REVIEW: 7 Select Pumpkin Spice and Maple Sandwich Cookies

If you’re keen to the thrill of the junk hunt you are probably used to floating in and out of all the usual haunts – Target, Safeway, Walgreens, Walmart, etc. – but what the casual hunter may not know is the secret land of 711. Of course, we all know that they stock most of the iconic chips and candies by the big companies, but they also have an in house “7 Select” brand that’s cranking out some impressive products as well. I’ve covered a number of really good ones on my instagram – Pumpkin Spice Madeleine’s, Reese’s Brookie, and Colossal Peanut Butter Cup to name a few, and now am making the plunge to advance their autumn cookie duo to the big boy blog.

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Pumpkin Spice Sandwich Cookies:

These cookies are kind of strange. They don’t really smell like pumpkin spice at all, and have a generic not-that-sweet biscuit kind of aroma. The very pale wafer up against the very neon orange creme is bizarre, and the flavor isn’t too far behind. There is almost zero spiciness to be found, not even cinnamon, but they do taste like pumpkin. The vegetal squashy pumpkin flavor before it gets spiced up is somehow present, and while it is impressive, it isn’t all that enjoyable.

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The texture is less desirable than an Oreo as well, with a stiffer bite and dryer crumble than the cookie it’s trying to emulate generally offers. While I find the Pumpkin Spice Oreo to be a bit too mild for my tastes but overall tasty, these are even milder and don’t have the classic textures and nostalgic flair to back em up. Simply put, these aren’t disgusting but they taste pretty cheap, and are one of the weaker spiced offerings I’ve had this season.

Rating: 6/10

Maple Sandwich Cookies:

These cookies have a lot more promise, as immediately I can say I have never in my life had a half chocolate half vanilla cookie sandwich with maple creme. In fact, the combination of maple and chocolate is very rare to come across itself, and these practically jumped out at me off the shelf. A big sharp hyper-sweet maple aroma also jumps right out of the package as I open them, and I’m very glad I won’t have the scrounge-for-flavor experience that the pumpkin version provided.

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Yum! The maple flavor is big and sugary, sharing a lot of common traits with a good ole bottle of Log Cabin. It’s artificial but in a pleasant junk food kind of way and not overwhelmingly cloying or fake tasting. The textures are still less fresh and desirable than an Oreo or Joe Joe, with slightly stiff, almost too firm creme that freakishly holds its place with authority. The two-toned wafter action looks cooler than it tastes, but there is a mild bitter cocoa flavor that comes up to compliment the fairly bland vanilla one, and the execution overall works. These have a much stronger maple flavor than the Waffles & Syrup Oreo from earlier this year, and while they may not compete with the best leaf cookie, for 99 cents I’ll gladly take six more.

Rating: 8/10

Found at: 711 (99 cents each or 2 for $1.49)

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REVIEW: Baskin Robbins Belgian Waffle

In my funny fantasy food mind I’ve got a number of dream ice cream flavors. A truly satisfying spin on peanut butter banana, white chocolate blueberry basil, popcorn and anything, a caramel ice cream that utilizes real peanut butter as a swirl, and the list goes on and on. Above all else though, I’ve always wanted a pancakes and syrup ice cream, and this year, my dreams nearly come true. The September Flavor of the Month at Baskin Robbins is Belgian Waffle, which combines a maple praline ice cream with Belgian waffle pieces, pralined pecans, and a creamy caramel swirl.

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On my first spoonful this ice cream is already fantastic. The maple praline ice cream is smooth and rich with a wonderfully balanced maple flavor that is present but not too over the top sweet. The addition of the praline brings some richness and depth so there is a touch of nuttiness that pushes beyond just a pure syrupy sugar flavor that maple can fall victim to. Maple bases are few and far in between for mainstream companies, and this is one that I would love to see offered on a more regular basis.

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The pralines, just like in one of my favorite BR core flavors, Pralines ‘N Cream, are positively top notch. Super gritty and sugar-coated crispy crunchy, they bring huge textural contrast and a big burst of sweet yet fatty pecan flavor that is nostalgic magic to my tongue. They work very well in tandem with the thin and sweet caramel that weaves its way in and out of every bite, adding syrupy depth to the base and more fun melty contrast. The caramel seems to enjoy pooling itself around the big chunks of toffee-ed nuts for an extra sweet pop of indulgent breakfast delight.

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The most intriguing and risky part of this flavor is the waffles themselves – and overall they work pretty damn well. The waffle pieces are soft and fluffy chunks of Saturday mornings finest, and have the chewy cakey texture most baked goods take on in ice cream. They’re mostly small to medium sized and integrate themselves into bites rather than take over like a massive mix-in. It’s hard to distinguish any particular buttery or eggy nuances, but there is an airy-ness to them that signals waffles, and given the context of the maple and praline it all makes sense and tastes truly delicious.

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When I manage to isolate one of the waffle pieces and eat it on its own, there’s a bit of maple flavor that comes through in the dough as well, which helps drive the overall waffle experience to new heights. While my fantasy flavor may have been pancakes and syrup, I will admit that I think the slightly tougher exterior of a waffle is a better fit for ice cream, and the execution here is about as good as I could hope for.

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I had very high expectations for this scoop and it really lived up to them. Baskin Robbins essentially took one of their top five best flavors and added maple and waffles to it – brilliant. This is one that is worth the trip to the shop to try, and my favorite monthly special so far this year.

Rating: 9.5/10
Found at: Baskin Robbins ($2.99)
Quick Nutrition: 4 oz scoop – 280 cal – 14g fat – 260mg sodium – 34g carb – 27g sugar – 4g protein

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REVIEW: Limited Edition Waffles & Syrup Oreo

Maple is one of my favorite flavors, but let’s be real, when most of us say we like maple we mean a flavor covering some kind of indulgent carbohydrate.  Maple syrup smothering a stack of pancakes or the cavernous crevices of a crispy waffle.  Sickly sweet icing on top of a beautiful fluffy doughnut.  Lusciously whipped frosting inside of a layered walnut cake…you get my drift.  Maple is a sweet vessel we use to coat other sweet things and create straight up deliciousness.  In a move that seems like it should have been done three years ago, Nabisco are finally giving us maple-heads what we want with the Waffles & Syrup Oreo.

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Eagerly ripping into the package unleashes a pleasant, but very slight, maple aroma.  The smell is actually much more reminiscent of graham crackers than it is waffles and syrup, but there is some lovely buttery notes floating out.  While I love me some buttery golden graham, I expected more from the nose on a package that has tantalizing drips of runny syrup on it.  

Biting into the cookie as a whole is more of the same, but even less maple-y than I got from inhaling the Oreo perfume.  Much like the smell, the flavor takes me to graham crackers, with just a touch of maple and smidge of golden butteriness but no bread-y waffle notes.  There is some maple there, but it is incredibly subtle with a soft finish that is mostly vanilla and sweet, but tastes deeper than the regular white filling, kind of like the difference between white and brown sugar. 

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Isolating the creme on its own also doesn’t give much of a maple vibe.  The creme is two-toned, mostly white with a brown circle in the middle, but there is no discernible flavor difference between the two, and they both taste mostly like slightly less sweet vanilla Oreo creme.  Again, there is a tinge of maple presence on the finish, but if I didn’t read the title on the package I never would have guessed these were supposed to be waffles and syrup.  Interestingly, though, when I eat the side of the wafer with the creme on it, open faced style, I get a little bit of a smoky bacon flavor, and it’s probably the closest to breakfast the cookies have tasted.

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These Oreo’s taste good, and they certainly won’t be finding their way into my trashcan, but for something that could have been so delicious they’re ultimately a miss in execution. Have the people at Nabisco never had a maple leaf cookie?  That seems like a good place to start when doing research on a waffle sandwich but I guess they just opted to revert to their already made golden wafer and fill it with a subdued creme. 

To my buds the Waffles & Syrup Oreo are have the reverse effect of the Candy Corn and Peeps variety, which taste just like Golden but sweeter.  When I saw the two-toned creme I thought there would be a different texture like the Filled Cupcake, with a more liquid-y maple center surrounded by buttery flavored creme but…nope.  I never expected these to TRULY taste like warm waffles, but I at least wanted them to taste like a chug of Log Cabin, and really they’re just a maple-kissed vanilla Oreo.

Rating: 7.5/10
Found at: Safeway ($4.29)

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REVIEW: Cap’n Crunch’s Limited Edition Blueberry Pancake Crunch

Pancakes have played a pivotal role in my culinary journey.  They were the first thing I ever learned to cook when I was five years old, are the breakfast I have every Christmas morning, are my most often customized and changed entree, and the only reason why I own a plug in griddle.  I even memorized the recipe from the Joy of Cooking book, which I have since adapted and incorporate blueberries whenever I can get my hands on them.  Blueberries work so well in pancakes that I often wonder if they were created solely to be cooked in cake or muffin form, so I was elated to learn that the Cap’n had caught onto this perfect combo and wanted to package the flavor in cardboard form to deliver Cap’n Crunch’s Limited Edition Blueberry Pancake Crunch.

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Opening the box delivers a big sugary aroma with the sharp undercurrent of maple syrup.  It’s hard to explain exactly how the two smells work together, but there isn’t a specific blueberry essence as much as there is just standard breakfast cereal “sweet”.  Trying the cereal dry has a satisfying sweet and slightly salty crunch, with some but not a ton of distinction between the tan and blue colored corn and oat balls.  You would think that the two different colors would function similarly to the Cap’n’s crunch berries, but they taste much more like each other than they do two separate flavors.  There’s a touch more maple in the tan balls and a hint more berry sweetness in the blue ones, but still no dominant blueberry flavor, especially when compared to a cereal like Tiny Toast.

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Adding in some milk really drives the maple smell to the foreground and I’m excited.  The moisture from the milk helps bring the flavor together and definitely reminds me of a maple-y pancake, although not one studded with my favorite baking berry.  As the blue cereal balls towards the bottom get more soaked in milk they give off more blueberry vibes and I’m starting to see the full flavor be revealed before me.  Interestingly, as I sit contemplating over my empty bowl the flavor that lingers in my mouth IS blueberry, which is pleasant, but a bit of a surprise considering it didn’t play too big of a role during most of the chomping.  The leftover milk has absorbed a good amount of the maple flavor and tastes like cold creamy syrup, definite A+ cereal milk satisfaction.

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I’m not going to be unreasonable, but it’s worth noting that none of the other nuances you would expect from pancakes like butter, eggy-ness, or buttermilk can be found here; but there is a golden sheen from the maple that will remind you of the classic griddle cake.  Is it as delicious as a piping hot short stack bursting with berries and drowning in syrup?  No, of course not, but it is a maple-forward cereal with some berry boost and a satisfying sugar snap that is right up there with Peanut Butter Crunch as some of the Cap’n’s finest work.

Rating: 8.5/10

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