REVIEW: Bad Walter’s 46

Bay Area I’ve gotta let you in on a little secret – there’s some cool underground ice cream shit happening in Oakland. Bad Walter’s Bootleg Ice Cream began as a quarantine hobby for owner Sydney in the spring of 2020, and has snowballed into churning out weekly limited pints since October. From what I’ve been able to sample, I’m impressed. Bad Walter’s makes super premium custard bases that are, wait for it…lactose free! I know, I’ve never had anything like it either.

Last week’s limited run flavor was “46”, inspired by today’s inauguration. It features a brown sugar ice cream with chocolate dipped Ruffles and a peanut butter swirl. Y’all know how I love my sweet and salty so I HAD to taste this. 

Truthfully, this was the most impressive and authentic brown sugar base I’ve ever had. It’s incredibly smooth with a decadent mouthfeel, but what really took me by surprise was the depth of the brown sugar flavor. Initially it reminded me of an epic brown sugar cereal milk, but the more it stacked the richer the flavor became. By the end it reminded me of the filling in a See’s Bordeaux truffle, which is one of my favorite chocolate’s of all time. Less-typical bases, like brown sugar, tend to fade away after the initial bites, but this one never let go.

Bad Walter’s peanut butter swirl is exactly how I like my peanut butter swirls — more salty than sweet with a slick fatty texture but thin enough to actually temper with the ice cream. Just as satisfying as sticking your spoon in the jar! My only issue with it is I wish there was more. The top superficial layer of the pint had the swirl’s best showing, and while the swirl never entirely vanished I would have loved a couple more epic spoonfuls to allow the saltiness to play off of the stunning sweet base.

Similarly, the chocolate dipped Ruffles were executed very well – nice and crunchy with a salty potato taste highlighted by just a touch of bittersweet chocolate. Once again, perfect execution, just lacking a bit on the actual quantities to make this pint something undeniably out of this world. I was reminded of this same mix-in being used in one of my favorite ice cream’s of all time, Salt & Straw’s Chocolate Caramel Potato Chip Cupcake, and how if I got some chunks akin to the boulders found in those pints I would have been in sweet and salty heaven. 

Despite the slightly underwhelming density of the mix-ins, which is largely a preference thing, I really loved this ice cream, and I love the entrepreneur spirit of Sydney and her ice cream company named after her pesky pup. If you’re interested in grabbing a pint of what she comes up with next make sure to follow Bad Walter’s on Instagram and place your order on Sunday night for pickup the following weekend. And fair warning: it sells out quick!

Rating: 8/10 

Found at: Bad Walter’s ($10.00)

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Punch Line

The fourth and final pint from Ben & Jerry’s and Netflix snuck itself into the indulgent holiday season with the least indulgent profile of any in the collaboration; but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, I think it’s pretty refreshing. Punch Line combines a comedic duo of brown butter bourbon and almond ice creams with roasted almonds and chuckles of cherries.

I’ve always been skeptical of the effectiveness of dual bases, and fortunately here it works, since one does almost all of the heavy lifting. Almond is the most pronounced flavor, one of my favorite flavors that’s terribly underutilized in ice cream, and I really like this take on it. The brown butter bourbon is extremely mild, with virtually no booziness and just a hint of burnt buttery flavor, that again, sits in the background while the almond kingpin calls the shots. 

The almonds are nice and toothy with a pleasant mildly roasted flavor that pumps up the volume on the excellent floral and nutty taste in the base. They don’t bring a ton of flavor but their texture is crucial in keeping each bite interesting. The cherries are perfectly sweet and juicy with no iciness and virtually no tartness. They’re naturally sugary and work wonderfully in tandem with the almonds to bring two contrasting textures. I’m honestly surprised by how much I like this pint!

While Punch Line may not be the most inventive of the Netflix collabs, I actually enjoy it more than the bloated-and-confused-doing-way-too-much Boots on the Moooo’n and just as much as the also simple and excellently executed Chip Happens. Punch Line is like an alternate universe spumoni without the chocolate, and much like this whole line has been to 2020, it’s a surprisingly fun way to end the year.

Rating: 8/10

Found at: Safeway ($4.99)

REVIEW: Salt & Straw and Imaginary Author’s “A Whiff of Waffle Cone” Perfume

I never thought I would review Salt & Straw without my mouth – but here we are! 2020, right? Smell is a very important aspect of what I do, and for today it is THE most important, and only, resource when picking apart the new holiday collab from Salt & Straw and Imaginary Authors. Imaginary Authors is a unique “unisex perfume” company that specialize in telling stories with their fragrances. They come in at a solid Eau de Parfum concentration of 12-20%, matching the high quality density of their collaborator Salt & Straw, known and loved for their high butterfat and richly innovative ice cream.

Walking into Salt & Straw is one of the best smell-gasms in town. Warm caramelized vanilla meets your nose nearly a block away, and it makes standing in those typically long lines a bit more exciting (and tolerable). “Whiff of Waffle Cone” aims to emulate that experience, which honestly is something I’ve joked and dreamed about for years. It’s no tall task to capture that magical essence in sprayable form, so I had to find out if it it was possible.

Let’s cut to the chase – does this smell like walking into a Salt & Straw shop? No. Does this smell like a nice caramel-forward perfume? Absolutely. I’m surprised by how sharply caramel this sniff-sperience is, rounded out by a little cinnamon, sweet (heavy) creaminess, and some more traditionally perfume-y aromas. The major component missing here is vanilla, which is the most dominant scent when going into Salt & Straw for a perfectly scooped cone or pre-packed pint. That’s not to say there’s zero vanilla, it’s just much more caramel-y and musky than it is vanilla-y; and those scents easily overpower the more gentle vanilla. A whiff of waffle cone, in my book, should be a caramelized vanilla rounded out by sweet cinnamon, and this is more of a caramelized caramel, think, slightly burnt caramel, rounded out by what I would consider more traditional “cologne” notes.

This is a unisex perfume, but despite its sweet intentions, this smells more traditionally masculine than feminine. It has a much more aggressive “manly” vibe than I expected. Maybe I just love my Bath & Body Works Vanilla Bean Noel Body Spray too much, but this has a pretty heavy and lasting musk that stands tall above the more gentle and subtle aromas. It’s absolutely nostalgic and inviting, if not even a bit mysterious, and very wearable. But to me, it doesn’t quite nail the magical wall of smell that welcomes me when I make my bi-monthly trips to my favorite scoop shop. Like most perfumes it’s not cheap, but I’m really happy to have this in my cologne collection, as it will always remind me of going to one of my happiest places with my favorite people.

Rating: 7.5/10

Found at: Salt & Straw ($28.00)

REVIEW: GHOST Energy Drink (Sour Patch Kids Redberry, WarHeads Sour Watermelon, Citrus, Tropical Mango)

I don’t generally talk about caffeine here, but I love it just as much as ice cream, and consume way more of it. I drink black coffee every single day, and throw in a sugar free energy drink 3-5 times a week, too. I swore these types of drinks off for most of my adult life after becoming nearly addicted to Monster in the mid-2000s, but a couple of years ago they caught my eye again and I’ve found quite a few that I really love. I’ve never really been the type of dude to review beverages (except that one time I wrote about Diet Coke), but as someone that drinks a helluva lot of them I couldn’t help but write about this new collaboration from GHOST energy and a two very notable candy brands. GHOST is a supplement company that makes a ton of solid health-related products including some killer protein powder (my favorite is Blueberry Toaster Pastry). For their first line of RTD energy drinks they’ve come in swinging with four flavors, including a partnership with Sour Patch Kids and WarHeads.

First things first let’s cover the similarities. All four flavors are clear, with nice tight bubbles that accentuate the flavors (and sourness) in a way that compliments and excites my palate without being overly bubbly. They all come in at 5 calories each with no sugar, one carb, and a shit ton of vitamins. 100% of your daily Vitamin C, Thamin, B6 and B12, as well as 200 mg of natural caffeine from coffee beans to get you amped, and 1000 mg of taurine for enhanced focus. The primary sweetener used is sucralose, which is my favorite and has no disgustingly bitter aftertaste like Stevia or monk fruit.

Sour Patch Redberry:

This is the flavor I was most excited about and it’s nearly perfect. Sour and sweet, this one carries that distinct Redberry flavor that’s so accurate I can sense the squish digging into my molars. Not quite cherry, not quite strawberry, but all the way red berry. The carbonation is perfect and it’s nearly impossible to stop drinking. Every sip I take I think “is this real? Let me drink some more to check.” Yep, it’s real, and it rules. The only thing holding this one back from a perfect score is a bit of a vitamin smell that pops out from the can when you first drink it. Those first couple of sips can be interrupted by the vitamin presence and kinda takes you out of the candy-sipping experience, but doesn’t really effect the taste as much as it does the aroma. Luckily it’s only temporary, and the journey is largely rewarding. Amazing.


Rating: 9.5/10

Citrus:

A flavor called “Citrus” could go so many ways but this one is easy to describe – Lemon Lime Gatorade. This stuff tastes so much like the classic yellow thirst quencher that if this had a little lightning bolt on it it could be another slam dunk brand tie-in. As far as I know Gatorade doesn’t have a bubbly energy drink on the market but if they ever wanted to give it a go, collaborating with GHOST would be the way to do it. I love yellow Gatorade so I really enjoyed this flavor, even though it doesn’t have the wow-factor of a Sour Patch experience.

Rating: 8/10

Tropical Mango:

This is the most underwhelming of all the launch flavors and the only one I probably won’t revisit. The flavor profile is true to its name with a somewhat mellow mango flavor accented by pineapple and a little orange. It’s a totally fine flavor but not nearly as exciting and juicy as Reign’s Mang-O-Matic and at the price point and limited accessibility of the GHOST drinks I don’t see myself craving it.


Rating: 7/10

WarHeads Sour Watermelon:

Did someone say sour? Yeah, they ain’t lyin! This drink knocks it out of the PARK! Perfectly sour and watermelon-sweet, just like the candy used to do to me when I wanted to torture my tongue in middle school. If you like watermelon candy this drink will make your head explode, so long as you’re okay with the back of your jaw tingling in activated tartness. This isn’t the type of drink I would have every day, but I’ve already had two and have three more in the fridge. It’s devious and perfectly executed to the degree that I am AMPED for what GHOST follows up with in this line next year.

Rating: 10/10

All flavors were bought at GNC for $2.99 per pack and can be found online in cases of 12 through their website for $29.99 or Campus Protein for $31.99.

REVIEW: PopCorners Flex

PopCorners are known for their 2008 popcorn-became-chip revolution. But that simple feat was not enough for this relative new-comer to the snack game. Flex are crunchy grain-free air popped crisps packed with 10 grams of protein and they don’t suck. Some dude’s may gripe about the protein being derived from soy, but I don’t regularly eat anything else soy-dominant so I’m no too concerned about spiking my estrogen. For 90-100 calories these are a macronutrient mega hack and by emulating three already established popular chip flavors they should fit right into your snacking routine. 

Texturally all three varieties are the same, and they remind me of a slightly thinner and more aggressively crunchy PopChip. This makes sense since they’re, well, popped, as opposed to being fried like normal potato-based chips. There’s a slight earthiness to the chip that isn’t distracting in terms of flavor but just a tad more toothy than a puffed potato PopChip or purely fluffy PopCorner. 

CHEDDAR & SOUR CREAM

Cheddar and sour cream are generally not my favorite kind of chip. I like them,  but they aren’t interesting enough for me to eat all the time or keep eating. Flex’s take on the flavor suffers a bit from an inability to get too creamy at the risk of inflated fat macros. Without any real sharp cheese flavor they come across kind of dry. Again, non-Doritos cheese chips just aren’t something I tend to buy, so these didn’t really do it for me. But for the calories and crunch they’re still worthy of finishing the bag. Despite my bias if you’re a SC&C kind of person, you’ll probably like it a lot.

Rating: 7/10

BUFFALO

Just like the name implies, these chips taste like buffalo wings. Salty and spicy these chips have a great zing and are awesome by themselves or with a creamy dip. They have the most aggressive seasoning of the three and after 5 or 6 in a row the heat builds to a pretty respectable tingle.

Rating: 8/10

BARBEQUE

Save the best for last, baby. These BBQ chips have a perfect sweet-yet-tangy and slightly smokey flavor that lands them right next to, again, PopChips, and Pringles. It’s a familiar flavor that doesn’t need much tweaking and Flex kept it safe in the best way possible. Amazing BBQ flavor with 10 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber, a slam dunk.

Rating: 9/10

As an entire line Flex Crisps are a total success. These were sent to me by PopCorners but that did not effect my review at all. In fact, I’ve already checked two stores to try and get more of the BBQ Crisps, but so far no luck. These are available nationwide with a suggested price of $3.89 and they’re definitely seeking out.

REVIEW: DiGiorno’s Pepperoni Croissant Crust Pizza

No matter how much ’90s nostalgia I hold onto in my neon-colored heart there’s one thing that rings unfortunately true in my mind – “it’s not delivery, it’s DiGiorno” is total bullshit. I know, I know, the clever tag-line and “real rising crust” gimmick seems pretty cool, and I’ll admit that I was bamboozled by it at first too, but when it comes down to it it’s just not that good. Overly bready and carrying a bigger cost, both in terms of dollars and calories, DiGiorno is a brand that is quite frankly overrated. 

During quarantine I’ve had the opportunity to revisit frozen pizza in a way that I never thought possible. While I haven’t totally narrowed down my chilly power ranking, I can say that without a doubt I would put Tombstone, Tony’s, and Red Baron all above DiGiorno. Both their Original Rising and Stuffed Crust varieties left me feeling underwhelmed; but just when it felt like 2020 had run out of surprises I came across this…Croissant Crust Pizza.

Pulling the pizza out of the box it has a unique shape that meets in the middle of the two usual frozen pizza shapes – circle and square. It’s kind of boxy but also rounded – a funny little fella. Looking at the uncooked dough the layers of buttery pastry are evident and look very different than your average pizza. It’s pretty cool.

The baking time is a little longer than usual, which makes sense given its hefty thickness. Getting the pizza from the oven was a sight to behold – IT HAS RISEN! This pizza looks a lot bigger to me cooked than it did raw. I don’t know if it’s from its newfound height or the suddenly glistening impact of the pepperoni, but now that it has been baked it’s commanding my attention in a way no DiGiorno pizza has before. 

My main qualm with DG in the past has been it being too bread-forward with a sauce that didn’t quite do enough to stand up to it, lacking balance. That’s not the case with the Croissant Crust. It’s thick for sure, but it’s also buttery and flavorful in a way that compliments the zesty sauce and salty cheese. 

The immediate taste comparison I can draw from the croissant crust is Pillsbury’s Crescent Rolls. Soft and buttery on the inside with a gentle bouncy chew that gives way to slightly flaky and crispy crust. It’s good, it’s really good, and for the first time ever if I hadn’t bought and baked it myself, I might actually believe this was delivery. 

The balance is great and surprisingly complex. Usually frozen pizza almost always needs some ranch on the side by default, but here the buttery intrigue and textural play is enough to keep me engaged for my half of the pizza, and I’m really enjoying it.

Croissant Crust Pizza is the best pizza DiGiorno have ever made – simply put, it’s awesome. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s a brand new release or because croissant’s are always more expensive, but this was a pricey pizza. The only thing holding this back from being absolutely top tier is its price, but even with the $8.99 I paid for it I’ll do it again, and I’m looking forward to it.


Rating: 9/10

Found at: Target ($8.99)

REVIEW: Baskin Robbins Cotton Candy Crackle

It’s been awhile. A long while. One year and three months, to be exact; since I last braced these pages. Sometimes life ebbs and flows in ways that doesn’t allow certain things to happen anymore, in this case, it was writing this blog. 

I’ve continued to do a little bit of writing with The Impulsive Buy but I’ve been spending a bulk of my time making music under the name SESPOOL. Certain emotional upheavals needed to be tended to that couldn’t be resolved within ice cream and snacks. But, as the world at large goes through a different kind of universal upheaval I’ve found myself with a little extra time and a need to dive into the the sweet and simple joys of life. A need to share in the collective joy of food. 

I’ve gotta be honest, at this point, few things sound more sweet, simple, and joyful than Baskin Robbins’ brand new Cotton Candy Crackle – a cotton candy ice cream with a cotton candy flavored ribbon and yellow poppin’ candy pieces. 

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REVIEW: Carrot Cake Oreo

As your resident sugar-loving spice-fiending food blogger boy there are few Oreo flavors I have been more excited for than Carrot Cake. With the onslaught of chocolate, mint, and bizarre fruit flavors we’re no doubt going to be bombarded with throughout the year, it’s a very welcome start to the Oreo New Year with something fresh and spicy. Essentially combining two of my favorite full time Oreo’s into one, Cinnamon Bun and Red Velvet, this feels like a surefire win from Nabisco’s cookie think tank. Carrot Cake Oreo combines a carrot cake flavored cookie with cream cheese frosting flavored crème.

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REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Minter Wonderland

Some relationships start off on the wrong foot. I’m no Christmas-hating Grinch, in fact I’ve many times thought about a Frosty the Snowman tattoo, and I’m no weirdo chocolate mint hater either. But Ben & Jerry’s latest seasonal release and I have had a beef since before we even spooned for the first time. Minter Wonderland replaced Glampfire Trail Mix. Essentially taking away one of the best B&J releases in years after only SEVEN months, while many other sub par flavors continue to live long lives. I was shook, distraught, and still sad that such a wonderful creation could be gone so soon. No matter how deep in my feelings I was, and am, about Glampfire being retired, I’m willing to embrace this newest Target-exclusive with an open mind and semi-open heart. Minter Wonderland combines a dark chocolate mint ice cream with marshmallow and chocolate cookie swirls.

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Off the jump the dark chocolate mint base is rich and perfectly balanced with both dominant deep cocoa notes and cooling peppermint. Each flavor has a chance to shine in the spotlight while complimenting the other very well. As usual with Ben & Jerry’s the texture is smooth and creamy with a little extra thickness from the more heavy handed use of cocoa powder.

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B&J’s marshmallow swirl is one of their best, and the only element that Miss Minter shares with my beloved Glampfire, as well as my personal all timer Phish Food. As always it’s prominent and sticky-sweet providing both terrific flavor and texture to the decadent Christmasy pint. The white color pops hard against the extra dark base and provides some much needed snowy contrast.

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Another B&J’s staple, the chocolate cookie swirl, rounds out the experience. For those unfamiliar with the classic Milk & Cookies, these are basically Oreo crumbles swirling throughout the ice cream’s creaminess to bring an extra dose of chocolate and slight crunch to the otherwise squishy melty texture. It’s a great swirl, but unlike in Milk & Cookies where it gets a chance to really pop against the vanilla, they aren’t quite as effective, or prominent with the intensity of the dark chocolate mint. Still delicious, but a little lacking in thickness for my personal taste.

Rating: 8/10

Found at Target: $4.39

REVIEW: Baskin Robbins Trick Oreo Treat

For a very long time (at least 7 or 8 years), the Flavor of the Month at Baskin Robbins in October was Trick Oreo Treat. Until, of course, 2016, when this blog started and the first review was of the slightly modified and awesome Trick Oreo Treat Dark, followed up by last years okay Candy Bar Mashup. The flavor never disappeared, it always came back as a seasonal offering, but this year, much in line with Baskin Robbins’ recent lazy tendencies, it’s back in the prime time dip case slot with advertisements and hype galore. Since it hadn’t been the featured flavor it never got properly pinned on the skillet, so even though I’ve loved it in the past and found it a bit underwhelming in 2017, I’m gonna give it another go for the sake of my people. Trick Oreo Treat is described this year as “the ultimate Halloween haul” combining vanilla ice cream with orange crème filled Oreo pieces, Baby Ruth pieces, and Butterfinger pieces.

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