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.

HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEY!
Photo Credit: https://www.criticalhit.net/review/disenchantment/
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, but...no. 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.

SWEET MOTHER OF CRAP.
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:

No.
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. Just...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.

SPOOKY MORMON PLAY BILL!
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 like...fan 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.

New!
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.

HOW YOU LIKE ME NOW?!
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.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Kotas Reviews Mozzarella N' Marinara Ruffles

Well, it's quickly approaching the nightmarish hellscape known as "summer" around these parts. Pity we didn't actually have a spring to go with it, eh? Still, these times call for backyard fare to feast upon as we pay tribute to the glorious excesses of the year. What better way to do that than with a new and totally different potato chip flavor! Ladies and gentlemen, today we crunch into Mozzarella and Marinara Ruffles.

Sure, let's go with that.
I can honestly say I've never been eating potato chips and gone "You know what this needs? Marinara sauce!" Seriously, who approved this? I mean, I get it. Mozzarella sticks and marinara sauce are delicious, but do we really need them in chip form? Wouldn't that ease of access simply reduce the delight in eating a good mozzarella stick? No? Fine. The artwork on this is pretty good, with a solid picture of what they were going for, along with the actual product. I haven't harped on this too much but kudos to you food manufacturers for actually putting representative pictures of your product on the bag. Let's rip it open!

Not exactly the most exciting picture, is it?
Well, they smell kind of like tomato sauce I guess. They certainly have some sort of flavor dust, but it's not particularly stand out now is it? The little green flecks I guess are a nod to oregano or other herbs that separate tomato sauce from marinara maybe? Whatever, let's eat. 

Okay, these taste alright. Definitely some tomato sauce from a jar type flavors here, but nothing too significant. Some mild cheese flavors that I associate with mozzarella, but not definitively mozzarella flavor. It's not bad, but it's not particularly good. I guess if you dumped a jar of Prego over some regular Ruffles, scraped a few shavings of mozzarella on it, and then baked it, you might approximate the taste. I think I'm pretty whelmed by this.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 0 Faces. They aren't bad, but they are nothing special. If you just need something different yet unlikely to anger you, these fit the bill, but so do a number of other chip flavors. I'd probably pass these by.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Kotas Reviews Crunchy Espresso M&Ms

Man what a crazy month. So many things have come out to talk about, right as I'm completely swamped with work and other stuff. Alas, right? Anyway, all this work has made me very sleepy, and as we all know the best caffeine jolt you can buy is straight up coffee...or IS IT? Ladies and Gentlemen, today we look at Crunchy Espresso M&Ms.

Here we go, lads and lasses!
So, in my college days I was quite the addict of chocolate covered espresso beans. They had a lovely chocolate flavor, a good solid crunch, and a burst of coffee flavor. However, they also had an excessive bitterness which is okay, but was more something I endured rather than enjoyed greatly. It wasn't bad, but it was often too much. It always seemed to be that these things should taste better then they actually did. As I got older, I stopped eating them for a variety of reasons and they safely moved into the nostalgic part of my flavor memory. 

Briefly jogged by a remarkably whelming version of these a couple of years ago, it was with only a bit of trepidation that I picked up the package. This package is pretty solid. Overwhelmingly brown, but hey, who can't love an M&M sipping coffee, eh? EH? Maybe it's just me. Let's open it up and see what Mars hath wrought.

Yeah, that's the color palette of a latte all right.
The color scheme is on theme, which is the nicest thing I can say about it. Still, a candy doesn't have to be visually spectacular to be delicious, does it? Nope! Let me tell you, these are good. Astoundingly good. They are a nice mix of chocolate and coffee flavors, and the crunchy bit adds some texture without being annoying or chemical tasting. As I said to my spouse, these things taste like I remember chocolate covered espresso beans tasting. I may have devoured an entire bag in one sitting. Maybe.

On the FACE Rating System, these get a caffeine buzzed 3 Smiley Faces, taking the crown as my new favorite M&M. If I weren't trying to not eat everything in sight, I would buy a huge bag of these to munch on all the time. If you like coffee and chocolate, go get some and eat up! You won't regret it!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Kotas Reviews Raspberry Crispy M&Ms

Novelty in confection is a continual churn of ideas, that really only got out of hand recently. There was a time, dear readers, when the addition of Mint M&Ms was heralded as both a good thing and as a sign of the decline of our stolid values and traditions. After all, it was only over decades of time did the variations of Peanut and Almond were added, along with the concept of holiday variants. These were, however, just as simple redecoration of the same familiar candy. Boy, what a long way we've come since then. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's dig into Raspberry Crispy M&Ms.

Yeah Red, we're just as baffled as you.
So, I do occasionally get requests to review things, and even rarer, I actually get to review them. Luckily, someone got this out in front of me early on and I was able to get my hands on some that didn't come in "Shame Size". Ah, the Crispy M&M. First introduced in 1999, discontinued in 2005, and then brought back 10 years later, I've never much cared for the Crispy version of these delectable little fat pills. For whatever reason, the crispy part always had a weird ass chemical flavor to it, as I've stated before. So, I wasn't terribly enthused to be giving these a shot. Oh well, I owe it to [REDACTED] to eat these things. Let's Do It!

Tasteful muted colors is not exactly what I was expecting.
Well, they look pretty good. I think they might be a little bigger than regular M&Ms, but that's to be expected given they have a crispy bit inside. The color scheme is...less radical than I anticipated, as the red is much less bright than I thought it would be based on the packaging. It's more wine colored than anything. There's definitely a hint of raspberry in the scent. But no one really cares if it's a tasteful display, only that it displays excellent taste. Let's eat!

You know, I think they finally got the recipe right this time. Good chocolate flavor, a nice bit of crisp texture from the crispy, and good, but not overwhelming raspberry taste. There's also a distinct lack of "chemical" flavor that usually accompanies the Crispy variety. Now, this could simply be a side effect of the raspberry flavoring covering it up, but damn if it don't work well. These are pretty darn good!

On the FACE Rating System, these get 2 Smiley Faces. I rather like these, and could see myself picking up some when I wanted M&Ms, but not standard M&Ms. Definitely a better flavor outing than the freakin' Chili Nut M&Ms. If you like raspberry and chocolate, definitely give these a try!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Kotas Reviews Hershey's Gold Peanuts and Pretzels

What is it about gas stations that make them the perfect place to find new or weird snacks? Does anyone (besides me) go into a gas station with the intention of finding new or interesting things to try? Is this some sort of compulsion that only I have, yet somehow is catered to by most major convenience store chains? Did I take too many drugs? The answer to all of this and more is "I dunno, probably". With that in mind, let's take a look at Hershey's Gold Peanuts and Pretzels.

Go for the gold...colored wrapper!
If you've been reading this blog for a while, it is absolutely no secret that white chocolate and I generally don't get along. It's fine, but I will pass it up for most other confections if available. Still, some of the flavored white chocolates are decent, mostly because they no longer taste like white chocolate. Which brings us to today's treat, the Hershey's Gold Peanuts and Pretzels. I saw this in the gas station while loading up on lotto ticket (yes, ticket. Not a typo) and thought "oh hey, something new from Hershey's! Sort of, I guess." and picked one up to try.

Turns out, this is Hershey's first new candy bar since 1993, when they debuted the Cookies & Creme bar. Whodathunk it, eh? I thought maybe it had been put out as a Winter Olympics promotion, and well, I might be right, given it came out December 1st of last year. Still, I do love caramel, pretzels, and occasionally peanuts mixed in with those two things. How could I refuse? Let's eat!

Well, at least it's not grey.
I gotta be honest. This doesn't look all that appetizing. Tan isn't a great color in a candy, and while I appreciate the attempt to differentiate it from their other candy bars, the weird offset "break" pattern for the subsections of the bar makes me thing you are just trying to put one over on me and sell me less candy per bar. I don't actually think that is the case here, but it sure does look like you are tryin' to downsize me candy! Smells pretty good though, peanutty and caramelly certainly. Obviously not much pretzel, but hey, whatchagonnado? OM NOM NOM, that's what!

Well, this is decently tasty! The caramel flavor is there, but not overwhelming, and the peanut/pretzel combo works surprisingly well with no flavor really masking any other. There isn't much pretzel flavor here beyond "salt" and a bit of extra crunch here and there, but it's still a decent candy. Color me surprised, really. My kid also enjoyed it, so that's a point in its favor. Best of all, it really doesn't taste a ton like white chocolate, even though that is clearly the base.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 1 Smiley. It's not amazing, but for something new from Hershey's, they did a good job of making an interesting candy. Good enough for the occasional indulgence, but probably not good enough for me to buy a ton of. Granted, I try not to eat much Hershey's to start with, but long trips in the car just got a bit more caramelly. Give this one a try!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Kotas Reviews Doritos Flamas

Every now and again I get a taste for spicy snacks. While it isn't a constant thing, sometimes I just need to make sure my sinuses are empty and my palette is a little scorched, just to bring everything back into focus. Not every spicy snack will do, though. I like my spicy snacks with a really solid flavor and a good amount, but not too much, spice. Lucky for me, there seem to be a ton of options that meet this requirement. Here's one now! Ladies and gentlemen, let's take a look at Doritos Flamas!

This packaging isn't confused at all. No siree.
The gas station is a magical wonderland of weird food. Limited edition stuff, re-releases, and in my local area (and lots of other local areas I've been to) a plethora of snacks from South of the Border. Many of which are super good and/or super weird. In this case, it's Doritos Flamas, a lovely treat that sums up America's view on all snacks Mexican as being "chili lime", which admittedly a LOT of them are flavored with this combo. So, I guess I'm an international critic now? The Mystery Box says yes. OBEY! Ahem, anyway...let's take a gander at these.

Bold, red, and made of terror! And lime! Lime terror?
They are suuuuuper red. Nature's warning color red. Finger staining red. Did I mention they were red? Well, they are. But not a consistent red. The Flavor Dust here is super unreliable in concentration, as the yellow chip shows through randomly on some chips, and "not at all" on others. The scent is incredibly strong with both chili and amazingly chemical-ish lime notes, along with a hint of just "hot", which is totally a scent. I've had similar flavorings before, from a brand called "Taki", which weren't my favorite, but hey, what could it hurt? Let's eat!

Well, these are certainly spicy, but what I can't say is that they have no flavor to go along with that spice. Holy crap, the LIME. It just saturates every bite and, coupled with the chili and a weird chemical taste is just BIZARRE on the tongue. Personally, I find whatever artificial lime flavor they use on tortilla chips to be somewhat unpleasant, and this flavoring is no exception. It's just so fake and chemical tasting! In addition, it almost but not quite COMPLETELY overwhelms any of the other flavors, except of course "hot". There is a chili flavor under all this, but it doesn't stand out. I think though if they had left off the lime part, these would be pretty good! As it stands though, they are not the greatest thing ever. 

On the FACE Rating System, these get 1 Frowny Face. They aren't poison in a bag, they simply do not work at all for me. The chemical lime flavor is sour and nasty, but is mitigated by the decent chili and "hot" notes. It did also unclog my sinuses. I finished the (admittedly small) bag, but I won't get these again. However, if you love spicy things AND think the "hint of lime" tortilla chips are the bomb, you will probably love these. To each their own.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Kotas Reviews Tullamore Dew Caribbean Rum Cask Finish

Ah, St. Patrick's Day. A beloved holiday originally invented as a way to celebrate the persecution of druids in Ireland that has since morphed into yet another excuse for people to imbibe too much booze. Man that got dark quick. Anycrap, let's talk whiskey! As long time readers of my blog are aware, I only discovered my enjoyment of whiskey after the start of the current rye boom. Bourbon, rye, and the finest of scotch I've covered, but I never really tasted much Irish whiskey until recently. So, let's see how my latest find does. Lads and Lassies, wee tots of 21 years or older, let's ease our throat with the real old mountain dew, Tullamore Dew Caribbean Rum Cask Finish.

Top o' the mornin' to ya!
Since I'm a heathen drinker at heart, I tend to buy booze on either recommendation from friends, or by "feel". By which I mean "does the bottle look cool, and is the price right"? So when I popped into my local liquor store to get ready for St. Patrick's Day, I saw this stuff sitting by the counter, on sale. Oh hey, that's a good price for a bottle of booze at $23! So I grabbed it and took it home, not realizing that a) it was a pretty new product and b) different from standard Tullamore Dew. The brand is currently owned by William Grant & Sons, which is (wait for it) a Scottish company more known for their Scotch. Still, they own a distillery in Tullamore, and source other components from other Irish distilleries. Hooray? Let's crack it open.

The perfect drink to get you going in the morning.
Well, it's whiskey alright, but this one was aged in barrels that originally held rum. If you don't think that makes a difference, well, let me be the first to say that you are incorrect. The nose of this is definitely whiskey, but it has some of the same sweet vanilla hints as rum, along with a bright wheat scent. Not knowing much about Irish whiskey, I can only really compare it to bourbon and rye. Clean, is how I would describe it. It does not stay on the palette, and it has no spiciness like most rye has. The rum top flavor is there, but it takes a back seat to the whiskey flavoring. I can't say how it compares to regular Tullamore Dew, but you know, I like it. 

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 2 Smiley Faces. It's got a bit of rumness to it, which I like, and it doesn't linger. If I had to impart an emotion to this drink, it would be "cheerful". The price is also really good, at less than $30 (at least as of the time of this writing). The liquor shop employee also raved about my excellent choice in booze, and I can't say he was wrong. If you need to Irish up your coffee (or jam jar, in my case) this fits the bill and adds a touch of uniqueness with the rum flavors. Give it a whirl!