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Chromecast

Chromecast is a new device by Google designed to allow you to stream media from internet services such as YouTube, Netflix, and Google Play to your (HD only) television and sound system. Looking very much like a thumb drive, the Chromecast plugs into the HDMI port of your TV, and syncs with any app that builds the feature into their service or app. You can control the video or music with a number of devices, including your PC, Android phone or tablet, along with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Macs. So basically anything that connects to your home network.

You can even stream this post! In fact, I’m typing this review more or less using my bed room TV as a 32 inch wireless monitor. You can ‘cast’ any Chrome browser tab to your television once you have the Chromecast extension installed (very simple to install, the Chromecast walks you through it in the very simple set-up). This allows you to watch content that hasn’t been specifically designed to run with Chromecast.

The technology is new, and while the amount of apps specifically supported at the moment are few, many more are in development. Pandora is confirmed to be working on adding the option to their service, and beyond that, the options are limitless for developers. I’m sure we’ll see some amazing things produced in the future.

I’ve included a video at the bottom, showing the capabilities of the device. I love mine, as does the (non-tech-savy) fiancé. For $35, you get a lot of bang for the buck. Total ‘Yea!’ from me; it’d take a lot more than $35 to buy mine off of me.

Official Site

-Jeremy Hobbs

Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle Salted Caramel

Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle isn’t something I would normally look twice at on a store shelf. The idea of hard, crumbling, brittle brownies doesn’t exactly appeal to my tastes in a traditional sense, but thankfully an open-minded friend decided to not only give them a chance, but to share her newfound discovery with me.

Sheila G’s concept was to create an entire bag of the deliciously crisp little edges that form around a freshly baked pan of brownies. I personally love nibbling at those edges. LOTS of people love those edges. I’d say this woman deserves an award for coming up with something so brilliantly simple, but she’s already won “Best New Snack” of 2012-13. Clearly, Brownie Brittle is right on point in the dessert world. The brittle is thin and without any of the standard chewiness of brownies. Every bite has a crisp, satisfying crunch to it. The flavor is strong and chocolatey, and very reminiscent of traditional brownies, which is great.

I opted for the salted-caramel bag which is beyond delicious. There’s just something about the mingling flavors of caramel, salt and chocolate that really makes my mouth happy. I also like that they sprinkle the salt directly on top of the brittle so that certain bites have that pleasantly intense flavor when it hits your tongue. Overall these things are fantastic, and weighing in that the entire four-serving bag is less than 500 calories, I’d say they were a great dessert or snack for even the most calorie conscious individuals. ‘Yea!’

Official Site

Chrissy Franklin (Guest Poster)

A&W Ten

A&W Ten is the last Ten series soda review, at least until the Dr. Pepper-Snapple group decides to Ten-ify some of the other flavors in their portfolio. Personally I would love to try a Sun Drop Ten. But that is neither here nor there, you came here to read about low calorie root beer.

It is rather yummy. A&W Ten is right there with Dr. Pepper Ten in terms of quality, and may be the most true to the original flavor of the whole line. I really was not able to taste anything chemical-y in the after taste, and the flavor was plenty sweet. A&W Ten puts its ten calories to wonderful use.

A&W Ten will definitely be the root beer of choice in our household. It is greatly superior to other diet versions on the market, and with no real drop in flavor from the full calorie version, we will be glad to sacrifice all of those extra calories. Very much a win-win situation.  If you click the link below and browse the other Ten articles, you’ll find hits and misses. A&W Ten is a home run. So, as you have probably have guessed, this is going in to the ‘Yea!’ column.

Official Site

-Jeremy Hobbs

Read About Other ‘Ten’ Sodas

Cayman Jack Margarita

In my quest to find the perfect ready to drink margarita, I think that I may have found something special tucked inside a small display in a gas station cooler door. Cayman Jack is the epitome of an ultra premium malt beverage, and I can say for certain that I have never tasted one better. Regardless of flavor. Cayman Jack may be the nectar of the gods.

Speaking of nectar, let us talk about what goes in to flavoring Cayman Jack. Real blue agave nectar gives the beverage what most of the others I’ve reviewed lacked: authenticity. Found only in the most premium mixes, the agave gives CJ a real ‘it’ factor. Further sweetening this work of art is 100% cane sugar. No sticky corn syrup to be found, almost unheard of in this category of drinks. Lastly, to give that beloved tartness associated with margaritas, the bottler squeezes in the juice from real (organic!) limes, not funky concentrated chemicals. What’s not to love?

Mine came from a can, two tall ones for $3.50. But if you purchase the six-pack of 12 ounce bottles, you’ll be holding one of the coolest containers I’ve ever seen. Definitely an attention getter. As if you couldn’t already tell, Cayman Jack Margarita gets a big double thumbs up Hell ‘Yea! from me. If you enjoy margaritas, I don’t see any way you could be disappointed.

Official Site

-Jeremy Hobbs

 

Jeremy’s Margarita Series

Sunkist Ten

Orange sodas are by far the easiest soda to replicate in diet form, at least in my opinion. The citrus-y bite masks the after taste of artificial sweeteners really well. When I have friends which are about to embark on a dieting adventure ask me which diet beverages are easiest to stomach, I without fail point them to something fruity. Now I can point them to Sunkist Ten, the best tasting diet orange soda I can remember sampling in a long time. Maybe ever.

The initial taste is very crisp, and completely masks the fact that this is a reduced calorie beverage. It tastes almost exactly like its full-calorie big brother. Of course, you’re going to get a bit of an aftertaste after swallowing, but it is much less pronounced than Diet Sunkist, and its other contemporaries.

So far the Ten series of sodas have been hit or miss, and the Sunkist variety is a home-run. It’s a great summer time beverage, perfect for packing in the cooler and heading out to the lake with. Or just relax with one over ice by the pool. Also, as with most fruity sodas, Sunkist Ten can make for a yummy low-carb adult beverage when combined with a decent vodka or white rum. I give it a ‘Yea!’ all the way around.

Official Site

-Jeremy Hobbs

Read About Other ‘Ten’ Sodas

Mike’s Classic Margarita

Number two in our on-going margarita series is Mike’s Classic Margarita. Mike’s, in my mind, has always had a high quality product, a great selection of flavors, and never carried the ‘sissy’ stereotypes with which many of the other premium malt beverages were weighed down. The attractive black labeling is masculine enough that your buddies won’t be questioning your gender or sexuality behind your back. Thankfully, this packaging carries over to their Classic Margarita line.

Mike’s Classic Margarita is flavored with real lime juice and agave nectar. This gives it a more authentic flavor than Lime-A-Rita but is a great deal sweeter. In alcoholic beverages, sweetness doesn’t always equal greater drink-ability. Mike’s is somewhat syrupy, and while that tastes great initially, it starts to sit kind of heavy on your stomach by the end of the bottle or can. They’re very filling and I’ve never had the desire to drink more than one in a sitting. Drinking over ice helps remedy this situation a bit.

If you’re looking for a six pack of something to guzzle down before the game at a tailgate party, I’d give this a ‘bleh.’ You’d probably blow up before you reached the gate. If you’re like myself and just want a convenient, fairly authentic tasting night cap, you could do a whole lot worse than Mike’s Classic Margarita. Giving it a ‘Yea,’ so long as you stick to a serving or two.

Official Site

-Jeremy Hobbs

 

Jeremy’s Margarita Series

Lime-A-Rita

I’m starting a short series of margarita flavored beverages. First up, one almost everyone has at least seen, if not tried, is the super popular Lime-A-Rita by Anheuser Busch. I happen to live in a town where these are manufactured, and a few weeks after these were released, Budweiser couldn’t can them fast enough.

Originally, I could only find them in 24 ounce tall cans, usually in the same cooler as those cheap hobo beers. The classic margarita may be my favorite cocktail (at least at the moment), and at first I was afraid to see what those Bud boys had done to my go-to self medication. But the idea of an easy to grab can intrigued me, and curiosity won out. Before I knew it, I was $2 lighter, and cruising out of the convenience store with my Lime-A-Rita wrapped in the protective sleeve of a brown paper bag.

To be honest, it wasn’t that bad, and certainly wasn’t deserving of its spot in the wrong side of the fridge. I wouldn’t go as far as calling it an ultra-premium malt, but it had a nice flavor, even if the beer notes started peeking through as it warmed up. A 24 ouncer will get warm on you unless you chug it, thus the suggestion to ‘try it on ice.’

The flavor is very lime heavy, and I’ll by no means ever mistake it for the real thing, but it’ll do in a pinch, or after a long day when you don’t feel like pulling out the blender. The 8% alcohol content will certainly get the job done in that department. Be careful, it’ll sneak up on you. I’ll give it a tentative ‘Yea!’ You should be pleased so long as you pop that top with reasonable expectations.

Official Site

-Jeremy Hobbs

 

Jeremy’s Margarita Series

Mountain Dew Throwback

Yesterday we had some Pepsi Throwback, and as promised, today we’re going to kick it old school with Mountain Dew Throwback. Refresher, for those that do not know, the two ‘Throwback’ sodas are supposed to represent the original formulations of Pepsi Cola and Mountain Dew. In a time when milk was delivered to your door, when there was an evening paper, and you had more fingers than television stations, soft drinks were sweetened with REAL sugar, not high fructose corn syrup.

Today, corn syrup is much cheaper, and very few people can tell the difference. Coke ‘Classic’ really isn’t ‘classic’ at all; the original formula was based on sugar (and still is in other parts of the world). Pepsi’s story is the same. As well as Mountain Dew. I’ve tried the colas, and they’re okay, but the Dew is the one that really benefits from natural sugar.

Pepsi Throwback was smoother…. Mountain Dew Throwback is smoooooth. The stuff just glides down your throat, with none of the sticky residue that I’m used to from ‘regular’ Mountain Dew. The carbonation has been toned down a bit too, and while it takes a bit away from it’s ‘extreme’ image, it significantly adds to it’s drink-ability. You have to love the old school label as well; that’s just slick!

Mountain Dew Throwback is a must try for any soda connoisseur. Feel free to check around for more consumer reviews, you don’t have to take my word for it. But I feel that it’s a definite must try. ‘Yea!’

Official Site

–Jeremy Hobbs

Pepsi Throwback

Not only do I write consumer reviews, I read them as well. Especially soda & soft drink news and reviews; it’s just an industry I’ve enjoyed following for a long time. There are lots of little cliques of people too; small mom & pop companies vs. the Big Two, Pepsi vs. Coke, and sugar vs. high fructose corn syrup. That natural sugar debate has always intrigued me, as I’ve rarely been able to obtain access to a steady supply of beverages that have been sweetened that way. An occasional Latin beverage, but nothing made by Coke or Pepsi.

Pepsi apparently took notice of this clique of consumers, and released a couple of new beverages just for them. Mountain Dew Throwback, which I’ll review later, and what I have now, Pepsi Throwback.

Pepsi Throwback generally tastes like regular Pepsi, the only things that I noticed was that it was a bit less sweet, and slightly less carbonated. ‘Mouth feel’ is somewhat cleaner and less sticky. Naturally, all those combined make it significantly smoother.

To be perfectly honest, the only reason that I would consider picking this up over corn syrup Pepsi is that I think sugar is healthier for you. Rather, both are bad, but I’m of the belief that pure sugar is the lesser of two evils.

Pepsi is saying this is no longer a limited time product, and has been added to their cola portfolio permanently, but I’m not sure I believe them. My gut tells me that there are not enough people that truly care about the differences, and certainly not enough to keep a spinoff brand profitable. If you like it (it certainly isn’t bad) I’d stock up. Meh.

Official Site

–Jeremy Hobbs

Ben & Jerry’s Truffle Trifecta

I’m a budget shopper, so when I’m craving some cold, creamy confections I tend to skip past the pricier name brands, and their tiny containers. Set me up with a half-gallon of store-brand vanilla, some chocolate syrup, and I’m pretty darn happy. Last week I was browsing the freezer of my local Walgreens, and noticed a buy one, get one free deal on Ben & Jerry’s. I scanned over the list of flavors, and curiosity got the better of me. Before I could say ‘Phish Food,’ I had a container of it and ‘Truffle Trifecta’ in my shopping cart.

Truffle Trifecta is a variety of B&J’s exclusive to Walgreens stores, so I hope you have one in your area, or you’re going to miss out on some amazing ice cream. Truffle Trifecta has a base of milk chocolate ice cream, and dime/penny sized chocolate truffles. The filling in those liberally placed truffles is marshmallow, fudge, and my absolute favorite, caramel. When you bite in to that nugget of golden, buttery yumminess, it is an amazing flavorful experience. The contrast with the chocolate ice cream is so…. right. That’s the only way I can describe it.

Should you be able to afford the premium price, or you only indulge on occasion, I highly recommend Ben & Jerry’s Truffle Trifecta. It gets an easy ‘Yea!’

Official Site

-Jeremy Hobbs