Sunday, July 2, 2017

Frosted Maple Bacon Pop-Tarts

Product circa: mid-2016

We're a bit past the bacon craze, aren't we?  Don't mistake what I'm saying for disappointment, however.

You bite, and the first seconds afterwards all you can taste is brown sugar, reminiscent of Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts, one of their most prolific varieties.  It's not nearly as sweet as you expect, probably to remind you that this aims to be a slightly savory product.

A few bites in, however, you'll notice something a bit more; I'd call it a "porky" flavor, not unlike fried pork rinds.  But disappointingly, there's no smoke, which is what would really make this product distinctive.  Upon leering at the ingredients list, I find that these Pop-Tarts have MSG added to them, probably for the meaty/umami flavor to make you think of bacon more.

In all, not bad at all, and a welcome change.

Pop-Tarts Frosted Maple Bacon:- Good
Original Pop-Tarts Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon(for comparison):- Great

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Mountain Dew Spiked Lemonades

Product circa: early 2017

Mountain Dew really can't seem to give up on its image that it's somehow related to alcohol.  These two "spiked" products now make up a trio of recent Dew products that specifically have to spell out on the packaging that they are non-alcoholic.

Otherwise, these look to be an honest effort on Pepsico's part.  Real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.  Real fruit juice added.  No artificial sweeteners.  Let's crack them open and get to sippin'!

Upon tasting, "sour" is the first term that might waft into your mind, or rather, smack you in the head.  The third ingredient in this product is citric acid, the fourth is a lemon juice concentrate, and the fifth is prickly pear juice.  The prickly pear is unnoticeable, but the raspberry pleasantly comes through in the Raspberry Lemonade.  Surprisingly, the regular Spiked Lemonade is better.

The balance is a little off, and the considerable tartness prevents you from tasting quite everything.  It's almost as if this stuff needs a bit more sugar... wait a minute... <looks harder at the ingredient list>

Sigh.  Let it be known that Mountain Dew Spiked is slightly bamboozling you here.  Because of the existence of Stevia, consumers need to be aware that "No Artificial Sweeteners" no longer means "No 0-calorie Sweeteners."  Spiked has both sugar and Stevia, and my taste buds suspected it from the first sip.

Maybe I'm biased, but it's my opinion that consumers can be divided into two groups on this subject: those who like 0-calorie sweeteners, and those who do not.  I don't think combining sugar and Stevia into one product magically bridges the gap between both market segments.

Everything from children's cereal, to baked goods, and now to soft drinks are using sugar-Stevia combinations to bring down calorie counts, and that's fine.  But what's not fine is not conspicuously labeling the addition of 0-calorie sweeteners.

Mountain Dew is choosing not to do that, and while it may increase the number of first time buyers, I bet it will decrease repeat buyers.  Buyers like this guy.

Mountain Dew Spiked Lemonade:- Good
Mountain Dew Spiked Raspberry Lemonade:- Passable

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Filled Cupcake Oreo

Product circa: 2016

At first glance these seem almost satirical, as Oreo has been known to do.  However, Oreo has also taught me to not judge the cookies by the marketing, and so down my gullet they go!

The first bite would indicate that they don't taste much different than the original chocolate creme Oreo version.  After a cookie or two you finally notice that there's something different with the creme; for me, it somehow had a more noticeable hit of vanilla, maybe?

Anyway, if you open the cookie sandwich and examine the creme, you'll find the center has a whipped cream-like dollop.  The texture is different and it tastes great, but I think you'll lose all that between the thick creme and crunchy cookie.

Filled Cupcake Oreo:Great

Original Oreo(for comparison):- Great

tastes mostly like a chocolate filled oreo at first

the vanilla cream inside might have an extra hit of vanilla so that you know it's there.  it also has the texture of whipped cream instead of "creme"

3 noms

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Surge (2014)

Product circa: 2014-2015

In my last post, I declared Crystal Pepsi as one of the most exalted discontinued food products of all time.  If there's anything that can creep higher than Crystal Pepsi on this list, it's Surge.

Surge was a soft drink created in 1997 in order to compete with Pepsi's Mountain Dew (Mello Yello just wasn't cutting it).  It took on the same tack as Dew, offering a brightly colored appearance, a mixed-citrus recipe, and a ton of caffeine.  Surge boasted an ingredients list containing maltodextrin, a substance added for extra energy from drinking the stuff.  Coke also marketed Surge using extreme sports, as have similar products.

With its aggressive marketing, energy drink-like benefits (in an era before most energy drinks), and its obnoxious green color, Surge took on a cult following more than mainstream appeal.  That fact bore out over the next few years, and Surge was discontinued in 2003.

A dull murmur for its return became a loud cry over the next few years.  Once Facebook was created, a group page was soon made to serve as a petition to bring back Surge.

A few years later, Coke created a spiritual successor to Surge called Vault.  The stuff was decidedly more like Mountain Dew than Surge, but it was delicious nonetheless.  Its run lasted over 5 years before Coke decided to fully get behind Mello Yello as their national "citrus" soda going forward.

In late 2014, Coke finally decided to bring back Surge for a time to sate the nostalgia that never seemed to die down.  It's a wonder it took so long.  How long will Surge be around this time?  I'm not really sure.  But the easiest way to get some is off of, and as of this posting, it's still available!

Does it taste just like it used to?  By my tongue, yes, and it seems the ingredients list is almost identical to what it used to be.  The flavor starts with a bold citrus note, just like all sodas in this category.  The mix of flavors is hard to pick out, but it most probably contains lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit.  Surge distinguishes itself from the rest by concentrating on the flavor of lime, and "fake" lime, to be exact.  At the end of the sip you'll find a distinct sourness that really no other citrus soda has, along with a notable bitterness, most likely lent by its considerable caffeine content.  Truth be told, whenever Surge is once again no longer available, I might suggest looking toward Mountain Dew Baja Blast for a similar fix.

All in all, it's a delight to have Surge back to surf that wave of nostalgia.

Surge:- Great 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Crystal Pepsi (2016)

Few other products evoke such a bout of savage nostalgia as Crystal Pepsi.  Because it was sold for only about a year in the early 90s, whatever fill that people sought to have was clearly not sated.  I've heard people talk about Crystal Pepsi for the last 20 years.  It's a wonder that Pepsico took so long to bring it back.

Much like how some folks stick to clear liquor (as opposed to "brown" liquor) because they think it's a bit gentler on their body, so too did there exist some fad in the 90s about how clear products are better than opaque ones.  For this, Pepsi shuffled around their ingredients list a bit and issued Crystal Pepsi, a clear but otherwise unsullied formula of the original soft drink.  Initial sales were strong, but soon tapered off, and Pepsi eventually pulled the product.  Like many things, people didn't realize what they wanted until it was gone, and so I've been hearing about Crystal Pepsi yearning for most of my life.

I only recently just found the stuff in stores as of this posting, but evidently Pepsi rolled out Crystal Pepsi again starting in 2015.  How is it?  Delicious.  Why?  Because it tastes just about the same as Pepsi.  Whether they meant to or not, they did a much better job with Crystal Pepsi than with Mountain Dew DEWshine.  Btw... does clear soda always have a stronger carbonation than dark soda?  I swear it does.  Anyway....

Much like the original 90s version, Crystal Pepsi lacks caffeine.  This was initially done in the 90s because Crystal Pepsi was supposed to be a "cleaner" product than Pepsi, which contains artificial coloring and the addictive drug caffeine.  I'm pretty sure caffeine is clear also, but I imagine Pepsico kept this feature today to remain loyal to the original recipe.  Does this taste exactly like the original?  I have no idea; I was 8 years old in 1992.  Besides, I wouldn't advise you to drink a 20 year old Crystal Pepsi to compare it either (warning: vomit).

The point is this: caffeine is bitter, and any cola that is caffeine-free tastes sweeter than its caffeinated counterpart.  In conclusion, Crystal Pepsi tastes almost identical to Caffeine-free Pepsi, which you can still buy today; go see for yourself.  If I had some on hand, I would compare it, but I don't, so I won't.

Crystal Pepsi:- Great
Original Pepsi(for comparison):- Great

Monday, June 20, 2016

Pop-Tarts Frosted Cinnamon Roll

Product circa: Early 2016

Another cinnamon bun varietal, this time from Pop-Tarts.

Despite that these are Frosted® Pop-Tarts, the frosted is a slight drizzle, and not covering the whole pastry, which as you'll see, is always good in my book.

The initial bite gives you an experience similar to Pop-Tarts Brown Sugar Cinnamon (one of my go-to's).  Coming through more than the cinnamon is brown sugar and vanilla, which shouldn't be unexpected for a cinnamon bun-flavored item.  It's not too distinguishable from the Brown Sugar Cinnamon variety when eaten cold.

When heated, however, every flavor is elevated.  Best of all, the heat makes the exposed pastry take on a doughy, almost yeasty flavor that really hits the spot.

Pop-Tarts Frosted Cinnamon Roll:- Outstanding
Original Pop-Tarts Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon(for comparison):- Great

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Cinnamon Bun Oreo

Product circa: early 2016

This is one of the few Oreo products where the cookie is flavored along with the creme.  The otherwise-vanilla cookie has flecks of cinnamon in it that are so big that they add a chewiness to the bite.  The vanilla creme, when tasted alone, has the slightest bit of cinnamon flavoring as well.  This double hit of vanilla-cinnamon makes for a complex taste, not to mention delicious.

Cinnamon Bun Oreo:- Outstanding

Original Golden Oreo(for comparison):- Great