Friday, October 31, 2014

Kotas Reviews The Pumpkin Masters Jumbo Pumpkin Carving Kit

Happy Halloween everybody! I absolutely LOVE Halloween. It may in fact be the perfect holiday. You go around, threatening others with vague maliciousness until they give you candy, and you avoid retribution by putting on an elaborate disguise! In addition, you are supposed to scare the bejeezus out of people at the same time! Truly a fantastic holiday that also involves the ritual defacement of gourds. 

As a child, and even into my adulthood, I have always wanted to do Halloween "right". Elaborate decorations, a robust assortment of candy, and scaring everyone who dared approach for said candy. In one way or another I managed to accomplish all of that, except one thing. My parents and later on, myself, were always really really  bad at carving Jack-O-Lanterns. Oh, they looked alright, but they were never particularly spooky or interesting. Well friends, TODAY THAT ENDS. This year? I decided to, with the prompting of my spouse, pick up the product that will solve all my pumpkin carving related problems.

Pumpkin Masters: In Color.
You know, for $5, this is a decent package. You get a plastic scraper thing, a pumpkin saw, and a plastic poker dealy. The label promises "stronger tools", so I'm sort of concerned about what the previous level of tool strength was, but oh well. Onward!

Isn't that spectacular? Hint: No.
So this kit comes with the three tools and five sheets of patterns for various spooky carving fun. The basic idea is that you wet the pattern, slap it on the pumpkin, and then use it as a guide for your carving, the end result being a pretty awesome pumpkin carving. Seems simple enough, right? Right. 

My long suffering wife was actually the one to utilize the tools for their intended purpose. This was decided upon when I was required to put our own Little Monster to bed, in spite of the fact that said Little Monster wanted to stay up and run around. Luckily, I got to help with the clean up and did use all the tools at least once. I also took some pictures.

The lucky victim subject, a hollow shell of its former self.
The directions state that one should cut a hole in the bottom of the pumpkin, and scrape it down to one inch in thickness. The scraper actually works pretty good for this purpose and the pumpkin was mostly hollowed out by the time I arrived on the scene. I used it later for some additional clean up work, and it is a lot faster than using a spoon, simply due to the width of the blunt blade bit. You could probably also use this for light spackling, but that's not why we are here today. The next step is to slap on the pattern and throw some cling wrap around it. Then, the butchering begins.

My face! My beautiful face! Stare into my accusing eyes!
The pattern stayed on really well, surprisingly enough, though the cling wrap we had some problems with. It mostly worked as intended though, keeping the mess to a minimum. One slip up we had was that you are supposed to carve from the inside to the outside, but we ended up doing it the other way 'round. Oops. This caused a few problems with the final detail cuts, as the pumpkin did not have nearly the stability necessary for them.

Sorry nifty belly feathers, you aren't getting cut today.
Most of the cutting is done by using the awl thing to poke a starter hole, and then use the saw to slice through the pumpkin. The awl is kind of cheap as hell. It's bendy, flimsy, and we almost broke it a few times. The saw was considerably better, and cuts fairly quickly through the pumpkin's succulent flesh, but the blade has a tendency to bend a bit during the process, which is good for getting those curved portions, and bad for keeping the blade around for more than one or two full uses. 

All done! Doesn't look like much, does it?
The pattern scraps come off pretty easy, and you are left with your dazzling creation. I don't have much of an eye for such things, Unlit jack-o-lanterns always look odd to me, since you can't really see what the artist intended. But they know what they were going for, and when you add a candle?

It's got it where it counts.
On the FACE Rating System, I give this kit 2 smiley faces. Sure, the tools are kind of cheap, but at $5 for the whole shebang I wasn't expecting them to be particularly sturdy, though the scraper is pretty solid. It certainly enabled us to have a fancy dancy pumpkin this year, even if between us we have all the artistry of a 4th grade art class. True masters of the gourd carving art will want to avoid, but for the rest of us? $5 well spent. In addition, since the majority of the tools are pretty blunt (the plastic awl being the exception), these tools are a lot safer than Ye Old Kitchen Knife around the kiddos.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Kotas Reviews Candy Corn M&Ms

M&Ms were always sort of a stand in for "generic" candy. They were colorful, relatively inexpensive, had the usual array of urban legends associated with them, and they have a catchy slogan. You always knew what to expect from M&Ms and that was chocolate goodness wrapped in a candy shell, sometimes with a peanut accompaniment. Holiday specials were usually limited to different color mixes for the candy shell, while keeping the same old chocolate (and maybe peanut) insides intact.

Through the miracle of modern marketing, M&Ms is making the same leap that Nabisco has with a variety of interesting flavors and textures. We've had Mint M&Ms, White Chocolate M&Ms, Pretzel M&Ms, Crispy M&Ms, Peanut Butter M&Ms, Dark Chocolate M&Ms, Raspberry M&Ms, Almond M&Ms, and even  Pineapple M&Ms. Some of these have been available for a long time, some rotate in an out, and some are only available in selected markets. Which brings us to today's experiment.

He looks about as happy about the situation as I do.
Bask in the gleaming magnificence of marketing ambition. The packaging is pretty terrific actually. Familiar character? Check. Proper logo? Check. Unusual outfit for familiar character? Check. A picture of the damn product itself? Check. Semi-clever usage of an image of candy corn to replace the A in "Candy Corn"? You bet that's a Check. Mars certainly has presentation down pat. Let's rip open the bag and gorge on the innards!

Innards! Hideous piles of Innards!
The color palette chosen for this is pretty obvious: Candy corn is usually white, orange, and yellow, so naturally these would be too. The smell is almost but not quite exactly NOTHING like candy corn though. It actually reminds me more of the most artificial egg nog you've ever smelled than anything. The candies themselves are about twice the size of an ordinary M&M, so I would advise against gobbling them down by the handful. I would advise that for other reasons as well, but this seemed like an important safety tip for adventurous snackers. 

I guess this is kind of like candy corn. Maybe.
The flavor is most definitely White Chocolate laced with what aimed for "candy corn" and ended up with "egg nog" flavoring. I happen to enjoy candy corn (Brach's being my brand of preference), and this is So Very Much Not Candy Corn in flavor. Like, at all. I've never particularly liked white chocolate either, having always considered it the bastard offshoot of cacao extracted sweets. So of course I was predisposed to not like these candies, but coupled with the utter and complete failure of the candy corn flavor I would not recommend this even to white chocolate lovers, unless you happen to really really like artificial egg nog flavoring. 

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 2 frowny faces. I ate my allotted portion, but I do not think I will be eating any more of these. Save your money and just get regular M&Ms or, if you are a white chocolate lover, white chocolate M&Ms. Even die-hard candy corn enthusiasts would be better off just eating some regular candy corn.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Kotas Reviews the Spiced Pumpkin Pie Clif Bar

We are in the depths of pumpkin spice mania and just when I think it can't get any crazier, I am proven wrong. I mean, I have nothing against pumpkin spice but I'm not sure if I want my entire range of snackables and other assorted goodies to be saturated in the nutmeg and cinnamon tide. Today we question whether the world is even ready for one such product. I present to you, the Spiced Pumpkin Pie Clif Bar.

So, why is he climbing a snowy mountain? Because it is there!
Clif Bars are my go to breakfast these days. They are fortified with various nutrients, convenient to haul around, come in durable packaging, and don't mind being crushed under the weight of 40 pounds of trail gear when you get right down to it. One thing they aren't is particularly tasty. I am rather fond of them, but it is an acquired taste. I must admit I do like the packaging here, with the change to a "winter" theme. I suppose Pumpkin Pie spans both Fall and Winter, really, but it seemed a non-traditional aesthetic choice. Let's rip this bad boy open.

Stripes are totally in this year.
Well, it looks sort of like a mashed up slab of granola paste, and that is pretty much what a Clif Bar is. This one, however, has stripes of icing. Why? No idea, some of their bars do, and some do not. The scent is very heavily spiced, full of nutmeg and cinnamon and something pumpkin related, if not full on pumpkin. It smells an awful lot like potpourri, or a very sweet incense. The flavor reflects the scent accurately, though it is much less potpourri-ish and much more gingerbread-ish. Very heavily spiced, some pumpkin notes, mostly spice. It's not the worst thing I've ever eaten, but it is certainly not the best. It does kind of grow on you as you eat it though, and it's a nice change of pace if you tend to stick to your "usual" flavors like I do.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 0 faces. I feel neither good nor bad about it, but I enjoy trying new things. The flavors are very strong, but it leans too heavily on the "Spice" portion  of the equation rather than taking a more balanced approach by including a heavier pumpkin element. Give it a whirl if you are curious, or just can't get enough pumpkin spice in your life. Pie lovers will have to look elsewhere though.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Kotas Reviews Halloween Twinkies

Well, it's that time of year again, when big confectioners trot out "Halloween" versions of the various treats they normally offer year 'round, along with any limited edition things they think the public will buy. I've taken a gander at some of these things before, so I figured I should revisit this theme. Plus, my long suffering wife found these at the grocery store. I am sure many of my tens of readers has seen them as well and wondered just what did they taste like? Fret no more, for I am here to review it so you don't have to. Welcome to Night Vale Kotas Reviews Everything.

The horror. The. Horror.
Hostess is back, folks! As many of you might remember, Hostess was out of business for the torturous eternal nightmare period of maybe 8 months last year before roaring back with their "Sweetest Comeback Ever" campaign. Looks like whatever management team they have is trying out a few new things this year. I mean, look at that box! With those terrifying bat shapes and that moon! The moon that drives one to madness at the unspeakable horrors it illuminates in that sickly yellow light. See the...rather serene expression on Twinkie the Kid, who is completely calm. Well, I suppose it can't all be perfect in packaging. It's not bad, but I think maybe making Twinkie the Kid up there a vampire would have improved it tremendously. Let us examine our acquisition, shall we?

Seems mostly normal from this angle, with only a hint of the sinister.

And yet, underneath lies the festering uneasiness. Blasphemy, or High Fructose Corn Syrup?
Make no mistake, this is totally a Twinkie, but the scent is an almost overpowering sensation of orangeness and wrongness fused into some sort of lurking presence that steals into the nostrils and leaves one breathless. Mostly because it smells like I think an Orange Colored Icing Factory should. My mind reels at the thought of going on, all my senses screaming at me to halt and yet I simply. Must. KNOW.

The unbridled embodiment of all that is malevolent!

Behold the oozing Creme That Should Not Be! It makes the once familiar and safe into something loathsome and horrible! Where once fluffy white expanses would draw one into the mind's center of peace and relaxation now only malign evil intent gushes forth in its eagerness to infest us all with its rank orange corpulence. The flavor is at once profound and...

Well, actually it was a bit of a disappointment. It was indeed orange, that is for sure, but I was really expecting a much flavor, given it is supposed to be orange flavored. Unlike the Halloween Oreos you see, where the creme is merely colored and otherwise retains its normal taste, this stuff is clearly altered flavor wise, but instead of being orange flavored it comes off as more orange dye flavored than anything else. It is like eating orange icing from a sheet cake, that has merely been colored. The chemical taste is strong and not particularly pleasant. The sponge cake is the same old Twinkie we know and love and yet the creme has transformed it into an object of pity. It's almost sad, really. 

On the FACE Rating System, the Halloween Twinkie gets 1 frowny face. I just expected so much more from this than I actually got. The packaging is not terrible, but Twinkie the Kid's blandness detracts from that. The look of the creme is spot on, but the taste is a total let down. I was expecting an orange cremesicle sort of taste, and instead got week old grocery store cupcake icing. I was not a fan, is what I'm saying.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Kotas Reviews Pineapple M&Ms

There has been a pattern lately of people going to extraordinary lengths to get review material to me. Root Beer Oreos from Atlanta and Marshmallow Crispy Oreos from Arizona were provided to me by very generous friends, but perhaps it is getting out of hand. Today's product arrived from literally halfway around the world to grace the pages of this blog. Behold the unabashed oddity that is Pineapple M&Ms.

G'day Mate!
Candy 'round the world is often flavored in ways that seem weird and unusual to our unsubtle American palates, and today's product is no exception. I cannot recall ever eating an M&M and thinking "You know what this needs? PINEAPPLE." I will admit I do enjoy the idea of the Yellow M&M dressed up as a pineapple, though so I suppose I'll give this a fair shake.

I'm not sure what I was expecting with these, really.
Just look at that bold array of colors! Green, brown, yellow, and...uh...Other Green! Yes, these are definitely M&M candies. I get that they were trying to go with a "pineapple" color theme here, but...really? Green and Other Green? Just green and yellow would have been fine folks. It looks like Overstock Day at the M&M store is what I'm saying.

The scent from the package is a strong pineapple one, though it smells less artificial than some pineapple candies do. The taste is exactly what you would expect if you ate some M&Ms directly after finishing some pineapple. It is M&M chocolate, with a bit of pineapple taste lingering in the mouth, but mostly M&M chocolate. It's not bad, exactly, but it makes me question why these are even a thing that exists. The two flavors are not meshed well together at all. The pineapple taste is just sort of half-assedly there. 

On the FACE Rating System I give these 0 Smiley faces. They aren't bad, but they aren't particularly good either and mostly just confused me. That said, if you really like pineapple and chocolate, these might be for you. My mother quite enjoyed them. Definitely worth trying if you ever happen to be Down Under, but they are not the M&M for me.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Kotas Reviews Marshmallow Crispy Oreos

The Flavored Oreos trend is one I think is good for Nabisco, and good for Oreo lovers everywhere. Even if only 10% of all the new flavors that have come out become regularly available, that's still 2-3 new flavors. Oreos are a classic for a reason though, and sometimes I think they go too far (I'm looking at you Watermelon). With all that, we've come to today's subject: Marshmallow Crispy Oreos.

Well, this looks promising.

All new flavors that Oreo comes out with are based either on the traditional Chocolate oreo cookie or the Golden variety that became standard a few years back. This edition clearly went with the golden variety. Now, in the interest of full disclosure I am a HUGE fan of the Marshmallow Crispy Treat line of confections. The crispy texture along with the gooey marshmallow coating that permeates these wonderful things is one of life's great pleasures. Still, I am dubious that this can be successfully reduced to cookie format. Let's dive in!

Aren't you a little round for a Marshmallow Crispy?

Well, the smell is certainly authentic, vanilla cookie mixed with the same scent you get out of the prepackaged Crispy Treats available in the snack cake aisle. The cookie itself is fairly unremarkable, and passes the twist off test without issue. The creme filling is sort of an off white with visible specks of what I can only assume are "crispies". Given my luck with such little bonus bits, I am clearly not prepared for this.

Oh man, these things are amazing. They pretty much encapsulate the marshmallow crispy treat experience in a neat cookie package. The creme filling is not the sharp sweetness of the standard vanilla creme, but instead a nice marshmallow-esque flavor. The little crispies in the creme aren't particularly good or bad, but they provide a bit of extra texture and reinforce the idea that between those two golden circles is just a marshmallow crispy treat that's been thrown in a food processor set to puree. The creme by itself is also pretty good, definitely what I would imagine a good marshmallow crispy treat cookie should taste like. They are even pretty darn good in milk, though it mostly just changes the texture and adds a bit of milk to the flavor parade.

Now, these aren't the same as eating a fresh made treat, obviously, but I think they hold up well next to the prepackaged ones. I also wanted to eat the whole package in one go, but decided against that notion for the sake of my poor pancreas.

On the FACE Rating System, these get a shiny 3 smiley faces. If I had to choose between these and regular Oreos, my answer would be "Why do I have to choose?" Go out and get them, eat them, and live life the way it was meant to be lived. Unless you don't like marshmallow crispy treats and then you should avoid them. You soulless automaton you.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Kotas Reviews Root Beer Float Oreos

Sometimes we at Kotas Reviews Everything get requests to review things. These requests are generally accepted, provided that the thing in question is relatively easy for me to obtain. Today's subject required a friend to hold them for me for a week or two before I could pick them up. Once again, Nabisco's finest Foodgineers will ply their trade across the old taste buds with their not so latest creation: The Root Beer Float Oreo.

I must admit, the packaging is impressive looking, what with that big old frosty mug of Root Beer there. This is a Limited Edition, which is corporate speak for "We're trying it out to see if people will eat it." These cookies traveled long and perilous roads to find their way to me. Will it be worth it? Let's find out!

Cookies in repose.
The scent upon opening the package is strongly reminiscent of the odor of those little gummi root beer things you can purchase at bulk candy stores. In this instance, they went for the "golden" Oreo wrapper, which I think was the right choice since Chocolate and Root Beer tend to NOT go together very well. These pass the twist off test with flying colors, as you can see above. Alas, I had no milk available so there will be no dunk test here. I can't imagine it is particularly good though.

The taste is quite the curiosity It has a hint of artificial root beer flavoring, followed up by something vaguely resembling vanilla cream. The real treat here is the mild effervescence the cookies have when you are eating them. That's right, they bubble and fizz when you chomp them, kind of like Pop Rocks, but not as intense. It is an odd sensation really. My first bite was really full of "Huh" than either positive or negative feelings, but I found myself continuing to eat them. Was it the fizzy feeling? The flavor itself? The possible presence of an incredibly addictive narcotic? I cannot say, but I ate more of these cookies in one go than I though I ever would. But for the love of all that you hold dear, do NOT eat the cream by itself. I don't know what it is about that cookie, but the raw cream is absolutely terrible, with all the worst bitterness that artificial flavorings can hold coupled with a strange plastic aftertaste. With the cookie though? Tasty, if weird.

On the FACE Rating System, these cookies get 2 smiley faces. I don't know that I would seek them out, but when they are around I find it hard to stop eating them for reasons mysterious to my personage. But never eat the cream alone. That way madness lies.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Kotas Reviews the BBQ Pulled Pork Cheese Fries

The person who invented the concept of the chili cheese fry will go down as a demented culinary genius, along with the person who came up with the taco salad, and the inventor of the deep fried candy bar. These are foods that are the gustatory equivalent of building a house of stonework and vinyl siding. It shouldn't work at all and yet...look at it! Will today's offering hold up, or will it engender a fail cascade of epic proportions? Let's find out as today Kotas Reviews The Rest of the Weekend Meal.

My Temple Shall Be Glorious!
I'm actually not a huge fan of slathering fries with all manner of stews and sauces. I gravitate more toward the pure potato fry experience, with but a hint of salt for flavoring and accent. Even I enjoy a bit of ketchup now and again though, and this takes it to the next level. Welcome to BBQ Pulled Pork Cheese Fries. That picture up there? Actually looks pretty good. The fries form a nice base and the toppings blend well visually. Then again, that is the ad. Let's find out what it really looks like.

My Temple Is NOT Glorious. Not Glorious at all!
This, ladies and gentlemen, is what Pride Before Fail looks like. "Just slap that fucker together in a plastic trough and let the public sup upon it with their wriggling jowls, the cads". That is what I imagine Wendy's Corporate Overlords said when they authorized this heap of shame, anyway. And this comes from a man who shamelessly orders his Waffle House Hash Browns "All The Way"! I honestly wanted to like this. I enjoyed the burger from yesterday, and I hoped this would be another feather in Wendy's cap. Boy was I wrong. 
I've kvetched about my disappointment in Wendy's "new" fries before, and this is an example of why they do not work. Too. Much. Salt. You see, the old fries were big and chunky and needed a fair bit of salt because there was a LOT of potato flavor to accent. When they changed fries, they did not change the salt dispensing items in a lot of places, leading to oversalting. At THIS particular chain though, it was even saltier then THAT. The BBQ sauce was "Sweet", and it was decent. Not fantastic, but not bad. The BBQ pork was also decent. Both were able to counteract the saltiness to some degree. The cheese sauce? A train wreck through and through. 

A good fast food cheese sauce is one of life's guiltiest of guilty pleasures. You KNOW it is essentially liquefied plastic that has something resembling cheese flavoring, but you eat it anyway because it tastes good, if artificial. This stuff tastes like they scraped out the leftover sauce from a truck stop nacho dispenser after one too many days sitting in the warmer. It was greasy, gooey, and sour to the tongue, leaving a horrible candle wax sensation in the mouth after swallowing. I did not enjoy it is what I am saying. It got much more pronounced as I ate my way through. The pulled pork did its best to blunt the force of terrible sauce, but in the end it was overwhelmed. Just a bad experience for everyone (read: me) involved.

On the FACE Rating System, this dreck gets 2 frowny faces. I've had worse food in my life (sadly), and I wasn't expecting much from a fast food joint, and yet...look at it. LOOK AT IT, DAMN YOU. It is only saved from a lower rating because the pulled pork manages to mask the horror for several bites and my first impressions were more positive. But do not delve too deep, or you will unleash terror. One caveat: It is possible another franchise will have better sauce and less salted fries. This would greatly improve the rating, really, but consume at your peril.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Kotas Reviews the BBQ Pulled Pork Cheeseburger

Well, they've finally done it. Taco Bell started doing breakfast in the most ridiculous fashion possible. Now other chains are starting to increase the strangeness quotient in their products, usually by taking things that are usually separate and combining them in terrifying and unique ways. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present today's wonder: The BBQ Pulled Pork Cheeseburger, from Wendy's. 

The glorious Fantasy of the Advertisement.

I can't say it is a bad idea. I mean, it is kind of like putting bacon on a burger, right? Of course, it is not like Wendy's is known for the quality, or even the previous existence of, its pulled pork products. Also, they make a bold choice in topping a hamburger with not only pulled pork but with cole slaw, especially given the reputation of fast food cole slaw. I admit I was somewhat dubious of this meal. Still, this was a request from a reader and I feel it is a worthy topic. Besides, wouldn't you rather I eat this first? Onward!

Wendy's was my go to fast food burger joint for a long time. Over the years my love for them has waned, mostly due to their switch to a different type of french fry. Some of their innovations in the fast food burger world have been pretty good, such as the Pretzel Bun, but I still can't get over that fry switch so I'm a bit soured on the chain. They do have pretty advertisements though. Let's order one of these bad boys and see if Reality matches Fantasy.

Eh, kinda sorta maybe?
I'll give them credit, it actually somewhat resembles the fancy picture, which is a rarity in fast food since forever. The bun is a bit different from their standard one, a little stiffer and chewier. It does a good job of holding the burger together, which is great since Wendy's burgers are often the messiest of the bunch if you get it with all the standard toppings. The first bite is heavy on the cheeseburger, as I chose to start with that left side up there, but after that each bite had roughly equal measures of cheeseburger, pulled pork, bun, and cole slaw. The cole slaw isn't as sweet as most fast food cole slaws. It is a more vinegar-y take on it, and I believe they are using broccoli slaw at this particular franchise. 

I gotta admit, the flavors are pretty good. The BBQ sauce is one of three choices: Sweet, Smokey, and Spicy. I went with Smokey, and it's got a nice taste, generally better than standard fast food BBQ sauce. The cole slaw, rather than detracting from the experience, adds some crunch and veggie flavor that helps the pulled pork stand out from the beef and cheese better. The pulled pork itself is essentially decent. Nothing special, but far above what I thought I would be getting at a Wendy's. I rather liked this burger.

On the FACE Rating System, I'll give this one 2 smiley faces. The flavors, while seemingly contrasting, worked pretty well together and the barbecue sauce added the right amount of tanginess. It was a little messy, but that's a Wendy's Burger for you. I would totally get this again. If you like pulled pork and you like cheeseburgers, but you just don't have time to make it yourself, give it a whirl. The cole slaw is probably more hit or miss, but I thought it complimented the sandwich well.

Oh, and don't worry. There was the OTHER part of this meal that I will be reviewing later. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Kotas Reviews the Arbys Pumpkin Spice Milkshake

Ah, fall. Possibly my favorite season of the year, it contains several things I love: A holiday about dressing up in costumes to go beg for candy, a holiday about gorging on food until you fall asleep on the couch while watching television, and of course, temperatures that don't make me want to go hide in a freezer for 4 months. It also is the season of one of my favorite yet most despised flavors: Pumpkin Spice! 

I love pumpkin pie, and when something is "pumpkin spice" it is generally supposed to taste similar to pumpkin pie. So that is good. Sadly, artificial pumpkin pie flavoring is often terrible, and for whatever reason a whole host of things emerges at this time of year heralding Peak Pumpkin Spice. I mean, we have your Pumpkin Spice Lattes and your Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts, which are pretty good. Then you have things like Pumpkin Spice Oreos and Pumpkin Spice M&Ms, which I don't think I understand. The whole point of pumpkin spice is that it is "not chocolate", right? RIGHT? Whatever. Today we tackle Arby's bandwagon jumping seasonal shake: The Pumpkin Spice Milkshake!

What wonders await beneath this plastic lid?

Any time Arbys goes outside their usual flavors for milkshakes can be a mixed bag. I rather liked the Caramel Apple shake, but the Creme Brulee shake was...well, I reviewed both. Go hit my archives. The point is, their flavors can get a little crazy, and this shake is no exception. I can honestly say that at no time in my life was I ever drinking a milkshake and said to myself "You know what would really be awesome? Pumpkin spice as a flavored partially gelatinated non-dairy gum-based beverage!" Still, one must be brave when one is a reviewer. Let's pop the top!

My eyes! The goggles do nothing!
You order this thing, and you know you are going to get something pumpkin spicy. Just look at that light orange color! Honestly, it's mildly terrifying to view, but it has a faint odor of sweetness and something pumpkin-related. The flavor is what my wife and I decided was a lot like eating the whipped topping off of the top of a piece of pumpkin pie. There is a lot of nutmeg, creaminess, sweetness, but only a bit of anything pumpkin. It's not bad, really, but it is much more Spice than Pumpkin. It is definitely drinkable and the flavor doesn't overwhelm, but also doesn't particularly thrill. 

On the FACE Rating System, this shake gets 0 faces. It's not bad, but it's not particularly good. It is Pumpkin Spice, but much heavier on the Spice than Pumpkin and nutmeg alone does not carry the day in standard pumpkin spice offerings. I would not go out of my way to get it, but if you are a huge fan of all things nutmeg, I would recommend you give it a whirl. Everyone else? Take it or leave it, it's your decision.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Kotas Reviews Arby's Creme Brulee Milkshake

We're back with another milkshake review. Why? Because I like milkshakes, mostly and it's a new month of flavors at the local establishment! I'm sure we'll get around to their other milkshake flavor soon enough. Meanwhile let's look at today's offering: The Creme Brulee milkshake.

It's so...stripey!
In the dessert world, few concoctions are as bourgeois as creme brulee. French for "burnt cream", creme brulee is the go to sweet when you want something fancy dancy yet still wish to cook with a blowtorch. I happen to like creme brulee because it is sweet custard that involves caramel and fire, two of my favorite things. How does this shake stand up to my not-too-fancy palate? Let's find out!

Oh look, sprinkles! I'm sure that is fine.

Holy Jeez DAT FLAVOR. Wait, let me start over. First, the look. This thing only comes in one gut-busting size of 20oz, probably because that is the only size the see through cup comes in. It certainly looks fairly refined, what with the nice swirl of caramel and the little sprinkles on top of the now almost standard whipped cream on top. The flavor best to explain it. I know, metaphor! Imagine if you will that this shake is an angry leprechaun made of sugar that has bounded into your mouth, seeks out your taste buds, punches them in what passes for their faces and screams at the top of his little angry lungs "BOO YEAH! I'm a SHAKE, MUTHAF@#KA!", then kicks over a bucket of caramel for good measure. 

It is like drinking a liquid version of a Lucky Charms marshmallow with the occasional chuck of sludge-like caramel style sauce working its way up the straw. The sweetness is mercilessly overpowering and the caramel is somehow extra sweet even for caramel sauce. I actually had to take breaks and drink water to give my mouth a break from this onslaught of supposed faux bruleeness. The sprinkles? They are hard crunchy caramel-ish bits that do nothing but make you go "well, I guess they put themed sprinkles in it, but why would someone assume I want my drink to be crunchy?". 

You know what it doesn't taste anything like though? Creme freakin' brulee. In that respect, this shake is an utter and complete failure. I wanted to like this shake. I really, really did. In theory, I should LOVE this shake, even if it doesn't taste like creme brulee, I love Lucky Charms and I love caramel, so this should be great, right? WRONG. It's just way, way too much sweetness. I actually got a bit of a stomach ache after drinking it as a final insult.

On the FACE Rating System, I give this shake one frowny face. It tastes exactly nothing like what creme brulee tastes like and the almost nausea inducing sweetness combines with that to make this a not quite pleasant shake experience. At least the swirl looked nice though, and someone who has a higher tolerance for sweetness and lack of authentic creme brulee flavor might like it better.