REVIEW: CinnaFuego Toast Crunch

CinnaFuego Toast Crunch is a limited edition niche snack release done the right way. Unlike the recent collab between Ritz and Oreo and the ongoing Ritz Bitz S’mores re-release, where packages are made available to 1,000 people or less, this spicy cereal can be found online exclusively at Walmart. Sure, you’ll have to pay shipping, but everyone has a chance to get their hands on this sweet and spicy cereal snack that was way too much fun for me to resist ordering the day it dropped.

The pieces of toast look identical to the crazy squares in Cinnamon Toast Crunch I know and love, but there is an intense spicy cinnamon aroma wafting from the bag straight into my nostrils. It smells distinctly like the type of cinnamon heat I associate with Hot Tamales, Big Red gum, Atomic Fireballs, and those delicious cinnamon bears. In fact, if you’ve had a long night out with one too many shots of Fireball whisky you may get flashbacks from sniffing these fiery squares.

The taste mirrors the smell, with a punchy spicy cinnamon flavor that fuses together pretty naturally with the buttery cinnamon base of CTC. The finish gets a bit black peppery and I can feel the heat lingering in the back of my throat. I’m impressed by the level of spice but it’s definitely still a cinnamon spice as opposed to cayenne or something with a vegetal peppery taste like habanero. Never forget the cinnamon challenge, though, if you breath in too hard while snacking on this cereal you’ll cough — I definitely did. I can see people really hating this; it’s definitely a divisive and borderline aggressive flavor, but as a certified cinnamon fiend I am vibing hard.

In milk this cereal is a little weird. I don’t hate it but I don’t really enjoy it either. Milk tends to temper heat but I’ve found the unsweetened almond milk I eat cereal with to make it less sweet and a touch more peppery without being as punchy on the cinnamon front. I’m more of a dry cereal snacker anyway so this doesn’t really bother me and I’ll happily enjoy this spicy-TC at its crunchiest.

While it’s still available I’d recommend grabbing this limited edition bag to anyone who loves sweet and spicy, or are like me and insist on ingesting all new members of the Toast Crunch family.

Rating: 8/10

Found at: walmart.com ($5.98)

REVIEW: Jeni’s Powdered Jelly Donut

When it comes to donuts the jelly filled variety are near the bottom of my personal tier list. Give me an old fashioned, buttermilk bar, sprinkled cake, custard filled, cruller, chocolate raised, hell, I’ll take even a plain glazed over a jelly filled. But when it comes to ice cream companies that have worked their way into readily available grocery stores? Jeni’s is right up there with the elite, cranking out some of the most consistent and top tier pints you can find in an aisle that also carries riced cauliflower. I sadly don’t get to try as many new Jeni’s flavors as I’d like, with no local scoop shops in the Bay Area and many of my local Whole Foods not keeping up with the times, but I got lucky with this spring drop and couldn’t deny a fruity frozen donut mashup. Powdered Jelly Donut is vanilla custard with raspberry jelly and brown sugar donut crumble.

This vanilla custard is not what I expected — it is comPLEX. As usual with Jeni’s it is rich, dense, and superbly creamy, but to my palate is is anything but a basic vanilla. I get slightly tangy notes akin to a milder cream cheese base, and a pretty legitimate saltiness comes through as well. It’s an extremely deep and heavy flavor with a potent eggy-ness that gets accented by the more nuanced floral notes of vanilla. In short, it’s really good, especially for a pint you can grab at a grocery store — absolutely top shelf stuff. The custard tempers surprisingly quickly for how premium it tastes, which creates a wonderfully velvety texture when the other components come to their proper temperature.

The raspberry jelly is bright, acidic, and tart with a little bit of a floral undertone. Jeni’s website refers to it as “raspberry rose” and while I’m not getting any perfume-y notes there’s definitely a supporting flavor underneath the usual straight ahead slightly sweet and sour berry burst. Out of the freezer the jam is a bit icy, but once tempered properly it has an impressively smooth and jelly-like consistency that plays with the indulgent and rich base really well. If I could make one tweak to it I’d make it a touch sweeter to drive home the donut vibe, but it’s a tasty and fascinating swirl in its own right.

As I’ve said on this blog many times before, donuts are exceedingly hard to pull off in ice cream, and the good news bad news here is the “donut crumble” doesn’t really resemble donuts at all; but it’s awesome. The crumble is really more of a swirl with a soft but gritty consistency similar to cake batter, and reminds me a lot of tres leches cake with its impressively heavy moisture. It has a nice buttery and slightly spiced nutmeg flavor to it that compliments the salty base and tart swirl really well. There’s a touch of astringency in the finish, which isn’t unpleasant, and actually makes the swirl taste a bit more bread-like than the full on sweetness overload in a cake batter. It was smart of Jeni’s to opt for this type of mix-in over actual donut chunks, which would no doubt be much harder to control, I simply would have called it a donut batter swirl. And honestly, that probably would have been something the ice cream enthusiasts would have gone wild for, making this surprisingly complex pint even more desirable.

Rating: 8.5/10

Found at: Whole Foods ($9.99)

REVIEW: Limited Edition Neapolitan Oreo Cookies

It has been a long time since I’ve posted about a new Oreo here. It’s also been a long time since Nabisco has released a notable Oreo to the ice cream community. I’ve eaten all of them, and written about some for The Impulsive Buy, but this rehashing of 2011’s “Triple Double Oreo Neapolitan” needed to be addressed on the skillet. Just in time for yesterday’s national ice cream day, 2022’s Limited Edition Neapolitan Oreo Cookies combine vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry flavored cremes with a waffle cone flavored cookie.

Yes, you read that right, a waffle cone flavored cookie. That is what had me frantically hunting for these the moment they dropped; absolutely teeming with excitement. A waffle cone is such a special flavor ensconced in nostalgic ice cream dates layered with deep orange sunset hues and long shadows from nearby tree branches. I love them, and I almost exclusively enjoy them at my favorite scoop shops. So did they pull it off? Yes, I think they did.

Waffle cone is a hard flavor to pin down, and when I think of what I might taste I think of it as typically going one of two ways — slightly buttery with vanilla and almond accents similar to a bigger cylindrical fortune cookie, or a little darker with notes of brown sugar and cinnamon; or a combination of the two. I’ve even had waffle cones with notes of lemon, so it’s not always a decidedly specific flavor, and as such I wasn’t sure what I was looking for when I bit in. But one thing is for sure, visually — the criss cross hatches of the waffle cone on one side of the cookie is the perfect touch. 

Nabisco went with cinnamon as its choice for waffle cone emulation and it absolutely works. It tastes a lot like a waffle cone from Cold Stone, almost spot on, with a satisfying crunch that really hits home. Had the wafer carried a vanilla flavor it would be too similar to the standard Golden, which is too sweet of a vessel for a triple stack of creme, and as much as I love it, an appropriate amount of almond would have been too subtle to make much of an impact. I’ve had issues in the last couple of years with Oreo’s wafer texture being different, not nearly as soft and crumbly, but these are hard and crunchy in a good way, with intention, and it simulates the tough crunch of a waffle cone really well without feeling stale or clunky.

The big bold crunch of the cinnamon-y shell gives way to the satisfying smooth squish of three creme’s and I swear to you I’m not THAT high on scoop shop nostalgia when I say…these actually taste like Neapolitan ice cream. The vanilla is your standard OG Oreo creme, that much like vanilla in a container if Neapolitan, is the background support for the other two. The chocolate is nice and dark with a touch of bitterness and a fudge-y quality, and the strawberry has a classic scoop shop strawberries and cream presence to it — surprisingly not overwhelmingly artificial and Nesquick-adjacent, with a touch of tart in the finish. I did my best to pick apart the flavors but that’s not what this is about, this is about the entirety of the flavors combined with the crunch and brown sugar cinnamon accents in the cookie. Some bites are more strawberry-heavy or choco-heavy, depending on the balance in the individual cookie, which makes alternating bites unique and even more fun.

Not only do the flavors work but the texture is immaculate as well, it feels delightfully like a mouthful of frosting. Sometimes when too many creme’s get stacked they can come across with a cloying density, but here the creme’s are fresh and soft with an ice cream-like creaminess that’s very sweet but appropriate. I love these cookies, and if you have a soft spot for ice cream dates and grocery store sweets you must toss these in your cart the moment you see them.

Rating: 9.5/10

Found at: Target ($3.99)

REVIEW: Limited Edition Goldfish Old Bay Seasoned Crackers

Last year Goldfish began its creative collaborative journey via an impressive outing with Franks RedHot, and almost exactly one year later a second seasoning-inspired Goldfish has arrived — Old Bay. I am a huge fan of seafood but don’t love Old Bay as much as a lotta fish heads do, it’s a bit too celery-forward for how I like my crab, but I am really enjoying these crackers.

I assumed, like the RedHot variety, these would be the staple orange colored cheddar flavored fish, but they’re more of a plain white cracker, perhaps the blue-bagged “original” flavor, which reminds me of an oyster cracker or saltine in the best way. My first crunchy bite definitely gives me a prominent celery salt taste that I don’t love, but it quickly fades with subsequent handfuls. The combination of the salty spice and herbs on the crackers builds up to a pretty profound savory experience that gets buttery and creamy in a way that channels oyster crackers sitting atop clam chowder. There are notes of onion, garlic, paprika, and a subtle vinegary tang in the background. They’re delicious, and the seasoning is pretty convincingly distributed across the hundreds of fishies swimming in the bag.

This is a pretty straight forward idea — take a beloved seasoning and put it on a beloved cracker — but it’s executed extremely well and is just weird enough to appeal to those who have a sickening affinity for limited edition collabs (me, and probably you). Old Bay Goldfish are addictive and endlessly snack-able, with with some perfectly simple and eye catching packaging to bring the whole concept to brilliant salty life.

Rating: 9/10

Found at: Lucky ($2.49)

REVIEW: Macaw! Foods Protein Bars

Earlier this year I was approached about the opportunity to design my own protein bar with The Bar Shack. I did that and really enjoyed it, and now that same company have developed a line of ready-to-buy protein snack bars under the name Macaw! Bars. The bars are made of all natural ingredients with a base of date paste and various nut butters, supplemented by protein powder, organic dark chocolate, and a myriad of flavorful accents. Each bar is more of a nutrient-dense snack than a true protein supplement for me, clocking in with 12 grams of fat and just 10-11 grams of protein for a 240 calorie treat. For my intake, a protein bar is usually only worth it when it has 20 grams of protein for 200-230 calories, but those also come with the presence of heavy artificial sweeteners and preservatives. These may be for you, they may not, but from Chocolate Brownie to Lemon Poppy there’s something for everyone, and I’ve broken down a bunch of flavors today on the skillet.

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REVIEW: Enlightened’s Spring Flavors (Movie Night, S’mores, French Toast)

You would never know by lurking this site, but I actually really like Enlightened ice cream. I’ve been a fan of theirs for nearly two years but never wrote about them because I had this grand scheme of ranking all of their flavors and being a super completest about it. Problem is, their distribution in the bay area has been pretty spotty, and only a handful of flavors are available, especially since it seems like they’ve released about 43 varieties in the last year. All that hooplah aside, I would be pretty short sited to overlook one of the biggest trends in the frozen grocery game during National Ice Cream Month, so it’s time to finally break my silence. In March Enlightened made their strongest push yet, rolling out five new pints backed with a strong PR presence and inventive flavors that set the internet off with hype. While I still haven’t been able to track all of them down, and the ones I did get I had to leave San Francisco for, I’m stoked to introduce the skillet to three new high protein low fat low sugar alternatives to get your creamy fix. Movie Night, French Toast, and S’mores.

Movie Night

Popcorn ice cream with chocolate bits and a caramel swirl.

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REVIEW: ONE Brand Basix Bars (Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter, Triple Chocolate)

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of ONE brand protein bars. In fact, I’ve ranked every single one of their flavors and it remains one of the most popular posts on this site getting new visitors nearly every day. The company is known for delivering bars with 20 grams of protein, decent fiber, and only one gram of sugar, but they have a major drawback – sugar alcohols. ONE recently rolled back the amount of sugar alcohols in their bars by roughly half, but they’re taking the natural angle to a whole new level with a fresh line of Basix Bars naturally sweetened with stevia and overall simpler ingredients. The roll out comes in three very standard options for those familiar with protein bars – Triple Chocolate Chunk, Cookie Dough Chocolate Chunk, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk.

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REVIEW: Sinister Labs’ SINFIT Protein Cookies (Chocolate Chip, Birthday Cake, Peanut Butter)

Sinister Labs dubs themselves the “first hardcore food company”, fusing psychobilly art with high protein products packed with great taste. They burst onto the scene in 2017 with an impressive line of SINFIT Protein Crunch bars and this year have rolled out a new line of the hottest fitness foodie trend – protein cookies. On the surface these cookies present the most impressive calorie and macro split I’ve ever seen – 310 calories, 12g fat, 35g carbohydrates, and 20g of protein with just 7g of sugar and 400mg of sodium. While still higher than your average protein bar, if these cookies taste anything close to delicious they could easily be the strongest in the game – but really, how do they taste?

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REVIEW: Super Mario Cereal

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, because honestly why the hell else am I eating all of this oddly fun factory food – nostalgia is a helluva drug. In the early 90’s little Sean E was a highly impressionable sprouting lad who loved his Nintendo, Raisinets, and professional wrestling. My favorite cereal at the time was WWF’s Superstars Hulk Hogan Cereal, which was a super basic sweetened puffed corn cereal that I’m sure would be exceedingly average if I had it today.

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Image: The Wild Robot!

But back then, when Hulkamania was the SHIT the cereal tasted like magic. I can’t explain exactly what it tasted like but the best comparison I have today based on hazy memory is the underrated Post Honey Oh’s, which still slap. Fast forward to 2018 and my cereal nostalgia button has officially been switched with Super Mario Cereal, which combines mixed berry cereal with marshmallows.

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REVIEW: The Bar Shack Custom Gourmet Protein Bars

Have you ever wanted to play God? Yeah, me neither, but when given the opportunity it’s kind of hard to pass up. As a dude who loves a good protein bar I’ve spent many a moment dreaming up flavors I wished my favorite companies would release, and now, I no longer have to dream, I can officially play protein bar God. The Bar Shack are a new online based company that allows anyone to design their own protein bar, made fresh and shipped straight to their door. So when owner Adam hit me up and asked if I would like to give it a shot I said “Hey, call me Jesus!”.

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