I recently noticed a new item at the store, Pillsbury's "Carmel Apple" cake mix. I decided to try it, as I had tried other new Pillsbury mixes (such as orangesicle, pink lemonade, and key lime) with some success. The cake turned out well enough, as the directions are rather fool-proof in my experience. But the cake itself was... meh. Nothing special. A plain white or yellow cake would perhaps have had more character. Apple? More like Almost. But that was not the jarring part.
A ho-hum cake is still a cake and yellow and white cake mixes sell quite well even though they have the flavor "cake" rather than chocolate or orange or what have you. No, it was the frosting. The alleged caramel frosting was very decidedly Not Even Close To Caramel. But the cake didn't indicate "apple" very much, so... But even a generic cake with generic frosting (plain white sells, too. That's not even vanilla, just the flavor "frosting.") can do well enough.
The frosting was jarring as when the plastic canister was opened the... aroma.. hit me and I recognized it. Not as caramel, or frosting, but a smell one tends not to forget, even years after last having dealt with it. So help me, I opened the canister of frosting and the smell said to me, "Play-Doh." I was not the only one to pick up on this, either.
Once the cake was frosted, well, it didn't help. The caramel apple failed at both apple and caramel. Usually if I leave a cake or brownies or something in the break room, a significant amount disappears in just half a shift. This cake? Was almost completely as I had brought it, only one or two more pieces taken beyond the samples jmaynard and I took. And that was after being out for anyone to try for not just a full shift, but one that ran over - so more people than usual had a chance at it.