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

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Mountain Dew DEWshine

Note: This is a Presumptive Ephemeral Nom.

Product circa: mid-2015

Pepsico's Mountain Dew has long had an "edgy" image, as soft drinks go.  The product itself is fairly polarizing, with many people declaring that it's disgusting.  Marketing executives have taken advantage of this image in the last 25 years by placing the brand as a central presence in motorsports and extreme sports.

Just look at some of the names of recent Mountain Dew varieties, which almost universally invoke electricity and power overall: Game Fuel, Distortion, Fusion, Livewire, Voltage, Supernova, Ultraviolet, Typhoon, Solar Flare, and Baja Blast.

Dew is keeping up this trend with a release from 2015 which seemed to pop up out of nowhere: DEWshine.  As a portmanteau hearkening back to the days of Prohibition and moonshine, where outlaws distilled and distributed their own liquor to an underground populace, all the while being chased by police... it doesn't get edgier than that, right?  Hell, NASCAR, some of the fastest motorsport racing in the world, partly originated from the need of outrunning the police in the Prohibition era.

DEWshine's marketing material would have you believe that the product returns to its roots as a moonshine product.  While that history isn't accurate, Mountain Dew does have liquorious roots: its creators formulated it originally to be mixed with liquor.  At one point recently, one could buy a moonshine-style jug's worth of DEWshine.

The worst part of all this is that, as a product which claims to be a "clear" Mountain Dew, it's really just a taunt by PepsiCo to all those who dream of the return of Crystal Pepsi.

It's hard to review the product's taste, since it's impossible to know the thing for which the company was aiming.  Even without that target, it's easy for me to say that I'm disappointed.

Even though original Dew is known for its exceeding sweetness, DEWshine manages to capture the same but without any sort acidic balance that is at least present in traces within its forebears.  Further, its flavor seems simpler; lemon is the only thing discernible here, whereas lime and orange tend to be hallmarks of normal Dew.  This stuff is remarkably similar to modern 7-Up.  Is that a compliment?  You decide.

Mountain Dew DEWshine:- Good
Original Mountain Dew(for comparison):- Great

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Pop-Tarts Frosted Blue Raspberry

Note: This is a Presumptive Ephemeral Nom.

Product circa: September 2015

I love almost anything flavored like blue raspberry.  It's that simple.

What is blue raspberry, exactly?  It's a flavor based on a plant that is a cousin to the raspberry called Rubus leucodermis.  The problem is that the plant's fruit is not blue, and whatever blue raspberry flavor that you're used to is probably very distant to what the fruit of this plant might actually taste like.

But no matter.  Blue raspberry is a firm institution when it comes to artificially flavored foods.  The problem with blue raspberry Pop-Tarts is that it's a fairly vacuous product.  Despite the cool Solo Jazz frosting pattern, the flavor of this falls flat.  They took the average Pop-Tarts "fruit" filling, added a ton of blue coloring, and maybe the slightest bit of blue raspberry flavor.  In the end, I'm not sure I'd be able to distinguish this from strawberry if I did a blind taste test.

Pop-Tarts Frosted Blue Raspberry:-Good
Original Pop-Tarts(Strawberry, for comparison):-Good

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Mountain Dew Blasts of Summer

For quite a while now PepsiCo has been stocking coolers with summer variations of Mountain Dew, which they're really starting to do more and more each year.  One of them has a history, and the other is brand-spanking new.

The first is Mountain Dew Baja Blast.  This flavor has been available at the fountain of Taco Bell restaurants for over 15 years now; I remember filling my cup with the stuff as early as 1998.  I'm not sure why Pepsi took over a decade to decide the sell the stuff in bottles and cans.  It's possible that Taco Bell had a tight hold on the licensing of it.

After drinking the stuff for over half my life, it's still hard to pin down what exactly Baja Blast tastes like.  It's turquoise/teal color is much more memorable than the flavor, despite it being outstanding(see rating below).  At first taste what is perhaps most notable is that this stuff has more of a "green lollipop" lime note that just the regular Dew pan-citrus backbone.  But that's not all.  There are a few more subtle flavors in Baja Blast that I've spent years trying to pin down.  As of now, 2015, the only ones I'm comfortable mentioning are melon, and perhaps the slightest bit of coconut.  Regardless, it's grand stuff.  Pick up the stuff in stores while you still can, and if you can't, find your local Taco Bell.

Mountain Dew Baja Blast:- Outstanding
Original Mountain Dew(for comparison):- Great 

Mountain Dew Sangrita Blast has also been available on tap in Taco Bells for at least a year now, and it too has been issued in plastic and aluminum alongside Baja Blast for this summer, presumably.  Sangrita is traditionally a fruit juice accompaniment to be sipped alongside tequila.  It's a bit of a strange inspiration for a take on Mountain Dew, but it's creative, I must admit. (If you like reading about drinking liquor, check out my other blog.)

The first sip of Sangrita Blast will make clear that it's tart.  I haven't had a Dew this tart since Pitch Black II.  Oddly, there's just enough tartness in this mix to counter the sugar and make it seem "dry", like a dry red wine, perhaps.  It's really pleasant.  As for flavor, it's hard to discern, like many flavored Dews, but what I'm really getting is grenadine (the proper stuff, made from pomegranates).  The grenadine flavor more or less trounces the citrus, but not in a bad way.  This is one of the more classy Dews you'll find.

Mountain Dew Sangrita Blast:- Great

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Milk Chocolate Graham Pop-Tarts

This is the 2nd product that Pop-Tarts issued to celebrate their 50th anniversaryThe first one was a bust.  What about this one?

This one is better.  I'm a sucker for un-frosted Pop-Tarts, mainly for the fact that the texture of the flaky crust is much more noticeable and pleasant.  Similar to the old Gingerbread Pop-Tarts, the crust here is reminiscent of a whole-grain baked good, with bits of wheat/oats/whatever even visible in the crust when you look closely.  The result is more tender than usual with a nice earthy graham cracker flavor.

The chocolate filling is pleasant in its restraint.  They dialed back the sweetness here to give a mild flavor that nicely compliments the delicate crust.  This is one of those products that is more sophisticated than it is bold, and I love it when that happens.

By the way, all the thoughts I've written above refer to how the pastry tastes when it's heated or toasted.  Oddly, when eaten cold, the texture is unremarkable and the flavor is almost nonexistent.

Milk Chocolate Graham Pop-Tarts:- Great
Original Pop-Tarts S'mores(for comparison):- Great