Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Little Debbie Peppermint Swiss Rolls

Once again that fawn-eyed temptress Little Debbie is coyly looking at me from the corner of my box of Peppermint Swiss Rolls, with a gaze that whispers: "C'mon, you know you want to taste my delicious creamy center!" I tell you, that Little Debbie can be quite beguiling.

Little Debbie's regular Swiss Rolls have been a best seller for the company since pretty much the dawn of time. In fact, if you look closely at pictures of dinosaurs, you might even see one or two snacking on some. That's not to say our little minx Debbie is afraid to try anything new, however. This year she is offering a new variation with peppermint added to the classic roll.

The rolls are sold in boxes of six, and are individually wrapped.

They are the same size as the classic roll. They also have a thin chocolate-like covering. The coating is fairly flaky, which I actually like. It's on the waxy side, true, but it does taste fairly close to chocolate...but that doesn't matter, because as soon as you take even the smallest bite, the peppermint immediately makes itself known.

The chocolate sponge cake is both on the dry and moist sides at the same time. I know that sounds like a contradiction -- and probably not a very pleasant one at that -- and on a freshly baked cake, it certainly would be unpleasant. But I think in commercial snack products, that's actually the perfect medium. If it were less dry, it would probably be greasy -- yet at the same time it's moist enough that it doesn't send you running for a drink to wash it down.

The creme: Honestly, it's hard to say much about snack cake filling that hasn't already been said. I will hand it to Little Debbie in that the creme filling in these rolls seems to be lighter and more whipped than most such cremes. And in terms of texture, I really liked that. It doesn't seem to have much flavor of its own -- but let's be fair; how often does a commercial creme snack filling?

As for the peppermint, as far as I could tell -- having actually dissected a roll and eaten it layer by layer -- purely for the sake of a thorough review and NOT because that is how I actually like to eat Swiss Rolls. No, dear readers, I do these things just for you. So where was I? Meandering somewhere within a run-on sentence that just lost its way? Oh, yes...

The peppermint, as far as I could tell, seems to live in the chocolatey top layer. It is a very strong peppermint. But it is quite sweet, and it does not burn or taste like medicine. Because it's so potent I suspect that these rolls will be more popular with adults than with kids -- unless they are weird kids, as I was (I always liked my mint bold).

All in all, I really liked this as a snack cake. Personally, I could have lived without the mockolate outer coating...but as stated, it is flaky and easy enough to just brush away if you don't really want it. For this review, I am knocking a couple points off the rating for the use of mockolate over real chocolate. I believe a real chocolate coating would have taken these from merely good to truly great. Meanwhile, the mint flavor is bold, and I love the texture of the cake. Definitely worth a try!

Sample from company

MSRP $1.79 for a box of six rolls.

210 calories per roll

Contains wheat, eggs, soy, and milk. Peanuts and tree nuts may also be present.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ben & Jerry's Hannah Teter's Maple Blondie Limited Edition (Round Three!!!)

Update -- December 15 2010:

Yes, it's true! Hannah Teter's Maple Blondie is back yet again, for an unprecedented third production run! (Normally Ben & Jerry's limited editions are made in one single batch, and once they're gone, they're gone forever.) And it's available on supermarket shelves right now, so be sure to get some -- trust me, it is well worth hunting for. In fact, I have even heard a rumor that if you leave some of this for Santa Claus, he'll give you an iPad.

Anyway, since Maple Blondie is back -- and since it's totally, absolutely fantastic (Jerry himself has said it's his favorite flavor) -- I decided to do something I very rarely do: I am reposting the review I did of it way back when. So if you missed it the first time around, or even the second, here it is:

Ice Spiders. It's not just a movie, man! The giant spiders are coming, I know it! (If you have not surrendered over two hours of life to see this movie yet, it is awesomely, transcendentally bad and you are missing out.) Hannah Teter, by the way, is a famous snowboarder and a Vermont native, who has never been attacked by ice spiders, as best I can tell. Hannah -- besides snowboarding -- also has a nonprofit charity called Hannah's Gold that sells Vermont maple syrup to help the children of Kirindon, Kenya.

Conveniently, this is a maple ice cream base with a maple caramel swirl. So you see, people, I am eating ice cream to save the children! I thought of the children! There are also blonde brownie chunks. I don't know how the children feel about them, but I tend to be a fan.

So is it worth risking death by ice spider for?

The scent is heavenly. It's a sweet maple, yet it doesn't send you looking for the pancakes.

The maple base tastes like a creamy version of the best maple syrup you can imagine. It's deep, there's a brown sugar/molasses quality, but it manages never to overwhelm. If you are basing your like -- or more to the point, dislike -- of maple on pancake syrups found on supermarket shelves that are no longer maple syrup but merely maple flavored syrup...cease and desist! This is what you should be looking for.

The maple/caramel swirl is addictive. It's mostly caramel, but it's just good. It adds a slightly sticky texture that I liked.

The brownie pieces are super, super soft and I found myself hunting for the chunks. It's like little brown sugar cubes of happiness. Really, the only thing bad about this ice cream is what it might do to my ass if I am allowed to consume it in the quantities I'd like to.

Be sure to check out Marvo's review, because my butt might be completing with his moobs over the last pint!

Vons Supermarket


240 calories per 1/2 cup


Monday, December 13, 2010

Marshmallow Pebbles Cereal

First, guys, I want to apologize for lack of new reviews. It's not that I don't love you anymore, or that I don't have things planned, or that I don't have have literally oodles of cool stuff waiting in my apartment. It's really this: Gigi has not been going through the greatest time with her lupus these last six months or so...and to be honest, food and I just aren't feeling the love for each other much these days, no matter how much I want to. Yeah, I could fake my way through using my visual take on it, my sense of smell, and third party opinions -- but don't I think that's fair to you, and it's a hell of a lot less fun for me. So, I continue to thank you for your patience with me.

But you know, sometimes you just have to take one for the team. And if there happen to be marshmallows involved...well, let's just say I am willing to deal a little more than I might have been otherwise. So when I saw the box of Marshmallow Pebbles on the supermarket shelf, I practically ran home, spoon in hand, spilling soy milk in my wake. If only I had done a Google search before I bought it! Both Grub Grade and Yum Yucky have reviewed it (click on their names to read their reviews), and had I seen those I would have saved myself $1.99.

The first thing that hits you when you open the box is the awful aroma; a nauseating, overpowering mix of sugar and fake vanilla. It's what I imagine weapons of mass destruction would be scented like if terrorists decided that making them smell vaguely candy-like would up their PR factor after the incident. (Cease and desist email from Post legal should be hitting my inbox!) Seriously, it's a really vile odor. And I love the smell of marshmallow as a rule.

When I think of a Pebbles cereal, be it fruity or cocoa (both of which I like, for the record), I've come to expect the Pebbles themselves to be on the smaller, thinner side. They don't hold their crunch long, but they do have a snappy, yet airy texture that I really like when I indulge.

But these Pebbles were almost as weird as they smelled. In terms of size and appearance they reminded me of a crispy rice type of cereal -- only they're heavier and more dense than that. In terms of texture and taste, they actually reminded me of the Jumbo Rice Krispies. And if you read that review, you will see I didn't like that cereal either. Well, guess what -- I liked these Pebbles even less. Between the non-Pebbles texture and the not-oaty, not-rice, just not-good taste of the cereal...blecccch! I will be honest with you; I was just done.

You may have noticed there is no picture of the cereal in milk. And there won't be. I ate a bowl pre-review because I just couldn't wait. (I have got to learn to work on my patience.) And after that, I might as well have skipped the review entirely: Clearly I have had nothing nice to say about it!

But then it occurred to me that this box -- that otherwise had no redeeming value whatsoever -- could finally allow me to indulge one secret lifelong fantasy...

...yes...I admit it...I have long dreamed of eating a bowl of nothing but cereal marshmallows. So, yes, I indulged my lifelong fantasy! Damning and humiliating photos to follow.

As you see here, I was panning for marshmallows:

And this is my haul:

One box produces one decent sized bowl of marshmallows.

So was my effort worth it? Hell yeah! The actual cereal might have been beyond vile, but that bowl of just marshmallows was great! Would I do it on a regular basis? Well no, but it was a fun experiment. (OK, I totally lied. I would soooooooo buy these marshmallows in bulk if I thought I could justify it!)

So in the end, while this may possibly have been the single worst thing I have eaten in the name of a review, I absolutely loved the marshmallows!

As for the cereal itself? I think Stewie Griffin says it perfectly...

Albertsons Supermarket




110 calories per 3/4 cup.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Happy Hanukkah!

Yes, it's time once again for those eight crazy nights, and I wish you all a fun festival of lights. (Hey, that rhymes!) I thought a great way to kick it off would be with be the Neil Diamond version of Adam Sandler's classic Hanukkah Song (part 1):

Woohoo! The only way that could be more epically awesome would be if Barry Manilow did the second version as a follow-up (Barry is also Jewish).

Unfortunately, I won't have eight crazy reviews because I just have not been able to get out there and find many Hanukkah related foodstuffs -- and I already covered some of my favorite things during Passover Week. But I did find some interesting looking candies, so we will have a few Hanukkah themed reviews coming this week.

And BTW, did you know that it is central to the holiday to eat not only fried foods but also cheese (or dairy in general)? How can you not love such a holiday?!

However you celebrate, have fun and have a latke for me!


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

R.I.P. Fmung

I am sad to report that my turtle Fmung passed away on November 30th. Some of you might remember that he picked the winner of our second Campbell's Soup giveaway contest.

Yes, I know, he was just a freaking turtle, for crying out loud. A cold blooded animal with a tiny, primitive brain about the size of a mustard seed. As such, he was no more capable of feeling affection for me than he was of composing a sonata. Believe me, I am well aware of that. But, as any pet owner knows, none of that matters. Fmung is gone. There's an empty silent corner in the room where he used to dwell, and there's a fresh hole in my heart that won't be patched over in an instant.

My pets are my kids (largely because I am both unwilling and unable to have actual flesh monkeys...and I am perfectly happy with furry and/or reptilian kids, thank you very much), and like any pet parent, I had become attached to him. I admit turtles aren't much fun as far as pets go. They pass through a "cute" phase that lasts for a few months, and then they grow up to become...well, not quite so cute anymore. And I won't lie: Fmung's "cute" days were well behind him. His youthful playfulness and inquisitiveness (yes, baby turtles are both playful and inquisitive, believe it or not) fell by the wayside as he grew up, to be replaced with...well, with what one would expect of a reptile. In fact there's no nice way to put it -- as an adult he was just plain mean as hell. And no matter how clean you kept his tank, he always managed to smell bad. Nonetheless, he will be missed.

We got Fmung -- pronounced like the word "among," with an "f" sound in place of the "a" -- in Los Angeles's Chinatown many years ago. An old woman was selling baby turtles out of a tank on the sidewalk for a couple dollars apiece (no doubt illegally, but hey, that's Los Angeles), and he was both the smallest and the most hyper one in the tank. He was so young he still had his egg tooth, and so tiny that he was only the diameter of a U.S. half dollar coin. He was just too cute not to get. Yes, it was an impulse buy -- and not until we got to Petco a little later did we realize how much upkeep is involved in keeping the little guys healthy and happy. (A word to parents: if you are thinking of a low maintenance first pet for your kids, don't go turtle!)

He quickly became the most spoiled red eared slider in the San Fernando Valley. By the end of his first night he had the turtle version of a penthouse, complete with a large glass tank, plenty of water to swim in and a filter pump to keep the water sparkling clean, gravel and rocks to climb on, a lamp that mimicked sunlight, you name it. During his baby period -- before he became aggressive and developed a fierce bite, that is -- he was quite cute and loved to walk along your hand (and yes, because of the salmonella risk, you must wash up well immediately after). It was also fun watching him get bigger and keep outgrowing his tanks. He always loved to swim and climb on his rocks.

For a turtle he was quite the traveler. He made the cross country road trip from Los Angeles to Atlanta, and then back again years later. That is probably some kind of record for a turtle! He eventually grew to be as large as a salad plate. In his later years on a nice warm day he liked to go out on the balcony with us and run (well, maybe not quite run, but turtles can move faster on land than they get credit for) back and forth on the warm concrete (not to worry -- it's completely enclosed, and unless he could have learned to jump close to four feet straight up, he was in no danger of falling off) or just sit and bask in the sun.

Fmung, I hope you are in Turtle Heaven munching on all of your favorite foods. (He loved those little dried shrimps and worms -- specifically, live earthworms.) I hope that you have a nice big rock to bask in the sun on and lots of water to swim in, and that you now have more time to brush up on your ninja skills. Yes, you may have combined the warmth and charm of Rosie O'Donnell with the look of a green, reptilian Abe Vigoda. But that's OK. You were always loved and you are greatly missed.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Broguiere's Egg Nog

It's not often that I dedicate a review -- but with this one, I have to give a special shout out to Doug who runs the the O.K. Corral Ostrich Farm. You might have seen Doug on Dirty Jobs or Modern Marvels. Or perhaps you've even been lucky enough to try some of his ostrich meat or eggs. The reason this review this is dedicated to Doug is because he and I have been email pals for about the last year, and one of the things we've talked about a lot is our shared love of Broguiere's products.

Anyway, I have been looking forward to trying this since last year when Doug -- along with many other readers, as well as literally hundreds of online mini-reviews -- proclaimed Broguiere's to be quite possibly the best egg nog in the world. Really, how could I possibly not want to try that? Unfortunately for me, by the time I decided to, it was so late in the season that there was simply no more of the egg nog on the shelves. Broguiere's only produces egg nog for a brief, seasonal production run each year...and when its gone for the year, it's gone. In my area there are few stores that even carry it. I also live 34 miles from the location of their own drive-thru store; which, with Southern California traffic, is more than just a bit of a nuisance. However, if you are close to Montebello, California (in the greater Los Angeles area) it is possible to get it directly from them in greater quantities than you can from a typical retail location.

As with all of Broguiere's products, it comes in an old fashioned heavy glass bottle. The color of the nog is a rich buttery yellow, with little specks of spice sprinkled throughout. And before you even take a sip, you can see it's easily twice as thick as any other egg nog you're likely to have tried.

Tastewise, it lives up to every single bit of hype. It's extremely creamy, and like all the other Broguiere's products that I have tried, it leaves the same fatty, rich film in your mouth that a premium ice cream does. There are notes of vanilla and nutmeg. Maybe a touch of cinnamon too. But what it really tasted like to me was a super quality butterscotch. I'll bet a touch of dark rum added to this nog would make a fantastic adult treat -- but even drunk straight from its 1950's Leave it to Beaver-looking bottle, it's sinfully good.

I think even if you've been a horrible brat throughout the year, if you leave this for Santa, you could bribe your way into getting that new Wii.

Bottom line -- this is simply the Best Egg Nog EVER! It's even better than the Southern Comfort egg nogs I reviewed last year, and make no mistake, I still love those too.

Plagiarizing from myself here, but...I know that for those of you outside of Southern California, this review may be something of a tease. But you ought to search out local dairies in your own area that sell products like this. The difference between this and the highly processed stuff you're probably used to drinking is amazing, and worth whatever it takes to hunt it down.


Vons Supermarket

$5.39 per quart bottle (price includes $2 bottle deposit, which is refundable when empty bottle is returned).


None on the bottle, but the cap advises you to call (323) 726-0524 for nutritional info.

Talk about old school...if they have a web site, I couldn't find it. But they do have a Yelp page here, most of whose reviews are even droolier than mine.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

May your gobbles be tasty... and hopefully free of cat hair.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Too Haute Cowgirls: The Good, the Bad, and the Peanut Butter Popcorn


Edited on 11/13/10 to add:
This is actually a re-run review of sorts. My original photo's were what could best be described as "melty" looking thanks to the shipping company. The kindly little ladies of Too Haute Cowgirls were nice enough to send along new samples so thanks to them I was able to redo the photo's and give this popcorn the food porn justice it deserves!

The rootin' tootin' ladies of Too Haute Cowgirls have certainly been making quite the impression on me. They have a caramel popcorn base that is to die for, and they have many, many different versions and toppings that they have piled on.

Today's cluster is The Good, the Bad and the Peanut Butter. Which is caramel corn drizzled with white chocolate and peanut butter. Also tossed into the mix are peanuts, cashews, pretzels, and sea salt flakes.

Now, I go into this eager yet scared: I love everything on that list except for white chocolate. And sadly, white chocolate is going to play a major role here. With that admission of bias up front, let's give her a try:


The peanut butter is the first thing you taste. It has that sweeter peanutty taste that seems more common in peanut butter flavored items than in actual peanut butter itself. Think less roasted nuts and more sugary. Kinda like peanut butter flavored cereal. I may not like that taste in a sandwich, but it works really well with the caramel corn.

The sea salt makes both the caramel and the peanut butter pop.

The white chocolate just adds a little extra vanilla-like sweetness. There's a lot of it, but to my delight it didn't make the popcorn oily or distract from the other ingredients. It also adds a little smooth melt.

The nuts are plentiful and very crisp.

I just wish there had been more pretzels! They tasted great along with the caramel corn and the peanut butter. And like the nuts, they were very crispy.

I can't say enough about the caramel corn. Even if they'd packaged plain caramel corn on its own, it would still be good. The caramel is milky and salty. The corn itself is plump and crunchy.

Even as a non-fan of white chocolate I really liked this flavor!


Sample from company

Contains nuts.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Too Haute Cowgirls: Chili Con Chocolate Popcorn


Edited on 11/11/10 to add:
This is actually a re-run review of sorts. My original photo's were what could best be described as "melty" looking thanks to the shipping company. The kindly little ladies of Too Haute Cowgirls were nice enough to send along new samples so thanks to them I was able to redo the photo's and give this popcorn the food porn justice it deserves!

I have to admit that as soon as I hear or see the words "Chili Con" anything, I immediately think of my favorite episode of South Park, Scott Tenorman Must Die, in which Cartman invites his arch nemesis (for that episode, at least) to a "Chili Con Carnival" that has a rather disturbing, but classic Cartman ending.

Given the episode's outcome, I should maybe be more wary than I am of trying anything marked "Chili Con (insert random food)." But we all know I am a little twisted myself, so in reality it only made the product seem more awesome to me.


Too Haute Cowgirls' Chili Con Chocolate is made up of caramel coated popcorn that's been covered in dark chocolate, mixed with pecans, and then everything is covered in a special chili coating. And I think we all know once you put the words "chili" and "chocolate" together, I am there.

So, we know I love the idea of this popcorn...but did I love the popcorn itself?

It's definitely an unusual mix. First, I have to give Too Haute Cowgirls props: this popcorn actually does pack some serious heat. I am frequently disappointed by the lack of heat in supposedly "hot" products. But this one really does bring it.

Just as with their Fluer de Sel Popcorn, the actual corn itself is light and fluffy. The caramel is sweet and buttery. The chocolate coating is thick enough to completely enrobe the popcorn, but not so thick that it forms a hard crust (which is good).


The nuts are whole pecans, and they were crunchy and fresh. They are also covered in chocolate, but are caramel free.

The spice blend that covers everything does indeed bring the heat it promises to the table. I am not sure what is in the chili blend, but for the most part it really compliments the popcorn, the caramel, the chocolate and the nuts. The only thing that sort of got me is that some bites seemed to have a lot of cumin flavor to them (I don't know for sure that the mix actually contains cumin, but most chili blends do). I didn't care for the cumin taste with the chocolate and the caramel. But I loved the pieces that were all chocolate and heat.

This is an interesting mix that's well worth rustlin' up.


Sample from company


Sample from company


Contains nuts.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Stone Ridge Creamery: Polar Bursts Mint Chocolate Chip

Polar Bursts are actually a knockoff version of Dippin' Dots -- which, believe it or not, I have never tried. Back in the late 80's and early 90's, Dippin' Dots would easily be found at malls or arcades/fun centers -- but even as teenager I was an ice cream snob, and I had already created my much-repeated mantra: If I am going to suffer for eating dairy, I will do it only for the best. And in those situations where the choice was Dippin' Dots or something by, say, Haagen-Dazs...which do you think was going to win? Besides, Dippin' Dots proudly proclaimed that theirs was the "ice cream of the future," and I personally liked things the old school way.

Well, here we are, well into the Twenty-First Century, and old school ice cream is still alive and well (and, to be fair, Dippin' Dots is still alive and kicking also). But now we have supermarket versions of the Dots. I will be honest; while I have long thought of giving this style of ice cream a try, it was really the fact that it was on sale for fifty cents that was the final motivator.

Stone Ridge apparently makes several flavors of Polar Burst, but my store only had Neapolitan and Mint Chocolate Chip. The ice cream is packaged as a single serving in its own little plastic bowl. While it is a generous portion, the only thing I did not like about the packaging is that it has a "yogurt style" foil lid, which means that it is not resealable. (Yes, of course you could always plastic-wrap the top or transfer the dots to a sealable package, but that is not the point.)

Even if I remain skeptical about the ice cream and its packaging, I have to admit that there is something cool about eating something whose original version was created by a microbiologist. I dunno, I guess it's my inner Alton Brown coming out.

So after all of this, how did it taste?

Well, it is a fun way to eat ice cream. The familiar flavor of Mint Chocolate Chips is there. But instead of a creamy (well, hopefully creamy) mouthfeel, there are these cold, melty little beads. It is like eating no other ice cream or ice cream type product I have ever had. The orbs vary a bit in size and that keeps it interesting.

Flavor-wise, the bursts are almost a little too cold. It's not cold enough to cause ice burn in your mouth, but it does numb the taste down. The orbs separated easily, so I don't think it was from being in my freezer, but I could be wrong.

When they do melt down enough to taste them, the ice cream tastes like every other store-brand level Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream on the planet. It's not the most complex chocolate nor brightest mint you will have ever tasted -- but there's nothing particularly wrong with it either.

Once the bursts have melted in your mouth to the point they are no longer as cold (or as orb-shaped), the texture, like the flavor, is like every store-brand level of ice cream out there. It's not super fatty or rich, and it seems as if it is overly aerated. It's serviceable, but entirely forgettable.

It really is all about the shapes and the texture. This has, if nothing else, inspired me to try to track down some of the name-brand version to see if I feel the same way. I can definitely see why kids love these. Try them for the texture novelty, but hard core ice cream fans be warned: you are not going to be knocked out by the ice cream itself.

I rated it at a 6 because of the texture. If it had been only for the ice cream quality, I would place it at a 3.

Albertsons Supermarket




160 calories per 5 fluid ounce container.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Think Gum

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

Winner of the JELL-O Pudding Contest!!

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*)

... Ashley!

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

Klondike Oreo Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

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? 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.


Albertsons Supermarket




200 calories per cookie sandwich.