Monday, December 31, 2018

Kotas Reviews Meijer Ripple Steak and Onion Chips

Ah, it's the last day of the year. It's been a pretty low key year here at Kotas Reviews, with not as many reviews as I would have liked to get out. Still, we got some pretty entertaining material out of this year even if once again it was mostly food. But enough reflection about the past year, it's time to wrap up some business from November. Ladies and Gentlemen, we are about to dive into the Northern Treat known as Meijer Ripple Steak and Onion Chips. You are not prepared.

Well, this exists.
So, the idea of these chips was first floated to me by the same person who eventually introduced me to Jeppson's Malort (curse his true name!). He would mention these "amazing" chips during the inevitable down time that occurs in an online Dungeons and Dragons game, and promised he would bring some when we met. I'll say this, he totally delivered on his promise. These chips hail from Meijer, which is a grocery store chain from the Frozen North that apparently pioneered the idea of the "supercenter". Who knew, eh? Still, this particular chip flavor hails from their "in house" brand of chips, presumably a Ruffles competitor. The packaging is decent, with just a picture of the flavoring and nothing else. It's nothing special, but I don't hate it. Let's tear it open!

Classy is spelled "C H I N E T".
Yeah, these are chips alright. These are more in the Lay's Wavy style than the Ruffles style, with large ripples, suitable for dipping. However, the goodly amount of reddish flavor dust does allow them to stand out somewhat. Still, not unexpected for chips of this caliber. Let's give 'em a taste. 

Well spank my rear and call me Charlie, these chips are amazing. You eat one, and the super savory steak flavor hits, along with a large amount of onion flavor, and it is almost exactly the flavor of a grilled steak with onions, with a bite of baked potato tossed in for good measure. It is uncanny how much these chips taste like steak and onion. I'd almost say these could totally satisfy a craving for a decent (though not amazing) steak with some onions. Seriously, did Willy Wonka have a fit and make some chips to go with his chewing gum meal? These are a miracle of food science, they are.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 3 Smileys, mostly out of sheer shock at the flavor accuracy. I don't know what tastegineer came up with these, but give that person a freakin' medal. Holy hell these are good. If you ever travel to the land of Meijer, pick up a bag of these...and maybe one for me!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Kotas Reviews Mamma Mia Rhubarb Pie Beer

Well my loyal readers, the year is winding down and that means contemplation and reflection on oneself and one's actions. So of course that implies heavy drinking 'round these parts. Let's finalize some bad habits together! Ladies and Gentlemen, today we imbibe Mamma Mia Rhubarb Pie Beer.

That's a spicy...uh...bottle of beer?
Let's just get right to it. What the hell is up with this label? I mean, I sort of get the association of "elderly lady" with rhubarb pie and whatnot, but why is she angry enough to wag a finger at me? Do you not want me to drink your beer lady? Isn't that how you make money? I mean, what the hell? Other than the bizarre choice of mascot though, this label is boooooring with a capital Bore. At least it helpfully informs us it is "Ale brewed with Natural Flavors". Wait, isn't this supposed to be beer? Well, ale IS beer I suppose. Anyway, let's see how it looks in the glass.

She's just so disapproving!
Yeah, that's beer alright. It's got a nice clear brown color, with a strong odor of fruitiness with a touch of something sweet. I guess that is what rhubarb smells like, though I've not had it in ages. How does it taste? Well, it's not bad, but it's not fantastic either. It's got a nice "beer-y" flavor, with some interesting raspberry notes, but the finish is exceedingly sour, almost to the point of unpleasantness. It's definitely a fruit type sour, rather than "bad beer sour", so that's something. It's interesting that is for sure.

On the FACE Rating System, I give it 0 Faces. I don't hate it, and it is interesting, but I don't know that I like it either. It makes me sit back and say "Well, I certainly drank it" but I am not overwhelmed with feeling about it. In fact, I'm not even whelmed. Give it a try if it's on sale or something, but I certainly wouldn't seek it out. Like, ever.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Kotas Reviews Jeppson's Malort

Recently I journeyed south to meet up with some friends and attend a public event where some of those newfangled electronic sports were occurring. At this gathering of enthusiasts, one fellow hailed from the Frozen North of Chicago. From the icy wastes he brought in his pack two items native to his land: a snack food to be looked at later, and a bottle of a substance spoken of only in back rooms at a hushed whisper. Ladies and Gentlemen, today we explore the world of Jeppson's Malort.

Two-Fisted Terror!
Jeppson's Malort is a booze with a long and storied history. As noted on the label this liqueur is of Swedish origin. It seems the Swedes were known for their use of wormwood, which is a primary ingredient in this Malort. In fact, Malort is the Swedish word for wormwood. But I digress. The herbal infusion of wormwood is called besk, and was developed as a remedy for parasitic stomach worms. Somehow, it found its way to Chicago, where a man named Carl Jeppson started bottling his own recipe and selling it out of a suitcase. The local legend says that Jeppson, tobacconist and constant cigar smoker, had his taste buds scorched from his excessive tobacco smoking, and this Malort was one of the few flavors he could reliably taste. Further, it is one of the very few alcoholic beverages to be sold during Prohibition as medicinal liquor, because Jeppson would give a sample to law enforcement officers when stopped, and with a sour look on their face, they would concur that no one in their right mind would drink this concoction for recreational purposes. If that doesn't set your mouth to watering, what can, am I right? Let's see what it looks like.

Destiny, thy path awaits!
It's got a light color for a liqueur, and isn't nearly as syrupy as many of them are. In the glass it looks pale and light, almost as if it were to be refreshing. Let me tell you something, this drink LIES. The smell is that of facial astringent cleaner with a strong punch of what I guess is wormwood, very herbal and off putting. To describe the flavor, I would like to quote a friend of mine: "It tastes like regret." He's not wrong, you know. The initial flavor assault is like your yard clippings staged a revolt and forced themselves down your craw. Bracing, but actually something you can get used to. I mean, I've drunk more than my fair share of Strega over the years and while I wouldn't call it good, I can see how people might somehow enjoy it. No, what really reaches down your throat and pulls hard is the after taste. My GOD it is bitter, and tastes like an old shoe smells and it LINGERS like the hint of oppression in a prison cell. Sweat and must and exhaustion and tears, mixed with the lingering knowledge that yours is a very small place in the universe, arrayed against cosmic forces you simply do not understand nor can comprehend in their uncaring magnificence. The really weird thing? The more I drink it, the more I WANT to drink it, so I can somehow come to understand this heaving terror in a bottle. My body is repulsed, but my brain forces it forward ever ONWARD to more blasphemous and terrible vistas of knowledge. I can't explain it at all, but that's what it is. 

On the FACE Rating System, it gets 4 Frowny Faces. It is a fucking punch in the goddamn mouth of a drink, bold, brash, disdainful of you and your family, and will stay with your until you've long since forgotten why your mouth tastes like the bottom of a movie theater. As the back of the bottle says "Jeppson Malort has the aroma and full-bodied flavor of an unusual botanical. It’s [sic] bitter taste is savored by two-fisted drinkers." That's certainly one way to put it, I guess. I will say, though, it helps with stomach problems. I can see why it would be an effective treatment for stomach worms. You'll scare them to death.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Kotas Reviews Burger King Cheesy Tots

Thanksgiving is a time of horrid excess, where one's main objective is eating yourself into some sort of coma so as to avoid your family while still in the same room with them. It's a glorious thing, really and a tribute to the American tendency to do a simple thing in the most convoluted of ways. Also, there's a lot of traveling associated with the holiday, and you know what that means! Fast food on the go! Ladies and Gentlemen, let's take a look at something I found while stopping for a quick snack during the Thanksgiving slog: Burger King's Cheesy Tots.

I never knew they left, let alone came back!
It isn't a secret that I find tater tots to be one of the finest processed potato products that one can consume. There is just something super satisfying about a good tater tot: The crunchy exterior, the soft texture of the minced potato inside, coupled with a solid yet many creviced texture perfectly suitable for salt and sauce accumulation. I like tater tots is what I'm saying. Still, apart from Sonic, you don't often see tots on the menu at a fast food place. Could Burger King be looking for a way to better distinguish itself from its fellow burger slingers? Eh, probably. Tater tots sound tasty, right? As a topping, cheese is alright, so let's give these a whirl!

Well, those are not quite what I expected. They look less like tater tots and more like fried mac and cheese, which you can acquire on a stick at your local state fair. I mean, it resembles no tot I am familiar with, and the smell...the smell is distinctly NOT potato. It's sort of a vague savoriness, like...aerosoled umami, only, you know, shitty. I am highly dubious, but ONWARD!

Well, they taste like Styrofoam particles using gas station nacho sauce as a binder. It's gummy and paste like and only barely does it resemble either cheese or tot, and is certainly NOT a Cheesy Tot. They missed this flavor profile by a country mile and honestly made me question their conception of a "tater tot". Holy Jeez Burger King, these are gross!

On the FACE Rating System, these get 2 Frowny Faces. They taste bad, they look bad, they smell bad and they besmirch the good name of both cheese and tater tots. Whoever came up with these should be shunned from kitchens everywhere. You were warned.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Kotas Reviews Zone Perfect Pumpkin Spice Bars

They say that breakfast is the most important part of the day. My question is "who are they, and why do they promote breakfast with such single minded efficiency?" But we're not here to talk about that. Nope, the yearly Pumpkin Spice blight is upon us and all that entails. We've touched upon it many times on this blog, and today will shall do so again. Ladies and gentlemen, let's take a good old fashioned gander at Zone Perfect Pumpkin Spice Bars.

Now with flavor!
Zone Perfect has been a staple in my pantry for a number of years. They tend to be relatively inexpensive (for a meal replacement bar), go on sale regularly, and have a handful of decent to good flavors (though nothing particularly outstanding). So of course they had to come out with a Pumpkin Spice flavor, because if you have a lot of flavors, almost no one can resist the urge to give this one a go. The box art is okay. I like the little leaf designs, but the picture of the actual product below is highly uninspiring. Also, it cleaves to the tradition of "pumpkin spice" being represented by cinnamon and brown sugar on box art. Whatever, let's rip it open.

Looks like someone got really excited by the prospect of pumpkin spice.
Well, it looks pretty unappetizing, mostly resembling a granola bar that an overenthusiastic child glopped over with icing. It's not very attractive to the eye, is what I'm saying. Still, most people don't give three turkeys about the look, but want to know more about the flavor. Good thing I'm here to sum up: It's alright. It's not awful, but it doesn't really taste like pumpkin anything. It mostly tastes like a granola bar covered in stale icing. Why stale? It has this weird waxy...essence that makes it taste not good at all. It's tolerable, and I will finish the box, but I would never eat these again.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets a single Frowny Face. It's not good, but it isn't poison or pointless. It's just not well done. If you take all your flavor queues from competitors with shitty flavorings, your flavorings will taste bad too. Give these a hard pass. I don't care how into pumpkin spice you are. I think I can safely say at this point that Starbucks got it right, and everyone else has utterly failed to recapture that magic. Let's maybe move on to other things, okay?

Kotas Reviews Fiery Snickers

Hoo boy, it's been a hell of a month or two hasn't it? Once again I find myself talking about how it's been a long time since I wrote one of these. Well, let's just cut to the chase here: Work has been a Bear, and that bear decided my face was a delicious pile of salmon it had to try and chew off. Still, now that bears have been fended off, I can get back to what's important: Red Dead Redemption 2. Or rather, I would if I owned a video game console and also had some time! Which I don't. Let's eat some candy instead. Folks, we're looking at the Fiery Snickers today. called. They want their childish shame tactics back.
So, what the hell is a Fiery Snickers you might ask? Well, it's a Snickers...that is fiery! Much like our previous delve into "hot" candy, I question the existence of this product. Who in the hell ate a fuckin' Snickers bar and thought "You know what this needs? BURNING!" Eh, maybe it will meld better this go around? Whatever. The packaging is just insulting, but I think that if the word "Wimpy?" was replaced with "Snickers" it would at least be something that lets you know what to expect. Let 'er rip!

The prank potential is strong in this one.
Yeah, it's a Snickers bar. Nothing special about that, really. This isn't quite the laziest food change ever, but it's damn close. But we all know why you are here, so let's not beat around the bush anymore. How does it taste? Exactly as you'd expect. It's a Snickers, with some burning. The heat isn't overwhelming or gag worthy, but it is quite noticeable and adds nothing to the overall taste experience of a Snickers bar. It's just there, mocking you and hurting you with its own pointlessness, having ruined yet another candy for no good reason.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 2 Frowny Faces. It's pointless, it's not tasty, it isn't even all that clever. Fuck off Mars with your lazy bandwagon riding bullcrap. 

Monday, October 22, 2018

Kotas Reviews Lucky Charms Frosted Flakes

Well hello there everyone! Been a long time since I last stepped into this space isn't it? Yeah, well, I had a bunch of stuff go down that ate a bunch of my time up. But that's not why we're here today is it? No, it's the very best month of the year for folk like me: The Season of the Snack is upon us! Halloween, where the holiday is all about costumes and candy and being scared. Welcome one and all to Spooktober! First on our Spooktober Spectacular, we have a hideous abomination stitched together from parts dredged up from the floor of a factory and shoved in a box as hideous as it is colorful. That's right, let's take a look at Lucky Charms Frosted Flakes.

Don't let the smile fool you. He'll cut you but good!
Well, it finally happened. Someone at the General Mills factory fucked up and dumped a container of Lucky Charms marbits into a container of Frosted Flakes instead of the usual oat pieces. Legend has it that rather than take a loss on this disaster, the owners of the place simply ordered up some new box art and this malfeasance filled atrocity was given life. The box art cheerfully informs us of this Kitchen Nightmare, though I admit it was probably a good choice to just use Lucky the Leprechaun as the sole mascot. Though perhaps a half tiger version would play better this month. Anyway, let's open it up.

The first ingredient may be whole grain, but the second one is murder.
Alas, I am disappointed. I must give credit for being exactly what it says on the tin box, but it has suffered from Excessive Marbit Sorting, where in some cereal shapes are not conducive to keeping a good marbit mixture. As shown above, the number of marshmallows in this bowl was criminally low, though subsequent bowls had progressively more and more of them. But you know what? I like Lucky Charms. I like Frosted Flakes. How is this travesty going to stand up?

My word, if all travesties were this tasty, we'd need a different, more marketable word for them. This tastes pretty dang good, actually, if you like Frosted Flakes. The additional sweetness of the marbits is more of an enhancement than a detriment. It is extremely sweet, but it carefully treads that line between very sweet and far too sweet. Nice job, General Mills.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets a solid 2 Smiley Faces. It tastes good and it looks decent, even though it probably isn't on shelves anymore. If you get a chance to try it, it's pretty good, and you can probably simulate it by buying a bag of marbits off of Amazon and dumping it into a box of Frosted Flakes. On the Trick or Treat scale, this is definitely a Treat.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Kotas Reviews Pistachio Oreo Thins

Ah Fall, the greatest and best of all the seasons. Not so hot as to melt the brain, but not so cold as to freeze it either. Jacket and sweater weather is the best weather, as far as I'm concerned. Too bad that, much like Spring, we only get 2 or 3 weeks of actual Fall before Winter starts to settle in. Oh well! Let's eat some Oreos. Ladies and Gentlemen, today we look at Pistachio Oreo Thins.

Not sure what this has to do with Fall, but here we are.
My father loves pistachios. One of our minor traditions for years was for one of his Christmas present to be a huge jar of them that he would eat on for most of the winter. Once I overcame my own disdain for "nuts" in general, I also grew to enjoy pistachios as probably my favorite nut after macadamia. Seriously, I will waste a bowl of these things in an afternoon if I don't pay attention. However, I've never been one to have them in sweet things. Pistachio ice cream is "okay", but it isn't something I generally seek out. So when I saw these in the grocery store, I thought "Eh, what the hell. I haven't seen a new Oreo flavor in a while". The packaging is actually fairly pedestrian. Oreos with green filling, a sad couple of pistachios. Very meh. Let's tear it open.

Is anyone surprised?
Yep, precisely what I expected. Chocolate cookie, green creme filling, all business. They smell excellent though, just like cookies from an Italian bakery in Brooklyn. How do they taste though? Like someone turned Italian cookies into a creme filling, colored in green, and put it between two thin Oreos that's what. These are the best damn amaretto cookies I've ever tasted. Not so much pistachio, though I suppose they have a hint of it, but they are fuckin' delicious nonetheless. Om nom nom nom nom nom nom aw the bag is empty.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 3 Smiley Faces. If you like amaretto, go get 'em right the fuck now. If you don't, well, avoid them at all cost. If you wanted pistachio flavor, uh...go somewhere else. So they fail in that regard, but GIMME GIMME GIMME!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Kotas Reviews Disenchantment

As a relatively recent convert to Netflix, I feel there is no better time to be watching shows on it. My child adores much of their original children's programming, no matter how much I might find it annoying. My spouse and I have bonded over a mutual love of British baking shows. I've managed to catch up on several series I missed over the years, and now the producer of two of my favorite all time shows is back for a round three. Ladies and Gentlemen, elves of all ages, let's take a dive into Disenchantment.

Photo Credit:
Disenchantment is the third animated series from Matt Groening, creator of the Simpsons and Futurama. At first glance, it appears to be "Futurama, but for Fantasy!" and in a lot of ways it does trend in that direction. The trio above is, from left to right, Princess "Bean" Tiabeanie, the youngest and smallest of the students at Battle Scho...wait, wrong Bean. Bean is the Princess of Dreamland, and an alcoholic layabout who resents her father, King Zog, for not really caring about her ever since her mom died. The little two dimensional imp looking chap above is Luci, a demon sent by...uh...some people as a cursed wedding gift. He's a scamp. The green fella is Elf-o, an outcast from the Elf Village who leaves because he doesn't fit in and wants to experience the world, particularly misery. They get into various hi-jinks.

It would be remarkably easy to match them up and say Bean ~ Leela, Luci ~ Bender, and Elf-o ~ Fry, and honestly that's what I did at first. However, the dynamic between the trio is different enough, along with their motivations for friendship, that I feel it is a unique spin on the Heroic (Well, Protagonistic anyway) Trio. There is a LOT of characterization of Bean, and to a lesser extent Elf-o. Luci is pretty much along for the ride and for some cheap laughs, and to serve as a Diabolious Ex Plot Convenience point, but the unique character design is just fantastic. In fact the whole show is just gorgeous from an art perspective.

The first trio of episodes sets up the premise for the entire series and lays the groundwork for a number of running gags: Bean is to be married off to a prince of another realm for political purposes. Luci shows up, and shenanigans begin to ensue. This is exacerbated by the arrival of Elf-o, on his quest to find "true misery". These episodes are a lot of set up and not so great payoff. The comedy is often pretty hit or miss (except pretty much everything in the Elf Village which is solid gold) but it sets up the scene and puts the pieces in position. The middle four episodes of the season are where it really takes off. The character dynamics start to show themselves, the plots are episodic but with call backs to previous events, and the jokes start landing a lot more than they miss. "Love's Tender Rampage" has some incredibly insightful commentary on standard sitcom tropes. The last three episodes tie into several running plot threads and introduce a whole heaping helping of character development and story, and of course set us up for the next 10 episodes that have already been ordered.

The series has a number of flaws. Since it is set in a fantasy world, there isn't nearly as much low hanging fruit as the modern day or futuristic settings of the Simpsons and Futurama, so many jokes beyond "LOL the middle ages was dirty and gross" require a lot of set up or just don't stick the landing as well as they should. Joke density, outside of some visual gags, isn't as high as with other series. It takes a while for the characters to become somewhat likable so that we sort of care about what happens to them. Then there's the fact that so much characterization and story was crammed into the end of this set of episodes, along with trying to make us have feelings that the series hasn't really earned yet. The Season 3 episode "Luck of the Fryish" from Futurama pulls several heartstrings, but because we've spent enough time getting to know Fry and Company, when it takes a more dramatic turn in this otherwise hilarious gonzo comedy series it actually works. Disenchantment tries to pull that off in Episode 9, rather than Episode 36, and it comes off as rushed. If these elements had been better spread out through the season, or over a full season rather than just 10 episodes, it would have been a better experience. 

On the FACE Rating System, I give Disenchantment 2 Smiley Elf Faces. The art is gorgeous, the characters are interesting, everything involving the Elf Village is pure comedic gold, and I look forward to seeing what happens next. Its weaknesses lie mostly in the beginning and ending of the series, but there is more than enough to be entertaining. If nothing else, I've gotten a few more quotes for the Matt Groening section of my brain. Give it a whirl!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Kotas Reviews Lays Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers Wavy Chips

Well well Lay's. I see we're having another flavorsplosion for the late summer. I also take note that you are ditching the whole "vote for a flavor" thing in favor of just having a giant pile of limited edition flavors. Well, never let it be said that I backed down from a manufactured food challenge (the Ol' 96er notwithstanding), so today we dive right in with...uh...Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Popper Wavy Lays. Because the world doesn't make sense anymore. 

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

I can safely say I've never been a fan of the Jalapeno Popper, not even when it was bacon wrapped. I'm just not a huge fan of jalapenos in general, let alone stuffed with cream and cheddar cheese. Adding bacon may help, Just not my deal. Still, when Lay's issues a challenge, I cannot help but stand up. This one is certainly very unique in chipdom. That's a lot of different savory flavors to pack into a lowly potato chip, even one so noble as the Wavy variety. Will it stand up? Let us tear into the bag and find out. Did I mention this is one of like nine or ten different flavors? I am not prepared.

Nothing ever ends, Adrian.
Well, the scent in the bag is incredibly "Bac-Os", or fake bacon bits. You know, the kind you shake out of a container. It basically overwhelms any other odor that might be present. The chips themselves look like Wavy Lay's with red flavor dust and green chive-like flecks. But who gives two rat's asses about the look? We all want to know what they taste like.

In a phrase, "pretty dang good". The fake bacon flavor is very strong, but not necessarily bad. The chips do not have any jalapeno flavor, but they do have a nice slow build of heat, and while they don't have a particular cheese flavor, they have a creamy sour cream note that really brings the whole thing together. Hot damn, these are actually good! I guess the only problem for some might be that they don't really taste like bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers. Oh, there's plenty of fake bacon (or facon, if you will) to go around, but the only hint that there is a jalapeno is the heat, and no cheese flavors I can distinguish. Weird, but good. 

On the FACE Rating System, these get 2 Smiley Faces. They are super tasty and I want to eat them by the bag, but some people might be disappointed they ain't what they say they are. More like Bacon, Sour Cream, and Hot chips than anything else. Definitely give them a try. Oh man, only...nine more flavors to go? Sheeeeeeesh.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Kotas Reviews the Sonic Pickle Juice Slush

We are definitely in the dog days of summer now. Not only did I see a dog in my neighborhood this past week, I saw two! On two different occasions! What is this world coming to anyway? Oh well, I suppose nothing matters anymore. Black is white, up is down, dogs and cats, living together...Mass Hysteria! So to celebrate the impending heat death of the universe (only several million billion years to go!), I decided to give in and try a little something at a drive in. Ladies and Gentlemen, today we review the Sonic Pickle Juice Slush.

Not really the fastest thing alive, is it?
Apparently pickle flavored stuff is a food tread this year. I mean, I don't really see it as a "new" trend, as there have been dill pickle flavored things out on shelves for a while, particularly potato chips. Still, I hadn't seen it as a 'sweet' before, so while it may not be that new, it's certainly new to me! I mean, I like red bean paste, so I'm not a stranger to the concept of the 'normally savory sweet thing', but pickle juice? Really? Let's get one.

It's not easy drinkin' green.
I'll be honest, I don't often go to Sonic for food. I mean, it's fine and all, but it is rarely convenient to go there rather than somewhere else, and Sonic's menu doesn't have enough pizzazz to pull me away from other options I might pass on the way there. Still, the fam and I were on our way back from Dollywood when we're like "Food is good. And hey, a Sonic! Let's go there." Thus you now know the long pointless build up to this story. Holy crap that shit is super fuckin' PICKLE colored ain't it? It isn't NEON green, but it's damn near and smells just like pickle juice. This is gonna be a bumpy ride for sure.

You know, I was expecting to absolutely hate this, but it's not bad. The sugar counteracts the sourness of the pickle juice and makes it almost refreshing in a weird Gatorade kind of way. It absolutely tastes like a pickle, but not a sweet pickle or bread and butter or anything like that. It's definitely dill pickle, but...less sour? Maybe slightly sweet? It's an odd flavor indeed. So odd I puzzled over it for half an hour while we ate lunch. It went fairly well with the burger I ate, but it wasn't something I would want a lot of. I don't even know if I would ever want it again, and I didn't finish the serving I had, though that was a matter of "we only have so many cup holders and we have better drinks than this to put in them". Still, I drank half of it, and I can't say I didn't enjoy it. Mostly, it left me somewhat puzzled. A very interesting flavor, if not a preferred one.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets a baffled 0 Faces. It's not a bad flavor, but it's also not a flavor I think I would seek out on any kind of regular basis. I would recommend it as a sharing drink, and one you don't get a lot of, though if you love it, awesome. I am mostly just confused by it though. Super interesting, super weird.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Kotas Reviews Skynacks Nsenene Chilli Ready to Eat Snack

Occasionally I get pulled into that ever hungry vortex known as "the long term project" at work. That plus family stuff has really put a crimp in my reviewing adventures. Still, I've managed to claw my way back into the sunlight, illuminated by the warm glow of my community. So of course this means I'm gonna eat some bugs. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's take a gander at...whatever the hell this is.

This amazing monument to culinary adventure was found on the counter in my work break room, next to this sign, which helpfully told me what the terror can contained within:

So of course I knew I had to try them. I can't help myself. It's like I have some sort of weird compulsion to eat odd things and then inform others of my opinion on said things. Such is the true extent of my suffering. Oh well, let's open this thing up and see what we get. 

Open up and say AAAAAAAAAAH!
Oh sweet Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young this smells terrible. A sharp, pungent scent assails the nostrils with a musty, earthy odor redolent of dank soil under a rotting log, but also peppered with a spiciness that haunts the nose. It is a much stronger odor than the one from the Larvets I reviewed last year, probably from the sheer volume of grasshoppers as compared to the tiny box of meal worms. And yes, those are heads on the right of the picture above, beady little eyes and all. DOWN THE FUCKIN' HATCH!

The flavor isn't as bad as the smell, thank goodness. It's mostly "stale popcorn with some mustiness and chili flavor", coupled with several dashes of terror and despair. It lingers in the mouth in a most unpleasant way and practically requires a large gulp of water (or soda or Everclear...) to clear it away. Like a lot of foods from far away places, I suspect this is an acquired taste, but I have no desire to eat enough of them to acquire that taste or ever eat them again.  

On the FACE Rating System, these get 3 Frowny Faces. They taste terrible, they smell terrible, and the packaging is terrible. If you are super into eating these, uh, good for you, but this is a Hard Pass for most everyone who reads this blog. No.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Kotas Reviews the Book of Mormon

Every now and again, I review something that's not food. Maybe I've gotten out to see a movie, or purchased a video game, or what have you. Sometimes on those occasions, my spouse accompanies me. This weekend was no exception, though I don't know if either of us was prepared for the onslaught we endured. That's what spur of the moment will get ya, after all. Ladies and Gentlemen, today we review The Book of Mormon...the play, not the actual Book.

Oh man, where to begin. This is a musical written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, of South Park fame, and Robert Lopez, composer of Avenue Q, Coco and Frozen fame. Just looking at that, you should know what you are getting into. Trey and Matt have already shown off their musical chops in previous outings such as Cannibal: The Musical and South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. Lopez, of course, has plenty of bona fides in the catchy, well written music department. It's also run on Broadway since 2011, so it's gotta have something going for it, right? Anycrap, a chance to pick up a couple of tickets for a good price dropped in my lap and I took it, so I could give my long suffering spouse a nice present. She super loves musicals. Fair Warning: From here on out, there be spoilers. The last paragraph will be spoiler free if you just want the FACE Rating, so pop on down there if you want.

The play starts off with what I would term an affectionate parody of the "door to door" mission work stereotypically undertaken by Mormon missionaries. It's very catchy, and has few harsh moments, unlike most of the songs in this particular production. It is mostly an introduction to our two, uh, male leads: Elder Kevin Price, the shining star of the Mission School and Elder Arnold Cunningham, the not shining star of the same. They have just finished their training and are to be assigned (via a catchy song) their mission partners and regions. Elder Price wants nothing more than to be sent to Orlando, Florida for his mission, and Elder Cunningham wants nothing more than to...well, be paired with another missionary. 

In that delightful coincidence that these sorts of stories have, Price and Cunningham are paired up and shipped off to Uganda, which is about as far away from Orlando, Florida as you can get. Things immediately go south when they arrive and have their luggage stolen by the local warlord, General Butt-Fucking Naked (named because when he kills people and drinks their blood, he does so "butt-fucking naked"). This character is also based on the real life General Butt Naked, which is horrifying. Anyway, they meet the locals, who teach them about their really shitty existence and sing a lovely song about the phrase that helps them get through their troubles, Hasa Diga Eebowei, which roughly translates as "Fuck you, God". You can see where this is going. 

The village head's daughter Nabulungi becomes enchanted by Price and Cunningham's stories of a better way and stories of a safe paradise, in this case, Salt Lake City or as she spells it "Sal Tlay Ka Siti" and convinces the rest of the village to listen, even after the General comes in and shoots a dude for saying "Hey, maybe you shouldn't cut off a woman's clitoris". Elder Price on the other hand, storms off in a fit of "holy fuck this place is awful" and tells Cunningham to slag off. Cunningham decides to take it upon himself to teach the villagers, even though he hasn't actually read the Book of Mormon.

After a "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream", which is one of the highlight musical numbers for the show in my opinion, Price returns to the mission to try and make another go at it. Cunningham has been playing super fast and loose with the teachings in an effort to help the Ugandan people, and to  maintain their interest in conversion. Price decides to go try and convert the General, so that the villagers will be safe. He gets the book of Mormon shoved up his rectum for his trouble. This causes him to lose faith, and drown his sorrows at the local coffee shop, which is a super hilarious to me detail. 

Nabulungi and the other villagers are baptized into the Mormon faith, after which a musical number about the complete cluelessness of the missionaries is sung named "I am Africa". It's not the best number and really pushes some less than good stereotypes, though it is heavily implied that it is the missionaries who are being complete idiots for believing this. So I guess it punches up?

The Mission President (praise Christ) shows up because of the record number of conversions has impressed everyone back home. To honor his visit, the villagers perform a play within a play that is the story of Joseph Smith, American Moses, as they were taught by the unreliable Elder Cunningham. This is one of the funniest moments in the play for me. The song is super catchy, unbelievably offensive, but so earnest and sincere. The actors do a great job here because despite the massive irreverence of the tales told, it upholds at its center a core philosophy of "Be Kind, Help Each Other, and Treat Others Equally". It is still a complete disaster as the Mission President hears about how Joseph Smith fucks a frog to cure his AIDS after the wizard Moroni from the Starship Enterprise tells him it is God's will...yeah, it's that kind of play within a play.

The Mission President storms off telling them they are "as far from Latter Day Saints as you can get", and everyone is super depressed. Nabulungi is heart broken since she found out the tales Elder Cunningham told weren't true. Elder Price however realizes that Cunningham really was trying to help people, and that even if the stories were made up, they gave people hope and helped them feel happy, and that is the most important thing. They go on to help the villagers drive off General Butt-Fucking Naked the next time he comes around (with vague threats of Jesus Torpedoes that will turn him into a Lesbian...just go with it at this point). The rest of the village tells Nabulungi that they always knew the stories were supposed to be metaphors for life ("Do you really think a man fucked a frog? That would be really fucking stupid."), and in an implied future, all the villagers and missionaries (and even General Butt-Fucking Naked has converted at this point) are using the "door to door" method to try and convert others to the "Book of Arnold".

The End! Spoilers end here!

Let me go ahead and say that no one comes off as looking particularly good in a lot of ways. Stereotypes fly fast and furious, there's clear notes of "white savior", "noble savage", and "Mormons have crazy beliefs". There's a heavy tinge of irony here, and much the same way "Sausage Party" mitigated some of its excesses with self awareness and positivity, so does the "Book of Mormon", but let's face facts. Just because you wink and nod at something terrible does not necessarily make it less terrible. Then again, the underlying messages of "be good to each other, help each other, and treat everyone equally" are actually really good morals, even if they are surrounded in a heap of...really amazingly hilarious offensive shit. It is offensively hilarious or hilariously offensive, but either way, I laughed until my face hurt.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets a solid two Smiley faces (in neat button down shirts, black slacks, and a neat black tie each). This is a spectacular show featuring several truly wonderful musical performances, a nice core moral, and a lot of completely offensive yet amazing jokes and gags. It both embraces stereotypes and subverts them, and the mix is somewhat disorienting, but it really has to be seen to be believed. Just be prepared for the onslaught of offense comedy. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Kotas Reviews Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake Oreos

Well, it's that time of year again, when everyone is hot, sweaty, and hell bent on exploding stuff. The perfect kind of weather for the ice cream truck to come around! Sadly, ice cream trucks in my area are only drawn to large concentrations of children, and not the free roaming treat deliverers I once thought they were. Also, they were some of the first "food trucks" just for anyone keeping track of trends. The upshot of all of this is that there are precious few ice cream trucks in my neighborhood. Luckily (maybe) Nabisco has come to the rescue. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's crack on to Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake Oreos.

Just like I remember it! NEON PINK!
As a child I was quite the devourer of Good Humor, mostly because my grade school stocked it in their (surprising indicative of the future of school food service) pay as you buy lunch line. I mostly stuck to the chocolate eclair edition, but occasionally they would run out and I'd be left with the strawberry shortcake version. My childhood remembers it as tasting like frozen strawberry Quik and some vaguely cake-ish flavors. Well, now it's available in cookie form, I suppose. 

The packaging is exactly what I've come to expect from Nabisco in this regard. Prominent display of the affiliated logo, but not to the exclusion of the primary one. We know who is in charge. A picture of the mimicked product (in this case lifted directly from Good Humor's marketing collection), and the Oreo itself, in all its glory. Helpfully, they point out that there are "strawberry flavored bits" in the cookie itself. Let's rip it open and see how that works out.

Behold all this majesty.
Definitely a cookie this one. The smell is that nauseating sweetness of raw strawberry Quik powder, mixed with a hint of More Different Strawberry and vanilla. Man does this reek of fake strawberry, to the point of overkill. Anyway, it looks like I expected, and you can totally see the strawberry bits in the cookie, which is kind of impressive. The creme inside is bright pink, though not quite as pink as the Peep Oreos, thank goodness. Let's eat!

Well, they aren't terrible, but they are super duper sweet. There is a very strong artificial strawberry taste, which overwhelms any other flavor that might have been there. I guess there is a little bit of the vanilla, but not much, and the cookie does little to hold back the pink tide of strawberry-ness that assails the tongue. It is, in fact, too sweet for me, which is both impressive and a little sad. It does not, however, taste much like the actual ice cream bar, because of the flavor imbalances. Still, I suppose it is definitely closer to the mark than not.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 0 Faces. I don't hate them, and they taste mostly good, but they are way too sweet for me to actually eat. I had a few, and the rest have languished on the counter, slowly being eaten by the rest of the family (though I'm sure my kid would happily eat the whole container if we let her. Like Father like Daughter). If you like super sweet strawberry things, these might be up your alley. They certainly are what they say they are, to the best that a cookie can be. Not a must try, but I wouldn't avoid them either.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Kotas Reviews Crunchy Mint M&Ms

Once in a long while I will find a treasure in my pantry. I'm looking for a jar of pasta sauce or some rice or whatever, and I'll find a package of something I stashed away for a rainy day. Side note, does anyone else do that with snack food? Just shove it in the pantry for "later" and later is six months later or even a year later? Anyway, my fading memory is your gain. Ladies and gentlemen, today we take a gander at Crunchy Mint M&Ms. 

This was relevant oh, 3 months ago maybe?
These were released as a part of the new "vote for flavors" thing that Mars, Inc. did for M&Ms this year. I guess I'm a little late to the party. Do we know who won the vote? Does anyone care? Whatever, let's get on with this. The packaging is about as lazy as M&Ms gets. It's green, they threw a couple of mint leaves (at least, I hope those are mint leaves...doobie doobie doooooo), and called it a day. This is art, but with a professional polish. Anyway, it's fine. Green, more different green, and dark brown. What a color combo. Let's open the package.

It's everything I expected it to be: Kind of lame.
I get that they are staying with a theme here, but these color schemes do not endear me to these candies. I guess they mimic the standard "mint" colors, but couldn't you just do the regular rainbow of colors? No? That would be the laziest option! You put more work into making these different, just to make it look boring! Whatever. It smells of mint. Let's get this over with. At least they smell pretty minty.

Well, they taste pretty minty too. Basically, they are Mint M&Ms with the same chocolate crunchy bit in the center as all the other ones of this promotion. It's a good combination of textures and flavors, and I can't ask for much more then that. I gotta hand it to Mars though. They know how to incrementally try things. Unlike some companies I know *cough* Nabisco *cough*.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 2 smiley faces. If you like mint, this is probably up your alley, unless you also don't like chocolate. Otherwise, definitely give it a try...assuming you can find any packages left. Yeah, I am a lot late with this one folks. My bad!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Kotas Reviews Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie Oreos

Man, it's be a crazy year for Oreos, eh? Lots of new flavors, contest controversy and several returning limited editions, such as Cinnamon Roll, that appear to be falling into the "seasonal" brand label. Still, it doesn't mean there aren't dozens of other flavors to explore! I'm sure we're not at all sick of them yet. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's dive into Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie Oreos.

Well, here we are. Another pie flavored Oreo. Past examples haven't really conveyed a lot of "pie-ness", but there's only so much you can do with a cookie. Frankly, I think they are just using it to denote "graham cookie" instead of a vanilla or chocolate cookie. Whatever. The package looks fine, but much like Bioware games generally have a decent story, Nabisco doesn't get to crow about their excellent packaging anymore. In fact, it's sort of expected that Oreo packaging will be good from now on. Still, that's quite a pie they are displaying, eh? Let's see what lies inside!

It's the little differences that count.
Well, I can't say I'm shocked. It looks about what I'd expect a chocolate peanut butter cookie to look like. I'm not a fan of the "split color" look, but it does make for an obvious comparison. I personally think they should just have it split length wise, and do a half-layer of chocolate and a half-layer of peanut butter, laid down so that each bite gets some of each type of creme. Oh well, maybe that's harder than this weird dollop half method. Definitely smells of peanut butter and graham cracker, but the chocolate really isn't present in the scent.

Upon tasting them, they mostly taste like a peanut butter cookie. The graham flavor comes through, certainly, but there is little to no chocolate about these cookies, no matter what the color of the creme says. The peanut butter flavor is overwhelming, tasting a lot like Nutter Butter cookies, but not quite. There is something that might be chocolate in there if you really concentrate, but otherwise? Non-existent. It's not terrible, if you like peanut butter cookies, but it's certainly nothing special or Oreo-y. I think the traditional chocolate cookie would have been a lot better here, or even one chocolate cookie and one graham cookie. As it stands, it's an Oreo trying really hard to be a Nutter Butter cookie. Don't quit your day job, Oreo.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 0 Faces. It's fine, I guess, but I don't think the world needed a More Different Peanut Butter Oreo. If you want a peanut butter creme cookie with a bit of chocolate, just dip a Nutter Butter into a chocolate spread and enjoy that. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Kotas Reviews Kettle Corn Oreos

Man, I don't know how Nabisco does it. They have been cranking out Oreo flavors so fast my head is spinning and my pancreas cries out in horror. I mean, sheesh people! Let us have a bit of a breather! Maybe eat something else for once! Oh well, onward ho, right? Today's specimen is a weird one anyway. Let's dive right in to Kettle Corn Oreos.

Sure, why the hell not? EVERYTHING IS WEIRD NOW.
I'll lay it out for you, I'm not a big fan of kettle corn. It always claims to be "salty-sweet" or something but every time I've had it there has been something a little off with it. I can never quite place what exactly is wrong but I've never had a Kettle Corn Experience that rose above the level of "Well, I guess it's fine" and usually go into the "meh" bucket. So I can honestly say I did not have high hopes for a cookie version of it. How would they get the savory bits into a freakin' Oreo? Oh well, at least the packaging is nice. Still, I've come to accept that Nabsico's food package art standard is high. Let's rip it open.

Yeah, it's about what I expected. Vanilla cookie, some sort of sweet creme...wait, are those actual bits of popcorn in there? Why, yes it...oh, it's puffed millet. Says so on the package. Still, that's an awfully strong commitment to theme and I can respect that. There is a VERY "cereal grain" scent over this, that kind of reminds me of Corn Pops cereal. Sweet and corny, just like I like my pick up lines. Anyway, let's eat!

You know, I'm a proud man. One given to strong opinions and a strong defense of those opinions. I pride myself on having at least some idea of what I'm talking about, and I like to think that my food opinions are respected. Today I have to take my hat off to Nabisco, for giving me something I didn't even know I wanted. For you see fellow food explorers, these cookies taste nothing like Kettle Corn. However they do taste almost exactly like Corn Pops in cookie form. I LOVE Corn Pops. They are one of my favorite breakfast cereals, but having them in a cookie? Well friends, this is delicious. You may not have nailed "kettle corn" Nabisco, but ya done real good. I salute you.

On the FACE Rating Scale, these get 2 Corned Smiley Faces. It ain't exactly kettle corn, but it is much better than actually having kettle corn flavor in my opinion. If you were expecting actual kettle corn flavor, look elsewhere, but you will be missing out on a darn good cookie. Who would have guessed, eh?

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Kotas Reviews Pina Colada Oreos

Well, that was a great two weeks of Spring we had wasn't it, eh? Alas, actual nice weather is very rapidly giving way to the muggy hot soupiness of Summer. However, the return of Demon Summer does bring with it a predilection for tropical drinks on a beach. Unfortunately, there's none of that crap 'round here, so I guess I'll have to settle for like the 15th best thing. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's take a gander at Pina Colada Oreos!

Better than getting caught in the rain, maybe.
So we have yet another drink themed Oreo to deal with this year. What is it with Oreos and drinks lately? Who put you up to this guys? Oh, right. Well, we'll just step away from that and focus on what's in front of us, shall we? Honestly, as much as I love rum, I'm not a fan of coconut and so the pina colada has held little fascination for me. It can be quite refreshing on a hot day under two or three suns worth of heat, but I don't really seek them out. My grandmother was very fond of them and would always get them when we went out to eat on Florida vacations. This one's for you, Grandma. Sadly, I think that much like the majority of my adult life, it's gonna be a little disappointing for you.

She would have appreciated that joke. If not the awful color palette here.
The choice of "thin" here was a good one I feel. These kind of things are such that a little goes a Looooong Way into flavor country. The vanilla cookie also compliments rather than contrasts with flavors like coconut, and "chocolate" has no place in a pina colada, no matter what Applebee's might say. The scent coming off of these things is pure "store bought pina colada mixer", so it's got that going for it. Let's have a bite!

Yeah, this is basically pina colada mix in cookie cream format smeared on vanilla cookies. I must give credit where credit is due in that they created exactly what they set out to create. Sadly, what they set out to create is something I neither wanted nor particularly like. At least it doesn't have a huge chemical taste to it, unlike the Cherry Cola ones. 

On the FACE Rating System, I give this 0 Faces. It is exactly what it says on the tin package, but it's just not something I like. It's not offensive, just not for me. If you have a hankerin' for pina colada mix, these are probably right up your alley. I'll just be three alleys over drinking rum. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Kotas Reviews Cherry Cola Oreos

While not the first time a major corporation had some sort of "competition" to see what new flavors of a product would be hitting store shelves later on, the Frito-Lay, "Do Us a Flavor" campaign was the first to make it a semi-regular occurrence on the grocery store shelves. Pretty soon, everyone was getting into the act. So, I guess Nabisco had to horn in on that particular market as well! Let's eat some more Oreos. Ladies and Gentleman, today we pop open Cherry Cola Oreos.

Looks like I'm going to have to JUMP!
Le sigh. Honestly, I'm getting sort of burnt out on Oreo flavors. There are just so many that if you squint they almost all run together in a panoply of ever more ridiculous ideas to sandwich between two wafer cookies. Still, I must applaud them for continually putting out new and interesting, if not always the best tasting, products. This particular endeavor marks the first time that I know of where Nabisco solicited ideas from the general public. Kudos to you for having gone years without having to do this to shore up flagging sales! Ahem. 

Well, the packaging is good. Not amazing, but it gets the job done. Cherry. Cola. Cherry and Cola together. Oreos that are colored. Serviceable. Now, cherry cola is a secret pleasure from my youth. before its introduction as an actual product in 1985, Cherry Coke was something that the local Ponderosa Steak House used to offer as something of treat for the kiddos, of which I was one. I loved that iteration, and I loved it in a can or from a fountain when Coke made it a staple of their line. Oh what happy times. I'm not as huge a fan these days, as it's a bit sweeter than I like in a soda, but it's still good and invokes fond memories. Will these cookies stack up? Let's rip it open.

Well, I guess they couldn't color the white icing brown in this case...not that it's stopped them before.
Well, it smells a lot like those fake cola gummy things mixed with chocolate cookie upon opening the package. It's not bad, but quite artificial. These things twist off pretty easy, exposing the dual red and white filling. Supposedly, these have pop rock type candies in them to give them a "fizz". I'm sure that's fine. Let's eat! 

First, these are incredibly artificial. There's some fake cherry flavor, a heaping helping of fake cola flavor, and something resembling a standard Oreo underneath. The pop rock bits dutifully fizz in the food hole, as promised. However, it is all topped with this nauseating chemical taste that is fighting a war with the other flavors for dominance. It hasn't won yet, but man is it giving it its all. It tastes like what I imagine a trench warfare battlefield in Candy Land would taste like. Sweet and disturbing all at once. No thank you.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 2 Frowny Faces. I didn't spit it out, but I only had few cookies out of obligation to try and understand the flavor. The rest were foisted off on relatives for disposal. Others have claimed they "aren't bad", but I really didn't care for them. Not poison, but totally not worth it. Unless you want to experience the hellscape that is War in the Gumdrop Mountains.