Teddy Grahams vs Teddy Bear Cookies

Unfortunately I didn’t get to see my 3 year old nephew who likes Teddy Grahams to have him compare these but I get the feeling he’s not too picky when it comes to second rate versions of snacks.  Ethan and I evaluated these on our own.   Admittedly we’re not graham cracker connoisseurs, and I’ve never had either of these products but it looked like a perfect showdown waiting to happen.

Teddy Grahams:
These little cookies are probably about an inch high with a shiny glaze of sugar/honey/high fructose corn syrup.  I felt they were a little bland but Ethan said  he thought graham crackers are supposed to be bland anyway. So there was really nothing too noteworthy about these, I didn’t really taste any honey flavor but  we did both like that they had a good satisfying crunch.

Teddy Bear Cookies:
Right off I wasn’t crazy about these because they look like this lady I used to work with that would come into my office and complain all day.  Although they were larger, we both found these to be even more tasteless than Teddy Grahams.  These had the taste and softer crunch similar to an animal cracker.  There was some weird, unnatural aftertaste that we just couldn’t put out finger on but we didn’t like it.

Wrap up:
Teddy Grahams wins for having a good hearty crunch and no weird aftertaste. Other than that they’re pretty bland, but in this case not questioning what flavor you’re tasting is a winning factor. Plus the fact they they didn’t remind me of long days in the office listing to Ruth ramble on about how she gets no respect from her work-study students might have had something to do with it but I do have Ethan’s opinion to back me up on the decision.  

Teddy Grahams or Teddy Bear Cookies

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Starbucks Frappuccino vs Caribou Iced Coffee Drink

I always thought of bottled Frappuccino as a disappointment because if you go to Starbucks and order a Frappuccino, you get something that resembles a frappe (or as some parts of the country call it a milkshake, although I won’t get into the fact that a frappe has ice cream and a milkshake is just milk and syrup but anyway…) So being that the bottled version is more like an iced coffee, when I saw Caribou’s “coffee drink” I felt these were close enough to compare. Ethan doesn’t drink coffee at all so I evaluated these on my own.

I usually drink iced coffee black with no sugar so of course this took a little bit of adjusting to. It’s very milky and they’re not shy on the sweetening. I almost had a hard time detecting the coffee flavor at all but it is in there it’s just over powered by the milk and sugar. Too sweet to drink more than the amount poured in this picture.

Caribou Coffee Drink:
Caribou is noticeably darker. A little easier on the sugar as well but still somehow lacking coffee flavor. I feel like there is a mocha quality to this and even checked the ingredients to see what they added to make this not taste like coffee but coffee is the first ingredient followed by milk, sugar, sodium bicarbonate and then “natural flavors”. I kept tasting it expecting this to get better but it just didn’t.

Wrap up:
I don’t feel so good. Both are pretty sugary and I don’t respond well to that. Between the overwhelming milkiness of the Frappuccino and the odd, non-coffee taste to Caribou’s coffee drink, I never want to have either of these again. Usually wherever you’d buy one of these (mini-mart), there should be a Dunkin’ Donuts nearby (if you’re in New England) so just hold out a few more minutes and get a real iced coffee instead.

Starbucks Frappuccino or Caribou's Coffee Drink

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Devil Dogs vs Devil Cremes

Devil Dogs are one of my brother-in-law Rick’s favorite things. When I saw these Little Debbie “Devil Cremes”, I had to bring them up to New Hampshire and have him give his opinion.
What my sister and I never liked about Devil Dogs is how dry the cake is. I found out that Ethan felt the same way and even Rick admitted they are a bit dry.
I’m actually surprised they’re still made because of how dry they are but I guess enough people don’t mind.

Devil Dogs:
We all agreed the cake was pretty dry. I felt that it also wasn’t very chocolaty and Ethan said both the cake and the creme were artificial tasting and had a slight chemical aftertaste. Steph and mom weren’t impressed either but Rick seemed fine with it even with the admitted dryness of cake.

Devil Cremes:
Mom thought these looked more appealing because they’re darker, I agreed. The cake was soft and moist and Rick pointed out that they were thinner, making for a more balanced creme-to-cake ratio. I liked the creme because it was like what they use in their Swiss Rolls. Mom said she could live without them (as she says about most things) but they weren’t bad.

Wrap up:
Devil Cremes win. Even Rick, who confidently declared Devil Dogs would win even before tasting both, strayed from his favorite and went with Little Deb. Everything was better about these, the cake, creme and overall balance. I guess like mom, I could live without either, but if I had to choose, I’d definitely pick Devil Creme over Devil Dog.

Devil Dogs or Devil Cremes?

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Mug vs Barq’s

There are so many root beers out there, but these were the two available in the store that I stopped at on the way home today. I don’t know exactly what gives root beer it’s distinctive flavor. I checked out a few recipes and it seems like it’s vanilla and wintergreen and sometimes ginger, licorice and something called sassafras (which I will look up later). I like root beer every now and then, but my love affair with it seemed to end after Ramblin’ was discontinued.

Upon opening the bottle we noticed that this smelled very root beery, like the scratch and sniff stickers I used to have. The taste is pretty decent, a lot better then Ethan had remembered it – he used to think Mug was the “bottom of the barrel” for root beers. This was a little too sweet and Ethan said it tasted almost like Pepsi with herbs.

When I tasted this, I said I thought this had more of a bite and Ethan immediately said “That’s their motto,” – so I guess it’s accurate. Ethan thought the flavor was more of a “true” root beer flavor. The bubbles were a little more present although like Mug, there was no “head” on either of these, but I’m not sure if that’s possible out of a bottle.

Wrap up:
Ethan liked Barq’s better but was surprised that Mug wasn’t all that bad either. I felt both were pretty much the same and feel like I should try harder to find a Ramblin’ equivalent, although I’m not sure if I remember exactly how it tastes. But if there is a root beer that is a little smoother or creamier, I’d love to try it.

Mug or Barq's?

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Ritz vs Goya

Unfortunately, Sunshine baked goods don’t really exist anymore except as novelty items and I can’t compare Ritz with Hi-Ho’s but Ethan found these Goya crackers that seemed worthy of comparing. We have all these crackers now so I need to make some chicken soup (I just can’t do canned chicken soup but that may be a good comparison some day!)

Ritz has a nice crunch, that I’d describe as a “soft crunch”. A nice buttery flavor and just the right amount of salt on top to compliment the cracker.
Between the texture and the flavor this is a well-rounded (pun intended) cracker that goes beyond the serving suggestion and goes well with pb&j and, as I mentioned before, is very nice in chicken soup.

These had a different crunch, sort of dryer. There is a lack of buttery flavor, and they taste more like Saltines. Salt is present but a little too sparse on the surface, yet still a somewhat satisfying cracker. Not Ritz but not bad.

Wrap up:
We went with Ritz for it’s buttery flavor and full-bodied crunch. I would like to point out though that Goya does make a very suitable cracker that even Ethan (who is a Ritz fan) said he probably wouldn’t mind if he had to substitute these for Ritz. So if Goya is all that’s available, I don’t think you’ll be too disappointed.

Ritz or Goya Crackers?

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Peter Rabbit vs Carrot Patch Pete

I was walking through one of my favorite sources for second rate snacks, Dollar Tree, and lots of Easter candy and two versions of chocolate rabbits.  First “The Original Peter Rabbit” and then Palmer’s “Carrot Patch Pete”.  What? you never heard the tale of Carrot Patch Pete?   I think what intrigued me most is the statement on the package that reads “Decorated Solid Milk Chocolate Flavored”  I never get that, if they can flavor it like chocolate, why not just use chocolate?  and if it’s not chocolate- what is it?

Ok, so I wasn’t paying enough attention and realised when I got home that I had picked up a “Flopsy” instead of a Peter rabbit but we will trust that the only difference is the mold the chocolate is set in and Flopsy tastes the same as Peter.
The package reads “Real Milk Chocolate”, written all fancy-like in cursive so we had high hopes for Flopsy.  I don’t know how, but this seemed taste like what I imagined Carrot Patch Pete would taste like, and it’s not just because milk chocolate isn’t my favorite.  Ethan, who preffers milk over dark chocolate, said this didn’t taste choclately and was “pretty gross”.  It sounds weird but it was really hard to describe this, all I can think of is tasteless and disappointing.

The first thing we noticed was that Palmer colored in some if the details on Pete.  I felt bad breaking him in half because the expression on his face is like he’s thinking “Hey, what are you doing?” but we had to do what we had to do.   Pete was very sweet, almost too sweet .  I agreed with Ethan that while this did have chocolate flavor, it was very artificial tasting.  I looked at the ingredients and saw the first two were sugar and partially hydrogenated palm/palm kernel oil- and that’s what it tastes like.
Needless to say we chose not to torture ourselves too much and stopped after one bite.

Wrap up:
Both losers.  I’m still puzzled why the real milk chocolate tasted so bad but we found it to be just as gross as the mockolate.  I feel bad for any kids getting either one of these in their baskets to day.  Anyway, Happy Easter!

Peter Rabbit or Carrot Patch Pete?

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Peanut Butter Eggs: Reese’s vs Palmer

Chocolate and peanut butter, great in any form and in this season it can be found sold in an egg shape.
Of course Reese’s uses their top selling product and easily transforms it for Easter. Following their lead, Palmer has created their own version. Palmer seems to be “inspired” by almost everyone, like the Weird Al Yankovic of the candy industry.

We were a little surprised that the egg shape of these were rather poorly formed, it was more like an uneven blob. When we tasted this, I found the PB to me moist and flavorful, the chocolate was a little overpowered by the PB but in general I felt this was just as satisfying as the cups. Ethan felt the PB was kind of airy and didn’t think it was as dense as a regular PB cup.

This had a more solid egg form, like it was filled in a mold and the chocolate was harder so it had a better presentation. This smelled like a Little Debbie Nutty Bar but had a slightly burnt taste. I’m not sure if it came from the PB or the chocolate but it may have been the chocolate because Ethan doesn’t like coffee and he said the chocolate had a coffee tasting undertone.

Wrap up:
In the end the Reese’s was more satisfying. I liked the rich peanut butter and softer chocolate coating. The Palmer egg is better for looks though and maybe a bigger hit with kids because there it also has a “silly” face imprinted on the top of the shell. Some may like the coffee/burnt taste. I didn’t think it was terrible but if I had a choice I’d stick with Reese’s.

PB Egg: Reese's or Palmer?

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Raspberry Jell Bars: Holiday Candies vs Manischewitz

It’s that time of year again where I think some of the worst in Jewish cuisine surfaces. Don’t get me wrong, I have fond memories of sitting at the kid’s table with a bowl of Aunt Maureen’s matzo ball soup and my cousins and I trying to polish off the Concord Grape wine during the seemingly endless Seder, but some of the most bland, flavorless and confusing food/products come out for this holiday too. Tasteless packaged macaroons, mixes that produce space-station quality muffins and brownies, soup nuts, and these things- raspberry jell squares. I actually like the jell rings but could only find one brand so I got these jell squares. Helping with this evaluation was my brother-in-law Rick, Ethan, and my mom. My little sister refused to partake.

Holiday Candies:
The chocolate shell seemed to barely hang on to the jell square, which turned out to be a good thing because it gives you the option of eating just the chocolate. We all found the jell to be pretty sick. While there was a raspberry flavor, the texture was as Rick said “f’d up”. Unlike what you think jell should do when you bite into it, it crumbled when chewed and it was like eating something you weren’t supposed to, like maybe it was toy food from a playset.

These had a thinner chocolate coating and barely more edible jell but it pretty much got the same reviews from everyone. I can’t understand what goes wrong with the jell, I really dont’ remember the jell in the ring form of these being so plasticy in texture. The flavor again is just okay but not worth the calories.

Wrap up:
Gross and gross. We agreed that the only good thing with these are that the chocolate coating easily separates and is therefore useful as a chocolate fix at the end of the night and you don’t feel like eating unleavened brownies. After the evaluation, we all couldn’t get over how dissapointing these were and my little sister just shook her head and said “That’s why I don’t eat those things!”

Raspberry Jell Bars: Holiday Candies or Manischewitz?

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Nest Eggs vs Crispy Eggs

Some more Easter candy comparisons found. Nestle Crunch makes what they call “Nest Eggs” which are mini egg shaped versions of their crisp chocolate.
A company called “Frankford” makes a similar version of this treat called Crispy Eggs which I found at my local dollar store.

Nestle Nest Egg:
There are plenty of crisp grains of rice in the egg formed chocolate. I thought the chocolate had a nice cocoay flavor. Ethan wasn’t crazy about it because he’s not a Nestle fan and feels the chocolate is lacking in flavor and seems “thin” in taste and substance.

Frankford’s Crispy Eggs:
Crispy Eggs had noticeably less crispies in it. Ethan liked the chocolate better, he felt it had more “depth” and wasn’t lacking whatever he thought Nestle was. I put my knowledge of partially hydrogenated oil as the second ingredient in these, aside and tried to concentrate on the chocolate flavor. I thought the flavor was similar to Nestle.

Wrap up:
Split. I liked Nestle’s a little better because it had more crispies but Ethan liked the chocolate in Crispy Eggs better even though he thought they were shaped more like footballs than eggs. He also liked that Crispy Eggs didn’t have any writing on the wrappers, so for display reasons, you may want to pick Frankford.

Nest Eggs or Crispy Eggs?

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Honey Nut Cheerios vs Honey Nut Scooters

Walking through the local “bargain” store I spotted Honey Nut Scooters and on the box cover it practically dares you to compare it to Honey Nut Cheerios. The side panel taunts as well:

The people at Malt-O-Meal have set their sites on Honey Nut Cheerios and created a product just to take them down a notch. Not one to back away from a challenge (well, not on this particular day) I made a stop the “real” grocery store and picked up a box of Honey Nut Cheerios to see if this ballsy confidence was for real or just text on the side of the box.

Honey Nut Cheerios are pretty sweet. Not too sweet but you can taste the honey. Ethan described this as “Not awesome, but good”. Unfortunately, we really had a hard time coming up with a lot of adjectives for this, but it is nutty, sweet and complimented by milk.

Scooters do a good job at looking the same as Cheerios. The taste is similar to Cheerios but are a little lacking in the flavor department. Ethan says they taste artificial. I think if they were a little sweeter it would give these little tasteless O’s somethin’-somethin’.

Wrap up: I could ask for my money back but since I’m just so wealthy, I’ll let them keep their $2.75. While the Scooters shouldn’t have to change their name to “Cardboard O’s” or anything, I don’t think they’re quite as good as Cheerios, and Ethan thinks they’re definitely not as good as Cheerios.

Honey Nut Cheerios or Honey Nut Scooters?

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