Dunkaroos, McDonald’s, Wendy’s: This Week in Food News

Dunkaroos Are Making a Comeback

It’s official; Dunkaroos are coming back. General Mills discontinued this cookie/frosting duo in the US back in 2012. Now, all Nineties kids can rejoice because this nostalgic snack will return this summer. Dunkaroos originally came in three varieties: Graham cookies with chocolate or peanut butter creme or chocolate chip graham cookies. The newest flavor consists of vanilla cookies, vanilla frosting, and sprinkles.

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Return of the Shamrock Shake

The wait is almost over. On February 19, the Shamrock Shake will return to McDonald’s locations nationwide. In addition to the return of this fan favorite, McDonald’s also announced that it will release the brand new OREO Shamrock McFlurry. This new menu item features mint soft serve ice cream mixed with crushed Oreos.

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Wendy’s Breakfast is Coming for McDonald’s

Wendy’s is coming full force with a new line of breakfast menu items including the Breakfast Baconator, Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit, and the Frosty-ccino. These new breakfast option will be available starting March 2. I am most intrigued by the Frosty-ccino which consists of cold brew coffee with cream from a melted vanilla or chocolate Frosty. Which new menu item do you want most?

5 Heart-Shaped Foods to Give Your Valentine

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner which means it’s time to find the perfect gift for that special someone. If food is the way to their heart, check out these five heart-shaped foods to give your valentine:

Papa John’s Pizza

According to Delish, Papa John’s will be selling heart-shaped pizza for a limited time. From February 10 to February 16 you can order a one topping, heart-shaped pizza for any loved one. Use code VALENTINE and score this pizza for only $11.

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Costco Heart-Shaped Ravioli

If you want to make a romantic meal for your valentine, Costco has got you covered. Every year around Valentine’s Day Costco sells these cute, heart-shaped ravioli perfect for a cozy date night at home. As the package states these ravioli feature a blend of ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, and asiago cheeses. Pair the ravioli and a good bottle of wine for a perfect Valentine’s Day dinner.

Einstein’s Heart-Shaped Bagels

Einstein’s is spreading the love with heart-shaped bagels for Valentine’s Day. From February 10 through February 14 you can pick up a baker’s dozen of heart bagels in three flavors: Chocolate, Cinnamon Raisin, and Plain. These fresh-baked bagels paired with Einstein’s famous shmear will make the perfect breakfast to share with that special someone.

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See’s Candies Peanut Butter Hearts

It wouldn’t be a proper Valentine’s Day without chocolate; that’s where See’s Candies comes in. I personally love the Butter Chews and Scotchmallows, but those don’t come in heart form. This Valentine’s season, See’s introduced the new Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Hearts. For a limited time you can pick up these heart-shaped chocolates and plenty of other sweet treats at See’s.

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Krispy Kreme Conversation Heart Doughnuts

If all else fails, you can always count on Krispy Kreme for a festive dozen of doughnuts. Now until February 14, pick up a dozen of these Conversation Heart Doughnuts to show your love. With up to 24 different phrases, this delicious play on conversation heart candies will make a great gift for your foodie.

My Honest Review of the Nespresso Vertuo Line

If you haven’t noticed by now, I am a total coffee junkie. Since the age of three I used to steal sips from my grandma’s cup of coffee. After years and years of owning a Keurig I was left wanting more out of single use coffee machine. In fact, I ditched my Keurig and found myself visiting Starbucks at least three times a week. That’s enough to break anyone’s bank.

I’m not trying to drag Keurig, I actually have used multiple machines over the last 5 years. One of the things I love about Keurig is the wide variety of coffee pods available. Think about it; half the coffee section at the grocery store is packed full of k-cups. There are also varieties of tea, hot chocolate, and cider.

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Despite the wide assortment of k-cups, Keurig also has its pitfalls. For example, I found that my cup of coffee would often taste like the one brewed before it. This meant my hot chocolate or tea have a hint of coffee, so I had to switch to an electric kettle for these drinks. Plus, if you have ever owned a Keurig you also know that the process of descaling the machine can be quite annoying.

This is all to say that I needed a new coffee experience. After hearing raving reviews from friends and family, I finally committed to buying a Nespresso machine. Aside from the commercials with George Clooney, I knew very little about Nespresso; however, the more research I conducted the more I began to notice that Nespresso sets itself apart from Keurig in a variety of ways. Out of the two different types of Nespresso machines, I chose the Nespresso Vertuo.

Nespresso Vertuo Machine and Aeroccino
Nespresso Vertuo Machine and Aeroccino
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What is the Nespresso Vertuo System?

Nespresso offers two different types of machines: Original and Vertuo. The Original machine focuses purely on espresso while the Vertuoline offers a wider range of coffee styles and sizes. The Vertuo machine uses centrifusion technology; a combination of centrifugal action and water infusion to extract a smooth, creamy cup of coffee. On the bottom of the Vertuo capsules, you will find a unique barcode that adjusts the brewing parameters accordingly.

Nespresso Vertuo Coffee Capsules
Nespresso Vertuo Coffee Capsules
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Is the Nespresso Worth the Hype?

100% YES. I can proudly say I have been converted. If you are a true coffee connoisseur, then you will love this machine. As the name suggests Nespresso focuses on creating a premium cup of espresso. The centrifusion brewing results in a creamy, indulgent cup of coffee or espresso depending on which capsule you use. My Nespresso machine also came with the Aeroccino milk frother to create hot or cold foam for all kinds of drinks.

Using the right pods and coffee syrup, you can create a delicious latte in a matter of minutes with the Nespresso Vertuo machine. I personally enjoy the Bianco Leggero Nespresso capsules which are crafted for milk. My morning coffee routine consists of adding French Vanilla Torani syrup to my cup, brewing the Nespresso capsule over top, adding hot milk from the Aeroccino frother, and giving my latte a good stir.

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Since buying a Nespresso, my Starbucks consumption has decreased significantly. I am now confident in my ability to craft a delicious latte from the comfort of my own home at a fraction of the cost. It’s important to note that you will only find the Nespresso capsules in Nespresso stores or online, but the process is very simple. I enjoy the online experience because I can pick and choose which capsules I love most and Nespresso gives free samples with every order.

Overall, the Nespresso Vertuo machine has changed my morning routine for the better. My morning latte costs about $1.20 per day rather than $4.50 and I don’t have to make any extra stops in my commute. I used to visit Starbucks Reserve just to get an Affogato (basically espresso poured over ice cream) but I can make that and more using the Nespresso Vertuo. Let me know your thoughts on Nespresso in the comments below!

Lucky Charms, Sprite, Krispy Kreme: This Week in Food News

Lucky Charms

Lucky Charms Ice Cream

THIS IS NOT A DRILL! Nestle and General Mills have teamed up to provide consumers with Lucky Charm ice cream. According to Delish, this magically delicious dessert will consist of, “a creamy vanilla dairy base that’s swirled with the signature cereal and scattered with your go-to marshmallow charms.” The exact release date has not been confirmed; however this product is expected to hit shelves within the next few months.

Sprite

Sprite Ginger flavor

As @candyhunting reported, Sprite Ginger is expected to launch in February. The big question is: Will this be like regular Sprite with a dash of ginger or the other way around? I am curious to see how this will taste or if it will be any competition for my go-to ginger ale, Canada Dry. All I can say is I hope this lives up to the success of the Winter Spiced Cranberry Sprite.

Krispy Kreme

Krispy Kreme Conversation Heart Doughnuts

Krispy Kreme is always finding new ways to draw people into stores. The latest tactic involves the Conversation Heart Doughnuts (pictured above) perfect for any Valentine. These doughnuts are prepared with 24 different phrases and come in a limited edition Valentine’s Day gift box while supplies last. Excuse me while I officially throw my New Year’s resolutions out the window.

A Roundup of My 2020 Birthday Freebies

I recently celebrated my birthday (Shoutout to all the Aquarius people out there) and while it wasn’t necessarily a large milestone, I wanted to make the most of it. In addition to the multiple plans I made throughout the day, I decided this would be the year I would hunt down all the birthday freebies I could find. Check out all the items I received for free on my birthday:

Starbucks

I am not ashamed to say I have been a member of the Starbucks Rewards program since around 2013. Now that’s a commitment! In addition to all the rewards I receive throughout the year, I thoroughly enjoy my annual birthday reward. This year I decided to treat myself with a Venti Iced Caramel Macchiato with an extra shot of espresso to start my day off right. Pro Tip: Maximize your free drink rewards by ordering a larger size. Regardless of size and customization, the drink is always free!

Retail Value: $6.35


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Einstein’s

After getting my free coffee from Starbucks, I was really craving a good breakfast and Einstein’s came in clutch. Prior to my actual birthday an email came to my inbox from the Einstein’s Bros Bakery Smear Society which included a coupon for a free, one egg breakfast sandwich. Einstein’s puts together delicious breakfast sandwiches so I jumped at the opportunity for a free bagel sandwich. I ordered the Bacon, Avocado, & Tomato Egg White Sandwich on an Everything Bagel and went on my merry way.

Retail Value: $4.89


Redbox

This was my first experience with the Redbox Rewards program. I have used Redbox in the past but I generally try to stay away because I am notoriously bad at returning the movies. However, Redbox gifted me with a free DVD rental so I decided to take advantage of the offer. My boyfriend and I rented Joker and enjoyed a cozy movie night at home.

Retail Value: $1.75


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Nothing Bundt Cakes

Before moving to Texas I had no idea about Nothing Bundt Cakes. Trust me on this; there’s nothing better than a red velvet bundlet with cream cheese frosting. I received a coupon for a free bundlet through the Nothing Bundt Cakes reward program so of course I had to pay them a visit. No surprise here the cake was as delicious as ever. The creamy frosting compliments every bite of red velvet, and there are chocolate chips hidden in the cake that add extra bits of flavor.

Retail Value: $4.00


Sprinkles

Ah, Sprinkles. Who can resist? Join the Sprinkles Perks program and you can get a free cupcake on your birthday too! Sprinkles offers plenty of options to choose from including a selection of featured flavors each month. However, I went with the classic Red Velvet so I could compare with my bundtlet. Both are great in their own regard, but I think Nothing Bundt Cakes wins with their cream cheese frosting.

Retail Value: $3.99


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Ulta

Every year during my birthday month, I always head to Ulta for a freebie and other great deals. Through the Ultamate Rewards program, members receive double the points on purchases throughout their entire birthday month. Along with a $10 coupon I received the Tarte Maneater mascara during my birthday month. The real gamechanger for me was receiving an offer for five times the points on any salon, skin or brow service during the week of my birthday. I decided to get my hair done and now have $50 worth of points that I can redeem at any time.

Retail Value: $23.00


The entire retail value of the my birthday freebies totaled $43.98! These are just a few of the many rewards available on your birthday. In fact, The Penny Hoarder put together an extensive list of almost 80 birthday freebies to enjoy. I will say that redeeming six of these birthday freebies was challenging enough, but it is possible to go the entire day without spending one cent. Take the challenge for yourself and see how many free items you can redeem on your birthday!

The Cheesecake Factory, Coffeemate, Ben & Jerry’s: A Week in Food News

The Cheesecake Factory Expands into Ice Cream

The Cheesecake Factory At Home Ice Cream

The Cheesecake Factory will expand into a new product category with a new line of specialty ice cream pints. I will venture to say this is the most anticipated food release so far this year. These specialty pints will retail for about $5 and come in 7 different flavors: Key Lime, Strawberry, Salted Caramel, Cookies & Cream, Birthday Cake, Original, and Chocolate. You can find these new ice cream pints beginning March 2020.

Coffeemate Debuts 2 New Flavors

Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Funfetti Coffemate Coffee Creamer

Last November, Coffee mate gave its followers a sneak peak of two new creamers that would hit shelves in January 2020. Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Funfetti Coffee mate coffee creamers are here to make mornings a lot sweeter. The Cinnamon Toast Crunch creamer provides consumers with the delicious taste of cinnamon cereal milk they know and love. Or you can opt for birthday cake in a cup with the help of Funfetti creamer. Keep your eyes peeled for these new coffee creamers in a store near you!

Ben & Jerry’s Adds More Snackable Dough Options

Ben & Jerry’s Snackable Dough

Adding to the successful launch of snackable cookie dough products, Ben & Jerry’s plans to roll out two new flavors: Half Baked Chunks and Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie. The original flavors debuted in the fall and are absolutely to die for! You would think that the chunks would be hard to eat since they are kept in the freezer; quite the contrary. The cookie dough chunks melt in your mouth and will leave you wanting more.

Need a White Elephant Gift? Here Are 5 Affordable Options

Does anyone else feel like Christmas just comes sooner and sooner every year? The past two years, my friend group has participated in a white elephant gift exchange and it can be quite challenging to find a gift that everyone will be happy with under a $25 budget constraint. However, after some research I found some pretty good options for white elephant gifts that I wanted to share.

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So if you are in need of a white elephant gift, I got you covered. Here are five white elephant gifts under $25:

1. Tortilla Throw Blanket ($24.29)

I understand this looks a little weird; however, I bought one of these for a white elephant at work and it was the first item to go. With this tortilla blanket you can get cozy and look like a burrito at the same time. All white elephant parties are different, but if you know that your friends and family appreciate a good gag gift, the tortilla blanket is a solid choice.

2. Trunk of Drunk – 8 Greatest Drinking Games ($19.99)

Trunk of Drunk combines eight popular drinking games in one box including: King’s Cup, Never Have I Ever, Ring of Fire, and more. The box contains all the supplies you need, minus the booze, to have a fun night with your best friends. The board game enthusiasts in your group will definitely enjoy this gift.

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3. Essential Oil Diffuser ($16.99)

Not all white elephant gifts are created equal and sometimes I would rather buy a gift my friends will actually use rather than buying a gag gift to get a quick laugh. I actually have a diffuser and love it because you can customize the essential oils and use it for some mood lighting. Find some essential oils to pair with this diffuser and call it a day.

4. Cinema Light Box with Letters ($24.99)

Every basic girl may have one of these already, but if not a light box could be a good option for white elephant. I like this one in particular because it includes letters, symbols, and even emojis to make fun messages. A light box is extremely customizable and anyone can use it. You can even leave a fun message for your friend who ends up with the gift.

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5. Tasty Ultimate Cookbook ($16.23)

I may be the only one that loves a good cookbook, but Tasty has some really awesome recipes. My friend group gets together once a week if we have the time which means we are always cooking food for a crowd. Whether you are cooking for yourself or a crowd, a cookbook provides a lot of opportunities to try new dishes. The Tasty Ultimate cookbook along with some utensils will be the perfect gift for the cook in your group.

Do you have any other ideas for white elephant gifts that turned out to be real crowd pleasers? Share your gift ideas in the comments section!

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Pepsi + Coffee? My Initial Thoughts on Pepsi Cafe

Pepsi recently announced that they will be releasing Pepsi Cafe in April 2020 for a limited time. This product combines two things that I feel were meant to stay separate: coffee and cola. It appears that the drink will come in two varieties: original and vanilla. CNBC reports, “The coffee-infused cola beverage has nearly twice as much caffeine as regular Pepsi.”

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Now, cola and coffee is not a new concept. Back in 2006, Coca-Cola released it’s own version of a coffee-cola hybrid called Coca-Cola Black. Needless to say, the product was a total flop. Consumers did not like the taste and simply did not see Coca-Cola as a ready-to-drink coffee brand. Coca-Cola Blak was removed from shelves in 2008.

In the years since the Coca-Cola Blak flop, consumers have changed their perception on coffee products. In May, Coca Cola announced it would be bringing back the coffee cola drink. Danielle Wiener-Bronner of CNN Business writes, “Ready-to-drink iced coffees also are growing. And people are embracing mixed beverage categories.” She lists White Claw as a successful example of a product in a “mixed beverage category.”

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To be completely honest, I simply cannot get on board with a coffee-cola hybrid. Coca-Cola Blak sounded disgusting to me when I first heard about it and Pepsi Cafe sounds equally as gross. Sure, it’s not entirely fair to judge the product before it even comes out, but I am willing to try the drink once it hits shelves in April. I do not think the world needs a mix of coffee and cola. Who even thought of carbonated coffee in the first place?

Yes, ready-to-drink coffee products have grown significantly over the last few years. Fortune Business Insights estimates that the market with grow to over $36 billion by the end of 2025 in comparison to $19 billion in 2017. This category is dominated by companies like Starbucks and Nestle and I’ve seen an abundance of private label coffees in grocery and convenience stores trying to capture some of the market share. Now, it appears Coca-Cola and Pepsi want to jump on the bandwagon too.

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In my opinion, I just do not think cola and coffee belong together. I enjoy coffee for the taste and the caffeine boost. Taste aside, coffee and cola is just confusing. Is it a soda or an energy drink? If Pepsi Cafe contains twice the caffeine as a regular Pepsi, that’s about 75 milligrams of caffeine per can, which is comparable to a tall Caffe Latte at Starbucks. However, I cannot see myself drinking a soda/coffee combo to get my day started. I guess we will have to wait and see how this whole debacle pans out.

What do you think about Pepsi Cafe? Leave a comment below!

5 Gifts Under $20 for the Beauty Buff in Your Life

Christmas is officially two weeks away and it’s time to start finalizing the gifts for all the loved ones in your life. I spend plenty of time each year preparing a list of potential gifts for my friends and family. Recently, I was searching for a beauty set that I could give as a gift and found a ton of options. Check out these five gifts under $20 perfect for any beauty buff in your life.

1. Freeman Peace, Love, Glow 10 Piece Kit ($13.99)

This set includes three of the best selling masks Freeman has to offer: Clearing Sweet Tea + Lemon Peel-Off Clay Mask, Hydrating Glacier Water + Pink Peony Gel Cream Mask, and the Detoxifying Charcoal + Black Sugar Mud Mask. In addition, you will receive six other single use masks ranging from the Anti-Stress Dead Sea Mineral Clay Mask to the Soothing Watermelon + Aloe Cooling Gel Mask. Give your loved ones a spa day in a box with this amazing Freeman 10 piece set.

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2. The Body Shop Vanilla Marshmallow Delights Gift Set ($17.63)

Body Shop has a ton of festive gift sets to choose from. The Vanilla Marshmallow Delights Gift Set consists of four sweet surprises: Shower gel, body scrub, body butter, and hand cream. Each item features a mix of vanilla from Madagascar and toasted marshmallows perfect for the holiday season. To top it all off, these products come in a cute, reusable sack that will fit right under the tree!

3. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Winter Gift Set ($19.99)

Harsh winters can lead to dry skin. Give the gift of hydration this winter with the help of Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Winter Gift Set. Featuring the Hydro Boost Water Gel Moisturizer, Hydrogel Face Mask, Overnight Gel Mask, and Lip Treatment; this set will leave skin looking smooth and moist.

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4. NIVEA Pamper Time Gift Set ($12.50)

Nivea has put together the ideal set for any woman in your life. Don’t worry, there’s a kit for men too! The Nivea Pamper Time Gift Set includes five luxury products: The original NIVEA Creme, body lotion, Foaming Silk Mousse Creme Moisture Body Wash, In-Shower Nourishing Body Lotion, and lip balm. All these products are packed in a beautiful travel bag perfect for a romantic getaway.

5. Body & Earth Rose Spa Gift Set ($15.99)

Body & Earth has prepared a beautiful spa gift set with all the products necessary for a luxurious bath experience. This set includes soap, body butter, body lotion, hand lotion, and shower gel infused with the scent of rose. The rose soap petals are my favorite part of this box. This set will leave your loved one feeling relaxed and pampered.

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My First Thoughts on Starbucks’ Irish Cream Cold Brew

After the wild success of the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew, Starbucks has added the Irish Cream Cold Brew to the lineup of holiday beverages. Now, I loved the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew because it was such a great alternative to the classic Pumpkin Spice Latte. Most of the holiday drinks at Starbucks will cost you over 400 calories for a grande so I definitely appreciate that Starbucks offers other lower calorie options that I can choose instead.

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According to Starbucks, this drink features, “Irish cream syrup, topped with vanilla sweet cream cold foam and a strike of cocoa powder.” A grande Irish Cream Cold Brew will cost you 200 calories, which amounts to about half the calories of any other holiday drink on the menu. If you need a jolt of caffeine, one grande Irish Cream Cold Brew will provide more bang for your buck. Compared to a grande Caffe Latte which contains 150 milligrams of caffeine, the Irish Cream Cold Brew contains 185 milligrams.

I never tried the original Cloud Foam Cold Brew when it debuted because I thought that the cold foam took up significant real estate in the cup, meaning you received less coffee at the end of the day. Boy, was I wrong. Since there is more caffeine in the cold brew than a regular latte, this drink makes me extra jittery. The Irish cream syrup adds rich, almost chocolaty notes of flavor to the cold brew and the vanilla cream cold foam tops it all off.

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Honestly, I could sit and eat a cup of the cream itself. The vanilla sweet cream cold foam is light, fluffy, and delicious. It compares to fresh whipped cream in my opinion, adding and extra bit of sweetness to the beverage. The sprinkle of cocoa powder on top adds a nice touch to the overall beverage and compliments the rich taste of the Irish cream syrup. Not to mention, the cream mixing with the cold brew is very aesthetically pleasing.

This marks yet another win for Starbucks in my book. The collection of cold foam cold brews are my favorite new menu items by far. I am curious to see how Starbucks will continue to innovate with this concept of cold foam. Possibly a Gingerbread Cream Cold Brew in the future? I don’t know maybe I am just missing the gingerbread latte, but I do see so many opportunities for this amazing drink. Head to your local Starbucks to try the Irish Cream Cold Brew for yourself!

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