Tag: Fall

Review – Fall Flavors IV

How are your arteries? I mean, they’re good, right? Because realistically, if you have a heart condition or high cholesterol, you shouldn’t even be reading this review.

Fried Twinkies.jpg

Hostess Deep Fried Twinkies. Depending on your perspective, this review is either dated or really, really dated by now. Fried Twinkies have been part of American fair culture for at least a decade or so now. And even the boxed version is at least a few months old, meaning it isn’t technically a new flavor limited specifically to Fall. But I’m giving it a pass. First, because nothing screams “Fall” like taking something that’s already ninety percent butter and deep-frying it. In butter.

And secondly, well, I accidentally ate some brown rice the other day and I don’t want my body to feel like I’m coddling it.

These come in two flavors – regular and chocolate-filled. I opted to go for the regular because I wanted a more authentic experience. Besides, if I wanted chocolate deep-fried I would eat – and have eaten – fried Oreo’s or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

But first, to address the elephant (or at least the very overweight guy) in the room.

Since Facebook started putting ads every other post in my news feed, I’ve been seeing a lot of advertisements for this product. And since people can comment on these ads, well, has commenting ever made anything better?

I don’t have any odd notions that my taste buds were the first – the archetype from which all human taste buds were created. People eat things all the time and hate them despite my liking them, and vice versa. And that’s fine. Different strokes for different folks. Or, in my case, probably just many more strokes because I put terrible, terrible things into my body.

What irked me, though, was that out of about thirty negative comments I read about this product, only two had actually eaten them. And sure, I get it. These obviously aren’t health food by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, if you put this into a salad, they’ll just cancel eat other out and vanish with a loud popping sound.

But c’mon. If you’re going to say that something makes you throw up, the least you can do is actually try it. It’s one thing to say that it sounds so horrible for you that you don’t think you could actually process it as food and digest it. It’s another thing entirely to say that it puts you on a toilet for three days when you’ve never been closer to the product than the distance between your computer screen and a picture of the box.

It was a weird situation where idiots forced me to actually feel bad for Wal-Mart customer service, who was fielding all these complaints by asking what was wrong and if they’d like a refund. Only to have the person reply, “Well, I’ve never had these, but aren’t Americans fat enough already?”

Surely you could see why they were confused after saying these gave you diarrhea.

All right. Enough of that, though. Rant off. Feedbag on.

I rarely gush about foods in the way that I’d like to gush about fried Twinkies in a box. Simply put, these transported me to a realm of pure ecstasy. Which is probably a good thing, since I couldn’t move after I ate two and count being transported as exercise.

This is probably in my top five desserts of all time. And when I added a little strawberry syrup for dipping, I was more than happy to bump it up to my top three. If you’ve been following my eating career (or just been watching me eat from across the room and shaking your head for the past few years), you’ll know that I’ve eaten some pretty wild desserts. This had some real competition from things like fried cheesecake.

I don’t know how they got the outside to taste and crunch like freshly-fried dough right out of the hot grease. Maybe I don’t want to know. My point is, these are good. Damn good. Damn good-er than they really have any right to be.

This isn’t just a faithful recreation of the real thing – it’s better.

Now, just for the sake of completion, though, I will add a few notes. Don’t try to cook these in the microwave. You can wait the eight minutes it’ll take to cook them in the oven, especially since you’ll be eating a flimsy moist mess otherwise. Or at least, you would, if these things didn’t explode in the microwave.

Most importantly, eat only one of these at a time. I repeat. One. At. A. Time.

I get it. You think you’re a big man. You can eat mouthfuls of the really hot peppers and not even break a sweat. Sour candy? What sour candy? This isn’t like that, okay? This is the real thing. And if you try to eat more than one at once, you’re putting your life into your own hands. I’m relatively sure that’s the reason they put seven in a box – so you didn’t try to eat them in three sittings of two apiece.

If you can follow those two rules, though, you’ll have a full belly of warm, contented goodness.

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Review – Fall Flavors III

Now that we’ve thoroughly discussed the merits of spicy beverages, let’s move on to something a little more Fall-centric.

caramel-apple-pop-tarts
What is it with these foods and having no good images available?

Frosted Caramel Apple Pop Tarts. I first caught sight of these in a list of about 36 limited edition flavors for the 2016 Fall Season. I remember they immediately caught my interest – mostly by being the single entry that wasn’t flavored with some combination of pumpkin and my own hatred.

Also, I mean, c’mon – caramel apple Pop Tarts? That’s pretty baller right there.

These weren’t really a hard sell for me, though. Because Pop Tarts has had some pretty crazy ideas in the past. And maybe I right to be skeptical of Frosted A&W Root Beer Pop Tarts. Any sane man should have been wary of that one. But what can I say? With the possible exception of those tiny barrel-shaped candies that might not even be edgy enough to exist anymore, I’ve never eaten a solid food with such a convincingly authentic root beer flavor in my life.

After that, Pop Tarts has pretty much gotten a pass from me. Orange soda? Sure. Pink lemonade? Get those things out of their silver pouch and into my mouth. Summer berry? Whatever that even is, absolutely.

Now, are Pop Tarts infallible? Absolutely not. After all, a few of their core flavors – like unfrosted anything, aren’t the best. And their insistence on still pushing that brown sugar whatever flavor after twenty years or so is, at best – ill-advised.

But for the most part, most things translate quite nicely to the medium of “filled pastry dessert with frosting on top.”

So how were these ones? To be blunt, they nailed it. In fact, in a long line of things Pop Tarts has absolutely nailed, this actually stands out as one they nailed to a startlingly awesome degree.

I’m sure you’d be forgiven for dismissing these right out of the box. (Hi-yo!) The swirl designs on the pastry are never quite as nice-looking as the ones in the pictures. One I ate, in fact, had the swirl so far off center that it was partially cut off on the right side. I noticed this only because it was the very first one I ate. I don’t really know if the others looked similar, because they were in my mouth too quickly to notice.

The insides were some mixture of vaguely apple-looking mush and light brown caramel goo. I realize that doesn’t sound all that great – probably less so because I’m mostly guessing as to what each colored slurry was supposed to be. And probably less less so because I used the term “slurry.” But the truth is, anyone who was expecting to find whole strawberries in their pastry not only doesn’t “get” Pop Tarts but doesn’t understand the filled-pastry sciences as a whole.

Pop Tarts are processed food of the most wonderful sort. In short, should you be eating these for every meal? Yes. They taste amazing. But should you? Probably not. Because 400 calories something something sodium carbs.

(Though, 20% niacin isn’t bad, right? And thiamin, too. I think?)

I’m not pretending these are health food or anything. Then again, most health foods aren’t that good. Frosted Kale Pop Tarts, in fact, might be one of the few flavors I’d consider skipping in the future.

Now, on to the last review. Maybe it’ll be a bit healthier and…ha ha. No.

Fried Twinkies in a box.

Review – Fall Flavors II

Writer’s Note: I realize I’ve been doing a lot of reviews lately. And…that’s pretty much the whole note. As long as there’s weird or interesting things to try and movie trailers to check out, I’m probably going to keep doing it. I just wanted to be clear that I’m aware of it.

The three items I’m doing today were a bit tricky, because I wasn’t sure I was even going to try them in the first place. Which is a nice way of saying, “All three of these things sound sort of disgusting.”

But appearances can be deceiving. After all, I’m a tall, handsome, intelligent man who’s a caring husband and father. And on the other hand…well, sometimes looks can be not at all deceiving, too.

Now that I’ve finished with the narcissism, moving along.

Mango Heat.jpg
Sorry it’s not a good picture, but to be fair, people aren’t buying Dew for how it looks.

Mountain Dew Game Fuel: Mango Heat. I realize at first glance that this doesn’t really seem like a fall flavor at all. But Mountain Dew has a yearly promotion with two limited edition flavors to coincide with one major video game release or another. In short, it’s a rather shameless cash grab of the very best variety – the kind that gives me new flavors of Mountain Dew.

I was initially very skeptical of this flavor. In fact, when I heard “Mango Heat,” I thought it was a mango habanero flavor for Doritos. And while that doesn’t sound much better, the idea of spicy soda definitely gave me pause. Even when it’s released by Mountain Dew. To put my relationship/addiction in perspective, Mountain Dew recently sent me a t-shirt just because I drink so much and I was slightly disappointed they didn’t just send me a can of soda.

Because you can’t drink a shirt.

But enough beating around the bush. How was the spicy mango soda? Surprisingly…not too bad. And the only thing that kept it from being great was probably that I’m just not that big a fan of mango.

The heat, however, was rather pleasant.

I feel like the name “Mango Heat” was an apt one. Because rather than an overdone spicy note on the end, it’s more like the slightly cool sensation in your mouth after you have something minty. Or the slight warmth when you’re drinking bourbon. I include the second example because it’s more fitting, and the first because not everyone likes drinks that can catch on fire.

I’ll include the caveat that a number of people absolutely hate this flavor. A number even refer to it as a pleasant mango for three seconds followed by overpowering black pepper for the rest of your life. So clearly, mileages can and do vary.

On one hand, I’m not sure this was a drink anyone was asking for, but it’s something different, so I can’t be angry that Mountain Dew is trying new things. Especially when its fan base would be more than happy to buy any generic berry flavor they release and tint a slightly different color of red or purple.

Next up, Frosted Caramel Apple Pop Tarts

Writer’s After-Note: I’m going to split this article into multiple pieces so I can get the individual parts out as quickly as possible. With a little luck, you should see all three before day’s end. And with a little less luck…not that.

Review – Fall Flavors

Well, here we are again. The mornings are cool and crisp. The trees are turning lovely shades of yellow, orange and red. And once again, some madman with a syringe is injecting pumpkin flavoring into anything he can get his hands on.

That’s right. It’s “Pumpkin Spice Everything” season again.

Pumpkin Spice.jpg
Image from everydaynodaysoff.com…or one of the other six people who claimed credit.

Just as a small preview of how this is all going to go, I should start by saying I don’t much care for pumpkin. Or rather, I don’t like “pumpkin flavor” or “pumpkin spice.” Pumpkin seeds are among the tastiest baked treats to enjoy on a cool day. How someone got it in their head to scoop out the garbage part of the pumpkin, throw away the seeds and then vomit nutmeg into it until it in no way resembles the taste of pumpkin, I’ll never know.

I don’t even really like pumpkin pie. Why? Because they baked it into a weird tofu-like slab that’s so far removed from real pumpkin I don’t why they even kept the name. It’s like someone did a cover version of pumpkin and really just phoned the whole thing in.

If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. If it tastes like nutmeg, feels like tofu and is randomly brown, I don’t know what it is. But pumpkin it ain’t.

Luckily, caramel apple is kind of a Fall staple, too, so at least failure won’t be a foregone conclusion for everything I tried.

Caramel Apple Twizzlers. So basically, you’ve got an apple-flavored Twizzler filled with caramel. Take good thing and stuff with other good thing to get good-er thing. Eat. Enjoy. Rinse. Repeat.

For the first three, anyway. After that, the flavor goes kind of off the rails and starts to taste really artificial. So if you’re the sort that’s capable of enjoying candy in moderation, then these should be right up your alley. If you’re the sort who tends to see a pile of candy as a personal challenge, you might want to skip these altogether.

Pumpkin Life Cereal. I picture this as being pretty much what would happen if you accidentally spilled a pumpkin latte into your bowl of Life Cereal and just decided to go with it. I don’t consider that a ringing endorsement, but if that description doesn’t scare you off, you’d probably like these.

Pumpkin Spice Cheerios. I picture this as being pretty much what would happen if you accidentally spilled a pumpkin latte into your bowl of Cheerios. Then you threw it out. And then you spilled a second latte into an empty bowl. And then you spilled a lye latte. And amidst all this crazy spilling, you got sort of distracted and actually started eating what was in the bowl.

I realize that when people are buying pumpkin-spiced anything there are probably certain expectations. First and foremost among these is that you’d actually be able to taste the pumpkin. And that’s fine, but this kind of ran in the opposite direction. The spice is overpowering – closer to a chemical burn than a flavoring.

But again, if that description doesn’t scare you off…sure.

Little Debbie Caramel Apple Oatmeal Creme Pies. These were probably my favorite food of the bunch I tried. And I think it had something to do with the organic nature of the limited edition. It’s not a drink with a tacked-on flavor shot. It’s not a cereal dusted with random spices. This was exactly like a tiny oatmeal cookie sandwich cosplaying as a caramel apple pie.

The point of limited editions is that they make sense in the context of a specific food. Caramel Apple Wther’s Originals make sense because it’s just adding some apple to your caramel. And Pop-Tarts, frankly, can get away with almost anything. But the more you’re aware that they just took an existing product (like, say, Oreos) and added pumpkin spice just to make some random girl in Portland squeal, the less it holds up.

That being said, the “creme” aspect of this was a little weird. It’s sort of like if you took the regular oatmeal pie creme and put it in a blender with caramel and apple. As long as I don’t have to clean the blender in question I’m okay with it, I guess.

Lindor Pumpkin Spice Milk Chocolate Truffles. And…the counterpoint. This is the textbook example of abandoning organic flavor use and just filling your candy with whatever. Or it would be a textbook example, but I refuse to believe a textbook on such a sad, sad topic could possibly exist.

I’m going to write this very slowly so everyone can understand it. I’d also advise candy makers to read it slowly. Otherwise, my typing speed is largely irrelevant. My point is, I need you to understand this – chocolate and pumpkin do not go together.

I understand the difficulty in making tasty confections when the well of ideas for stuff to stick in chocolate are pretty much tapped out. Lord knows there were enough warning signs when people tried selling me chocolate with air bubbles in it. But Lindor isn’t doing itself any favors by putting pumpkin in chocolate. Chocolate goes about as well with pumpkin as it does with cinnamon. Or hair clippings. In short, not at all.

Does that mean chocolate candy makers have to miss out on the fall fun? No. But maybe do that salted caramel thing people say is in any way different than plain caramel. You want Fall foods? Then do some county fair favorites. The fact that so many years have passed without a Fried Twinkie Milk Chocolate Truffle is nothing short of a travesty.

Taco Bell Pumpkin Spice Nachos. Okay. I made this up. These don’t exist. And the fact that they don’t is probably one of the more compelling forms of evidence that there’s a God out there who loves us.

Though, given the rate of things getting pumpkin spice versions, I’d say God will probably keep loving us for another year or two, tops.