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

Friday, July 4, 2014

Pop-Tarts Chocolate Vanilla Creme

Pop-Tarts were introduced in 1964, making 2014 the brand's 50th Anniversary.  They've introduced two limited time flavors for this occasion.

I'll start the first "Birthday Edition" Pop-Tarts review by saying that ephemeral Pop-Tarts are usually pretty remarkable, if not notable, at least.  These buck that trend.  What's worse, this flavor is supposedly a flashback to a successful past variety of Pop-Tarts.  Why they brought these back, I don't know.

The company forgot to put any flavor along with the sugar in this product.  The chocolate pastry is only vaguely reminiscent of chocolate, with plenty of their full-time products hitting a higher mark in this category.  The creme is supposedly vanilla creme, but it doesn't taste like it.  Its sweetness is on par, of course, and if I try hard, I can detect the slightest notes of powdered milk or powdered cream.  That's it.  No vanilla.

Oddly, this product doesn't improve when toasted and warm, like most Pop-Tarts do.  I just don't get what they were trying to do here.

Pop-Tarts Chocolate Vanilla Creme:- Passable
Original Pop-Tarts S'mores(for comparison):- Great

Friday, June 13, 2014

Cookie Dough Oreo

Cookie Dough Oreos were released a good few months ago, but they can still be found in stores as of this posting, and you'd be right to seek them out.

As you take the bite, you might be like me in expecting a cookie dough flavor like the one used in ice creams and other processed foods... the kind that's quite like refrigerated cookie dough from the supermarket.  But for me, the type used in these cookies reminds me not of premade kind, but of the homemade kind you might use from the recipe on the back of Tollhouse chocolate chips.

There's just so much flavor.  Yes, there's the doughy/floury base that lets you know it's cookie dough, and that bit of salt that's just strong enough to notice.  But after that are the touches that remind me of my mother's cookie dough as she's stirring it a giant bowl: a strong presences of vanilla, so strong and aromatic that it's more recognizable as vanilla extract.  Another strong presence is dark brown sugar, so strong that its molasses flavor is clearly detectable.  These notes are so pungent that I'm inclined to say that the creme is perfumed with them.

Add all this to bits of chocolate chips in the creme that add a nice chewy contrast to the crunchy cookie, and you have an impressive, complex, and sophisticated product.

Cookie Dough Oreo:- Outstanding

Original Oreo(for comparison):- Great

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Doritos Jacked Test Flavor 855

We have another line of poll products out, and this time they're from Doritos.  It's much like other such products: there are three flavors out on the shelves, and folks can vote online for their favorite at  Doritos will supposedly further produce the winner as a semi-permanent product, but there's a catch: these possible flavors don't have names or descriptions.  It's a blind taste test which your tongue must lead.

Unfortunately, this contest involves Doritos Jacked, not the regular chips.  I earlier explained the disappointment here.

I got my hands on the red version of these test chips.  The smell doesn't offer too much past chili powder.  The flavor of them prove fairly complex, but not in a great way.  Firstly noticeable are small and equal amounts of seasoning like from Doritos Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch.  A strange combination, but pleasant.  Immediately afterward, however, these flavors are overwhelmed by what I would describe as dry and earthy powdered chile, which lingers and lingers.  The mouthful ends with a strong acidic tang, which might be vinegar, but tastes more like lime, and then a surprisingly hot spiciness, which can get a bit painful after a dozen or two chips in a row.

Bite after bite, chile and lime are the only thing I can taste.  Spice and acid.  The balance is way off.  In the end, they taste more like an experiment in extremes, not a sophisticated and interesting product.

Doritos Jacked Test Flavor 855:- Passable

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Gatorade Cool Blue Cherry

Reviewed here almost a year late is Gatorade Cool Blue Cherry, a limited edition that was a sister product to Gatorade Strawberry Lemonade, both of which were flavors exclusive to 7-Eleven for the summer of 2013.

Cool Blue Cherry has more than meets the eye.  The sip starts with simple sweet cherry, which is a bit off-putting due to the blue color.   The sweetness, however, is tempered with an additional tang/sourness that isn't found in the normal line of Gatorades.  But then comes an additional note afterward, which I swear is pineapple.  It's a strange combination, but the overall tone of the drink is more tropical than simply cherry cough syrup, like I was expecting.

It's simple, well-executed, and surprising.

Gatorade Cool Blue Cherry:- Outstanding
Original Gatorade(Orange, for comparison):- Good

acquired: 7-Eleven

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Lemon Twist Oreo

Oreo has been slinging an impressive amount of ephemeral cookies, so much so that I have a backlog.
Two summery limited edition flavors of Oreo were released last summer: Lemon Twist and Banana Split.

The Lemon Twist Oreos are simply a variety of Golden Oreo that has a lemony filling, vaguely reminiscent of the old Baskin Robbins Oreo Gold Rush ice cream.  The taste of these bear nothing more than their simple concept.  The vanilla cookie pairs well with the lemon filling, which is plenty lemony, but I wish it were more tangy.

Have you ever gotten a bag of mini lemon creme sandwich cookies from a vending machine?  These aren't as good as those.  It's tough to make that call without tasting them side by side, but I just said it.  It's a decent effort by Oreo, though.

Lemon Twist Oreo:- Good
Original Golden Oreo(for comparison):- Great