Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Kotas Reviews the Starbucks Zombie Frappucino

Happy Halloween everyone! The perfect holiday. You get to wear costumes, gorge on candy, and leave neighbors with vague threats if your demands aren't met! How cool is that, eh? I've always enjoyed Halloween, for its focus on scares and sweets, and this year is no exception. Of course, this year I'll be escorting a little superhero around for candy goodness, but that doesn't mean I can't get a little something creepy for myself, now does it? Well, I couldn't do that, so I settled for today's offering. Ladies and Gentlemen, today we look at the Limited Time Only Starbucks Zombie Frappucino.

The Horror...the Horror...
Starbucks did a pretty darn good job with their Unicorn Frappucino, so I guess it's no surprise that they would once again dip into "mythical creatures" for inspiration. Finding this wasn't too hard this go around, mostly because now I know where to go for the limited edition stuff...the local grocery store outlet! People forget that it is there so when the main Starbucks has nothing, the one in the local store probably has plenty. Anyway, it is clear that Starbucks is trying to have both visual and flavor appeal with these. LOOK AT THIS! It looks both awful and amazing at the same time.

The base product is sickly green, with a rim of mocha "blood" topped by a pinkish brainlooking dollop of whipped cream. I'm not sure I ever considered what a 'Zombie' drink would look like, but damned if that doesn't look perfect, eh? The mocha ring actually "bleeds" into the drink!

Like so!
It's deliciously gross looking and yet enticing at the same time. Like Funyons. Still, that's not what is important now is it? You didn't buy this to just look at it, and neither did I! Well, it tastes...surprisingly bland compared to how it looks. The barista and I compared notes and we concluded that it was "Green Apple Laffy Taffy" flavored, though I think the marketing says it's supposed to be "Caramel Apple" flavored. If there is caramel in this, I couldn't find it. The chocolate adds very little to this, as does the whipped cream. Sure, they taste fine together, but they are mostly overwhelmed by the flavor of the base drink, which basically is "okay" at best. Kind of a disappointment really, because it looks amazing, but the drink itself is very...meh.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 0 spooky scary skeleton Faces. It looks amazing, and is wonderfully themed, but the flavor leaves a lot to be desired. I can't really recommend it unless you are super into odd flavored drinks, but if you get one you won't be sad. Just maybe a little let down. Now, if you will excuse me, I've a pumpkin to mutilate. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Kotas Reviews Lindt Lindor Pumpkin Spice Milk Chocolate Truffles

Well friends, we are coming to the close of another Pumpkin Spice season. It still reigns supreme in the Fall Flavors Smackdown despite some serious competitors. But that doesn't mean this old dog of a taste can learn some new tricks. And some "almost fancy" ones at that. Ladies and gentlemen, let's take a gander at Lindt Lindor Pumpkin Spice Milk Chocolate Truffles.

Is it Lindt or Lindor? Does anyone know? Oh wait, that's the PRODUCT...
Lindt is a Swiss Chocolate maker and they mostly sell individually wrapped truffles. They come in a wide variety of flavors and are no stranger to Limited Edition ones depending on the season. I tend to think they are good, but not great. Other chocolate makers make better truffles, but most of the better ones don't come in easy to share pre-wrapped versions, so you know, these are a staple of my holiday gifting and consumption. I guess they decided it was time to break into that lucrative "Fall Candy" market by coming out with these Pumpkin Spice editions.

The packaging is pretty distinctive. Each flavor in the Lindor line gets a specific color, so it's not a surprise that Orange would be for the pumpkin spice version. I also really like the leaf motif that accents the bag. This is also one of the few "fancy candies" to have a clear bit so you can see a visible measure of your shame. Moving on!

A vicious murder, observed by a bystander.
Yep, it's a chocolate truffle all right. Lindt chocolate has always had a very waxy feel to it and these somehow feel even waxier to the touch. The scent has some hints of pumpkin and nutmeg, but otherwise is just milk chocolate. Slicing it open reveals chocolate truffle filling that is surprisingly NOT orange, but definitely smells like it's been flavored. The taste is pretty good, a little waxy, but very smooth chocolate with some notes of pumpkin and "spice". Mostly, I taste chocolate but you can definitely tell that it has a flavor and that they tried. Nice work, really.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets a single Smiley Face. While they may not be my favorite chocolate, Lindt Lindor Truffles are nigh ubiquitous and this flavor does justice to the concept of Pumpkin Spice. It's not cloying or overwhelming, but it makes itself known on the tongue. If you like Lindt truffles, give these a try and you will probably like them. If you hate pumpkin spice and all things flavored with it, these will not change your opinion.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Kotas Reviews Mystery Oreos

October is one of my favorite months ever. Oktoberfest beer is still widely available. The weather goes from "sweet lord I'm hot" to "a lovely chill breeze". My lawn stops growing and thus no mowing. And Halloween is at the end of the month. I LOVE Halloween. Costumes, spooky stories, horror movies, and a very Addams Family aesthetic permeate the local area. Plus, the holiday is about candy extortion. So, naturally, I'd want to have some sort of mystery to solve right? Of course! So, let's take a look at Mystery Oreos.

Well, I do sort of love the packaging. It's got the traditional "oddity" swirl decoration, with a big old regular Oreo in the middle...but what sort of creme is it??? Only the foodgineers at Nabisco know what they are going for. The fact that I can theoretically win $50,000 for guessing correctly is also the cherry on the mystery sundae here. Let's crack it open.

Holy crap. These things smell like concentrated Froot Loops. They look, however, just like ordinary Double Stuf Oreos, which, I suppose, is the point. Still, the cookie is clearly going to be chocolate, so the creme must be flavored with something that at least doesn't clash too much with that. Oh goodness it smells artificial. Let's eat!

Well, I don't know what the hell these things are supposed to be, but the sure taste citrusy to me! They do retain that Froot Loop-ish flavor, but I think what they are actually aiming for is Italian Ice, Lime Flavor. It's not sour enough to be lemon flavor (and tastes very different from their Lemon Oreos), and it's different from their Lime flavor, certainly, but it isn't very "Orange", and since those are the three main citrus products, I don't have a lot more choices. At first I thought it was close to Orange Creamsicle, but it's got a bit too much "zing" and not enough "cream" for that to be true. It's pretty good though, since I keep eating them. It is very mysterious!

On the FACE Rating System, these get 1 Smiley Face. Certainly worth trying, but I doubt I'll buy more than this one package. I'm not sure what the flavor is, but I made my bet on Lime Italian Ice. To all who enter the contest, I wish you luck! Weird, yet effective, marketing this is.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Kotas Reviews Cookie Butter Oreos

Every so often I just have to wonder at a product. Some products are just so baffling that they make me ponder if we as a species have any idea what the hell we are doing. Still, life without variety isn't worth living, am I right? Perhaps! So let's take a look at today's experiment: Cookie Butter Oreos.

Cookie butter is a food spread made from crushed cookies, generally of the Speculoos style, mixed with fat, butter, and other nummy bits. I've seen it a few time in the store, but never felt compelled to try any. I mean, I guess it's like apple butter, but with cookies? Maybe it's good on toast? I have no idea what to do with this, though I guess you could make some sort of cookie ball thing with it. 

Well, this is at least a step up from the "Cookies and Cream" flavor fiasco but I still am a little confused by these. You are making a cookie that has the flavor of pulverized cookies? Uh, sure? Anyway, the package is exactly what you would expect from these, though it helpfully points out these are Graham Oreos and not your standard vanilla. I like the incorporation of "Limited Edition" as a stamp into the "cookie" in the Cookie Butter. Nice work, unnamed intern! Let's rip it open.

Tan in the place where you are, now look left...

These smell exactly like Biscoff cookies, which makes sense as those are the only brand of speculoos cookie I am aware of. The taste? The taste is like...a Biscoff cookie, but in paste form, with a touch of graham flavor. It tastes pretty decent really, but I am just left wondering WHY? So, cookie butter is made from ground up cookies, which you then took and made back INTO a cookie. Perhaps you could have, I don't know, saved a step and just never ground up the cookie? I suppose that doesn't really fit the Oreo "theme" but this probably didn't need to exist. Still, doesn't taste bad.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 0 Faces. I think they taste alright, but you can get that same taste from other cookies without needing to go through this...process. I am mostly just left confused. If you use Cookie Butter to make, say, a cake, that makes sense, as you are transforming the cookies into Cake format and thus the grinding may make it work better. But...these are just making a cookie from cookie butter. Which is like making a cow out of ground beef. Sure, it resembles a cow, but you were better off just leaving the poor thing alone.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Kotas Reviews Wasabi Doritos

Yeah, let's just say that "SPAM Week" isn't gonna be a thing. The reasons for that are many and varied, but mostly "I ain't eatin' Spam for dinner every day". Also my salt levels are higher than a Twitch streamer playing Cuphead. Anywho, it's time to move on to something both familiar and different at the same time. Something much more..fusion-y. Ladies, Gentlemen, Peasants from a Medieval Village, today Kotas Reviews Wasabi Doritos. 

The hip new food trend from, uh, seven years ago was fusion cuisine. You know, Asian Fusion, Indian Fusion, [INSERT ETHIC FOOD TYPE HERE] Fusion, I could go on forever. Of course, the usual "fusion" is "Generic American" which is how we got cheeseburger tempura rolls down at the local sushi hut. Still, it takes a while for these sorts of things to trickle down into the greater snack world, precisely because a lot of such dishes are extremely hard to translate into a snack food. Enter the humble wasabi pea. Wasabi is, of course, the spicy little dab of green paste one gets on the side of sushi. It is incredibly spicy, like horseradish (which is often used to make 'wasabi paste' and honestly probably the only kind of wasabi I've ever had), but the burn is short lived, and it has a solid flavor on top. The perfect spicy condiment, but not for everyone. I rather like it, but I know others who detest it. Still, it goes great on peas, which are surprisingly snackable despite having incredible levels of sinus clearing heat. I love wasabi peas, but I can only eat small amounts of them...or rather, I SHOULD only eat small amounts of them. Because reasons. Anyway, that's a lot of lead up to the question at hand: Is it any good on a tortilla chip?

Okay, somewhat less green than the bag indicated.
Well, the scent is strikingly similar to wasabi peas, though perhaps not as sharp. The color is exactly what I would expect, though the yellow of the corn chip obviously lightens the overall effect. This Mexican-Japanese fusion dish has all the hallmarks of a classic in the presentation, but how is the flavor? In a word, delicious. It mostly tastes like wasabi peas, only with "corn chip" instead of "dried pea" and it's fantastic. The wasabi flavor is strong and well distributed, and it even has a decent kick, though not as much as I would like from a Wasabi chip. Still, it is amazingly munchable, much moreso than the wasabi peas precisely because the heat isn't quite as strong. Super tasty and would go great with a cucumber roll or three. I personally think it could be a bit spicier without ruining the effect, but that's probably down to a personal preference.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 3 Smiley Faces. It is Exactly What It Says On The Tin, and I want more of them. I even prefer them over my previous spicy Dorito flavor of Spicy Sweet Chili, though I still think Cool Ranch is the Dorito Flavor King. If you like spicy foods, and especially if you like wasabi peas, do yourself a favor and get a bag or eight. I'll come over and help you eat them!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Kotas Reviews Bacon Spam

There is a long and storied tradition among the Kotases involving the consumption of tinned meat. From that glorious sausage from Vienna to the humble corned beef hash, meat from a can has been a staple member of the pantry for a long time. No matter how awful for us it really is. So, I guess we're gonna review Spam flavors now. Welcome to Spam...Week? Partial Week? Something! Today, ladies and gentlemen, we review Bacon Spam.

Bacon is everywhere these days.
So, I kinda love Spam. First introduced in 1937 by the Hormel company, this pork, ham (isn't that redundant?), potato starch, and sodium nitrate classic was popularized around the world during World War II, when it became a staple of United States Army rations. It has gone on to become a culinary staple in Hawaii and other Pacific Islands, and is an ingredient in the fusion food Spam Musubi. My culinary journey with Spam starts with my father frying up slices to serve as a lunch fashioned from "whatever the hell we had in the cupboard". Since then, I acquired a taste for the super salty, vaguely unidentifiable pork meat from a distinct can, and would generally keep some in my pantry for use on "days when I didn't feel like eating well, but still didn't want to go out." The only two varieties I knew of were "Spam" and "Spam Lite" (a misnomer if ever there was one, because ah jeez, look at that ingredient list). Still, I suppose the modern requirement for "many flavors" infests everything. Hence today's subject, Bacon Spam. 

The can itself is incredibly distinct, though this particular one has the easy open pull tab, rather than the old fashioned "key" model that used to be the only way to get Spam. The only distinguishing feature between this and an ordinary can of Spam is the "ribbon" design with the world "Bacon" on it. Sure, bacon flavored everything is "all the rage", though at this point it's probably overdone. Unlike Spam, which you CAN eat without preparation. Let's crack open this sucker!

Shown fried, because I'm not a savage.
Well, it smells distinctly of Spam (yes, it's a unique scent), very pork-ish with a hint of something chemical. It doesn't really smell any different from regular Spam though. It slices fine, and the color is exactly like normal Spam. Frying it releases several delicious scents, but still it is very much the same as non-Bacon Spam. Perhaps a bit smokier, but it's hard to tell. So, how does it taste?

Do you like Spam? Then you will like this. It might have a touch more "smoke" flavor than normal Spam, but really? If you served it to me without the label, I would never know it wasn't normal Spam. That said, it's pretty tasty, if you like pork. Because this is incredibly pork flavored. It was originally designed as a way to sell more pork shoulder, so...mission accomplished? Anyway, it's Spam. You know what you are getting.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 2 Smiley Faces. I enjoy the hell out of Spam, and this is basically "Slightly Different Spam", so I like it. Would I pick it over regular Spam? Probably not, given it's basically the same thing with a different label. It costs the same though, which gives it a leg up on some other "limited edition" flavor nonsense I've seen in the past. If you like Spam, you will like this. If you don't like Spam, don't bother.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Kotas Reviews Hydrox Cookies

Legacy is an important thing for a lot of folk. Most people want to be remembered fondly when they are gone, either by millions of others, or even just a few family. What we do in the present is how we will be viewed in the future, and we hope that view is a good one. Some products reach this level of cult status: Coca-Cola with cane sugar, the Encharito (for reasons no one can explain to me) and even a limited time promotional dipping sauce. Even more legendary are products that everyone thinks are rip offs, but actually came first. Today, we look at one of those, the humble Hydrox Cookie.

Further adding to our Peak Nostalgia crisis.
I think it is pretty obvious by now that I fucking love Oreos. When I was growing up, I always saw Hydrox as Just Another Shitty Generic version of my beloved Oreos, that could never possibly be as good. I never got a chance to put that to the test, as my parents never purchased them, and by the time I was old enough to buy them myself, why would I bother with what I considered to be an inferior product? So, what the hell is a Hydrox anyway?

According to one of my favorite websites, the Hydrox cookie was originally brought to market in 1908 by the Sunshine Biscuits company, 4 years before the introduction of Oreo. The trend in marketing at the time was "purity", so the creators tried to come up with a name that would inspire thoughts of purity. Turns out apparently "purity" equals "hydrogen and oxygen". So, these are really Water Cookies! Isn't that special? These cookies have a small cult following that is as obsessive about their perceived superiority to the Hydrox to the Oreo. This led to Leaf Brands not only taking over the trademark from Kellogg, but going to great lengths to get the original recipe and in 2015, restart production. And here we are.

Let's see what we've got here.

Well, that was anticlimactic.
I can tell you this, the scent is a much richer Chocolate than that of Oreos. The vanilla creme is incredibly sticky, so the "twist off test" is a miserable failure. The creme itself is incredibly sweet, almost painfully sweet and not very vanilla, which makes sense given the chocolate of the cookie is SUPER strong. Oddly, the marketing claims the creme is LESS sweet, which I find hard to believe. Together they taste fairly decent, but the cookie is very durable on top of its intense flavor, which makes these kind of hard to actually eat. You'll put in some work to munch these suckers down. It is hard to describe these in reference to Oreos, but the word "Unrefined" is what I would use. It is a stronger, more intense flavoring, but the cookie is incredibly crunchy and the creme is very sticky and their flavors do not blend together smoothly. These are pretty good cookies, but they are basically a "decent generic" rather than a unique and special flavor all their own. Special shout out though to those who love to dip their Oreos in milk. These bastards will soak it all up and come out swinging with a nice crunch. In fact, I will declare that these are the superior dunking cookie. The milk softens the cookie (and adds some needed mitigation of the intense chocolate flavor), but because the cookie starts off so tough, you still get a nice satisfying crunch when you eat it.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 1 Smiley Face. They are tasty, but only in so far as they are "pretty good if you don't have Oreos". I am sure there are those out there that find these to be the superior cookie, but this is not the cookie for me and my delicate palate. They cost the same as Oreos, so slotting them in for a try shouldn't be too difficult. Maybe you will find your new favorite cookie, especially if you only eat them with milk. I'll stick to my usurper cookies, thank you very much.