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Purchased at: Walgreen’s
Price: $1.49 (+$.10 deposit)

I love summer for a few different reasons, but one of my favorite things about the season is the fact that every single soft drink company seems to roll out a new line of flavors. Most of them are variations of existing flavors, but that’s okay. I fall for the gimmick every time. When I heard that Pepsi was unveiling a new flavor, I was excited. But then I saw what it was and…to be completely honest, I thought this already existed.

How does it taste? I like it. It’s sweet and doesn’t have the aftertaste that most diet sodas have. The cherry flavor is what I noticed first, but the vanilla comes through as well. It reminds me of the Diet Pepsi Jazz that was out a few years ago (they had three flavors – caramel, berries and cream, and strawberries and cream) – specifically, the berries and cream flavor. It’s good. I loved the Jazz sodas and was pretty disappointed when I couldn’t find them anymore. I’m a diet soda addict, so this is perfect.

One of my biggest (and only) complaints about this Diet Pepsi is the fact that it wasn’t very carbonated and seemed to go flat really quickly. However, I had this in my car on a hot day (90+ degrees F) without air conditioning on, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was part of the reason the carbonation kind of fizzled out.

4/5

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Purchased at: Walgreen’s
Price: $1.49 (+ $.10 deposit)
According to the bottle… DEW with a punch of tropical flavors

I’m not a big Mountain Dew fan. I don’t hate it, but if I want a soda, nine times out of ten I’m going to choose Coke (or Pepsi. I don’t have a preference). However, I do fall prey to gimmicks/new flavors/etc., so I had to pick up a bottle of this. As you all know by now, Mountain Dew is running their DEWMocracy campaign again. The Typhoon flavor sounded like the most appealing of the three flavors (the other two are lime and citrus, neither of which really do anything for me. Isn’t Mountain Dew already citrusy?). Plus, the bright pink color reminded me of one of my favorite crayons as a child – Crayola’s “shocking pink.”

One of the reasons I’m not a huge Mountain Dew fan is the carbonation. It’s not bubbly enough for me. This is the case with the new Typhoon flavor as well.
I like the flavor of this soda, though. The first flavor I really get is pineapple, which just so happens to be my favorite fruit, so I’m really digging it. I can’t really tell what other flavors are in this soda – orange, maybe? Cherry? I’m not really sure. It’s definitely fruity tasting, but the pineapple is the most dominant. It’s good. It’s refreshing. It fed my caffeine addiction. It it great? No.

It’s a good summery soda, but I can’t imagine drinking it often. But that’s how I feel about all Mountain Dew products.

3/5

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Purchased at: Kroger
Price: $1.89
According to the box… Now with more cheese! Ziti pasta in a delicious marinara sauce topped with mozzarella, monterey jack and Parmesan cheeses.

While I was on my way home from work yesterday afternoon, I was craving something covered in hot, melty cheese. Of course, my first instinct was to head to the nearest Taco Bell and get a nacho cheese chalupa or any of their various menu items covered in their delicious fake cheese sauce. Instead, I decided to be healthy and go for the frozen baked ziti I had in my freezer at home. I’m going to be honest. I wasn’t expecting this to be a good substitute, but I was pleasantly surprised.

I HATE Lean Cuisine with a passion. Their chicken is always a weird texture and their pastas always end up gummy/mushy. However, somehow Smart Ones manages to do low-cal, microwavable entrees pretty well. This one was no exception.

The pasta cooked up perfectly. Of course it was a little softer than I would have preferred, but for a microwavable pasta dish, I can’t complain. It held its shape and was al dente enough to hold a respectable amount of the marinara sauce and cheese. The sauce is probably my least favorite part of the dish. It’s your typical boxed/frozen meal marinara sauce, meaning it’s a little sweeter than I prefer. There also aren’t enough spices (mainly, garlic). It’s inoffensive. On the other hand, because it’s not very bold, it doesn’t get in the way of the real star of this dish: the cheese.

The box boasts three different kinds of cheese, but I only tasted two: the Parmesan and mozzarella. Parm and mozzarella happen to be my two favorite cheeses (aside from nacho), so I’m okay with that. The cheese melts surprisingly well – it’s creamy and gooey and stringy all at the same time. And it mixes in with the marinara to form a creamier, cheesier tomato sauce. It’s awesome. I wasn’t expecting this little frozen pasta dish to take care of my craving, but it definitely did.
Well done, Smart Ones.

4.5/5

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Purchased at: Cost Plus/World Market
Price: $1.99 (yields two servings)
According to the package… Dark chocolate and caramel with subtle notes of sea salt to bring all flavors together

This isn’t your typical hot chocolate. It puts Swiss Miss to shame.

I love dark chocolate and salted caramel, so when I saw this at the store, I grabbed it without hesitation. I’m not a big hot chocolate fan, but this seemed like a winner. And it is.

This is adult hot chocolate (not THAT kind of adult, you sickos), for sure. It’s made with a dark, rich cocoa powder and isn’t overly sweet. You can smell the chocolate from across the room and it smells awesome. The caramel and sea salt aren’t as in your face as the dark chocolate, but they’re both definitely there. The package advertises them as being “subtle” and they definitely are. But this stuff is good. It’s rich. It’s creamy (and I made it with water. I can only imagine what it would be like if I used milk). It tastes like something that you would get at a fancy coffeehouse or restaurant, but it’s from a little store I found in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately, I only bought one packet. And I want more.

I could totally see serving this as a dessert. It’s that rich and decadent.

5/5

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Purchased at: McDonald’s
Price: $2.00
According to the package… there was no description available anywhere in-store, and the McDonald’s website doesn’t even acknowledge the existence of this milkshake.

I know, I know, I’ve been slacking here lately. I apologize. In my defense, I was out of town for the past few days. That’s part of the reason I bring you this latest review, actually. Mid-roadtrip, I ran into a McDonald’s and saw the sign out front advertising their newest milkshake flavor – chocolate banana.
Of course I stopped in to try one.

I think it’s important to note that I only go to McDonald’s for one of two reasons: late-night McFlurry cravings or hangover breakfasts. I haven’t actually been inside of one in two or three years, so I totally forgot about their plan to make the stores more “upscale” and sell coffeehouse-style beverages. I was expecting to get this milkshake in one of their little white, paper cups coated in wax. Nope. It’s huge! And in a plastic cup, topped with whipped cream and a cherry. And it was only two bucks. I thought it was a pretty good deal, considering milkshakes this size usually cost twice the price at ice cream shops.

It looks like a plain chocolate milkshake, so I was a little worried that I wouldn’t taste the banana at first. That’s not a problem here. Strangely, it LOOKS like chocolate, but I didn’t taste any. The fake banana flavor is overwhelming. And this is coming from someone who loves fake banana flavored things (Runts, Laffy Taffy, etc.) more than real bananas. This milkshake tastes exactly like a cold, liquid piece of banana Laffy Taffy. I was very disappointed and only drank about half of it before deciding to let it melt in my cupholder for three hours. Of course, the fake banana smell also permeated the air and hung around in my car for a few hours, until I finally stopped and threw it out.

I let everyone else I was with try it and nobody wanted more than a sip or two. We were all very disappointed, because chocolate and bananas go so well together, but this didn’t deliver.

1/5

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Purchased at: Walgreen’s
Price: $.49 (on sale, originally priced $.89)
According to the website… Indulge your dark side with MILKY WAY® MIDNIGHT® Bar—it’s dark chocolate, golden caramel and vanilla nougat.

I love Milky Way bars and I love dark chocolate, so I have no idea why it took me until freaking 2010 to try one of the Milky Way Midnight bars. The dark chocolate coating and the vanilla nougat are the only two differences from the regular Milky Way. It doesn’t taste too different, except for the chocolate.

The dark chocolate is sweet, but not as sickly sweet as the original milk chocolate version. It also adds a different layer of depth, because it’s slightly bitter (as dark chocolate tends to be). I didn’t notice a difference in the flavor of the vanilla nougat versus the original (which is a chocolate-malt flavor, if you believe the Wikipedia article on Milky Ways). The bright white color is the only difference. In fact, if it weren’t for the color difference, I never would have suspected that it wasn’t the same as the original bar. It’s just really sweet, which works perfectly for those sudden-onset sugar cravings.

The caramel is still the traditional Milky Way caramel, and it’s arguably the best part of the entire candy bar. It goes really well with the dark chocolate, and because the chocolate is dark (and therefore not as sweet as the milk chocolate), it isn’t too sweet.

This isn’t a bad candy bar, but it’s nothing amazing, either.

2.5/5