Bonnie: I'm no mix user. I find it as easy and quick to make brownies from scratch as to make them from a mix. Seriously, I can get a batch of brownies into the oven in less than 7 minutes.
But if you use mixes, this new Pillsbury one has a bit of fun added: Funfetti, actually, with colored, candy-coated chocolate chips to top the brownies. There's also Funfetti frosting with colored candy decoration.I add chocolate chips to my brownies, too, but not candy-coated ones with additives like these have. My from-scratch 7-minute brownies made with pure ingredients are also indulgent enough not to need frosting. A sprinkling of confectioners' sugar is enough to dress them up.
Carolyn: I understand that some people would prefer chocolaty brownies or chocolate cake and chocolate frosting to vanilla frosting or yellow cake on their birthday. In fact, I am one of those people. Nevertheless, I request a chocolate birthday cake with chocolate frosting, knowing that my cake is not going to look that festive because brightly colored decorations don't show up that well or look that great on dark brown.
The question is: Does Pillsbury know this? I think not, because if it did, Pillsbury wouldn't have packaged brownies and chocolate frosting with hard-to-see Funfetti decorations.Although the box declares the brownies to be "extra rich and fudgy," they're actually more like cake. The accompanying colored mini M&M's-like candy topping would show up much better if these brownies were first frosted with white icing. That's why I recommend you forget both of these new products and instead buy Pillsbury's old Funfetti white frosting and the better-tasting Duncan Hines brownies to spread it on.
Freschetta PizzAmore Pizza and Stuffed Breadsticks. Pepperoni Duo, 6-Cheese, 10-Topping Supreme, Meat Medley, and Simply Mozzarella Pizza. Garlic, and Cinnamon-Stuffed Breadsticks. $5.49 per 11-inch pizza, $6.99 per 13-inch pizza, and $2.99 per 10.8-ounce box containing two trays of three breadsticks.
Bonnie: PizzAmore is a giant step backward in the evolution of frozen pizza. Sure, these new Freschetta pizzas are pre-sliced and have their own cooking tray. That is new. Since the slices cook together, you will still need to use something to get them apart. And the tray is wobbly and difficult to remove from the oven unless you use two hands, carefully holding it from the bottom using a pot holder. That tray is why the pizza doesn't crisp: It's cardboard, not metal, like the rack of the oven or a pizza tray.
The flavors are fine, and the nutrition is comparable to other frozen pizzas. So why not buy one that produces a crisp crust, such as regular rising-crust Freschetta?As for these new stuffed breadsticks, Freschetta's press materials describe them as "making the PizzAmore experience a complete meal." It's statements like this that perpetuate American's expanding girth. Pizza and breadsticks are not a meal. Pizza and salad could be, or marina-stuffed breadsticks and salad. These Cinnamon-Stuffed Breadsticks could be considered as dessert perhaps, after a very light meal (i.e., not pizza).
Carolyn: DiGiorno was the first to aggressively market its pizza as an alternative to takeout (with its campaign of "It's not delivery it's DiGiorno"). Competitor Freschetta has instead introduced a new line to mimic the takeout experience, right down to the accompanying breadsticks.
Takeout comes in a throwaway box no oven or cleaning of pans required. PizzAmore cooks on its own disposable tray. Takeout pizza is pre-sliced so is PizzAmore although PizzAmore's cheese melds together during baking in such a way that some kind of utensil will have to be dirtied.
I also concur with Bonnie on the way the tray keeps the middle of the crust from getting as crispy as regular Freschetta or DiGiorno rising-crust pizzas, at least when you cook these according to box instructions. Leaving the pizza in the oven for an extra 10 minutes solved the soggy-middle-crust problem for me.The idea of eating breadsticks with bready pizza doesn't make much sense to me either, but you shouldn't blame Freschetta, Bonnie. It's a pizza shop invention. But the PizzAmore version isn't fatty enough to be a treat.
Doritos Collisions Tortilla Chips. Hot Wings & Blue Cheese, and Zesty Nacho & Chipotle Ranch. 99 cents to $3.49 per 2.62-ounce to 12.25-ounce bag.
Bonnie: Doritos Collisions is something really new in the snack aisle: two different chips in one bag. When I heard that, I expected two different sleeves within one bag of chips. I was wrong. Instead, the two flavors are mixed together in each bag. I like my idea better. With Doritos Collisions, the flavors of the chips meld together and are not distinct.Collisions chips contain 150 calories, 8 grams of total fat (with 1.5 grams of saturated fat) and 270 milligrams of sodium, which is similar to regular Doritos. Collisions are also overloaded with additives, including artificial colors and flavors, and flavor enhancers. More natural (and to me, better) snack chips include Nature's Promise, Garden of Eatin' and Frito-Lay's own Tostitos.
Carolyn: What's behind the mixing up that's going on in food, music (mix tapes) and fashion (the hip hobo look)? I see it as a desperate attempt to express individuality and creativity in a world where no one has the time to make her own food, music or clothes.
I say desperate because these new combos are not natural ones, such as peanut butter and jelly, but are accidental collisions hence the name of this new Doritos sub-line.
The Zesty Nacho & Chipotle Ranch version is a good example. The Chipotle Ranch chips sound like a collision within a collision, but it just tastes vaguely of buttermilk. This half of the bag's main function is to mitigate the extreme spiciness of the Zesty Nacho much in the same manner as the Blue Cheese chips do in the more conventional Hot Wings & Blue Cheese combo. The blue cheese flavor isn't very cheesy, but the Hot Wings chips taste very hot and like Buffalo wings.This variety is still a bit of a car wreck, but one of the felicitous kind such as when your car plows into one driven by someone interesting.
Bonnie Tandy Leblang is a registered dietitian and professional speaker. Carolyn Wyman is a junk-food fanatic and author of "Better Than Homemade: Amazing Foods That Changed the Way We Eat" (Quirk). Each week they critique three new food items. For previous columns, visit www.supermarketsampler.com, and for more food info and chances to win free products, visit www.biteofthebest.com. © Universal Press Syndicate