Tag Archives: holiday

Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps Dark Chocolate and Mediterranean Sea Salt Crunch

Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps Dark Chocolate and Mediterranean Sea Salt Crunch BagI’m not sure why these Dark Chocolate and Mediterranean Sea Salt Crunch Pretzel Crisps are special for Christmas, but they’re new and their packaging is obviously Christmas-themed. Shiny red-and-green packaging, and you can’t tell me it’s a happy accident that that pile of sea salt just so happens to look like a mound of snow.

And, of course, there’s good ol’ Saint Nick, who appears to be tiptoeing across the front of the bag for fear of waking the sleeping snacks. Santa is begging you to “Rethink your pretzel!”, which I assume is a reference to the “crisp” part of these Pretzel Crisps.

In case you aren’t aware, Pretzel Crisps are like pretzels that have had the middle sliced out of them and then the outsides stuck back together. Sort of like if a pretzel and a cracker had a baby – they’re thinner and lighter than regular pretzels, but they keep all the good parts, like the crunch and the distinctive flavor.

Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps Dark Chocolate and Mediterranean Sea Salt Crunch

These Pretzel Crisps have been dipped in dark chocolate and covered in sea salt, supposedly of the Mediterranean variety, although I cannot verify that claim.

The Crisps themselves maintain their crunchy texture, even having been subjected to a heavy chocolate. I would say that this goes well with the texture of the chocolate, but the chocolate is of the very cheap variety, which is one of the biggest problems with these Pretzel Crisps.

In addition to lacking the smooth texture of good dark chocolate, it also lacks the depth of flavor. Instead of being dark and rich, it is instead just plain ol’ bitter, overshadowing the chocolate notes.

Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps Dark Chocolate and Mediterranean Sea Salt Crunch Close-Up

The other problem with these Pretzel Crisps is the salt. Salt and chocolate can go very well together, but the salt here was just overwhelming, even more so than the bitterness of the chocolate.

I don’t know if this was some sort of superpower Mediterranean sea salt, but after just a few pretzels I had to drink a full glass of water, and I’m general a salt vampire, so that’s saying a lot.

Pretzel Crisps can be quite tasty for the reasons given above, but Dark Chocolate and Mediterranean Sea Salt Crunch fails to deliver on both of the flavors in its name. The chocolate is too cheap and bitter, and the salt is too…salty, which is a weird thing to say about a pretzel. Maybe the Santa on the package is trying to sneak past so he can deliver his presents without having to eat them.

Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps Dark Chocolate and Mediterranean Sea Salt Crunch

  • Score: 1 out of 5 hastily gulped glasses of water
  • Price: $2.99
  • Size: 4 oz.
  • Purchased at: Target
  • Nutritional Quirk: If you can get through an entire 4-ounce bag, you’ll have consumed almost 80% of your recommended daily amount of sodium. Sounds about right.

Twizzlers PULL ‘n’ PEEL cherry green apple lemonade

Twizzlers PULL 'n' PEEL cherry green apple lemonade PackageHey Twizzlers, what’s…what’s going on, here? You obviously have a Christmas candy out. I can see it. We can all see it. It’s right above these words, in all its red, green and white glory. There are even snowflakes on the package.

And yet, what are you calling it? Twizzlers PULL ‘n’ PEEL cherry green apple lemonade. There are many things wrong with this name, starting with going from all caps to no caps and ending with the fact that Twizzlers is patently refusing to acknowledge that this is Christmasy or even holiday-y in any way. You’ve already got stripes going – make candy cane shapes! Make wreaths! Cherry rhymes with merry, for fuck’s sake!

Now that I’ve gotten this glaring oversight out of the way, I just realized I haven’t had Twizzlers in ages. I’m pretty sure the last time I ate a Twizzler, it was after I’d used it as a straw to drink some Dr. Pepper. This was before the time when Twizzlers could be pulled and peeled, or filled with sour goop. A simpler time, when a Twizzler was just a Twizzler.

Twizzlers PULL 'n' PEEL cherry green apple lemonade

Not that I object to the pulling and peeling of Twizzlers. I think the constant presence of string cheese in a household of no children is a testament to that. There’s something satisfying about pulling apart long strings of….whatever, and bonus points if it’s candy.

Twizzlers PULL 'n' PEEL cherry green apple lemonade Strands

Each rope of Twizzler PULL ‘n’ PEEL boasts nine separate strands of Twizz. On this one, cherry won the game of tic-tac-toe.

The flavors themselves are unspectacular. Together, it’s mostly a gummy, waxy candy. Separately, the strands go as follows. Cherry: a nice, artificial cherry taste, without any of that medicine flavor. Green apple: strangely flavorless, tasting mostly of plastic. Lemonade: a little sour with a hint of lemon.

But the flavors aren’t the real appeal here. The real fun is pulling apart the strands. This can prove somewhat difficult to do, as Twizzlers are sticky by nature and the strands are very compact. Green apple and lemonade pull apart with little effort, but cherry is strangely thinner than the rest, resulting in a lot of tearing.

Twizzlers PULL 'n' PEEL cherry green apple lemonade Candy Cane

Since Twizzlers seemed unwilling to admit their Christmas affiliation through both packaging and candy design, I took it upon myself to do so. Look at how gosh-darn festive that candy cane is. It would never fly as a tree decoration, as the only way I could get the shape to stay was to affix it firmly to the plate, but it made me happy nonetheless.

After pulling and peeling the candy, I was left with a bunch of Christmasy strands, which is how I wound up spending a night playing arts & crafts with Twizzlers.

Twizzlers PULL 'n' PEEL cherry green apple lemonade Wreath

I can’t say I’m not proud. Not only was it fun, but it also really put me in the Christmas spirit, which usually takes an act of Charlie Brown or Garfield to accomplish. And that’s when I read the back of the package:

Twizzlers PULL 'n' PEEL cherry green apple lemonade Package Back

I was wrong about you all along, Twizzlers. It’s not that you didn’t have Christmas in your heart. It’s that you wanted me to find the Christmas spirit in my heart. In a world of gizmos and gadgets, Twizzlers proudly proclaims “assembly not included” and encourages you to get creative and play with your food.

Well played, Twizzlers. Well played. I’d craft a Twizzlers heart for you, but that wreath already took more time than I’d care to admit.

Twizzlers PULL ‘n’ PEEL cherry green apple lemonade

  • Score: 4 out of 5 Grinch hearts growing
  • Price: $1.00
  • Size: 4.2 oz.
  • Purchased at: Target
  • Nutritional Quirk: Tastes like plastic, but feels like fun.

Brach’s Carrot Cake Candy Corn

Brach's Carrot Cake Candy Corn PackageI’m always for new holiday-related junk food. Even if it’s somewhat uninspired or just plain gross, I’m willing to try it, especially since odds are likely I’ll never see it again, or at least until next year.

There have been items I’ve really enjoyed, like Mission Sugar & Cinnamon Tortilla Chips and Scary Blackberry Ghoul-Aid. There have also been holiday items that made my mouth sad, like White Chocolate Peppermint Pringles and Disney Candied Apple Candy Corn.

Speaking of candy corn (talk about a suave segue), here we have yet another candy corn that isn’t supposed to taste like candy corn! Isn’t that exciting?

The answer is no. Remember how I said I’m all for new holiday food in the first sentence of this review? I’d like to directly contradict that by saying that I’m really tired of candy corn. Hell, I was tired of candy corn when it was just candy corn-flavored candy corn. Now things are really getting out of hand.

So now, here we are, with Brach’s Carrot Cake Candy Corn. Brach’s, the original candy corn offender.

If you’re going to try to get me to eat carrot cake candy corn, you’re going to have to do better with your packaging than a slice of cake and a vaguely Easter-looking basket with no handle. Seriously, no handle? I mean, I want an Easter bunny and some cute looking little chicks, but at this point I would settle for a tisket with a tasket. Sigh.

Brach's Carrot Cake Candy Corn

Well, at least the corns are kinda cute. The colors are vibrant and appropriately carrot-y.

When I first opened the bag and took a whiff, all I got was that weird plastic-like smell of regular candy corns. My brain went, “Oh no…oh wait, this could actually have gone much worse, so be thankful, nose.” And when I first popped a handful – looking back, throwing back this amount was a brazen move that could have gone terribly wrong – all I could taste was candy corn.

However, that flavor gradually gave way to distinctive but subtle notes of cinnamon and nutmeg that actually gave the corns a reasonable facsimile of the taste of carrot cake.

There was no hint of cream cheese frosting, which pairs so well with a nice, moist slice of carrot cake, but maybe that’s asking too much. Also, that initial taste of regular candy corn never quite went away, which, unfortunately, went a long way in removing the suspension of disbelief that you weren’t actually eating what is, essentially, a Halloween candy.

As I expected, the texture was also exactly the same as regular candy corn, which is neither a positive nor a negative; it just is, because these are candy corns.

I wouldn’t call Brach’s Carrot Cake Candy Corn offensive, but I can’t say I was blown away, either. They weren’t gross, but they weren’t great, either. If I found a small bag of them buried in the plastic grass of my Easter basket (with handle) amongst the Reese’s Eggs and giant chocolate bunny, I wouldn’t throw them in my parents’ face. I mean, it’s not like they’re black licorice jelly beans. I’m not a monster.

However, after one handful, I was already over carrot cake-flavored candy corns, so the other 11 ounces in this giant bag will probably sit in my cupboard for about six months before I need the room for whatever the next crazy flavor of Oreos is.

Brach’s Carrot Cake Candy Corn

  • Score: 2.5 out of 5 tiskets without taskets
  • Price: $2.29 (on sale; regular price $2.69)
  • Size: 12 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Safeway #1717
  • Nutritional Quirks: It’s candy corn that tastes sort of like carrot cake; what more do you want?

Twix Gingerbread Cookie Bars

Twix Gingerbread Cookie Bars BagTwix bars are one of my favorite chocolate treats. It’s the perfect combination of crunchy cookie, creamy caramel, and chocolate.

It is because of my love for this balance of flavors that I hesitate to try any variations. On the other hand, I generally give points any time an established snack food gets on the holiday train. And, given the Christmas-related flavors they had to choose from, I find gingerbread to be more encouraging than, say, peppermint. Peppermint and caramel does not seem like a good idea.

I gotta say, I’m finding this intro pretty weak. I have no special stories about Twix; Twix didn’t murder my parents or cause some sort of dramatic, humiliating grade school incident, like the time I got my arm caught in the back of my desk chair in second grade and the maintenance guy had to come get me free in front of the whole class.

That is a true story. Just like when I went to Target to buy these Twix Gingerbread Cookie Bars and there was only one bag left. Just as I was reaching for it, Batman swooped in and tried to steal it from my hands.

An epic battle ensued; I knocked over a display of ornaments while I dodged Batman’s barrage of Batarangs and fought back using a Nerf gun I’d modified to shoot fruitcakes. He then stopped to tell me some sad tale about how Twix killed his parents, and while he was distracted, I strangled him from behind with a strand of Christmas lights and made off with the precious bag of candy.

Victory was mine! Stupid whiny Batman.

Okay! I feel better now. Let’s get going.

Simple packaging, but effective and also darling. Those androgynous gingerpeople look so cheery with their smiley faces and pink scarves. They’re probably happy because they know that they are there just as Twix spokescookies and will not be the victims of a mastication beheading.

Twix Gingerbread Cookie Bars Wrapper

Hard to see in this picture because metallic wrappers are my mortal enemy, but the individual Twix wrappers have teensy little gingerdudes (or gingerladies; I’m being so politically correct today!) on them, which is a cute touch.

Twix Gingerbread Cookie Bar

Each bar is “fun size”, good for about two bites each, or one bite if you’re one of those weird, annoying people who shoves entirely too much food into your maw at once. Don’t be that guy.

If I’d taken two seconds to read the bag, I wouldn’t have felt the need to bite the top off one of the bars to figure out that the gingerbread flavor is in the caramel, not the cookie. This may seem like a strange choice, since gingerbread men are cookies, but I think it was wise. Keeping the original texture of the Twix cookie kept that cookie/caramel/chocolate combination that I so enjoy.

As for the gingerbread flavor itself, I can say with happiness that Twix nailed it. It was all there – the brown sugar and molasses taste with ginger and cinnamon in the mix. Somehow, Twix fit all that in there and still managed to keep the integrity of the caramel flavor, not just its texture.

Twix Gingerbread Cookie Bars fill my mouth with Christmas and joy. All the things I love about Twix remained intact, and they managed to get that perfect gingerbread flavor in there.

I have no complaints about Twix Gingerbread Cookie Bars, but I will say that, at least to me, gingerbread is a sometimes flavor. For some reason, it just seems weird to eat gingerbread at any other time of year than Christmas. I’m happy to enjoy Gingerbread Twix in December but go back to good ol’ original come New Year’s.

Twix Gingerbread Cookie Bars

  • Score: 4.5 out of 5 Batarangs
  • Price: $3.19
  • Size: 10 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Target
  • Nutritional Quirks: Not one damn ingredient listed that actually indicates gingerbread. Hooray for artificial flavors!

Lay’s Wavy Original Potato Chips Dipped in Milk Chocolate

Lay's Wavy Original Potato Chips Dipped in Milk Chocolate BagPeople (and by people, I mean the Internet, of course) seem to be all in a tizzy over these new Lay’s Wavy Original Potato Chips Dipped in Milk Chocolate. When I first heard of them, I thought they sounded gross. But the more I thought about it, the more they made sense. Sweet and salty snacks have been around for quite a long time.

Kettle corn. Chocolate-covered pretzels. To be even more specific, Ben & Jerry’s Late Night Snack ice cream has “fudge-covered potato chip clusters”, and it’s been a popular flavor for years now. Heck there’s even a Wikipedia entry for chocolate-covered potato chips, which is definitely not the oddest Wikipedia page I’ve ever seen, but doesn’t exactly seem necessary.

In light of all this, LWOPCDiMC really don’t seem that crazy, after all. I guess it’s just the idea that this is the first time a snack titan like Frito-Lay has taken it on. It’s also a limited edition item, and given the season, I’m guessing you’re supposed to eat them for Christmas?

The packaging certainly isn’t Christmasy, but it does has a pleasing aesthetic. Lay’s managed to cram four different fonts into the chips’ name, but they all have a nice flow to them, as does the background. Despite being rather monochromatic, it has a certain elegance to it, like a glass Christmas tree ornament with a delicate filigree design. It’s the belle of the chip aisle ball.

It was a little disconcerting to pick up a snack-sized bag of chips and have it feel so…hefty. That was the chocolate at work, obviously. I didn’t see any full-sized bags of LWOPCDiMC, which made sense when I thought about it; the weight of so many chocolate-covered chips might end up crushing the bottom ones.

With the idea of chocolate-covered potato chips settling more easily in my mind, several key questions arose, and I was ready to get under the mistletoe with these chips.

Lay's Wavy Original Potato Chips Dipped in Milk Chocolate

The picture on the front of the bag led me to believe that these were chocolate covered chips. I should have paid attention to the super-long name of the product. These are chips dipped in chocolate. And in an interesting way: I would have expected one end to be dipped, but instead, one side was dipped.

One of my key questions was, what is the quality of the chocolate? The answer, as best as I can describe, is “middlin’”. There’s an obvious hierarchy of big-name chocolate, and I would put it well above Palmer, but just a step below Hershey’s.

The quantity of the chocolate on each chip was substantial. Despite having one side of the chip (mostly) naked, the layer of chocolate was quite thick, and also quite rich.

The chocolate and chip dynamic was interesting. Lay’s was going for a sweet/salty dynamic, and while there was some salty undertones to cut through the chocolate, it didn’t seem nearly as salty as a regular Wavy Lay’s chip. It was also hard to detect the flavor of the potato chip under all that chocolate.

What the chip did add was a welcome crunch. The thickness of Wavy Lay’s bore the brunt of the chocolate well, and I was impressed at the amount of completely intact chips in the bag. They weren’t quite as crunchy as the chips would have been on their own, but the combination of chocolate and crunch worked great together. It was kind of like eating a thin Crunch bar.

I half expected to dislike Lay’s Wavy Original Potato Chips Dipped in Milk Chocolate, but I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong. The chocolate was of a fair quality, and the Lay’s Wavy chips added a bit of salt and, best of all, a crunch that worked perfectly with the sweetness of chocolate.

I would have liked to have had a bit more of a balance between the two – I found the chocolate a little too rich to eat a whole bag at once, and the potato flavor of the chip got overwhelmed by its sweet counterpart. All in all, however, I think anyone who enjoys a sweet treat with a bit of salt would enjoy Lay’s Wavy Original Potato Chips Dipped in Milk Chocolate.

LWOPCDiMC don’t strike me as a gimmick or one of those things people would eat for the weird factor. These chips are something you could set out at your Christmas party that people who like chocolate with a bit of salt and crunch would enjoy just for what they are.

Lay’s Wavy Original Potato Chips Dipped in Milk Chocolate

  • Score: 3.5 out of 5 gettin’ intimate with potato chips under the mistletoe
  • Price: $3.49
  • Size: 5 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Target (exclusive)
  • Nutritional Quirks: Get ready to satisfy 22% of your recommended daily saturated fat needs with just one ounce of chips. Hey, ’tisn’t the season for eating healthy, people.

Mission Sweet Sugar & Cinnamon White Corn Tortilla Chips

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve, and you know what that means! Yes, you will go to a party, get drunk, and act retarded, possibly kissing someone you barely know and then crying on his shoulder about how Jake was the best and you don’t understand why he suddenly won’t return your phone calls and then blaaaaargh all over his shoes.

Or perhaps you’ll ring in the new year a little more quietly, taking inventory of your bunker’s contents for the dozenth time, making sure every shotgun, bottle of water and Tactical Sammich is in place for the coming zombie infestation/financial and governmental collapse/Mayan calender apocalypse.

In reality, unless you’re a hermit or incarcerated, at some point during the holiday season you’ll be going to a party, voluntarily or involuntarily. Whether it’s a workplace potluck, a New Year’s bash, or a get-together to watch Favorite Football Team play against Rival Football Team, there’s one thing that’s going to be present:

Chips!

Yes, that’s right, chips. During the holiday season, they are quietly ubiquitous, usually sitting near some salsa or onion dip, waiting for you to mindlessly shove into your mouth as you make awkward small talk with that guy whose name you can’t remember or yell impotently at some dude in tights running up and down a length of grass. You may not think of chips as a holiday food, but they’re always there. Waiting. Watching.

Okay, so they’re not really watching. (It’s the salsa that you should be worrying about.)

Chips love to party so much that Tostitos is the official sponsor of the Fiesta Bowl, one of the bigger…bowls that goes on during this…bowl season. I’ll be honest with you, my knowledge of football bowls begins and ends with the male side of my family watching them on tv. I don’t even know why they’re called bowls. But hey, chips go in bowls, so that works…right?

This whole weak chip-and-bowl setup would not have happened except for something I half-heard on my local news this morning. I had to rewind just to make sure I’d heard correctly. The plastic-looking anchorwoman mentioned something about the Chip Drop coming back. I eagerly waited for her to expound, but no further information was given.

What the fuck is a Chip Drop?

Thanks to the Internet, I now know the answer to that question and I am so glad that I do, because it is fucking awesome and ridiculous at the same time. The aforementioned Fiesta Bowl takes place around where I live, and apparently there’s a little tradition known as the Chip Drop of which I was previously unaware. Let’s let the local news website explain:

“The last Chip Drop was in 1998 when Tostitos was the party’s title sponsor. A massive tortilla chip was dropped from a crane into an even larger jar of salsa.

The chip is a triangular, 4-by-4 foot piece of metal covered in small mirrors to represent salt. It will be suspended from a truss system above the video structure and dropped about 15 feet. High intensity beams will shoot from the chip to add flash, complementing the block party’s midnight fireworks show.”

Holy balls, you guys. Fuck watching some stupid disco ball drop in Times Square on your television. Those of us in the Valley of the Sun get the opportunity to watch a giant metal tortilla chip covered in salt mirrors. And the chip shoots high intensity beams. It’s not often there’s something to gloat about from where I live, but the Chip Drop just kicked the ass of all y’alls New Year’s traditions.

What does all this have to do with what I’m reviewing? Well, I’m about to have my own personal Chip Drop with this bag of Mission Sweet Sugar & Cinnamon White Corn Tortilla Chips.

Far be it from me to criticize a chip company for trying to go all holiday on our asses. I mean, Mission could have just stopped at offering red-and-green food-colored tortilla chips, but they weren’t done there. They wanted to make a tortilla chip with some serious holiday zazz. I keep saying “holiday” instead of “Christmas”, because I discovered these too late to review before that particular event, but hey. You know you’re still drinking eggnog. There’s still a tree in the corner of your living room, rapidly dropping needles and becoming more and more of a fire hazard. Give Mission a chance.

I say that with a bit of trepidation on my own part, because, well, tortilla chips and sugar and cinnamon don’t sound like flavors that would jive to me. Tortilla chips go with cheese, salsa, guacamole…but cinnamon and sugar? I know a lot of people like the combination of sweet and savory, but this one didn’t sound like a good match.

Upon opening the bag, however, I started to change my mind. I was immediately hit with the comforting and nostalgic odor of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Cinnamon Toast Crunch rocks.

And, amazingly, so do Mission Sweet Sugar & Cinnamon White Corn Tortilla Chips! Honestly, they taste like thinner versions of the Cinnamon Toast Crunch, with just a hint of tortilla at the end. In fact, I’d say these have an even stronger sugar and cinnamon presence. Almost every chip was heavily coated with both sugar and spice, making me feel like I was reaching into a cereal box and not a bag of chips.

I think Mission’s winning secret here is using white corn tortilla chips, which let the sugar and cinnamon dominate while leaving just a tiny bit of tortilla on the back end. I also think making the chips thinner made the tortilla flavor less prominent.

Because I have some sort of compulsion about chips and dip, I immediately wondered what would make a good dip for these chips. After almost going with Funfetti frosting because I will use any flimsy excuse to eat Funfetti frosting despite being a grown woman, I went with Duncan Hines Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting. Delicious.

When I initially bought Mission Sweet Sugar & Cinnamon White Corn Tortilla Chips, I figured they would be totally disgusting, but make for a fun holiday review. Merry Christmas, my taste buds are suffering for your entertainment! I should know by now not to judge a chip by its cover. These chips totally rock; unfortunately, they’re a limited seasonal flavor, so you’ll just have to go back to being that person that eats Cinnamon Toast Crunch straight out of the box the rest of the year.

My only problem with these chips is that I could never blow through a whole bag, just because they are so sweet. Others with a sweet tooth more prominent than mine will probably fare better, but I couldn’t eat more than a handful or so at a time before I went into sugar overload. Also, if you’re a fan of dipping like myself, I wholly recommend a whipped frosting with a vanilla or cream cheese flavor, but any frosting thicker than that and you’re going to get serious chip breakage, as these are thinner-than-average tortilla chips.

I hope you all have a Happy New Year’s! And don’t worry about Jake; he’s a total jerk and you deserve better.

Mission Sweet Sugar & Cinnamon White Corn Tortilla Chips

  • Score: 4.5 out of 5 totally frickin’ awesome Chip Drops
  • Price: $3.29
  • Size: 12 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Fry’s Foods
  • Nutritional Quirks: First ingredient listed is “ground corn treated with lime”. Thankfully, no lime flavor was detected upon consumption.

Starbucks Eggnog Latte, Gingerbread Latte and Gingerbread Loaf

It’s been years since I’ve voluntarily been in a Starbucks. I guess you could call it a conflict of interest. On the one hand, I do have a bit of that snobby hippie attitude that thinks Starbucks is evil and corporate and I’d rather support a mom ‘n’ pop coffee shop. Also, they are overpriced as hell and I’m fine with making my own coffee at home and drinking it black. On the other hand, I have to admit, I’m amenable to the occasional fancy fru-fru latte or Frappucino. Fortunately, price always wins out over taste, so I don’t have to worry about any moral conundrums.

However, when I heard about their “Buy One Holiday Drink, Get One Free” promotion, I thought, hey, what the heck. While Starbucks’s website only seems to acknowledge Peppermint Mocha, Caramel Brulée Latte and Gingerbread Latte as their Holiday Drinks, my local Starbucks also offered Peppermint White Hot Chocolate, Eggnog Latte, and a few other peppermint-related drinks that I can’t remember. I picked up the eggnog and gingerbread lattes because I was pretty sure I’d know how the peppermint offerings would taste like. Peppermint. I thought the eggnog and gingerbread lattes might be more interesting. I also didn’t realize they are 11 and 25 years old, respectively. But hey, they’re new to me! So now you have to deal with it.

In addition to getting one of my lattes for free, I also got a free sample of Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf! So hey, I threw it in the mix. Why not.  Get into the holiday spirit.

Eggnog Latte

According to Starbucks, “This wildly popular interpretation of holiday eggnog layers rich espresso with subtle spices, the perfect choice for chilly mornings or cozy afternoons.

Apparently I was supposed to get whipped cream with a touch of nutmeg. This did not happen. That’s okay though, because the coffee was still tasty. I love me some eggnog during the holiday season. Not too much eggnog though, because that shit is rich. Starbucks definitely nailed the eggnog flavor, but didn’t make it so overpowering that I couldn’t finish the cup. There were also some nice subtle touches of nutmeg and cinnamon. It also still had a nice coffee finish. I couldn’t really tell what those little flecks were that you see on top, but it might have been nutmeg? Maybe?

Gingerbread Latte

Starbucks sez: “With the flavor of freshly baked gingerbread, this beverage combines espresso, gingerbread flavored syrup and steamed milk, topped by whipped cream and ground nutmeg.”

Apparently I was supposed to get whipped cream with a touch of nutmeg. This did not happen. Again. I really should have looked at Starbucks’s website before I went. Then I would have known to ask for the works. Oh well! The gingerbread latte was creamy and very smooth. It also had a deeper flavor than the Eggnog Latte; I could really taste the cinnamon and a bit of molasses. Even though it was smoother, it also managed to be richer than the eggnog, and I found myself liking that more.

I was surprised that I liked the Gingerbread Latte better than the Eggnog Latte. If you were to ask me which flavor I like better in general, I would always pick eggnog over gingerbread. In this case, however, the spices and flavors of the gingerbread really came through more, and the texture was smoother and creamier. On the other hand, you could actually taste the coffee in the Eggnog Latte, whereas it was nothing but sweetness and gingerbread flavor in the Gingerbread Latte. So I guess it actually depends on what I’m looking for: if all I want is a warm drink that makes me think of Christmas morning, I’d go with the Gingerbread Latte. If I want a cup of coffee that also makes me get warm holiday fuzzies, I’d go with the Eggnog Latte. After drinking both the lattes, I feel like Starbucks can keep their whipped cream. Both beverages were sweet enough and held their own just fine.

Gingerbread Loaf

I wasn’t expecting to review this, but hey, there was a whole tray of Gingerbread Loaf samples in front of my face as I placed my order, and how could I say no to free food?

I’ve never had Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf before. I was afraid it would be dry, since the samples were just sitting out in the open air, but that little motherfucker was moist. You know I’m serious when I not only use the word “moist”, but I italicize it. Moist is one of the grossest words ever.

But seriously, this shit was crazy good. The cake was fluffy and incredibly…sigh…moist, and the flavors were spot-on. You could really taste the ginger, the cinnamon, and all those other flavors that make gingerbread yummy. And the frosting! I am generally not fond of frosting, since it’s usually too sweet for my palate, but I’ve always loved cream cheese frosting, and Starbucks makes some damn good frosting. Or buys some damn good frosting. Whatever. My sample piece also had a little orange thingie on top of the frosting. I have no idea what it was, but it was also tasty. Maybe candied ginger?

The texture and the flavor of the loaf combined with the deliciousness of the frosting made Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf an awesome snack. I wish I’d yelled “FIRE!” in the middle of the store, distracted everyone, and run out with the whole tray. Only problem is, the loaf is so rich that I probably would have only been able to eat three of them before I reached my richness threshold. Eating two bites of loaf and drinking 24 ounces of lattes made my stomach unhappy with the amount of sugar I’d ingested in one sitting. It was worth it, though, because I was not disappointed by any of the Starbucks offerings.

I’m still too proletariat, both financially and philosophically, to become a slave to Starbucks. But as the weather cools down and Christmas decorations fill me with holiday cheer instead of rage at how early they’ve appeared, I might stop by a Starbucks and pick up a holiday latte and a slice of Gingerbread Loaf. After all, isn’t Christmas all about spending inappropriate amounts of money?

  • Score: 4 out of 5 sugar plums for all three holiday goodies
  • Price: $3.65 for the whole lot
  • Size: 2 “tall” lattes (12 oz. each); one sample-sized loaf
  • Purchased at: Starbucks #6955
  • Nutritional Quirks: Some straight up facts – both lattes combined bring to your body 560 calories, 65% daily value of saturated fat, 68 grams of sugar, and 150 milligrams of caffeine.  I’m sure the Gingerbread Loaf is also a shining example of health food! Holiday weight gain be damned!

Junk Food Freebie: Starbucks Holiday Drinks Buy One, Get One Free

Okay, so I’m a little late on this one, but you’ve still got tomorrow to make this happen!  The banner pretty much says it all, but I figured I’d let y’all know what flavors you can choose from:

  • Peppermint Mocha: “Espresso, steamed milk, bitter-sweet chocolate and peppermint flavor mingle beneath a blanket of classic whipped cream and decadent chocolate curls.
  • Caramel Brulee Latte: “Combination of espresso, steamed milk and rich caramel sauce tropped with whipped cream and shimmery pieces of caramel.”
  • Gingerbread Latte: “The flavor of freshly baked gingerbread combined with fresh ground espresso and steamed milk…with classic whipped cream and a dash of ground nutmeg.”

These appear to be the only official holiday drinks, but at my local Starbucks they were also offering Eggnog Latte, Peppermint White Hot Chocolate and a few other drinks I can’t remember because I have no memory.  All these were covered under the BOGO offer.  Hit up your Starbucks tomorrow to take advantage of this deal, because tomorrow’s the last day!

Jones Bacon Flavored Soda

Jones Soda went totally weaksauce with their holiday offerings this year. No Halloween soda, only Tofurky & Gravy for Thanksgiving, and this “Bacon Holiday Pack”. I have no idea what any of the items included in this pack (more of which you’ll be seeing later) have to do with any holiday whatsoever, but I have a sneaking suspicion that thousands of people wrote angry letters about this lack of holiday participation. I imagine they went something like this:

Dear Jones Soda,

I am absolutely outraged to see that you are not offering your usual amount of holiday-related soda flavors this year. Now what soda am I going to drink that will make me gag with its unholy flavor? I have been so delighted to vomit into my sink such wonderful offerings as Candy Corn, Mashed Potatoes & Butter and Green Bean Casserole. The idea that you are not offering me a new carbonated beverage that tastes like meat or vegetables is unacceptable. Have you run out of ideas? Because I have a few:

Crab Cake
Potatoes Au Gratin (extra cheese flavor, please!)
Roasted Garlic Hummus
Chicken Tikka Masala
Lobster Roll
Expired Milk
Leftovers of Indeterminate Origin
Rotting Flesh

Feel free to take any and all of these ideas and transform them into wonderful, pure cane sugar-sweetened soda, so that I can gross out my friends and voluntarily traumatize my own palate. If I don’t see some new flavors that make bile rise up into my throat at just the mere mention of the name, I am going to boycott Jones Soda forever, tell all of my friends to do the same, and start an Internet petition.

Sincerely yours,

Disappointed in Denver

I imagine Jones Soda R&D and Marketing Departments were in a tizzy. What were they to do? Frazzled, there was an emergency brainstorming meeting called. Amongst the chaos, someone in the room called out, “What about BACON?! Bacon is so in right now! It’s all over the Internet!” Perhaps another bright up-and-comer chimed in, “Hey, maybe we could team up with J&D’s!” Nobody knew what the fuck this guy was talking about, so he added, “They’re the ones that make Bacon Salt! The nerds love it!”

It was an instant success, of course, and the soda was developed and packaged immediately. In a strange attempt to make it holiday-relevant, they added some completely unrelated bacon-flavored shit to make it a “pack” and put it out there for all the Internet to see. The buzz was immediate, because when you combine bacon and Jones Soda, there’s gonna be press.

Of course, I’m a sucker, so I had to buy it. I paid a completely unreasonable amount of money for some soda. The shipping was actually more than the product itself. But it was all worth it when the UPS man showed up on my doorstep with the box that clearly showed that I was ordering soda off the Internet. At least it didn’t show the flavor on the box.

Wait a second…

Jones Bacon Flavored Soda Label Pig Girl

WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?! I signed up for bacon-flavored soda. I did not sign up for creepy-ass pig-nose girl. And she is on both bottles. Why couldn’t I get overly excited guy in a bacon suit, like on their website? Happy bacon suit guy makes me feel a little better about this soda. Creepy pig-nose girl is like an ominous foreshadowing of horrible things to come.

The front of the label is not the end of things, however. Jones tries to justify itself on the back: “Bacon flavored soda? Okay, pigs may not be able to fly, but that’s not stopping us from bottling a batch of this stuff for you anyway. Drawing inspiration from everyone’s favorite cured meat, we partnered with J&D’s Foods, the makes of Bacon Salt, and produced this refreshingly meaty creation. So, crack open a bottle and ‘ink-dray up-way’…because everything tastes better with bacon.”

Puns make everything better. Here we have a pigs flying reference, and, my favorite, the use of pig latin, which actually took me a second to get the joke. Kudos to Jones for correctly utilizing the rule for words in pig latin that begin with a vowel. I had to think back to third grade to confirm that was the correct way to do it.

I may have been a sucker for buying this soda, but I’m not enough of a sucker to think that Jones didn’t say “refreshingly meaty” without tongue firmly planted in cheek. They know there’s nothing refreshing about this soda. They know it’s gross and wrong. And, sadly, even though they just stated that “everything tastes better with bacon”, their own product is probably about to prove that statement wrong for the first time. Jesus wept.

Somehow, I doubt that.

The color of the soda is ominous. It looks dark brown in the bottle, like a piece of bacon that’s just a little bit burnt, which I enjoy. In bacon, not in soda. On the other hand, it also looks like maple syrup. Oh god, what if they went with maple-flavored bacon instead of just straight-up bacon? Things just got worse. I need to just do this before I prematurely vomit just from psyching myself out.

First of all, upon opening the bottle, foam exploded out of the top of the bottle, despite zero jostling on my part.

Bacon soda went everywhere, and apparently instantly stains everything. That is my countertop after having spilled soda on it for five seconds before being wiped up.

That is my special review towel, which already had some stains on it, but now appears to be ruined forever. (Update – washed the towel immediately with OxyClean Stain Gel and all the soda came out.  Yay!)

This is the soda in my kitchen sink, about three minutes after the bacon soda explosion. The foam refuses to go down. Also, what appeared to be dark brown soda is pink. What.

None of this means anything, however, because bacon soda is the worst thing in the world and I will now attempt to use mere mortal words to describe it.

First of all, I smelled it. It smells awful. It smells, literally, like poop. Shit. Feces. Excrement. An obese man’s bathroom after a night at Pancho’s all-you-can-eat Mexican buffet.

I stood with the bottle in my hand, leaning against the sink, for a good two minutes. I didn’t want to drink it, but I knew I had to. I finally took a swig out of the bottle. I couldn’t tell if it was remarkably tasteless and the feces smell was just drifting into my sinuses, or what, but I really was smelling more than I was tasting, and the smell continued to be awful.

I poured it in a glass and took a drink from that, wondering if perhaps the flavor would blossom in there, which I really didn’t want it to do, but had to know. I took my second drink.

I would say the taste is indescribable, but that is not true. It is very describable.

Anyone who has ever watched Mythbusters has probably seen the episode in which they place pig carcasses in a car, seal it airtight, and leave it for two months. When the car was opened, Adam Savage described the smell (I’m paraphrasing off of memory here) as one of the worst odors he’s ever experienced. I believe he also stated that the smell clung to him, refusing to leave. This is a man who has probably experienced more bad smells than 99% of the world’s population (along with Mike Rowe), so I take his claims seriously.

I have never been anywhere near a rotting, decomposed, maggot-filled pig carcass, but I can imagine exactly what it smells like. And that is exactly like what Jones Bacon Flavored Soda tastes like. After my second swallow, I reeled around the kitchen, holding my forearm to my nose and mouth like a rookie cop who just entered his first overripe crime scene. I’m sure it looked over-dramatic, but the reaction was completely real. Rotting pig corpse filled my mouth and my nostrils, clinging to me, refusing to dissipate.

Surprisingly, I didn’t throw up or even gag. I have to believe that the smell and taste was so bad that it overwhelmed my senses too much to even think about gagging. I dumped the glass down the sink and ran the hot water. I sealed the remaining soda in the bottle as tightly as I could and threw it in the trash. The smell lingered in my kitchen.

I had to go to the store shortly afterward. I felt like the stink covered me like a cloud. For the first time in my life, I bought a bottle of Listerine. When I brought it home, I didn’t take my shoes off or even walk all the way to the bathroom; I busted it out of the bag and swished my heart out at the kitchen sink. I have to say, Listerine is very refreshing! It also made me feel free of the dead pig cloud. 5 burgers to you, Listerine.

I don’t really feel like this review needs a wrap-up paragraph, but it’s a tradition, so. Jones Bacon Flavored Soda tastes absolutely nothing like bacon. Its only connection to that delicious food is “pig”. Instead of tasting like bacon, this soda tastes like they took the decomposing remains of a pig and combined it with carbonated water. The pure cane sugar wasn’t even necessary, as the sickly sweet smell of rotting meat was already taken care of. I wrote that little fake letter to Jones before I tasted the soda; I guess now I can cross “rotting flesh” off the list. Congratulations, Banquet, you no longer hold the gold medal for worst “edible” thing I’ve ever ingested. Jones Bacon Flavored Soda is the worst ever.

Note: The Impulsive Buy also hated…I mean, reviewed, this product.

  • Score: 0 out of 5, you guessed it, rotting, bloated, decomposed pig carcasses covered in maggots
  • Price: $9.99 for the holiday pack, my innocence forever in not knowing what a two-week-old crime scene smells and tastes like
  • Size: 1 bottle of 12 fluid ounces of pure evil
  • Purchased at: jonessoda.com
  • Nutritional Quirks: “Natural and artificial flavors” must mean “the liquefied insides of dead animals”.