Ripple vs Flake

I just discovered a British food import store near me that I guess has been there forever.  I popped in to look around and saw an old treat that my friend in highschool would bring back from her annual travels to visit family in Ireland, flake.  I don’t know if Ripple came around after flake or not….oh wait – the internet – now I know Ripple came out 30 years after flake started being sold in 1930.

Did Ripple somehow perfect the flake model of crumbly chocolate?


We found flake to have a very pleasant texture, the density of something light like the Aero bar but with different distribution of space.  The chocolate itself is very creamy and not too sweet.  Because of it’s creaminess, pockets of air in the chocolate help distribute the richness of the chocolate.  Personally, I always find Cadbury milk chocolate to be too heavy for me, so this is the perfect presentation for Cadbury.  One thing about flake that isn’t perfect is that no matter how careful I try to eat this, I look like cookie monster.  There’s just no way around it’s flaking off into particles all over the place.  I wonder if “crumble” might have been a more appropriate name.


Visually, Ripple’s interior is similar to flake with it’s folded ribbons of chocolate.  We were interested to see how the chocolate coating would hold up and if it would help with the crumblefest that is unavoidable with flake.  The outershell does help, but to our dismay the chocolate wasn’t very enjoyable.  Tastewise it lacked chocolate flavor and tasted artificial – and it stuck to my teeth so that took away from any enjoyment.

Wrap up:
If we had to choose looking like a civilized human being or eating something worth the calories, we’d stick with flake.  It might be messy but at least it tastes good and you don’t have to deal with chocolate adhering to your teeth and it actually tastes like chocolate.
We both couldn’t even finish the Ripple, it just tasted so gross.

Ribbon or flake?

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Steak-umm vs Steak-Eze


Steak-umm used to be one of my sister and I’s favorite after school snack.  We’d just cook these up and eat them as-is, no bread or cheese, just some Lawry’s seasoned salt – and so easy a pair of fifth graders can make them!  I recently saw Steak-Eze in the frozen food section at the store and just had to see if they were comparable to the only quick-cook-pan-fry-freezer-steak I’ve ever really known.

I was surprised that this product was so unlike Steak-umm’s shape in the way that it’s rounded and about 1/2″ thick.  The directions are to cook about a minute on either side and then “lightly chop” with a spatula.  We added a little seasoned salt and swiss cheese.  Some of the notes we took included “not terrible”, “not a lot of flavor” and “I guess it’s juicy”.  Really not overly impressive but I guess to be fair it might be to par with something you would get a mediocre diner.


Steak-umm, it’s been a long time my old friend.  For anyone who is unfamiliar, Steak-umm is basically  two wafer-thin sheets of “steak” that cook up in about a minute. Like with Steak-Eze, we cooked these with a little Lawry’s and swiss cheese.  Ethan thought these were “so bland, they’re offensive”, and “gross”.  I also found these bland, but not quite offensive, although they did seem greasier.  These really are just a vehicle for seasoned salt and cheese.  The texture is something that I would recommend for anyone with any  sensitive dental work as the steak-umm is so mushy and soft that you really don’t need to use your teeth all that much.

Wrap up:
Steak-umm-yeah-no.  While we both have a nostalgic loyalty to Steak-umm,  it was really just much less enjoyable(?) than Steak-Eze.  Ethan only had a few bites of his Steak-umm but ate the whole Steak-Eze.  I did feel like I could get into Steak-umm  if I had to,  more so than Ethan but since I didn’t have to, I didn’t finish he umm either.  We both agree that incorporating melted cheese with both of these is mandatory and seasoned salt is highly recommended. Really, both of these are not something we’d ever buy again, but if given a choice we’d go with Steak-Eze.

Steak-umm or Steak-Eze

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Kraft Macaroni & Cheese vs Double Takes








We’ve had a couple of mac & cheese showdowns here, Stouffer’s v. Michelina’s, Chef Boyardee v. Hormel, but haven’t done the microwave version that includes mixing the packet of orange powder.   I love making baked macaroni & cheese from scratch, grating 2 or 3 kinds of cheese, panko crumbs, the whole deal, but there really is something awesome, almost memorizing,  about the orange powder of  the boxed mac and cheese I made as a kid.  I would love watching it dissolve into the melted butter and pasta to be come the tangy, cheese sauce that went so well with watching The Dukes of Hazzard.  We’ll be reviewing the boxed versions but couldn’t resist trying the microwave cups, just to know if these would be a good option for some reason.








Ethan thought there was more cheese powder-to-pasta ratio than he remembered being in the boxed version (which he always thought should have have more cheese. The powder packet is mixed into the pasta once it’s cooked in the cup, no butter needed to add but some how the sauce is still kind of creamy.  Personally, I thought it was a little “slick” feeling so I looked to see if there was xanthan or guar gum but there’s not, just modified food starch, so maybe that was it.  Still the flavor was decent for orange powder and had the familiar tanginess from what I remember, not 100% but okay.

Double Takes:







Only two notes for this:
A) The cheese powder is more of a yellow than orange
B) Tastes like absolutely nothing, totally void of taste.

Wrap up:
It would seem obvious that Kraft would be the winner just because it’s a name brand but I have to say I’ve liked super market versions (that were probably the same thing in a different box) but this…  They must call the brand “Double Takes” because you have to do that to make sure you actually ate something.  Between the two of us the only adjective we could use to describe the taste was “nothing”.   I guess it’s mildly impressive they managed to create something that tastes like actual nothing so, bravo on that Double Takes.

Kraft or Double Takes

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Hershey’s Kisses Deluxe vs Ferrero Rocher









Even though I’m a fan, I always have a little trouble pronouncing  the “Ferrero” in “Ferrero Rocher”.  I don’t know why, it’s not the most complicated name, but I guess growing in the 80’s I think of Geraldine Ferraro and even then, it’s pretty much the same pronunciation but will refer to them as “Ferrer” – I don’t know what my problem is but I mostly just call them”Rocher”.  Everyone does, right?

Rochers were their own little novelty until I noticed the Hershey’s version creeping around a little too close on the shelves at CVS and since they’re a standard offering at the dollar stores , Ethan and I figured it’s worth a comparison. Let’s take a look behind the gold wrapper…

Kisses Deluxe:







The cross section looks just okay visually.  You’ve got your crunchy element, the ganache-esque smidge of a layer and of course the hazelnut in the middle but upon tasting we could tell the Kiss was lacking.  While I thought the crunchies were okay, Ethan didn’t even find the detectable.  The “ganache” to me was sub-par at best and not much of it.  We both found the chocolate to be kind of fake tasting and overly sweet.  Ethan’s last note on this was “the nut was okay”.

Ferrero Rocher:







What’s so nice about Rochers is the clearly defined layers that work separately, yet together for a full multi-texture experience.   Chopped hazelnut pieces coat a wafer layer which surrounds ganache and in the center is a whole toasted hazelnut.    One of the major advantages Rocher has over the Kiss is that wafer later- I don’t know how they do it, and I guess hershey’s doesn’t know either, but it makes such a difference.  Biting through the top crisp later, into the light airiness of the wafer  and  the smooooth creaminess of ample ganache before crunching into the hazelnut really makes eating a Rocher a real treat.

Wrap up:
Not a big surprise Ferrero Rocher was a clear winner with us.  The Kiss “Deluxe” is clearly trying to pull a fast one on Rocher fans with the similar gold foil wrapper but the lack of defined layers, missing wafter and poor quality of chocolate just make for a disappointing experience.  If you want a treat, just go for the real thing.

Hershey's Kisses Deluxe or Ferrero Rocher?

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Hawaiian Punch vs Tiki Punch


punch cans

It seems funny that Hawaiian Punch is still around, like it should have died out when Capri Sun came onto the juice drink scene but I guess it’s one of those things that will never die.
Like with 90% of the products featured on this blog, this was a forbidden item in my childhood – Juicy Juice only.  I remember one time I was maybe 9 years old,  said something wise to my dad and held his hand up in a wimpy fist and said jokingly said “How would you like a Hawaiian Punch?” and in my childhood naivete I got all excited thinking that maybe he broke down and bought some as a surprise.   I said “Oh my gosh YEAH!  You got some!?” and he laughed and said “no” my face fell expressionless and I thought “I hate you”.  To me, that was nothing to joke about.  It seemed like everyone else got have Hawaiian Punch except us and to make light of it seemed cruel…so very cruel.  That’s how tough my childhood was.
Guess what dad?  You’re not the boss of me and I can buy whatever I want now, so…how would YOU like a Hawaiian Punch?  Um…yeah, so anyway I saw this Shasta Tiki Punch and was curious how it compared to it’s  Hawaiian counter part.

Hawaiian Punch:
Hawaiian punchI know I must have had Hawaiian Punch at some point in life but it wasn’t more recent than middle school so I was actually kind of shocked by the bright redness of the drink that is so poorly depicted in this photo (I swear it looked brighter).  One thing Ethan and I noted was how overly sweet this was, and it even smelled sweet.  The flavor was fruity Ethan described it as a melted Popsicle or like a super sweet pineapple.  I thought it tasted liked a liquified red lifesaver.  Between the uncomfortable color and the overwhelming sweetness I couldn’t finish my glass.

Tiki Punch:
Tiki PunchI wasn’t expecting Tiki Punch to be carbonated so that was a surprise.  Overall the flavor was pretty much the same.  In some way the carbonation seemed to cut the sweeteness just a little but I think it was really just that it was a bit watery, although Ethan thought it was syrupy.  I was reading the ingredients and there is some kind of gum in it  so I think is possible to be watery and syrupy.

Wrap up:
Gross and gross.  Okay, I guess I wasn’t missing out on anything as a kid by not being able to drink this.  I’m actually feeling a little nauseous as I write this and funny enough Ethan just said he feels like drinking more.  If I had choose I guess I’d pick Hawaiian just for familiarity and that it contains actual fruit juice (although less than 2%) while Tiki is nothing but scary ingredients.
I also wanted to point out Tiki Punch does have the better graphics.
guys“Punchy” not only is a heavily pixelated image but the new Punchy is way lamer than the old one. I thought it was mildly interesting that they are both making the same hand gestures.   Also while Punchy is a guy, I can’t really tell what the Tiki bro is.  He/it seems to be a face that has two legs, one arm  and that’s it.  I mean, he resembles a human but there’s a some thing missing that is a little bothersome.

Hawaiian Punch or Tiki Punch

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Lucky Charms vs Marshmallow Mateys


Lucky Charms was never allowed in our house  when I was a kid so I don’t have a huge history with it other than the few times I got to indulge at my friend’s house when I slept over.  That was how the other half lived!  Staying up past 9:00pm, drinking soda, eating oreos, Twinkies and Fun Dip all night, then waking up to forbidden sugary goodness of Lucky Charms or Pop Tarts…or both– anything went over there!
Bringing it back to 2014, Ethan and I tried Lucky Charms and it’s challenger, Marshmallow Mateys .  It seems like Mateys wanted to go a different route, avoiding any reference to being lucky or Irish or folklorey and went a different route with a nautical theme.

Lucky Charms:

I knew some of the marshmallows only from the commercials from years ago but they’ve updated and added some that I don’t know.  I think it was purple horseshoes that was the new addition last I noticed, I wasn’t even sure what some of the shapes were supposed to be.  I felt like the cereal part was very crispy and tasted like cheerios and Ethan thought they tasted like puffed rice- that not being good or bad- just very much like rice.

Marshmallow Mateys:

Mateys boast that there is no high fructose corn syrup in the product and that it somehow provides 12 vitamins and minerals (which I don’t see how that is possible).  There is no identification of what the marshmallows are, I’m guessing some fish and a random flower of some sort. In comparison to Lucky Charms,  Matey’s oat cereal had larger, puffier pieces but only one shape, Ethan seemed disappointed when he noted “it’s all anchors”. The texture is a bit different not just with the puffier pieces but we felt that it seemed “gritter” and I thought the cereal tasted very “oaty”.

Wrap up:
While there are subtle differences, I feel like Marshmallow Mateys could definitely pass for Lucky Charms in a pinch if you’re an amateur like me.  To a fan, they would probably notice the texture and ricey taste besides being well versed in the various shapes.

Lucky Charms or Marshmallow Mateys

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Cinnamon Toast Crunch vs Cinnabon

I LOVED Cinnamon Toast Crunch growing up. I haven’t had it in forever (like so many things on this blog) and I know, comparing toast to buns might not be fair,  but I was excited to see Cinnabon cereal and figured it was still a formidable opponent.
I’ve never had Cinnabon cinnamon bun, I feel like they should have them in New England but I rarely get to a mall so I just haven’t been around to try them.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch:

CTC is just like I remembered it, delightfully crisp and light  yet amazingly crunchy.  It has the perfect amount of cinnamon and sugar and kind of a buttery taste.
As an adult, I like that the ingredient list is relatively small for cereal and there;s no partially hydrogenated oil.


These had a much puffier texture yet maybe a little less crunch – though not to say they weren’t satisfyingly crunchy.  It’s just that CTC is so crunchy that it’s crisp like, these were more of a hollow crunch.
That being said, they were airy but still has substantial flavor.  Maybe a little more cinnamony than CTC.  Of course there is PHO (partially hydrogenated oil) but they do also mention it’s a multi-grain cereal- does that cancel out the badness of the PHO?

Wrap up:
I’ll go with Cinnamon Toast Crunch because I love it so much and the absence of PHO but it’s just a great cereal. I will say though that I enjoyed the Cinnabons more than I thought I would but given a choice, I’d stick with CTC.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Cinnabon?

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Ellio’s vs Betzio’s

Old school cafeteria-style pan pizza, mmmm, nothing like it.  I haven’t had this in many years, probably since middle school but maybe high school.  My sister and I loved the commercial with the kid having his big brother prepare the pizza for him and having the cheese go “blub blub blub”.
I never heard of Betzio’s before but saw it at the market and felt it was perfect for a comparison.

Um…where to start?  This is not the pizza I remembered when I was a kid, and it’s definitely not the pizza shown on the box.  First, the perferations on the dough do not let the pizza break off to make a neat rectangle.  This shape  pictured above is what Ethan got after trying to snap off the perferations.
Second, the cheese – where is it?  The pizza is sparingly sprinkled with minimal cheese revealing a somewhat “zesty” sauce but it’s really like ketchup with too much herb.  Ethan said it wasn’t oregano though because he likes oregano, so I don’t know what it was.  The dough is bland and tasteless and so chewy that I just scraped off the cheese and sauce because I couldn’t deal with it.


Betzio’s had much better everything.  The cheese tasted better and there was more of it.  The sauce was milder but the dough was much more pleasant, light, soft (but not mushy) and crisp on the bottom.
Ethan said it really reminded him of pizza he got at school growing up and it was good in a comforting way.

Wrap up:
Definitely Betzio’s.  I just can’t believe how dissapointing Ellio’s was.  Did I like it before because I was kid or has it gone way downhill in the past 25 years?  It’s almost shameful to pass this off as pizza.
Anyway, at least we’ll always have the commercial. Blub blub blub.

Ellio's or Betzio's

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Goober vs Stripes

I’ve never ever been tempted to try Smucker’s Goober.  First, because I’m not a big grape jelly fan and second I always like to have a little more control over of mt PB to jelly ratio.  Also, I am a hardcore Teddie crunchy addict.  There’s just nothing like it (to me).  But of course now that I found a doppelganger for it, I’d have to try both.

Goober looked okay with it’s smooth PB and shiny jelly stripes. 
We tasted and…blah.  I was really surprised at the total absence of peanut flavor.  the jelly was so ultra-sweet that it really just tasted like pure corn syrup with maybe a hint of grape.  the over all consistency of the product was very “manufactured”; it felt like two kinds of plastic on my tongue.  Ethan agreed.

Stripes peanut butter was much darker looking but had the same plasticy feel.  I felt it did have a little more peanut flavor but Ethan detected some bitterness too.

Wrap up:
I guess I’d side with Stripes because of the slight peanut flavor, which beat the no-peanut flavor of Goober.
Ethan sided with Goober because he liked the jelly better.  We both agreed that both are pretty gross though and won’t be eating more than the teaspoonfool we had tonight.

Goober or Stripes?

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Twix vs Jive

There’s a new store that opened not too far away that is a second rate wonderland and inspired me to hop back on the blogging horse.   I can’t tell you how awesome this place is, aisle after aisle has shelves full of beautiful knock-off products. I had to put stuff back as my arms filled up with products (I didn’t get a cart thinking I wouldn’t find much to buy) and have plenty of excuses to visit again.
We found snack-size candies called Jive that use the same format at Twix so we dusted off the white backdrop, set up the tripod and got to work!


Upon unwrapping this treat, the smell of chocolate was extremely tempting.  There’s no turning back once unwrapped.  Twix is such a perfect candy bar, the smoothness of the chocolate, richness of the caramel and crisp crunch of the cookie work so well together. Ethan especially liked the flavor of the cookie but like with the textures, the flavors of all three elements compliment each other perfectly.  We both agreed the little snack size left us wanting more.


The first thing I noticed was the absence of any chocolatey smell.  The textures were okay but the caramel didn’t taste like anything and the cookie seemed to be lacking some flavor.   In all, it was just okay but definitely didn’t leave us wanting more.

Wrap up:
Jive is all jive.  I had high hopes for it since the cashier was raving about how awesome they were but it to us, there is nothing like the reliable taste and texture of the real deal.

Twix or Jive?

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