Friday, April 27, 2018

REVIEW: Three New Oreo Flavors: Kettle Korn, Cherry Cola and Piña Colada

Yes, this is actually a photo of
 the cookies in my shopping cart
Earlier this morning, a friend tagged me in a post about three new Oreo flavors that were being released: Kettle Korn, Cherry Cola, and Piña Colada.  Lo and behold, I found them just a few hours later at my local Wegman's supermarket.

It appears that Nabisco is copying the brilliant marketing strategy that Lay's Potato Chips has been employing, turning their Limited Edition flavors into a contest, where consumers vote for their favorite flavor.  (more info can be found on the Mondelez website) Voting begins on April 30th.

I've been on a healthy eating kick lately, avoiding sugar and processed foods, so I actually hesitated for half a second before putting these in my cart.  Who am I kidding? If there's a new flavor, I have to try it and report back. Rest assured, those of you who are thinking that I should be downing a kale smoothie instead of indulging in sandwich cookies, right after I finish posting this review, I'll be hitting the treadmill. So don't pester me--it only makes me want to eat another cookie when I'm done working out.

First up: Kettle Korn

Full disclosure: I love kettle korn popcorn. I wasn't introduced to it until my early 40s (I know! What the heck?) but it's my favorite type of popcorn, right up there with caramel corn. Some types of kettle korn are made with white sugar and salt, but others (the BEST kind, hello) are made with brown sugar, which give it a caramelized goodness that is highly addictive.

Well guess what? Kettle Korn Oreos taste just like brown-sugar coated Kettle Korn.  Which is to say: I think I have a new favorite Oreo flavor!

Yes, folks, they're that good.


What's really interesting about these Oreos is that the crème filling has "puffed millet rice" pieces added to it. Hmmm....that's different! But in the best possible way.  It adds a layer of texture and crunch that is particularly satisfying if you're the type of Oreo lover who twists open the cookie, eats the filling first, and then the cookies. 
I think someone at Nabisco must be reading my reviews at this point, because the ratio of crème filling to cookie was outstanding--well done to whomever made that call. The crème is the star of the show, imparting a caramel flavor, with just a tiny hint of salted butter--just like real Kettle Korn.

I loved these, and give them an A+.  (Note: the link above will take you to Amazon, in case you have trouble finding these at your local store, but do NOT pay more than $4 for them. Some greedy seller had them up there for $17 a bag today--meanwhile, they were less than $3 a package in Wegman's. They're good, but let's not get crazy--they're just cookies.)

Next: Cherry Cola Oreos

I wasn't sure how to feel about these--while the concept is interesting, and I love the idea that they included "exploding candy" in the filling so that you get that "fizz" experience like with real soda--I've noticed that Oreo doesn't have a good track record when it comes to duplicating fruit flavors.

As soon as I opened the package, the smell of cola filled the air--they definitely nailed the scent that you get when you pour out a can of Coke. Okay, so far so good.

Once again, the crème filling to cookie ratio was substantial, and the fact that this is a chocolate sandwich cookie definitely appealed to the "purist" in me. (I have a friend who, every time I do one of these reviews, reminds me that none of these cookies are "Oreos" as far as he's concerned, because he's a traditional Oreo loyalist: white crème filling between two chocolate sandwich cookies are the only Oreos he will officially recognize as such.)

The downside to the filling: the color. oof, but that red is garish and scary looking when you first see it. There's no natural food that I'm aware of that is that particular shade of red. (I suppose I would call it "candy apple red"...and candy apples are made with artificial red dye.)

So, how did it taste?  I took a bite--and honestly, one bite was enough. Ugh.

My first reaction was that it tasted like I was eating a cherry-cola scented crayon. The flavor is just way too artificial and cloying. It's not even trying to mimic real cherry flavor, but rather, the fake cherry flavor you get in a Cherry Cola. I understand that's what they were going for, but there's a big difference between drinking cherry cola and eating a cookie with that same flavor profile. It's just too much--far less subtle and way too heavy-handed.  Blech.  I did sample the filling by itself,  Don't.

I would give these an F, based on flavor alone, but I'm going to up that to a D- because of the one saving grace: the popping candy in the crème filling. It adds a nice element of fun to an otherwise dreadful offering. This is one option that I'm happy to see is a "limited edition."  If you're a fan of the popping candy, just wait a few more months and get the Firework Oreos instead. These are nasty.

Last up: Piña Colada Oreo Thins

Okay, hang on a second--we need to talk about this "Thin" business.  Why? Who thought this was a good idea?  If I want to have a cookie, I'm having a cookie--not some lame wannabe cracker trying to disguise itself as a cookie.  I've never had an Oreo Thin, until now, and I can tell you I won't be buying them again anytime soon, just on principle.  Seriously, it's an abomination to call this thing a "cookie."  Stop it.

Nevertheless, I tried to keep an open mind, but then I opened the package and saw this:

Are you serious?

You practically need a microscope to see the filling. I am so underwhelmed and I haven't even tasted the darn thing yet.  The "sandwich cookies" (aka crackers that sit on a throne of lies) are so delicate, you have to be super-careful twisting them apart.  Who has time for that?

At this point, I promised myself I would have another Kettle Korn Oreo as a palate cleanser after this one--yes, I had to bribe myself to continue.  Sheesh.

Okay, so the only redeeming thing about these is that the filling has a nice, smooth consistency, more like icing than frosting.  They don't smell strongly of pineapple or coconut (BECAUSE THERE'S BARELY ANY FILLING #abomination) but the flavor is spot on Piña Colada--it's a balanced blend of both pineapple and coconut, at least, from what I could tell of the thimble-sized portion that was squashed between the vanilla crackers.

For overall flavor, I would rate this a B+, but from a snack satisfaction standpoint, I must downgrade that to D.

I'm sorry, but if you don't stand for something in this world, you stand for nothing.

This is not a cookie.

Final verdict: Stock up on the Kettle Korn cookies, skip the Cherry Cola ones, and write a strongly-worded letter to Nabisco about the difference between a cookie and a cracker.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Earth Day 2018

Well, this was a nice surprise!  I went to the supermarket to pick up a few things today, and the cashiers were handing out a free tree sapling to every customer at check out, in celebration of Earth Day.  This was especially meaningful this year, because we lost quite a few trees on our property after that last snowstorm a few weeks ago. We'll be planting some larger ones outside to replace the ones that came down, but in the meantime, this little guy is a nice reminder to appreciate the small, unexpected pleasures that come your way.

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Souvenir from a Friend

My political views have always skewed Independent--I firmly believe in voting for the person, not necessarily any particular party--but there will always be a special place in my heart for Al Gore.  I have been following his political career since 1987, during my college days, and my good friends know that I will forever be a fan of his. Meeting him in person remains a quixotic dream, but one that refuses to die, even after more than 30 years.

My friend Helen and her husband have been on a bit of a quest of their own: visiting all of the Presidential libraries around the United States. They've been to quite a few already, and most recently, stopped at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Helen found this little memento in the gift shop, and sent it to me as a thoughtful surprise.

Thank you, dear Helen, for this wonderful treasure.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

With Friends Like These...

Spotted at my local Hallmark store...I did not read this correctly the first time through, and wondered what the heck the designer was thinking, and why this was on display in a family store. 

Then I read it again.  THERAPISTS, not THE RAPISTS.  Oh.


Friday, April 6, 2018

When A Girl's Insecurities Go Viral

Yesterday morning, a friend posted a link to an article whose title intrigued me: You May Have Worn the Prom Dress, But I Get to Wear the Wedding Dress.  

Of course, I had to click through and read this anticipated train wreck. I was not disappointed.

What struck me most at first is the author's total lack of self-awareness, which resulted in my posting the following tweet:

Followed quickly by this (admittedly snarky) response:

Within a couple of hours, my tweets were included in Twitter Moments, and the notifications just exploded from there.  I thought, wow, so this what it's like to go viral?  Pretty cool.

But as I watched the number of Likes quickly climb into the thousands, racking up replies that were even snarkier and harsher than mine, I found myself feeling badly for the author of the original article. As a writer who has also had personal essays published, I have an appreciation for how scary it can be to put yourself out there and release your innermost thoughts to the world.  I've been a freelance writer for over 30 years, and there are still some things that I'm not ready to publish for public consumption, and probably never will.

I decided to dig a little deeper into what makes this girl tick.

The author, Victoria Higgins, is a young college student who has penned similarly earnest missives in the past, most notably: A Thank You to the Girls Who Didn't Love Him RightA Thank You to My Future In-Laws, For Giving Me My Person, and To Those Who Think I Am Too Young for Marriage (hey, thanks for the shout out).

Even just a cursory scan of Victoria's other essays revealed a painful level of insecurity beneath that "He's MINE MINE MINE and he's in good hands now!" bravado. As a mother of three daughters ranging in age from 17 to 23, I started to feel truly sorry for this girl, who is now experiencing the harsh side of baring your soul on the internet--a public flogging that I contributed to.

I began reading her other essays, searching for an explanation as to the root cause of her insecurities, and I found what I was looking for in this one: Why I Will Tell My Children to Wait Until Marriage.

In this essay, the author reveals that she was raised in the Bible Belt, and describes herself as "an avid church goer."  She talks about how abstinence has fallen out of vogue in our society, and the reasons why--now that she's met her one true love--it needs to make a comeback (bold type added by me):

Neither of us waited until marriage, and neither of us thought of each other. We didn't know each other until we started dating, but we didn't think of the one that we would one day marry. I never knew how someone's past could devastate me. I struggle daily with insecurities and comparisons to the girls he has been with. I don't want to, but I can't help it. I know that he feels the same way about my past. It causes distrust in a society where distrust is already easy enough to have. I never wanted to be that girl that compared myself to others, but it's hard not to think about the other girls and if they were better or if he still thinks about them.

Ugh.  I had a feeling we would end up at this place. Repressive attitudes towards sex are so damaging to both men and women, and this is a prime example. Sexual intimacy should not be rushed, and yes, it IS a big step in a relationship. But this girl has been taught that sex is SO special, such a unique and wonderful gift, that if you've squandered it on someone you don't end up spending the rest of your life with, you have done that love a horrible disservice.

Oh, please. Stop.

It reminds me of the Duggar Family, and the issues they've had with their eldest son, Josh. Despite the fact that his parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, held hands, kissed, and did Lord knows what else while they were dating, they decided to raise their 19 children with a bunch of "do as I say, not as I do" courtship rules. Their children have been subjected to chaperoned dates, no hand holding until they're engaged, and saving their first kiss for marriage. Josh Duggar even sang a "loyalty song" to his bride, Anna, on their wedding day in 2008. Just 7 years later, it was discovered that Josh had molested several underage girls when he was 14--including his own siblings--followed quickly by his confessions of infidelity and an addiction to pornography. Don't pass along those kinds of sexual hang-ups to your own children.  No good can come from that.

I'm not saying that sexual intimacy isn't special. Of course it is. But by over-emphasizing the significance of "saving it for that one perfect someone" you are creating the type of massive regret and insecurity that is seeping into nearly every essay this poor girl is writing.  Instead of just enjoying the relationship she and her fiance' have now, living in the present, and looking ahead to their future, she cannot help but think about all of the women that came before her--and she can't help wondering if HE is still thinking about them, too.

Here's the thing I would like to tell her, the advice that I give my own daughters about love and relationships: every single person you have ever met, loved, dated, and eventually left behind, has shaped who you are as a person.  If your fiance' truly loves you, just as you are, then he should be accepting of every ex-boyfriend, every unrequited crush, every guy you've ever had any kind of friendship with before he met you--not because they ended up hurting you or treating you in a way you didn't deserve, but because all of those interactions--the good and the bad--have made you the woman that he loves.

Victoria, you need to get to the same place.  You need to accept the fact that, in the past, there were other women who made "your man" happy--yes, TRULY happy.  It wasn't that they "didn't love him right." They did--and if you allow yourself to admit that, it doesn't make the relationship that you have with him now any less real and right. They made him happy, and now, you make him happy.  It's okay.  You don't need to "thank" them, but you also don't need to indulge in revisionist history, downgrading his past relationships the way a grocer marks down bruised produce.

Life is short, Victoria.  If you truly love someone, you would never begrudge them a single moment of joy, even if that moment came as a result of another woman's love, at a time when the two of you were not together.

Get over it, honey. Live in the present, and let the past go.