People (and by people, I mean the Internet, of course) seem to be all in a tizzy over these new Lay’s Wavy Original Potato Chips Dipped in Milk Chocolate. When I first heard of them, I thought they sounded gross. But the more I thought about it, the more they made sense. Sweet and salty snacks have been around for quite a long time.
Kettle corn. Chocolate-covered pretzels. To be even more specific, Ben & Jerry’s Late Night Snack ice cream has “fudge-covered potato chip clusters”, and it’s been a popular flavor for years now. Heck there’s even a Wikipedia entry for chocolate-covered potato chips, which is definitely not the oddest Wikipedia page I’ve ever seen, but doesn’t exactly seem necessary.
In light of all this, LWOPCDiMC really don’t seem that crazy, after all. I guess it’s just the idea that this is the first time a snack titan like Frito-Lay has taken it on. It’s also a limited edition item, and given the season, I’m guessing you’re supposed to eat them for Christmas?
The packaging certainly isn’t Christmasy, but it does has a pleasing aesthetic. Lay’s managed to cram four different fonts into the chips’ name, but they all have a nice flow to them, as does the background. Despite being rather monochromatic, it has a certain elegance to it, like a glass Christmas tree ornament with a delicate filigree design. It’s the belle of the chip aisle ball.
It was a little disconcerting to pick up a snack-sized bag of chips and have it feel so…hefty. That was the chocolate at work, obviously. I didn’t see any full-sized bags of LWOPCDiMC, which made sense when I thought about it; the weight of so many chocolate-covered chips might end up crushing the bottom ones.
With the idea of chocolate-covered potato chips settling more easily in my mind, several key questions arose, and I was ready to get under the mistletoe with these chips.
The picture on the front of the bag led me to believe that these were chocolate covered chips. I should have paid attention to the super-long name of the product. These are chips dipped in chocolate. And in an interesting way: I would have expected one end to be dipped, but instead, one side was dipped.
One of my key questions was, what is the quality of the chocolate? The answer, as best as I can describe, is “middlin’”. There’s an obvious hierarchy of big-name chocolate, and I would put it well above Palmer, but just a step below Hershey’s.
The quantity of the chocolate on each chip was substantial. Despite having one side of the chip (mostly) naked, the layer of chocolate was quite thick, and also quite rich.
The chocolate and chip dynamic was interesting. Lay’s was going for a sweet/salty dynamic, and while there was some salty undertones to cut through the chocolate, it didn’t seem nearly as salty as a regular Wavy Lay’s chip. It was also hard to detect the flavor of the potato chip under all that chocolate.
What the chip did add was a welcome crunch. The thickness of Wavy Lay’s bore the brunt of the chocolate well, and I was impressed at the amount of completely intact chips in the bag. They weren’t quite as crunchy as the chips would have been on their own, but the combination of chocolate and crunch worked great together. It was kind of like eating a thin Crunch bar.
I half expected to dislike Lay’s Wavy Original Potato Chips Dipped in Milk Chocolate, but I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong. The chocolate was of a fair quality, and the Lay’s Wavy chips added a bit of salt and, best of all, a crunch that worked perfectly with the sweetness of chocolate.
I would have liked to have had a bit more of a balance between the two – I found the chocolate a little too rich to eat a whole bag at once, and the potato flavor of the chip got overwhelmed by its sweet counterpart. All in all, however, I think anyone who enjoys a sweet treat with a bit of salt would enjoy Lay’s Wavy Original Potato Chips Dipped in Milk Chocolate.
LWOPCDiMC don’t strike me as a gimmick or one of those things people would eat for the weird factor. These chips are something you could set out at your Christmas party that people who like chocolate with a bit of salt and crunch would enjoy just for what they are.
Lay’s Wavy Original Potato Chips Dipped in Milk Chocolate
Cream cheese is in the Gentleman’s Club of dairy products. While nearby shelves in the refrigerated section explode with 700 different brands and varieties of yogurt, cream cheese remains largely unchanged. For the most part, you’re going Kraft Philadelphia or you’re going generic, and even then, you’re probably not getting much variety from the generic brand.
I have a long-standing love of bagels, particularly when toasted and schmeared with what even I would admit is an embarrassing amount of cream cheese. There used to be a local mom ‘n’ pop bagel shop around the corner from where I live that I absolutely adored. The plethora of bagel flavors, the cream cheese selection…it was like a little breakfast heaven.
And then they went out of business.
Heartbroken and with nary an Einstein Bros. In sight, I turned my eye to the grocery store, and then I remembered why I love bagel shops so much. I can take the limited variety of bagel flavors in stores – I’ll make do with an Everything – but the cream cheese flavors suck.
I’ve never been fond of the fruity cream cheeses, and this really limits a girl. If you want savory, Philadelphia generally offers Salmon, Chive & Onion or Garden Vegetable, none of which I’ve found particularly exciting.
But then Philly pulled through for me.
Kraft Philadelphia Spicy Jalapeño Cream Cheese
First I found the Spicy Jalapeño flavor, and I did a happy snack dance right there in the dairy aisle. This has always been my absolute favorite flavor of cream cheese from bagel shops, and I always wondered, sometimes sadly, sometimes angrily, why this was never a flavor found in grocery stores.
I was seriously stoked. Like, way more than a person should be about cream cheese. But this was like a dream fulfilled. A wish granted. Cream cheese.
And I am so very glad to report that Spicy Jalapeño lived up to my every expectation. The texture of the cream cheese was classic Philly – thick but easily spreadable.
They weren’t skimpy on the peppers, either; it was chock full of perfectly-sized chunks of real jalapeño that delivered on heat and flavor. It was great to bite into my toasted bagel and get the smooth cream cheese punctuated by crunchy little bits of heat. The cool cream cheese and the spicy peppers made a perfect combo.
Verdict: match made in heaven.
Kraft Philadelphia Chipotle Cream Cheese
But oh, Kraft was not done with me yet. I was happily buying yet another tub of Spicy Jalapeño when I saw something I had neither dreamed of nor tasted before – Philadelphia Chipotle Cream Cheese.
It probably goes without saying that the dance came out again.
I was a little more trepedatious about this one. Acutely aware that I sound like a broken record as I write this, I am constantly dissatisfied with things that claim to be chipotle-flavored. It seems like most companies think “chipotle” means “generically spicy” or, if you’re really lucky, “spicy with a little fake smoky flavor”.
Having already fallen in love with Philadelphia Spicy Jalapeño, I thought I may have pushed my luck too far.
First of all, hello orange. I was not expecting that when I opened up the tub. It’s not exactly the most attractive hue for cream cheese; in fact, it reminded me of pumpkin, but maybe that’s just the fact that I can’t turn around in a grocery store without seeing something pumpkin spice-flavored.
The hue actually makes sense though; chipotle peppers are much softer than regular jalapeños, so they would blend much more easily into the cream cheese, leaving just small chunks.
I found it interesting that Philly Chipotle Cream Cheese is a lot thinner than your run-of-the-mill cream cheese. It’s not at all runny, it’s just smooth and easily spreadable, whereas, say, Spicy Jalapeño can be applied with some chunkiness.
In fact, it’s probably a good thing the Chipotle Cream Cheese was thinner, because it’s actually spicier than the Jalapeño variety. Whereas the spice bursts come with the pepper chunks in the latter, it seems more uniform in the former. My nose was even a little runny after I’d finished my bagel.
As for actually tasting like chipotle? Score. Spicy, smoky and flavorful, Philly Chipotle Cream Cheese actually managed to capture the true essence of chipotle peppers, while also letting the flavor of cream cheese come through.
Through sheer coincidence, somebody made a comment about these two cream cheeses on a review I did for The Impulsive Buy back in January for some Chipotle Crema Doritos. I’d forgotten I’d even mentioned it, but in the review, I mused that I should really try blending chipotles with cream cheese, because that sounded delicious.
It was destiny.
I think I sound like I’m writing a really long commercial for Kraft Philadelphia Spicy Jalapeño and Chipotle Cream Cheeses, but the truth is that I love them both and will most likely keep them in stock in my fridge at all times. Nevermore do I have to hit a bagel shop just to get my spicy cream cheese fix; now I can just hit the dairy aisle of my local grocery store.
Now then, about those limited bagel flavors…
Kraft Philadelphia Spicy Jalapeño Cream Cheese and Chipotle Cream Cheese
Happy Halloween! I celebrated the holiday in 2010 with a bowl of Boo Berry cereal. Having had a taste of the General Mills breakfast monsters, I was thrilled to hear that this year, they’re bringing back two retirees: Fruity Yummy Mummy and Frute Brute!
According to Wikipedia, Yummy Mummy has been trapped in his sarcophagus for 20 years and Frute Brute has been in hibernation for 29 years.
In addition to this, they also brought back the retro box designs. Oh, those marketers. They know nostalgia brings in the money.
Fruity Yummy Mummy Cereal
Gotta love the insanely clashing colors on this box. Of course, if you want to get kids to start screaming at their parents that they will die unless they get some Fruity Yummy Mummy cereal, that’s the way to go.
Yummy Mummy is super psyched about his cereal. He also appears to have been wrapped in purple, pink and yellow ribbon by someone on their first day of training at the gift-wrapping station at JCPenney’s.
I guess the full name of this cereal is General Mills Fruity Yummy Mummy Artificial Orange Cream Flavor Frosted Cereal with Spooky-Fun Marshmallows With…MONSTER MALLOWS.
That is a lot of words, some of them redundant. Of course, the MONSTER MALLOWS are the important part, here. MALLOWS shaped like MONSTERS! Sold and sold.
Like any good kids’ cereal, there’s a little trivia quiz on the side panel of the box, including such questions as, “Finish this monster catch phrase, ‘Fruity Yummy Mummy makes your tummy…”
The answer is, “Go yummy”.
Okay, that’s kind of weak.
I do like question #5 though: “Which of these mail-in premiums was not offered with monster cereals – glow candles, monster ink stampers or a monster mansion?”
The answer is “glow candles”, and now I want a time machine to go back and get some monster ink stampers and a monster mansion. Those sound fucking awesome.
Although this cereal is “orange cream flavor”, and also “mummy”-themed, we seem to have orange AND red cereal pieces that look much more like ghosts than mummies.
And as for the pink, yellow, purple and orange mallows? I have no idea what they are. My first thought was Frankenstein’s Monster head, but I guess maybe they could be the mummies? Heck, why not.
I’ve been carefully ignoring the flavor of Fruity Yummy Mummy Cereal because the idea of orange cream-flavored cereal scares me, and let’s face it – the packaging is awesome and the actual taste of the cereal is secondary. I could frame the unopened box, hang it on my wall, and be happy.
But I guess I’m supposed to talk about the food, so fine.
I found the flavor a little off-putting at first, but it quickly grew on me. Yummy Mummy really does taste like artificial frosted orange cream, instead of just artificial orange. This is Mr. Mummy’s saving grace. I’m pretty sure I would have hated it if it just tasted like orange Runts.
The MONSTER MALLOWS have that great instantly-dissolving sugar taste common in so many cereal mallows, but only when eaten dry. Once you add milk, their taste and texture disappears almost immediately. Luckily, the ghost…mummies hold a good crunch.
I also didn’t hate the leftover cereal milk – an important aspect of all cereals. I think the milk really helped to make the whole thing taste like a 50/50 bar, and nowhere was this more prominent than in the orange-tinged leftover milk.
I can’t honestly say that I’d like to eat Fruity Yummy Mummy Cereal every day – while it wasn’t the total disaster I thought it would be, there are a lot of other cereal flavors out there that I prefer over orange cream. But when you take in the whole package, I think most kids would enjoy a bowl of ghosts and mummy heads on a fine Halloween morning.
Frute Brute likes to keep it simple. He’s just an ordinary werewolf brute, happy to eat his frute cereal. To be more specific, his Artificial Cherry Flavor Frosted Cereal with Spooky-Fun Marshmallows.
Wait, why does Yummy Mummy get MONSTER MALLOWS and Frute Brute only gets the regularly-fonted Spooky-Fun Marshmallows? Frute Brute needs to stop eating cereal and start tearin’ up a certain gift-wrapped mummy using his sharp orange claws.
Nice overalls, Frute Brute. Those clashing stripes look like they belong on an old Geocities site, which truly is terrifying. Then again, he has been gone for 29 years. Wait until he hears what the Internet has done with cats!
Like Yummy Mummy, Frute Brute has a trivia quiz on his box. “What was Frute Brute’s original catch phrase?”
“The Howling Good Taste of Frute.” I enjoy both the pun and the commitment to using the non-word “frute”.
Brutsie’s #5 question is much like the Mumsters: “Which of these mail-in premiums was not offered with monster cereals – bubble bath, bike safety flag or laboratory kit?”
The answer is “laboratory kit”, which makes me sad, because that would have gone great with my monster mansion. However, it does delight me to the bottom of my black heart that, at some point in time, you could get General Mills Monster Cereal Bubble Bath. I am trying so hard right now to finish this review and not go trolling on eBay.
Okay, there’s no real way I can find to connect Brute to his cereal shapes. He’s rocking both the Pac-Man ghost cereal shapes and the “is that a skull?”-shaped marshmallows that Yummy Mummy had. Even the colors are barely different. Throw me a fang-shaped marshmallow or something.
I thought I would hate Yummy Mummy’s orange cream cereal, but once it actually turned out to be not repulsive, I was less nervous about Frute Brute. It turns out I was lulled into a false sense of security.
Okay, so it wasn’t that bad. The sadly-not-MONSTER MALLOWS had the same qualities as the Mummy’s mallows, in that they were great dry but disappeared when milk was applied.
The ghosties were crunchy, but the cherry flavor just didn’t work very well as a cereal. It didn’t have that cough medicine taste that can plague cherry candy, but it was just a little bit unsettling. I would have bet that I’d like cherry over orange, but this time, that was not the case.
Frute Brute seems to be pretty into it, though. Whatever makes him happy.
Oh, and on the back of both cereal boxes, there’s a whole cartoon story to entertain you while you eat!
Love love love it. Love the story, love the drawing, and most of all, love the Halloween puns. I love you, General Mills Monsters.
General Mills Fruity Yummy Mummy Cereal and Frute Brute Cereal
This website isn’t a Lisa Frank diary where I talk about my personal life and how Bobby put a worm in my hair at recess today, but I feel I owe my dear readers an explanation as to why JFB has been even more sparsely updated than usual, especially since it’s my favorite time of year, when I at least try to cram as much Halloween goodness as I can on here.
Thing is, I’ve had two brain surgeries over the span of two weeks this month. Don’t worry, I’m not dying, nor did they remove the part of my brain that thinks awful puns are funny – much to the regret of all of you, I’m sure.
But I couldn’t help the timing, and it kinda wiped me out, resulting in a mostly Halloween-free October. Trust me, nobody’s face is more than mine about this. Then again, my surgeries went really well and I could not be more about them. Emoticons!
Plus, half my head is shaved and I have some gnarly-ass stitches, so I’ve pretty much got a built-in Halloween costume. Suck it, Bride of Frankenstein!
With all that business out of the way, let’s get to some candy.
Starburst Fruit Flavored Candy Corn. Because, as you may have noticed, I just can’t get enough candy corn.
Super unimpressed with the packaging. There’s nothing Halloweeeny about it. Couldn’t throw a bat or a witch onto the purple background? Maybe turned the traditional Starburst font into dripping blood? If it weren’t for the fact that it’s candy corn, this could easily look like a year-round product.
These corns are based on the original Starburst flavors: cherry, lemon, strawberry, and orange. I probably didn’t have to clarify that, but I figured I’d be thorough. Throwing a bone to my colorblind readers.
My feelings about the Starburst candy corns themselves were the exact opposite of what I felt about the packaging. Bless the dark magic in your heart, Starburst: you made a candy corn with the exact texture of candy corn, but zero candy corn flavor.
So what do these candy corns taste like, if not candy corn? Well, they tasted exactly like Starburst! It was like having a bag of Starburst candies that, instead of being chewy, were easily masticated and dissolved into a giant burst of sugary fruit candy.
Regular Starburst candies take a little time to get through due to their texture, but I found I could easily get into Halloween stomachache mode eating handfuls of these.
The easiest way to put it is that if you like Starburst, you’ll like Starburst Fruit Flavored Candy Corns. And I like Starburst.
I really can’t think of anything bad to say about these candy corns, but for the sake of playing devil’s advocate, I guess some people might bitch about the fact that they’re called candy corns but taste nothing like candy corns. Obviously, I see this as a plus. But if you’re some sort of candy corn-loving weirdo, well, spider crawl your way back to Brach’s.
Heck, maybe they’re onto something with the generic packaging after all. I could definitely eat these year-round. For the sake of my teeth and my stomach, I guess I’m glad these are a holiday treat.
Or I could go back and buy 12 more bags.
Starburst Fruit Flavored Candy Corn
For reasons unbeknownst to me, new Halloween items started showing up unusually early this year. For example, The Impulsive Buy reviewed Brach’s S’mores Candy Corn back in August.
Now, don’t get me wrong, if there’s any holiday I like to stretch out, it’s Halloween. I’d rather see witches and ghouls in August than Santas and ornaments in October. Which, sadly, is a thing I do see.
Amazingly, this is my first Halloween review. Normally, I’d call this absolutely unacceptable, but I’ve been a little busy with personal life stuff. I guess the best way to kick things off is with candy corn, the most iconic of all Halloween treats.
Except for the fact that candy corn sucks, and this is S’mores-flavored candy corn.
If you’re going to buy a bag of candy corn, dare I say it’s probably going to be Brach’s. You’ve already established yourself as the go-to candy corn; there’s no need to branch out. Brach out? No.
But stop they have not, and so we have these. I guess it could have been worse; at least S’mores are a treat generally associated with the autumn season.
In case you had a sad childhood, let me quickly explain what S’mores are: fire-roasted or otherwise heated marshmallows and pieces of a chocolate candy bar sandwiched between two pieces of graham crackers. If you do it right, the marshmallow melts the chocolate, leaving you with a messy, delicious, sugar-filled treat.
As you can see, Brach’s went all-out with the packaging. A few autumn leaves and a picture of a S’mores sandwich. Boo. I say that both with Halloween sarcasm and as a reprimand to Brach’s for not trying harder.
Well, at least they tied the colors together as best they could – brown base for chocolate, white middle for marshmallow, and an orange tip which kinda-sorta represents the color of graham crackers.
Unfortunately, the brown coloring bleeds onto the white, resulting, oddly, in a pink hue. Perhaps that’s meant to represent the Pepto Bismol you’ll be drinking after eating too many actual S’mores.
So how does this candy corn stack up to tasting like an actual S’mores? (Is the singular of S’mores “S’more”? I don’t really care enough to look it up.)
The answer, both simply and accurately, is no. The base does taste like very artificial chocolate, but the similarities end there. The rest tastes like a candy corn. If I close my eyes and imagine real hard, I feel like I can taste a little graham cracker flavoring, but that might just be wishful thinking, like hoping to score that full-sized candy bar when you go out trick-or-treating.
What these candy corns really taste like are Indian Corn, which is found in Brach’s Autumn Mix.
It took me quite a while to even find a good example of these, because I have thought since I was a kid that these were called Witch’s Teeth. Google basically slapped me in the face and told me I was making up words. My childhood was a lie.
Mind-blowing revelations aside, Brach’s S’mores Candy Corn is basically Brach’s Indian Corn with the tip and middle colors reversed and a ghostly wisp of graham cracker flavor. Given, I think Tootsie Roll-ish candy corn is better than regular candy corn, but it’s not exactly a tremendous upgrade, and the fact of the matter is that they still taste very little like S’mores.
I guess I’ll give points to Brach’s for trying to put a new spin on an old classic, but now I’m taking away those points for basically re-branding their already-existing Indian Corn.
You know what, fuck you Internet, they’re Witch’s Teeth. I don’t care what you say.
Brach’s S’mores Candy Corn
Congratulations to Kelly and Lori – you’ve each won a $10 Jack Ca$h Card from our giveaway!
Thanks to all who commented!
Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way right now: Jack’s Munchie Meals are made for stoners. 100%. I am guessing there was some discussion in the Jack in the Box marketing meeting as to whether or not to just call them “Stoner Meals”, but that was probably taken off the table pretty quickly so as to avoid outcry from the, what, 2% of people still alive that think smoking weed leads to Reefer Madness.
Need more evidence that Munchie Meals aren’t aimed towards Weedlord Cheeto? Check out this commercial, in which Jack is a puppet and he and his human friend both sound stoned out of their minds. Listening to a high-as-balls puppet Jack brings me great joy.
However, this commercial is even better. Puppet Jack and Kyndbud Bongsmythe are playing video games and Mr. Bongsmythe says “You know what I could go for right now?”
Puppet Jack responds with “A massage from your sister?” Which is a low-hanging fruit of a joke, but the perfect response for a puppet that has just blazed up.
The guy just lets it slide, since he’s probably heard that response from Puppet Jack about 700 times, and just responds with “Food.”
Puppet Jack then goes on to describe what goes into a Munchie Meal, which I wouldn’t bother mentioning except that he describes the beverage that comes with the meal as “A drink you can drink,” which just amuses me to no end for some reason. And I’m not even high.
Oh, right, and at the very end of the commercial, Puppet Jack just flies right the fuck off the couch to go get their Munchie Meals. I’d like to think this was a way out of looking like Jack in the Box is suggesting you drive while extremely high. There’s no law against puppets flying while stoned.
I’ve always loved The Box’s marketing. Please see the Hot Mess. I think they may have outdone themselves here, though. I am in love with these commercials and the foods they chose to go in the Munchie Meals, which I will get to in a second. My mind reels with joy imagining these marketing meetings, wherein a glass-walled conference room has been hotboxed into obfuscated opacity. During voiceover recordings, Richard Sittig (the man behind the giant ball-shaped curtain) is ordered to take huge rips off a bong before each take.
I just love it, and I don’t even smoke weed. It’s ballsy and clever.
Even the sides of the box are decorated with tiny little gems, ranging from darling to wtf to “Hey guys, we’re hip with the Internet memes!” Here are a few I could not resist:
As if that weren’t enough, there are games on the inside top flap of the box!
It’s like a Happy Meal for stoners! Guaranteed to entertain for at least 30 seconds, or until you realize how deep this episode of Empty Nest that’s playing is.
What I don’t like is that Munchie Meals are only available between 9pm and 5am. I get the point, but hey – people 420 all day every day. That also makes me think they should have started and ended their serving window at 4:20. Perhaps that was another one of those “too obvious” decisions that didn’t make it out of the smoke-filled marketing meeting.
Then again, they do have a commercial wherein a Puppet Jack flies off a couch.
Much as I’d love to pontificate about the Munchie Meals’ marketing for another 5,000 words, we should probably get to the food at some point.
All of the Munchie Meals come with two tacos, “halfsies” (half curly fries, half French fries), a 20 oz. “drink you can drink”, and your choice of one of four entrees:
“Stacked Grilled Cheese Burger: Sourdough grilled cheese on top, Cheeseburger on bottom. Tuck into this tasty bunk bed!”
“Loaded Nuggets: Chicken nuggets drowning in two types of cheese with ranch and bacon. Rescue Them!”
“Brunch Burger: A burger with a fried egg and a crispy hash brown for when it’s so late you don’t know whether its breakfast, lunch or dinner.”
And, of course, the subject of this review: Exploding Cheesy Chicken: A chicken sandwich exploding with mozzarella, cheesy sticks, and gooey white cheese sauce. Oh my cheesy goodness!”
Oh my cheesy goodness, people.
As I mentioned, I do not smoke weed, but I really do eat like someone who does, so it was hard to make a decision in regards to which Munchie Meal I should pick. In the end, I went with the one that sounded the most silly, which is, I think, in the spirit of things. Although I have serious eyes on those Loaded Nuggets. I may rescue them on my own time. But for now, Exploding Cheesy Chicken.
As you can see, the use of the word “exploding” was not an exaggeration. That white cheese sauce could not be contained by two mere mortal buns. And yes, I’m well aware of both what that picture looks like and what that sentence sounds like. Shush.
If you look real hard, here, you can see that there are two breaded mozzarella sticks in there under all that white sauce and what I would call some obligatory shredded lettuce.
Mozzarella sticks are not a new JitB menu item – they’ve been available as a side for as long as I can remember. They’re a little bit on the small side, so the fact that only two of them fit on the chicken sandwich shows you how small the sandwich is.
Speaking of the chicken, the “crispy breading” was no longer crispy after drowning in all that white cheese sauce, but, surprisingly, the breading on the mozzarella sticks held up a little better. Furthermore, the spices that they use in the sticks’ breading added some flavor that the chicken breading definitely did not.
On the opposite side, the cheese in the sticks added very little flavor, again due to the prevalenence of the white cheese sauce. The whole thing turned into what tasted like a mozzarella-stick-breaded chicken sandwich drowning in white cheese sauce.
Did I mention everything was drowning in white cheese sauce? I have often professed my love of condiments, and cheese sauce is pretty fucking high on the list, but this amount of exploding sauce was just too much for this little burger. Oh my cheesy fucking goodness, indeed.
As for the box as a whole, I thought the whole thing sounded less like a Munchie Meal and more like a meal that would leave you in a food coma. I have a pretty small appetite, but I was able to finish the whole box while still being able to get up off the couch, albeit with some reluctance.
If you don’t know JitB tacos, and I can tell you that those right there are stoner food – it’s like a crispy outer pocket that contains a greasy beef stuffing with a slice of processed cheese. It sounds awful, and they probably are to a sensible person. But somehow, I love them anyways.
The halfsie fries amount to what is probably a small serving when both are put together, which also seems the appropriate amount for a Munchie Meal. With all that and a 20 oz. drink, though, it’s not a bad deal for $6.
But the real point here is the Exploding Cheesy Chicken sandwich, and I found it surprisingly disappointing. The chicken breading didn’t work, but the cheese stick breading did. The mozzarella sticks didn’t work, but the chicken came through. But it was all swimming in white cheese sauce, which tasted more like faintly cheesy mayonnaise than actual cheese. If that sounds disturbing to you, then you are thinking correctly.
Then again, the Exploding Cheesy Chicken Munchie Meal is designed for people who aren’t thinking correctly, and maybe those people would like this whole mess. I’d call it a Hot Mess, but Jack in the Box has already made that, and it tasted a lot better than the Exploding Cheesy Chicken.
[Disclaimer: My Jack's Munchie Meal was purchased via a Jack Ca$h Card provided for free via Jack in the Box.]
Jack in the Box Jack’s Munchie Meal Exploding Cheesy Chicken
And now: The Giveaway!
Jack in the Box has kindly provided me with two $10 Jack Ca$h Cards to give away to two lucky readers! Leave a comment on this post (whatever happens to be on your mind) by midnight on Monday, October 21, 2013, and I will announce the winners on that day. Make sure you fill in the email address field so that I can contact you! (Your email address is kept private.)
When Del Taco’s PR firm offered me a gift card for their new CrunchTada, I wasn’t exactly sold on doing a review of it, because it didn’t seem like a revolutionary new menu item. Yeah, I’m telling you this right out of the gate. That’s probably not the best way to go about a food review.
But! It turns out that there are many layers to the CrunchTada, pun completely intended. If you’d like to know how the CrunchTada tastes, scroll down. Otherwise, get ready for a breakdown of Del Taco’s marketing campaign. I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed.
Let’s start with their voting schtick, which you can find here.
How would you say CrunchTada? Probably phonetically (like tostada), and with an appropriate amount of sheepishness, because that’s a silly made-up word. But Del Taco thinks you might also want to say it like “Crunch Ta-Daa! (like a magic trick)”. Feel free to vote on the above website, and sound like an idiot at the drive-thru if you think the Del Taco employee will be amused at your magic-trick pronunciation.
When I got my promo package, it came in an actual CrunchTada box, which I found to be a nice touch. “We apologize for the noise.” Aw, isn’t that cute? But wait, Del Taco wasn’t done yet…
Earplugs! Their promo item is earplugs. Because you see it’s a CrunchTada and it’s crunchy and so- I think you get the point.
I want so badly to make fun of that, but when I opened up the box, I actually laughed out loud. Was I laughing with Del Taco or at them? I’m not even sure, but either way, I felt mirth. Mission accomplished.
One more thing, people. One more thing.
This is the inside top of the box. For a fast food item, it looks like a novel, but there’s much to be examined in this block of maniacally size-varying text.
It starts off fairly pedestrian, with claims of “awakening taste buds you didn’t even know you had” (does anyone really know how many taste buds they do have? Would you know if your dormant taste buds suddenly awakened?) and being so bold and crunchy that it has to have a name like CrunchTada, yadda yadda. CrunchYadda.
Then Del Taco goes off the rails, demanding to know how you eat yours. Here are your options:
This list sounds like it was created by a really awesome eight-year-old. The kind that would run up to you holding a plastic T-Rex, yell, “HIS NAME IS CRAZYBONGOS,” and then just run away again. I now totally want to try using straws as chopsticks. And have bionic fingers. And figure out the logistics of eating a CrunchTada with a harpoon.
Unfortunately, I’m not as cool as Crazybongos, so I used my hands, like a boring non-bionic human.
Del Taco describes the CrunchTada as “A thick, wavy, crunchy corn shell layered with slow-cooked beans made from scratch, our signature tangy taco sauce, crisp lettuce, and freshly hand-grated cheddar cheese.”
I describe my CrunchTada as “placed in the bag on its side”, but that’s just circumstance.
All of the ingredients described above were present, except for the “wavy” part. My corn shell was as flat as Nebraska’s topography. It was, however, thick, and surprisingly, crunchy. One might expect a soggy mess, but my CrunchTada stayed crispy bite after bite, so kudos for nailing that part.
Unfortunately, the rest was, well…boring. There were beans. There was lettuce, which was actually crisp, so that’s a plus, especially when dealing with fast food. There was cheese, as you can see. And there was what I guess you could call “taco sauce”, which tasted much like Del Taco’s mild sauce. I wish there had been more sauce, because it would have livened things up a bit. Luckily, I had packets to add my own.
I think the biggest insult to my mouth was the fact that my CrunchTada was completely cold. Looking at the picture of it on Del Taco’s website, it doesn’t look like the cheese is supposed to be melted or anything, but at least the beans should have been warm.
The whole thing was basically a cold, boring, unfolded crunchy taco. Yeah, it was crunchy, which is the whole point, I guess? But beyond that, there was just nothing at all special about it.
Now here’s some good things about the CrunchTada: first off, it’s only a buck. For a buck, it’s actually pretty filling – more filling than a regular crunchy taco. Break out your straw chopsticks, value seekers!
Second, Del Taco also offers CrunchTada Pizzas. In addition to the regular CrunchTada ingredients, these also include nacho cheese, diced tomatoes, cilantro, and your choice of seasoned beef or marinated grilled chicken.
These obviously cost more ($2.29 and $2.49, respectively), but I think the added ingredients would have made my mouth much more satisfied. While I chose to review the CrunchTada in its purest form, the CrunchTada Pizzas sound like they’d give Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza a run for its money.
So, while the CrunchTada Tostada doesn’t exactly break any new ground or awaken any new taste buds, if you’re looking for cheap but filling, it does meet those admittedly low expectations. And Del Taco’s marketing department did an excellent job of entertaining me, even if the CrunchTada did not.
[Disclaimer: This Del Taco CrunchTada Tostada was purchased via a gift card received from Del Taco.]
Del Taco CrunchTada Tostada
[Editor's Note: Please enjoy this special review by guest writer Robert - Not Bob. The Sonic Texas Brisket Cheeseburger is currently only available at test market locations in Texas, and he just so happens to live in one of those areas, so he graciously provided JFB with a sneak peek!]
What’s the most Texas thing you can think of? Ok, besides a dead armadillo propped up clutching a Lone Star Beer…. It’s barbeque brisket, right? Maybe…. It’s not even our official state dish, an honor reserved for chili, but BBQ is pretty high up on the Texas scale of things.
Fast food places certainly seem to think so. Every couple of years one will trot out a limited edition “Texas” burger, which invariably has BBQ sauce on it, perhaps some jalapeños, maybe they’ll throw an onion ring into it. I will admit that the Sonic Texas Brisket Cheeseburger is the first time I’ve seen a fast food place actually put BBQ brisket and a hamburger patty in the same bun.
Don’t look for information on this particular burger online – there’s almost none to be had. It appears to be either a Texas exclusive or a test-market offering, and apparently in some areas, they’re printing an edible local college sports team logo on the bun, which just seems stupid. Anyway, since the JFB staff is a long, long way from Texas, I bravely volunteered to try it out for them.
Now an admission. I’ve never eaten AT a Sonic. Oh, I’ve had food from Sonic before, but I’ve always eschewed the whole carhop thing and gone through the drive-through. Generally speaking, if I’m eating in my car, I’m in a big, big hurry, so that means grab something and go. If I’m going to be somewhere long enough to sit and eat, then I’m damn sure going to go in and use up some of their air-conditioning while I do it.
Also, for a place that wants to force you to use your car as a restaurant booth, Sonic sure has historically sold a lot of potential lap-stainers. From the Frito-pie wrap to the Tex Mex Footlong Quarter Pound Coney, their menu always seems to be laden with stuff you would not want to eat in your car. Or perhaps, not want to eat unless you were wearing one of those ponchos they give you when you see the Blue Man Group.
I’ve often wondered if Sonic isn’t partnered somehow with some company that specializes in cleaning stains out of upholstery and clothes. Considering that my target burger was topped with chopped BBQ brisket, I was expecting a bit of a mess, but I thought I’d give the whole Sonic experience a shot this time, and pulled into the drive-in stall.
The first thing I noticed when I was ordering my Brisket Cheeseburger was a sign that said “Try it with jalapeños!” So that is how I ordered it. I know you’re not supposed to modify a review burger, but hey, the suggestion was right there on the menu, so that should be allowed.
Instead of a cute carhop girl on roller skates, I was served by the squeaky-voiced, pimply teenager from the Simpsons. I still have no idea if you’re supposed to tip them or not, and he started running back to the building so fast I had to holler after him to come back and handed him a dollar. He gave me a look like I was crazy but accepted it and ran off as I made ready to turn my truck’s dashboard into a dining room table.
At first glance it didn’t look anywhere near as messy as I’d expected. Also, thankfully, instead of a stupid college team imprinted bun, it sported a handsome onion roll.
Under the hood it had a nice-sized pile of chopped BBQ brisket sitting on top of a sticky-looking slice of American cheese. Surprisingly, the brisket was not soaked in BBQ sauce.
Flipped over, you see the grievously overdone hamburger patty, the obligatory tiny diced onions, some pickles and pickled jalapeño slices, and under them, a healthy dollop of BBQ sauce.
Cross-sectioned, you can see that the patty to chopped brisket ratio is about the same.
And how did it taste? Well, the quality of the chopped BBQ brisket was actually not too bad. Not as good as you’d get at a real Texas BBQ joint, of course, but much better than I expected. It had the consistency and texture of actual chopped BBQ brisket and a decent smoky flavor.
The decision to separate the sauce from chopped brisket was a solid one, because you tasted more of the brisket that way, and it helped make the hamburger patty taste more like an extension of the BBQ and hide the fact that it was seriously overcooked. In fact, the hamburger patty really did little other than protect the chopped brisket from the sauce.
Adding jalapeños was also the right choice, since they helped mask the flavor of the pickles. Sliced red onions would have been a better addition than the diced white ones, which seemed to have zero flavor. The gooey American cheese dragged the overall quality down. They should have gone with cheddar instead. People ordering this with the stupid college team logo are also missing out, because the onion roll was one of the burger’s better features.
Would I order it again? Not likely. I live in Texas, so I know where to get a real BBQ sammich.
Sonic Texas Brisket Cheeseburger
It’s so easy to hate T.G.I. Friday’s. It’s a big chain restaurant that caters to both families and people who don’t know how to drink properly, the latter category of which I belonged to in my early twenties.
Sure, I have fond memories of my friends and I hitting Friday’s after work, ordering brightly-colored drinks with names like Pink Punk Cosmo or Patrón Cosmo ‘Rita Shaker. These days, if anything on your drink menu uses the term “’Rita’”, I’m probably out. In those days, I still drank Boone’s Farm. So that should tell you something.
I’d like to say I shouldn’t pass judgment, but I do anyways. These days, I can’t think of Friday’s without thinking of Office Space and Jennifer Aniston’s Flair.
The thought of dining at a TGI Friday’s (they can’t seem to decide whether or not they want the periods in their TGI acronym or not) fills me with a revulsion that can only be called snobbery. Oh, sure, I’ll eat peanut butter with a spoon, standing in my kitchen with no pants on. But eat at a Friday’s? Please. I’d so rather give my money to one of the dozens of mom ‘n’ pop places around here that lack both air conditioning and a strong grasp of English.
That said, I’ve bought T.G.I. Friday’s frozen foods on a number of occasions. There have been a proliferation of chain restaurants with frozen food selections these days, from P.F. Chang’s to Boston Market to Claim Jumper.
T.G.I. Friday’s takes up some serious shelf space, from appetizers to meals-in-a-bag to sliders and quesadillas. I am admittedly rather fond of their frozen Spinach, Cheese & Artichoke Dip. I feel less dirty buying their frozen products because I don’t have to look at anyone’s Flair while I heat it up in the microwave.
I have to say, I became a little resentful when I got home and read the preparation instructions for T.G.I. Friday’s Dill Pickle Chips with a Zesty Horseradish Sauce. There’s no microwave option – only conventional oven and deep fryers – but I’ve dealt with that before.
My real issue was that it only gave instructions for making the entire box (which is listed at 3 servings, or 22-24 pickles). It also said, and I quote, “discard unused portion of horseradish sauce”.
Basically, TGI Friday’s is telling you that you should not be eating these pickles alone. Honestly, you should never be eating at TGI Friday’s alone, because that’s just weird. But this is a freezer item. I feel like I should not have to eat 22-24 pickles all at once, and then just throw away the sauce. I call no fair.
Already annoyed that I had to make the whole box at once, I was ready to resent the 12-minute bake time at 450, mostly because I had to flip 22 pickles at the halfway mark. The instructions for the horseradish sauce were to thaw it in hot water for 6-8 minutes.
I didn’t expect such a short amount of time soaking to thaw it out, but it actually worked well, producing a sauce with the right viscosity and just warm enough to compliment the straight-from-the-oven pickles.
The fried pickles themselves were well-battered and came out of the oven browned and impressively crunchy.
Far from bland, the coating had nice hints of garlic and onion, and complimented the briny tang of the juicy pickles, with neither overshadowing the other. Between the coating and the pickles, this was a seriously salty snack, of which I have no qualms.
As I mentioned, the Zesty Horseradish Sauce thawed out nicely and had a good consistency to go with the crispy Dill Pickle Chips. TGI Friday’s was not fucking around with this sauce – the first pickle I dipped and ate, the horseradish cleared my sinuses with a quickness. I could even see little horseradish bits in the sauce.
I love horseradish, and this was serious horseradish. So much so that it overwhelmed the pickle chips entirely. I went back and forth between dipping and eating the chips straight, because I enjoyed both flavors, but couldn’t seem to get them to fit together. I was either crunching on some well-seasoned pickle chips, or wiping my runny nose from the potency of the sauce.
It took me some time to realize that maybe I should try dipping the Dill Pickle Chips into the Zesty Horseradish Sauce like a normal human being; and by that I mean, giving the chip a nice little dunk instead of scooping up sauce like the cup was going to run out of the room unless I showed it I was the boss.
After I tried this method, the flavors did get a little more balanced, but even then, the horseradish was really trying to steal the show.
In the end, I ate all 22 of T.G.I. Friday’s Dill Pickle Chips and did not have to suffer much anxiety throwing away the tiny amount of leftover Zesty Horseradish Sauce. 22 fried pickle chips is what I would call a somewhat hefty meal for myself, or a decent appetizer for two.
Having tasted the amount of horseradish in the Zesty Horseradish Sauce, I can now see why they’d tell you to discard the unused portion – I know from experience that horseradish will go bitter on you fast. But why not just have two, or even three separate packages, in that case?
I thoroughly enjoyed T.G.I. Friday’s Dill Pickle Chips with a Zesty Horseradish Sauce. (What’s with the “a”? It’s odd and clunky.) The pickle flavor was not lost and the coating was crispy and complimented the briny, juicy pickles. The horseradish sauce was authentic and sinus-clearing, which, beyond the fact that I was forced to eat the whole box at once, was my biggest complaint. I mean, I love horseradish, but at the level that Friday’s delivered it, I could definitely see it as not appealing to everyone.
But if you’re really going to be a pussy about it, just eat the chips and DISCARD the sauce, and you’ll still have a tasty treat. For a frozen appetizer, T.G.I. Friday’s Dill Pickle Chips with a Zesty Horseradish Sauce is truly solid, and I’ll be looking for it on shelves in the future. Even if it will only be for a party of one.
T.G.I. Friday’s Dill Pickle Chips with a Zesty Horseradish Sauce