Friday, March 29, 2013

The Reese’s Easter Products of 2013!

All that needs to be said are two words: REESTER EGGS!

I believe it was the late Gerald Ford who once said that if one doesn’t enjoy Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, “they’re worse than the god-damned Ayatollah.” Actually, I’m not sure if Gerald Ford -- or anybody else, for that matter -- ever made such a declaration before, but somebody should’ve.

In all my 27.4 years on this planet, I don’t think I have run into any living thing that didn’t like the peanut butter-chocolate cup thingies. Kids, adults, senior citizens, puppies, giraffes; I’m pretty sure that if you lobbed a handful of Reese’s Pieces at one of those giant ass Venus’s Fly Traps that probably don’t exist in the Amazon Basin, they would probably gobble them up like…well, Reese’s Pieces, I suppose.

It being Easter -- one of the biggest chocolate-eating holiday seasons of the year, next to Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving and Armistice Day -- it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that there are a lot of seasonal, limited-time only Reese’s products on store shelves right now. Ultimately, far too many for one grown ass adult to feasibly cover -- if one was to actually plunk down people money on every single permutation of Reese’s Easter product out there, I’m pretty sure you would’ve squandered a small fortune large enough to purchase a moderately used car.

That said, I couldn’t stop myself from highlighting at least a few Reester products. For all of you chocoholics and peanut butt-holes out there, here’s a rundown of some of the season’s more aesthetically interesting Reese’s offerings…

Reese’s Chocolate Eggs!!

These, I suppose, are the most obvious things in the history of anything being obvious. Reese’s pumpkins, Reese’s trees, Reese’s hearts…if you didn’t see these things coming, the only serviceable excuse you can have is that you’re Stevie Wonder.

Yeah, it’s a fairly boring shape (I mean, shit, how exciting is something oval-shaped, anyway?), but choco-craftsmanship here is pretty respectable. Unlike some of Reese’s earlier seasonally-shaped products, the peanut butter cups here actually look pretty uniform in appearance, so unlike Hershey’s earlier attempt to mass manufacture edible Christmas trees, you probably won’t be seeing any mushroom cloud or hyper-phallic candies when you unwrap a package of dese delicious sumbitches.

If you’ve ever enjoyed a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup before (and even if you are deathly allergic to peanuts, you better have), you will know what to expect here; absolute, utter deliciousness, only differently shaped this time around. I’m not sure words in English can adequately describe how great these things taste, so I shan’t squander our time; just note that these things are Reese’s cups, through and through, and that ought to be enough to satiate anybody.

Reese’s White Chocolate Eggs!!

In nature, white elephants are pretty rare. White rhinoceroses, I have heard, are even rarer. But as atypical as those aberrations of zoology are, they don’t have kaka on the elusiveness of these ivory enigmas.

I don’t know if there’s some sort of massive, subterranean hoarding fan base with virtually no online footprint for these things, but apparently, somebody is buying up these things FAST. Literally a DAY after seeing a new shipment of these things being stocked at a local big box mart, they were picked clean from the seasonal candies section. I mean, gone. Long gone, as if the huddled masses leapt upon the display like vultures tearing up a wildebeest carcass. Hell, this package here was literally the last one in the grocery store - - had I waited just a millisecond longer, assuredly, these things would’ve never ended up in my buggy.

I’ve never had a white chocolate Reece’s product before, but after tasting these delectable slices of manna, I am DEFINITELY going to keep my eyes peeled for whatever future white-choco offerings the brand shats off an assembly line from hereon out. After ingesting just one of the candies, I suddenly realized why individuals may feel the need to mass-store these things; as good as the regular peanut butter cup may be, these things are easily TWICE as fantastic as the standard choco-cup. Why these things aren’t listed as Schedule II narcotics is evidence enough that the FDA just ain’t doing shit nowadays…

Reester Bunnies!!

There have been some great portmanteaus over the years, but I think the linguistic car wreck of “Reese’s” and “Easter” may very well be the greatest made-up word anyone has ever dreamed up. Just say it a couple of times: “Reester.” It’s like your tongue is riding a slip-and-slide over your bottom lip and diving tip first into an inflatable pool of IHOP’s boysenberry sauce.

Despite the linguistic thrills the nomenclature gave me, I really can’t say I was too impressed by these “Reester Bunnies,” for one primary reason; they are made out of milk chocolate, which is clearly inferior to the normal, dark chocolate that people can actually eat. Even the creamy, delicious nucleus of peanut buttery protein in the sternums of these things couldn’t mask the fact that the exterior shells tasted like hardened Ovaltine; if there’s something out there grosser than milk chocolate, I don’t want to know about it.

If you are looking for a saving grace with the Reester Bunnies, you can perhaps find such in the skillful “design” of the candies. As you can (kinda’) see here, the chocolate is actually sculpted quite nicely, with lots of detail carved into the treats. Granted, it doesn’t make up for the fact that the item itself tastes like day-old Nesquick, but it might help. Some.

(A Really, Really Big) Reester Egg!!

While Hershey has released “Reester Eggs” in various incarnations and sizes (as we have explored above), I think it’s impossible to talk about this year’s assortment of Easter goods without directly addressing the veritable Big Daddy of vernal equinox-timed Reese’s candies; ladies and gents, meet THE REESTER EGG to rule over all other REESTER EGGS…

This mammoth chunk of peanut butter cup is basically to normal Reester Eggs what the Big Boo in “Super Mario World” was to the little ghost dudes in “Super Mario Bros. 3.” Yeah, we’re dealing with fundamentally the same territory, but bigger. As in, the size of a small dog’s head, with enough weight behind it that, feasibly, it could be used as a bludgeoning tool, if need be.

Now, the photo here is kinda’ misleading, since the entire candy isn’t completely spherical. While the front, sculpted side is three dimensional, it is worth noting that the underbelly is pretty much flat as a pancake. Even so, we are still dealing with a Goliath-sized chocolate delicacy, and the nutritional info on the back of the box is scarier than most Clive Barker movies; just one of these King Kong-sized eggs is close to 1,200 calories…and ingesting just one of these kaiju-choco-bars will give you more than a day’s worth of saturated fats in one mouthful.

Oh, and if you are wondering? I would say that the composition of the product is probably 75 percent PB, and about a quarter chocolate. And also; I really wanted to gross the shit out of you right then, so mission: completed.

Baskin Robbins Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Buzzer Beater!!

I’m not really a huge Baskin Robbins aficionado (sorry, but once you’re a card-carrying member of TCBY’s Valued Customer Club, you are a card carrying member of TCBY’S Valued Customer Club FOR LIFE), but as soon as I saw an ad for this thing in the local paper’s coupon section, I just KNEW I had to try one of these things.

For the most part, it’s just some Reese’s ice cream, with extra chunks of Reese’s peanut butter cups and a few ounces of chocolate syrup mixed in. But, it’s for-a-limited-time only, and as a commercial tie-in to this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament, only stocked for 30 days. If I didn’t try this thing before April 01st? Folks, I may not have gotten a chance to try it…ever.

So, uh, it was all right, I reckon. It really tasted identical to the Reese’s ice cream you can waltz into any Kroger and buy right now, but at the same time…well, no, I guess that’s all there is to say about it. And since I spent about three dollars on this Lilliputian serving, I could have just as easily strolled into the nearest Wal-Mart and picked up a full gallon tub for the same price. I’m not saying I got hosed here, but…[insert sound of a hose being turned on, and subsequently making spraying sounds.]

For those of you not in the loop, both chocolate and peanut butter are foods that are notoriously high in saturated fat contents. Over the course of one week, I believe I ingested enough of both foods to insure an ensuing colonoscopy, or at the very least, the inability to move more than three or four feet at a time without requiring a breather for at least until Memorial Day. That said, pretty much everything I tried out that was both Reese’s branded and Easter-themed was pretty good, except for the stuff that wasn’t, which I’ve already talked about.

So, to summarize? Every artery in my body is clogged with choc-o-dust and peanut residue. And also, there area lot of Reese’s products out there for you to try this Easter. Not that the two are interconnected, in any way, shape or form, of course

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The All New Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos - - REVIEWED!

Finally, this otherwise worthless trifle we call “life” has meaning again…

Last spring, Taco Bell gave the Doritos Locos Taco -- a popular Southern California delicacy -- a national release. The outcome was a coast-to-coast phenomenon, with the item going on to become the fastest selling menu offering in the fast food chain’s history.

To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the highly popular hard-shell product, Taco Bell recently unveiled its spiritual “sequel” to the original Doritos Locos Taco - - the all new Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco. Much rejoicing…and with it, corresponding bean sauce-stained pants…followed suit.

As a consumer, you may be asking yourself if an item of the like is truly necessary. I mean, it’s not like the product can taste that much unlike its predecessor, right? Well, talk of the like is clearly the Satanic prattle of commie sympathizers; it’s our divine right as Americans to have as many co-branded, probably-unhealthy fusion snack-fast-food abominations as financially feasible, and the only downside to the matter is that there aren’t more Doritos flavor-flavored tacos out there on the market place. If Benny Franklin were alive today, he’d probably be down at the local TB, two-fisting the new DLTs while singing the praises of modern capitalism. Well, that, or complaining about not being able to own slaves anymore, I guess.

The first thing you need to note about the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco is the packaging. As you can see here, the wrapper scheme is mostly white and blue, indicating a certain “cool” vibe that the marketers behind the item clearly wanted to communicate with would-be consumers.

Additionally of interest is the text printed on the wrappers. There are a lot of “in-your-face” messages scrawled on the packaging, sort of a throwback to the 1990s style of advertising that tried to threaten you into purchasing foodstuffs out of fear of getting your ass kicked. I especially dug all of the hash tags sprinkled liberally around the wrapper. Clearly, this new Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco is intended to be something more than a lunch time purchase; it’s truly intended to be the first ever SOCIAL MEDIA TACO, a multimedia experience much more than a dining one. Based on advertising alone, the intent from Taco Bell is clear; you’re not just supposed to EAT the new Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco, you’re supposed to TWEET the new Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco. But, uh, I would probably still advise NOT taking a picture of yourself naked eating the new Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco and uploading it to SnapChat, though.

I suppose that, in some ways, it can be considered environmentally unwise to wrap an already wrapped-in-cardboard foodstuff in a fairly needless second protective barrier, but I disagree, for the most part. The translucent wrapper “clues” you into the contents of the thing you already bought, with the cardboard Doritos Locos Taco holder shining underneath the translucent exterior packaging like an ethereal spirit. It gets you excited for not just a dining experience, but in some manifestations, a spiritual one, as well.

The cardboard taco holders are actually flip-sided, with one side - a dark blue hue - reminding you that you are eating a new Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco, while the opposite side - this, a red hued one - informs you that the original Doritos Locos Taco is still available for purchase.

There isn’t much to say about the newfangled Cool Ranch wrapper, other than the fact that it a.) has the name of the product emblazoned upon it, b.) it is mostly azure in appearance, and c.) you can conveniently fit a taco inside it. Courageously artistic, this design choice may not be, but you really can’t fault the thing for it’s functionality, I suppose.

As before, the Bell has granted us two varieties of Doritos Locos Taco; for a smaller fee, you can acquire a standard Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco (pictured here), and for a couple of extra cents, you can obtain a “supreme” version, which in addition to shredded lettuce and cheese, also contains a fair amount of sour cream and diced tomatoes.

As you can see, there’s quite a bit of difference between the two products. What I found most perplexing, however, is that despite the additional contents of the supreme iteration, it’s still very much the same shell size as the standard DLT. It even fits in the same cardboard holder, in something of a minor affront to how physics work. I would probably advise chipping in the extra quarters for the supreme version, if you have to make a choice between the two; hey, a couple of really big tomato chunks are worth it, I say.

As for the shell itself? Unless you have the world’s least impressive Mutant Power, you probably won’t be able to distinguish one of the new Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos from a standard taco, unless you are up close against the item and witness the gleaming Cool Ranch speckles that are lined around the top of the taco. Unlike the previous DLT, your hands don’t become as coated in junk food dust as soon as you touch one of the shells, so here’s to the R&D techies at Taco Bell University for remedying the absolute largest complaint anyone could have about the first wave Doritos Locos Taco.

Now, as for how the newfangled DLT tastes? I actually preferred this one quite a bit to the original model. As stated before, the fact that one’s hands don’t turn the same color as a sunburned Oompa Loompa by grazing the product is a major boon, and I think the subtler Cool Ranch taste is much preferable to the kinda’ blunt, super corn-chip taste of the DLT 1.0. As yummy as the product is, however, I was still a little disappointed by the general vibe of the product; yeah, you do get something of a Doritos taste when you bite into one, but beyond that? It’s just a standard taco, with all of the regular taco fix-ins. As a HUGE fan of the Loaded Grillers released earlier this year, I was anticipating a little more innovation from the almighty Bell, and while the new Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco didn’t leave me unsatisfied to any large degree, I still would’ve liked to have seen TB take this gimmick to the next level. How about throwing in some Fritos-flavored croutons or any awesome, proprietary guacamole sauce next time around, guys?

That said, the stuff, as expected, is pretty edible, filling, and worth at least one taste-test. Will the Cool Ranch new breed set the world afire the same way the first round of Doritos Locos Tacos did? Eh, probably not, but if you have a hankering for something grossly-tantalizing at 2 in the morning, it’s an ever-present option, I suppose…

Monday, March 25, 2013

JIMBO GOES TO THE MOVIES: “Oz The Great and Powerful” Review

I can think of at least two ill-fitting adjectives in the title of this movie…

When Sam Raimi makes a movie, the final product generally takes one of four potential forms. When he’s firing on all cylinders, the end outcome is modern, American cinematic gold -- “The Evil Dead” and “Spider-Man 2” immediately spring to mind. Then, there are his movies that, while mostly enjoyable, feel a little intentionally light and empty; “Drag Me to Hell” and “Darkman” are probably the two best examples from his oeuvre. Then, there his movies where he’s trying so hard to not be Sam Raimi that you can almost feel the DVD itself straining to not throw in a Three Stooges sight gag or display a hurdling object zooming towards someone in first-person. “For Love of the Game” and “A Simple Plan?” I find both of you guilty as charged.

And then, there are the films where it’s apparent that he just doesn’t give half a good goddamn what he’s doing, and the final dividend is just straight up rubbish. There are still innocent victims being pulled out from underneath the cinematic wreckage of “Spider-Man 3,” I hear.

Raimi’s latest is a film that seems to be something of an interphase between “OK” Sam Raimi (he who gives us “Crimewave” and “The Gift”) and the Sam Raimi that’s just churning out stuff because it’ll result in a paycheck of some kind (anybody remember “M.A.N.T.I.S.” or “Cleopatra 2525?”)

“Oz The Great and Powerful” isn’t really a bad movie, per se, but it’s certainly underwhelming when taken as a whole motion picture. There’s plenty of great ideas to be found in the movie, and the aesthetics, as expected, are pretty great, and there’s even a few really clever elements to the script, but none of those things add up to a cumulatively engrossing movie-going experience.

Problem number one, of course, is the “source” material. Even thinking about approaching a property as beloved as “The Wizard of Oz” is usually a recipe for disaster, and Raimi’s lame attempt to subvert the matter (“it’s not a remake, it’s a re-imagined prequel!”) is an insufficient cover-up for the fact that there’s hardly anything new to be found herein. Hell, at least “The Wiz” had a cameo appearance by Richard Pryor as an evil robot head that shoots fire at stuff.

Raimi’s flick, in an obvious homage to the 1939 original that actually wasn’t the original, begins with a lengthy black and white sequence, in which we are introduced to Oz, a down-on-his-luck, philandering, conning, conniving and generally douchey stage magician that makes a living (barely) by hustling country bumpkins and abusing his best friend while he makes “Police Academy!” sound effects behind the curtain. Oz, in case you weren’t aware, is played by James Franco, who I swear, is actually David Arquette in disguise. Go ahead, look at them side-by-side, and tell me we are talking about two different people here.

So, we’re introduced to a bunch of seemingly one-off characters (a gaggle of Oz’s bitter romantic conquests, his best girl -- who is about to get married to someone else -- and even a paraplegic girl that wants the phony Oz to use his “magical powers” to heal her of polio. All the while, a tornado picks up steam in the background, and well, you know what’s destined to happen next.

After getting sucked into a funnel, Oz finds himself awakening in the pastel, 3-D, wide-screened wonderland of Oz (yes, both the main character of the film and the location of the film have the same moniker) and he runs into Meg Griffin, whose wearing a really funny looking hat and way too much red lipstick. Anyhoo, she tells Oz that he’s been prophesized by the oracles of Oz to just fall out of the sky and save the kingdom from the tyranny of an evil queen. So, yeah, it’s pretty much the same thing as the ending of “Evil Dead 2,” really, only with less chainsawing and arterial explosions.

Sigh...why couldn't have "The Quick and the Dead" gotten this much merchandising muscle?

So, Oz enters, uh, the kingdom of Oz, and he runs into Rachel Weisz, who plays one of Meg Griffin’s sisters, who claims that their other sister is really all evil and shit. Of course, Rachel Weisz’s character is actually the evil one and the hitherto unseen third sister -- played by what’s her name from “Dawson’s Creek” -- is actually the only one of the sisters that’s worth a damn, and yeah, you don’t care. At one point, Oz decides to do a Scrooge McDuck cannonball dive into the Emerald City castle’s treasury of golden riches, and despite only knowing him for about five minutes, Meg offers to marry him so they can co-rule the kingdom. Eventually, Rachel Weisz manages to send Oz on a wild goose chase, in which he’s supposed to kill the “evil-but-actually-good” witch, and along the way, he runs into a horrifying, wise-cracking CGI monkey in a bellhop uniform and a living porcelain doll that lives in a kingdom of teapots called “China Town” -- probably the best bit in the entire movie, as far as I am concerned. And oh yeah, did I mention that all of these characters are somewhat modeled after people we were introduced to in the film’s sepia-tone first half? Well, they are.

The movie really hits a snag once Oz and his buddies enter the suburbs of Oz, where the suspiciously multiracial community consists of men with curly mustaches and women with even curlier ponytails. Oh, and that black midget from “Bad Santa” plays a stagecoach driver, because if there’s one thing the ‘39 “Oz” lacked, it was blatant racist subtext.

Eventually, Oz, his monkey sidekick, his china doll liability and Michelle Williams decide to wage war against the combined forces of Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis, who gets turned into the much more traditional, hook-nosed, green-skinned witch-y poo we usually associate with L. Frank Baum’s works after her sister feeds her a poisonous apple. I think it was around that point that, amidst a small ocean of assured “Once Upon a Time” fans in the theater, I stood up and yelled “that’s not even the right license!” before being shot with literally dozens of disappointed gleams.

The denouement involves the evil winged baboon forces and eleven foot tall nutcracker soldiers of the Emerald City taking on a junta of Oz communitarians. I’m not sure if Raimi is trying to make some sort of snide comment about the rift between the rural and the urbanized here, but a pivotal plot point to the film is that, under absolutely no circumstances, are the citizens of Oz allowed to kill anyone or anything, while the denizens of the Emerald City are some hyper-violent mofos that have no qualms about killing everything and anything. Like I said, no sly sociopolitical context going on here, at all.

Of course, Oz and his brigade of common, decent country folk, simple industrial laborers and, uh, midgets, concoct an elaborate ruse implementing the main character’s carny-knowhow to trick the Emerald City forces through video projectors, scarecrow automatons and plenty of firecrackers. I can applaud Raimi for incorporating a (largely) nonviolent ending to the picture, but at the same time? There’s no way around the anticlimactic dullness of the film’s final twenty or so minutes.

Unless you are an idiot, you’re not even going to ask if this film is on par with the 1939 film. For that matter, I reckon it’s not even on par with “Return to Oz,” and let’s face it, that movie kinda’ sucked a little. Even though Sam Raimi is a registered Republican, and hence, I should have suspected nothing of the sort, I was just a tad disappointed that the director didn’t touch upon the super-socialistic roots of the source material - - bet you didn’t know that “The Wizard of Oz” is actually a hyper-allegorical tale about populism and the plight of the lower class, didja?

As before, I didn’t hate the movie, but I certainly didn’t enjoy it all that much either. It has some decent moments, and I guess you’ll stay awake for most of it, but at the end of the day? All we’re talking about here is a yellow brick road to disappointment.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Round-Up of Little Debbie’s EASTER-themed Snack Foods!

Nothings says “the noble death of our lord and savior” like kite-shaped brownies and marshmallow paste, no?

Tertiary only to Halloween and St. Valentine’s Day, Easter is probably THE third-most day of the calendar year to partake of that most American of pastimes; ingesting huge quantities of sugar-encrusted, pseudo-chocolate materials, hopefully the kind that are shaped like peculiar objects or animals.

The same way Little Debbie takes full advantage of the Oct. 31st and Feb. 14th candy season blitzkriegs, my favorite snack cake company formed by fanatical Seventh Day Adventists seizes the seasonal-Easter-candies market like a big, fat, diabetic hand clutching a tube of cookie dough each and every year. Already impressed by the company’s most recent holiday campaigns, I have to say the Almighty Deb has gone about twenty miles further than any reasonable conglomerate would have to for this year’s egg-hunting, Jesus-dyin’ season.

All in all, I ended up buying SEVEN different varieties of LD-branded, Easter snack-goods this year. There’s actually quite a few more out there, I believe, especially when you quantify all the slight variations out there on store shelves. Just to prove to you that capitalism is the most just of all possible economic systems, yes, you do have the option of chowing down on either pink OR yellow tulip-shaped cakes this spring. If that wasn’t worth the American Revolution alone, I don’t know what is.

To begin our whirlwind tour of Easter goods, I decided to start with a fairly aberrational product; a box of edible Boston Celtics logos. Yeah, these Shamrock Cookies aren’t Easter-themed products, per se, but since St. Patrick’s Day is in the same month as Easter, it might as well count, damn it. I’ve never really been a huge fan of shortbread cookies, and I can’t say that these booger-green concoctions won my over, either. I really liked the fact that each cookie was shaped completely unlike the others in the box, though; for example, I ended up with one that looks about as perfect a facsimile of a three-leaf clover anyone could feasibly bake, and another that looks like a bush that’s had glittery green vomit puked upon it.

I have some difficulties adequately describing what a “Marshmallow Puff” looks and tastes like. I guess the best way I would describe them would be neon-white, sprinkled-speckled bowler hats, filled with what appears to be several melted marshmallow Peeps on the inside. Now, I’m not saying these things are gross, per se, but when you take a bite out of one of ‘em, your mouth just becomes flooded with sugary filling that, on the texture scale, is somewhere between warm pillow stuffing and hot Elmer’s paste. That, and let’s state the obvious, here -- those things like rather Johnson-y, no?

You may recall my tackling of LD’s Valentine’s Day “Marshmallow Treats” back in February. All in all, these re-branded items are pretty much the exact same product, only with rice flakes that have been dyed more Easter egg-ish colors. Texturally, however, we’re dealing with the exact same flavor as the general stuff, so as soon as you bite into one, the snack ends up sinking its way all the way to your gumline, until it looks like you are wearing a Rice Krispie mouth guard. It’s not a bad little delicacy, but outside of the Jerry Garcia color scheme, it’s absolutely nothing you haven’t tried before.

By and large, Little Debbie’s brownie cakes are usually pretty good -- despite tasting identical, no matter which holiday is being exploited. This year, LD has unveiled TWO sets of Easter-themed brownie cakes; one shaped like some neon-hued eggs, and the others? Some kites. Yeah, it’s a pretty uncreative decision, but there’s really not that many Easter icons you could feasibly mass market in snack cake form. I mean, heck, the least these guys could have done is made some brownie power lines to get our brownie kites stuck in, no?

These Easter Basket Cakes are somewhat similar to the afore-mentioned Marshmallow Puffs, although these, I must say, are nowhere near as gross looking or tasting. It’s your standard Little Debbie snack ultimately; a chocolate shell on the outside (complete with totally unnecessary sprinkles), some spongy cake stuff on the inside, and at the nucleus of the product? A gooey, sugary core of pure vanilla crème…stuff. And also, the cakes are shaped like octagons, so they get bonus points for making me feel like I’m eating an Ultimate Fight in the process.

And lastly, we come to the crème-filled Tulip Cakes, which are your standard “light-sponge-cake” offerings. Only covered in bright yellow (or pink, if you prefer) icing. And also, they are shaped like tulips. If you have ever had a sugar-injected sponge cake before, you’ve probably had this thing before. But if you haven’t had one shaped like spring-time flora, though…well, you probably haven’t, to a certain extent. I guess.

So, there you have it; a somewhat comprehensive round-up of Little Debbie’s seasonal, Easter-themed snack cake things. There’s nothing really outstanding on the docket, and if you eat more than three of them at a time, it will probably make you dry heave or something, but you could probably find worse ways to spend $14.32 American on stuff. Alas, if you’re just looking for a decent snack cake to get you through the workday? Try any of these offerings, and you’re likely to have a Good Friday…you know, as long as you’re eating them on a Friday, I suppose.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Mountain Dew Kickstart!

Like we NEEDED an excuse to drink Mountain Dew first thing in the morning, anyways…

“My heart, my heart,” those poet laureates/one time inspiration for a Sega Genesis pinball game Motley Crue once sang. Even though that song was probably written about doing heroin or something, I think it’s also a fitting quote to describe what the brand new “Mountain Dew Kickstart” beverages will do to your central nervous system. “When I get high,” to re-phrase the immortal echoing of one Vincent Neil, “I get high on Dew.”

I’m not really sure why the new Kickstart beverages are on store shelves, but here they are, anyway. At first glance, you would probably assume they were just another fly-by-night energy drink, and unless you are brushing right up against a display -- and the cans are turned in such a manner that the “Mountain Dew” logo on the aluminum is visible -- you’d probably never be the wiser.

There are a lot of MD variations out there, and what makes these two remixes different is that they’re intended for breakfast consumption (as if most of the people reading this don’t consider Mountain Dew Pitch Black to be appropriate dining at 8:30 in the morning, as it is.) All in all, the marketing angle here reminds me quite a great deal of the failed Pepsi A.M. putsch from way back when; and if you don’t know everything there is to possibly know about that little debacle, you really ought to.

So, we get two different flavors here: the red can is called “energizing fruit punch,” while the orange one is called “energizing orange citrus.” Take a wild guess what the two are supposed to taste like, based on the nomenclature alone.

I recently came into contact with several “The Last Exorcism Part II” commemorative cups, because…I honestly have no idea. I just walked in and found them in the kitchen one day, and as such, decided they would be the perfect implements to conduct my very first (and conceivably, last) taste test of this Mountain Dew of the Kickstart variety.

So, as you could no doubt see, the red can contains very fruity smelling red stuff, while the orange can contains some very fruity smelling orange stuff. I guess the fruit punch variety had a sweeter aroma, but the citrus stuff was, on the whole, more Mountain Dew-smelling (and more tart) than the crimson iteration.

To the untrained eye, I really don’t think too many folks would be able to differentiate these two products from standard cans of Mountain Dew or Mountain Dew Code Red. The orange citrus stuff, especially, looks quite a bit like Mountain Dew of the standard variety, and even does the same bubbling and fizzing that the original does when you first crack it open. Visually, these things look pretty unremarkable, but the scents are totally unlike anything you’d expect to whiff out of a Mountain Dew can. The red stuff smells more like Gatorade than Dew, and while the other variation has a mild Dew scent going on, it still smells a little more sulfuric than your typical can of pop.

I guess you could say that both beverages, as far as hues go, were taking the hyper-vibrant, Technicolor, Juicy-Juice route here. I don’t think anybody would really mistake the electric red and green fluid for something by-god nutritional, but just glancing at the stuff, I suppose one could momentarily mistake them for standard breakfast drinks. The two products tasted pretty much the same, with the red cola having a mildly sweeter, cherry-flavor while the orange stuff was just straight up citrus drank, through and through. Not really my favorite types of drinks in the world, but they weren’t horribly offensive, either.

Of course, it’s basically impossible for me to be in the same room with BOTH beverages and not desire a little soda miscegenation, and the end result was…well, a beverage that I thought tasted WAY better than either of the standalone retail products, really. I’m not really sure what I would call the anti-freeze colored concoction here, as the taste of the fused beverages lingered somewhere between melted Slush Puppy and pineapple cola; all I know is, if you wind up with both colas on hand, I would STRONLY suggest making a little citrus-fruit punch cocktail out of your resources. Hell, I well go on record and say it; it might just taste even BETTER than what you got when you mixed Pepsi Next Paradise Mango with Pepsi Next Cherry Vanilla.

Is there really anything more that can (or at least, needs) to be said about Mountain Dew Kickstart? Well, I’m not really sure these things are destined for a long shelf life - traditionally, breakfast-themed colas have stunk like turds when it comes to sales - but really, it’s the marketing here that’s really ensuring that the variations will sink like a brick. A huge problem here is the packaging itself; the Mountain Dew logos are hardly displayed at all, and it’s a safe bet that 102 out of 100 consumers just walking by the display would never realize that the offerings AREN’T just another boring energy drink. As actual drinks go, they aren’t bad, but they’re not really worth going out of your way to experience, either.

When it’s all said and done, I think we’re going to look back on the Kickstart is yet another example of a soda stalwart overstretching its boundaries and faltering in its attempts to infiltrate an already glutted breakfast drink market. Granted, Kickstart isn’t as bad as Coca-Cola Blak, but it’s pretty safe to say these things are likewise destined to be one-and-done, limited-time only offerings para bueno.