, despite being a young man with a plan, did not leave me with a necessary reliance on any sort of can. And having never lived through a natural disaster, been subjected to a dinner party at a Doomsday Prepper’s home, nor decided to engage in any kind of cross-oceanic voyage that would make canned food a necessity, you might surmise that I should have no attraction to the canned meat aisle to begin with.

You, my friend, would be wrong.

Quite the opposite, really. My fixation on canned meats knows no limits, which is probably why the 53 cent can of the new Armour Syrup Flavored Vienna Sausage captured my imagination.

First, a word on perspective. My romanticized version of canned meat aside, I’m still a realist when it comes to these kinds of products. At less than a pack of the really cheap gum (you know, the one with the multicolored striped zebra), I realize I’m getting something which probably has no taste whatsoever of the chicken, beef, and pork which I’m told make up each sausage. By the same token, I can dull my expectations of full bodied maple flavor when it comes to “syrup type sauce.” Just a quick recap of the hierarchy of syrup and such:

1) Maple Syrup

2) Pancake Syrup

3) Syrup-Type Sauce

Clearly we fall below the gourmet line. Actually, we even fall below the school cafeteria line, but who’s judging? Well, besides me. Now, about this aroma. There really is no experience short of a career as a dump truck driver that will prepare you for the initial waft of a freshly opened can. “Fresh” is the operative word here.

Overall, the smell strikes boldly of truck stop leftovers. Not just your generic Route 66 truck-stop leftovers, mind you. I’m talking Western Pennsylvania scrapple drowned in a weak corn syrup liquid which proudly claims a hue bordering on Diesel brownish-yellow and “if your pee is this color, please consult a doctor immediately.” Yeah, that kind of leftovers.

If you’ve never had a Vienna sausage, the best way I can describe it is like a cheap hot dog, only the size of your thumb. It’s a bit slimy on the outside, with an initial rubbery bite and a bit of pasty consistency on the finish. It doesn’t really taste like meat, but bad smell and all jokes aside, it’s not completely objectionable.

Armour Syrup Flavored Vienna Sausage Syrup Closeup

If you’re not averse to eating highly processed meats you might even find it “meh.” That said, you probably will need something to jazz it up. That’s where the “syrup type sauce” comes in. But who are we kidding? Calling this stuff a sauce is like calling watered down Pepsi a sauce. The consistency is that of water, with no body in texture and little, if any, flavor to the sweetness. It’s just kind of there, and what’s more, only has seeped into the sausages in moderate amounts. What it creates is a mildly sweet-salty combination, but only one on the atomic level. All things considered, it tastes exactly like you’d expect; a mini cheap hot dog with some sugar poured on it.

Armour Syrup Flavored Vienna Sausage Toothpick

While the epicurean toothpick method is highly preferred in most “snack from the can when nobody is looking” occasions, consider that the fine folks at Armour want you to remember that these are “Great with Breakfast!” To this end, I must admit, they are not.

Armour Syrup Flavored Vienna Sausage Waffle

And should you take it upon yourself to whip sliced pieces of Syrup flavored sausage into your favorite waffle batter, you will in fact yield an utterly insipid waffle with burnt pieces of said Vienna Sausage. Unless you prefer your waffles burnt on the outside, chewy on the inside, and just kinda weird tasting all over, I recommend passing on this cooking application of the product.

At 53 cents a can, Armour’s new Syrup Flavored Vienna Sausages might be the most economical way of getting your sweet and salty fix on this side of pouring a Splenda packet and salt packet in your mouth simultaneously. Nevertheless, the latest and greatest creation from Armour serves as a tried and true reminder that you get what you pay for.

I can forgive highly processed meat that doesn’t taste like meat. I mean, that’s what canned food is all about. But I was really expecting more from the syrup. to this end, I have to proclaim this bold innovation in canned food a failure. Oh well. I guess there’s always SPAM.

(Nutrition Facts – 3 sausages with syrup – 120 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 510 milligrams of sodium, 8 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.)

Item: Armour Syrup Flavored Vienna Sausage
Purchased Price: 53 cents
Size: 4.75 oz. can
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Not completely detestable. Extremely cheap. Has kind of the salty-sweet thing going on, albeit in a leftover truck-stop diner food kind of way.
Cons: But, why? Syrup looks like gasoline. Not desirable by any means. Syrup lacks body, depth, or noticeable flavor outside of high fructose corn syrup. Sausages taste like cheap hot dogs out of a can, which technically they are. Cravings that make no sense.

REVIEW: Materne Apple Mango Pineapple Banana GoGo squeeZ Fast Fruit

Materne GoGo Squeez Fast Fruit Apple Mango Pineapple Banana

Fruits are Mother Nature’s candy.

However, even though I can walk into the produce section of a grocery store and easily buy pounds of Mother Nature’s candy and get sick from eating it all at one time like a kid with inattentive parents and a jack-o’-lantern pail full of candy on Halloween, I still don’t consume enough fruit.

I also don’t eat enough of Mother Nature’s medicine (vegetables) and Mother Nature’s fun pills (Psilocybin mushrooms).

I don’t consume a lot of fruits because I’m horrible at picking fruits that don’t have some kind of defect, the produce guy at my usual grocery store handles fruit in a creepy way, and cheeseburgers and potato chips always block my mouth from getting any.

Materne is a company many of you have never heard of, but you’ve probably seen and/or purchased their applesauce pouches for children — GoGo squeeZ (Yes, that’s how they spell it). According to Materne, 30 percent of their fruit pouches for kids are consumed for adults. I believe that number is accurate because I enjoy eating Kid Cuisine frozen entrees and stabbing Capri Sun pouches from time to time.

Perhaps, in order to stop parents from eating their kid’s snacks, Materne introduced a line of adult fruit pouches called GoGo squeeZ Fast Fruit.

The adult snack, which could be consumed by kids for revenge, comes in three flavors: Apple Raspberry Cranberry, Apple Peach Passion Fruit, and, the one I’ve been sucking on, Apple Mango Pineapple Banana.


Well, in order to get the fruit out of the pouch and into your mouth, you could be civilized and squeeze out the pouch’s contents into a bowl and eat the mashed fruits with a spoon. Or you can do what I imagine most people do, which is GoGo sucK the fruit out of the pouch.

Each 4.2-ounce pouch, which is just an ounce more than the children-sized GoGo squeeZ, contains three-fourths of a small apple, a slice of mango, a wedge of pineapple, and a slice of banana. That farmer’s market of fruit equals one fruit serving. The contents of the BPA-free pouch are also gluten-free, vegan, all-natural, certified kosher, and contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Materne GoGo Squeez Fast Fruit Apple Mango Pineapple Banana Closeup

Even though it contains a number of fruits, the Apple Mango Banana Pineapple Banana GoGo squeeZ looks, tastes, and has the same consistency as applesauce. My taste buds could detect a hint of banana and mango, but if a civilized person secretly squeezed out the mashed fruit from one of these pouches and served it to me in a bowl, I would think it looks and tastes like applesauce.

To be honest, I was a little disappointed I didn’t get a small tropical party in my mouth.

However, Apple Mango Pineapple Banana GoGo squeeZ is some mighty tasty mashed fruit. After I sucked the pouch dry, I wished there was more mashed fruit. I even used every toothpaste tube emptying technique I knew of to try and get every bit of fruit out of each pouch.

If only GoGo squeeZ Fast Fruit came in larger pouches. Although, if they did, I might not be able to hide them in an inner jacket pocket, like was a gin-filled hip flask, so I can sneak in quick shots of fruit.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 pouch – 80 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 17 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Materne Apple Mango Pineapple Banana GoGo squeeZ Fast Fruit
Purchased Price: $4.29
Size: 4 pack
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Mighty tasty mashed fruit. Tasty enough that I wished the pouches were bigger. Pouches are portable. Gluten-free, vegan, all-natural, certified kosher, and contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
Cons: Tastes too similar to ordinary applesauce. Mango, pineapple, and banana didn’t have a strong presence. Pricier than buying regular fruit. Eating too much candy on Halloween.