Cranberry Citrus Oat Newtons Fruit Thins

If you remember my post about cereal, you’ll know that it often gets the short end of the stick come breakfast time. Well, like cereal, cookies rarely ever get their due when I need a snack. I’ve been spoiled with a plethora of good homemade cookies so I rarely give notice to their storebought counterparts. That’s right- I’m “that guy” who turns away Girl Scouts when they’re selling cookies. Recently, Nabisco came out with a cookie that seemed to combine the best of Nabisco Fruit Crisps with the eponymous Fig Newtons with different, if not eclectic, flavors and a strange dearth of marketing. It was almost refreshing. Nobody was telling me to defriend ten friends on Facebook to get a free pack of Fruit Thins in a “Thin your Friends” campaign. The Old Spice Guy wasn’t hawking these. It was great, but strange. It was only when Keepitcoming Love spotted these in the grocery store that I remembered them and decided to try them out for Healthy Month.Three of these little buggers will set you back 140 calories. With three Oreos at 160 calories and three Chips Ahoy cookies at 160 calories, they didn’t seem to have much of a health advantage over any other leading brand. But I’m a sucker for an interesting flavor and the package looked like it provided a thick, soft cookie with a jammy filling.
Well, as you can see, I was a little off base. The cookie is rather flat with a wide surface area and isn’t filled, but studded with dried fruit pieces. That was a little disappointing. The bag, a neat resealable dealy like ground coffee, had thirty cookies inside. At $4.29 at Stop and Shop, this puts them above the average price of most cookies. The initial flavor is oaty and nutty and very heavy on the citrus, with more of an orange flavor than any other. The cookie base really reminds me of animal or graham crackers, with a buttery and slight salinity. The cranberries are only slightly present in the cookie, more as a textural irregularity than an additional layer of flavor. It was good and different from what I normally encounter in snacks, but not impressive enough to warrant the price tag. Maybe I’d have better luck with the other flavors. If you’re hesitant, too, don’t fret. Just wait a little while- with the lack of marketing and high price, this looks like a product we’ll see on bargain shelves six months from now.

A. Fieschi Mostarda di Cremona

Where did all the apothecaries go? As I write this I feel like I’m giving the weltschmerz laced air of a woman who has seen it all and bought the t-shirt. Granted, I have never seen an apothecary, but I would trade the sterile, monochromatic blandness of Walgreen’s Pharmacy for those musty coiffers. The closest thing I’ve found lies in foreign groceries, the kinds in small cities where dust comes free with every purchase and meat comes in alive and often leaves alive as well. This particular treat resembles those murky jars with mysterious contents and comes from First Tracks as an intriguing gift. With a little research, we found that mostarda di Cremona is a condiment from Northern Italy consisting of preserved fruits in a mustard powder sauce. Despite looking a lot like alien eggs, it’s quite a unique regional product. It’s one of those things that has been around for centuries, unbeknownst to most of the American population. I had not heard of this prior to receiving it, making it that much more intriguing.First Tracks advised us to consume the little fruits with preserved Italian meat, like proscuitto, but before that, we had to perform an initial investigation. In other words, I needed to touch that fruit. It’s not every day you get to pry tiny fruits out of a gel-filled jar. The fruits inside were mainly stone fruits- peaches, nectarines, pears, and such, but also included a tiny orange. The consistency was thicker than a standard canned fruit syrup and more like a corn syrup texture- just as sticky. It had a spicy, sweet scent. The strangest thing about it, though I suppose this was more disorientation strange than actually strange, was that it tasted exactly like mustard, though with this thick, syrupy mouthfeel. Definitely unique.
The little fruits inside were surprisingly firm with mushiness only from the baby pear. When we cut into them, they harbored a crystalline, jellied texture reminding me of solidified polymers and tasted like the sauce in varying degrees. Out of all the fruits, the orange worked best with the spicy gel, the rind infused with a bitter, sweet flavor and a citrusy zing from the oils. I’d definitely try chopping this up in sesame noodles or on top of some roasted chicken. It was the kind of flavor that really seems to impart its sensations on other foods. We wanted to try these in a traditional application, so for dinner tonight we made a prosciutto and fresh mozzarella pizza with a few sliced fruits on top. Keepitcoming snacked on a few slices with some pieces of prosciutto as an antipasto. To drink, we took the cava and basil cocktail from The Roost and tweaked it to our liking. The end result was casual, and yet decadently sophisticated, something I could see myself eating out of the fridge as a snack or serving as a light summer lunch to friends. We extracted the little gems and sliced them into translucent wedges on top of the pie. Though we tried to wash some of the syrup off for fear of burning, a good deal of it seeped through the pizza crust and caramelized into a sticky area underneath. However, this was no problem- it transformed an unseasoned crust into a delicious, savory sweet treat! It did make it a bit difficult to handle. The flavor of the fruits really changed during the cooking process. The orange still remained the most intense and sauce-infused, but the peaches were gelatinous and juicy. The overall flavor was a charred, meaty, juicy spiciness, like pineapple ham or citrus marinated meat. On top of the pizza with crispy mozzarella, it was absolutely heavenly. A natural combination- meat, fruit, and cheese, just seemed to be bumped up another level as it was paired with peppery, piquant flavors. The heating element seems to be tricky- heating it too much dilutes the full spectrum of flavors.If I hadn’t already loved such a combination, this would have rendered me into a convert for sure. I was surprised at how versatile a condiment it was. I think my next step would be to incorporate this into a dessert, perhaps as a key ingredient in an individual crisp or mixed in with some ice cream. It really defied its hyper-specific ingredients, creating a delightful and universal set of flavors for all seasons.

Archer Farms Blueberry Pomegranate Real Fruit Twists

My suitemates and I are obsessed with Target. Ever since we won a gift card for the third most awesome looking suite, we’ve been buying snacks by the dozen. Third most awesome. That’s going on the resume. Likewise, Keepitcoming and I love the snacks at Target, so most of my life is infused with Target joy. When I reviewed the Sharkie-like fruit twists a month or so back, I was enamored. Now there’s a new flavor in town. A powerful flavor. A powerfruit flavor. Blueberry pomegranate.Pomegranate is hit or miss. For that matter, so is blueberry. When done correctly, it can be satisfyingly sweet with the perfect balance of herby, tea flavor and fruity love. When done badly, it’s astringent yet achingly sweet, like being saddled up and strapped by Daria. Or Pepper Ann. Ah, Rule 34 at its best. In this case, they straddle somewhere in the middle. The chews are very aromatic, moreso than their strawberry mango counterparts, and smell sticky and slightly chemically. Luckily, their flavor fares much better. They are not very pomegranate heavy, but rely more on the sweetness of the blueberries and taste natural rather than relying on artificial additives.Again, I loved the chewy texture on these, because they had that organic graininess and jammy lush mouthfeel, but they had to be at least twice as sticky as the last ones with that strange wet, slippery feeling. It made me want to wash my hands or wipe them on the couch. Overall, though, not a bad snack.

Quaker True Delights Wild Blueberry Muffin Instant Oatmeal

I always wing a silent prayer to the Flying Spaghetti Monster as I dive into my first bite of foods that try to imitate other foods. It just seems a little farfetched, like the Flying Spaghetti Monster himself, to spend so much time and research money to make a food only to have it taste like something else. And then it’s like a cruel joke- to the blind.

“Wait, the fuck is this? I ordered a muffin.” LOL!

That’s actually not funny at all. But I outsource my writing these days, so blame India for my problems. Quaker True Delights Wild Blueberry Muffin Instant Oatmeal, aside from being a card-carrying member of the Obnoxiously Long Title Association, does exactly that- play a cruel joke on my mouth by failing at both the food it attempts to mimic and the actual food form it comes in. I usually trust the Quakers as far as philosophy and oatmeal go. It’s a brand that has stayed unwaveringly familiar after all these years, despite a failed advertising scheme with the ever-obscure Jordin Sparks, now relegated to informing America about products that ensure healthy bowel movements and artery declogging. Ahem. The man on the box isn’t nearly as scary as the Burger King. And it’s a healthy and easy food to make.I’m sure you already know by now that this does not taste like a muffin. Far from it. Maybe gas station muffin batter, whatever that means. But I was surprised when this fell far from my normal expectations of Quaker Oatmeal. It was pretty bad. From the get-go, the oatmeal, after being mixed with boiling water, had a creamy, slimy texture, suggesting the addition of a creamer for an experience with more indulgences than Tetzel. Hey-o! The flavor was even stranger. Despite being dotted by small, turd-like “wild blueberries,” about as “wild” as shrunken testicles, it carried the burden of tasting identical to the unpleasant combination of both lemon and coffee creamer. No joke. And the coffee creamer was actually a welcome change compared to the strangeness of the other flavors. The blueberry flavor disappeared in the strange myriad of all the other flavors and when isolated, tasted fake. Come on. Even McDonald’s makes syrup balls that actually taste like syrup.It seems as though Quaker, in a brazen foodglomerate experiment, tried too hard on the “muffin” aspect of their oatmeal and rested on their laurels with the oatmeal. Too bad, because that’s the main reason why I ate it in the first place. Otherwise I would have eaten a freaking muffin and left it at that. Quaker normally scores high with their breakfasts, but in this case, seems like too far of a reach to guarantee success on.

Tsubu Tsubu Orange Hi-Chew

Hi-Chew, like most Japanese candies, undergoes more flavor changes and makeovers than Ru Paul and frequently keeps updating its line of limited edition and regional candy flavors. Needless to say, it can be difficult for a food blogger to keep up with the trends, especially with the high overseas shipping prices it costs to import them. But every so often, my local Asian grocery will have a few new flavors for me to try out.

This flavor plays off the idea of using Japanese onomotopoeia as a textural component. In this case, “tsubu tsubu” refers to the sensation of chewing little bits of something hard within something soft, similar to bubble tea or in this case, fruit rind bits. The candy is made up of a soft, chewy orange center and cream-based outer later studded with pieces of orange rind or imitation rind.If you’ve had Hi-Chew, you’re familiar with the alluringly unique texture. It starts out rock hard and tough to chew, and then melts away into a creamy, taffy-like sweet that lasts for about a minute before you’re able to swallow it. The pieces of rind don’t interrupt the smoothness of the candy at all, rather, they meld quite nicely into the overall experience.The flavor is mainly orange and cream, like a slightly more intense creamsicle, but with a hint of mint at the end that reminds me of the short-lived Crest orange toothpaste with a much better execution. The little pieces of orange rind provided a slightly bitter counterpart to the sweetness of the candy and gave a nice bite to the chew. I definitely enjoyed these. They weren’t the most unique or unusual Hi-Chew flavor I’ve tried but offered an authentic and satisfying taste.

King Leo Soft Pomegranate Puffs

Whoa, son, “soft right out of the box.” Probably great for these candies, not so much for Justin Timberlake and a certain SNL song, if you know what I’m sayin’.

You know what I’m sayin’.

Anyhow, these were some puffs from King Leo that I did not want to pass on. Despite being more of the “hugs not drugs” type, I know my puff. This is not a puff. It’s a hard candy. I expected these to be the love child of melting restaurant mints after the check comes and marshmallows, conceived to a soundtrack of Billy Squier’s “My Kind Of Lover,” but this was not the case. It was less of a beautiful hybrid and more of a discounted mutt with a heart, harboring a mediocre texture with a fascinating flavor.The pomegranate flavor of these starts out accurate, like sucking on a few fresh pomegranate seeds, but then turns acidic and a little bitter and invades the mouth as the puff breaks apart. I really enjoyed sucking on the outer shell before it separated. It’s difficult to bite into these because they seem to have a thin candy shell, like that of the Earth’s, before exposing the inner core. It’s an odd texture, because after it gets soft in your mouth (whoa!) it pills off in small pieces and dissolves shortly after. One puff is just enough because after that it’s just sour and sweet enough to adequately satiate.This is the most accurate pomegranate flavor I’ve had in a candy, and for that, I would order these again. On someone else’s bill. However, get this essence into pomegranate chews or smokeable rocks or something because the puff is not a matching vessel for the flavor.

Polar Natural Pomegranate Seltzer

I feel like seltzer really toes the line of drink preferences. Soda is obvious, you either like it or you don’t, and then you’re a giant pussy. Juice is great until you’re six, and after that, it’s just a mixer. Albeit a BITCHTASTIC mixer, but still. Energy drinks are only appropriate if you’re 14 and raging at the world or in college and studying for finals. Milk is all across the board because everyone has different preferences of fat content, and everyone over the age of 10 in most countries has a glass of wine with dinner, but seltzer is a wild card. Like Mr. T. It’s pushed aside for more palatable beverages, but can be a tasty addition to beverages or a decent stand-alone drink.

I’ve always seen it as a cop-out to a real beverage- not enough fruit flavoring and/or artificial colors to warrant being an alternative to juice, and not enough excitement to be lumped into the soda conglomerate. But then the PR department of seltzer decided to revamp that shit for the 21st century, yo, so now the good citizens of America are faced with difficult flavor choices such as Georgia peach, triple berry, watermelon-basil, or vanilla.One of my phabulous suitemates, Ptaradactyl, was kind enough to let me borrow not only one of her Polar Springs pomegranate seltzers, but also a shot glass to photograph it in and drink out of because I am Classy Spice in this crib. The seltzer is noncaloric and boasts luscious pomegranates on the front of the can. That is literally all I can say about this, and that’s coming from someone who regularly composes 1,000 word write-ups about limited edition hamburgers.

The soda is harshly carbonated with a nicely prominent pomegranate flavor. The scent is stronger than the flavor, which is a little disappointing. It’s not sweet, but is tart and is a much less pungent than pomegranate juice. This is a good selling point, as I tend to get tired of the sour flavor of that particular libation. The aftertaste tastes a bit saccharine, less like fruit and more like Fruit 2 O.If I were to have this again, I’d probably use it to dilute some juice, but as a stand-alone beverage, I’m not very inclined to keep drinking it. I suppose I need a little more flavor in my drinks, because this just feels a little too unsatisfying for regular consumption. Mad props to staying true to the fruit, though.

Archer Farms Strawberry Mango Real Fruit Twists

I’m always a little skeptical of foods that have the disclaimer “real” in front of them. Does it need to be stated in print? I mean, that stripper told me she had a real penis. But that’s a different story. On a whole, I tend to enjoy grocery store food lines, like Archer Farms and Nature’s Promise, so when Keepitcoming and I saw these Sharkies-esque fruit snacks in Target, (or Tar-Jay for the socialites) we were immediately intrigued. Could these take the place of our beloved, though difficult to procure, shark-shaped fruit snacks?

The answer is yes. A thousand Great Whites screaming “yes” before they tear into their victim’s hapless, vulnerable flesh. These are delicious.They’re bite-sized tiny braids of intertwining flavors- strawberry and mango. Two flavors I’d expected to be distinctive of each other, but in most applications, may have been muddled. Separating the flavors was a smart move, as they really melded perfectly. The tartness of the berries and the sweet mango tastes completely natural and jammy. The fruit snacks themselves are the perfect size and have a nice, pulpy chew to them with a resistance similar to fruit leather.The best part about these is that fifteen of them is only one hundred calories. And they’re all natural and good for you, at least in comparison to other fruit snacks you could be consuming. We nommed these quickly and are excited to have found such an accessible alternative to Sharkies. Highly recommend these to those who can handle them. Infants and crying babies not included.

Hot Lips Pear Soda

They used to call me “Hot Lips” in high school.

Okay, I can’t even take that one seriously.

Just the fact that there’s a soda out in this world called “Hot Lips” allows me to bring that seldom used phrase out of my traditional application (addressing masseuses) and into the actual world. It might be more satisfying than those deep tissue kneads and the happy endings, too.

For a soda with four ingredients, I’ve never had a more satisfying and flavorful beverage. It does what commercial drinks and LOGO have been striving for for ages- puts the fruit front and center. This wasn’t even my favorite of their sodas, but we drank up their others before we even had a chance to photograph them, and the pear looked the most dramatic against tweed.In order to better facilitate my drinking experience, I decided to conduct a little experiment. I took a plane out West a few weeks ago for the sole purpose of breaking into the Harry and David factory and nabbing a few of their pears, which I then took home and pureed through a sieve a couple of times before achieving the perfect pear juice. That was mixed with some carbonated Voss water I’d had lounging around, and was poured together for comparison with the Hot Lips soda.While the aforementioned event never happened, the Hot Lips end of the deal couldn’t have been closer to the truth. These sodas are pure, and not in a Facebook quiz resulting in 58% purity or a high school “virgin”, but genuinely pure. They taste like the fruit they represent. Mired in a society whose latest and greatest culinary births involved blue raspberry and the Blackjack taco, that’s a big fucking deal. In the case of the pear, it wasn’t cloudy as Food Junk’s soda had been, but was still lip-smackingly good and smooth in the mouth. The pear was mellow with a slightly citrine flavor. After drinking, my only two wishes were that the carbonation was a tad higher, going from gentle bubbles to more of a bite, and that the soda came in large 7-11 jugs. My third wish was for a small harem of puppies, but even the charm of Hot Lips can’t grant that.

I’m saving my last bottle of this like I’d save a 1968 Chateau D’Yquem. I’m probably going to bring it out at my winter gala if I feel the crowd is right, or perhaps get Keepitcoming a half case as an early Christmas gift. These are well worth the cost and fantastic for any soda connoisseur.

Boo Berry Fruit Roll-Ups

Holy cow, it’s fucking October. I now have a reason, nay, a motivation, to start breaking out the sweet Halloween snacks. Now that I have a Target a mere five minutes away, temptation beckons with her sweet painted fingernails and shows me a bounty of Halloween themed edibles that need to show up on the blog.

So bear with me for the next month and let’s hearken back to the imaginary filaments of my youth- a Hollywood tainted childhood coupled with Fruit Roll-Ups, Lunchables, Capri Sun, and Hey Arnold. Finding these Boo Berry snacks was a double header for me, because not only did it combine the crushing yearly disappointment of Boo Berry, but also brought me back to the 4th grade.Swagger and I sat in his impossibly adorable car and ate these to an audience of shoppers. They were jealous of our swag and we knew it. Everyone who has passed through elementary school knows the basic composition of a Fruit Roll-Up, so I’ll cut to the chase. Quintessential chemically creamy smell, often printed with pixelated images that put Girls Gone Wild to shame, and flavored with any fruit on a slab of candy resembling linoleum. For the record, I am proud to say that I have never seen acai berry in one of these.Unfortunately for Boo Berry, it fails to deliver any of my completely unrealistic Halloween expectations. I mean, you don’t understand. I opened seven packages to find the best dyed picture of Boo himself and got almost nothing. The flavor was simple, despite acting under the name Razzle Boo Blitz. Pimp or fruit snack? It was like eating the dried remnants of blue raspberry sno-cone syrup, and wasn’t really anything to write home about.If I looked really closely, I saw a slight sparkle, so I’m assuming this was either a small, snappy design snark at Twilight, or the aftermath of a night of watching Big Money Rustlas and eating burritos. Aside from that, it was pretty standard.

Nevertheless, this was a much better start to Halloween than filming myself dancing to The Monster Mash in my dorm room. I hope you agree.