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! 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Kotas Reviews McDonald's Szechuan Sauce

Once in a great long while, a movement begins. Usually with a simple offhand remark or joke, it swells into something bigger than the creators ever intended. People begin repeating it, almost incessantly. It spreads through whatever niche community it started in, and may, if popular enough, slither out into the wider pop cultural world. Then someone in a corporate board room decides they can make a quick buck, and it all comes crashing down around their heads. Ladies and Gentlemen, today we review McDonald's Szechuan Dipping Sauce.

As much as they were legally allowed to give me.
Man, what to say that hasn't already been said, eh? For those of you who live in rocks or caves, in the late 1990s, to promote the then new Disney movie Mulan, McDonalds released a limited time only Szechuan Sauce for their McNuggets, and after the movie left theaters, so did this sauce leave McDonalds to be mostly forgotten...until April 1, 2017, when Rick and Morty's Season 3 Premiere aired. Rick and Morty is a hilarious take on the "kid and scientist team up for adventures" subgenre of science fiction. I'm a fan of the show, so of course I loved the Season 3 opener, which wrapped up a bunch of stuff from Season 2 and was very entertaining. However, we're not here to talk about Rick and Morty. One of the running gags in the episode was Rick's desire to obtain the Szechuan Sauce again, even though they don't make it any more. At the end of the episode he even goes on a rant about how it is the only thing that makes him happy, and so on and so forth. Good joke, really.

The fandom took to this like...well, me on a variety of weird foods. It became quite the meme on the Reddits and other places, culminating in a petition to bring back the sauce. McDonalds, smelling nerd money, decided to whip up a few batches and send them to one of the show creators. Then, smelling more nerd money, they decided to have a "one day only" release of the sauce at stores. This went...poorly. Go check out the nonsense for yourself, but people flipped their fucking shit for this sauce, going so far as to harass workers when they ran out, and in general be bad sports. It caused a bit of a ruckus, is what I'm saying. McDonalds, after the whole mess died down a bit, decided to release a whole bunch of the sauce to stores in the winter and well, it's finally here. So, was it worth rioting over? Let's find out!

Spoiler: No, it wasn't.
Well, it certainly looks different from their usual sauces. I'm a Sweet and Sour man myself, and this smelled a bit like that, along with soy sauce. So, how does it taste? Well, I rather liked it. Probably my favorite of all the McDonalds dipping sauces, actually. Tastes like Sweet and Sour mixed with teriyaki sauce and some vague spice. Just enough to bring a bit of heat, and nothing more. Given that I happen to like Sweet and Sour sauce AND teriyaki sauce, this mix does right by me. So, yeah, my new favorite sauce for when I eat at McDonalds. That's not mind blowing. It's good, but it totally wasn't worth the hype (or a car for that matter). Still, I'll be eating this until I can't whenever I go to McDonalds. Which, with a 4 year old, is more frequently than I would like. At least their new tenders are good.

On the FACE Rating System, this sauce gets 2 Portal Guns, er Smileys. It's a damn fine fast food sauce for your chicken (or burgers, hey man, I don't judge) and has supplanted Sweet and Sour as my favorite. However, it's still just a fast food dipping sauce, so don't think it will change your life or anything. If you like fast food dipping sauces, give this one a whirl (if you can), but like, don't go out of your way too much to get it. Certainly don't trade a car for it!