Betty Crocker Warm Delights Minis: Molten Caramel Cake

Warm Delights. It just doesn’t sound right. Like meeting Danny DeVito in a Turkish bath. Or buying a Fleshlight in the same Paypal cart as your grandmother’s birthday present. These warm delights, however, aren’t the product of years in your parents’ basement, though, but are the newest in a line of Betty Crocker microwaveable desserts. I chose them because they’re easy to make with only a little leftover bong water and a microwave, and churn out delicious and fast tiny cakes.The product, the miniature version, is only 150 calories. Not bad for what bills itself as a molten chocolate cake. You probably wouldn’t eat much more if you bit the head off a frog, and it must be tastier, too. Right? The Warm Delights Molten Caramel Cake comes with a packet of what must be cake mix, a packet of caramel to drizzle on, and a bowl. Oddly enough, there are no utensils. Betty Crocker wants you to put this on some fine ass china and make a show of it before your husband comes home and demands a martini.The instructions are easy. Then again, so are the instructions with the Fleshlight. Are there instructions? Regardless, you stir the cake mix with a very precise amount of water that I ignored, choosing to mix when it just got evenly wet, and then drizzle the caramel on. It’s fun to make your own designs with the sauce, too, knowing that it’ll come out after it’s microwaved. We chose to draw a penis and popped it in the microwave.The cake is really freaking fast. 30 seconds, and it’s done. It didn’t really puff up, but, holy crap, it’s actual cake. I don’t know what I was expecting. Maybe the Culkin boys in bathrobes, ew, ew, ew, but there it was, cake in the microwave. I know that mug cake exists, but somehow, I felt lazy and prideful with this simultaneously. That being said, though, for all the hype, it ain’t perfect cake. It’s moist, but it cooked unevenly in some parts and left a strangely textured surface, like the outside cookies of an ice cream sandwich. Moist, but mushy.The taste is all right. It’s definitely chocolate, but the caramel was lost. It somehow seeped down into the cake during the cooking process, and made little pockets in some spoonfuls. What I did taste of caramel was like licking bronzing lotion off of Lindsay “Firecrotch” Lohan’s back after a late night of dancing to Samantha “Celebrity DJ” Ronson’s sick beats. It was buttery, a little greasy, and tasted fake, fake, fake. The portion was good, though, especially for 15 calories and definitely satisfied my craving for instant cake more than a Ho Ho or John McCrea could have, and I’m excited to try the other flavors and see how they compare. A red velvet cake would be swell!

El Monterey XXL Spicy Red Hot Chimichanga

Next up on dorm week, the almighty frozen burrito. For a little over $1, you, too can reap the bounties of authentic chimichangas from…California. Wait, wait, wait. California? That’s not where burritos come from. But my sources tell me there’s some damned good Mexican food there, so behold…the El Monterey XXL Spicy Red Hot Chimichanga.

In all actuality, a burrito and chimichanga are not twins, in fact, on the family tree, they’re more along the lines of kissing cousins. A chimichanga is just a deep fried burrito, which is a tortilla filled with Southwestern and Mexican fillings, like seasoned beef, chicken, rice, beans, and peppers, then wrapped up and eaten on the go. Or sopping up the alcohol after a late night bender at Pink’s.So how’s this? Well, it seems like they confused the chimichanga with its incestuous relative again, because what came out of the package, at around a foot long, was decidedly a burrito. The sandwich is ten ounces heavy, and to give you comparison, I’ve taken the liberty to disclose my weight as a newborn, a mere 11 ounces heavier. Two El Monterey chimichangas = 1 baby Foodette, give or take a few. (And around the same length, too.) The product description says it’s a lightly fried burrito, but when Swagger and I opened the package, we found no clues that it had ever been crispy aside from a distinct puddle of grease on the paper we used as a plate.The chimiburrito’s outside shell is no corn or flour tortilla, and instead flaked off periodically like your Uncle Milton’s dandruff. It was flavored like lard and broken fryers and reminded me of undercooked puff pastry. It sagged in a sad and flaccid manner when we tried to prop it up for the photo and later, while we were eating it, and dripped all over the napkin. This chimichanga needed some Viagra and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s body.

Moving onto the filling, it was supposedly tons of ground beef, beans, and hot stuff to make it hot and spicy. Well, there was a lot of filling, though the amount didn’t create the perfect circle in the photo. But the ratio of filling to shell thing was actually not bad at all. It was just worryingly smooth, like puréed Spam. It shouldn’t be entirely smooth, so the entire eating experience gave us the notion of eating international entrées for infants. I feel like the entire appeal of a burrito lies within the variations of textures within the tortilla, and this missed the fence completely.

Of course, every rose has its thorns and the filling melted into the shell, causing it to mush up and get gloopy quickly and the hot and spicy flavor had already jumped the border back to Mexico. We recommend eating this with the wrapper for extra texture or throwing it out after it’s done cooking. It was like the world’s worst Taco Bell had made this and decided to call it a “Torpedo Burrito” or something. I’d rather visit Gigi in sunny California and get some real Mexican food.

Little Hugs Beverages

Well, color me wary. 24 juice drinks for the low, low price of $3? Without any pandering and possible blowjobs to the American Beverage Company? Sign me up.

Their alibi seems to check out. They’re the first and oldest kid’s single serve beverage in the United States. That seems plausible, meaning that they’ve remained quietly under the radar like a Soviet Spy, letting the other drinks take the flash in the pan spotlight, or that they’re so potent they’re on par with Plutonium and nobody dares take down the beast.

Spoiler alert, it’s option two. They’re cheap, but they’re nothing to shake a stick at. Writing this review even has me at a loss of words. At 12.5 cents a barrel, as they’re iconically shaped, I am quite positive that the exact cost of ingredients equals what you paid for. There’s nothing flashy on these. The plastic barrel is vaguely opaque, reminding me of the equally gross Nik-L-Nips, and comes adorned with disturbing Kool-Aid spawn shaped like barrels, which you will soon tear the heads off and drink their life juice from.

I don’t understand how the Kool-Aid friends play and frolic, because they contain absolutely no source of energy. What I’m talking about is sugar. Each juice is violently colored so that when you imbibe, you’re trying to pretend that it’s flavored like the color, when in reality, they dyed water and called it an afternoon. Let’s start with the least offensive. Aaaaand, that would be orange. It tastes a little like my childhood, at least when my childhood traded childhoods with a kid who ate at McDonald’s twice a week, bringing back a weak, weak flavor of Hi-C orangeade and St. Joseph’s baby aspirin. It’s kind of sweet. It’s relatively harmless. And it only gets worse.The grape color travels faster than the “flavor,” and before you know it, you have a torrent of purple liquid running hell down your throat. Shit. This is water and food coloring. And possibly a variation of cancer. When you look at a full bottle, it sort of resembles a hand grenade. And that’s when you should have stepped back and just said no.There is literally no taste to this other than the bitter hatred of citric acid. It’s a saccharine no man’s land. This should only be used in Gitmo.Little Hugs hears your complaints and bitch slaps you. You want sugar? Okay, here’s sugar. All the sugar that could have been evenly divided between grape, orange, blue raspberry, and your dentist’s cavity bill is shoved into fruit punch, a philosophical quagmire that manages to be watery and intensely sweet at the same time. Is it sweet or diluted? It’s the Schrodinger’s Cat of the bunch. Mac from Always Sunny would call it the wild card. The underlying notes, ha ha ha, are Smarties and cough medicine. It’s a delicious hobo cocktail and, again, is so far removed from fruit punch in its original form. Like chicken rings.
Last, but not good enough to cure your diabetes, is blue raspberry. I never really understood such a concept. Is raspberry so freaking boring that it needs to go to fat camp over the summer and start high school as the sexy new kid? The Wikipedia article is disturbingly sparse. What kind of a mutant marketing firm would commit such an atrocity?I’ll be frank. Blue tastes and smells like antifreeze, but is nowhere as palatable. I’ve written a living will and it’s in the third desk drawer on the left.For fun and in accordance with the side effects of Stockholm Syndrome, Swagger and I mixed each flavor together and created Satan’s cocktail. Grape dominated all of the flavors and we both promptly fainted from the chemical overload. Goodbye, cruel world.I take it back. This isn’t for college students. This isn’t for humans. Or animals. Leave the Little Hugs alone and go buy some Capri Sun. We’re not made of money, but this is getting ridiculous.

SNACKDOWN: The Velveeta Embargo of 1931

WE’RE KICKING OFF DORM WEEK! Featuring a TON of microwavable, frozen, gross college foods for you and me. Especially me, though. Because I’m in a real live dorm. Thanks for all the wonderful birthday wishes and comments! I do it for you.And that’s why I’m kicking off the week with not one, but TWO relatively gross single serving macaroni and cheese cuplets. In the 1920’s and 30’s, Velveeta cheese reigned supreme. That shit was tops, and with the relatively burgeoning Kraft company, it was easy to see how they succeeded.

But a new dog entered the scene. This was Kraft Dinners, more commonly known as the quintessential blue box mac and cheese we all know and love, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Thus, a battle began within a powerful and cheesy nation- the Kraft Company, and the two dinners have been fighting mercilessly ever since.

Today, I decided to try one of each dinner in an easy to serve format, the “easy” cup, and decide for myself who the dairy-laden glory would go to. And thus, a battle began.They look almost identical on the shelves. Small microwavable cups, sandwiched among the Hamburger Helper easy mac that nobody wants because the beef pellets look like rat poison, they’re both blue and orange and kind of unimpressive. Making them is a cinch. 3 1/2 minutes on each, and then stir in the sauce and let them sit. There’s white powder in each of them, but it’s not cocaine. My guess is that it’s evaporated milk. The cheese and noodle shape is where they each differentiate. While Kraft, (and I know they’re both craft, but for the sake of this review, it’s now Kraft) has a powder, Velveeta has a tiny packet of their cheese sauce. And Kraft has those funky elbow noodles, where Velveeta has little shells. After mixing in each sauce, I found that the cheese sauce with the Velveeta definitely adhered to the shells well, creating those little flavor pockets we all love and cradling the sauce lovingly, and thickening up nicely, even going so much as to strand off when I took a forkful. The shells, though, were sometimes a little undercooked and had a habit of sticking together while cooking, like those crustaceans that pile on top of one another, and thus didn’t get the same amount of cheese that the loners had. Still, though, the cheese was creamy, rich, and oddly enough, had a really nice cheesy flavor. A little sharp, very indulgent.The Kraft definitely had the best noodles. They’re those skinny, skinny elbow noodles that always remind me of emo jeans. How can the cheese possibly fit in there? They’re like syringe thickness. But they’re tender and very soft and adhere really well to the fork. They just never slip off. Unfortunately, the cheese sauce is loose in some places and clumpy in others, and somehow, never seems to dissolve completely, with some granulated pieces hanging around. The flavor is much sharper than the Velveeta and the texture is just kind of saucy and wet.They’re both pretty substantial and tasty. Good snacks. But the real deciding factor is the taste and texture. If I had it both ways, I’d mix the Velveeta cheese with the Kraft noodles, but that would cost twice as much and leave me with a gross tasting loser. So, I decided that I can live without the delicious noodles, but it was a very close call.And with that, THE WINNER IS VELVEETA! Here’s to a fantastic start of Dorm Week, and a lifetime of better food for you all.

Happy Birthday, Foodette.

Dear Readers,

This past year, I started a little food review blog on the day I was accepted to Bard College. I started the blog on the premise that I’d catalog my findings and try some new foods, and maybe even make some new friends.

Never, in my wildest dreams, had I imagined such success.

Through 43,508 visits, you’ve seen me struggle. You’ve seen me rejoice. You’ve seen me go through wisdom teeth surgery and Jell-O, various boyfriends, many nicknames, and a hell of a lot of good food. Countless site revisions and even a foray into lightbox construction, and you’ve always been the driving force behind consistent improvement for the site.

I have received countless packages out of the kindness of companies, indulging me and letting me pore through their products. And it’s all because of you. You spread the word. You raised me to a higher level. And this website, readers, is nothing without you.

Happy Birthday, Foodette Reviews. Raise a glass of Riesling, Faygo, or Jones Turkey Soda, and celebrate many more years.

Thank you.

Jess Watsky, the Foodette

Pretzel M&M’s

Well, I think you all know what today is, and there will be a special post about it later, but today is the official one year anniversary of Foodette.

On the food, though, I was pleased to find an awesome birthday treat at Walmart the other day, while shopping with Swagger for Dorm Week. Pretzel M&M’s! For those of us who like pretzels without becoming slaves to the Flipz Industry, these are superheroes. Pretzels are great, but they’re mild. They’re like Peter Parker, Clark Kent, Billy Batson, Arthur Curry, and Jimmy Olson. Nobody looks at them twice and sometimes they’re thought of as being kind of girlish.But put some chocolate on those suckers and, with all the onomatopoeia, these are absolutely insane. They’re the perfect combination of sweet and salty, good and evil, and are pretty darn cute. The pretzel M&M’s are big, smaller than the almond ones but around the same size as a peanut butter M&M, and have a little pretzel inside with the chocolate and candy coating around them. There was a good chocolate flavor and the pretzel inside was nice and crunchy, and I thought the ratio of coating to pretzel was perfect. The pretzel itself had a toasty, crisped flavor, but never tasted overcooked or burnt.Power lies in numbers if you’re a superhero, and this candy falls a little short on that. There were only ten candies in one of the packs we opened and fifteen in the other, so we felt a little gypped. The taste is definitely excellent, but I’d recommend getting a big bag of these. You fall prey to their charms rather innocuously. That being said, these were fantastic at Kick-Ass, and they’re nearly the Skrull equivalent to the ill-fated Crispy M&M’s, so they might just replace peanut butter in the long run.

Canada Dry Sparkling Green Tea Ginger Ale

Today, I was feeling lazy. Like, stay inside all day and make Captain Crunch deliver my physics exam to the professor lazy. Like, lunch on crappy pizza and stay in my pajamas lazy, because it was rainy and cold out and I just wanted to get to know the couch a little better.

I don’t know, though, there’s something about a good mug of tea that warms up my day, but it wasn’t wintry enough for one. Sure, it was cold and gross, but since I’d been feeling summer, I couldn’t get summer from my brain. So there was no way for me to have hot tea, because of my mood and also because I’d run out of mugs.I did have one ace up my sleeve, though. I had a green tea ginger ale that seemed perfect. Canada Dry Sparkling Green Tea Ginger Ale. The list of ingredients is shorter than the name, I swear. It’s a lovely green drink that definitely looks like green tea, and when the bottle is opened, you get a wonderfully refreshing tea scent. From that alone, I was hooked.This is extremely carbonated, with bigger, heavier bubbles resilient enough to pop as you swallow and ensure a nice burp, and the flavor is perfect, like a nice steeped tea taste with just enough sugar to keep it dry, refreshing, and yummy. It’s not overly tea flavored, and it’s not bitter at all. What really weirds me out is that though the title explicitly says there’s ginger ale in this, which I was very excited about, there is absolutely none in the ingredients list. I know that “Canada Dry Ginger Ale” is the brand, but it makes it awfully confusing to the average buyer.

The drink is just titillating. It’s an original concept and a nice variation from an old classic.

Trident Splash Orange Swirl

Trident’s all up in my grill whenever I go to the convenience store, proclaiming a “burst of sweet indulgence.” Chrissakes, they make it sound so epic that I’ll forgo dessert for the rest of my life, and order glazed Trident with an Armagnac reduction at fancy restaurants.

I mean, how indulgent can a gum be? Unless they use vintage sugar alcohols, I just don’t see it. This gum, though, intrigued me, because just yesterday I had extolled the virtues of food pills and ZOMG, here they go again, listening in on my conversations, and making a gum that supposedly emulates an orange creamsicle. One of my favorite desserts.Your tax dollars are working hard, people.

But, rather amused, I gave it a whirl. The gum pieces are pretty big, and they have that hard shell on the outside in a blister pack as opposed to being wrapped in paper. So, points off for the sheer lack of paper chains to make, but I forged on. The shell has a nice crunch, yielding to a soft, vanilla flavor in the gum itself as well as a liquid center with orange goo on the inside.I don’t know how I feel about the combination of textures. With the crunchy shell and liquidy inside, it’s a little like biting into a bug. The gum gets soft pretty quickly and doesn’t require much heavy chewing. The orange integrates well into the gum and makes a nice, subtle flavor that reminds me less of an actual orange fruit and more of a furniture polish, but it tastes nice with the creamy, slightly chalky vanilla flavor of the gum, reminding me of half and half. The flavor is very mild, but tasty.

The gum’s decent. It’s tasty, but definitely doesn’t satisfy my cravings for a good orange creamsicle. Still, it lasts a long time, about 45 minutes to an hour on one piece, and is an interesting diversion from all the strange cocktail inspired gums and mint varietals, so it’s a keeper.

Odwalla Banana Nut Bar

It’s the 21st century, baby, and I’m really pissed. In the millennium, they promised me I’d have condensed food pills. I saw it in all the films and tv shows- The Matrix, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Ren and Stimpy.

And now it’s 2010 and I’m still masticating like a mastadon and feeling oh, so boring. But there are solutions for my problems. See, I’ve found a convenient way to get a good slice of banana bread, with all the flavor and texture and goodness, in a granola bar. It’s the Odwalla Banana Nut bar, and I’ve never had a more similar and tasty bar that reminds me so much of banana bread.The bar itself is hefty, at 2 oz, and feels thick and weighty in my hand. It’s made with fruit and whole cereal grains, so I feel like I can indulge while eating this. The texture is very much like banana bread. It’s very chunky, with plenty of crushed walnut pieces. It’s not sticky, but it doesn’t crumble and has a great chew to it.The banana flavor is very much present, but isn’t too sweet or artificial tasting. It combines well with the spices and oaty, nutty flavor of the rest of the bar and really makes a sweet treat. I feel like it’s just sweet enough to satisfy my cravings, but not too sweet so that it puts me into a sugar coma. I love the chew and heft to the bar and find that it gives me the energy to go. It’s also very filling, so it’s perfect for an afternoon snack accompanied with some fruit or cheese.

Maruchan Chicken Yakisoba

This is a little prelude to next week’s theme, DORM WEEK! Suggested to me by both Swagger and Captain Crunch, my roommate, we’ll start on Sunday and feature foods that are convenient and tasty for college kids. Any ideas? Send ’em here!

So instead of reviewing the sodium-filled Double Down, today I’m kicking off that old college try with a traditional, sodium laden late night meal, the quintessential ramen dish. Except this time, it’s not ramen, but yakisoba. There’s an actual difference in between the noodles, but with a mass produced product like this, it basically means there’s twice as many noodles in the packet.The noodles have that pleasant, wavy shape, and they’re in a great brick. Some people stop here and crumble them into a salad or something, but we’re gourmet and we’re cooking these suckers up. The package comes with spices, noodles, and vegetables. It could be an MRE if it had the self-heating packet and the water, but I’m not complaining. So all I had to do was add the veggies and microwave it up.I, of course, forgot the vegetables and stared at the packet, remembering at the last minute that I was supposed to put them in pre-cooking. There’s a nice selection of veggies, though, and it’s probably all the students will get in a given week anyway. It’s mainly freeze-dried cabbage and corn, but there are some bits of pepper, too.

The ramen comes out and you can drain or keep the water as you like. I drain it because the water is really, really greasy and makes the package slippery, much to my chagrin. It’s a lot like watching liposuction after the noodles are finished. It’s pretty gross. And then I mixed the package of spices in. That’s nothing special, just chicken flavored bouillon in a bag, and that incorporates really well with the noodles. It smells kind of sweet. The noodles are always cooked to perfection, which I like, but there’s a really slippery, greasy texture about them that always makes me want to wash them off. Dirty noodles! There are no icky hard bits, and the chicken flavor is all right. It’s 95% salt and leaves a warm sensation in your mouth minutes after. Hear that? It’s your heart exploding. It’s a little like injecting Lipton soup packets into your arteries, but whatever.The noodles are impossibly long and interconnected, so every single bite you get looks like you’ve stabbed a Fry Kid in the head, and averages to about three bites per package, each the size of a steroid packed meatball. That’s not to say that they’re icky, though. Just gigantic.All in all, they’re good and cheap, unless you buy them at the convenience store here, where they’re $3.49 apiece. I could only stomach a few bite’s worth because they’re just too salty and greasy for me.