Monday, October 25, 2010
The nice people at Think Gum got in touch with me and asked me if I would like a sample of their gum to review at the perfect time. I'll never lie to you guys: lately, my attention span has been about as good as the dog's in "Up". I sit down to try and write, and it's like "WAIT! There's something shiny!" or "Oooh, Dr. Phil has on moms who dress like they are cast members of Jersey Shore!" or "Damn, gotta go to work!" (Sadly, the glamorous world of food reviews does not allow me to avoid a "real" job.) Well, now is the perfect time, I suppose, so here goes the review...
Some of Think Gum's benefits are supposed to be that it has (I'm cheating and using the package blurb here) "brain-boosting herbal ingredients that are proven to enhance concentration and improve memory." Ummmm, what were we talking about again? Oh yeah, gum...
Think Gum was actually founded by a young whippersnapper named Matt Davidson who came up with the idea for the gum while studying molecular and cell biology in college. Matt went to U.C. Berkeley -- and Berkeley, of course, is known far and wide for its enduring love of all things herbal. Matt happened to be reading a study about how in a particular factory, the factory managers kept track of how the workers performed while working and breathing in different herbal extracts. While to me that sounds like the stuff bad sci-fi movies and conspiracy theories are made of, Matt actually took the time to learn something and paid special attention to the fact that the workers responded well to scents like peppermint and rosemary. He then set about on his own idea, and after a lot of work, Think Gum was born.
All of that is interesting and everything, but how does it taste?
Good question. Each piece contains not only the peppermint and rosemary, but also ginkgo biloba, bacopa, vinpocetine...and guarana, which is a natural source of sweet, sweet caffeine!
Each piece has a thin candy coating. I liked that the candy shell yielded softly and didn't cause crunchy shards to break off like most candy coats do. Actually, it reminded me more of the coating on the Premium M&M's. Rather than being a crunchy candy coat, it's almost a soft, lacquer-like shell. The texture is also a little different from most gums. Sure, it's chewy -- but it is also soft, and it's not sticky.
Tastewise, it starts out all about the peppermint. It's a fresh, earthy taste -- sort of like chewing on a fresh sprig of mint. It's sweet, but not in a candy way. The mint flavor stays at the front and is strongest for about the first three minutes of chew. After that you start to taste the rosemary.
The rosemary side is distinctly more bitter...but in a good way. It takes some of the edge off the peppermint before it reaches the point where you'd get that menthol-ish burn peppermint sometimes causes. It's an herby, robust flavor. The more you chew, the stronger that flavor seems to get. If it gets to be too much for you, or if you just want to recharge it, I suggest simply holding the gum in your mouth for a few seconds without chewing. That seems to "reactivate" the mint, and the gum will taste sweeter again. Between the mint and the rosemary, the flavor of this gum has amazing staying power. I chewed a piece for about half an hour before it started to weaken.
As for feeling like I was retaining things better, or whether my concentration had improved, etc., that's harder to say. I am currently on so much medication that I'm probably the worst person to even try to review it in that context. But I can say that I felt more alert after chewing, and I'm guessing that's at least partially from the caffeine. Each two-piece serving of gum contains about the same amount of caffeine as half a can of soda. And that's not overdoing it. I like that I got a little boost without it being so much caffeine that I feel like my heart is going to burst out of my chest, or I may want to do extreme sports or party like a drunken frat boy, or any other overly caffeinated cliché you can think of that I didn't.
Overall, I liked this gum a lot for its unique flavor. I like the fact that it's both herby and minty, and manages to pull it off without tasting either like medicine or like chewy dried spices. I also liked the little energy boost I got, and I will definitely keep on chewing!
Sample from company.
5 calories per two piece serving.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Well, the exciting moment of truth has finally come for one lucky reader!
While it may not exactly merit the same amount of excitement that young Jackie Chavez felt when she won a contest and was chosen -- by the King of all JELL-O products himself, Bill Cosby -- to be the new official giggle of JELL-O in an upcoming TV ad, my winner is going to receive a rather enormous amount of pudding that they can eat while hunkered down and watching Cosby Show reruns. And that's almost as good, right?
People who took part in (or at least read the outcomes of my previous contests) may know that I tend to choose a winner based on rather elaborate methods, usually involving my cats.
This contest was going to be no different. And since my cat George has been involved in the last couple of contests, I figured it was time for my other cat, Stephanie, to get a chance to be the emcee. One thing you should know about Stephanie is that she loooooovvvves marshmallows. Yes, I know there are many obvious reasons why cats shouldn't eat marshmallows (the least of which is you end up with a really hyper cat). But my idea was that I would write the names of those who entered onto little slips of paper, and then I would attach a tiny bit of marshmallow to each...and whichever slip Stephanie licked first would be our winner!
Yeah, it seemed like a good idea.
The problem was that when actually faced with a field of marshmallow happiness, Stephanie decided that instead of licking any of it, it would be even more fun simply to roll around in it so that it all stuck to her fur. And then rocket through the apartment chasing each and every piece like a mouse. And then roll around some more, and chase some more, and...well, need I say more? Yeah.
Have you ever tried to clean marshmallow bits and strips of paper off a really hyper cat? All I can say is that it was not one of the best ideas ever. (The picture below is of course photoshopped. She wouldn't hold still long enough for a picture to be taken, but I thought I'd give you an idea of how she looked.)
Anyway, I was a bit exhausted after that adventure, so I opted to go the route I probably should have gone in the first place: the Random Sequence Generator. I omitted my own responses, and out of the remaining 25 posts the first integer the generator came up with was 16. Which means that the winner is...
(*insert imaginary fanfare here*)
Congratulations, Ashley! All you have to do at this point is leave a comment (which I won't publish) with your email address, and I will contact you for mailing info -- and then your pudding will be on the way!
Everyone, join in and say nice things to Ashley!
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
First, a thank you to all the readers who sent me emails to let me know that my once beloved Oreo Ice Cream Sandwich had been relaunched.
You see, folks, for many years Klondike had made a seriously addictive version of this treat. In fact, one of my very early reviews was of the original Klondike Oreo Ice Cream Sandwich (warning: the review is not the best -- even if the treat itself was).
Sadly, shortly after that review was posted, a reader let me know that they had not seen the product on local supermarket shelves for a while...and right after that, it disappeared from my shelves as well. I sent off an email to Klondike's parent company (Unilever), and with great sorrow I soon received a reply confirming that the product had been discontinued. (You can read about that in more detail in this post.)
Just as I was getting used to the idea of an Oreo Cookie Ice Cream Sandwichless future, Unilever dangled a carrot of hope in front of me by re-launching the sandwich under the Breyers label (which I duly reviewed here). Not surprisingly, there were some changes made: the cookies were smaller and the Oreo ice cream was replaced by plain vanilla. In short, the cookies themselves on this version were actually very good -- in fact, I liked them more than I did the old version. But the ice cream was...well, merely cold. And it's not a good day when the nicest thing you can say about an ice cream is that it was cold. That was the first and last box I bought of that version.
Fast forward to a couple of months ago: On my normal perusal of the ice cream aisle, I saw the new version of my old favorite. Y'know, kinda like that ex-boyfriend who you still kinda like but know you should ignore? Well, for several visits I was able to avoid giving in to its charms...but eventually its come-hither stare and the remembrance of all the good times we once shared proved too much for me, so I gave in and bought a box.
So was it as good as it once was?
Errrrrrrmm...no. The cookies themselves were closer in size to the classic Klondike version than to the smaller Breyers cookies. (The box boasts that they are 33% bigger.) The cookie itself was really good. It's very chocolaty and very close in flavor to an actual Oreo cookie. The texture was perfect. It was soft enough that it yielded easily to a bite, but was not soft enough to be soggy. Which is good, as I hate it when the cookies are too hard to bite cleanly, which causes the ice cream filling to squoosh out the sides. Thankfully, that's not a problem here.
But what of the ice cream?
God, this is getting to be just too predictable. The ice cream, yet again, is the downfall. On one hand, this version features the return of actual Oreo ice cream as the stuffing, rather than the plain vanilla of the Breyers version. However, it is listed on the box as being "light" ice cream.
I gotta rant for a second here. While I understand it's a great thing to watch calories and have "light" options, why must it seem like every new product out there has to be "light" or reduced fat, etc? As good as some light ice creams can be, they are just not as good as "real" ice cream. Clearly these snacks are meant to be a "sometimes" food -- and dammit, sometimes you just want something that is full fat! And because it is a light ice cream, it does not have the same mouthfeel as the "old" Oreo ice cream had, nor the same full taste. There doesn't seem to be any flavor from the Oreo bits in it, and even the vanilla is wimpy and weak. (Yet the package also says "not a light food." So the cookies are full fat, maybe? Who the hell writes the package copy, anyway? Politicians?)
Thus, once again, about all I can really say for the ice cream is that it's cold. So we've come full circle here, haven't we?
Overall, I will say this fares slightly better then the Breyers version, but I still liked the first version the best. It's just sad that it's not satisfying. If I am going to spend 200 calories on ice cream -- and a relatively small portion of ice cream, at that -- you can bet I'm going to choose a premium full fat option over this one. Really, what's the point of sinning if you don't enjoy it?
Sorry, Klondike, but I'm not impressed. I will not buy this item again.
Check out On Second Scoop's review here.
200 calories per cookie sandwich.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Is there anything better than pudding? OK, yes, there may be a few things better than pudding...but you'd really have to do some serious thinking to come up with them.
Last year when JELL-O launched the Mousse Temptations line, I was lucky enough to be among the first to get a sneak taste. This year, JELL-O has added a new flavor to the line-up: Chocolate Mint Sensation. And once again, they were awesome enough to send me some to try.
I love the texture of the Mousse Temptations puddings. As you've probably noticed, texture is where sugar-free/fat-free puddings often fail, even when the taste is acceptable. But that's not a problem here at at all. They're whipped and airy, and just all around smooth. Maybe this is what eating a chocolate flavored cloud would be like...
OK, we know the texture is good. But how does it taste?
Well, first the aroma: I like that the scent is mostly chocolate with just a hint of mint. I was worried it would be overwhelmingly minty...but I need not have been concerned.
As for the taste, it's terrific. JELL-O has also perfected the flavor of their sugar- and fat-free puddings to the point that it's hard to tell them by flavor alone from their sugar sweetened, full-fat counterparts.
Tastewise, it's a nice deep cocoa flavor. (I am pretty sure it uses the Dark Chocolate flavor as a base). The mint flavor is pleasantly mild. You certainly taste it -- it's brisk and clean and leaves your mouth feeling cool. But at the same time there's no sense that it's toothpastey or medicinal.
Overall, it was quite good. The Dark Chocolate Decadence is still my favorite, but this flavor is definitely comes in next!
AND NOW FOR THE REALLY EXCITING PART...THE CONTEST!!
Yep, YOU can win some yummy JELL-O Mousse...and not just a teeny little taste, but a whole happy lot of it! The good folks over at JELL-O are so nice that they want one of my lucky readers to try not only this new flavor...but also the Dark Chocolate Decadence, the Chocolate Indulgence, and the sugar free Chocolate and Chocolate-Vanilla puddings as well!
Yep, that is a whopping five packs of pudding! And with six individual cups per pack, that's a total of 30 servings of JELL-O Mousse Temptations joy! Really, what more could one want? I dunno about you...but personally if it's a choice between world peace and winning 30 servings of über-delicious JELL-O mousse, I'd be seriously torn.
So what do you have to do to enter and win? Good question!
All you have to do is leave a comment in this post telling about your favorite JELL-O pudding flavor. (It doesn't matter which variety, nor whether it's the kind you make yourself or one of the snack pack flavors). The contest will be open until midnight PST, October 9th, 2010, and the winner will be announced Monday October 11th 2010. See the rules below!
The winner will be asked to submit their email address via a comment (don't worry, it will NOT be published), so that I can contact them for mailing information. Your information will be shared ONLY with Hunter P.R., which will be shipping the winner their prize directly.
Rules and other important contest info:
* The contest is open to U.S. residents only. (My apologies to my Canadian and overseas friends.)Good luck!!
* Only one entry per person.
* The winner will be chosen by me at random by whatever means I find amusing at the moment -- quite likely by some method involving cats.
* The winner will have until October 19th to contact me, or a new winner will be picked.
* Again, the winner's shipping information will NOT be posted, and will be shared ONLY with Hunter P.R, which will be shipping the prize package directly to the winner.
Sample From Company
60 calories per cup.