Friday, April 29, 2016

Kotas Reviews Guinness Potato Chips

We are getting deep into Spring, and Summer is just around the corner. What a wonderful time to sit outdoors with an ice cold beer and a big bag of potato chips to indulge in some pure snackitude. Chips and beer have gone together since the era of the Free Lunch in saloons and bars across the country, because what better way to quench your thirst after eating a bunch of salty chips than to wash it all away with pint or three? If only we could get that experience in a single snack food. Well, that time is upon us. Today we crack open a nice big bag of Guinness Potato Chips.

Thick Cut, because Manliness!
I honestly never thought I'd see the day where two products that were as vaguely related to each other as these would be crammed together in marketing bliss. Then again, I always did underestimate the snack food industry's insatiable appetite for gimmickry. So here we are. Oh, and for those of you who think this is merely a Guinness branded bag of regular old chips...

Exhibit A.
 This is the real deal ladies and gentlemen. Irish Stout (specifically Guinness) flavored potato chips. What is this world coming to? Now, as a tippler of taste, I do enjoy me a good Irish stout, and Guinness will always be my first love. There is simply nothing like having a nice Guinness straight from the tap to make a meal feel comforting. That said, this is profoundly strange. Let's open up the old bag, shall we? 

They remind me of the Lay's Cappuccino chips from way back when.
Well, that certainly is a flavoring. I guess I should have expected this sort of look from a Guinness flavored anything, but "coal dust" is not a look I generally desire on my potato chips. They mostly just look dirty. The scent is only sorta kinda like Irish stout, though I probably wouldn't be able to place it without looking at the package. Very earthy. Let's dig in.

Again, this is kind of okay, I guess. It does have the bitterness associated with Guinness, but this flavor doesn't really sit well with the large potato flavor it is trying, and failing, to compliment. The overall experience is mostly fine, but it isn't what I would call good, nor does it recreate the experience of "eating potato chips while drinking Guinness". It hints at it, and it does have novelty factor, but the price of these chips is too high for what you get. At least it doesn't taste like a mouthful of coal dust, I guess. Oh, and it's $4 for a "half standard chip bag". Not the best value in the world.

On the FACE Rating System, these chips get 0 Faces. I do not hate them, but I don't like them either. They are "okay, I guess" and I get to say that I ate Guinness Flavored Chips. If this matters to you, you might try to score some, but otherwise? Give it a pass. Just go get a bag of Kettle Chips and drink a Guinness. Much nicer experience.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Kotas Reviews Superman Cereal

Well, we've covered one half of the summer's biggest superhero throw down, time to look at the other side of that coin. Let me level with you, I've always felt that Superman works best as a part of an ensemble because he serves as the powerhouse AND the moral compass. It his own stories, it is how those around him act and react that adds interest, because this kind of character is easy to make boring or stupid (or kind of a dick). Of course, we're not here to examine Superman as a character, but as a breakfast...

Look! Up in the Sky! It's a Bird! It's a Plane! No, it's...a cereal?
Again, they don't list the hero's name on the front of the box, but that big red S is reeeeeally hard to miss. It is also very very shiny, which it turns out the Batman box was too, but since it is BLACK it doesn't stand out nearly as much. Super fancy, General Mills! I applaud your best efforts here. So, how does it look in the bowl? 

Like, well, cereal. I expected it to be fancier...
So, this is listed as Caramel Crunch cereal. Frankly, I am surprised at this. When it comes to flavors, Caramel does not scream "Last Son of Krypton's breakfast" to me, but hey, what do I know about alien physiology? The scent is straight corn and fakey caramel. Smells pretty good actually. The look of the pieces is...well, it sucks. It is the OUTLINE of the traditional Superman symbol. With the Batman cereal, it's pretty obviously Batman (or at least, bat) themed, but this? It's pretty damn generic and bland. Which, come to think of it, is a criticism leveled at Superman from time to time. Huh. Anyway...

The taste is pretty amazing. Super, even. Nice caramel flavoring, with a hearty corn crunch to back it up. It's like Corn Pops, but instead of Honey you get Caramel instead. It's not particularly thematic, but sometimes what you want is something that just tastes good from start to finish and doesn't ask much of you. It isn't the cereal we deserve, but the cereal we need. 

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 2 smileys. It may not be particularly thematic, but it's damn tasty and the theme doesn't detract from it. Reliable, good, not particularly fancy...kind of like the hero it represents. If you like sugary cereal, give this one a whirl!

Kotas Reviews Batman Cereal

Well, I can finally talk about this! The greatest showdown ever depicted on screen or on page was of course gonna be a superhero brawl. It is just the sort of thing that lends itself to spectacle, really, and this year we've got some good ones! Maybe we will be treated to a couple of heroes who, due to a few poor choices and misunderstandings, find themselves at odds over fundamental questions of authority and freedom...or maybe we'll just have an illegal alien and a whiny rich orphan beating the shit out of each other for reasons. With all that in mind, I present to you the REAL showdown of the century! Batman (Cereal) vs. Superman (Cereal)!

Because actually putting the name of the hero on the box is so last year.
This first review will focus on that fan favorite, Batman! I did not read Batman comics growing up. In fact, the first real Batman comic story I read IN a comic was "Batman vs. The Hulk", because I was much more a Marvel fan during my comic collecting days. Still, then as now, DC was rocking the animated adaptations like a boss, and My Batman is the "Batman: The Animated Series" Batman. Even though I was slowly exiting my "afternoon cartoons" phase, I made a place for Batman, because Batman. It didn't hurt that the movie came out and sort of wiped away a lot of the campy, 1960s TV show public consciousness about Batman either. Sorry Adam West, you are no Kevin Conroy.

Of course, today's Batman is most informed by that of Christopher Nolan's masterful "Dark Knight" trilogy, and this cereal is only a touch removed form that. Look at that box! It's all broody and dark, and doesn't even have the name of the hero on the front! Pity the one dude who doesn't know who Batman is, am I right?

Uhhhh...I think you forgot to tell us who this is?
Chocolate Strawberry Cereal? What the ever loving crap. That doesn't make a ton of sense. Does it?

The back of the box is only slightly better..
Anyway, for a dark, brooding, adult themed movie, they sure are hawking the cereal like whoa. Most "movie tie-in" cereals tend to follow a pattern: Generic sweetened corn cereal with marshmallow pieces that may or may not resemble things from the movie. I have to hand it to General Mills, this is TOTALLY not that at all. I mean, LOOK!

It's almost like a real breakfast!
Bold move, making a Chocolate Strawberry Batman cereal. I mean, how is that even a theme? Dark and brooding on the outside, sweet and fruity on the inside? know what, never mind. Let's just take a look at the shape: Okay, it's a bat. Very clearly a bat. Covered in cocoa. The scent is of fakey fake strawberry heavily coated in cocoa powder, which is a very distinct scent apart from just chocolate. This is why Cocoa Puffs smell different from Cocoa Krispies (which is hardly Cocoa at all). Anyway, it certainly looks like a Batman Cereal. On to the taste!

It tastes like Cocoa Puffs and Frankenberry had a brooding angsty love child before they both got shot exiting a theater. It is just BIZARRE how these flavors blend. Mix Strawberry and Chocolate Quik together and you will get some semblance of this flavor. The cocoa portion is almost overwhelming, and yet the strawberry manages to punch its way through to your taste buds. The fact that the cocoa flavor seems to be delivered by copious amounts of cocoa dust only adds to the Quik-ish experience. It's not a bad flavor really, it is just so unlike anything I was expecting from a goddamn Batman cereal. 

On the FACE Rating System, I give this 1 smiley face. I don't love it, but I find myself enjoying the novelty of the flavor and mouth feel, even if it isn't particularly "nice". It's just unlike any other cereal I've ever had, and that intrigues me to no end. It is vengeance! It is the Night! IT! IS! BATMAN CEREAL! 

Next time, we look at the (in theory) brighter, shinier counterpart...

Friday, April 15, 2016

Kotas Reviews Lay's Southern Biscuits and Gravy Potato Chips

One of my regrets from 2015 (one of the smaller ones anyway) was never quite getting to try all the flavors of Lay's "Do Us A Flavor" promotion. I hit three of four, but the Biscuits and Gravy flavor eluded my grasp. Even the best efforts of my sister in-law and her husband, who provided me with a small package of them in my "Get Well" basket of goodies could not get them to me, as they were lost in a tragic "I dropped them on the floor and they got stomped on" accident. Lucky for me, one flavor emerged victorious from the Lay's Thunderdome. It's long since past time for this to have happened. Today we look at, Lay's Southern Biscuits and Gravy potato chips.

Howdy, ya'll!
Behold the glory of Southern Biscuits and Gravy! You know, why is it that when something is called out as Southern, it is generally written in a slightly fancy italicized font? Do we really associate Biscuits and Gravy with Southern Style Classiness? Eh, I'll take it. For those of you who don't know, I love biscuits and gravy. I prefer sausage gravy above almost every other kind of white gravy, but the Cracker Barrel "Sawmill" gravy will do just fine, thank you very much. It's very stick to your ribs comfort food goodness, and I say bring it on. Southern Style Biscuits are totally a thing. Get a biscuit in New York and it is...well, it's just not the same. Anyway, let's rip open the bag!

Understated Ya'll!
Well damned if the scent isn't like that of a strong pepper gravy. It has potato elements to, unsurprisingly, but the look of the chip is...slightly underwhelming. Then again, I'm not exactly sure how one WOULD get across the idea of biscuits and gravy via look alone on a potato chip. It does have black flecks that I suppose are pepper, though they could be any myriad of things from various flavor dusts. Let's give 'em a taste!

Wow. I don't know what I was expecting when I tried this, but "pretty much sawmill gravy over potato chips" was not quite it. It's spicier than many white gravies, but damned if that isn't a fine flavor combination. There is a hint of something yeasty or bread-like that I suppose is the "biscuit" part of the equation, but it is not very strong and you'd miss it if you didn't know these were supposed to be "biscuit and gravy" flavored. I guess "White Pepper Gravy" doesn't look as good on the package though. I admit I ate through the bag quicker than I should have, but...hoo boy was it a good ride.

On the FACE Rating System, these get two fat and happy smiley faces. If you like biscuits as a vehicle for gravy and you also like potatoes, here is a fantastic way to combine both loves into a single glorious snackable. They are a bit on the heavier side of snacks though, so I wouldn't want to eat them every day. I would love to TASTE them every day. If you aren't a fan of white gravy though, these will not change your mind. Worthy of trying though!