REVIEW: The Original Cannoli Chips (Powdered Sugar, Lemon, Cinnamon & Sugar, Cookies & Cream)

The Original Cannoli Chips are a product of Golden Cannoli, a Boston-based company founded in the 1970’s specializing in cannoli shells and filling. While they got their start slangin’ high quality cannoli components to bakeries in the greater Boston area, they accidentally stumbled upon magic when sampling their shells at a trade show. The reception to the broken pieces of fried dough were so great that they ran out faster than they could distribute them, and as such, the cannoli chip was born.

Potential spoiler alert: I’m a fan of Cannoli Chips. I first got wind of them when they got distribution at Walmart in 2016, and when I was finally able to get my hands on them I was surprisingly amazed. I never posted about them here, but tried a couple of flavors posted my love on Instagram. With the launch of their new Lemon flavor the company reached out to me about sending some samples so I thought it was appropriate to give them a proper feature on the skillet. Ladies and gentlemen – The Original Cannoli Chip.

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REVIEW: Cola Pringles (South Korea)

I’ve had a lot of Pringles in my life. Growing up it was all about the Ranch and BBQ flavors, and as I got older the light blue allure of Salt & Vinegar became my go-to stacking chip. I’ve also had a lot of weird Pringles flavors. Kickin’ Chicken Taco, Cheeseburger, White Chocolate Peppermint, and one of the most successful Pringles of all time – Ketchup. But those are all relatively safe offerings available stateside, and it’s in other parts of the world that things get pretty odd. Thank goodness for the internet and eBay, because via the magic of technology I was able to get one of the latest Pringles experiments from South Korea – Cola.

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REVIEW: Allie’s Peanut Butter Protein Balls

Allie’s Peanut Butter Protein balls are an up and coming company serving up gluten free, raw, peanut butter loaded balls for on-the-go noshing and nutrition. Although the product is brand new and the full website won’t launch until February, Allie and Co. wanted to give this peanut butter lover an advanced taste. I’m ranking the three different flavors against each other on a healthy snack scale.

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Allie’s Original Protein Energy Ball:

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A very nice combination of peanut butter, cranberries, sunflower, and flax seeds that really get the job done. There’s a nice smooth vanilla undertone from the use of protein powder that ties the more aggressive fatty PB and tart cranberry notes together wonderfully. The sunflower seeds stand out as a distinct flavor and texture and make the bites interesting for my teeth AND my tongue. A great clean pick me up with no weird aftertaste or weird additive ingredients that you might find in other supplement-based products.

Rating: 8/10

Nutrition (1.2 oz ball): 135 cal – 8g fat – 59mg sodium – 12g carb – 2g fiber – 5g sugar – 5g protein

Allie’s Apple Cinnamon Protein Balls:

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As a bonafide cinnaslut this is the ball that I was the most excited for and it undoubtedly let me down the most. I got no apple flavor, no cinnamon flavor, and the overall experience was very dry and bland. Looking on the company’s website it says there should be a fritter taste from being rolled in cinnamon and I don’t think my balls got that step. They still have a nutty taste to them but have no discernible apple or other flavors that make me want to eat them again.

Rating: 6/10

Nutrition (1.2 oz ball): 140 cal – 8g fat – 7mg sodium – 13g carb – 2g fiber – 4g sugar – 5g protein

Allie’s Chocolate Coconut Peanut Butter Protein Ball:

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The can’t-miss combination of peanut butter and chocolate gets an added boost from flaky coconut and guess what? It doesn’t miss! This one has all the rich decadent fatty mouthfeel of peanut butter rolled into a ball with little glimmers of crunchy chocolate, oats, and hemp protein. The peanut butter is definitely the star of the show, and as a dude who loves to take a spoon straight to the source I love the flavor. Compared to the others this ball is simply more of everything. More salty, more sweet, more delicious, and despite its smaller size, more calories and fat. It’s as close as you’re gonna get to having true, intense, peanut butter taste with you wherever you go sans the spoon, and will absolutely squash a fatty or even sweet craving in a pinch.

Rating: 9/10

Nutrition (.9 oz ball): 154 cal – 10g fat – 71mg sodium – 13g carb – 3g fiber – 4g sugar – 5g protein

Overall I’m pretty happy with the flavors presented by Allie’s Protein Peanut Butter Balls, and they’re executed very well, but I’m not sure that I would personally order them. I love the idea behind the brand but things like this seem like they could be made at home pretty easily with some nut butter, powder, oats, and a little bit of time. For the cost of $20 shipped for a pack of 12, they’re either a great value for someone with little culinary skills and little time, or a bit of a stretch for someone that likes to make their own snacks. I would, however, absolutely buy a couple of these in a four pack if I saw them at a local store, and hopefully Allie can work her way into the hearts of a place like Whole Foods to give these balls the home they deserve.

REVIEW: Hershey’s Gold Peanut & Pretzel

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I can still remember the triumphant day that Hershey’s Cookies ‘n Creme arrived in my junk food universe. It was the mid-90’s and I was a wee lad, looking for something to mix up the brown-dominant palate of the candy aisle. Everything seemed to be chocolate based, and out of nowhere appeared a snowy beacon of hope. The white-chocolate-meets-wafer cookies bar was a revelation, and I fell in love right then and there, in 1995, and it has been one of my favorite Hershey’s branded products ever since. Fast forward 22 years later and Hershey’s are aiming to change the game yet again, and this time they’re adding a whole new dimension. Welcome to the world, the fourth member of the Hershey’s universe – it’s not milk, it’s not dark, it’s not white, it’s GOLD.

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REVIEW: Quest Birthday Cake Coated Protein Bar

If pumpkin spice is the seasonal signifier of the basic b, then birthday cake is the quintessential staple of the basic’s day to day favorite flavor. My tastebud’s tendencies keep me right in line with all the basic ladies of the world, and just like I love me some spice I love me a good birthday cake flavored treat. Ice cream, candy, lotion, candles, and yep, protein bars. While this trend is far from new, in fact I think it peaked a couple years ago, the biggest player in the protein bar game are extremely late to the party. This week Quest showed up when everyone was already wasted and stumbling with their Birthday Cake coated protein bar.

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This bar is a bit of a deviation for the company, using a coated outer layer similar to Oh Yeah’s One bars instead of the usual plain outer skin. It certainly looks pretty enough, studded with a smattering of fun confetti dots and a semi-glossy coating that is incredibly soft and smooth.

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Biting in the initial taste is very creamy, sweet, and slightly salty, making a combination that truly does remind me of a well balanced buttercream. The texture is soft, chewy, and fresh, leaving a pretty positive initial impression. Unfortunately after the first couple chews a very strong and unpleasant artificial sugar flavor takes over that is inescapably powerful. While Quest bars do tend to carry a bit of a sucralose finish, this bar leans way too heavy on an astringent artificial flavor that takes away from any birthday cake potential it had. While the outer coating provides some nice creaminess, the inside of the bar is very bland and flavorless, leaving little reason to want to eat more of these bars.

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The biggest issue here, aside from the fact that the bar legitimately doesn’t taste good, is that there are far too many better options already on the market. Oh Yeah One’s Birthday Cake is a staple with comparable macros, and very strong offerings from MuscleTech and Fit Joy have been out for over a year as well. Quest has had some pretty solid releases recently with Mocha Chocolate Chip and last years Cereal Bars, but this one is a major step backwards for a company that at this point really needs to be pushing the envelope with portable protein supplements. If someone showed up to my birthday party with this bar I would revoke their party privileges and show them to the door.

Rating: 4/10
Found at: GNC ($2.39)
Quick Nutrition: 180 cal – 5g fat – 3g sat fat – 220mg sodium – 25g carb – 14g fiber – 1g sugar – 21g protein

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REVIEW: Keebler Limited Batch Pumpkin Spice Fudge Stripes

Autumn is my favorite time of year, and thank goodness it is officially HERE! Not just for the more relaxed weather, longer periods of darkness, and constant swirl of spices in the air, but the landscape simply looks prettier. There’s something stunningly gorgeous about the environment dying and evolving everywhere you turn, and I’ve got to imagine there would be no more shockingly gorgeous transformation than in the mystical land of Hollow Tree. Yes, rumor has it, the small, incredibly dangerous tree-kitchen where the Keebler Elves do all of their baking, is quite the site to be seen come October, evolving from bright greens and yellows to a wash of orange, red, and brown. It is with this spectacular autumnal view that for the last few years Ernie and his clan of miniature baking enthusiasts have rolled out Limited Batch Pumpkin Spice Fudge Stripes, and this year they’ve arrived well before the leaves have fallen.

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The cookies carry a soft, creamy, vanilla, and spicy smell that doesn’t immediately register “pumpkin” in my mind but definitely conjures up “spice”. It’s funny how such an odd squash can have a particular smell and taste, but it does, and I don’t get any of that here. The deep brown-orange color is pleasant on the eye and the drizzle/pattern work is par the course for all Fudge Stripes.

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The flavor is a little bit different than I anticipated and surprisingly ginger-forward, followed by nutmeg, and then least represented is the cinnamon and a touch of cloves. This is pretty refreshing as many companies will label something “pumpkin spice” and just toss cinnamon into the mix, but Keebler went with the less common fall components to be the star of this stripe show. Even though ginger is unmistakably the lead flavor, it doesn’t have the usual accompanying tongue sizzle, as the taste is mellowed out by the creamy vanilla-y sweet stripe and slightly tamer nutmeg. Texturally they’re exactly the same as other Stripes – soft and crumbly with a gentle snap that falls somewhere in between your average grocery cookie and real deal shortbread.

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As is the case with all Limited Batch Fudge Stripes aside from Cinnamon Roll (which were decently cinnamon spicy), these cookies offer a full but subdued take on the flavor they’re aiming for. Even though they’re labeled as being a pumpkin cookie, I get more of a mellow gingersnap vibe from them, which is delicious and a very snack-able gateway into the seasons more intensely spiced options.

Rating: 8.5/10
Found at: Target ($2.99)
Quick Nutrition: 2 cookies – 140 cal – 7g fat – 4.5g sat fat – 85mg sodium – 18g carbs – 10g sugar

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REVIEW: Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo

In 2014 Oreo joined the pumpkin spice party and I lost my shit. Autumn is the pinnacle party time for the tastebuds of señor cinnaslut (me) and the limited Oreo’s at the time had seen no spicy love, and were mostly a wash of weird fruit and ice cream flavors. I bought a package at first sighting and devoured them happily amid the glow of my three-wick Bath and Body Works Leaves candle. I was in my zone, and I loved them, but for whatever reason, I haven’t repurchased them the last couple of years. Being that this blog didn’t exist until last year I felt it was only fitting to give it another go, and shed some skillet light on the fourth season return of the Pumpkin Spice Oreo.

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The prominent cookie-nose on these pumpkin cookies is the very familiar scent of Golden Oreo’s – sweet and vanilla-y, with just a hint of cinnamon rounding it out. The combination of the golden wafer with the soft spice notes reminds me of graham, and I wonder how a graham wafer would change the profile – likely for the better.

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As a boy who loves him a healthy dose of spice, these Pumpkin-O’s are simply too subtle. The flavor starts just like the initial smell implies – almost identical to a Golden Oreo. It’s noticeably less sweet, being tamed by the artificial addition of spice flavoring, and only towards the end does it finish with a bit of cinnamon flair.

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Isolating the creme on its own reveals a bit more cinnamon depth, but still no tingle or real autumn intrigue is brought to the table. Although there’s a touch of cinnamon, the rest of the pumpkin spice gang – nutmeg, cloves, and ginger – are nowhere to be found. The cookie is actually less spicy and complex than the stellar Cinnamon Bun Oreo, which is a shame since it has “spice” in its name. It’s still a good tasting Oreo but it doesn’t bring anything particularly exciting to the table that makes me want to eat more, and I now remember why I passed on picking them up the last couple of years.

Rating: 7.5/10
Found at: Target ($2.99)

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REVIEW: Low Kalz Protein Bars

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Low Kalz is an all new brand of natural protein bars launched by the subscription box company of the same name. I love protein bars for their on-the-go munching abilities and gravitate towards the less-natural candy bar kinda flavored options; but I’m not closed minded it when it comes for new portable ways to get my protons in. Ryan, the founder of Low Kalz, contacted me and sent me some bars to try, which use almond flour and whey protein, as well as nuts and fruit for sweetness, and require refrigeration due to their lack of preservatives. I ranked them all against themselves with an overall curve of all natural bars in mind.

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The Banana Chocolate bar has a very soft, moist, bread-y texture that reminds me of a low fat muffin. It’s dense yet airy with a delicateness that causes it to fall apart a bit when left at room temperature, but not quite crumble because of the higher moisture content. The flavor is sharp and sweet with an authentic banana presence that finishes with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. Even though there’s no apple listed in the ingredients I also get a bit of apple-esque acidity that pokes through in the general fruity sweetness. The chocolate chips add a nice semi-sweet pop of contrast, and as someone who’s always loved banana and chocolate together the combo really works for me. I wish the chips were a bit firmer, as the bar as a whole is pretty squishy, but overall this is a pretty good take on a healthy, portable, and quick fix version of banana bread.


Rating: 8/10
Nutrition Facts: 100 cal – 4.5g fat – 1g sat fat – 10mg cholesterol – 15mg sodium – 11g carbs – 2g fiber – 6g sugar – 7g protein

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The Apple Cranberry bar has a wonderful spicy bread-y smell that instantly reminds me of cinnamon rolls. The play of the apple and cinnamon together is really great, and the cranberries bring a pretty massive rush of tartness. There’s also a nice nutty flavor from the almonds that plays well against the sweeter tangy elements. While the nose on this one is really good, the overall flavor is a bit too heavy on the tart side and starts to hinge towards sour. Still completely edible, but not something I really crave with a tasty cup of coffee or to get me through an afternoon slump.

Rating: 6/10
Nutrition Facts: 90 cal – 5g fat – 0.5g sat fat – 10mg cholesterol – 20mg sodium – 7g carbs – 2g fiber – 4g sugar – 7g protein

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The Tropical Blueberry bar arrived to me nearly flattened and falling apart, which is a shame because it’s not only the most interesting and unique flavor of the bunch but it also wound up being my favorite. Immediately I get hit with huge tangy orange aroma and flavor that positively jumps out of the package. The blueberries make me think of muffins and my mind shifts to a wonderful blueberry citrus scone I’ve had in the past, channeling that flavor-memory in the best way.  It’s tangy and tart, but unlike cranberries, the blueberries add a nice extra burst of sweetness that work really wonderfully with the bold citrus notes. This bar is refreshing, sweet, and bright, and definitely one I would like to have again.

Rating: 9/10
Nutrition Facts: 100 cal – 5g fat – 0.5g sat fat – 10mg cholesterol – 20mg sodium – 7g carbs – 1g fiber – 4g sugar – 7g protein

If you’re interested in trying Low Kalz you can order them through their website, and using promo code 10OFF will give you 10% off of a box of 12.

https://lowkalz.com/

REVIEW: Little Debbie Pumpkin Spice Rolls

Yule logs are a traditional Christmas time dessert made of rolled up cake and icing, popular in Switzerland, Belgium, France, and you guessed it – in mini junk food size at gas stations all across America. The most common junky American version is the Ho Ho, and not far behind are Little Debbie’s smaller, and in my opinion slightly less delicious, Swiss Rolls. But unlike Hostess, Miss Debbie is a rather creative gal when it comes to her cellophane logs, and beefs them up in larger size for Zebra Rolls and regular seasonal themed editions. Although it’s not quite Christmas time yet, in fact it isn’t even officially autumn, I can’t think of many better additions to the scrumptious cake logs than a little spice, and I’ve got just that with Little Debbie’s Pumpkin Spice Rolls.

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Off the jump these plump pumpkin rolls are positively bursting with cream filling. It might be because there’s no outer coating to conceal what awaits when normally biting in, but just removing the roll from its wrapper the cream is begging to be devoured. The smell is only subtly spicy, with just some soft cinnamon and vanilla enticing my nostrils, but they look real pretty with their best soft  orange glow and a swirly drizzled top for bedazzlement.

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There’s not a whole lot of pumpkin flair in the actual flavor of the roll, but there’s much more depth than what Debbie usually offers, and a whole lot more balance than what you typically get with quick-fix baked goods. The normally painfully sweet cream filling, which, as it looked, is incredibly ample, is given its chance to shine admirably against the soft cinnamon in the batter. The absence of coating also let’s the cream feel more impactful, as the soft cake isn’t hindered by a waxy layer and the cream brings all the squishy-ness I want from such a confection.

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While I’m generally a fan of more aggressively spiced things, I actually appreciate the softness of the cinnamon flavor in these rolls. Sure, there are some better iterations of cheap pumpkin cakes, but the massive amount of cream and super soft moist-ness reeled me in and kept me excited enough to want to eat more. They remind me more of a mellow Thanksgiving afternoon than a spooky October evening, and surprisingly, I’m quite okay with that.

Rating: 8.5/10
Found at: Target ($1.99)
Quick Nutrition: 1 roll – 260 cal – 11g fat – 5g sat fat – 130mg sodium – 39g carb – 26g sugar – 1g protein

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REVIEW: Keebler Limited Batch Dark Chocolate Mint Fudge Stripes

Just when you thought those funny little Elves had started to dip into the deep end of limited time offerings, they return with another safe, albeit classic and delicious, limited batch flavor – Dark Chocolate Mint. Although I’ve gotta give them credit, they’re definitely throwing a cookie curveball releasing a flavor traditionally served alongside a blanket of snow at a time when most of the country is still sweating in triple digits. It would be like Oreo dropping their long lost Gingerbread cookie in Spring – it just doesn’t make sense, and yet, I can’t help but feel like there’s no wrong time for a taste of Winter.

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Opening up the long crinkly package releases an unmistakable aroma – Thin Mints. These striped cookie tires smell almost identical to the Girl Scouts’ classic that also reign supreme during a time of no Winter Wonderland vibes. Maybe Keebler are onto something, as is evidenced by their year round Thin Mint knockoff Grasshoppers – that people get down on the delicious pairing of chocolate and mint whether or not there’s a long branch of mistletoe dangling over their heads.

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The taste is also very similar to Thin Mints, a lovely marriage of chocolate and peppermint, just a bit less minty, and more obviously, much creamier because of the great green stripe of fudge along the top. The extra creamy notes also make the cookie register a bit sweeter than Thin Mints or Grasshoppers, with a heartier, deeper crunch and satisfying smoothness. The stripe on these cookies feels less notoriously waxy than their older siblings with a less hardened texture that provides a more legitimate creaminess than what I know and generally love from some Stripes.

Honestly, there’s not too much more to say about these cookies. The balance of peppermint sharpness to cooling sweetness is on point and it’s a classic pairing that will essentially sell itself. If I had one criticism it would be perhaps to make the cookie a bit more bitter since they used the word “dark” in the title, but overall these are a damn fine grocery cookie that will give anyone a taste of Christmas bliss, even if they’re wearing shorts.

Rating: 8.5/10
Found at: Sent to me by Keebler but spotted at Target and Walmart!
Quick Nutrition: 2 cookies – 140 cal – 6g fat – 4g sat fat – 120mg sodium – 20g carb – 11g sugar – 1g protein

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