Review: Moon Pie Sea Salt Caramel

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We’ve talked quite a bit here at Shameless Consumer about the origins of flavor combinations, and now it’s time you learned about sea salt and caramel. You see, unlike the Arnold Palmer, which was the loving result of marriage and childbirth, sea salt caramel has its basis in bitter, bitter rivalry with a bit of sea salt sprinkled on top.

In order to fully get the story, we have to go back to 1800 Bologna Italy, home town of the renowned yet unaccredited Saltini family. The Saltinis became rich during the occupation by Napoleon’s forces in 1796, striking a deal with Napoleon himself to retain ownership of local sea salt mining operations on the grounds that the family refuse any deal that would see their salt used to flavor the Roman church’s papal crackers. When Bologna traded hands in 1815, the Saltini family was forced to emigrate out of fear of retribution by Pope Pius VII, making an agreement that allowed the family to continue their control of said mine.

So the family hopped into their 1810 Lamborghini Alfredo and booked it with the intention of heading toward what they thought was Novigrad Croatia. However, since Croatia had suffered numerous changes of hands over the years, confusion, lack of road signs, and a general disinterest by head of house Giovanni Saltini to ask for directions led the family astray and the next thing they knew, their car had run out of gas outside of immigration services in downtown New York City. With their reserves of pasta and olive oil depleted, not to mention Grandma Saltini working her way through the thousandth rendition of E Il Sol Dell’anima, the family set up shop.

Over the next few years, Giovanni Saltini would purchase the land and expand his newly international sea salt empire, promising a fortune for any worker willing to put in a day’s effort and coining the term “worth your salt,” in the process. In 1815, however, the Saltini family goes head first into a property dispute with the owners of a nearby mining operation, a  family of Portugese immigrants who had taken advantage of cheap land prices and abundant natural resources. The disputing family, also known as the Caramelos, owned land right next to the Saltinis and set up shop mining its natural caramel caves. According to a lawsuit filed by the Caramelos in 1816, runoff from the Saltini sea salt mine was contaminating their caramel, resulting in the family having to recall all product.

To their surprise, 98% of customers refuse to acknowledge the recall or return the product, they loved it. It seemed as though the families had inadvertently struck gold, creating the next big sensation. People fell in love with the unconventional matching of sweet and salty. The Caramelo family drops their lawsuit and, in December of 1816, family head Leche Caramelo agrees to meet Giovanni Saltini on the sidewalk outside of the Teamonte Cafe. Unknown to Caramelo, Saltini has no plans on forming a business relationship and upon their meeting, he shoots Caramelo point blank in the chest with a shotgun specially modified to fire pellets of sea salt.

Due to the pellets dissolving in Caramelo’s blood, the police are unable to produce sufficient evidence to prosecute Giovanni Saltini, however the NYPD is forced to acknowledge via a later lawsuit that the mixture of blood and salt had melted the icy sidewalk, thus creating a safe environment for responding officers and offering Giovanni a solid character witness, and in 1818 the city compensated the Saltini family by handing over the deed to the caramel mines plus thirty six cents for a day’s lost wages.

Giovanni, sadly, would not survive to see the fruits of his labor. In 1822, the head of the Saltini family perished in a carriage accident. In respect of their father’s pride, the horses involved in Saltini’s trampling were butchered and served at the wake. Daughter Elsa Saltini took this opportunity to field test the first run of the family’s new product: Salted caramels. The new dessert was a hit, transforming the wake from an event of silence and honor to something more closely resembling a birthday party.

The family business would expand over the next hundred years until great grandson Adolfo Saltini in 1917 witnessed a shooting star and decided to leave town to pursue it. He followed the extraterrestrial object across the country, all the way to its crash site in Chattanooga Tennessee where he found that farmers had mined it clean and used its innards to create what we now know as the Moon Pie. Adolfo approached the head miner and made a business offer and the rest, as they say, was history.

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But that’s enough learning for today, we’re here to talk about food.

The salted caramel Moon Pie is an alternate take on a beautiful American classic, the lesser known flag sewn by Betsy Ross’ equally sexy sister, the pair of teeth that George Washington only used in formal occasions, the Vice President of flavor, the deciding vote when the Senate Foreign Culinary Committee comes to a 50/50 opposition and the guy who will probably grab your ass at a formal dinner party and leave a caramel hand print.

At the very least, it will leave a caramel hand print on your face as you open the packaging. The caramel aroma, much like the freedom that the Moon Pie is based off of, does not like being contained, and will burst out as soon as the plastic opens.

It’s important to remember that this is first and foremost a Moon Pie, secondarily a salted caramel treat. The caramel coating, as you would expect, is very thinly layered on top, so thin that you might not even notice it if you wolf down the pie in one mouthful. In this respect, the salted caramel outside is the soft bass carrying the melodic tone of the Moon Pie’s fifth overture, delicately enveloping you in its arms as the soft graham cracker and marshmallow bedding whisk you to a dreamland of serenity, beauty, and presumably an endless stack of Moon Pies.

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There are only two times when it is appropriate for a grown man to cry, and one of those times is when you look upon your Moon Pie with the realization that there is only so much time before both the plastic wrap and your fingers have been sufficiently licked clean of leftover residue. Now that we’ve finished the Moon Pie, I think now it’s been long enough that we can reminisce about it.

The sea salt caramel Moon Pie is soft, gooey, and tastes of deliciously sweet (and salty) caramel. It has exactly the right amount of salt, caramel, graham cracker, and marshmallow. Truly this is culinary inventiveness at its finest.

Verdict – 6/5: The salted caramel Moon Pie isn’t the greatest achievement of man to date, but the first half of this sentence is wrong.

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Review: Dark Chocolate & Vanilla Sea Salt Fortune Cookie

It’s collaboration week here on The Shameless Consumer.

Emily’s Dark Chocolate & Vanilla Sea Salt Fortune Cookie fulfills the Shameless Consumer’s two necessary food groups: Food and chocolate coating. It’s a quintessentially American design, taking an existing food product and drowning it in chocolate, then sprinkling it with something else. Take some twenty first century ingenuity and you make the chocolate dark and throw on some sea salt. Voila, it’s healthy, just don’t eat the plastic wrapping.

You see, like many American products, the idea was mostly a spinoff of an existing design. The actual concept of drowning food in chocolate comes from one Howard T. Fondue, a man whose secondary accomplishment was coining the phrase “how do you do?” The origins of fondue are less circulated and a little darker, having begun as a punishment technique for wayward children at Mr. Fondue’s orphanage. Now it’s not what you’re thinking, they’d only dip the kid in up to his neck and let the chocolate harden as something of a twisted, sweet prison. Then the other kids would eat them free.

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As you probably figured out, Mr. Fondue was not a very effective disciplinarian, hence why he eventually transitioned to the confectionery industry.

Now I know what you’re all asking: does the cookie come with an actual fortune, and if so what did ol’ Sha’Meless Consuman’s fortune say?

The Shameless Consumer doesn’t need a fortune cookie to tell his future, one that in the short term contains a forest fire partially started by two sticks of decade old Wrigley’s chewing gum and further out charges for violating the Geneva Convention’s rules pertaining to Olive Garden’s endless bread sticks. What is important about this product is how well said cookie tastes when doused in chocolate and a little bit of sea salt. If I wanted to write about books, I’d have learned how to sign my name to take the job at our competition Literate Consumer Industries, but we all have skeletons in our trunk, and bodies in our fondue pots.

But what the hell, let’s take a look at what my fortune is.

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Charming personality, huh? Well, I guess the cookie has a point. It was my charming personality that got me this job in the first place, perhaps secondary to the fact that I was the only applicant willing to agree to a spinal fluid test as part of the background check process. I think the test was fake, it was conducted at a Popeye’s Chicken. I also managed to avoid that nasty legal process in Alabama by greeting the motorcycle cop with “nice day for a Moon Pie, officer.”

But I’m getting off topic, let’s talk about this cookie.

Fortune cookies are one of those things that you never eat in tandem with something else, it’s like an after dinner mint but without the mint because the Chinese made it, so you have no expectation on how powerful the flavor is when put up against some potentially domineering flavors. We have a pretty good idea how oatmeal merges with various sweeteners and fruits, dark chocolate and sea salt is already a known entity, and I’ve mixed enough bowls of unmarked M&M’s and Skittles as a party gag to be well acquainted being shanked at a Chuck E Cheese Quinceañera party.

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The idea of a dark chocolate sea salt fortune cookie is about as risky as it gets, not considering the possibility of the chocolate making the fortune cookie soggy. Luckily Emily read her Fondue book, and coated the cookie with a thick layer of chocolate that both binds to the cookie and lovingly embraces it.

There is just enough chocolate and fortune cookie to balance out and ensure that neither flavor conquers the other, not unlike an unstoppable force making contact with an unmovable colon. I like the fact that there is an actual fortune in each cookie, its predetermined placement and personalized fortune a grim reminder that free choice is an illusion and the decision of me to buy the cookie was already made long before I finished being sick from that Pork protein bar. On the other hand, that means this review has already written itself and I can go have a slice of pizza.

Don’t mind me, folks.

So it turns out that fate didn’t want me having that pizza, as there was a disgusting animal in my kitchen eating the last slice. My misfortune for having left the door open coming home from golfing, but my luck that my clubs were within arm’s reach. I’ll have to call my neighbor to come pick him up, maybe explain that he should be kept on a leash until he graduates elementary school.

Anyway, Emily’s dark chocolate sea salt fortune cookie is a surprisingly satisfying blend of three flavors that really can’t be improved upon in any way. They cost $1 each, each cookie only has like 7g of sugar, and to top it off you get a nice message. I can also appreciate the fact that the salt is sprinkled on top rather than just mixed into the chocolate.

It’s a small, cheap touch, but one that a lot of crappy chocolate companies still miss. It’s like being proud of yourself for calling your mother on her birthday rather than the day after, even though you didn’t send her anything.

Verdict – 5/5: I predicted this cookie would receive a 5/5, but I already scored it. I am a fortune teller of the past.

Review: Chobani Flip Pure Pear & Honey Yogurt

It’s your old pal the original Shameless Consumer here with yet another review. I have a few notes from management before we begin. First, a correction: I did not strangle the nimrod that took my job. As it turns out, in the state of Washington it isn’t legally considered a strangling if you stuff a man’s mouth full of Olive Garden breadsticks until he chokes. It’s considered a death by food poisoning, and I’ve just spoiled the second announcement.

Now you intrepid young busy bodies know that the Shameless Consumer is not afraid to admit when he is ignorant, so when the folks in the Non-Dairy Whole Milk Consortium kick flipped today’s review onto my desk, I had just one question: Someone stole my catch phrase.

You see, the Shameless Consumer hasn’t always made a living off of telling you what to eat. Before I came to SCI, I had a job working as a meatloaf delivery man, and every Tuesday I would pass by Ol’ Gurt and his chocolate shop. I’d say ‘yo Gurt” and he’d tell me a story about the war before going back to his ridiculous chocolate experiments. He’s the first man to successfully replace all of the blood in a child’s body with chocolate milk and have the subject live. It was adapted for television in that flick with the fat kid and the chocolate lake, I believe it’s called Dawson’s Creek.

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I’ve assumed for all these years that Gurt just knew a lot of people. I’d be in Costco and hear the depressed, under-paid teenager come on the intercom to announce a sale on ‘yo Gurt’ and wonder how old Gurt got so popular that he charged by the six pack just to give a friendly hello. I never thought much into it, and I never go into the dairy aisle on account of the restraining order. But I digress.

Yogurt is actually made by bacterial fermentation of lactose found in milk, an idea that would sound more disgusting were it not spoken to a mean that eats picked…everything. It satisfies my two main food ingredients: bacterial and fermented. Chobani is a company that makes Greek yogurt, a version that is typically thicker and bankrupt.

So let’s give this product a taste. While we wait for the meal to cool, let’s take a look at the ingredients and health rating. Chobani uses only natural, non-gmo ingredients like evaporated cane sugar, pears, and honey. The cows are not treated with rBST, a factor that the packaging notes is completely irrelevant in the same sentence.

But how does it taste? The pear honey combination tastes like pie filler, flavorful and sweet with a nice crunch. Mixed with the yogurt, you get a creamy treat that can be slowly eaten while relaxing on a sidewalk bench watching through the window as an old man falls into his chocolate machine. Oh Gurt, you’d be first in line to marry my sister if it wasn’t for that whole ‘chocolate reich’ business.

The great thing about yogurt, as I have found out, is that the savings flow like yogurt. This stuff is constantly on sale at 10 for $10 at my local grocery store and there is somewhere in the realm of twenty million flavors. All these savings, you’d think Greece was having a going out of business sale and yogurt was their main crop. But anyway.

Chobani Pure Pear and Honey yogurt feels like a handy complement for your lunch, paired with a sandwich made from the rotisserie chicken you’ve been slowly picking at on the counter for the past few days as well as an RC Cola, some chips, and of course a Moon Pie for dessert. It’s sweet without being too sugary, bitter without being disgusting, and even though it doesn’t have any meat in it, the vegan in my office left in disgust after I started motor-boating the cup and proclaiming my newfound love of yogurt.

I just have one question for Chobani: Can I use yogurt as an essential ingredient in my pork ribs? I can? I need to get off to the store.

Verdict: 5/5 – Can hardly say anything wrong about this product. Great price, perfectly crunchy fruit, and flavorful. Probably healthy to some extent. 

Review: Moon Pie Bites

How is everyone doing? It’s your favorite Shameless Consumer here with another review. No, not that cheap imposter that took my job, I am the one and only Sha’Meless Consuman; infiltrating your web space like an out of control gorilla in a China shop that sells unsupervised toddlers. You can read my golden words by looking down at the page marked “archive.” I have no idea what language that is, but I’m pretty sure it translates to ‘better than what the drivel we currently publish.’

So the knuckleheads down at Shameless Consumer Industries never revoked my email account, so I’ve been sitting back and listening in on the products being pitched for review. When the news broke that Moon Pie had created a bite sized movie theater version of their world famous (the part of the world that matters anyhow) snack/cushion, I knew it was my time to act.

I got in my car, grabbed a Moon Pie and an RC Cola for the road, and blasted off toward destiny. Cunningly using my not-yet-revoked ID card, I strangled the current Shameless Consumer with the lanyard in the parking lot and stole his deets. Don’t worry, I’m pretty sure he survived the fall. Protip: don’t fight a fat man after you’ve stolen his food job.

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As I said in my previous review, the Moon Pie is as American as marshmallow sandwiched between graham crackers and drizzled in chocolate, not to mention just as tasty. The Moon Pie Bites take that all-American, god given patriotism and infuse it with another national tradition: sneaking food into the movie theater.

A word of warning. Like freedom itself, the effect of Moon Pie Bites is not diluted just because it is in your pocket. Steer clear of any, shall we call them, unpatriotic entities otherwise you’ll be seeing the rockets red glare if you know what I mean. I passed by a theater playing a subtitled movie and let’s just say fireworks smell horrible when they inflame the unbathed and communist leaning.

Moon Pie Bites are described as:

MoonPie iconic brand is now available in a confection. MoonPie Bites are unique and delicious. Same great MoonPie S’More taste!… no campfire necessary. Be the first to try MoonPie Bites!

Boy they are. The campfire might be unnecessary, but I’m a man of conviction and the theaters are overly air conditioned anyway.

One important thing to note, the Moon Pie Bites don’t contain any actual marshmallow. Instead, they use artificial marshmallow flavoring, allowing for the product to be certified kosher and vegetarian.

The Shameless Consumer can sympathize with the kosher crowd, being kosher himself (just don’t read my prior reviews). But to make this all-American product vegetarian? Unfathomable. Hit me up in the comments to let me know if you’re a vegetarian, although I’m sure I don’t have to ask. I’ll remind you before you comment that I am indeed vegetarian as well. I love a plate of cheesy potatoes or broccoli to complement a rack of ribs.

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The Moon Pie Bites smell heavily of graham cracker, but the taste isn’t there. If a ghost farted after eating nothing but graham crackers for days and the fart solidified, I’m sure this is what it’d smell and taste like. I imagine the problem with Moon Pie Bites is that they are too small to encapsulate the Moon Pie experience. Moon Pies are soft and chewy, thick and creamy. These are chalky, crunchy, and closer to malted milk balls.

Regardless, the Moon Pie Bite is the Terry Bolea to Moon Pie’s Hulk Hogan: The underlying reality that is probably capable of suing us into bankruptcy if I take this analogy down an inappropriate road, not that I care because I don’t work here. This product is just unpatriotic at its core. What self-serving American takes a product and makes it smaller? Here’s how you spin off Moon Pies: Double stuffed chocolate marshmallow with sprinkles, and a coupon for a free box of M&Ms. You know, for dessert.

If you’re going to the movies, you’re better of just sneaking an actual Moon Pie in with you. It’s more filling, it’s probably cheaper than the bites, and if the usher catches you with a couple Moon Pies in your pocket, it’s not like he’s going to throw you out. You’re probably more likely to get a high five and an RC Cola. I’m pretty sure it’s in the constitution.

Ultimately, I have to give these a pass. They are the unnecessary, lower quality version of a product that was already portable, and they take away more than they add as an alternative. Useful if you can’t handle the piledriver of freedom delivered by the people’s Moon Pie elbow and need to build up an immunity before going for the full product.

Speaking of Moon Pie’s, it’s about ten thirty. Time for a Moon Pie break. This is your original Shameless Consumer signing out for now, unless my former employer wises up or my successor (if you can call him that) fails to return to work. By which I mean he dies.

Verdict: 2/5 – A low quality replacement to a product that was already portable. As unAmerican as Tofurkey, miniaturizing products, and those unfrosted cupcakes. 

Review: Burger King Mac N Cheetos

The Burger King Mac n Cheetos conjures some horrifying imagery, depending on how active your imagination is. The first thought is one of a hollowed out Cheetos puff, filled with macaroni and cheese. A disgusting, yet kind of tantalizing thought, but luckily one that doesn’t translate to the real product.

Burger King Mac n Cheetos is the latest product in the line of crossovers that we’ve come to know as the Fast Food Cinematic Universe, a mixture of two of America’s favorite foods: fried and branded. In essence, the product sounds more complicated than it is, a mozzarella stick with macaroni and cheddar instead of mozzarella.

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After lovingly licking the outside of the Cheeto as though it were my baby lion cub, I must admit I’m disappointed. One review perused by the Shameless Consumer prior to purchasing this referenced the product as “coated in Cheetos cheese dust.” Utter falsehood, and understandable if you didn’t actually eat the product but based your review on the website’s description:

Mac n’ Cheetos™ are a hand-held new take on classic mac n’ cheese, perfect for snacking on the go. Mac n’ Cheetos™ are creamy mac n’ cheese covered with crispy Cheetos flavor and served warm.

In hindsight, the logistics behind creating essentially a puffed Cheetos filled with macaroni and cheese is laughably impossible, disregarding the part of pre-cooking (to some extent) and packing them in big boxes destined for Burger Kings across the land. The idea that these are coated in anything is totally false, anyone who says that they have Cheetos dust has not eaten the product or has not sense of taste left.

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Instead, what you get is essentially a mozarella stick filled with macaroni and cheese, which isn’t a bad thing. Would this have been better if the outside had a cheesy flavor to it? Absolutely. Or if they rolled it in cheese post-cooking so each bite left a bit of cheese dust on your hands? Of course. Come on, Chester! Sucking the cheese off of your fingers is the icing on the cake for Cheetos, not to mention functioning as quite the mood builder for you couples having a hot date at Burger King.

The Mac n Cheetos apparently comes with ranch dressing, which I would have refused had they actually offered it in the three times I’ve ordered them: first, because the combination sounds disgusting, and second because Shameless Consumer has a ban on pre-packaged ranch dipping sauce. The guys down in legal told me it had to do with the previous Shameless Consumer and Jack Link’s, and a desire to avoid another food poisoning and lengthy lawsuit. I don’t ask questions.

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Burger King’s Macaroni n Cheetos are something you buy once and reminisce on how it was pretty tasty, but you’re probably not going to miss once the limited time offer runs out. Alternately, I get the feeling that this would go great as an additional topping to a burger, similar to the Mac and Cheeseburger sold at Friendly’s a few years back.

This isn’t a bad product, by any means. If you’re going to buy a pack, sold in sets of 5, I recommend avoiding the ranch.

Protip: This product does not age well and is best eaten before it cools down. Do not, under any circumstances, reheat. Especially in the microwave. If you’re going to order them, don’t do it if you’re in a rush, they generally are not ready at the time of purchase since they take up space in the fryer.

Verdict: 4/5 – Cheese could be cheesier, Burger King gave me eight for a five piece order, otherwise nothing I can explicitly say is wrong. Would go great on a burger. It works perfectly as a limited time offer and not a permanent addition to the menu.

Food News: McDonald’s Wraps Are Dead

The McWrap is officially dead in the water, as McDonald’s has announced that the healthy(?) option is being removed from restaurant menus this week. The move comes as McDonald’s further attempts to cut down on its saturated menu, a circus of meaty delights that ballooned to over one hundred items in the past decade.

McDonald’s introduced the McWrap in 2013, dubbing it the “Subway-buster” because the executives really thought that it could compete with Subway, back when the company was still trying to advertise to millennials with healthier options. It was the anti-Burger King campaign, the latter of which was busy trying to bring in college males with its own failed attempt at connecting.

While the McWrap didn’t draw in customers (the healthier options were virtually negligible in sales), it did increase times at the drive-thru and slow down production. The great thing about wraps is that they are very slow to cook in fast food time, twenty seconds to toast the tortilla is a lifetime when you have a giant lunch rush to deal with.

Also slashed was the Jalapeno McDouble, grilled onion-cheddar burger, and the buffalo ranch McChicken.

McDonald’s is itching for its next big product after a string of failures. Something like the Bic Mac 2: The Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions – on a sesame seed bun boogaloo.

Review: Pepperidge Farms Strawberry Cheesecake Cookie

Now I love Pepperidge Farms, they are about as close to homemade cookies as you can get without that lingering smell of burning dough and hair that never seems to go away. You could generally depend on PF to provide safe, tasty, processed cookies that filled your belly without draining your wallet.

Then Pepperidge Farms hit puberty and, like any college student, started experimenting with every flavor it could get its hands on. The results have been mixed, and the company has essentially been moving from one limited time product to another for the past few years. Luckily they haven’t gone the route of Pop Tarts or Oreo to see just how far the gag reflexes of their customers can be tested, the flavors are pretty tame.

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Who can hate Pepperidge Farms? The very container conjures up a wondrous memory of childhood, it’s like staring at a recreation of my grandmother but filled with cookies and not chain smoking cigarettes while watching soap operas and cursing the younger generation. You know, let’s leave that analogy for another day.

PF’s Strawberry Cheesecake cookie is described as:

In the mood for a rich, luscious cake? These soft dessert cookies made with ingredients like real cream cheese and dark chocolate chunks are deliciously reminiscent of the real thing.

Well that’s a blanket description for their cookie line. You get eight cookies per box for $3.49, your mileage may vary, with each one about the size of your palm if your hand is as big as mine. The bottom of the cookie is nice and not uniformally toasted, the kind of thing you want when your product is supposed to feel hand-baked.

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The cookies themselves are moist and just the right consistency. I find chewy Chips Ahoy to be a little too far on the firm side, but these just break apart and melt in your mouth like a delicious cheesecake. I really wanted to give this product perfect marks, I really did, but it’s missing one very important thing:

One thing you won’t find in this product is strawberries, incidentally, making the Shameless Consumer ask a simple question: What the hell, food industry? You’re selling me a strawberry cheesecake cookie and there is not a single strawberry in it? Oh, there’s fruit, but it isn’t strawberry. It’s cranberry, sweetened with elderberry juice.

Only in the snack industry can you advertise something and provide absolutely none of it in the actual product, not even artificially. Strawberry cheesecake with no strawberries, watermelon drinks with no watermelon, it’s all crap and makes me wish I’d gone to law school or learned Jujitsu. This would never fly in any other industry, the companies behind it would get their pants sued off (I think they’re hiding all of the strawberries in their unsued pants).

The cheesecake aspect of this cookie is spot on, thanks to the use of actual cream cheese. The strawberry not so much, thanks to the lack of actual strawberries. If they had pushed this as cranberry cheesecake, I’d have no problems and the thing tastes pretty damn good. Instead, Pepperidge Farms fed me a burger only to tell me halfway through my meal that I was actually eating horse. It’s not what the product is, but the fact that you lied to me.

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So I have to dock points for blatant lies and effectively fraudulent advertising. Delicious simplicity my ass.

Verdict – 2/5: Remember when a strawberry cookie would actually come with strawberries? Pepperidge Farms doesn’t, apparently.

Review: Project 7 Smores Gum

It’s my first real day here as the public face of Shameless Consumer Industries, and I already have a big review. Just as I sat down at my desk, the folks from what I believe is the Nihilist Gum Agency sector of SCI plopped this baby down on my desk. It must be a great product, because I heard the guy laugh on his way out.

Build+A+Flavor is the newest craze from Project 7, a gum maker that specializes in showing you just how much charity work they do, so you understand why they don’t have enough time to devote to making quality products. Project 7 is dedicated to feeding the hungry, hopefully not using their gum.

Let’s start with the toasted marshmallow gum by itself. I found the gum to have a very mild flavor, which Dan in accounting analogized as just hitting your taste buds enough to not raise a welt and leave evidence for the police (I didn’t particularly find that joke very appropriate, so if an editor could leave that out before this goes to print I would much appreciate it.)

They don’t hold up to, say, toasted marshmallow jelly beans, and I probably wouldn’t buy them on their own.

The chocolate flavor leaves a lot to be desired, like a glass of juice or perhaps a bullet to end your suffering (that last one was a joke, please remove it in post). It doesn’t taste anything like chocolate or graham cracker, the kind of chocolate-esque flavor you might find in Sixlets. Light on the chocolate, heavy on the chemical taste.

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What’s worse, the chocolate pieces emit a nauseatingly artificial aftertaste. I can only imagine that if there was such a thing as unsweetened Aspartame, that this is what it would taste like. It lingers on the back of your tongue and refuses to go away. I took a look at the ingredients and found the culprit: Xylitol.

Xylitol is a natural sweetener that somehow manages to taste artificial without being artificial.

Does combining the two make a smores flavor? No. Not in the slightest. If you’ve ever started a bonfire using far too much lighter fluid and wound up giving your marshmallows a chemical kerosene taste, you’ll understand what this tastes like.

The only positive aspect to this product is that it can be resealed, a desperately needed function to hold in the horrid odor that the gum emits. It smells as bad as it tastes, and it tastes pretty awful.

Ultimately, Project 7 S’Mores Gum is pretty revolting. I may have made a mistake with this job choice.

Verdict – 0/5: Am I allowed to give a 0 score? If not, change it to a 1. The marshmallow isn’t revolting but the chocolate is. Gave unsettling feeling in stomach after eating.

Introducing Shameless Consumer 2.0

Good day everyone,

I hope that today’s message finds you all well, this is not your usual Shameless Consumer host. Due to circumstances that I am not legally allowed to get into at this time, the person who previously held the position of Shameless Consumer has been let go. As I said, I can’t go into many details but the answer should be pretty obvious: A rather unreliable schedule, inconsistent tone in the reviews, and a degrading work ethic. We also learned that he may have forged paperwork to change his name to Sha’Meless Consuman, a factor that probably should have been obvious from the get go.

As a result, I am his replacement. I hope you will find my work to be informative, entertaining, and slightly more optimistic, not to mention my lack of a silly name that is a pun on this website’s title.

There are some big changes coming, including a more structured schedule, more content, and just more overall.

I look forward to working with you all,
Sam L. Kasumin
The new Shameless Consumer

Review: Watermelon Kickstart

Barely a week ago, the Shameless Consumer would have assumed that the worst thing to come out of Mountain Dew this year would be that awful puppymonkeybaby Super Bowl commercial. Yes, I watched the Super Bowl. Not because I like the game but because Peyton Manning was playing and he always seems to know what’s going on at Papa John’s.

At least, that was until I got my hands on the latest Mountain Dew Kickstart beverages. Kickstart, like the forced-meme commercial says, is a mashup of three things: energy drink, juice, and soda. I’ve tried them in the past, and actually enjoyed them, so I was hoping that the brand would improve even more going forward. It has not.

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Now the Shameless Consumer loves watermelon drinks, the Arizona watermelon juice cocktail has been a staple of his summertime fridge stock since the Bush administration. The first one, when he was vice president. In fact, I drank so much Arizona watermelon juice that the CEO personally wrote a letter to thank me for my patronage and to request that I seek out a nutritionist. But guess who’s still alive today? Both of us.

The odd thing about Watermelon Kickstart is that while it smells like watermelon, by which I mean the fake watermelon flavor found in Jolly Rancher candy, it doesn’t taste like watermelon. Certain flavors are impossible to recreate artificially, and watermelon is one of them. Rather companies will just use watermelon juice or some kind of chemical that doesn’t taste like watermelon at all but it’s become the staple of the artificial version of the fruit.

It’s like how the film version of Captain Kirk really wasn’t anything like the guy I watched on TV in my forties. It looks kinda like the real thing, but sure doesn’t act or taste like it, and everyone just accepts it as a fitting substitution because Hollywood tells us to.

So immediately upon your first sip the drink hits you with the one-two punch of a jilted lover, cheap fruits and artificial sweetener. Upon looking at the ingredient list, the number two most prominent ingredient is white grape juice concentrate, which also happens to be one of the cheapest juices available. It also contains Acesulfame Potassium, a sweetener known to cause mood problems. I guess that explains why I just ran over my nephew’s bike.

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While Mountain Dew Kickstart smells like watermelon Jolly Ranchers, it doesn’t taste like them. The flavor is more along the lines of white grape juice with a bit of coconut water, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why. Overall it just tastes disappointing, nothing like watermelon, and not in the least bit refreshing.

The sugar content isn’t so bad, 15g for 12 fluid ounces, nor is the 130mg of sodium. If you want to look at the drink from a health point of view, it does contain 100% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C, 60% Niacin and Vitamin B6, 45% pantothenic acid, and 10% phosphorus. It also contains 200% your daily requirement of wasted money.

At 68mg of caffeine, you’re better off going for a nice cup of coffee. You’ll feel more awake and the taste is a whole lot better. Mountain Dew Kickstart isn’t repulsive, but it fails the most important test of its kind of drink: Tasting like watermelon.

Verdict – 2/5: Has plenty of Vitamin C, but doesn’t taste like watermelon.