Monday, December 31, 2012

Breyers Blasts! Oreo Birthday Blast

It's December 31 and this post is to celebrate this first year of Ephemeral Noms and the last day of Oreo's 100th anniversary year, 2012.

Oreo got all that it could out of its commemorative Birthday Oreo iteration that came out over a year ago.  As late as this summer there could be seen in stores a collaboration between Oreo and Breyers called Breyers Blasts! Oreo Birthday Blast ice cream.

What this stuff amounts to is an overly complicated cake batter ice cream... and it didn't need to be that way.  Even though it's easy to understand that the cake-flavored vanilla creme of the Birthday Oreo is the centerpiece of the whole snack, I feel they gave it just a bit too much presence in this ice cream.  It might even be that the presence of this Oreo creme makes the mix a bit sweeter than you may expect, but it's barely noticeable.  I wish there were a bit more cookie crumbs in the mix, and perhaps even a bit less cake-flavored creme.

This stuff is good, but I'm not sure it's preferable (or appreciably different) than an average cake batter ice cream.

Breyers Blasts! Oreo Birthday Blast: - Good
Original Breyers Natural Vanilla(for comparison): - Good

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Printed Fun Pop-Tarts Frosted Sugar Cookie

Arguably a holiday flavor, Pop-Tarts has rolled out their Sugar Cookie variety for at least the 2nd year in a row.  Perhaps it's simply a wintry flavor and not specifically for the holidays?

Anyway, I'm glad it's back.

Not only are its frosted fronts printed with adorable images, but its flavor and texture rank at the top if its class.  It's yet another vaguely vanilla flavor with perhaps a bit of butter, but it has an added doughy flavor that those cake products are able to achieve.  Along with that, the filling inside is very dense and chewy such that it takes effort to pull a bite away.  It may sound strange, but it's very satisfying.

When toasted, almost everything about it improves.  The sweetness stays the same, the texture softens, while all the flavors intensify, especially the butter.  It's almost like eating a sugar cookie straight out of the oven, and that's not hyperbole.  Incredible.

Printed Fun Pop-Tarts Sugar Cookie: - Outstanding

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

Sunday, December 23, 2012

M&M's White Chocolate Peppermint

M&Ms has issued another seasonal flavor, again with white chocolate as a vehicle, and again in slightly larger sized candies.

This one is much simpler than the last.  The peppermint is so strong on these that you can smell the spicy scent through the candy shell as you pour them out of the bag.  After the crunch, a peppery and dry stab of peppermint fills your mouth.  The flavor is so strong that it mostly overpowers the subtle notes of the white chocolate and almost overpowers its sweetness, even.  This doesn't have what I would call balance, but true fans of peppermint won't care.

I'm inclined to give this product only 1 NOM, but given my general distaste of peppermint in anything but gum, I'll bump this up barely into the 2-NOM range to give the general public's taste a benefit of the doubt.

M&M's White Chocolate Peppermint:- Good
Original M&M's (for comparison): - Good

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Chex Mix Muddy Buddies Peppermint Bark

Chex Mix has rolled out a holiday flavor: Muddy Buddies Peppermint Bark.  If you haven't looked at the Chex Mix products in your local stores recently, you should do so; you'd be surprised at how many different flavors they offer... from sweet to salty to sweet & salty.  The Muddy Buddies line usually involves chocolate, but this one does not (thankfully, more on that later).  Perhaps this has white chocolate in it?

It's hard to tell.  The traditional Chex cereal base is covered in the traditional confectioner's sugar, but what's making it stick to the cereal is a mystery.  It could be white chocolate, or it could be simply a fatty mix containing hydrogenated vegetable oil.  Either way, each bite has the expected crunch which very well combines with the fatty coating.

Along with sweetness of everything described above is a moderate dusting of peppermint flavor.  Its bitterness and dryness is completely balanced with sweet.  And... it's gloriously absent of chocolate.  I feel that chocolate-mint combos are a bit too prevalent in today's processed sweets, and so this stuff is quite refreshing (no pun intended).

As someone who's really not a fan of peppermint, I find myself keep reaching for these until the bag is empty.  If it weren't for my (admitted) distaste for peppermint, this would be rated 3 NOMs.

Chex Mix Muddy Buddies Peppermint Bark: - Good

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pop-Tarts 2012 Team USA

The sixth of several summer-related posts in a row!

Pop-Tarts issued a flavor celebrating the participation of the United States Olympic team in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England during August.

This product has a few humorous and notable things going on with it:

1) The name of the flavor is "2012 Team USA".  That's it.  Despite it claiming in smaller writing below the title that it is a "mixed berry" pastry, it's technically 2012 Team USA-flavored.
2) The foil wrappers inside the box are gold, not silver(like usual), because of course, the USA accepts nothing less than gold for the Olympics.
3) The pastries themselves are the most obnoxious I've ever seen.  The pastry dough is colored with deep red, with a white frosting and red and blue rock candy sprinkles.

As for the taste, it's barely discernible from the standard Strawberry Pop-Tarts.  If anything, the flavor is more muddled and less characteristic.

 Pop-Tarts 2012 Team USA:- Good
Original Pop-Tarts(Strawberry, for comparison):- Good

acquired: Giant

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man Limited Edition Spidey Berry

The fifth of several summer-related posts in a row!

Another standalone limited time cereal, this product also celebrates the Amazing Spider-Man film from this summer.

This "berry" cereal is actually just flavored with strawberry, and it wafts to your nose from the moment you open the bag.  Speckled with "lizard villain" marshmallows, these strawberry "webs" are almost of the same construction as what you'd find in Honeycomb cereal.

But quite frankly, familiar expectations should end there.  Why?  Because while the flavor of the cereal easily resembles that of strawberry milk, the sweetness of the "webs" are dialed down almost to zero, with only the marshmallows providing each bite's sugar.  I applaud the company for avoiding the unnecessary calories(think of the children!) and avoiding the saccharine pit into which these cereals too often fall, but unfortunately I think that the stuff just needs to be a bit more sweet.

The restraint of this cereal's sweetness is a novelty that makes it interesting and bumps it just barely into the 2-NOM range, but it'd be better with more sugar.

The Amazing Spider-Man Limited Edition Spidey Berry: - Good

Friday, November 30, 2012

Pop-Tarts Yum-Azing Vanilla

 The fourth of several summer-related posts in a row!

Typical cross-branding with this new flavor of Pop-Tarts which commemorates The Amazing Spider-Man movie released this summer.  It turns out this product also comes in a red box.  (Side note: I've heard that Marvel's licenses are such that they expire if they are not actively used within a certain frequency of years, which is why the movie market is being flooded with Marvel superhero reboots.  But, I can't find any hard source on this.)

This pastry boasts vanilla creme with bright red frosting.  As an adorable bonus, the sprinkles are large and in the shape of small spiders!

Unfortunately, this is a great example of a Pop-Tarts snack gone wrong.  The vanilla filling is nigh flavorless.  Worse, it somehow lends a candy-like flavor to what little vanilla is there, almost like a cheap supermarket bakery's cake frosting.  That, along with the big crunch of the frosting, and the bigger crunch of the spider sprinkles, and the experience of this is more like crunching on hard candy, made little better if you decide to toast it.

This product barely makes it into the 1-NOM zone.  If you want good vanilla Pop-Tarts, then seek out the humorously long named Pop-Tarts Festival Fun Frosted Vanilla I-Scream Cone.

Pop-Tarts Yum-Azing Vanilla: -Passable

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

acquired: Giant

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Starburst Summer Fun Fruits

Note: This is a Presumptive Ephemeral Nom.

The third of several summer-related posts in a row!

Starburst says that these Summer Fun Fruits flavor will be available all this year, but I certainly haven't seen them everywhere, and I doubt they'll be available much past December 2012.

Starburst has so many different varieties, it's hard to tell which are ephemeral and which are not.  I give them credit, however, because unlike Mike and Ike, their varieties almost always contain new flavors, not simply different combinations of old ones.  And with Summer Fun Fruits, Starburst is doing it right by offering flavors that are similar enough to older flavors so as one can actually perceive the differences.

Tasting notes of the four new flavors -

Cherry Splash: Typical Starburst cherry, but with additions of banana and fruit punch.  Much better than normal cherry.  Great.

Strawberry Watermelon: Typical fake watermelon flavor, but fairly sweeter.  OK/good.

Lemon-Limeade: Better than the typical lemon flavor, with a bit of added bitter lime zest.  Much better than any average fake lime flavorings.  Great.

Kiwi-Banana: Better than the typical fake banana flavor, being much sweeter, but also with an acidic tang.  Great.

In the end, these are a bit better than the original.

Starburst Summer Fun Fruits: - Great
Original Starburst(for comparison): - Great

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mountain Dew Dark Berry

The second of several summer-related posts in a row!

Mountain Dew is no stranger to exclusive flavors and it is also no stranger to cross-branding.  We have both here in Mountain Dew Dark Berry, which coincided with and celebrated the release of The Dark Knight Rises film back in July.

I was hoping that this Dew was going to be akin to Mountain Dew Pitch Black (Vintage review coming soon), but it was not to be.

Dark Berry proves to be perhaps the sweetest Dew ever produced, and its sugar count on the Nutrition Facts reflect it.  What follows the sip is a muddy combination of both generic berry flavor along with grape.  While not stellar, it's pleasant.  However, I'm reminded that over-sweetening foods is a common practice to hide flavor and fool the taste buds into thinking something is tastier than it is, and I'm puzzled why Pepsico did this.  I can barely drink a whole can at a time.

Mountain Dew Dark Berry: - Good
Mountain Dew(original, for comparison): - Great

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ice Age Continental Drift Cinnamon Cereal

The first of several summer-related posts in a row!

A one-off limited time cereal?  Alrighty then.

This stuff was created to commemorate the film Ice Age: Continental Drift released this summer.

When the box opens, a cinnamon aroma quickly wafts to your nose and you soon realize you'll be comparing this product to Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

When dry, the cereal's ultra-crunchy corn-puff construction could be compared to Cap'n Crunch cereal, except that it's even more crunchy, and indeed it has that notorious ability to shred the roof of one's mouth.  However, once it's sat in milk for a bit, the outer crunchiness gives way to a lovely chewiness which I don't think I've quite experienced in any other cereal.

The flavor is as interesting as the texture.  While one may expect a run-of-the-mill cinnamon cereal, what one gets instead is a formula which is conservative on sugar and heavy on cinnamon.  The lack of overbearing sweetness makes one pay attention to the actual flavor of the cereal, which is so heavy on cinnamon that it's downright earthy.  The palate is left with a dry, woody aftertaste.

This cinnamon cereal is elevated into something more sophisticated than its peers.  It's like comparing a Single Malt Scotch to Jack Daniels.  It's almost into 4-NOM territory.

Ice Age Continental Drift Cinnamon Cereal: - Great

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NOMinally Ephemeral: Cadbury Screme Egg & Mike and Ike Mummy's Mix

Let's close out Halloween 2012 with two noms that are only ephemeral in name, no reviews required.

Cadbury has rolled out their Screme Egg, which is simply a Creme Egg with green filling.

Then we have Mike and Ike Mummy's Mix.  While this blend is a unique mix of flavors, the flavors themselves aren't unique.  At least, I think they aren't.  A rudimentary search on my part can not find which other blend contains the grape flavor, but I'm fairly sure it's out there.

Kool-Aid Ghoul-Aid Scary Blackberry

You could call our house a Kool-Aid shop, so to speak.  We drink a lot of Kool-Aid (with sugar free sweetener), and we keep up on a lot of the new flavors that occasionally come out.  Limited time flavors, however, are rare for Kool-Aid.

The company has decided to celebrate Halloween with Ghoul-Aid, a special edition flavor of "blackberry".  This mix's flavor(prepared with real sugar for review) isn't quite of blackberry, but instead a mix of various purple fruits.  To me, it tastes and smells mostly of blueberry, but there's also grape, blackberry, raspberry, and maybe even pomegranate.  The finish of this stuff is surprisingly sour and bitter, reminiscent of a good black cherry soda.

The sourness isn't my cup of tea, and blueberry isn't my favorite flavor either.  Overall, however, I laud Kool-Aid for issuing something new, and especially one that's different than their normal stable of flavors.

Kool-Aid Ghoul-Aid Scary Blackberry: - Good
Original Kool-Aid(Grape, for comparison): - Good

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

M&M's White Chocolate Candy Corn

M&M's are offering a seasonal variation to add to the sugary onslaught that is Halloween.

These candies come in a variety of warm autumn colors, and their size and shape are a bit more like Peanut M&M's despite that there's only a chocolate mixture inside.

The chocolate mixture is all white chocolate, with no cocoa solids to be found.  These teach me that I like white chocolate in M&Ms... I wonder why they don't make them regularly?  This is no regular white chocolate, however... it's supposedly flavored like candy corn.  It tastes nothing like candy corn, ultimately, which is good, because I despise the stuff.  The flavor instead is of burnt sugar, caramel, and maybe toffee.  There's a sugary note in there that reminds me of cotton candy.

Not bad, overall.  This departure in flavor from the normal M&M's stable is worth a detour.  The "candy corn" flavoring isn't a huge hit (even among candy corn fans I've consulted), but in my opinion, the white chocolate filling is worth your attention, if only for one go-round.

M&M's White Chocolate Candy Corn: - Good
Original M&M's (for comparison):  - Good

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pop-Tarts Wildlicious Frosted Wild! Grape

 Note: This is a Presumptive Ephemeral Nom.

The Pop-Tarts Wildlicious flavors continue.

Why they thought "grape" was wild enough to be marketed in this packaging/sub-brand is beyond me.  It must be sour grape or something, right?

No, it's just normal grape.  I give credit to the brand, because I don't think a grape flavor of these pastries has ever been done before.  It tastes exactly how you think it will: just like a typical Pop-Tarts fruit flavor, such as strawberry, but with the distinct flavor of grape Kool-Aid instead.

It's tasty and different and yet par for the course.  And much like the previous Wildlicious flavor, the taste of the product does not match its marketing.

Pop-Tarts Wildlicious Frosted Wild! Grape: - Good
Original Pop-Tarts(Strawberry, for comparison): - Good

Acquired: supermarket

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Birthday Cake Golden Oreo Fudge Cremes

Before Oreo's Birthday Cake cookies left the shelves, Oreo issued this other cake-flavored Limited Edition.

I'm not sure when Oreo started making these modern Fudge Cremes, but I think it's a step in a good direction on Oreo's part.  Fudge cremes consist of 1 Oreo cookie, 1 normal portion of Oreo creme, and a full chocolate coating.  These differ from Fudge Covered Oreo, and I think they're much better.  The lack of the 2nd cookie somehow brings a balance to the snack that it didn't have otherwise.

The experience plays out how you might expect.  The cookie is a simple Golden Oreo one.  The filling is the Limited Edition creme that's strongly flavored of cake, heavy with vanilla and that doughy cake mix flavor that is somehow mysteriously achieved.  What makes these snacks so good is the chocolate.  It is somehow formulated or tempered in a way that makes its texture absolutely perfect, with a firm bite that has the slightest snap.

Huzzah to the new Oreo Fudge Cremes, and to this product in specific, which approaches a 4-NOM rating.

Birthday Cake Golden Oreo Fudge Cremes: - Great

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Reese's Crispy Crunchy

Note: This is a Presumptive Ephemeral Nom.

Reese's Peanut Butter candies come in various shapes, but they also occasionally come in various versions that change their construction by adding other types of candy bases to them.  I give Reese's credit for consistently testing different variations like this.

One of the latest of these is the Reese's Crispy Crunchy.  Most of Reese's products of this ilk tend to be successful, so I went in with high expectations.

Unfortunately, this may be one of their least successful iterations, in my opinion.  You can think of this as a Butterfinger wrapped in a Reese's cup.  The inner part of the bar features a crunchy brittle whose texture is somewhere between a Butterfinger and traditional brittle candy.  I always thought that a crunchy texture such as this never belonged next to a supple chocolate coating, and I don't feel that the peanut butter that surrounds it improves the combination.  The peanut butter takes away from the brittle and vice versa, and all of it manages to get stuck in your gums and teeth.

This thing is laborious to eat, and the poorly combined elements of this candy take away from each element's value.  Unless you're a Butterfinger superfan, I'm not sure you'll find this one pleasant.

Reese's Crispy Crunchy: - (Passable)

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup(for comparison): - (Great)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hot Pockets Four Cheese Garlic Pasta Bake

Foods that combine carbohydrates with other carbohydrates are always fun in a ridiculous and decadent way. You'll occasionally see potatoes on pizza or in a pasta dish, or even stuffed in pasta like pierogi, rice inside burritos, and plenty of people like to put potato chips in their sandwiches. I personally like to put spaghetti onto garlic bread.

Hot Pockets have decided to join this silly trend by stuffing a bread pocket with a creamy penne. After baking the snack according to the directions, (which is my preferred way to cook Hot Pockets... I'm a very patient person) I found that perhaps these are the most aesthetically attractive Hot Pockets I've ever seen, with green flecks of parsley folded into the dough and what looks like perhaps some crusty pieces of Parmesan cheese melted on top. Lovely!

After taking a bite, I was surprised at how good this silly Hot Pocket was. The filling in this pastry is softer that any of this brand I've ever had. With that said, the pasta inside is cooked to a perfect al dente and is chewy and pleasant. The thick sweet sauce is strong with garlic and heavy with cream, and it has a pungent kick of Parmesan.

Despite that I thought this product would be a joke, it is instead delicious, and is probably something I would have bought regularly, should it have been available permanently. It easily hits the 3-NOM rating, and is perilously close to hitting the 4-NOM level.  One of the best Hot Pockets I've ever had.

Hot Pockets Four Cheese Garlic Pasta Bake: - Great
Hot Pockets Pepperoni Pizza(for comparison): - Good

Acquired: Harris Teeter

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Nabisco Chewy Chips Ahoy! Made with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Note: This is a Presumptive Ephemeral Nom.

As far as I'm concerned, putting Reese's Peanut Butter Cups into other sweet foods is like putting bacon with savory food: it's a way to make something better that's so easy, it's like cheating.

Chewy Chips Ahoy! cookies seem to me like they need no improvement, but my curiosity was piqued by these.

These taste like about what you may expect.  The cookie is soft and pliable and yet resists a bit when you bite with a sublime chewiness.  The peanut butter cups offer an expected saltiness and peanut butter which goes just fine with the cookie, though it doesn't necessarily elevate it.

There's only one problem: Nabisco decided that the peanut butter cup pieces weren't enough to achieve the flavor they wanted, so they also added peanut butter chips/morsels to the cookie.  This move was detrimental.  The flavor and texture of the chips are completely different and inferior to Reese's peanut butter filling, and they serve as a distraction.

I'm inclined to knock this snack down a mark, but I just can't, because the Chewy Chips Ahoy! base is so, so good.  This is worth buying if you're a peanut butter fiend, but I would sooner suggest the original version of this product instead.

Chewy Chips Ahoy! Made with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups: - Great
Original Chewy Chips Ahoy!(for comparison): - Great

acquired: supermarket

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Doritos Jacked Smoky Chipotle BBQ

 Note: This is a Presumptive Ephemeral Nom.

This is the 2nd flavor that Doritos rolled out in their initial (and perhaps only) Jacked line.  I reviewed the first one here.

It's simultaneously bizarre and pleasant to experience a barbecue aroma and flavor on Doritos, simply because it's so seldom done.  (This reminds of when I recently saw Sour Cream and Onion Doritos but stupidly didn't pick them up.  It looks like I lost my one chance.)

The initial flavor hit is of a traditional barbecue seasoning like you'd find on any potato chip.  The ways in which this one is different is with increased amounts of tomato powder and sugar, which make this seasoning one of the sweetest I've ever had on such a chip.  The sweetness is there for a reason, because these chips are quite spicy.  You knew that sugar is really the only thing that counteracts capsaicin, right?

It was a friend who finally tipped me off to the fact that these taste almost exactly like the now-discontinued Kentucky Fried Chicken Honey BBQ wings.  It's uncanny.  I haven't had them in years, but these taste almost like an exact replica of that sticky wing sauce.

And that's a problem.  It's a problem because these are not honey bbq chips, they are smoky chipotle bbq chips.  As a side note, I enjoy cooking, and I do it often.  One of the ingredients I find excuses to use more of are chipotles, whether they be dried or, even better, canned with adobo sauce.  As someone very familiar with the flavor of chipotles, these taste nothing like them.

There's another problem that reared it's head with the last Jacked flavor: the chip itself.  This ultra-thick chip is severely crunchy, and I feel that Doritos may have made a misstep in trying to achieve this dubious characteristic.  These chips somehow achieve their amount of crunchiness by containing less-than-normal amounts of fat, which usually lend a tenderness to snacks like these.  This lack of fattiness, however, is to the detriment to the snack as a whole, and not just its structural nature.  The lack of fat prevents these chips from having an aftertaste; that is to say, after the swallow, except for spiciness, these chips leave very little flavor in your mouth.  It may sound pleasant, but it is instead very dissatisfying.  A bit of extra grease would carry the flavor a bit more, but as it stands now the flavor's a bit too ephemeral, dare I say.

If this snack used a normal Doritos chip type, it would have been Great, and if it had also been labeled as "Spicy Honey BBQ", it would have been Outstanding.  But as it sits, even though it's a fascinating snack, it won't get past the 2-NOM barrier.

Doritos Jacked Smoky Chipotle BBQ: - Good

Doritos Nacho Cheese(for comparison): - Great

acquired: supermarket