REVIEW: Limited Edition Jelly Donut Oreo

In the 2017 food scene emulation is the name of the game. Whether it be dessert hybrids like snickerdoodle cupcakes, bars of whey protein that taste like key lime pie, or plant-based burgers that bleed like real meat, people who love food are in love with making things transform in our mouths into something they aren’t. As hot as this is now, perhaps no one has been chasing after this trend in the junk food universe more aggressively and consistently than Nabisco – who in recent years have been hell-bent on making their iconic Oreo cookie sandwiches taste like other things, from syrupy waffles to chocolate dipped strawberries. Their latest Walmart-exclusive attempt at sugary transformation aims to take down an early morning indulgence disguised as an after school treat with Jelly Donut Oreo.

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Taking in the general aroma from these Oreo’s is no different than your average golden package with the sweet, slightly vanilla golden Oreo wafer taking over the dominant sniff. If I dig my nose in closer and get real close there is a hint of tart berry smell that cuts through the sugary notes. there’s also a bit of that greasy donut aura that could be from the creme or could be from pure fantasy, but it’s present none the less. Much like an actual jelly donut, from the outside they don’t look much different than your average ‘nut, and it’s what lurks on the inside that will truly tell the taste tale.

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Biting into these cookies is definitely different than a regular Golden Oreo and definitely delicious. The composition of the creme is setup with an outer ring of classic “white stuff” with a jelly-flavored center. The center is big enough that it comes through with an average-sized bite of the cookie and the flavor is surprisingly really good. The “jelly” is somewhere in between raspberry and blueberry, which I guess would make it boysenberry? I’m going to assume Nabisco was going for raspberry since that’s a more typical donut-filling, but no matter what you want to call it it’s damn good.

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The jelly flavor, contrary to what I think about actual jelly, helps to temper the sweetness of the golden wafer and white creme for an experience that is very well balanced. The berry doesn’t come off as insanely artificial and has a very pleasant flavor that is much more desirable than what strawberry tends to bring to the table. Without any specific yeast or powdered sugar notes it’s hard for me to really lock in on “donut” when eating, but they remind me of the little thumbprint cookies with jelly filling, and for an Oreo to take me there is pretty impressive. When I pair the cookie up with some coffee, I do actually get the donut sensation, and somehow the bitter notes of the coffee washing down the vanilla-meets-berry flavor brings me to Saturday morning and delivers on the cookies’ name.

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Did Nabisco knock it out of the park with this emulation? No. Had they made the center ring more gelatinous or jelly-like it could have really driven the contrast that actual filled donuts have, but with a little bit of imagination the point comes across pretty well. What they did do is deliver one of the most interesting and tasty Oreo’s I’ve had in quite some time with a perfect sweetness and great berry flavor that I would happily buy again.

Rating: 8.5/10
Found at: Walmart ($2.99)

Quick Nutrition: 2 cookies – 150 cal – 7g fat – 80mg sodium – 21g carbs – 12g sugar

REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition Carrot Cake Donettes

The life of a snack food reviewer can be much more tumultuous than you may think.  No, there’s nothing actually risky about what we do but sometimes it’s so HARD to find a certain item you really want to explore.  Some products come and go without ever making it to my region, and sometimes for whatever reason they just allude me.  That was the case with the new Hostess Limited Edition Carrot Cake Donettes, but hey, better late than never, right?  I already gave you my best carrot cake backstory when I reviewed the Hershey’s Kisses in February, so I’ll just cut right to the chase with this one – let’s eat!

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Plunging my nose into the bag the smell is fantastic – sweet and spicy with the classic spring-y cinnamon notes that make this veggie-laced baked good so damn tasty.  Biting in, though, there’s a distinctly strong nut flavor that comes across in these little carrot cake tires, something that I don’t usually associate with the spicy orange cake.  The only nut I’ve ever had in a carrot cake is the walnut and this flavor is more aggressive and reminds me of a hazelnut flavored syrup or coffee creamer.  Taking a closer look at the donette itself the coating seems to be made up mostly of coconut, and checking the ingredient list confirms this as the first ingredient is “crunch coconut coating”.  Turns out the strong nutty flavor I’m getting is actually toasted coconut, which is, again, not something I usually associate with carrot cake, and reminds me much more of the Hostess Crunch Donette than said cake.

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The texture of the donette’s are very hit or miss, with some of them being kind of dry and off-putting, and some of them, with more coating and crunch, being moist and soft on the inside.  The amount of crunchy coconut seems to directly correlate to how successful the flavor is, but unfortunately, even when the flavor and texture comes through on point it still isn’t very much like carrot cake.  Although I wasn’t expecting there to be frosting on top of these, the presence of a cream cheese tang would help change the flavor from slightly spicy coconut to something that better resembles carrot cake.

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In summation, while these donette’s aren’t disgusting by any means, they’re essentially just cinnamon-spiked Crunch Donette’s with no carrot or cream cheese or distinct cake-y flavors to be found.  Yet another lazy rebranding of an already almost-existent product that could have been so much better with a little more effort.
Rating: 6/10
Found at: Walmart ($2.00)

REVIEW: Doughbar Doughnuts (feat. Junk Banter Variety Pack)

Doughbar Doughnuts are a Bay Area based company cranking out made to order protein packed baked donuts with a slew of fun and limited offering toppings and variety packs shipped straight to your door.  Their goal is to offer a macro-friendly alternative to the often frowned upon fried treat that is versatile, healthy, and delicious all at the same time.  The un-dressed donuts, including the hole, clock in at 150 calories, 4 grams of fat, 16 grams of carbs, 3 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.  You can order the donuts with no toppings, or, more commonly, with toppings packaged individually that you put on yourself in whatever fashion you’d like.  For my first run with Doughbar I ordered the Junk Banter variety pack, which included four donuts and toppings for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, Cookie Monster (Chips Ahoy/Oreo), Cinnamon with Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Nutella with Kit Kat pieces.

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The naked base flavor of a Doughbar Doughnut is relatively plain with a yeasty whole wheat bounce, slight sweetness, and a hint of cinnamon.  The texture is more like a bagel than a donut, with an eggy dense inside that is neither super delicious or offensive.  Since they are baked and not fried there is no outside crisp or greasiness, and as with most donuts, “real” or otherwise, most of the flavor comes from the toppings.  The success of the doughnuts themselves varied based not only on the toppings but the actual bake itself.  Since they’re all individually made I found some of them to be a little bit thinner and darker with a tougher, less-dount-y texture, and some of them to be fluffier and lighter in color, which much more closely resembled a true donut.

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The experience of putting the doughnuts together is pretty damn fun.  They arrive in a nostalgia-laden pink box with each component clearly labeled and packaged so you can truly choose your own destiny.  All of the toppings have their own nutritional information provided, and while the icing containers looked really small to me at first, they actually do provide enough to piece together a pretty tasty breakfast treat.

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I enjoyed all of the doughnuts that I got but by far my favorite was the Nutella with Kit Kat crumbles.  I’m not sure if it was the slight nuttiness in the glaze or the luck of the fluff on that particular ‘nut but it gave me the most satisfying donut fix of them all.  My least favorite was very surprisingly the Reese’s-inspired peanut butter one, because I felt it just didn’t have enough authentic peanut butter flavor.  Luckily, I had a couple of extra naked donuts and put together my own decadent masterpiece using their classic doughnut glaze, crunchy peanut butter, and banana.

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PB Banana Doughnut: 320 Cals/10g Fat/11g Sugar/30g Carbs/15g Protein

All in all, are Doughbar Doughnuts better than one from your local shop or Krispy Kreme?  Nah.  But are they a fun switch up from a protein bar or shake or carb-heavy weekend breakfast?  Most certainly.  The ability to customize and switch things up on the go is definitely a plus and I look forward to ordering again when time and money will allow.  Hopefully this small creative company can get wider distribution and/or a brick and mortar location so we can all “eat more hole foods” on the regular.

Rating: 8/10

REVIEW: Tastykake Gingerbread Mini Donuts

There’s nothing quite like a powdered mini donut.  Packaged in a roll of six from a dark vending machine or lonely gas station, the tube of sugary delight never fails to deliver a messy Scarface-like experience of pure sweetness.  The only problem with these types of donuts is that despite their fun fluffy texture they’re relatively one dimensional when it comes to flavor – straight sugar.  Just in time for the holidays Tastykake have solved this issue with Gingerbread Mini Donuts.

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Unlike their lighter-colored year round sibling, the gingerbread version of Tastykake’s donuts deliver a wallop of spicy layers to back up their already perfect bouncy texture.  Rather than being covered in a dusting of powdered sugar, these donuts are taken up a notch with a robust shaking of ginger and cinnamon that erupts from the bag and translates just as convincingly to the tongue.  You don’t have to search for any traces of gingerbread as you can see the specks of brown all over the donut and the flavors completely smack you in the face to finish with spice-dominance that makes me think they used cloves in the mix as well.  The ginger here isn’t the raw ginger that tingles in your nose, but more of a ground ginger blended with cinnamon that meshes perfectly with the powdered sugar to create the ideal seasonal spice.

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Additionally, the clever snack-ologists at Tastykake have put some kind of spice into the donut dough as well, as you can see little brown dots mixed in with a darker-than-usual cake that hints more towards tan than yellow.

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The two-toned punch of spiced cake and spiced powder makes these incredibly successful and a worthy shakeup from the usual donette.  Whether it be Tastykake or Hostess or Little Debbie I’ve never found any flavors of mini donuts to be truly worth it aside from the classic powdered or chocolate, but these ones give both of those a run for their money.  More complex than any that have come before them but equally satisfying in their junky splendor, these Gingerbread ‘nuts are a slam dunk worthy of your Christmas calories.

Rating: 8/10