Saturday, November 30, 2013

Junior Mints Peppermint Crunch

Wow, can you believe Thanksgiving has come and gone as quickly as it did?  The holidays are truly sneaking up on us and leaving in a hurry.  For as much as I'd like the work weeks to speed up, I want Christmas to take it's sweet time getting to me.  The 25 days of Christmas are upon us and though that may seem like a lot of time to shop, write, party, drink, laugh, and wrap, it's going to move much faster than we realize.  So, because we've reached the last day of November and I'm still recovering from the Thanksgiving overload, I have a quick post for you about a box of $1.00 candy.

When walking down the holiday aisles and scouring through the Christmas section for seasonal items, I see a lot that I overlook and don't consider worthy of my time and effort.  There are some things I buy for me and The Holidaze, and then there are others that I buy for The Holidaze alone.  If it doesn't fit either of those categories, then on the shelf it sits.  Normally, Junior Mints would be one of those products, but not this year.  Because The Holidaze has neglected Christmas in the past, this box of candy may or may not be new, but either way, between the Christmas box and classic Rankin/Bass font, I certainly wasn't passing up on Junior Mints Peppermint Crunch!

Now, if you've never tried these, you may be asking yourself -- what separates these from everything else I've ignored and left sitting on the Island of Misfit Products?  Well, with me, it doesn't take much and the fact that they added "real candy crunch" to the outer shell of these traditional Junior Mints made all the difference.  I just had to see what they looked like and how much of a change these crunchies made to the texture.  And no, Google and other reviews simply wouldn't suffice this time around.

Obviously, the Junior Mints look much more round, smooth, and chocolatey brown on the box art, but that's what I expected.  Junior Mints always come out looking like little black mushroom heads.  However, they're usually much smoother in their traditional pack and I attribute the bumpiness to the candy crunch.  Already, we've found one difference that they've made and, honestly, I don't know if I like it.  The little indentations and change in appearance make the Junior Mints much less appealing, but I was willing to overlook that because of the seasonal effort they put into the recipe.  There had to be a good reason for these distorted Junior Mints to be on sale.

I can't remember the last time I actually bought a box of Junior Mints, but I'm willing to bet it was at a movie theater.  Even then, it was probably because they were sold out of Raisinets, Gummy Bears, and Sour Patch Kids.  What I'm saying is, Junior Mints are never my first choice when buying candy, but they've definitely climbed through the ranks with their Peppermint Crunch.  These are so much better with the candy pieces that I think they should keep them in the mix from here on out.

The traditional Junior Mint flavor hasn't changed, but the texture has and it's enough to make this feel like an entirely new product.  Forget about their shape and appearance, because this is more than that.  Instead of biting down into a gooey Junior Mint that lasts one or two bites before it's gone, now you have a little crunch.  Now you find yourself looking for the little candy pieces to chew.  Who woulda thought a Junior Mint could give us so much to do in the span of 7 seconds?  Now, whenever I go to the movies between today and Christmas, this is the candy I'll be sneaking in with me.  In fact, I may just bring these with me to see "Frozen," tomorrow.  Sounds chilly...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Holiday Pretzel Crisps

Amazingly, tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and there's no better bridge to Christmas than Turkey Day and time spent with family.  By now, you've probably purchased everything you need for your festive feast, but did you pick up the Pretzel Crisps?  What, you've never heard of them?  They're amazing!  In a time where everybody is flipping out over a chocolate covered Lays potato chip, these are completely flying under the radar.  Having never seen them before, I first tried "Buffalo Wing" Pretzel Crisps at a family party and got hooked.  They were so great that we went out and bought more when we got home.  Sure, they're a bit expensive compared to your traditional bag of chips, but you truly get what you pay for.  Whether it's Original, Chipotle Cheddar, or Cinnamon Toast, you're really in for a treat.

Now, with the holidays upon us, Snack Factory has released seasonal Pretzel Crisps that are perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and this time of year!

Mint Chocolate Crunch!

The tagline is "Rethink Your Pretzel" and I think that's fitting.  For a second, think about this - you're getting a tiny, crunchy, salted pretzel, coated in mint chocolate and covered in chocolate chips.  How in the world are you going to go wrong with that?  Between the green bag, snow graphics, and images of deliciousness, this is the type of product that pulls you in and takes your money.

Okay, not gonna lie - the bag is definitely misleading and borders on false advertisement.  If you look at the Pretzel Crisps displayed on the bag, they're evenly and overly coated in an abundance of mint chocolate.  The actual Pretzel Crisps?  Not so much.  Fortunately, these pretzels are covered enough for my liking and, at the end of the day, flavor is all that matters.  Because these taste so good, there's no way I can be mad at the lying bag.  This is what you expect from a chocolate covered pretzel.  You need that perfect contrast between sweet and salty.  Combine that with mint, which I didn't even think would work, and you've got a great snack for the holidays.  Sure, it may not look as pretty as depicted, but once they hit your taste buds, you won't even care.

To go along with Mint Chocolate Crunch, we have White Chocolate & Peppermint flavored Pretzel Crisps.  Look, between now and Christmas, just about everything is going to be dedicated to peppermint and gingerbread flavored products.  Just about everything I've purchased already tastes like one of those two things, but that's okay during this time of year.  It should be expected and welcomed as flavors of the season.  For me, personally, it sparks the spirit and that's why this bag, even if the flavor was close to the other, had to be picked up.  Besides, the Candy Cane theme is more Christmassy than the Chocolate Mint Crunch.  I'm easy, what can I say?

Unlike the first batch of Pretzel Crisps, this White Chocolate & Peppermint variety does a better job living up to it's promised coating and, for the most part, matches the photograph printed on the bag.  I wasn't expecting much from these, but wow, they're so much better than the Mint Chocolate Crunch!  Believe me, that's saying a lot because they're both outstanding products.  The broken Candy Cane pieces add so much to the flavor but aren't so crunchy that they'll break your teeth.  It's like salted candy!  Everything about these Pretzel Crisps work so well together and I'm happily surprised by their punch.  This is the type of knockout game you want to play!

I'm not exactly sure where you can buy Pretzel Crisps, but we found them at Target.  They're the type of chips that I don't go looking for, but love when I have them.  In that way, they're similar to Pringles, but I think they're a hell of a lot better.  Obviously I wouldn't eat these two varieties outside of the holiday season, but Pretzel Crisps offer much more than even I was aware of and, now, I'm hungry and want to go buy more.  If you're out and still have time and money to pick up a last minute snack for Thanksgiving, make these your choice.  They'll get everybody excited for Christmas and thankful that they came to your house for the big day!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pringles : Pecan Pie & Cinnamon and Sugar

I never thought I'd see Pringles deck out their cans for the holidays, but given their increase in flavor choices, this actually does make a lot of sense and is a great move for the brand.  Pringles are a unique snack because they're never on my list of go-to items.  I usually only eat Pringles when somebody else buys them or they're at a party.  Yet, every single time I pop, I truly can't stop.  If there was one company that live up to their tag line, Pringles may very well be it.  I don't believe there's a person on this planet who's had one and said, ah, no thanks, I'm good now.  So would the same rules apply to these new limited-edition seasonal flavors?

Pecan Pie and Cinnamon & Sugar!!

First, I have to point out that Cinnamon & Sugar isn't actually new to me.  I picked up a can to review last year, but that never happened.  So, given the fact that I've already tried them, let's start with the oldie and save Pecan Pie for last.

When I first heard about these in 2012, they didn't appeal to me.  A potato chip that tastes like Cinnamon & Sugar?  I figured that would fall down the same drain Lays Chicken & Waffles went, but I had to give it a chance.  Any time something new is released, ya gotta figure it's somewhat decent or it wouldn't have passed taste tests.  At least, that's what I tell myself to justify my purchases.

Even though my Iphone photo, with an ugly paper plate background, doesn't look pretty, these chips are actually awesome.  There's something about them that works so well.  Sure, they taste and feel like potato chips and they'll stand out as Pringles, but the flavor is unique.  It has a hint of maple to go along with the brown sugar and cinnamon.  It's great and I killed the entire can in one night.  The biggest downside to popping open Pringles is that you'll be seeing the bottom of that can before you know it.

Now... Pecan Pie?  This one is new for 2013 and, much like the Cinnamon & Sugar, I had no idea what to expect.  I'm not a huge fan of pecans and don't go out of my way to find them, but I do like them and can eat them without any problems.  But still, I was weary of how pecans would translate over to a potato chip.  Sure, reviews I read were good, but I needed first-hand experience.  Let's get to this pie!

See what I did there with the pan?  Pecan... PIE? Get it? Ah, I tried..

But back to what actually matters - the taste.  Once again, Pringles does it right and delivers one hell of a product.  I think they're good, but my girlfriend thinks they're great!  I'm not arguing with her because, really, these are a must-try for the holiday season.  They taste like pecans, but have more than that and they all hit you at the same time.  Who woulda thought a chip could be changed so much and still maintain quality?

Instead of picking up a bag of boring old potato chips this Thanksgiving, go out and bring home Pecan Pie Pringles!  They're perfect for the big day and the whole family will thank you.  In fact, unless you're an awesome cook, they may steal your Turkey's thunder.  Just saying!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Gingerbread M&M's

This is a big one, guys!  This is one of those seasonal products that make so much sense that you just can't believe it hasn't been done before.  But over the last few years, M&M's and Oreos have been indirectly going at it in the who-can-release-more-flavors challenge.  We've seen everything from Pumpkin Spice and Cherry Cordial to Carrot Cake and Peppermint.  No, they haven't all been covered on The Holidaze, but they should be and, hopefully, will be at some point.  But, on this day, we're talking about our main attraction - Gingerbread M&M's!

I know Christmas is all about family and that's what I dedicate most of my time to during this season, but in terms of products, these are the types that make me happier than others.  The bag alone is perfect for the holidays and can sit on a table as a decorative item and totally pass as acceptable.  We have the sarcastic Red M&M (they really need to name these guys) wearing a Santa hat and holding a giant gingerbread cookie on a plate branded with the M&M logo.  For somebody like me, that's enough to sell this bag.  I love promotional art and package design, so this hits a home run.  Plus, he's pointing at the cookie as if to say, "Yeah, see this? You know you want it."

Yep.. I do, nameless Red M&M!

The M&M's are appropriately colored for the Christmas season.  We have red, green, and brown to represent the gingerbread man who's been chopped up and blended into the recipe.  Now you go from having a decorative bag to having an equally effective bowl of M&M's that add just a little extra to the Christmas spirit.  Any time you can insert some more red and green into your environment, go ahead and do it.  You'll feel more Christmassy.

This is just one of many - MANY- gingerbread flavored products that you'll see come and go throughout the season, but it was a must-buy for this guy.  I like gingerbread, so I had to see what these tasted like.  If I was going to suffer through those damn Pumpkin Spice M&M's, I was definitely going to enjoy a bag of Gingerbread M&M's.  Fair trade off, if you ask me..

As somebody who likes gingerbread, I loved these.  In all honesty, I tasted more chocolate than anything else, but that little hint of gingerbread flavor was good enough to make this a bag of Christmas joy.  However, when my girlfriend tried one, she thought it was disgusting.  She couldn't believe I, being such a picky eater, actually liked it.  Even my Mom said they taste like medicine.  I was so confused that I asked my Dad to try them and he, like me, thought they were good and tasted nothing more than a traditional M&M.  

So the debate rages on.  Have you tried Gingerbread M&M's?  What's your opinion? I'm sticking with my taste buds and calling these a success for Mars Candy.  Now I just have to find the other 86 bags of flavors they release.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Cranberry Sprite

Believe it or not, Thanksgiving Day is less than a week away and, if you haven't heard about it yet, there's a new soft drink on shelves that may or may not be perfect for your dinner table!

Cranberry Sprite!!

When I first heard about this brand new soda, I was excited.  I'm a big fan of Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash and it's become a holiday tradition.  Even when I've happened to find it during the Summer months, it just didn't have the same appeal.  It's seasonal and sparks an emotion so, with Cranberry Sprite, I was expecting the same feeling.

I'm disappointed that Cranberry Sprite isn't red, but I respect the fact that they decided to distance themselves from Cranberry Splash and be different.  This is completely new and, with any new product, you want it to stand alone and make a name for itself.  But the only way Cranberry Sprite could truly do that is with its flavor.  It had to blow Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash out of the bog in order to take the crown.  If it did that, the clear soda would get a pass on color and become the new champion.

 The results of the taste test?


It's... Okay, but just okay.  There's nothing spectacular about Cranberry Sprite, but it does have a distinct flavor that you may enjoy.  It certainly separates itself from Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash, but I don't know if that's necessarily a good thing.  It's bitter, even reminds me of wine a bit, but doesn't do much for me.  That's not to say it's bad, because you might like it a lot, but I won't be buying another bottle.  I may pick up a few cans, mostly because they're a solid red and look cool for Christmas, but that's about it.  Maybe I'll bring them over to the family on Thanksgiving and see what they think about Cranberry Sprite.

If you've tried it, or plan on doing so, let me know what you think.  This is one of those borderline products for me and I could see opinions easily going either way so I'm curious!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Candy Cane Oreo Cookies

This is a perfect example of how I've failed to update The Holidaze during the Christmas months.  Last year, I found Candy Cane Oreo Cookies and planned on writing all about them for you and I to share.  Of course, I took pictures, uploaded them to my laptop, and there they sat through 2012.  But not this year!!  No, in 2013, I'm making sure that these cookies are talked about so by New Year's Eve, if nothing else gets posted, I can at least look back and feel like I made improvements to the site :)

When I saw these last year, I thought they were the typical "Winter" Oreo Cookies.  Those are fun, and I've discussed them in the past, but just like the Halloween variety, they're basically your typical Oreos with the creme dyed red.  But after further inspection and actually reading the bag, Candy Cane Oreos stood out as something I had to try.  Between the awesome bag, graphics, and "Crunchy Sprinkles," it was a no brainer.  This limited-edition was coming home - two years in a row!

As soon as you open the bag, you get smacked in the face with the scent of peppermint.  When it comes to Christmas, that's something you need to get accustomed to.  For October and November, it's all about Pumpkin and Caramel Apple, but December belongs to Peppermint and Gingerbread.  Throughout the next month and a half, just about everything is going to taste like one of those two flavors, but I'm cool with that because they're seasonal tastes and remind me of Christmas.  That's the point and it meets its purpose.  So between the smell and visions of red and white creme, it's perfect for Santa's arrival!

When you twist the cookies and separate them to look at the creme, it doesn't look all that pretty.  But if you look closely, you can see the crunchy sprinkles spread throughout the mix and that's the biggest selling point for me.  I may be wrong, but I don't think they've ever added sprinkles or anything crunchy into the creme.  Is this big news, even if it's coming to The Holidaze a year after these Oreos debuted?  Let's just pretend and say this is important - that's what I do with all my posts ;)

I've gone through this entire post acting as if I haven't tried these Oreos a year ago, but the truth is I couldn't wait to find these again in 2013.  These are absolutely delicious and are some of my favorite cookies of all time!  I'm not even the biggest peppermint fan in the world, but something about this combination works so well that it makes for the perfect Christmas treat.  The crunchy sprinkles, which are really chopped up Candy Cane pieces, are what really push this over the edge.  This year, Santa isn't getting Nestle Tollhouse or Pillsbury, he's getting Candy Cane Oreo Cookies.  Hopefully he loves them so much that he leaves me an extra present under the tree.  Maybe Gingerbread Oreo cookies?  Ah, that's asking too much..

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pebbles Sugar Cookie Cereal

As you can see, The Holidaze has decked the digital halls with red and green to celebrate the next phase of holiday fun!  In only a matter of weeks, we'll be celebrating Thanksgiving here in the states.  In less than four weeks after that, the biggest holiday of them all will be upon us - Christmas Day!!  Personally, I can't believe the time is so near.  It feels like only yesterday that I was reeling from the Halloween blues.  Okay, well it was only 12 days ago, but these holidays will sneak up on you!  6 weeks sounds like a lot to soak in all the sights and sounds, along with spending all that money on all those presents, but it's really not.  Like every year, Christmas will creep up on us and we'll be waiting for Santa to arrive on Christmas Eve before we know it.  For as much as I love Halloween, Christmas ignites a different type of emotion and it's one that I can never get enough of.  Now, in the past, I've yet to follow through with the Christmas portion of The Holidaze.  I've tried, but I've failed.  Unlike Halloween, Christmas keeps me busy and focused on friends and family more than the selfish spooky season.  This year, my goal is to change that to bring in a new audience, keep my loyal readers happy, and change the vibe a bit.  Work is still a pain, so we'll see how it goes, but I'd love to share this season with all of you.  Between Turkey Day, Christmas, and New Year's Eve, we have more than enough to keep us going.

Now, I wasn't sure if or when I'd start the Christmas Holidaze, if at all, but then I saw something in stores that really got me excited for the season.  Usually, that's all it takes - One cool item that makes me thankful for the change in seasons and mindset.

Yep, leave it to cereal to get me going.  This isn't anything earth shattering like the returns of Yummy Mummy and Frute Brute, but it's been a while since we've seen any Christmas-themed cereal besides the legendary Christmas Crunch. It's difficult for companies to release holiday items because they don't want to exclude any religions or beliefs.  When was the last time you saw a Hanukkah Crunch?  It would probably be a big hit but, being Catholic, it probably wouldn't appeal to me.  The same can be said for Jewish people and Christmas Crunch.  It leads to drama, lower sales and, ultimately, companies shying away from the idea all together.  Financially, it make sense, but there are loopholes and Post found one with Pebbles Sugar Cookie Cereal! No matter what you celebrate or believe in, we all love sugar cookies, right?!

The box art lured me in as soon as I saw the image on Twitter, but I never expected to find it so soon.  Many items have teased me on, but I've yet to see any of them in stores.  I assumed the same here, but I caught Target at the perfect time because they were just putting these beauties out on shelves.  I just had to wait for the stock girl to move out of my way in order to not look overly excited over, yet again, a box of cereal.

Realistically, we can all admit that this is a Christmas themed box of cereal, but Post never admits that.  We don't see the word anywhere, but the red, white, and green oats, along with Dino dressed as a reindeer, suggest that this was meant for breakfast on December 25th.  If I was an executive at Post, I'd totally lie and tell you that Bam Bam is wearing an animal-print yamaka, but we all know the deal.  This is a gift to us from Santa Claus.

I love the way the cereal looks, but didn't know what to expect from the flavor.  How would a Sugar Cookie translate?  Pebbles has released in a variety of odd cereal flavors, including Caramel Apple and Cupcake, all to mixed reviews.  Personally, I loved the Caramel Apple taste, but it wasn't meant to be a mainstay and I'd keep it that way.  That's why this is limited-edition and merely seasonal.  If it flops, it'll be outta here in two-months, never to be seen again.

The colors are bright enough to remind you of Christmas lights and that alone makes me happy to have this in my life.  Even though I'm still missing Halloween, I'm trying to find the Christmas spirit and this truly helps me dig deep and bring it out.  Little things like this get you in the mood, but family and friends keep it up as we move closer to the big day.

For the most part, this tastes like Fruity Pebbles and that's fine by me.  Growing up, that was what I ate more than any other breakfast.  Because I loved the Flintstones so much, my Parents always bought me Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles to eat before school.  I remember waking up for school, wrapping myself up in a big blanket, and eating a bowl of Fruity Pebbles while watching Nickelodeon.  So, with every bite, there is nostalgia there for me.  But, there is a hint of Sugar Cookie and it's enough to differentiate this and make it a Christmas Cereal.  Overall, I'm a fan and really like this stuff.  It won't steal any thunder from Christmas Crunch, but it's a great alternative and looks the part.  I probably won't pick up any more boxes, because I'd rather the original Fruity Pebbles, but it's worth trying, especially if you save the holiday boxes like I do.  One day, they'll all be framed and changed as the seasons change.

To conclude, go find and buy a box of Pebbles Sugar Cookie.  It's brand new and worth a shot.  As far as The Holidaze goes, I'll do my best to update the site as much as possible.  If you've been reading, you're well aware that my work schedule is pretty crazy and that might extend into the 2nd week of December, but I'll give it an honest effort.  Because I haven't really contributed to the Christmas Holidaze in the past, just about everything is new to the site so, even if it's two-years-old, it'll probably get mentioned anyway.  So hopefully you'll join me as I attempt to create and enhance the Christmas experience.  If I flop, then just come back in September :)
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