REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition Sno Balls Ice Cream

I’ve always loved Sno Balls.  Starting at a very young age I held it down for team coconut, and those squishy mounds of jiggly marshmallow and cream-filled chocolate cake always got my chubby heart fluttering with joy.  Hell, I even like those red raspberry coconut Zingers that everyone else on earth seems to hate.  Needless to say, if there’s anything that could make Sno Balls better (aside from seasonal coloring, of course), it would be returning them to the icy tundra from which they came and immersing them in a vat of frozen creamy dairy.  Hostess and Nestle have once again combined forces to make all of our dreams come true with Sno Balls ice cream, which combines a marshmallow flavored ice cream with chocolate cake pieces and a whipped coconut swirl.  Are you dead yet?  Let’s eat.

The ice cream is smooth and fluffy with a wonderfully decadent and addictive marshmallow texture that more closely mimics the ‘mallow than anything I’ve had not straight out of a Jet Puffed package.  There’s that undercurrent of sweet round vanilla that every so often crosses paths with a slightly gritty pink coconut swirl that is spot on the outside of Sno Balls.  It reminds me so much of eating the Hostess classic that I can almost feel the distinct squish of biting into one right out of the shiny cellophane.  Even though there isn’t tons of the swirl, I like how much they put in there because the coconut intensity weaves in and out of bites without becoming too dominant or taking over the entire profile.

The cake pieces are dark with a brownie-like density and a distinctly deep cocoa flavor that stands out strong against the mellow marshmallow backdrop.  It’s not the highest quality mix in, but once again it stays true to the feeling and flavor of the treat that it aims to emulate.  Much like the Twinkies ice cream, the pieces are on the smaller side but there’s enough sprinkled throughout that chocolate keeps a constant presence and contributes greatly to the overall flavor.


This ice cream does a tremendous job of putting a cold and melty twist on eating Sno Balls.  The marriage of marshmallow, coconut, and chocolate cake works really well as an ice cream that transcends the novelty appeal into something that is legitimately enjoyable and wouldn’t seem out of place at all in a higher end scoop shop.  The airier, lower milk fat type of base that Dreyers uses works much better than a denser more premium ice cream for bringing home that true marshmallow texture that the Sno Balls experience needs.  Eat this and be happy.

Rating: 8.5/10


REVIEW: Pepperidge Farm Banana Chocolate Milano

Things I don’t associate with when thinking about winter: beach balls, Corona Light, blockbuster films, daylight until 9 PM, and…banana flavored cookies.  Despite the super odd January release date, Pepperidge Farm have chosen the middle of the hypothetical icy tundra to unleash their limited edition Banana Chocolate Milano, so you can get a taste of the tropics while shivering in your mittens.

Opening up the signature tall paper bag I am immediately smacked in the face with that unmistakable artificial banana aroma that will have yellow Runts and Laffy Taffy fans squirming with joy in their long johns.  Just barely coming through beneath the banana is the classic Milano semi-sweet chocolate that rounds out the smell of this tropical treat.

The bite mimics the smell in that it starts with a strong banana candy flavor that smooths out and finishes with clean semi-sweet dark chocolate.  The crumbly pale cookie is a lovely middle ground between soft and hard, with no notable sugar or shortbread taste.  The Milano in general is fairly dry, but the inclusion of banana makes it feel a bit more moist and bright.  I’ve gotta give Pepperidge Farm credit for putting out a different flavor than what is expected, and overall the flavors deliver on what the description promises.  While the banana flavor is definitely rooted in candy, the cookie as a whole isn’t too sweet and shouldn’t be a turn off unless you hate banana flavor, which I’m sure many people do.

My issue with these cookies is the same one I’ve always had with standard Milano – there simply isn’t enough filling.  While the regular Milk Chocolate Milano is fine but pretty basic, the Double Chocolate version is awesome, with extra snap and deep cocoa flavor that allows the outer cookie to be plain but successful.  The other flavored Milano I’ve had – orange, mint, and raspberry, are better than the milk chocolate because of the added layer of flavor, and these are no exception, but I still wanted more.  Perhaps 25% more banana or a touch more chocolate could have taken these to the next level, but as it stands they still need a little more pop to compete with the best.

Rating: 7.5/10

REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition Frosted Strawberry Donettes

There’s something appealing about mini things. Mini cupcakes, mini peanut butter cups, personal pizzas, sneaky baby bottles of booze…and, donuts, or, Donettes, as Hostess appropriately calls them. These miniature tire-esque circles of sugary delight have always tempted me, and what better time to be lured by temptation than the season of love? To help get our love juices flowing, Hostess have injected their already aphrodisiac-laden chocolate Donettes with another aphro-treat – strawberry, for a fiery start to your Valentine’s Day morning.

Biting in there is a predominantly sweet but slightly tart strawberry flavor that breaks through the chocolate and stands out pretty powerfully on its own. The two flavors compliment each other well, with the bite beginning on chocolate and gradually transforming to berry, leaving a distinctly artificial strawberry presence on the tongue.  While the taste is artificial and candy-like in nature it isn’t too overwhelmingly sweet, which would have made it difficult to eat more than one or two (not a problem).  Fake strawberry tends to be more agreeable and easily executed than cherry, and these little dough balls are no exception.

The strongest element of this Donette is its texture. The outside, while still having that classic Hostess waxy element to it, is incredibly soft and thin, giving an airy snap when chewing.  That outer coating is a very distinct texture that for whatever reason works better on mini donuts than any other kind of snack cake.  The inside is very moist, and may be the freshest tasting Donette I’ve ever had from Hostess.  This could be the seasonal advantage of buying a limited item close to its release, as the expiration is still six weeks away and I’m reaping the benefits, or it could just be the luck of the draw with this particular batch.

Is this a better junky nosh than the classic chocolate frosted Donette with the yellow inside? Nope, not for me; but it is a solid limited release that is much more worthy of burning your calories than even some of the standard editions, like Glazed. It’s got that breakfast cereal-y, Sunday morning strawberry pop that you will find either nostalgic or gross, but for $2 on sale at Target it’s hard to go wrong if you find the plump little fake chocolate ‘nuts as comforting and strangely delicious as I do.

Rating: 7/10

REVIEW: Girl Scouts S’mores Sandwich Cookies

New year, new cookie. It is officially Girl Scouts season, where we will be charmed and delighted at the sight of tables outside of grocery stores throughout February and then dodging them making excuses in March. Fortunately, at the 2017 price of $6 per box, the Girl Scouts are making the excuses for us, but with with the introduction of the brand new S’mores sandwich cookie I allowed myself to get Scout-swindled once more to entertain my own intrigue.  The sandwich combines a graham cracker cookie with both chocolate and marshmallow creme, much like Oreo did two years ago in May of 2015; but we’ll let the delay in innovation slide since these are being hustled by 8 year old girls in funny outfits.

The smell is all honey and chocolate, combining for a lovely sweet s’mores perfume. The graham flavor in the cookie is light but present with a golden and slightly salty finish that crumbles nicely and surprisingly dominates over both of the cremes inside. The chocolate is more pronounced than the marshmallow, which seems to do more to tame the cocoa flavor than actually provide any vanilla-y marshmallow flair. To be fair, marshmallow is more of a textural play than it is a highly identifiable flavor, and the sweet ‘mallowy-ness is there in tandem with the chocolate.

The chocolate itself is on the milk side, with no deep bitter or cocoa flavor – much like the classic Hershey’s bar commonly used to make s’mores around the camp fire (or in your microwave if you’re me, stoned at 1 am). The creme is incredibly smooth, not too sweet, and very pleasant.



The cookies have a variety of fun Scouty designs printed on the back

As with most sandwich cookies I find the flavors to be more interesting and enjoyable when they’re broken in half, and these s’mores are no exception. When you eat the cookie side on its own the graham comes much more to life, and the creme side reveals a really well balanced milk chocolate flavor. Eaten as a whole the cookie is still good, and conveys the flavors of the classic combo, but the specific notes are much harder to pinpoint.

Quality-wise I think this cookie ranks up there with the Girl Scouts’ best in Do-si-dos, Tagalongs, Samoas, and Thin Mints. They don’t dethrone any of those from being a potential new champion, but they bring a solid effort and new crunch to the seasonal Scout lineup, especially since the S’mores Oreo are currently RIP.

Rating: 8/10

Note: the s’mores cookie roll out has another version depending on your location and designated bakery, which is a graham cracker with layer of marshmallow covered in chocolate.

REVIEW: Little Debbie “Be My Valentine” Red Velvet Cakes

Shockingly, in all my youthful formative years of eating cellophane-wrapped cakes in Nebraska, and making crazy late night stoned liquor store runs as a teenager in California, I have never had a Little Debbie Red Velvet cake. While there’s no debate that a real homemade, or purchased gourmet cake is far and away better, there’s always been something alluring and delicious to me about all types of snack cakes, and Debbie has a pretty decent record in my book.  Little Debbie Red Velvet cakes can be found year round in square shape, but these are hearts, so they’re festive and full of extra love.

The outer white coating is initially very similar to the one you’ll find on the Zebra or white cake varieties – thin and slightly greasy with a nondescript sweet flavor. At first I didn’t get a tangy cream cheese or whipped butter cream flavor, but on my second cake I started to notice a more unique Red Velvety tang than the usual outer layer.  Maybe it’s my mind playing tricks on me but I am definitely being immersed into a different, more unique flavor experience than your typical white or chocolate bite.

The creme on the inside is the same classic Debbie filling with no added qualities you would associate with red velvet; it embraces pure sweetness with a smooth texture – no vanilla or other distinct flavors. I can’t say that I’m disappointed because it’s kind of what I expected, and secretly the low caliber cake bad boy in me loves this weird trashy oil cream stuff.

The cake on the inside is something new, and not just in its glorious red color. The cake is true to the red velvet flavor, with a light cocoa finish that is far from vanilla but also a much less deep flavor than what you will find in Debbie’s Chocolate Cupcakes or Swiss Rolls. The chocolatey cake is airy and light and relatively complex, and when paired with the coating really does taste like a slice of red velvet cake, albeit a pretty cheap one.

Although the flavor is not exclusively for Valentine’s Day, these little heart cakes are a fun switch up to Debbie’s deliciously trashy lineup. While they may not have the same romantic impact as a dozen roses, they’re certainly good enough to keep you from crashing on the couch, and may buy you enough time to run to the store and get something worthy for your one true love, like a giant Reese’s heart.

Rating: 8/10


REVIEW: G Butter Limited Edition Sugar Cookie Spread

G Butter is one of many small nut and protein spread companies slowly spreading their seed through follows and likes of helpless peanut butter addicts on Instagram (me), and are proving quite successful at doing so. Using a slew of different nuts and whey protein they have flavors ranging from cookie dough to butter pecan to the one that intrigued me the most – sugar cookie. Touting the insane nutritional stat line of 100 calories, 5 grams of fat, 1 gram of sugar, 4 grams of carbs, and 10 grams of protein for two tablespoons I was eager to dig in and see how this was possible.
Visually this stuff ain’t much of a show stopper. It looks like a jar of snot or the worst most pale gravy you’ve ever seen, BUT, it is trying to look like a sugar cookie, which is pale and weird, and is made out of cashews, which are…pale and weird; so, this all makes perfect sense. There are no sprinkles or chunky mix ins of any kind so the spread has a relatively static and flat look that luckily has more flavor than eye candy.
The texture is smooth with the occasional sugary crackle and the flavor favors neither cashews or artificial sweeteners too heavily. The mouth feel more closely resembles the gooey-ness of honey than the fatty richness of your usual nut butter and takes a little while to get used to but isn’t ultimately unappealing.
Sugar cookie is an incredibly delicate flavor and it comes across more convincingly here than most products I’ve had trying to tackle it. G Butter didn’t try to smack you in the face with harsh sweetness, but rather carry the subtleties that make sugar cookies so great – lightly sweet with a well rounded butterniess that coats your tongue.
The side of the jar suggests you put one serving on a plate and microwave it for 10-30 seconds and you will have an actual cookie. To my absolute surprise, it makes a damn good sugar cookie. The cookie comes out cakey and fluffy and smells like fresh baked buttery goodness. Right when coming out of the microwave it’s soft and prone to squishing just like you had pulled a batch from the oven. Using a spoon you can take a bite and get that melty warm cookie texture that tastes and feels completely authentic with no noticeable protein or “healthy cookie” flavor. Let the cookie sit for a couple of minutes and it firms up to a soft texture while maintaining all of that splendid texture and you can hold and eat it like a glorious cookie cake hybrid.



I had some sprinkles on hand so I tossed a few on top. Perfect. Cookie. One tablespoon for 20 seconds. 50 calories, 5 grams of protein.

This cookie rivals or beats any pre-packaged protein cookie I’ve had and is so successful I’m almost surprised they don’t advertise and sell this as a protein dough as opposed to a butter. Really great stuff with insane potential, which if I was rating based just on taste it would rank lower, but factoring in flavor, macros, and creativity this cookie is a keeper.
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.


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.


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.

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

REVIEW: Pepperidge Farm Mint Brussels

Although Milano’s get all the love as the Pepperidge Farm poster child, I am of the opinion that the the lesser loved Brussels are the true GOAT of their cookie lineup.  Sure, the Milano is classic and definitely delicious with its fluffy yet crumbly exterior, but nothing can top the crunchy caramelized sugar cookies nuzzling a snappy layer of dark chocolate that is the Brussel.  Fortunately for Brussel-lovers like myself, this year they got a holiday makeover with the limited edition Mint Brussels.

In good taste Pepperidge Farm have decided not to mess too much with a winning combo and have simply added a layer of mint on top of the already present dark chocolate.  The mint has a nearly identical firm but smooth texture as the dark layer, and comes across like a mint flavored white chocolate, which helps to maintain the already successful and delightful crunch of the original cookie.  Biting in you get that wonderful sugar crunch a la the top of a creme brûlée that is sweet but not cloying at all.  Pairing perfectly with a cup of coffee or black tea, these cookies live up the the reputation Pepperidge Farm have for delivering the most sophisticated and “adult” tasting treats you can find in the grocery store.


Chocolate and mint are a classic combo that works extremely well but is surprisingly easy to mess up.  Oftentimes the mint can be too strong and overpower and other flavors battling for your tastebuds, but these Brussels have managed to hit the balance almost perfectly, with just a touch to be desired.  If I can fault these cookies in any way I would want just a hint more mint from them.  It feels like splitting hairs because one of my biggest pet peeves is a mint cookie or dessert that leaves my mouth with a toothpaste tingle, but the Pepperidge Farm folks could have put a touch more mint into the mix and they would have really sung flawlessly.


Apparently Mint Brussels used to exist with some form of regularity and were discontinued around 2009, but for me these are brand new and I hope they won’t be disappearing as a limited release anytime soon.  Fingers crossed these cookies sell well and 2017 will bring us new limited flavors like the Milano’s get, who have everything from Lemon to Dulce De Leche available year round.

Rating: 8.5/10

REVIEW: Nuts ‘N More Birthday Cake High Protein Peanut Spread

One of the most triumphant moments in anyone’s proper birthday celebrations is the inevitable leftover birthday cake and the ensuing morning of really owning that birth crown and having cake for breakfast.  Thanks to the folks at Nuts ’N More, who are celebrating their fifth birthday, we have one more excuse to have cake for breakfast before our big day with the limited release of their Birthday Cake high protein and peanut spread.


Visually it’s festive as hell, with sprinkles dotting every surface, and the cake flavor is pretty strong.  If I had to officially assign it a cake flavor it would probably be yellow cake, with its eggy density being more dominant than a vanilla or “white” kind of cake.  In fact, there really is no prominent vanilla flavor, which is impressive, as oftentimes companies will label something as cake when its taste is simply vanilla with some decorative flair.  It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what the flavor of “cake” is – sugar, butter, eggs, flour – but we all know it and love it and the essence is definitely triggering that part of the birthday brain.

Of the eight ingredients sugar is the third and sprinkles are the sixth, so the Nuts ’N More folks were being real when they said it was time to celebrate.  This isn’t a low sugar affair like many other protein nut butters out there, which helped them be successful in not having to mask an abundant use of artificial sweeteners or skimp on the ‘sprinks.  The higher amount of sugar also helps keep the butter more solid, with a lot less oil separation than you usually find in Nuts ’N More products.  It required very little mixing when first opened and the initial texture is pretty much the texture the spread stays.

Speaking of texture, this butter is definitely on the grainier side, with a sugar crystal crunch in every bite.  The crunchiness goes beyond the sprinkles and feels like an un-cooked cake batter with its granulated sugar waiting to be baked into fluffy glory.  I can’t decide whether or not I like this textural play and whether or not it was intentional.  It doesn’t bother me but I also kind of wish it had the velvety smooth texture of one of D’s Natural’s peanut-based Fluffbutters.

The crunchy texture issues get greatly remedied when used as a spread on a warm piece of bread and not eaten straight out of the jar like a savage (my preferred method).  Putting the spread on a toasted english muffin and letting the cake melt into the yeasty crevices smoothed out the texture and gave it more velvety satisfaction – I can imagine this would be insanely good on a stack of warm pancakes or waffles.


Overall this is a solid-tasting protein spread that would be a welcome addition to any breakfast, snack, or dessert, and is a fun way to switch it up from regular or flavored peanut butters.  For the extra sugar I’m not sure it’s different enough from their Salted Caramel or Toffee Crunch flavors to warrant ordering online for the average consumer but I will certainly be scraping my container clean and savoring every spoonful before my actual birthday in January when I will eat as much real cake as humanely possible.

Rating: 8/10

REVIEW: Fit Joy Winter Peppermint Bark

Ho ho ho!  Not content with leaving the biggest holiday of the year with only one cheat clean savior, Fit Joy have taken a stab at the mid-2000’s favorite chocolate fad with Winter Peppermint Bark.
Immediately and unmistakably this bar screams Christmas. The aroma of white chocolate and peppermint twirl and whirl their way out of the wrapper like ballerinas in the Nutcracker while red mint flavored crisps line the top like lights on a tree. Unfortunately, after taking your first delicious bite you’re left wondering whether you just kissed the sugar plum fairy or took a secret swig off of some 100 proof peppermint schnapps – this thing is MINTY.

Much like Fit Joy‘s initial Mint Chocolate Crisp bar, the peppermint in the bark version is still too strong. Peppermint extract (“natural flavor”) is such a sharp flavor that it can be easily overdone, and this bar suffers in that regard. What works here, though, is that the yogurt dipped vanilla-y presence of the rest of the bar helps hold back some of the mint rush and is much more balanced than the brands first minty attempt. Whereas Mint Chocolate Crisp hit with the force of a York peppermint patty, this bar simply tastes like a peppermint bark where the chef got a little buzzed and heavy handed with the mint.


Had Fit Joy rolled back about 20% of the mint flavor they would have had a second seasonal home run on their hands. Still gotta give them credit for tackling a white chocolate/vanilla/etc twist on peppermint and not just being content with a single limited release.

Rating: 7/10