Tuesday 31 March 2015

Today's Review: Galaxy Salted Caramel

I've been after this bar of Galaxy for a while, which is strange, because all it took to get one was to pop into WH Smith. But I don't like to go in there for some reason. Still, I managed it today, and walked out with a bar of salted caramel goodness. 

Salted caramel seems to be a big thing lately, and Galaxy already had a caramel bar, so all they needed to do was add salt. The wrapper says it belongs to a "caramel collection", so who knows what else they've got planned. But let's focus on the here and now, is this salted caramel any good? Well, yes it is. You have the famous, creamy Galaxy chocolate, full to the brim with smooth caramel. It's been a while since I've had a Galaxy Caramel, but it seems the chocolate in this bar is pretty thin, and there's a lot of caramel inside. Now, I like caramel as much as the next guy, but it did get a bit sickly after a few pieces. As for the salted part, there's definitely a nice hint of it. Perhaps not enough to satiate the sometimes overpowering caramel, there were some mouthfuls where I couldn't detect much at all. But I left with a definite taste of soft, smooth, salty caramel, all wrapped up in some great chocolate. This bar isn't perfect, and there are probably some better salted caramel products out here, but this is a must try for any Galaxy fans. 

My rating: 4/5

Monday 30 March 2015

Today's Review: Pink Raspberry Magnum

Magnum flavours seem to be popping up all over the place lately, and I haven't been keeping up with them. I certainly couldn't pass up this pink raspberry variety though, it just looked too good. It boasts the classic Magnum chocolate coating, but this time it's hiding a raspberry ice cream with raspberry swirls, and the whole thing is wrapped up in a nice pink coating.

The chocolate, to start with, is awesome. The classic Magnum chocolate is as flavoursome and crackly as ever, and the extra outer coating makes it seem a bit thicker than usual, even though I'm not sure if it is. The outer layer adds a bit of a lighter flavour as well, which makes for an excellent gateway to what's contained within. It's the same quality ice cream you'd expect from a Magnum, smooth and creamy, but with a fantastic hint of raspberry that really adds a load of flavour, along with a nice zing. Each Magnum contains 10% raspberry puree, and it shows in the taste, it's through and through a delightful raspberry experience. This is the best Magnum flavour I've tried in a long time, and it's one that I'll definitely be picking up again.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday 29 March 2015

Today's Review: Cherry Tango Nanobytes

That reflection of light, that shadow, what a picture. I guess I was too eager to get these in my mouth. I reviewed the Nanobytes range back when they were released, but popping into Wilkinson the other day I saw that there was a flavour I hadn't tried back then. These are cherry flavour, and not just any ordinary cherry, it's Tango cherry. I love me a can of Cherry Tango, so to have it exist in chewy sweet form is pretty sweet. Ha, get it? Sweet.

If you read my previous review (if not, do it now! I even posted the link up there!) you'll know that I prefer Nanobytes to the more established Millions. They're soft and chewy, and don't get stuck in your teeth. The same applies with this variety, they're certainly a joy to consume, and they didn't last long with me. As for the flavour, it's certainly cherry, and I definitely got some hints of the good old Tango flavour as I was chewing. The soft texture of the Nanobytes themselves helped too, lending them a more juicy element. The flavour is perhaps a little too bold, becoming slightly sickly at the end, but hey, I'd rather there be a little too much flavour than not enough. These still make for good eating, a nice cherry flavour to go with the other delicious ones on offer.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday 28 March 2015

Today's Review: Squid Soap Hand Wash

Alongside the neat but slightly flawed Minion hand wash I reviewed a few days ago, I was sent this bottle of Squid Soap to try out. The first thing you may notice is the funky looking squid wrapped around the bottle, and hey, that's pretty fun. But the real selling point of this soap is that little orange disco on top. It's not just for aesthetics, it's actually a little ink pad that plants an orange splodge on your hand, and the only way to get rid of it is to wash your hands thoroughly. Pretty neat right?

Well, yes, it is. It's a simple enough idea, but it's one that will probably get your kids washing their hands properly, unless of course they're those unruly types who don't even look at the sink after using the toilet, but then I guess there's no hope for them. I've even had a fair amount of fun with this soap, squirting out a good number of unnecessary doses to see just how easy it is to get rid of the ink spot. I'm pleased to say that you certainly need to give it a good wash with the soap, a simple rub with a wet finger doesn't quite get rid of the mark. The actual soap itself is pretty nice smelling as well, not like the generic soap that's provided with the Minion hand wash, so really this is a well rounded package for keeping those hands clean. This is a fantastic looking bottle of hand wash, and the ink pad on top is a great idea, a fairly unobtrusive one that will help you keep tabs on your children's hygiene. You can pick up Squid Soap in a variety of colours from Tesco, at £1.99 a bottle.

My rating: 5/5

Friday 27 March 2015

Today's Review: Wilko's Functional Toaster Packaging

I get it Wilko, you're going for a certain colour scheme here, that monochrome with a hint of yellow is very much your style. That cup of tea, complemented with the jam and knife? That looks pretty cool. But you didn't have to extend those colours to your product picture. You see, toast is meant to be certain colours. Perhaps white, with a few brown lines, or even brown with a few black, depending on your preferred level of toasting. But toast is not supposed to be grey. That's an indication that something is quite wrong, or perhaps this is a toaster that has popped and been left unattended for a significant amount of time. Either way, it's not making me want to buy this toaster, despite how much it may put the "fun" in "functional". Put a bit of colour on your bread, guys.

My rating: 1/5

Thursday 26 March 2015

Today's Review: Milkybar Milk & Cookies

Milkybar has remained relatively unchanged for as long as I can remember. So perhaps it was time for a little refresh, and we now have it in the form of this Milk & Cookies bar. We already had the milk, so the only new thing here is the cookie, and it has a pretty significant smattering of chocolate cookie pieces throughout. It's a simple but effective spin on the classic formula, and though it's been out a while, I've been struggling to pick one up. Thankfully salvation came on a recent trip to Morrisons, and I could finally try this awesome looking bar.

If you've tried Milkybar you know what to expect here. It's some damn good white chocolate, smooth and creamy, though I'm sure pretty much everyone reading this knows what I'm talking about. But what about the cookie pieces? Well, there are a lot of them, and they add a nice crunchy texture throughout the entirety of the bar. The pieces are, perhaps, a little too small, and some of the time I couldn't quite discern the flavour. The white chocolate is quite overwhelming, but not in a particularly bad way, it just drowns out the cookie pieces at times. Still, there is some crunchy, chocolate cookie goodness to be had, and this bar is a pretty solid effort for a new spin on the Milkybar. Well worth picking up.

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Today's Review: Maryland Soft Baked Caramel & Choc Chunk Cookies

If there's one brand of cookies I don't mind devouring entire packs of at once, it's Maryland. Their cookie are nice and small, so I think nothing of eating one after the other, and their crunchy goodness and abundance of chocolate chips helps them go down even better. But now it seems Maryland are extending their reach into the more gourmet side of the cookie market, with this slightly posh looking packet of soft baked cookies. They come in one of those neatly wrapped up little trays, and provide merely eight in a pack, but hey, they're significantly bigger than their crunchy brethren. Besides, I like a good soft baked cookie, so I couldn't pass these up.

I wish that I did though. The packet says soft baked, and they're not wrong. But it's certainly not the kind of softness I'd expect from a cookie. The texture is more like cake than anything, and while you may not think that's a bad thing, it's not like a particularly nice cake. While it's quite soft and slightly chewy, it's also kind of crumbly, and there's a bit of a gritty leftover sugar texture that I certainly couldn't get on board with. The chunks are something of a saving grace, the chocolate is quite nice, and the odd hint of caramel can be found, but there really isn't enough embedded in the cookie to detract from the weird tasting dough. Overall these just taste like a cheap off market brand chocolate chip cake bar. Maryland may be one of the best crunchy cookie makers, but they should seriously rethink their soft bake strategies.

My rating: 1/5

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Today's Review: Blood Orange Tango

I've always loved Tango, the original orange is a classic, and my high school years were entwined with the constant pursuit of Cherry Tango from the vending machine in the canteen. Hell, pretty much every Tango flavour I've tried, I've loved, and their sweets aren't half bad too. But it seems Tango is going back to its roots, but with a bit of a twist. This isn't Orange Tango, it's Blood Orange Tango.

Yes, I know, a blood orange isn't exactly far off a regular orange, but it's a neat spin on a classic formula, and it makes for a pretty funky colour. This Tango contains both orange and blood orange juice from concentrate, 3% and 2% respectively, but despite that small amount, this does taste pretty different from the regular orange. It has the nice citrus undertone, sure, but the flavour is more of a full, bold experience, with an increased tartness. It's a little hard to explain, but it just tastes darker and juicier, and the bitterness is a nice hit that intensified the tingle on my tongue. This Tango is delicious, a slight variation on a classic flavour that works wonders. I'm hoping it's here to stay, but you should probably go and pick some up now.

My rating: 5/5

Monday 23 March 2015

Today's Review: Despicable Me Giggling Hand Wash

Tesco recently offered to send me some kids toiletries to try out. At first I thought they were just regular old toiletries with kid friendly stuff printed on, but it turns out a couple of the products have a neat little twist. This Despicable Me handwash was the first one I opened. On the surface it looks like a pretty shameless tie in to the movies, with the bottle stained yellow appropriately. But it turns out when you push the handle down, you're treated to various soundbites of Minion chatter.

Sounds pretty neat, right? The kids love it at least. But of course, it serves a double purpose. If there's one thing kids inexplicably don't like doing, it's washing their hands after going to the toilet. So if the pump on their soap starts babbling noises from their favourite movie mascot, they're more likely to want to use the soap. Also, if the thing doesn't sound off, you know that your kids are skimping on their hygiene duties. So really, it's a very nifty idea that I'm surprised I haven't seen before.

That's not to say there aren't downsides to this. First off, the soap inside isn't anything particularly special. It's soap, sure, it does the job, but they could have at least given it a nice scent. That's not too big a gripe though. While the noise on the pump is a pretty good idea, it does tend to go on for a long while, probably topping 10 seconds until the Minions shut up. That's fine during the day, but having your kid set this off at 3am can make for something of a rude awakening. Also, it's not just pushing the pump that can set off the giggles. Even the smallest vibration around the bottle can set it off, so as much as putting another toiletry next to it can treat you to a healthy dose of Minion noise.

So yes, this is a great idea for a hand soap. It's just not quite pulled off in the right way. I was thinking how I could easily refill this bottle with more soap once the original stuff is gone, but at the rate it's set off, and the length it goes on for, I'll be surprised if the battery lasts that long. But hey, the kids will certainly enjoy it while it lasts. So if you think this would be good for your kids, or if you're a big kid yourself, you can pick up a bottle at Tesco for £2.

My rating: 3/5

Sunday 22 March 2015

Today's Review: Cadbury Salted Peanut Crunch Fingers

There's not a bad word I can say about Cadbury Fingers. Every kind I've tried has been pretty fantastic, from the original to the Fabulous range. The flavours have mostly been pretty unadventurous though, from white chocolate to honeycomb to praline, all the kind of stuff you'd expect to go with chocolate. These new Salted Peanut Crunch ones, however, especially caught my eye. I know, peanuts and chocolate also go together fairly often, but this is a slightly more outrageous flavour than other Fingers I've seen. They've been out for a little while now, but I only managed to find them in Asda when I finally found an excuse to make the trip the other day. There's also a salted caramel version around that I haven't managed to get hold of yet, so I'll just review these in the mean time.

I was half expecting not to enjoy these Fingers as much as their regular brethren, but there's really nothing I can complain about. It's also one of those snacks that can be perfectly summed up just by reading the box. They're Fingers, yes, the same lovely tasting biscuit, the same gorgeously smooth chocolate. But the biscuit is infused with a fantastically bold peanut flavour, accentuated with a hint of salt that gives it a lovely edge. So we have the Salted Peanut, we have the Fingers, and yes, there's Crunch too. Don't ask me how a crunchy biscuit can contain more crunch, but it does. Smattered throughout the biscuit are places where the texture becomes even crunchier, where the salty flavour becomes a little more intense and unlocks some more of the peanut goodness. Overall, these are just fantastic. My only complaint is that there didn't seem to be as many in the pack as in a regular box of Fingers, but I guess I don't feel so bad having eaten the entire thing in one sitting. These Fingers are a crunchy, chocolatey, peanut delight, and I hope they start showing up in more places soon. 

My rating: 5/5

Saturday 21 March 2015

Today's Review: Rockstar Blueberry Pomegranate Acai Energy Water

When it comes to energy drinks, Rockstar is perhaps the brand with the most odd and sickly flavours, from bubblegum to "electric fruit", and its cans are always garishly kitted out with intense colours and massive stars. But now it seems they're going for a more healthy image, with the release of these new "Energy Water" cans. So instead of the cluttered, teenager pleasing cans, we now have these clinical looking, buzz word filled containers. It's good to know that we can now enjoy a "sparkling energy water", I assume that the previous offerings were some kind of energy tar or oil.

Energy Water comes in two nutritious sounding flavours, either a solitary peach, or a much more interesting blueberry pomegranate acai. In the end, though, it doesn't really matter how many super fruits they throw into the title, because the drink certainly doesn't contain any of them. The only ingredients present in here are water, sugar, taurine, acid, flavourings and caffeine, with a few vitamins thrown in for good measure. So it this drink good for you? No, but it does contain less sugar than your regular can of Rockstar, so it's probably the lighter option if you need that sugary hit. But enough about the perceived health benefits of a caffeine and sugar laden drink, how does it taste?

Well, it's alright. The blueberry flavour is at the forefront, and it's certainly a very bold one, but it doesn't taste particularly clean. There's a nice hint of pomegranate in there too, but overall it does get quite sickly rather quickly. Despite having less sugar, this drink does taste very sweet, so while it certainly has a cleaner taste than the regular Rockstar offerings, it just ends up tasting like any other energy drink, certainly not the healthy "energy water" that it's striving to be. Still, this is certainly nicer than most of the syrup-like energy drinks Rockstar has brought out before, the drinks actually tastes like the fruits it's trying to emulate, and it was quite refreshing. But in the end, it's just alright. I'd still go for a Relentless or Monster if given the chance.

My rating: 3/5

Friday 20 March 2015

Today's Review: Wall's Cornetto Peanut Butter Love

Peanut butter treats are certainly becoming more popular in the UK, and while there have been two fantastic peanut butter efforts from Ben & Jerry, and even an offering from Tesco, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there's now a peanut butter Cornetto on the shelves. They've been released alongside a Cookies & Dream flavour, and while that also looks nice, I couldn't pass up a peanut butter cone.

This Cornetto is comprised of a peanut butter ice cream, topped with a slab of chocolate indented with peanuts, and a hidden caramel core running through the middle. The chocolate on top does look quite strange, but it's a welcome addition. It provides a steady chocolate flavour, and a lovely crunch to complement the smooth ice cream underneath. The peanuts add a nice bit of texture too, and really help to bring out the flavour of the ice cream, not that it needs much help. It's a lovely, creamy ice cream that certainly has a nice peanut butter flavour. I was expecting it to be a little too sickly, but thankfully I was proven wrong. This isn't like the heavy filling of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, it's just a smooth, nutty experience that feel just right inside an ice cream cone. 

The caramel in the middle, though, I'm not too sure about. It gives a good kick of sweetness, but it was just a bit too much for me, quite thick and sickly. Perhaps it's because I was hoping for a jelly core to complement the peanut butter like Ben & Jerry put into their Core offering, but something just didn't feel right about this pairing. Still, there's not a whole lot of caramel in there, and it certainly didn't taste bad, just a bit too sweet around the middle. This is still a very good offering from Wall's, a nice idea that executed very well, and I'll most likely be picking up some more of these in the future.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday 19 March 2015

Today's Review: Cadbury Dairy Milk Oat Crunch

There's nothing quite like a new Dairy Milk bar, and after the cornucopia of delights that have been brought out over the last year or two, it's a wonder they have any ideas left. But lo and behold, we now have Dairy Milk Oat Crunch, a new bar that continues the theme set up with last year's Dairy Milk with Lu and Ritz. 

Basically it's a slab of Dairy Milk, with a substantial oaty biscuit on either side. There's more of the biscuit than in the Lu and Ritz varieties, which I certainly see as a good thing. If you're picking this up for the biscuit, you don't want to be short changed. You can still easily snap this bar down the middle, if you fancy sharing with someone or leaving some until later. But why would you want to do that?

Basically, this bar is another winner. The chocolate is Dairy Milk, so by default it's awesome. While is was perhaps a little skeptical about the oats, I should've listened to my instinctual love of all things oaty. It's a thick, flavoursome addition to the bar that certainly adds a nice crunch, and couples with the chocolate really well to create a tasty, original Cadbury experience. It's not perfect though, I feel like the balance between chocolate and biscuit is a little off, there isn't quite enough chocolate to keep the oats from becoming a little dry towards the end. Still, this is worth picking up, especially for all you oat fans out there. Well done Cadbury, you've churned out another winner. I'm looking forward to whatever comes next.

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Today's Review: Memory Foam Pillows

As I lay in bed, thinking about what I could possibly review without having to leave my warm cocoon, it suddenly struck me. What helps me sleep every night? What supports me in my time of need? What is propping my head up right now so I can comfortably type this out? My memory foam pillow of course.

Many people I've talked to have not claimed to have a fondness for memory foam pillows. Too hard, they say. Too big, they say. But to those people, I say shut your dirty mouth. I've had feather pillows, I've had springy pillows, but they all pale in comparison to the big hunk of wonder that moulds perfectly to my head shape. Never have I had to pay down my pillow to force it back into a comfy arrangement, I've only ever turned it over for temperature purposes. Once my head hits this pillow, I find it extremely difficult to stay awake, but I'm holding on now for you guys. As for it being too big, I have pretty broad shoulders, so as someone who sleeps on his side this is really the only pillow that allows me to sleep without bending my neck downwards.

I love memory foam pillows. They lie in wait for me all day, and finally greet me with their firm, loving grasp to deliver me to the land of nod, and that is where I'm heading now.

My rating: 5/5

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Today's Review: KFC Original Recipe Burrito

KFC certainly know about chicken, and they also know about putting chicken in things. Buckets, buns, wraps, they put chicken in just about anything. Well, now they've gone and put chicken in not just a wrap, but a big wrap, and they've put some rice and beans in with it too. You know what that makes? That's right, it's a KFC burrito. If there were ever two concurrent words that made me hungry, it's those ones right there.

I do love me a burrito, from the fast and slightly dirty ones available from Taco Bell, to the more upmarket Chipotle and Wrap It Up, but those places sure don't offer some of the Colonel's finest finger lickin' chicken. Putting chicken in a burrito is a good idea, though I wasn't overly sold on having mini fillets in one. But that's what you get, two mini fillets, surrounded by spicy rice and beans, and finished off with some lettuce and salsa. It's pretty big, especially compared to the paltry size of the regular chicken wraps, but then it has to be with all the stuff packed in there. Sure, it's not Chipotle size, but it makes for a good meal. 

The chicken is as good as ever, the crispy skin adds a nice crunch to the whole affair, which is nice in comparison to the softness of the tortilla. The rice is good and filling, although I wouldn't exactly call it spicy. It does a good job of padding out the burrito though, and while it's certainly not the best quality, it's nice to see something a little different in a KFC meal. Ditto for the beans, they provide a nice bit of texture throughout when the rice gets a little too much. The strangest thing, though, was probably the sauce. I don't know if it's the way the salsa is, or whether the branch I visited couldn't quite tell their sauces apart, but mine tastes a whole lot like BBQ sauce. But hey, it wasn't too shabby, and and it certainly provided good coverage for all the ingredients.

This KFC burrito is certainly not the best burrito I've ever had, but it's a great addition to the menu that offers a more filling option for you wrap fiends out there. I'll definitely be trying out the Zinger and Pulled Chicken varieties when I next visit.

My rating: 4/5

Monday 16 March 2015

Today's Review: Tesco Finest Ginger & Bird's Eye Chilli Crisps

I'm always happy to see a new feature flavour in the Tesco Finest crisp selection. There have been some interesting ones in the past, but this one in particular caught my eye, as it tickled my fancy for anything spicy. Now, bird's eye chillies may not be the hottest around, but they still pack a punch. However, these ones are paired with ginger, which certainly got my taste buds tingling for a nice hot experience.

That's certainly what I got. The ginger is the prominent flavour here, and it actually works pretty well in crisp form. The flavour is bold and sweet, with a heat that kicks in from the beginning, and the chilli lends some support to build up the spiciness to a satisfying crescendo. It's not just a spicy heat, it's one that warmed my taste buds through and through, and while these crisps didn't blow my head off, the heat freak within me was certainly satisfied. These crisps have a great combination of spices and flavours, and are well worth picking up while they're on the shelves.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday 15 March 2015

Today's Review: Kettle Sweet Potato Chips: Sweet Chilli

There have been a few varieties of vegetable chips springing up over the last year or so, with many companies packaging up their own combination crisps made from different root vegetables. Of all the packs I've tried, the novelty has merely rested on the fact that some interesting vegetables were used, with the actual flavour of the crisps remaining a standard salted one. But now Kettle Chips have brought out this bag of sweet potato chips with a sweet chilli flavour. I've always been a fan of spiciness, so I had to grab this bag and give it a go.

The first thing I noticed is that the bag was very light, and it didn't seem particularly full either. These kind of chips are still pretty novel, so not many have reached a decent price point yet, and even on offer this bag was still pretty pricey at £2 for 80g. Upon opening it, though, I was presented with a larger number of crisps than I expected. It turns out they're also really light. As for the taste? Well, the sweet potato itself is probably the main attraction here. Each chip is thin and crunchy, with a fantastic sweetness that sticks around long after eating. Unlike the regular potato Kettle Chips, I found that the sweet potato versions were a lot less greasy, most likely due to the baking process. I certainly didn't feel like I was tucking into a health food, but these do taste a lot "cleaner" than their potato brethren.

But what I came for was the sweet chilli flavour, and I must admit I was a little disappointed. Sure, there is some spice here, but it doesn't stick around for long. The sweetness of the crisps themselves tends to drown it out, and combined with the sweetness of the chilli, these don't pack too much of a kick. Still, there's definitely some flavour, and it's a nice upgrade from the regular salted chips I've tried before. If you're looking for a lot of heat, these aren't the ones for you, but these chips are crispy and wonderfully sweet, with a nice bit of spice to keep things interesting.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday 14 March 2015

Today's Review: Tesco Oil Sprays

I was recently offered a sample of Tesco's new oil sprays to try out. I've been using spray oil for a while now, in the form of FryLight, and have always been pretty impressed with it. I've rarely opted for the big bottles of oil, as I often use more than I should, and a spray helps me to coat a pan pretty easily with no fuss. So it's nice to see that Tesco have come out with their own range at a lower price. These oils come in four varieties: rapeseed, sunflower, olive and extra virgin olive oil, so there's a nice set of options to choose from.

Now I can't say I'm a connoisseur of oils, nor can I say that I'm particularly knowledgeable in any way. The most I use oil for is to fry up some chicken, or every so often some pancakes. But I certainly do appreciate it when my chicken doesn't stick to the pan and cause me many minutes of washing up related grief. I've tried out a few of these spray with my meals over the past week, and have found that they're extremely good at coating the pan. I've given a few sprays each time, and that has been enough to give a very generous amount of oil to cook with. Perhaps the one spray may not be enough, but I believe two would certainly do the job with a relatively large pan. Seeing as there are apparently 1,111 servings per bottle, that's certainly nothing to sniff at. As for the quality of the oil? Well, I'm probably not qualified to pass judgement on that. It's probably not as good as your fancy glass bottled stuff, but I definitely have no complaints. These oils provide a good means of lubricating your cooking utensils, and from the few drops I tried in order to figure out whether I could judge the quality, they definitely taste like any other oils I've had. I definitely wouldn't be adverse to mixing up the olive oil to make a salad dressing, while the sunflower and rapeseed have helped me cook up some no fuss chicken-based meals. 

These oil sprays are available from Tesco for £1.50 a bottle. I'll definitely be picking up some more in the future. Although I do have over 4,000 servings of these to get through first... 

My rating: 5/5

Friday 13 March 2015

Today's Review: Walkers Mixups Cheese Snacks Mix

This is most likely the last of the Mixups range I'll be reviewing, there are a few more varieties out there, but I think I've seen enough to pass fair judgement. I wasn't overly tempted by this bag of assorted cheese crisps, and instead I couldn't wait to tuck into the spicy version. However, since that one was disappointing, I thought I might as well give this one a go to see if the range could redeem itself. This bag of Mixups contains the classic Wotsits and cheesy Doritos, as well as some interesting new offerings in the form of cheese French Fries and Monster Munch.

Unlike the spicy bag, the well established crisps in this pack are much the same as their individually sold counterparts. The Wotsits are wonderfully cheesy, and the Doritos are bold and crunchy. The Monster Munch is perhaps the most interesting addition, I certainly wouldn't expect a cheese flavour when biting into a big hunk of monster claw, but what I got was distinctly cheesy. It's perhaps a little too strong for my liking, but it works quite well with the chunkiness of the crisp, meaning it certainly didn't become bland while eating. Even the French Fries impressed me, seeing as I'm not a fan of the cheese and onion flavour, the subtraction of the onion was a bonus. They are probably the blandest offering here, but they still have a fair amount of flavour, and do well to round out the overall cheesiness of the pack.

These cheesy Mixups are certainly better than the spicy ones, as much as I would have preferred it to be the other way round. Even though I'm not overly fond of cheese crisps, these ones went down a treat, with a good mix of classics and new varieties that vary in size and texture. They're not perfect, but they're pretty good.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday 12 March 2015

Today's Review: Walkers Mixups Spicy Snacks Mix

I've been steadily making my way through the Walkers Mixups range over the last week or so, and this bag is one I was certainly looking forward to diving into. This is a spicy snack mix, comprising of four different Walkers crisp varieties, each possessing a spicy flavour. There are the classic chilli Doritos and flaming hot Monster Munch, as well as the spicy Wotsits previously seen in the Halloween themed Zombie Fingers. But there's also a new addition (as far as I know) in the form of some spicy French Fries. Intriguing stuff.

My tastebuds were expecting a nice spicy hit, but what I got was more lukewarm. Don't get me wrong, these crisps all have something of a spicy flavour, but they're not nearly strong enough. The Monster Munch are pretty much the same flavour as their individual pack counterparts, but the Doritos seemed to be quite subdued compared to the Chilli Heatwave, they didn't make my tongue tingle in the slightest. The Wotsits are perhaps the most disappointing of the lot, I love Zombie Fingers, but these ones are slightly fatter, and a lot blander, and I'm sure I could taste more cheesiness than spiciness. As for the French Fries, I was looking forward to an interesting new flavour, but there wasn't much to these either, they were more like Ready Salted French Fries that had been tossed in the bag in the hope that the other spicy flavours would rub off onto them.

For a purported spicy bag of mixed up crisps, I can't say these ones do a particularly good job. Sure, my mouth was warmer by the end than when I started, but overall these Mixups were disappointingly bland. The crisps themselves may be of good quality, but Walkers have proven by their individual packs that they can make some nice spicy crisps, and something appears to have been lost in translation here.

My rating: 2/5

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Today's Review: Poppets Mini Eggs

Nestled among the regular Easter products in Poundland, I saw these unassuming bags of Poppets Mini Eggs. Now, I can't say I go crazy for Poppets, but I am known to dabble. I was expecting these eggs to be just like their regular counterpart, chocolatey treats with interesting fillings, like mint or toffee. But after picking these up, I found they're just chocolate eggs.

I still bought them, of course, but the thrill was gone. Upon trying them, my mood didn't improve. These are just mini chocolate eggs, much like all the other mini chocolate eggs. Well, they certainly don't beat the Cadbury ones, so really they're a little inadequate. There's nothing particularly wrong with them, the chocolate isn't bad, and the sugary coating is quite nice, but really these are just bland. If they put something inside them like I expected, perhaps I'd be giving them more praise. But as they are, these are just some standard chocolate eggs. At least they were only £1.

My rating: 3/5

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Today's Review: Relentless Mango Ultra

Well, that's certainly a weird angle I got on my hand. Anyways, I'm always happy to find a new flavour of energy drink, especially if it's a sugar free one. Relentless have delivered in both respects with this "Mango Ultra" variety. I'm not sure how removing the sugar earns it the name "Ultra", surely the ultra version should feature even more of everything. But it's not the "Ultra" that drew me in, it's the "Mango". Tropical flavours are definitely my thing, and I was interested to see how they could pull it off, especially with no sugar.

It's actually not that bad. The mango flavour is certainly overwhelming, and very sweet, with that definite hint of sweetener behind it. But by using mango as the flavouring I don't think it comes off too badly. There's a bit of a funky aftertaste, but it's comparable to that kind of chalky texture you get after eating fresh mango. The closest thing I could compare this to is Tesco's mango liquorice that was around a while back. So while it's a sickly drink for sure, I certainly didn't mind it. They've done a good job with the mango flavour, despite the entire can containing 10 calories. I'm sure some people won't find it to their liking, but I enjoyed it. This is not a perfect energy drink, but it's a nice, tasty flavour that lends a bit of variety to the sugar free section.

My rating: 4/5

Monday 9 March 2015

Today's Review: Haribo Fizzy Bubblegum Balla Stixx

If there's a variety of Haribo I love, it's anything with Balla in the title. My favourite is Pico Balla, but these Balla Stixx certainly caught my eye in Poundland earlier. I've always been fond of pencil sweets, and these ones offer a fizzy bubblegum flavour, which is also a soft spot of mine. I've tried the Haribo bubblegum bottles before, and wasn't overly impressed, but I was willing to give these a try.

These Stixx are pretty long, and quite thin compared to others I've had in the past. Still, the centre is soft and smooth, with a nice creamy flavour, so it does a pretty good job. The coating is where it's at though, a distinctly bubblegum flavour that is nowhere near as sickly as the bubblegum bottles. It's quite sweet, sure, but the fizzy coating on top does a lot to offset that, providing a good balance throughout. These are some nice, sour, creamy, flavoursome pencil sweets that are well worth picking up, especially for bubblegum sweet fans like myself.

My rating: 5/5

Sunday 8 March 2015

Today's Review: Oasis Mango Medley

This Oasis flavour has been out for a while now, but it's managed to elude me thus far. Thankfully, I found one in Tesco the other day, and just as I was in the mood for mango. Ah, who am I kidding, I'm always in the mood for mango. This flavour is called "Mango Medley", although it's not so much a medley as a duet. It's basically a mixture of mango (obviously) and orange, so pretty much like a Citrus Punch with a tropical twist.

I may have made it sound boring just then, but quite the opposite, this is actually a very well crafted Oasis. Just making it mango flavoured would probably have been a little too much, the inclusion of orange grounds it a little and offers a nice citrus twist to the flavour. Despite this, the mango flavour is prominent, and very close to the actual fruit. It does get a little sickly towards the end though, perhaps the balance between fruit juices and sweeteners needs to be looked at a little. Still, this was a nice refreshing drink that I wouldn't mind picking up again. It may not be the best Oasis available, but it's pretty nice.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday 7 March 2015

Today's Review: Walkers Mixups Cheese & Worcester Sauce

Yeah, I went back and got some more Mixups. I picked up quite a few varieties to try out, but this is perhaps the one that most interested me. It's a mixture of worcester sauce and cheese flavoured crisps in one bag. I've always been a fan of the worcester sauce Walkers, so I knew I'd love that half. As for the cheese? I wasn't too convinced. I've never liked cheese and onion, but perhaps the lack of onion would have a more favourable effect on me. The real question was whether these two would work in combination. I guess the inspiration comes from the classic combo of Lea & Perrins and cheese on toast, but will these measure up?

Well, the worcester sauce crisps are as good as always, bold and delicious with a distinct saucy flavour. The cheese ones are actually better than I thought they'd be, a smooth taste that doesn't overwhelm, and the lack of onion makes them a lot better in my eyes. They don't give me the feeling that my breath will stink after eating them. However, despite having a nice flavour, the cheese crisps aren't all that strong, so while eating them on their own is nice, they're a little drowned out if you grab a handful of crisps, resulting in a predominantly worcester sauce experience. Not that that's a bad thing, but the two flavours are meant to complement each other. There are hints of cheesiness that break through the sauce, and I certainly enjoyed making my way through the pack, but the balance could have been a lot better. These Mixups are worth a try though.

My rating: 4/5

Friday 6 March 2015

Today's Review: Small Talk At The Barber

I had my hair cut today. It seems like a simple enough thing to do, but every time I go I can't help but feel awkward. The first hurdle comes the moment you sit in the chair. It's probably easy for most, but the question of how I want my hair always throws me off. I hear other patrons rattling off numbers and specific locations on their heads, but all I can ever muster is "like this, but shorter", occasionally offering a badly angled Facebook photo from a couple of years back. That normally seems to do the trick, but then the real struggle begins, as the person cutting my hair attempts to talk to me.

Human beings are social creatures, and sure, I have the ability to be social. But I also possess a certain amount of social anxiety, and as such I find it extremely difficult to engage in small talk. How long is it considered necessary to talk about the weather? How much detail should I go into about my job? How much should I pry into my inquisitor's life in return? Small talk is difficult for me at all times, but thankfully in most situations I can pretend I'm in a hurry to be somewhere else, or have the means to be conveniently distracted before it gets too awkward. But in a barber shop those escape routes aren't available. I can't stand up with half my hair cut and say I need to be somewhere else. So instead I sit there, attempting to offer up a fairly succinct response to any questions I may be asked, and not daring to ask those question in return, in case I get pulled into a conversation that I can't adequately maintain.

I'm sure many people think I'm rude when I don't pry into the mundane aspects of their lives, but in truth I'm very shy, and find it difficult to muster up the courage to even ask what their plans for the weekend are. The inescapable barber's chair only makes it worse, but thankfully, in my experience, most realise after a couple of questions that I'm not much of a talker. Then they leave me in peace, staring awkwardly into space, before catching myself in the mirror and plastering on a sliver of a smile to show that I am not, in fact, a massive jerk, and appreciate the work that they're doing. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way about small talk, but I suppose I'm in the minority. Small talk just isn't my bag, and being confined to a chair while a man holding sharp objects tries to partake sure doesn't make it better.

My rating: 1/5

Thursday 5 March 2015

Today's Review: Walkers Mixups Sweet & Salty Popcorn

Walkers have brought out a whole load of interesting snack bags under the name Mixups. They come in popcorn or crisp varieties, and offer a mixture of different snacks all chucked into one packet. There are many that I'd like to try out, especially the variety of spicy crisps, but since I was having a movie night with some friends, I grabbed most likely the blandest offering, this mix of sweet and salty popcorn. But hey, even if it is the least interesting, popcorn is a classic, right?

I wasn't sure how Walkers would fare with their popcorn making, but then I remembered they've already brought out some very nice ones under the Sensations brand. Those were all pretty bold flavours, but they were certainly a very good effort. So surely this popcorn will be up to the same standard? Well, yes, it's not bad at all. The kernels are all nicely popped, making for a lovely chewy popcorn, and they're all pretty flavoursome. The sweet ones are particularly nice, with a nice crunch that unleashes a fantastic sugary taste. However, the salted kernels are also packed full of flavour, and while I'm not overly against salty popcorn, I did find it overwhelmed the sweet in this bag, making for something of an imbalanced experience. That might be all well and good if you're a salted popcorn fanatic, but sweet has always held a place in my heart. 

This is some good popcorn, and is worth picking up if it's on offer. It is a little bland though, and it's probably not all that different compared to supermarket brands, so I wouldn't say it's worth its £2 RRP. I know that if I pick up some more Mixups in future, I'll be going for the more interesting varieties, such as the sweet and spicy popcorn. So watch this space, I'm sure I'll be tackling the other Mixups soon.

My rating: 3/5

Wednesday 4 March 2015

Today's Review: Primark's "Wooden Toy"

Some interesting things turn up in the bargain bins in Primark from time to time. This is one of those things. Well, I say interesting, but this one is more baffling to me. It's a wooden rendition of a Queen's Guard. With wheels. Also a hole in the middle.

Why the Queen's Guard? Were these surplus stock from the Jubilee three years ago? Okay, I get they could still be relevant, that uniform is iconically British. But then why the wheels? The Queen's Guard consists of people, with legs. I don't think I've ever seen one with wheels. Sure, it lets you push this little guy along, but you know what most kids like to push along? Cars. We already have many good objects with wheels, we don't need to go adding them to people willy nilly. 

Okay, I suppose I can see some of the appeal. It's a little different, and it's nice and colourful enough. But I still can't quite wrap my head round it. Since finding the thing, I have been informed that the hole in the middle functions as a good grip for the playful toddler, but I'm not sure if I buy that. There's just too much that doesn't make sense. Why the theme? Why the hole? Is the curved line on the face the helmet strap, a beaming smile, or both? Whatever the case, I returned the toy to its box, and left Primark confused. I'm likely reading too much into a simple toy, but hey, that's what I'm here for. So if you're looking for a Queen's Guard that you can drive around and post things through, check out your local Primark. For the other 99.9% of the population, I'd suggest getting your toys elsewhere.

My rating: 2/5

Tuesday 3 March 2015

Today's Review: Tyrrell's Lemon Cupcake Popcorn

With all the savoury popcorn flavours floating around nowadays, it's nice to see some new sweet flavours being added. I haven't dabbled much in Tyrrell's popcorn before, but I certainly couldn't pass up this lemon cupcake flavour. Hell, even lemon flavour would have been enough to tempt me, but this was promising cake as well. What could go wrong?

Well, they put salt on it. Now, don't get me wrong, salted popcorn is fine, it's a classic flavour, but I certainly wasn't expecting it sprinkled over lemon cupcake flavour popcorn, much in the same way I wouldn't expect it sprinkled on an actual lemon cupcake. It sounds like a minor thing, but it really did ruin the experience for me. The lemon flavour is there, sure, but it's only really a strong flavour when you get a build up of flavouring on the crunchier kernels. On the softer, sparser pieces the salt is overwhelming, and while it's certainly adequate for popcorn, I found myself longing for more zest. 

The crunchier kernels did please me though, possessing a bold lemon flavour with a bit of a sour kick, much like the actual frosting on a lemon cupcake. As for the actual cupcake element, I didn't taste it. This could well have been advertised as a lemon popcorn. It's an interesting flavour, and is pulled off quite nicely, but the salt really keeps it from being even tastier. Not sure if I'll be going for it again.

My rating: 3/5

Monday 2 March 2015

Today's Review: Starbucks Oats & Nutella Cookie

I was recently sent a voucher to review the new Starbucks Oats & Nutella cookie. It was launched ahead of World Nutella Day on February 5th, but clearly that date has long gone. Still, any day can be Nutella Day, right? Anyways, this cookie is pretty much exactly what it says, an oat cookie filled with a dollop of Nutella. Sounds good, right? Well, yes it is.

While you can't go wrong with a regular, crunchier cookie, I've always been a fan of the oat version. This one is no exception. It's soft and chewy, with a great oaty texture. What's more is it has that signature hint of cinnamon that adds a nice bit of spice and warmth. Even based on that alone it would be a good cookie, but the Nutella inside elevates it to another level. It's a thick, goopy helping of chocolate hazelnut goodness, and it works brilliantly with the oats to deliver a tasty, filling cookie experience. I don't normally delve into the baked goods at Starbucks, but I'd certainly be tempted to buy this again. At £1.89 (eat in store) it may seem a bit steep, but it sure is worth it.

I was also sent a little recipe for a Starbucks "Nutella coffee", which I gladly handed over to the barista in search of a fully rounded Nutella experience. If you want to go for one yourself, just pop in and ask for this:

·        Tall Cafe Misto (filter coffee with plenty of hot milk)
·        Add Mocha Syrup (1/2 pump tall)
·        Add Hazelnut Syrup (1/2 pump tall)
·        Add a few drops of caramel drizzle

The result is that divine looking coffee up there. A smooth, milky drink with nice deep chocolate and hazelnut tones. I may have been given more than a few drops of the caramel drizzle, but I didn't mind, it just added to the sweet silkiness of the coffee, and I certainly left the place feeling all Nutella'd out. So pop down to Starbucks and indulge yourself. 

My rating: 5/5

Sunday 1 March 2015

Today's Review: Coco Pops Porridge

When is a Coco Pop no longer a Coco Pop? We all know what Coco Pops are, those classic chocolatey rice puffs. But there are so many variations now. Coco Rocks, Coco Copters, and now we have Coco Pops porridge. Can a porridge be a Coco Pop porridge if it doesn't pop? Well, apparently so. But enough philosophy, what's this all about?

Either the instant porridge market has evolved in the last year or so or I really wasn't paying attention before that. It used to be you'd buy bags of oats or wild boxes of Ready Brek, and have to throw caution to the wind and work out the serving sizes by yourself. But now they all come in convenient sachets, with milk lines, and this porridge is no exception. You get seven sachets of chocolatey oats, and all you have to do is pour in the milk, tip it into the bowl and blitz it for a minute and a half. It sounds easy, but this porridge seems to enjoy sticking to the packet, which forced me to open it up and scrape it off with my finger. But hey, I've only had one so far, maybe I wasn't doing it right.

When I took the bowl out of the microwave, I wasn't particularly impressed. There wasn't a lot there at all, although what was there smelled nice and chocolatey. It looked a little stodgy as well, but after a good mix and some time to cool down, I was pleasantly surprised when I tucked in. It's an overall smooth, chocolate experience. I certainly wouldn't say it's "super smooth", but it went down pretty nicely. The closest thing I could compare it to is chocolate Ready Brek, and it is very similar, so it's nothing particularly special in that regard. But hey, it's still tasty, and despite the pretty meagre serving size, it did keep me feeling full for a good few hours. This Coco Pops porridge is easy to prepare, and is a nice chocolatey breakfast treat that kids will probably enjoy. It's nice to see Kellogg's go for a different kind of porridge, and while it's not perfect, it's a good effort.

My rating: 4/5