Review: Just Raspberries, LLC’s Raspberry Sunshine Jam

IMG_3624

It’s just raspberries man!

I write this, hopefully, as the first official review of a Just Raspberries, LLC jam after receiving their Commercial Processing License.  Receipt of which allows them to sell their great products to Maryland and the rest of the world.

Just Raspberries CEO and Unexpected Farmgirl, Erika Forsythe, has been making raspberry jam for a year now.  They just don’t make any old raspberry jam, Just Raspberries is an artisanal jam.  Erika offers an assortment of flavors, pairing raspberries with other ingredients spanning balsamic vinegar to hot habaneros.  When I discovered that Erika was curating raspberry jam flavors at her home a year ago, my curiosity was peaked because I have an affinity for the stuff.

Erika Forsythe: The Unexpected Farmgirl

Erika Forsythe: The Unexpected Farmgirl

Review: Twinkie 2.0 Unboxed, Unwrapped, Loved

IMG_5063

The Sweetest Comeback Ever: We Shall See

There comes a time in every man’s life when he must realize that there are elements in this world that are beyond his control. For this reviewer, one of those moments was the day Hostess reported that it could no longer continue making the Twinkie. The Twinkie IS an American icon. Just like Apple pie, Baseball, Coca-Cola, and Miley Cyrus twerking; you need American inqenuity to produce this beloved snack cake.

Stay Away

Stay Away

So it was with great delight, that in the late Spring, we learned that the Twinkie would make a comeback mid-summer. In the meantime we were feted with cheap imitators and wannabees such as that sponge monster, the Dreamie, released by Tastykake.

Like a pheonix rising from the ashes, Hostess Brands released the Twinkie 2.0 and returned its greasy, sugar goodness to the supermarket end-cap where it belongs. I know, I’m a bit late, but I wanted to be thorough and took my time to write a real review of Twinkie 2.0 and not let my giddiness and excitement influence an otherwised unbiased review.

 

Unboxing

Hostess Brands, LLC, the company emerging from Hostess Inc.’s bankruptcy, certainly cashed in on “the return” of the Twinkie and splashed “The Sweetest Comback Ever” prominently on the Twinkie 2.0’s packaging. Other than this addition the packaging remained the same. Previously, Hostess would pack Twinkies in one row or two row configurations. Hostess Brands, LLC went for the two row configuration with this new release.

Individually Wrapped Goodness

When purchasing Twinkies at retail you get 2 cakes per package with the soft cardboard backing in plastic wrapping. Depending on your local gas station or 7-11, you’ll be paying between $0.89 to $1.29 for the two pack. At super market pricing expect to pay about $4.00 on average. I received my review units from Food Lion for $3.79 before Extra Value Savings.

I Started Salivating

I Started Salivating

The cakes are individually secured in plastic wrappings in a two row configuration. The wrapping hasn’t changed with the typical clear red and white wrapping.

Lots of our childhood treats taste differently now; and being a nastalgic GenX-er, my primary concern was whether or not Hostess Brands changed the formula. After unwrapping and flipping the Twinkie over I was pleased to see the tell-tale filling holes where the pipets or offset spatulas loaded the Twinkie. Keeping the old features in a new release are very promising.

IMG_5067

At the time of this writing, news reports have been circulating that the size of the Twinkie is smaller and is reported to have a longer shelf life than Twinkies of days past. I suspect this is due to freezing.  What’s unfortunate is that the reseller has the choice of receiving frozen Twinkies.  Any lover of cake desserts knows that the cold chill adversely affects the snack’s consistency and flavor.  We’ll have to wait and see what actually shakes out.  Either way, thawed Twinkies don’t inspire confidence.

The Taste

I am happy to report that Twinkie 2.0 doesn’t disappoint. The sponge is there, the oiliness sticks to your fingers, and the filling has that familiar mouth feel. For those that may not know, the Twinkie is a yellow cake, but that doesn’t imply that it’s a lemon cake or has a prominent vanilla flavor. The flavor is Twinkie and users will be in for disappointment if they expect a traditional cake flavor.

IMG_5068

The cakes were sweet, satisfying, and firmer than what you will experience with Tastykake’s Dreamie. Some users may desire a lighter or fluffier cake, but cakes in this configuration usually fall apart during the eating experience. This happens with cheaper imitations and you should just avoid these with extreme prejudice.

Admittedly, the units available during my review felt a little heavier than I recall, but we are early on in the production process. Remember, Twinkies have a long shelf life, and it may take some time for the tweaks to kick in and be made available for general consumption.

There were some other inconsistencies noted in my review units. The filling holes were inconsistently distributed amongst the cakes; meaning, that the holes were not centered in the same location from one cake to another. Not a big deal, but this could lead to some users not getting the same amount of filling+cake in every bite during their eating experience. Not a big deal, but possibly an annoyance depending on the individual user’s mouth size.

I couldn’t confirm whether or not the volume of filling has changed. As a part of ongoing product evaluation I’ll determine if the filling amount has changed.

Conclusion

The Twinkie 2.0 is a winner. Hostess Brands has hit all of the right marks in appearance, texture, and most importantly flavor. There are some nagging issues with weight and consistency that can be overcome, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying these cakes. Will Twinkie 2.0 keep Hostess Brands in the green this time around? Only time will tell, but for this reviewer, he hopes this Twinkie stays around till the end of time.

Twinkies are available at your local 7-11, supermarket, and gas station in wide circulation.

Milk not included.