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: Hostess Cinnamon Sugar Crunch Donettes

As a weekly host and attendee of Cinnasluts Anonymous meetings I’m always on the hunt for new ways to get my fix. I’ve got four different types of cinnamon on hand to sprinkle on everything from fruit to chicken to vegetables, and of course a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cinnamon Bun Oreo’s, a couple stocked bags of Cheetos Sweetos, some apple cinnamon yogurt, a bottle of Pepsi Fire…and the list goes on and on. As I was perusing the grocery store to stockpile more cinna-goodies my body came to a jolting stop right after passing the cinnamon swirl bread and into the snack cakes…Cinnamon Sugar Crunch Donettes. That’s right, Hostess have put a spicy spin on their tasty crunch mini donuts, and to be honest it’s such an obvious twist I can’t believe this hasn’t already been done.

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Opening the tall white bag it’s no surprise I’m greeted by a sweet wafting cinnamon sugar smell that is fresh and lovely. The donuts look soft and glisten with a locked in moisture that is a great sign for $2 grocery ‘nuts.

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Biting in the two stated flavors, cinnamon and sugar, and very well represented and lean towards the sugar with a nice crystallized crunch, completing the trinity of living up to their names’ description. The prominent flavor is sweet, but the lovely aromatic spiciness of cinnamon lingers in the back and keeps them from being too sugary. While I love a good punchy, almost spicy hot cinnamon, the balance here is spot on and reminds me of a well executed streusel crumble on top of an apple crisp.

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The texture inside is soft and moist and tastes very fresh. The donette doesn’t crumble at all and has a perfect squish as I chew that works well with the sweet crunchy exterior. These are basically exactly like the classic coconut-leaning Crunch Donettes but with cinnamon, which makes them automatically better, and feel much more authentic to a real donut than a gas station pick-me-up.

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I always loved the straight forward cinnamon sugar cake donuts at mom ’n pop shops for their simple flavors and emphasis on the crispy cake-y dough. They were also the most successful donut I ever made the few times I tried going from scratch at home, and as a result they will forever hold a special place in my heart. While these donettes aren’t as good as the real deal, they’re closer than any other variety I’ve had from Hostess, Little Debbie, or TastyKake at channeling the classic flavors of a bare bones donut shop, and they don’t taste cheap or artificial at all. Whether you love cinnamon or just a quick fix to go with your morning cup, these are one of the strongest baby cakes you can buy.

Rating: 9/10
Found at: Walmart ($2.00)

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REVIEW: Hostess Golden Cupcakes

Childhood nostalgia is a helluva drug.  The sights, sounds, and flavors of our youthful formative years trigger powerful associations of the best and worst of times, and when it comes to junky snack food those still-developing tastebuds can hold onto memories of food that was mind-blowing at the time and may or may not hold up to the standard of a full grown and seasoned palate.  Among the best examples of such memories are my experiences with snack cakes, which, before I understood the magic that could happen inside of a real oven at 350 degrees, were some of the best things in the world.  One of my favorite snack cakes was the Hostess Golden Cupcake, which since the bankruptcy scare in 2013 I hadn’t seen back on shelves, until now.  Amidst the slew of mint and berry flavored treats that pop up during the spring are these once semi-standard now semi-rare iteration of the cellophane cupcake that combine frosted yellow cake with a creamy filling and the signature Hostess squiggle.

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The cakes look and feel just as I remember – soft and spongy with a greasy sheen that only a true chubby child can appreciate and look at with adoration.  The top chocolate layer is hard and much more resembles a shell than frosting, but if it was slick and gooey that would be far too natural and probably make me ill.  The smell is sweet and very reminiscent of the Chocodile, or more simply put, chocolate covered Twinkie.  Going in for a bite I’m afraid the nostalgia got the best of me as this really does just taste like a chocolate covered Twinkie in hamburger shape instead of hot dog.

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The cake itself is moister than what you get with most Twinkies, but it doesn’t have any special yellow cake flavor, and the golden element here is really just bland, sweet cake that does nothing to excite my tastebuds at all.  My favorite part of yellow cake is the distinct eggy-ness you taste from the use of tons of egg yolks, and while I knew I wouldn’t get that much of an authentic flavor, I got absolutely none of it and my favorite rare childhood Hostess release is letting me down like when the young aspiring athlete finally meets Tom Brady and he shrugs him off to step into his limousine.

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The chocolate layer on the top is also boring, with just a hint of cocoa flavor and a predominantly sweet and grainy texture that adds nothing to the overall experience.  The creme filling on the inside is exactly what you would expect it to be, but with the rest of the cake being so bland and sugary single-noted, it loses all of its impact and simply blends into a sea of bleh.

The only other limited cupcake I’ve had since Hostess relaunched is the Pumpkin Spice one, which I thought was really awesome, so I’m not sure if my hopes were too high or nostalgia too strong, but these cakes were an absolute miss for me and another forgettable part of what I thought was great in my childhood.

Rating: 5.5/10
Found at: Target ($2.99)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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