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

Monday, September 1, 2014

Lays Cappuccino

Lays has another Do Us A Flavor contest, and this time the 4 contenders are selected from a hoard of submissions from the public, input via the Lays website about a year ago.  I love this kind of crowd-sourcing, especially because the outcome is a group of flavors that are a bit more wild than what the execs and R&D labs might have produced.

Of course, my hands went first and fastest to the strangest flavor of the lot: Cappuccino.  Most will probably grimace at having potato chips flavored like a treat that is most often paired with sugary desserts, and while I'm more intrigued than disgusted, I'm going in with a hefty amount of skepticism.  BTW, this isn't the first dessert-like potato chip on this site.

At opening the bag and taking the first bite, you'll encounter smells that transport you to the experience of walking into a coffee shop.  The seasoning on these chips is very simple: powdered instant coffee and cinnamon.  Cinnamon isn't exactly a traditional or common addition to cappuccino, but I understand that Lays needed to add a bit more dimension to these chips than just coffee.

How is it?  Intriguingly addictive, but not much more than that.  There is definitely sugar in the mix, but salt as well.  There's a bitter aftertaste from the cinnamon and coffee, which is a bit strange to experience while eating chips.  The flavor of the seasoning is pleasant, but not quite so when combined with potato.  You'll keep eating them out of interest more than pleasure.

"Sweet and salty" snacks are huge these days, but I'm not sure this one would satisfy either craving, let alone both.  The mere novelty and innovation here gives its score a bump, which is good, because the product needs it.

Lays Cappuccino:- Good
Original Lay's(for comparison): - Great

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Watermelon Oreo

In what seems like a joke, Oreo has issued a Golden Oreo with watermelon-flavored creme.  They did this a few months ago and you can still find them as of this posting.  I respect Oreo's tinkering with fruit flavors, but this seems like another one of Oreo's self-referential satires.

Surely Oreo couldn't have attempted to reproduce the taste of natural, fresh watermelon in their creme, right?  No, they couldn't; the flavoring in this creme is the exact same that you might experience in watermelon-flavored bubble gum, Jello, Kool-Aid, or Jolly Ranchers.

How is it, then?  Horrible.  The tasty vanilla cookie is immediately obliterated once the creme inside hits the tongue.  I even like watermelon candy, but its execution here is misguided.  I would even dare say that if the flavor of the creme had been faint, the snack might be interesting.  But instead, they overload the creme with artificial flavoring, and it feels like someone just smacked your tongue with a hammer.

And lest you attempt to acknowledge this food as simply a novel or even comical experiment and dare to enjoy it for what it is and no more, you will soon experience, after the swallow, a horrible and bitter aftertaste that forces you to regret what you've done, even if you promised yourself that you would not.

This is the second food on this site to receive 0 NOMs.

Watermelon Oreo: 0 Noms - Unpleasant
Original Golden Oreo(for comparison):- Great

Monday, July 21, 2014

More Permanence

Heinz has pulled off another surprising move by making their limited time product Jalapeño Ketchup a permanent product! (Renamed from "Real Jalapeño.")

If you're wondering if it's worth picking up, you can find my review of it here.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Thomas' Cinnamon Vanilla English Muffins

In our house we blow through Thomas' low-calorie English muffins, so it isn't often that their seasonal varieties evade my eye in the store.  In fact, Thomas' has had quite a few ephemeral muffins recently that I've failed to review here, due to laziness.  Hopefully they'll be back next winter so I can nab'em.

Here's a food industry secret: you know that smell that surrounds every Cinnabon or Auntie Annie's that you've ever passed?  It's almost always a combination of cinnamon and vanilla.  You'll realize that as you reach for this package in the store or walk by the stuff in your own  house.  The smell is powerful, and it has a large radius of influence.

How does it taste?  Not as good as it smells.  However you prepare them, these muffins will mostly convey cinnamon, but not vanilla.  The cinnamon is strong and earthy, but the vanilla is faint and subdued.  As you take a bite, your nose will pick it up more vanilla than while chewing, because of its aromatic volatility.

In the end, it's really good, but I'm not sure it's better than any other permanent cinnamon muffin from Thomas'.

Thomas' Cinnamon Vanilla English muffins:- Good
Original Thomas' English muffins(for comparison):- Good

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Milky Way French Vanilla and Caramel

It's a pleasant surprise seeing Milky Way experiment a bit.  The last time they mixed it up that I can remember was a few years ago when they implemented the now-permanent Milky Way Simply Caramel, which is an incredible product.

Anyway, French vanilla sounded like an interesting angle for a chocolate bar.  Wikipedia tells me that "French vanilla" is distinguished from normal vanilla flavoring by conventionally (not technically) containing a stronger vanilla flavor, or instead a custard flavor, since French ice cream was historically in the style of frozen custard.  For products that do not contain custard, like this one, Wiki says that caramel or butterscotch are sometimes added.

As you sink your teeth in, you can tell that something isn't quite as expected.  The vanilla is indeed strong; a perfume of it fills your mouth as you chew.  As you get further, it becomes clear that something is added to the vanilla nougat to make it feel richer.  My bet is on butter flavoring.  This isn't the first time I've seen butter used as an attempt to mimic other flavors.

In the end, it's just not quite right.  You literally can't taste the caramel or chocolate in each bite, and instead you're left with a mix of vanilla and butter.  I supposed it's not bad for a change, but I can't see myself reaching for one of these ever again.

Milky Way French Vanilla and Caramel:- Passable
Original Milky Way (for comparison):- Good