Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Kotas Reviews Orange Vanilla Coca Cola

There are a pile of flavored sodas on the market. From the ignoble beginnings of Fanta (seriously, go look this up) to the plain weirdness of Jones Soda, there are beau-coup varieties of soda flavors available to the average consumer. Only rarely does the introduction of a flavor shake up the market, usually coming from one of the two 800 pound rhinos in the market: Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Cherry Coke ushered in the "cola with fruit flavor" soda as a type in the 80s and Pepsi Twist started the "cola flavored with citrus" craze of the mid-2000s, so they tend to have an out sized impact. Anyway, that's a lot of lead up for me to tell you that we're looking at Yet Another Cola With Additional Flavor product. Ladies and Gentlemen, let's take a look at Orange Vanilla Coca-Cola.

I'm not sure why Coca-Cola needed an Orange Vanilla flavored version, honestly. I have always enjoyed Coca-Cola, though these days it is more of a "once a week" thing than a "once a meal" thing as it was in my younger days. As a wee lad I enjoyed Cherry Coke more than perhaps was healthy, so I have experience with "cola + fruit" sodas. Orange Vanilla though, I'm not sure about. Vanilla and Cola is pretty tasty, but nothing I would go out of my way to get. Orange and cola is not a combo I would have ever thought might be good. Still, citrus flavors do compliment Coca-Cola pretty well so maybe it will be fine? Let's open it up!

I'm not sure what you were expecting.
Yep. It's a cola, which means it is a very dark liquid. Nothing too surprising here. The scent is a nice strong orange scent with hints of cola and a creaminess I assume is the vanilla peeking through. It's a pleasant scent that I wouldn't mind having as an air freshener in my car. Let's drink it up! The flavor is almost an inversion of the scent. The cola flavor is very strong, with a bit of orange flavor and a creaminess associated with vanilla that smooths out the whole thing, though definitely less vanilla-y than Coke with Vanilla. It's a nice little flavor, but it's not that much different from regular Coke. It's fine is what I'm saying.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 0 Faces. It tastes fine, but it isn't a strong flavor nor particularly interesting. If someone hands me this, or I accidentally get one instead of a regular Coke I will happily drink it, but I ain't beating down a door to get this specific flavor. Try some at your local gas station today!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Kotas Reviews Flamin' Hot Dill Pickle Remix Lay's

This job hobby glorious sideshow that I call a blog has brought me to lots of strange places over the years. From float tanks to plays about abstract art, my desire for tens of fans has presented me with numerous unusual situations. Though, if I'm honest, most of those experiences have been in the grocery store picking out weird ass food flavors. Today is not going to be an exception, and hoo boy, the folks down at Lay's are really smokin' up lately. Ladies and Gentleman, today we dig into Flamin' Hot Dill Pickle Remix Lay's.

What is even happening now?
Man, this bag looks like the late 80s exploded all over it. Hot neon pink highlights, ridiculous font choices that vary between words, use of the word "remix" in a non-musical context, this packaging has it all. It even has accurate pictures of both the flavor items AND the final product! Rad I tell you! Now, if you are a regular reader of this blog, as I know both of you are, you will know that when it comes to spicy snacks, I want more than just heat. There has to be flavor too. The "Flamin' Hot" sub-brand is very hit or miss when it comes to these, but the addition of dill pickle seems...very strange. It's not like Dill Pickle is a flavor that most people want to eat. I mean, I do, but I a damn Internet Weirdo so I don't think I am representative of most people. Still, they keep makin' 'em so someone's gotta be eatin' 'em. I must admit I am dubious of the validity of this flavor combination, but here we are. Let's eat.

Flavor Dust Storms are a real problem on Planet Novelty
Yeah, the chips are just reddish, as is expected from something labeled "Flamin' Hot". It is however not quite as red I as I would expect. The scent is heavy on the dill and 'spice' notes, that sends little burning sensations up the nostrils. I'm sure it's fine. They taste like Dill Pickle chips with a lot of heat added to them. The combination works surprisingly well really. The dill pickle flavor is strong but not overwhelming and the spice is heavy but does not subsume the dill pickle. The potato flavor is there too, though much muted compared to the other two strong flavors. I wouldn't have thought that "spicy dill pickle" would be a chip flavor I would enjoy but once again Food Science has humbled me.

On the FACE Rating System, these get 2 Smiley Faces. They aren't amazingly good, but they are a fine chip to have when you want something spicy and savory. The dill pickle/heat combo is excellent, but it isn't something I would want to eat all the time. If you like dill pickle chips and spicy snacks, treat yourself to these before they are out of stores. However if you dislike either of those, this combination will only have you sad and burning.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Kotas Reviews Captain Marvel

Well, it's been a loooong time since I've written about Marvel Movies, hasn't it? To be fair, it's been a long time since I've seen a Marvel Movie when it was actually relevant to the current popular cultural scene. Still, I had to make some time for this one, for reasons that will probably become clear soon enough. Ladies and Gentlemen, children of some ages, let's take a look at Disney's Captain Marvel.

Buy the trade now on Amazon!
Even by Comic Book standards, the history of Captain Marvel is convoluted as hell, even if we keep that history focused solely on Carol Danvers. The original Captain Marvel, the Kree agent turned Protector of the Universe Mar-Vell, was long gone by the time I got sucked into comics as a wee lad. I grew up on the Monica Rambeau version a.k.a. Photon a.k.a. Spectrum. Still, the legacy of Mar-Vell touched a large part of the Marvel Cosmic Mythology and was a direct influence on my personal favorite cosmic hero, Quasar. Who also has a convoluted backstory and weird history for a dude who started off as a Take That version of Hal Jordan. No less than seven different characters have held the title of Captain Marvel, and at least two of them have also been Quasar at one point or another. Carol herself has had 3 previous superhero identities before taking on the mantle of Captain Marvel in the comics: Ms. Marvel, Binary, and Warbird. Her powers have been granted, taken away, super charged, altered entirely, and then melded together. Why, it's almost like comic books are weird! So, knowing all of that weirdness, how can a movie possibly try and reconcile all of that? In short, it doesn't, and that's a good thing. There will be a few spoilers below, so skip to the final paragraph for the FACE Rating and my overall thoughts.

The choice to start with Vers on Hala and then slowly introduce the bits and pieces that eventually make up Carol Danvers ends up being a great storytelling device, but it sure seems a bit disjointed at the beginning. Luckily, once the action shifts to Earth, the character development and chemistry between all the primary cast members really gels, particularly when the movie becomes a buddy cop film between Samuel Jackson's Nick Fury and Brie Larson's Vers. Those two bring a wonderful dynamic to the film that is absolutely a delight to watch. Larson has good chemistry with Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau too, which really helps sell some of the more interesting character moments. Larson's confident, no bullshit attitude when it comes to fighting the bad guys is also great, as is the sheer joy she takes in her powers. They aren't a curse, they are a gift and there is little angst to be found about it as she whoops and hollers her way through a bunch of battle cruisers in the climatic space battle. The trademark Marvel comedy is here in spades, and everyone gets in on the act. There is also a cat named Goose and a Fonz lunchbox that both serve similar purposes in the film at one point or another.

As a complete Marvel Nerd, I deeply appreciated all the nods at the many other Captain Marvels in comic history that showed up in this film. The Kree uniform she starts out in is a tribute to the original comic suit of Mar-Vell, Maria Rambeau's pilot handle of "Photon", as well as the fact that her daughter's name is Monica, are both tributes to the Monica Rambeau incarnation. During a sequence where Carol and Monica are updating the look of her costume, several of the rejected outfits reference the other Marvel er, Marvels, and there's even a blink and you'll miss it bit of shade thrown at DC's Captain Marvel/Shazam, as the costume takes on his traditional colors and it is rejected with a "...Naaaaaah". I acknowledge my deep nerdiness here, so just bear with me. Oh, and the CGI that made "Young" Nick Fury is top notch. The CGI on Goose...less so.

Unfortunately there are some parts of this film that do not work super well. As I stated before, the opening is a bit disjointed in the storytelling. The antagonists are the blandest of the bland, such that none of them stand out too much. Talos and Yon-Rogg are about the only aliens of interest on any side, and even they tend to be fairly generic as they toss the Villain Ball back and forth a few times. The Supreme Intelligence is made of dull and is just super meh in my opinion. Mar-Vell, for all five minutes she's in the film, is great but super under utilized. The origin of Danvers' powers makes the Tesseract/Space Stone the Infinity Stone with the most possible users and people affected by it. It really gets around, don't it? 

On the FACE Rating System, I give Captain Marvel 3 Smiley Faces. I love cosmic Marvel stuff and this movie is right up my damn alley, however it definitely follows a formula and has its flaws. When you have villains like the Vulture and Killmonger being so damn interesting, only to follow those up with some bog standard boring ones, it's a little bit of a let down, but the character bits between the good guys more than make up for that. Other people will probably rate this movie lower than I will, but I acknowledge my Carol Danvers bias. Go out and see it!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Kotas Reviews Electric Lime and Sea Salt Lays

Ah, it's Spring. The time of hay fever, 30 degree temperature swings over the course of 8 hours, and whatever new flavor monstrosities that Lay's has cooked up for us over the winter. We're reaching the long tail of this phase of flavor expansions though, as you'll see. I've seen this before, when a company has run through innumerable flavor combinations and just starts jamming together crap and slapping a weird name on it. I saw it with Kool-Aid, I saw it with Oreo, and I'm seeing it again with Lay's. But ya'll ain't here for a history lesson, so let's get to it. Today we review Lay's Electric Lime and Sea Salt chips.

Wavy, because shut up!
Here we go again down the rabbit hole of chip flavors that the Lord Himself never intended. I do appreciate a willingness to experiment, but at this point I think the R&D folk are just snorting flavor dust and randomly assigning things. Eh, let's get on with it. The bag is actually kinda cool, with a shiny foil edging, but the main picture, while well staged, is just sorta...meh? If it's so damn electric why aren't there lightning bolts or something around the lime and sea salt? No, it looks like an unfinished art installation. Still, it's not terrible and a meh package often conceals a taste sensation. Shall we open it? WE SHALL!

I bless the green flakes on my WAAAAAVY CHIIIIIIIPS! (with apologies to Toto)
They ain't much to look at, are they? They sort of resemble sour cream and onion chips, and have a similar looking flavor dust: white with green specks. What makes these electric again? I guess there is only one way to find out! Well, that wasn't what I expected, but I guess you could call it electric. The tang of citric acid is incredibly strong on these chips, almost overwhelming the lime flavor, but not quite. Additionally, the potato flavor is also incredibly strong, which doesn't mesh well with citric acid. You know what is really weird though? There is almost NO salt flavor! That's right, a chip whose two claims to fame are Lime and Sea Salt, only managed to get one of them even on the chip. Now, it's not a terrible flavor. I did not spit it out, and I will finish the bag eventually. It's just incredibly weird and disappointing. I think the lime part may have had a sweetness to it that somehow cancelled out the salt flavor, because these are potato chips so OF COURSE they have salt on them. It is just a really baffling flavor.

On the FACE Rating System, these chips get 1 Frowny Face. I can appreciate creativity and novelty as much as the next person, but this is just something that happened when a few of the people down in the Flavor Lab got high and started hallucinating. If you really love citric acid, and also think that it would go great with potato, I suppose these are the chips for you. For me however, I will move on to other, hopefully actually decent flavors.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Kotas Reviews Lava Cake Hershey's Kisses

Yeah, yeah I know it's MARCH. Lots of rain in March this year. I dread April Showers honestly, because they will bring, not May Flowers, but May Roof Repairs. Or not, I sure hope not. Anyway, I'm a bit behind in my Valentine's themed candy reviews, but does anyone care? Boy I sure hope not. Let's eat some candy! Today we review Lava Cake Hershey's Kisses.

So, yeah. That's a package.
I don't really get the fuss over lava cake in general. Sure, it's gooey and all, but the presentation always just leads me to think that the cake is underdone. All I know is that it was super trendy for a while for restaurants to have some sort of molten cake product on their menu and I wasn't having any of it. I REGRET NOTHING. Moving on, the package on these conveys the theme without overly stating it is a Valentine's Day edition of the candy. I'm not sure WHY you'd want to do that, given that it will be lumped in with the Valentine's stuff anyway, but I suppose you could argue that it doesn't deserve to be marked down 50% on February 15th if it doesn't explicitly say Valentine's Day on it. Let's tear it open!

Take it off! 
Yeah, it's a Hershey's Kiss alright. Unlike the usual ones, these have the glossier chocolate shell that is also the Hershey's version of Dark Chocolate. However, inside is a softer chocolate I think that is going for "ganache", but the Hershey version. Guess what? It's pretty darn good! While the outer shell has the standard Hershey's "plastic-y" overtone common in their dark chocolate, it is nicely mitigated by the soft center, which has a good rich Hershey's dark chocolate flavor. Yes, I'm being specific because Hershey's chocolate tends to taste unlike most other chocolate. 

On the FACE Rating System, I'd give these 1 Smiley Face. They taste pretty good, but they aren't too different from a regular Dark Chocolate Hershey's Kiss beyond texture. Still, the texture change is interesting, so give these a whirl unless you already don't like Hershey's Chocolate or Dark Chocolate. There is nothing to change your mind here.