Monday, October 26, 2015

Kotas Reviews Caramel Apple Twizzlers

Ah, Halloween, when we finally get a holiday that is solely about dressing up in spooky costumes in an effort to extort candy from those we once called "neighbors". How delightfully evil it all is! It is also a season for remembering treats from years gone by, even if you never actually had those treats as a kid. That's why this week is CARAMEL APPLE WEEK!

That's right, the treat that no one ever actually gets at Halloween is this season's Pumpkin Spice, in that I'm seeing Caramel Apple everything popping up. Sure, we had some examples from last year, but this year it has really gotten out of hand. With that in mind, we turn to our first subject, the legendary Caramel Apple Twizzler.

King Size, because you are my fans, and want me to suffer.
It is no secret that my red licorice twist of choice is the humble Twizzler. Only vaguely fruit flavored, it is the finest plastic treat that one can sink one's teeth into. There is just something particularly satisfying about biting into a Twizzler that is hard to explain. Also, if you bite the ends off you can use one as a makeshift straw! A terrible, terrible straw. do these babies hold up?

Kang and Kodos would be proud of these candies. 
Well, they smell vaguely like caramel in some way. The sickly green color is supposed to represent a Granny Smith apple maybe? Or a Sour Apple flavoring? Seriously, was red not good enough here? There is something apple-ish about their odor, so I guess that is on theme. Maybe. Also, the goo inside oozes out a bit when you squeeze the end, which is sort of spooky. Maybe. Let's take a bite.

Oh God, what have I done? Seriously, this is all the worst parts of candy ever conceived and rolled up into terror. There is nothing apple here, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. In fact, if anyone says "Yeah, that's sort of like an apple" they are clearly evil space zombie communist vampire werewolves and need to be driven from their space enclaves. Seriously, fuck this flavor. The so called caramel fairs a little better, in that it is caramel in the same way a Sugar Baby is caramel...if that baby was barfing at the time. WHY IS IT GRITTY? When will manufacturers learn that GRITTY IS NOT A THING? The combination of both of these fucking terrible flavors is as nauseating as it is offensive to the mind. Come on Hershey's (the parent company of Twizzlers). Did someone put you up to this? DID THEY? STOP RUINING THINGS I LIKE. I ate two. I threw the rest out. I NEVER DO THIS.

On the FACE Rating System these get a Damning FOUR frownie faces, because seriously, fuck this shit, fuck the factory it was made it, and to hell with the person who thought this would be a good idea. If I never see another package of this travesty again, it'll be too soon. No one should eat this. DOGS should not eat this. I wouldn't wish these on prisoners. GAAAAAAAAAAH.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Kotas Reviews George Dickel Rye

I've been reviewing a lot of Pumpkin Spice things as of late, and to be frank, it's getting kind of old hat. Still, it is Fall and I should do something Fall-ish...maybe. Well, it is the harvest season, and that means lots of grain has to be stored. What is the most efficient way to store grain for transport? Booze, of course! Today we review George Dickel Rye.

The American Classic!
I know it is trendy,but I like rye quite a bit. It was the first whisky I'd had that I actually liked, though to be fair to whisky I hadn't much exposure past Jack Daniels or Col. Kwik-E-Mart's Kentucky Bourbon. Still, I have very much enjoyed my time with rye, and it's perfect weather for a glass to take off the chill. Anyway, the George Dickel Rye I have here is a 95% rye mash, which is pretty high. Hrm, that reminds me of Bulleit Rye, which was also 95% rye. Odd, isn't it? Well, not really. You see, both of these ryes are basically the same rye out of Midwest Grain Products (formerly Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana). Bulleit simply bottles it as is, while George Dickel here subjects it to their charcoal filter process that they use on their normal whisky.

Distilled in Lawrenceburg, Bottled by George Dickel. Kudos for honesty on the label!
The reason I bring this up is that there has been some controversy in the whisky world about a number of American brands not disclosing that the whiskey inside the bottle was simply purchased in bulk, blended, and bottled, rather than being distilled by the company on the label. Dickel has chosen not to hide anything. There's a good article on the topic over at The Whiskey Jug if you want to know more. What does all this mean to you, the drinker? Very little, since whisky blends are a perfectly fine thing to drink, though I personally feel that "not being lied to" by a company is a good thing. So, kudos to Dickel for that. Now, onto the drink itself!

In the traditional tumbler that is not at all a used jam jar.
I tried it neat first, because yes. This rye is a definite contrast to other ryes I've drunk. While it still has that characteristic rye pepperiness, it is much smoother overall. It tickles the nose properly, but is just a nice clean drink. Definitely some fruitiness to the flavor that I greatly enjoyed, as well as some nice vanilla underflavors. Very different from the Bulleit Rye, though I like them both. I guess that charcoal filtering does something after all! I also tried it on the rocks, and it's pretty good that way too.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 3 smiley faces. I may have found a new "daily drinker" rye to throw into my rotation, and that makes me happy. I am most happy at the price. $22 for the bottle, and worth every penny. If you like whisky, and more importantly, if you like rye, you should give this a shot. It is not the finest rye you can buy, but it may be one of the best you can buy for under $25.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Kotas Reviews Pumpkin Spice Twinkies

So it has come to this. I knew this day would come, I just didn't expect it to be this soon. Hostess has joined Nabisco in evolving the flavor of its signature product to try and catch the spark of the viral flavor sensation in hopes of garnering ever more market share. An empty pursuit? Perhaps in the long term, but in the real of the now, it can only lead to glory...or infamy. Let's turn to today's subject: The Pumpkin Spice Twinkie.

My name is Ozymandias, king of kings....
Everyone's getting into the limited edition flavor train, and let's hope it hasn't already gone off the rails. Did anyone anywhere ask for this, outside of an executive board room? I can picture it now "Uh, sir, what new flavor do you think we should invest in for the fall? Apple perhaps? Oh, maybe revamp the Halloween Twinkie from last..." "Naw, I gots it! Pumpkin Spice is the hot new flavor, right?" "Uh, maybe from 3 years ago." "Right! Perfect. Ship it." "But.." "SHIP IT." I will say the box art is pretty much spot on. The product is front and center, surrounded with images of what the product should taste like. Or at least, remind us of other, less artificial tastes, right? I pity the poor flavor engineers that were tasked with this one, but hey, let's see how they did.

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Well, they are Twinkies all right. No real changes to the sponge cake in this one, so the glory is all in the filling. The filling itself is pretty much "dirty fluff" in appearance, with a very strong "spice" component to the scent. There is a lot of cinnamon to be found, but hints at nutmeg and clove. Very, very little pumpkin though. The flavor is pretty much the same. Very heavy on the spice, not so much on the pumpkin but it is there, if only just. The sponge cake does not pair particularly well with this, but it also does not detract. It's not bad, though I doubt I would seek it out again. All in all, a fairly pedestrian cash in on a flavor trend that was on its way out anyway. I kind of expected to either love or hate these, but it gets a resounding "meh".

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 0 Faces. Nothing special, but I wouldn't turn it down if offered. If you like Twinkies, you will most likely enjoy trying them, but if you hate cinnamon stay the hell away from these. Good try, Hostess, but c'mon. You can do better. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Kotas Reviews Pumpkin Spice Frosted Mini-Wheats

I have a bit of an obsession with breakfast cereal. I'm not exactly sure when it started, but ever since I've been able to mostly choose my own meals unfettered by society's expectations (read: college), I rejoined the breakfast cereal community with a gusto. While my first love will always be the sugary desserts as breakfast cereals of my tender youth, I occasionally foray into adult-oriented cereals that try and be "hip and cool" to appeal to a younger generation. Today's subject is one such cereal, with a seasonal twist. Let's explore the world of Pumpkin Spice Frosted Mini-Wheats.

Super classy. You can tell by the lack of cartoon anthropomorphic cereal.
Shredded Wheat is not a cereal that kids will clamor for, really. In it's purest form (I believe only sold by Post these days) it generally resembles a hay bale, neatly crimped, that sits in your bowl. It is of a fairly large size, with 2 bales filling the average bowl. While the novelty of "giant cereal pieces" is intriguing at first, it quickly fades given the flavor of the cereal, which is decidedly "meh". Corn Flakes have more flavor, is what I'm saying. Kellogg's, after some interesting patent litigation, came out with a more kid-friendly variety, the Frosted Mini-Wheat, which touts much smaller cereal pieces, frosting, which is always a good sign, and some vague notion of being "more healthy" than the usual honey blasted sugar bombs that most kids oriented cereal consists of. Take a look! can sense fear.
Well, it is certainly cereal. I've always been a fan of Frosted Mini-Wheats as a concept, though I tend to get sick of them faster than other, more comforting cereals. How does this particular variety stack up? Well, it certainly has something "spice-ish" and "vaguely pumpkin-ish" about its scent. The frosting also has orange highlights, which is a nice touch for the presentation, but really, this stuff is always going to look like tiny hay bales to me. The taste is "wheat and frosting, but with added....something". It is a really vague flavor that kind of hints at maybe having been exposed to pumpkin like elements at some point in the manufacturing process, along with something that maybe is a spice accidentally added to the batch. The cereal pieces are uncommonly dry without milk, so much so that I do not really recommend eating this dry, but with milk they taste pretty good, but it's not really pumpkin spice so much as "not standard frosting". It is a mystery wrapped in wheat fibers coated with known unknowns. 

On the FACE Rating System, I give this 0 faces. It's not bad, and the flavor is pretty decent, but it is so confusing trying to figure out exactly what that flavor is beyond "sweet mystery". If you like Frosted Mini-Wheats, you might give it a try, but as a first Mini-Wheat endeavor I simply cannot recommend it. Without a frame of reference, one may just end up even more confused than I was.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Kotas Reviews Pumpkin Spice Creme Oreos

Fall is soundly upon us. Seriously, it hit us like a ton of damp leaves off of an oak. Or maybe I'm just projecting my experience to the universal. Anyway, pumpkin spice abounds in the world, with special signs pointing out the variety of gourd based concoctions bubbling forth from the cauldrons of the nation's food purveyors. Lucky for me, I rather like that particular flavor...most of the time. Let's see how Nabisco takes it on as we dive into Pumpkin Spice Creme Oreos!

Well, it had to happen sometime, didn't it?
Oreo flavors are now a staple of this blog, and who am I to shy away from a product that is clearly little more than a trend-following cash grab of a cookie, especially if it is an Oreo? Kotas, that's who. The package art is pretty simple. Pumpkin, check. Spice (in this case represented by cinnamon), check. Oreo (golden), check. Wickedly orange creme filling...check! This is pretty much what I expected to see from a Pumpkin Spice Oreo, and it works, though I do not particularly care for the idea that "spice" is wholly represented by cinnamon. What about nutmeg and clove, eh? Let's crack open these cookies and see what's what.

Uh...well, it's kind of orange.
 The smell is pretty fake smelling pumpkin with a hint of cinnamon and some other fall spice. The color though...I was expecting a brighter orange than "burnt umber" really. It's more of an orange-brown and is not particularly appetizing. Passes the twist off test with flying colors though, even if that color is "Jersey Boardwalk Spray Tan". 

The taste is much, MUCH better than I was expecting. In fact, it is about exactly what I would expect if I were eating a pumpkin pie flavored cookie. Sure, it's somewhat artificial, but that's to be expected when essence of pumpkin pie has to be crammed between two vanilla flavored wafers as a creme. Even without the cookie, the creme tastes pretty good, if a bit strong when not mellowed by the wafer's flavor and texture. Most surprising is that it's still good even with milk, the creaminess of the milk adding whipped cream like notes to the pumpkin pie flavorings. I'm sort of shocked at how good these are, really.

On the FACE Rating System, these get a solid 1 smiley face. I would not seek them out as a staple, but they certainly fill the role of "man, I want some pumpkin pie, but I'm not willing to cook one." and as an occasional holiday treat. If you are an Oreo fan or a not too discerning pumpkin pie fan, give them a whirl.