Thursday, September 21, 2017

Kotas Reviews Apple Pie Oreos

We're deep into fall now my hearties! At least, I THOUGHT we were, until this touch of summer came back to haunt us. Damn it, Summer. Let Autumn have its turn! Still, the progress of food products continues, as we enter that most dreaded of flavor seasons, Pumpkin Spice. So screw that, let's have a pie! Or at least, something resembling pie? Ladies and Gentlemen, it's time we looked at Apple Pie Oreos.

As American as...uh, itself. I guess.
It's no secret that I love pie, and a well made apple pie is truly one of the pinnacles of piecraft. Still, apple is one of those flavors that, even when it's kinda bad, it's still pretty good. Plus, it hasn't really been "done" as a flavor much, with the more popular Green Apple and Caramel Apple flavors having their day in the sun. I like most any apple pie, though I concede it is often very difficult to eat in a convenient way if you are "sans flatware". If only there was some sort of way to get all that flavor into a small, portable package you could eat with just your hands! Oh wait...

Well, the packaging is pretty good. I would have expected the base color to be yellow, but the nice big ol' slice of apple pie stands out nicely from the blue. The little ribbon design stating these are Graham cookies (WHERE IS MY KEY LIME OREO NABISCO? WHERE?) calls back to pie contests and the cookie there. Let's open it up.

Well, it's very..beige.
This is not the best color I've seen on a cookie. It's okay, but beige makes me think of "house about to be sold so any personality has to be covered by blandness". The scent is apple-graham-ish, which you know, makes sense. I guess the graham part is supposed to be a graham cracker crust, but apple pies aren't generally known for their graham cracker crust (KEY LIME PIE OREO! IT SCREAMS AT YOU NABISCO!). It is a better choice than the standard "vanilla" cookie, so let's just give them the benefit of the doubt here. How does it taste?

It does taste like apple pie, just not the apple pie you'd expect. So, a McDonald's apple pie is loosely a pie, and more a turnover. It also has a distinct "fake flavor" chemical taste along with the hyper sugarized apple taste. That is exactly what these cookies remind me of, so I guess mission accomplished? Is this actually what I wanted? I don't know, better eat a couple more. Also, my kid likes them, which is always a plus.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 0 Smiley Faces. They are in fact Apple Pie Cookies, though I don't think this is exactly what I had in mind when I envisioned an apple pie in cookie form. They are sweet, and different, but I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to get them, except maybe for a fall themed party or something like that. I've eaten a few, and I really see no need to eat any more, but they are different and who knows? Maybe you will love them.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Kotas Reviews West of Loathing

Well, howdy there partner! We don't get too many people lookin' for NON-food reviews 'round these parts, but I tell ya what. You set a spell and we'll cram your ear full of some high falutin' newfangled review goodness. Or, you know, maybe not. Still, it's been a while since I last did a non-food review, and boy have we got a nice one today. As you all may recall, I enjoy the games quite a bit, especially the games what are on the video. So let's take a look at one that has a...unique pedigree. Ladies, Gentlemen, Cowfolk of all ages, let's take a look at West of Loathing.

With Booze! Because of course.
Picture taken from
Way back in the mists of time known as "the early 2000s", browser based games were just starting to become a thing. The most well known of these is of course the Free to Play MMORPG called Runescape, which still runs to this day. It supported itself with advertising showing on the game play screen, as well as offering subscriptions and other store items. This of course inspired a host of other browser based games, because hey, Web 2.0 and all that, right? Still, Runescape was Java-based, and thus required additional downloads to play, even if they were incorporated in the browser. But, what if you could play in a more leisurely, turn based sort of way? 

Enter Kingdom of Loathing. First published in 2003, this game is a full browser based, turn based Dragon Warrior style RPG with a decidedly minimalist, hand-crafted aesthetic and the humor of a Dad convention run by snarky 90s teens. I discovered it in 2005-2006, when it caught on like wildfire among my coworkers at a help desk job, and it ate a LOT of my time. I loved the jokes, the stick figure "Hey, I could totally draw that" aesthetic, the goofy items, and the surprisingly deep combat and adventure systems. It also is still running to this day, and supports itself with donations.

So what happens when the people who made Kingdom of Loathing go and make an actual game that you can buy for real money? You get West of Loathing of course! Because apparently Western games are all the rage (or about to be, see the upcoming Red Dead Redemption 2 and Wild West Online titles), the fine folks at Asymmetric Games put out their spin on the genre, combining the wit of Kingdom of Loathing, with a wild send up of Western tropes and cliches. From the Options menu, you know this is going to be one of THOSE games. As you can see, the aesthetic is a black and white, hand sketched stick-figure style of art and yet it has a color-blind mode option, with the tool tip of "You never know". That is exactly the kind of game you are going to get, so saddle up, you are in for a bumpy ride.

You start off in your hastily sketched home dreaming of being one of three classes: The Muscle based Cow Puncher, all about melee combat and, well, punching cows, The Mysticality based Beanslinger, who uses bean based magic to smite his or her foes, and my personal favorite, the Moxie based Snake Oiler, using the power of snakes to poison and slither through the world. There are three other stats, Guts, Gumption, and Glamour which add various secondary bonuses and also determine your Liver, Spleen, and Stomach capacity, which determines the number of Booze, Potion, or Food items you can consume for bonuses each game day. Yes, you heard right, you throw back Booze to gain stat buffs. I love this game for that. 

Anyway, after saying goodbye to your family and moseying through the credits, you end up in the town of Boring Springs, after the semi-cataclysmic event When the Cows Came Home. Did I mention there were demonic cows? Yeah, that's a thing. Your goal here is to get to Dirtwater, but you'll need a horse to do it. And thus you start going through the various starter quests where you will get your hat, your horse, and your helper. The hat is based on your class, there are 4 horses, and 4 potential helpers to acquire, though you can only have one of each. There's even an optional "Hard Mode" to find. Already there's gonna be some replayability here. The story doesn't change though, but the details...those do change. 

Combat is turn-based and grid-based (ish). You pick an action, your helper picks and action, and then the bad guys do their thing. Wash, rinse, repeat. Sometimes you go first or sometimes the bad guys get the jump on you (based on your Speed). Your class skills usually require Action Points (AP) to work, and most of them don't use up your turn to use, though attacks always do. My Snake Oiler was able to buff himself pretty high before letting loose a fan of bullets which pretty much murders any single target. Items can be used in combat and using them doesn't generally take up your turn either, so you could, for example, heave a giant pile of dynamite at a foe before you officially "attack" it. Some skills work on the grid, such as "hitting a line" and the like, but the grid interaction is pretty weak.
Experience points are earned for fighting, conversations, interactions, quests, and lots of other things. These points are spent to boost your stats and your skills. The game also has an option for automatic expenditure of points, or you can always divvy them up yourself. I tend to go with "autopick" for a first play through, but you do you man. The skills are all appropriately themed: The Cow Puncher has a buffing skill called "Beef Up", whose icon is a picture of a steak. The Snake Oiler has a skill called Snake Whip, where you literally whip an enemy with a snake. The Beanslinger slings Lava Favas, which explode. There are elemental damage types lifted wholly from Kingdom of Loathing: Hot, Stench, Spooky, Cold, and Sleaze. That's right, you too can inflict Stench damage if you so choose.  

Poke around everywhere to see what you can do, because many things are interactable. There are numerous puzzles to solve, some fetch type quests, and so on. Most are pretty straightforward, but there are a few tougher puzzles that may require some additional thought. Nothing is a real brain buster though. This ain't West of Professor Layton after all. There are lots of optional things, and you CAN absolutely screw up a few bits permanently. Still, nothing you do will cause you to lose the game or get so stuck as to be unable to complete the content. Just lots of sidequests you may or may not complete. There are even multiple ways to get through the main quest, though a primary path is always suggested to you. 

All in all, my romp through the West of Loathing has been an enjoyable one, but there are a few things that aren't great. For one, you can't get through every single option in one playthrough, which mildly pains the completionist in me. For another, the windowed mode is a bit janky, without a proper "windowed full-screen" mode to make tabbing back and forth to things (like say, a blog post) easier. There is replayability, and yes speed runs are going to be a thing in this game, but a LOT of the content is the same stuff with only slight variations (hilarious though they may be). The art style is definitely a "love it or hate it" kind of thing, as is the humor.

On the FACE Rating System, West of Loathing gets 3 Hat Wearing Smileys. I adore this game and if you love lightweight RPGs that don't take 80 hours to finish (though it may take around 20), this will be right up your alley. The Western theme is glorious, the jokes land well, the combat is surprisingly good, and it has a Stupid Walks option. What more could you ask for? Whiskey, the answer is always whiskey.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Kotas Reviews PB & J Oreos

Some foods were always meant to go together. Chocolate and Peanut Butter, Bread and Butter, Rum and Coke, all famous the world over and about as basic a combo as you can make. Two great tastes that just so happen to taste even Greater together, and become a staple recipe for years. So clearly we have to somehow cram this into a food that isn't remotely like either of the other two. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's reveal the mysteries of Peanut Butter and Jelly Oreos.

Because this is the face of Science.
I have a very strange relationship with peanut butter and jelly. It was a staple of my childhood lunchbox, because it was easy and quick for my mom to make, but when I got old enough I tended to leave off the jelly and just go nuts with peanut butter. To this day I am addicted to peanut butter sandwiches but only rarely, usually when I'm feeling nostalgic (or someone else made some) will I bother with the jelly side of this all time classic recipe. I can however tell you that I never, EVER considered that it might be a dessert flavoring. Oh well, let's take a peak, shall we?

The packaging is pretty bog standard on this one. Oreo logo, nominal picture of particular food and a cookie version of that same food. What throws me off here is the little green call out box that explicitly tells you what the cookie is trying to do. If a cookie has to spell out its concept for you, that does not indicate that it is confident in what it is, ya know? Let's open it.

Lackluster...that is the word I'm looking for.
I can see why they went with a Golden Oreo base here. Chocolate, while great with peanut butter, is probably not the best choice when paired with jelly flavoring. The vanilla here doesn't really match either, but it won't overwhelm the flavor of the creme. I have to say, going for the "split" look here has failed on a number of levels, because it looks so...slapdash. Like they threw some jelly flavor juice on the usual peanut butter filling and went "Ta da!". Not appetizing at all. Let's eat, I guess.

You know, I'm not a fan of peanut butter cookies really. They are okay, but finding a really good one is hard to do so I generally just don't bother. This variant is actually worse then that. The peanut butter tastes like...well it tastes like those revolting orange and black taffy bits wrapped in orange and black paper that always show up around Halloween for some reason despite maybe 1 in 100 people actually enjoying them. The completely artificial jelly flavor on top of that is...not helpful, and its sickeningly sweet TotallyNotGrape flavor makes the whole thing taste like solidified angst. No.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 2 Frowny Faces. Absolutely bad, but just "I really don't like this flavor" bad and not "OH GOD IT'S POISON" bad. This is probably one of those love it or hate it flavors too, because when I disposed of this trash by leaving it in the break room at work and my co-workers LOVED them. I personally say skip 'em, but if you are curious be my guest and try them out. Just don't save any for me.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Kotas Reviews Dunkin Donuts Mocha Oreos

Coffee. Lifeblood of our modern society and savior of our sanity in times of strife. Having once worked in a coffee shop as a young barista, I gained an appreciation for coffee I hadn't known before, and I can tell you, it has made a world of difference to me. I like coffee is what I'm saying. But, can it still be good as a cookie? Who the hell knows! Ladies and Gentlemen, let's take a look at Dunkin' Donuts Mocha Oreos.

Iced Mocha? REALLY?
Well, we have Yet Another Dunkin' Donuts themed limited edition Oreo for our eating pleasure, don't we? The last time we tried something themed after a doughnut shop was also a mocha flavor, and yet so far they haven't sponsored anything that tastes like, you know, doughnuts. Odd that. Anyway, I have to wonder at the choice to display and Iced Mocha as the "mocha" version they were going with for this cookie. I guess because it would be more visible that a hot mocha? Whatever, it's fine. Let's crack it open!

One of these things is...exactly like the others...

Yup, smells like chocolate Oreos with a hint of coffee flavor, which is right on target for a mocha. The taste is spot on too. A good ratio of coffee to chocolate flavoring, with maybe a bit more on the chocolate side that the coffee one, but still pretty darn tasty! The creme by itself though isn't very strongly coffee flavored though, which I find odd. I mean, usually the creme is much more intensely flavored and the cookie helps mellow it and make it more well rounded. This time? The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Sadly, these are kind of terrible dipped in milk. The coffee flavor completely falls away and the chocolate part is also super muted. However, dipped in coffee? These are fantastic! It's like a coffee shop in my mouth and THEY ARE MINE GO THE FUCK AWAY! MINE MINE MINE! Ahem...

On the FACE Rating System, these get 2 Smiley Faces. Pretty darn tasty, good in coffee, and wonderfully munchable, these are coffee cookies done well. If you like coffee, and most of you do, go out and get some today! Your tummy will thank you! Your coffee with thank you! Your milk...will not.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Kotas Reviews Lay's Everything Bagel with Cream Cheese Chips

So, Do Us A Flavor rolls on, and we come to our final (so far) bag of nonsense that's been released. I really have to hand it to Frito-Lay, they aren't afraid to toss out any old flavor and see what sticks. I'm still kinda sad that the Cappuccino chips didn't work out, because they made a GREAT ice cream topping, though they really weren't good for much else. Still, if you don't try everything, you might miss something, right? That's the kind of attitude that brings us to today's offering. Ladies, Gentlemen, and budgies, today we take a look at Lay's Everything Bagel with Cream Cheese chips.

Kettle Cooked even, just like Mom used to buy.
 The Everything Bagel is what you get when you mix thrift with a variety of bagels, or at least some of them. When I was a kid, I always assumed it was what you got when you took a bunch of "bagel dough scraps" left over from making OTHER bagels, and then threw them all together into a glorious Frankenstein's Breakfast sort of way. Still, considering you never saw any sweet bagel portions in it, nor more complex bagels like Asiago Cheese or Sun-Dried Tomato, I should have known it was simply a snappy name for a bagel with "a giant pile of stuff" on it. Oddly, I always thought that the onion and garlic portions overwhelmed every other flavor in the bagel sort of defeating the point of this. So, let's see what they do with the chip version eh? 

Yup, that's a bagel with cream cheese alright. The chip next to it is pretty unimpressive, but it does sort of get the point across. Not sure why they went with purple for the accent color, but what do I know about marketing? Let's crack it open!

Sad, really.
Well, color me unimpressed. These chips look like chips with coal dust on them. The smell is very strong, but more reminiscent of sour cream than cheese, though not exactly like "sour cream and onion" chips either. I suppose there's a lot more garlic notes. The chips themselves have actual poppy seeds on them, though no sesame seeds, caraway seeds, or any other kind of seed. It's practically seedless, I tells ya. But who cares how it looks, it's a chip right? How does it taste?

For something labeled "Everything" it sure tastes a lot like "sour cream and onion and garlic" chips more than anything else. The onion and garlic flavors just completely dominate, though the sour cream flavor comes out a bit sometimes. What it doesn't taste like is a bagel and/or cream cheese. Oh, there's maybe a bit more tangyness to the sour cream note, but it's still basically sour cream flavoring. It's not a bad flavor, but it's not particularly unique or interesting, and it is so heavy that unless you paired it with something equally strong it will simply be the flavor of your meal. I can tell you that if it wasn't labeled "Everything Bagel with Cream Cheese" I would have no idea that is what you were going for, unlike the Crispy Taco chips. Kinda off the mark on this one.

On the FACE Rating System, it gets an unsurprising 0 Faces. They aren't bad, they aren't good. If you really, really like sour cream and onion chips and want something with a bit more garlic, these might be up your alley. They are not up my alley though. Not bad, Frito-Lay, and I applaud your creativity, but even the most creative corporation has a flavor dud sometimes.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Kotas Reviews Lay's Fried Green Tomato Chips

The Lay's Do Us A Flavor promotion for this year continues down a strange yet somehow familiar path, it seems, as we find ourselves with a primary food item being converted into a chip version. Have we gone too far this time? Is this truly the pinnacle of our horrible Frankensteinien food experiments? Or is this simply yet another in a long line of "uhhhh...what?" flavors of chips that has come before? Ladies and Gentlemen, let's get a bite of Lay's Fried Green Tomato chips.

Wavy like a Fox!
As a resident of the South, I should probably be familiar with these, but they were never a staple of my household growing up and seeing them in restaurants was always a novelty. In fact, I can't be sure, but I think when that movie I was a bit surprised to find that they were associated with Southern Cooking. My culinary journey is stilted and weird. Anycrap, we have these things from Lay's. The green packaging contrasts significantly with the picture of the red-dust coated chip, but it maintains the same level of detail and quality as other chips in this promotion, so that's good. Let's open it up.

Uh...huh. Probably won't see these at the Whistle Stop Cafe, that's for sure.
 Well, they smell quite tomato-y, though I couldn't tell you what distinguished it as "fried green". They look somewhat less flavor dust coated than the packaging would indicate, but that's okay, these things never get it perfectly right, eh? The flavor is...well, it has its own unique charm. It's got a strong dose of tomato, though it's more like sun dried than fresh (or fried. Or Green), but it also has a highly surprising spicy kick that I was not expecting. A few mouthfuls of these beauties and you'll have the makings of a sinus cleaning amount of heat. It's not a very flavorful heat though. I mean, there's the tomato flavor and then your mouth just It's not bad, but it's really weird as I absolutely was not expecting ANY heat, let alone a decent amount of it. I'm told that fried green tomatoes occasionally have a spicy kick depending on the recipe, so that's it I guess? Weird.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 0 Faces. I don't hate them. They taste alright I guess, if you like Spicy Sun-Dried Tomatoes, but they do not really remind me of Fried Green Tomatoes at all, and yes I have had them. It's not a flavor that I would go out of my way for, but if you really want something spicy, but are sick of all the traditional "spicy" type flavors (BBQ, Flamin', Nacho, etc), these might be fun to try. Or not. For me, they are quite "meh".

Friday, August 4, 2017

Kotas Reviews Lays Crispy Taco Chips

This grand season is upon us once again, as thoughts of a young individual turn toward one thing: Potato Chips. Yes, it's time for Do Us A Flavor 'round these parts people, and I can't wait to stuff my face! Frito-Lay has been getting more and more creative in its flavorings and this year we have a relatively calm bunch to choose from (so far, as who knows what this year's Cappuccino will be). So let's tackle the one that most resembles a pre-existing flavor! Ladies and Gentlemen, let's take a taste of Lay's Crispy Taco chips.

Nice and sassy!
The packaging this go around is of the "white with color accent variety, similar to their Lay's Kettle type packaging. The font is sufficiently sassy in a corporate kind of way, and the taco picture looks pretty darn tasty, with an example chip next to it for...reasons. Anyway, I like the art, though why Crispy Taco and not just Taco? As a chip, of COURSE it is gonna be crispy, and honestly I don't know how "Soft" would be conveyed as part of a "flavor" anyway. Let's open it up!

Once you go taco, you never go..back...oh.
A close up of one of these chips would look like a Mad Max movie location. Nothing but red dust and bleak chip-based wasteland as far as the eye could see. Still, it smells pretty good, in a "taco spices out of the packet" kind of way. As a friend of mine said, it's kind of like cheating for Frito-Lay. They own Doritos, and those chips have had a taco flavor since forever. Hell, it was recently brought back as a special nostalgia promotion, right? I've had those chips and they aren't anything special. So my expectations aren't super high on these. Let's eat this over with. 

Well damn, if it doesn't taste almost EXACTLY like biting into a Taco Bell crunchy taco, down to the barest hint of lettuce flavoring. It's got that hard to describe somewhat beefy overtone, with the spicing and veggie content I'd expect. Dare I say there is even a touch of the sour cream? I mean, it's like they went to Taco Bell, ordered a few dozen tacos, processed them into flavor dust, and put them on potato chips. Hot damn, this is actually pretty tasty, and it tastes almost nothing like the "packet of spices" flavor that Dorito Taco Flavor chips have. Now, not every bite is perfect, since the dust concentrations, while heavy, are a bit inconsistent, but these are easily munchable on most occasions. 

On the FACE Rating System, these get 2 Smiley Faces. Not an every day flavor, since these super strongly flavored chips would overwhelm most traditional chip pairings, but as an "on their own" snack they are superb at replicating the Taco Bell taco experience, if not an authentic taco experience. If you like Taco Bell, you sort of have to try these. If you don't, well, don't say I didn't warn you. Now excuse me, I have a bag to devour.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Kotas Reviews Crystal Pepsi

Nostalgia is a powerful feeling, especially when hawking cola flavored sugar water to the masses. How else can you explain the meteoric fall of New Coke, and the subsequent strangely still meteoric even though they actually fall out of the sky rise of Coca Cola Classic a few months later? Ever notice that with a lot of pop culturally significant brands it comes down to "entrenched incumbent vs underdog newcomer?" Coke vs. Pepsi, Nintendo vs. Sega, Wal-Mart vs....well, everyone, the story is told and retold over and over again. Still, out of these eternal struggles come weird and strange iterations. With that, let's take a look at the legendary Crystal Pepsi.

Crystal Pepsi is LEGENDARY in pop culture as one of the most 90s things to ever exist, and for good reason. I mean, look at its introductory ad from the 1993 Super Bowl. LOOK AT IT:

Set to Van Halen's "Right Now", Crystal Pepsi splashed onto the scene to good initial sales as a part of the "clear is pure" trend started by Ivory Soap of all things. Sales quickly faded as people realized that maybe this wasn't as revolutionary as it appeared, and just like that, it was gone months after its launch. Still, the idea was kept alive by aficionados of the drink, who traded old bottles and cans on Ebay for ever increasing sums. That is where it would have remained, but then the nostalgia wave began to overtake pop culture, and Coca-Cola got into the act by re-releasing Surge, another 90s soda, to mild acclaim, and Pepsi followed suit with a limited re-release of Crystal Pepsi last year. I guess the gas station I purchased this at had some leftover, because this one was bought like, last week. Let's check it out!

Well, it's certainly clear, that's for damn sure. It's got a nice effervescence with a solid citrus-ish note that pleases my "non-cola soda" expectations. This version isn't exactly like the original though, since it has caffeine unlike the one from the 1990s. Eh, down the fuckin' hatch, right? RIGHT! This tastes pretty good, actually, the citrus is sweet, but not super lemon-lime like Sprite or 7up. It's got a bit of tang to it, not unlike the Zima re release and is quite nice going down. I don't think I'd pick this over cola flavored soda, but it's a nice bit of "something different" when out and about. Good job, PepsiCo!

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 1 Smiley Face. This is a re release done pretty well, even if it is just a cheap marketing ploy. I say that you should give it a try for it's so called "final release" coming up soon (mid-August I believe), but don't feel too bad if you miss it. I'm a fan, but not an obsessive fan. You won't find me scouring Ebay for this stuff, that's for sure.   

Friday, July 28, 2017

Kotas Reviews Zima

Sweet lord the Nostalgia train is a rolling hard lately in Soda Country. Coca-Cola brought back my beloved Surge (albeit only in gas stations), while Pepsi, wanting to outdo even that effort brings us Crystal Pepsi (also in gas stations...and on my list as soon as I can find it). So I guess MillerCoors wanted to get in on that sweet, sweet action and that brings us to our subject today. Ladies, Gentlemen, Kids get the fuck out of here, let's take a peak at Zima!

You magnificent BASTARD!
Yes, before that delicious plague of the beer aisle at grocery stores known as the "clear malternative beverage" assailed us in the early 2000s, with such "masterpieces" as Bacardi Silver and Smirnoff Ice, there was the granddaddy of them all, Zima. Marketed with the slogan "Zomething different" this clear boozy soda-ish "not-beer" was marketed as hip, cool, suave, and interesting. You know, like a hipster before that was a thing. You probably wouldn't know about it. Anyway, it quickly got a reputation as a "girl booze", mostly because it tasted pretty sweet and lo and behold, women drank more of it than other beers of the day. Still, for such a maligned product, it persisted until 2008, when MillerCoors discontinued it. So, why is it back, in the original bottle styling no less? I'm gonna go with "nostalgia is a powerful drug son" and move on to the resurrected product itself.

I was too young to partake of Zima when it was first released waaaaaay back in 1993, but I remember the commercials featured a guy in a white suit talking with another dude and...honestly it just being kind of strange. Definitely different, and the guy kept replacing his "s" characters with "z" ones. By the time I was old enough to consume them (and yes, they were still around at that point) I didn't bother since it had was already as uncool as bell bottoms and brightly colored leggings. Since I'm older and yes, touched by the nostalgia bug, I saw this in the store and thought "Yes, I simply MUST have this". So here we are. Let's crack it open!

Well, it's definitely clear. It looks, and smells, like boozed up Sprite. It tastes a lot like it too, with a nice citrus-y sour note so it's not super sweet, but interesting. I will say this, it certainly tasted better than I expected it to, and I happily drank a six pack's worth (with a bit of help). To be fair, I loved Bacardi Silver back in the day and this reminds me of a tangier version of that (original flavor, not the weird faux fruit versions that exist today). Who knew, right?

On the FACE Rating System, this gets TWO nostalgic Smiley Faces. While it definitely doesn't rank up there as a go to malt beverage, it's a nice change of pace when I'm feeling more in the mood for a soda, but don't want to have liquor with a mixer. Go out and get hammered 90s style, you probably won't regret it! Probably.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Kotas Reviews Mountain Dew-S-A

July 4th, long past us at this point, has always been a somewhat controversial holiday. On one hand, it celebrates the signing of the one of the biggest "And go fuck yourself" letters ever written, and on the other, it celebrates that by encouraging pyrotechnical displays not much safer than playing out in Uncle Bill's Machete Shack and Rusty Nail Emporium. Still, as Apu Knockoff #47 would say "Celebrate your country's independence by blowing up a small part of it!" Lucky for us, we're past that an onto the stupid stunt foods! Ladies and Gentlemen, let's look at Mountain Dew-S-A.

Well, A for effort, if not grammar.
You know, I don't know that the world needed a patriotic soda, but by Uncle Sam, Mountain Dew is gonna give it to ya! Look at all that majesty, what with the fake 3D effect stars, and random assortments of red, white, and blue space. I also find it amusing that Dew is repeated twice on the label, which makes for a striking, if stupid, logo. So, this is actually a combination soda, containing three different flavors of Mountain Dew: Code Red, White Out, and Voltage (Red, White, and Blue sodas respectively). All three are mixed together to create...this hybrid soda. I have to give them credit, it's certainly an interesting take on patriotism and soda. Let's see how it looks in the glass!

Light Purple is clearly the color of Freedom. 
Well, that was...expected. As any primary school teacher will tell you, mixing Red, White, and Blue together gets you a lovely shade of purple, and this soda does not disappoint in holding up the color wheel's prediction. I guess this is why it comes in cans, eh? But who cares how it looks, it's how it tastes that matters, right? Right! Let's drink up!

As to how it tastes, I will quote a friend of mine who dared try it with me: "It tastes like someone melted a Bomb Pop down and drank the liquid". That pretty much sums up the flavor. It has distinct elements of all three component sodas, with Code Red being the most prominent, but the other parts combine to make an interesting and decent tasting whole. I rather liked it, but it's not something I would want over another soda. It is definitely something I would want every now and again to change up my soda experiences. Thumbs up, Mountain Dew, this is pretty good!

On the FACE Rating System, I give it 1 Smiley Face. The theme is sort of all over the place, and the color is fabulous, but this "formerly only the province of soda fountain experimentation" tastes pretty decent. If you are in a mood to celebrate 'Murica, give a whirl. I certainly like it better than actual Mountain Dew. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Kotas Reviews Pepsi Fire

Well, the Summer is upon us and that means stifling heat and suffocating humidity! Isn't that great? Well, I don't know about you, but when it's hot outside, I often reach for a cool refreshing beverage to help chill my inner self, and hopefully distract me from the fact that parts of me are dying at this very moment! Hooray! And what better way to start off a bunch of beverage reviews than by one that is as refreshing as it is weird. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's take a peek at Pepsi Fire.

Pepsi used to be the hip, cool upstart to take on the soda behemoth known as Coca-Cola. In the 80s it was the choice of the Pepsi Generation, the winner of the Pepsi Challenge, and maker of one of the best promotional items ever. Still, it never quite managed to overcome its stalwart foe, and started introducing gimmicks to fire off in the vicious Soda Wars. From clear soda, to adding lemon to Cherry Vanilla flavoring, Pepsi was always the leader of soda gimmicks, with Coca-Cola not far behind...except maybe this time. I honestly never would have considered adding a cinnamon flavor to a cola of all things, but, seriously, how bad could it be?

Well, it LOOKS like a regular old soda, perhaps with a tinge of red. The packaging is about what I would expect from Pepsi, with the logo covered in a stylized flame and red being the prominent color of the label. The word "FIRE" is bold and eclipses the size of the word "Pepsi", which is a bold choice. The effervescence upon opening the cap is...well, it's intense. It sort of tickles, no...stings the nose with promises of something that burns. It is mildly unpleasant, but it doesn't linger too long. 

Drinking this is sort of like drinking a ginger beer, but with a lot less ginger and a lot more cinnamon flavor. The "burn" is about the same as a mild ginger beer. A little harsh, but not terrible. The cinnamon flavor doesn't go with the cola flavor AT ALL though, and just makes the whole thing taste sort of weird. Not very refreshing either, because the cinnamon clings to your tongue more than is comfortable. 

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 0 Faces. I finished the bottle, and it was sort of different, but not something I would really ever seek out again. It kind of reminds me of a low rent Fireball Whiskey cash in, to be honest. Maybe someone out there will love this, but I did not. Still, worth a try if you like novelty sodas. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Kotas Reviews Scotch in a Can

Summer is a time for hanging out on the porch, sitting around with your friends, and may partaking of the occasional adult beverage to wash your cares away. But sometimes you want something a little fancy, but not TOO fancy if you know what I mean. Sitting on the porch with people in flip flops doesn't exactly say "sophisticated drinker". So, what do you do if you'd love some, say, Bowmore 25, but just aren't classy enough? Well, have I got a beverage for you. Ladies and Gentlemen, let me present to you Scottish Spirits Single Grain 3 Year Scotch Whiskey...

Yes, this is a real thing and does exist. It was Memorial Day when I brought this out to liven up an already spirited porch discussion of board games. The more savvy drinkers were, ahem, somewhat aghast at the very existence of such a thing, but this ain't my first time drinking booze from a can. Naturally, it was decided collectively that the only way to truly experience this was in the form of shots. So yeah, it's Scotch in a Can, and the label is...well, fine, I guess. I mean, at least it doesn't say Victory Scotch on it, right? Oh, and it has a little rubberish cap cover so you can "save" any leftover scotch in the can without having to try and transfer it to a flask, decanter, or the sink drain. Neat, eh? Let's drink up!

In the Harvard shot glass, because I'm fucking classy.
You know, I was actually pleasantly surprised by this Scotch. For one thing, it did not taste like turpentine, or distilled sadness. For another, while I wouldn't call it good, it was very distinctly Not Bad. At $6 can, or roughly 10 shots, I wasn't expecting much, but I certainly wasn't expecting it to be drinkable, let alone "not bad". I'm sure a real Scotch aficionado would have terrible things to say about it, but it was relatively smooth, and the flavor was okay. This is way better than I was expecting, and several at my table shared that opinion. To be fair though, we'd already had a few rounds by this point, so your mileage may vary.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 1 Smiley Face. It was way better than I expected, and certainly has enough novelty factor for me to bring a can or two to outings so I can force encourage others to join me in this particular brand of dumpster drink diving. It will NOT however open you up to the wide wondrous world of Scotch Tasting. It does not really pretend to be more than it is, and for that, it has my respect. Give it a whirl!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Kotas Reviews Jelly Donut Oreos

National Doughnut Day has come and gone. Ostensibly a holiday to celebrate the glory of the humble doughnut, it's really just a marketing scheme cooked up to push delicious fried dough treats into your food hole by several corporate entities who seek to make a profit off of doughnut awareness. What better way to celebrate than a corporate entity producing a shameless cash in variant of its signature product? Ladies and Gentlemen, let's take a look at Jelly Donut Oreos.

Sure, why the fuck not.
Honestly? I'm not a huge fan of jelly doughnuts. This is not to say that filled doughnuts aren't enjoyable, but the jelly filling used in most commercial doughnuts is less like jelly and more like a robot's version of what it think jelly should taste like, soullessly extruded from various nozzles to satisfy its cruel human masters. They are okay, is what I'm saying. Still, I can honestly say I've never felt the need for a cookie version of this, even if my beloved Oreos are so desperately trying to make me love them by including a doughnut flavor. I mean, their Cinnamon Bun Oreos were pretty tasty, so maybe pastry lightning can strike twice? Let's find out!

That's lookin' real good there Lou.
The packaging is nice, though I wonder at the efficacy of specifically pointing out the "jelly flavored center", when it is plainly obvious what it is supposed to be. The scent is vaguely chemically flavored sugar-ish, with an unrecognizable yet still "berry-ish" overtone. Honestly, I'm not that impressed with the look of these things. I don't know what they were going for, but what they got was "Golden Oreo that someone used to stop the bleeding from a shaving cut", and that's not super appetizing. Seriously, this is some lazy ass shit right here. Take Golden Oreo, drip a few drops of "jelly essence" into it, and bam, charge $2 extra for the privilege.

The flavor is a forsaken wasteland of "meh". Basically, it tastes like it looks: Like a Golden Oreo that someone dripped a melted Jolly Rancher on, and oh man is this flavor not good. It's not poison, and I didn't gag. It's not even "okay". The package sits untouched by me or my spouse for over a week. Even my kid has only asked for one, though it may just be she forgets they are there. I don't care for Golden Oreos much anyway, because the "vanilla" cookie just doesn't have the same robustness of the chocolate, and the vanilla creme really needs a contrast, not a compliment to work. This is all of that with some shitty jelly-esque nonsense on top. What a waste of everyone's time.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 2 Frownie faces. A meh cookie with a lazy gimmick that sucks leads to much disappointment. There is nothing doughnut like about it anyway. Unless you feel like eating someone's mistake, stay the hell away from these and get some actual good cookies.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Kotas Reviews Twinkies Ice Cream Cones

Ah, the glory and menace of Summer is finally starting to beat down upon us! June is traditionally the start of the "summer season", even if it isn't the official calendar start, and that's okay. I'm more into the pop culture of summer than being a super stickler about dates and whatnot. After all, we live in a time of "Christmas in July" as being a thing, so the rules are clearly very flexible. Anyway, I'm not here to talk about that, but instead a sweet treat to beat the heat. Ladies, Gentlemen, and I dunno, Lizardfolk, let's take a gander at the Twinkies Ice Cream Cone.

When life gives you lemons, throw them away and eat ice cream!
I can hear the complaints now. "Didn't you already review this?" In response, I say, "No. Because Ice Cream Treats are distinctly different from plain ice cream". And I would be correct. So, here we are. Premade Ice Cream Cones, such as the venerable Drumstick, have been around since, well, 1928, and have been a staple of the freezer aisle for a long time. The only other version of this I have seen is the Nutty Buddy, currently produced by Purity Dairy, and the Twinkies Ice Cream Cone is a very close match to both the packaging and overall shape. Fun fact: Nutty Buddy Ice Cream Cones share a name with a Little Debbie snack cake and a brand of athletic cup! The more you know!

Protect me, cone!
Yeah, this thing pretty much looks like a Twinkie themed Nutty Buddy. The packaging is spot on with the Twinkie theme though, and that is always something I can appreciate. Opening this took me back to my grade school days when having enough pocket money to purchase a Nutty Buddy from the school cafeteria made those last few days of school extra less terrible. Well, let's rip it open!

That's a lot more yellow than I was expecting, really.
You know, this thing looks kind of odd. The ice cream (and its attendant soft cake...uh, sprinkles? Bits? Cake bits.) is almost perfectly shaped and formed into that "just squeezed from a decorating bag" swoosh. The chemical smell is fairly obvious, way more so than in the pint of Twinkies ice cream. The flavor...well, the flavor is certainly there. The very yellow parts are very sweet, with some of the birthday cake ice cream flavoring as the pint version, but they have an extra...gummy quality that isn't bad, but has a very Not Ice Cream mouth feel. The chemical notes are very pronounced, and the cake bits are larger and way more obvious than in the pint. It's not a bad flavor, but it is a strange one that makes you ask the question "did I accidentally eat some sort of decorative fondant instead of ice cream?" Once you get through that, though, it appears the stuff below it is just Twinkies Ice Cream, which means it is quite good. The cone itself is on par with a Drumstick cone, right down to the tip of the cone being filled with chocolate. All around, pretty tasty. 

On the FACE Rating System, these cones get 1 Smiley Face. As a Frozen Confection, they hold up pretty well, tasting pleasant if a little too artificial and gummy in places. The price of this particular treat keeps it to a "sometimes" food, and I would definitely recommend the straight ice cream over this version any day of the week. Still, I recommend going out and trying them if you like ice cream cones but hate actually putting them together. Welcome to Summer folks, it's gonna be a bumpy ride!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Kotas Reviews Fireworks Oreos

Summer is upon us. The glorious, if rain-filled, temperate climate of Spring is rapidly giving way to the oppressive face melting heat of summer, driving all but the most resilient of outdoors folk back inside as God intended. Before we all have to baste in our own gravy when we step outside though, we get to enjoy at least one more weekend of decent weather, and with it, a holiday. That holiday is Memorial Day, and what better way to celebrate than with Pop Rocks. In Cookies. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's pop into Fireworks Oreos.

Gandalf never thought of THIS, now did he? So many dead hobbits if he did though.
First, a shout out to [REDACTED], who sent these all the way from the fabled bee pastures of...well, around his house I guess. I salute you [REDACTED]! Anyway, I really would have expected these to come out closer to July, what with that giant firework using holiday that shows up then for us United Statesians. Still, we do love to blow stuff up, and fireworks are associated with summer. The packaging is quite distinct with a solid patriotic vibe to it, and lots of red and white starburst firework graphics that go well with the traditional Oreo blue. There's even a giant star that lets us know that within there is "Popping Candy". What the hell, Nabisco, couldn't shell out money to Pop Rocks Inc. for the cross promotion? I mean, I get it. One does not often think of Pop Rocks and Oreos as "pairing well", but shit, ya done shelled out for PEEPS of all things, so, what's up with that? Let's tear it open!

Well, that was slightly underwhelming. I guess I shouldn't have expected any sort of explosion upon opening the package but a part of me hoped for it, you know? Ah well, the cookies themselves look and smell like Oreos, though the creme itself is full of colorful candy bits. The taste is almost exactly what you would expect. Oreo, but with Pop Rocks, er, "popping candy" shoved into it. You can probably get a similar effect by eating an Oreo and some Pop Rocks at the same time. Licking the creme itself produced a much more active set of pops from the candy, presumably because the saliva/candy interaction area wasn't blocked by as much cookie. Overall, these taste pretty good. I mean, Oreos are delicious and the Pop Rocks add some novelty without really detracting from the experience, except for a bit more crunch. It was even relatively decent in milk, though the popping sensation was weird.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 1 Smiley Face. They are good as a seasonal thing, and the execution is exactly what you would expect, along with it actually being pretty tasty, so two thumbs up on that front. I would say these would go great for a backyard cookout or patriotic celebration, but they aren't really and every day kind of thing unless you are some sort of Pop Rock fanatic. Pick some up for the novelty, but pass me the regular Oreos on most days.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Kotas Reviews Twinkies Ice Cream

Well, it's catch up time around the ol' blog. I've had several people now send me things to try or bring them to me at various social outings solely for the purpose of reviews. In this second part, I have been lax, so I'll be taking an opportunity to catch up on those. Anyway, it's summer time! Summer always makes me think of the ice cream shop my dad would take me to to get a malt occasionally when I was a wee lad. They had weird flavors (like bubblegum or gummy bear) and something always seemed a little wacky about the whole operation. Still, I believe even they would tilt their heads sideways at what I'm about to show you next. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's dive into Twinkies The Ice Cream

Photo from:
Before we get into this, let me throw a very well deserved thank you to [REDACTED]. They provided me with this at about 1am on a Saturday Night when I was feeling a little tired and it was a welcome surprise on a hot summer night. Kudos, mysterious benefactor! Now, on with the show. 

So, it is no secret that I love Twinkies. I don't know what it is about these things that makes them taste wonderfully artificial, but man, I can't get enough of it. I should get enough of it, considering my waistline, but that's neither here nor there. I will admit that I never in my wildest flights of fancy thought "You know what these would be good in? An ice cream flavor!" Still, this is the world we live in now. I must say, they got the packaging exactly right. Twinkies themed all the way, with a picture of the ice cream itself. Solid presentation, let's tear into it.

The ice cream itself looks just like it does on the package: lightish yellow with chunks of a cake-like substance. But I know what you are asking. How does it taste? Well, have you ever had birthday cake ice cream? It's sort of like birthday cake, but it has these incredible spikes of sugar that represent the "sprinkles" or whatever, that sort of detract from the somewhat cakelike flavor? Yeah, this is a much better version of that. The cake flavor is strong, but not overwhelming, the "sprinkles" have been dispensed with, and the cake-y bits add just a little bit of texture to break up the general creaminess. In short, this is the birthday cake ice cream we've all been waiting for. I will say this: it tastes NOTHING like a Twinkie. Not even a little. But holy jeez is it freakin' tasty. I tore my way through a pint of this stuff like a starving mutant lizard beast through a foolish explorer. It was super tasty, and I immediately wanted more once it was gone, and then went out and did a little dance of joy. I am super serious about that.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 3 Smiley Faces. This is the best rendition of birthday cake ice cream I've had to date. If you like birthday cake ice cream, shovel some Twinkies Ice Cream in your face right now! If you are looking for "Twinkie as a frozen dessert experience" though, you will come away disappointed 'cause this is barely Twinkie-esque. Still, stock up now. This is a limited edition!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Kotas Reviews Thin Mints Cereal

Girl Scout Cookies are an icon of American food pop culture. Every spring, dozens of impromptu cookie stands blossom from store fronts, pending boxes of cookies you basically just can't get at any time of the year. Sure, there are near enoughs and look alikes galore, but none of them can match the true essence of the Girl Scout Cookie. Or can they? And can they make it a breakfast cereal? Ladies and gentlemen, let's dive into Thin Mints Cereal.

What a racket, eh?
The Girl Scouts have been selling cookies since 1917, and Thin Mints since 1956. While similar to the Keebler Grasshopper, the Thin Mint manages to outdo even that venerable snack in the field of mint chocolate cookies. The perfect amount of crunch coupled with a solid mint flavoring and a chocolate coating that accents rather than overwhelms, the Thin Mint has been a favorite around the Kotas Household for over a decade. Of course, the transition to cereal format has been the death of other flavors over the years. Still, I'm a known cereal advocate and the thought of a cereal version of one of my favorite cookies held lots of appeal. Let's take a look!

Well, it looks like the stuff on the box. Not sure it's Thin Mint material though.
The scent coming off these things is basically the mint from Thin Mints, along with a hint of chocolate. It's not exactly like smelling Thin Mints, but it's pretty darn close so points for that. The cereal pieces themselves look a lot like...well, flattened Cocoa Puffs. They hold up well in milk, but...well, that ain't all there is to this is there? To sum up in the words of the Internet: 

The flavor is decent on the mint side of the equation, but there is hardly any chocolate to back it up. The first crunch has an "okay" amount of chocolate to go with the mint, but it vanishes extremely quickly leaving you with mint, milk, and generic cereal flavor. You know two flavors that don't necessarily go well together? Mint and Milk. Chocolate would give it contrast and mute the creaminess of the milk that really makes the mint taste weird, but thems the breaks. Shame, I had high hopes for this one.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 1 Frowny Face, mostly for disappointment. I was hoping for something truly interesting, and I have to admit that they tried to make a faithful version of the Thin Mint. Still, how you can screw up the chocolate part and expect me to accept a "mint cereal"? Oh well, perhaps they did a better job on the other Girl Scout Cookie cereal. Still, expectations are low. If you really want mint to go with sub par Cocoa Puffs, these are right up your alley. For anyone else? Pass.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Kotas Reviews Lay's Chicken and Waffle Potato Chips

Occasionally we here at Kotas Reviews intend to review something, but it slips through the cracks. Gets lost in the shuffle, skipped over, or otherwise pushed aside until later. Sometimes it's much later. So imagine my surprise when I found a bag of these things tucked away in the pantry. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's take a look at a new twist on an old classic, Lay's Chicken and Waffle Potato Chips.

Better late than never, eh? Well...
So, these were a part of the Lay's All Stars promotion, where they take popular flavors from previous promotions like Do Us A Flavor and Flavor Swap and bring them back for a limited time. Because why the hell not, really? These hail from the very first Do Us A Flavor contest, back in the halcyon days of 2013, when life was simpler and..well, simpler right? RIGHT? Anyway, I didn't have them then, so I guess I'll have them now! The packaging is actually pretty nice, with a pretty yummy looking picture of chicken and waffles next to a lone potato chip. I also enjoy sky blue as a packaging color. Well, let's tear it open.

Well, they can't all be winners.
I'll be honest, these things look like plain Lay's chips. This is a triumph of flavor dust concealment, because the smell is equal parts savory and sweet, though they mix in a weird, yet non-offensive sort of way. They aren't quite as heavily scented as, say, the Szechuan Chicken chips were, but they get the point across. It's not quite chicken-ish though. The flavor holds more chicken essence, but the "waffle" part is almost non-existent. There is a bit of sweetness that almost tastes like syrup, but not quite. It's decent enough, but it doesn't wow me. The balance of flavors isn't really there, skewing heavily toward the chicken part, without any doughy or mapley flavors, just some sugar thrown haphazardly into the mix. Not bad, but certainly not what I think of when I eat chicken and waffles.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 0 Faces. They are okay, but I wouldn't seek them out. There is a bit of novelty factor to consider, and I do love the packaging, but most of you should really just pass on this. It's very mehtacular. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Kotas Reviews Bacon Pringles

Man, is bacon totally 2015 or what? I mean, sure, we are still left with the survivors of the Great Baconating that occurred a while back, but bacon is totally on the outs as a stunt food these days. Oh how the mighty have fallen. Still, we see the occasional product come out that touts as its main attraction some sort of bacon enhancement, like today's offering. Let's take a gander at Bacon Pringles.

You don't often see a long handled sandwich maker pressed into service as a bacon fryer.
The humble Pringle is not often featured here, due to its vast array of mouth experiences even before every food producer took a train to Flavor Country. They occasionally come out with a new spin on an old favorite, like "Xtreme Pizza Flavoring" or whatever, but they are generally content with their fourth place in the Chip Hierarchy, behind Lay's, Doritos, and Cheetos. Basically the answer to the question "What happens when you tell an engineer to make potato snacks that aren't greasy, broken, or stale before you even buy them", Pringles are the preferred snack of anyone who likes things neat and tidy. The can itself is typical Pringles, with a picture of frying bacon somehow magically levitating a Pringles chip above it. They don't really fuck around with fancy shit at the Pringles factory these days. Of course, we're not here for the can, but for the chips inside. What happens when you shove bacon into them?

When I popped the top it smelled like a Bacos truck crashed into said factory. It's not...bad, exactly, but bacon bits, specifically the glorious artificial masterpieces of chemistry known as BacOs (which have zero meat content) are meant to be used as an accent and topping, not a main flavor. They are therefore usually VERY intense when eaten in more than just a small amount. The chips themselves have a brownish flavor dust that doesn't look terribly appetizing, but I chomped my way in anyway.

Let me just say, these Pringles take it to the bacon limit. Very fake smokey, very fake bacon-y, very STRONGLY flavored these are. They aren't bad, and pretty much taste like a handful of BacOs with perhaps a bit of potato to give it "body", but they aren't something I'd want to eat a ton of either. I could see maybe crushing them up and throwing them on a salad if you are too lazy to sprinkle both bacon bits AND potato sticks onto your greens, but you just can't eat a lot of these at once without hitting bacon overload.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 0 faces. They are interesting, but they don't really rate as particularly good, unless you are in the habit of eating a jar of bacon bits as a snack, in which case these might be up your alley. It's a bit much for me, with the fake bacon flavor just being a little too much for me. Good on a salad, not by the fistful. Give them a whirl if you REAAAAALLY like bacon bits, but I wouldn't go on any sort of quest for them or anything.