Barcel Takis Zombie Nitro Flavor

Takis Zombie Nitro are not new. They’ve been out for three years. But you know what? I don’t care. I’m in love. And yes, all it takes for me to fall in love is a zombie hand and green food coloring. As I’ve mentioned before, any time a savory snack gets the spooky treatment, I’m in 1000%. Is this kind of a weak gimmick? Yes, but I don’t care.

I like the green and black color scheme on the bag, and of course, the caution sign with the zombie hand shooting up clawing its way up from the bottom. The top and the bottom have a sort of “hazardous materials tape” border to them, also. I would have liked more. Maybe a little “DON’T DEAD OPEN INSIDE” arms clawing out of a door action. But I’ll call the vibe sufficiently ghoulish.

Okay, so I know this is the way Takis always look, but turning them dark green and having a Halloween state of mind totally makes them look like zombie fingers. In case you’re unfamiliar, Takis are rolled tortilla chips that pack quite a crunch. They are common here in the southwest, but I think are known as more of a Mexican snack food.

Speaking of fingers, my fingers looked like zombie fingers after eating these. Kind of like the red Fingers of Shame you get when you eat Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, but this time it’s holiday-appropriate. I wonder if eating enough of these would produce results similar to eating too many Flamin’ Hots. Now I wish I’d gotten a bigger bag.

Another reason for wishing that is that these are delicious! I don’t know if you can tell on the bag, but apparently “Zombie Nitro” actually translates to habanero cucumber, a flavor that sounds like it would wind up in a Lay’s Do Us a Flavor contest, but instead is casually assigned to a Halloween gag.

How great is that? Takis could have left it at dyeing their snacks green, but they actually gave them a special flavor. I checked just to make sure, and regular Takis Nitro are a more expected habanero and lime. You’re only getting the cuke in October, folks.

And let’s talk about this flavor, something you don’t often get to do with Halloween snacks. What a great and unique combo. While you’re only going to get the Flamin’ Hot-esque habanero taste at the beginning, there’s a distinct cucumber taste on the back end. That might sound gross, but it totally works with the heat. It almost feels like it has a cooling effect, but that’s impossible, because it’s just a flavor…right?

Spooky ghost cooling powers!

Barcel Takis Zombie Nitro is a beautiful, perfect Halloween snack. Love the violently green color. Love that they look like zombie fingers. Love that they have very real potential of continuing to haunt me by turning my poop green later on. And lastly, love the flavor, and that it is exclusive to this holiday product.

If I ever got any trick-or-treaters, I’d hand these out, and I’d be the talk of the town. But I live in Loserville and have seen zero kids on Halloween in a good ten years, so I get to keep my zombie chips all to myself. Which is good, since I already ate them all and am considering going out tomorrow to see if I can buy out the whole stock on discount.

Barcel Takis Zombie Nitro Flavor

  • Score: 5 out of 5 tired Walking Dead jokes
  • Price: $1.49
  • Size: 4 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Walgreens #05039
  • Nutritional Quirk: Have not acquired a desire to eat brains. Yet.

Whataburger Chorizo Burger and Chorizo Taquito

[Please enjoy this guest review from Robert – Not Bob, a valued sometimes-contributor to Junk Food Betty. Thanks, Robert!]

As I’ve discussed on this site before, Mexican Chorizo has long been absent from most American fast food menu, for a variety of (wildly speculative) reasons.

It is mostly considered a breakfast meat, and Americans already pretty much have their breakfast meat team roster filled, what with “all-star” bacon, “second string” sausage, and “that kid you pick to be on your team before you end up having to pick one of the dorks, geeks, or fatties ” ham.

Chorizo also enjoys a well-deserved reputation as a mystery meat. Even people that love the stuff will joke about the ingredients, which can contain things such as “Pork salivary glands”, “lymph nodes” and the ever-popular “fat (cheeks)”.

Chorizo’s texture, which can range from crumbly to vaguely viscous, probably also sets off a lot of warning flags to most gringos, who like their meat a little more solid.

Finally, Chorizo just sorta tastes weird. It’s has a distinctive “twang”, and is a little spicy, but not in the familiar pickled jalapeño way, or even in the becoming more familiar chipotle or sriracha way. I like it a lot, but I will admit it’s a bit of an acquired taste.

In the last few years, however, a few fast food chains have been adding it, albeit in limited capacities. Chipotle had it on their menu for about a year, but recently yanked it, reportedly to make room for queso on their menu. McDonald’s has rolled out chorizo breakfast burrito market tests several times but they have yet to add it as a permanent menu item. Some of the smaller “Mexican” chains, such as Del Taco and Taco Cabana offer it, while the big chains like Taco Bell have pretty much ignored its existence.

What I didn’t really expect is to see chorizo turn up on a fast food burger. However, Whataburger has done exactly that. Here is their description:

“We put perfectly-seasoned chorizo between two all-beef patties, topped them with two slices of Monterey Jack Cheese, grilled peppers and onions and our specially-made Creamy Chili Sauce for a bold flavor with just the right amount of spice.”

Sounds…. Interesting… and potentially messy. I’ve mixed chorizo with my beef while making hamburger patties before with tasty results, but it appears that they are layering it with the patties on this. I am glad to see that they’re opting for Monterey Jack over yucky American or boring Cheddar, and I’m always up for some grilled peppers and onions on my burger. I’m a bit skeptical about the “creamy chili sauce”, but hey, I’ll give it a shot.

First impressions are always a little rough.

I do like Whataburger more than most of the other fast food burger chains, mostly because their burgers seem a little more “old school”. However, one place they’ve long needed an update is in the bun department. Whataburger has stuck by the same mediocre bun for decades; I honestly do not recall them ever trying to jump on the artesian roll / brioche bun / ciabatta / whatever bandwagon. The standard Whataburger bun is what it is, and what it always is is “sorta smooshed”. I typically avoid the Whataburger Bun Blues by always ordering any sandwich from them on their delicious Texas Toast. But, since that’s not the default bun for the Chorizo Burger, and it was for a review, I took one for the team and went with ol’ smooshy.

Under the bun was a lackluster collection of soggy peppers and onions. I usually ask for a side of whatever sauce they’re putting on a new burger so I can try it separately, and this time I forgot. However, the “creamy chili sauce” appeared to be pretty much the same sorta-spicy, sorta-tangy sauce that’s been cropping up on everybody’s spicy burgers and sandwiches the last few years. They might call it “chipotle sauce”, they may call it “spicy mayo”, but it’s all pretty similar.

My attempts to pry the two all-beef patties apart to view the chorizo filling didn’t go so well. The gooey melted cheese had glued them together. I was finally able to pry up a corner to reveal…

….sometimes food just isn’t pretty. But hey, it’s the taste that counts, right?

Cross-sectioned, it basically looked like a Sloppy Joe with a few extra ingredients.

At this point the table and my hands were getting kind of messy, so without further reverse engineering, I gave it a try.

It turned out that actually eating it was less messy than dissecting it, mostly because, as previously mentioned, the glue-like cheese had stuck everything together. Not surprisingly, the bun was soggy, but luckily didn’t fall apart. Mostly what I tasted was the burger patties and cheese, with only a slight touch of chorizo flavor, and was more “tangy” than “twangy”, probably because the “creamy chili sauce” really dominated the flavor. The onions and peppers were lost in the mix. Overall it not only looked like a Sloppy Joe, it kinda tasted like one too.

The next morning, I overcame my disappointment enough to give Whataburger’s Chorizo Taquito a shot.

“A bold take on our breakfast classic. We filled a warm flour tortilla with freshly scrambled eggs, perfectly-seasoned, sizzling chorizo and a slice of American cheese.”

Reading the description didn’t give me much confidence. Who puts a “slice of American cheese” into a burrito? Did they not have access to shredded Cheddar?

First of all, for the better part of $3, this ain’t much of a burrito. [Ed. Note: It’s technically a taquito, but Whataburger’s definition of a taquito is insane and it’s basically a burrito.] It’s about the same size as the Chorizo Burrito McDonald’s test marketed, but they gave you two of them for $3. There was one similarity to McDonald’s burritos, though, and that was the accompanying “salsa” that was fit only for the garbage can.

Cross-sectioned, I did notice a distinct lack or the telltale red of chorizo, and a preponderance of yellow eggs. Tasting the taquito bore this out. I could have eaten the entire thing and not known it was supposed to be chorizo con huevos. It tasted more like “sprinkle of paprika and slice of American cheese” con huevos.

So, there you have it. Two more entries in the “mostly disappointing chorizo fast food” catalog. At this point, I’m not sure if the fast food industry will ever crack the enigma that is chorizo. Thank God (and the Mexicans) for taquerias!

Whataburger Chorizo Burger and Chorizo Taquito

  • Score(Whataburger Chorizo Burger): 2 out of 5 fat (cheeks)
  • Score (Whataburger Chorizo Taquito): 1 out of 5 stupid slices of American cheese
  • Price: I’m a careless idiot and lost my receipts, but the burger (with no sides) was almost $6, and the taquito was almost $3. Pricey!
  • Size: 1 burger; 1 taquito
  • Purchased at: Whataburger #113
  • Nutritional Quirk: Not surprisingly, the default 2-patty Chorizo Burger is a 1140 calorie, 2100mg sodium intestine bomb. Whataburger does offer it in single patty and Jr. sizes, not that that will really make much of a difference.

Limited Edition Mystery Oreo Cookies

Here we are, at peak Oreo. No double-colored creme, no dyes that will turn your poop pink, just two chocolate cookies and some white filling. Just like a classic Oreo.

Except the flavor is a complete mystery. After years of pumping out weird flavors, Oreo just went, “Eh, you guys figure it out.”

Gotta say, digging the packaging, though. Simple yet striking, it definitely stands out in the sea of blues and yellows that are the many other existing Oreo flavors. The light blue swirl is a nice touch. oooOOOooo Twilight Zone! I’d like to think that in this, the month of all things spooky, it was a subtle Halloween nod by Oreo.

They won’t make you guess the flavor for free, though. They’re running a contest, because of course they are. Guess correctly and you could win a cool $50,000. I think that’s one dollar for every flavor of Oreo they’ve come out with in the last ten years.

Look at them. They look so innocent. Like you’re about to have a nice time with some Oreos and a glass of milk.

Mystery Oreos have taught me that looks can fool you.

All you have to do is stick your snout in the package and the mystery is over. It’s Froot Loops. Or Fruity Pebbles. Pick a multi-colored, very artificially-flavored sugary fruit cereal. Mystery solved, can I have my money now, please?

But that raises the question, what about Fruity Crisp Oreos? They came out just last year, and purportedly tasted exactly like Fruity Pebbles. (Of course, this is one of the flavors I skipped, due to Oreo fatigue. It figures.) So did Oreo just get insanely lazy?

Well, there’s smelling, and then there’s eating. My husband asked the all-important question as he tried a Mystery Oreo with me in solidarity: “Is the cookie part of the mystery?”

I started to say no, but as I popped the creme-less cookie into my mouth, I thought, oh you sneaky bastards. You made the cookie taste like Fruity Pebbles, too, even though they look like the regular chocolate!

Wrong. At least, partially.

The taste of the creme is so overpowering that for the first few chews, I thought it was all fruity, all the time. But then the chocolate flavor started creeping in, and I realized what a real mistake these Mystery Oreos were.

When eaten as a whole, Mystery Oreos are a terrible combination of cloyingly sweet, artificial-tasting fruit cereal and chocolate cookie. This is different from Fruity Crisp Oreos, which used the more neutral Golden Oreo cookie. Attempts to dislodge the flavor from my mouth have been futile. Please leave my mouth, Mystery Oreos.

So the final guess I’m going to make for Mystery Oreos is “That Time As a Kid You Thought Mixing Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles Was a Good Idea, and Lessons Were Learned”.

100% spot on. Now give me my money, Oreos.

Limited Edition Mystery Oreo Cookies

  • Score: 1 out of 5 serious cereal mystery mistakes
  • Price: $3.49
  • Size: 15.25 oz. package
  • Purchased at: Safeway #1717
  • Nutritional Quirk: “natural flavor, artificial flavor, chocolate”. Oreo gives nothing away. Except chocolate.

M&Ms White Pumpkin Pie

Hey y’all, it’s Halloween! Well, it’s October, so to me that means it’s Halloween.

That also means it’s time to be completely inundated in pumpkin spice-flavored items, a fad I swore would be gone by now and replaced by, like, slime. Let’s make slime the wave of future Halloween, guys! Oreo-flavored slime for everyone!

As with all things Halloween, the packaging is so important. M&Ms is going low-key here, sticking with a color palette that matches the candy within – brown for the crust, orange for the pie filling, and off-white for the absolutely required whipped cream. Orange M is seen popping out of a pumpkin, looking terrified, like “WTF was I doing in there?”

And that’s about it for the fall festivities. Not very impressive.

Does M&Ms still use “melts in your mouth, not in your hands” as a slogan? Because it turns out that they might not melt in your hands, but they will…morph in your mail. Because I’m a lazy bastard, I ordered my M&Ms off of Target’s website, not even thinking about the fact that hey, it’s still 100 degrees in Arizona in October!

So this is what happens when you subject M&Ms to a hot UPS truck. I decided to go ahead with the review, however, because a.) I don’t want to buy White Pumpkin Pie M&Ms TWICE and b.) I expect this to be a pretty short review anyways. It’s a pumpkin M&M, I can’t really go Dickens on the thing.

It seems like the heat somewhat changed the chocolate on the inside, too, although when I ate them they had a regular texture. (Even the shell was still crunchy, despite their dulled appearance and apparent expansion. Weird.)

If the heat did anything to change the taste, however, I say: leave your M&Ms White Pumpkin Pie out in the heat. (Can we bring back the “chocolate” part of white chocolate? Just saying “white” sounds…weird.) I was surprised at how much I enjoyed these candies.

Keeping in mind that these are pumpkin pie and not pumpkin spice-flavored, M&Ms really nailed it. They taste just like pumpkin pie filling. It feels clean and simple; I didn’t have to sit here and figure out if the nutmeg or the cinnamon were too overpowering. It just tasted like pumpkin pie and that was that. I mean, they forgot the crust and the whipped cream, but I’m thankful for small victories.

So often with M&Ms White (Chocolate), the cloying sweetness of that flavor distracts from what the flavor of the candy is supposed to be. Here, however, it took a backseat, which really let the balanced pumpkin pie flavor shine through. Again, maybe it was the effects of the heat; if so, I should start tossing every bag of flavored M&Ms I get in the microwave for a while. But probably take them out of the bag first.

M&Ms White Pumpkin Pie

  • Score: 4 out of 5 hot UPS trucks
  • Price: $3.00
  • Size: 8 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Target (okay fine, target.com)
  • Nutritional Quirk: Honestly, no surprises here. No real pumpkin in the ingredients, of course.

Jack in the Box Jack’d Jalapeño Hash and H’Angry Chicken Hash Munchie Mash-Ups

It’s rare that I’ll order french fries as a side to my fast food order, but their cousin, the hash brown patty, is another thing entirely. It’s a thing of beauty. Shredded potatoes that are formed into a hand-held shape and then deep fried into a greasy thing of glory? Yes please, all day long.

The only time I really like fries is when they’ve been smothered with cheese and other various toppings, so when Jack in the Box decided to do this with hash browns, I was excited. You’ve taken one of my favorite things and then done my other favorite thing with it, which is cover it with more stuff!

I’m amazed that nobody in fast food has done this before. I mean, does anyone even go to Waffle House for anything other than having the pleasure of ordering their hash browns smothered, covered, chunked, diced, peppered, capped, and topped, in any damn combination you please?

It’s a classic hangover remedy, which makes it a natural for Jack in the Box to be the first to add this to their menu. They’re officially called Munchie Mash-Ups, part of the Munchie Meal line, renowned for advertising to stoners and/or drunks.

In addition to these two flavors, there’s also the Wakey Bakey Hash, which is a mixture of eggs, bacon, pepper jack cheese and white cheese sauce with hash browns. I’m glad I didn’t have to say “Wakey Bakey” into the drive-thru ordering box, since I hate eggs and therefore cannot objectively review anything that contains them.

Jack’d Jalapeño Hash

“What do you call Crispy Hash Browns and Tasty White Cheese Sauce mashed up with Jalapenos, Bacon, and Pepper Jack Cheese?” This is the question Jack in the Box’s website asks of me. They believe the answer is “Ridiculously happy.” I counter with “Not enough toppings.”

I’m getting ahead of myself, however. First off, it appears that the base of these Hashes is two hash brown patties torn in half. The same type that you can get off the breakfast menu. Which means we’re off to a good start, because Jack’s hash browns are patties of greasy goodness.

I know I started off by saying there weren’t enough toppings, but it turns out that if you actually mash it up (as was promised in the name, but I’m willing to put in a little work) all the hash browns get coated quite nicely.

The jalapeños were your typical pickled sliced nacho affair, but there were enough of them to add heat to almost every bite. The bacon added a nice little crunch, but it was bacon bits and not the real thing. Not surprising, but a little bit disappointing.

It was hard to tell if there was any pepper jack cheese – maybe it blended in with the white cheese sauce, which was sort of generic as far as cheese sauces go, but added a lot of creaminess to the crispy hash browns.

I feel like a lot of this sounds disparaging, but when you combine all of these ingredients, something very simple but very delicious happens. Peppers, bacon, creamy cheese sauce and crispy hash browns all add up to a highly satisfying treat that straddles the line between a snack and a meal, depending on your appetite.

H’Angry Chicken Hash

“When hunger is mashed up with anger, it’s called h’anger. When Chicken Nuggets, Frank’s RedHot® Buffalo Sauce, and Ranch are mashed up with Crispy Hash Browns and Tasty White Cheese Sauce, it’s called Jack’s new *$3 H’Angry Chicken Hash Munchie Mash-Up. And it cures h’anger.”

These are Jack’s words. My response is that h’anger is a dumb portmanteau, and also that nobody uses an apostrophe in it. Way to take an already awkward and passe catch phrase and make it sound even more like it’s coming out of the mouth of your dad who just interrupted your high school sleepover to ask what everybody wants on their pizza. Anchovies all around, right, gals? Yes, he’s trying too hard after the divorce, but he’s doing the best he can.

Ol’ H’Angry starts with a base of those two halved hash browns patties, but after that things go a little off the rails.

It’s a mess, but kind of a beautiful one. Five – five! chicken nuggets perch precariously upon our hashers, drenched in ranch, Frank’s, and the seemingly ubiquitous Tasty (don’t tell me how to feel) White Cheese Sauce.

Oh, yeah, and there’s that big chunk of bacon in the front there. I was going to mention that this Mash-Up would have been perfectly fine without it, and then I read the description on the website and realized that it doesn’t belong there in the first place. Thanks for the errant extra clump of bacon, Jack in the Box employee!

Buffalo sauce, ranch, and chicken always go well together, and having all these condiments PLUS the cheese sauce made what are nothing more than kid’s chicken nuggets taste a little more special.

There’s really no way to eat both the chicken and the hash without things getting awkward, so I treated it as two snacks in one box. With three condiments, there was enough sauce left after I ate the nuggets to cover the hash browns, although I gotta say they worked less well with the potatoes than the chicken.

I liked both of my Hash Munchie Mash-Ups a lot, and for *$3 I’d say you’re getting a pretty good bargain, especially the H’Angry Chicken one. While you get a 2-for-1 deal with the chicken, I wound up liking the combination of ingredients on the Jack’d Jalapeño one better.

These may sound like a gimmick food – or do they? I can’t even tell anymore – but they’re legit tasty and might go into my regular rotation of Jack in the Box foods I order, which is something I can’t say of anything new they’ve come out with since the Spicy Nacho Chicken Sandwich.

*Sorry, Hawaii and Guam, they’re $4 for you for some reason. Still an okay deal.

Jack in the Box Jack’d Jalapeño Hash and H’Angry Chicken Hash Munchie Mash-Ups

  • Score (Jack’d Jalapeño): 4 out of 5 smothered, covered, chunked, diced, peppered, capped, and toppeds
  • Score (H’Angry Chicken): 3.5 out of 5 well-meaning, newly-divorced dads
  • Price: $3
  • Size: 1 Munchie Mash-Up
  • Purchased at: Jack in the Box #1516
  • Nutritional Quirk: A whopping 2,090 milligrams of sodium in one H’Angry Chicken Hash. You’re gonna be H’Thirsty after eating that. I’m sorry.

Wendy’s Bacon Queso Burger and Bacon Queso Fries

Oh Wendy’s, you had me at queso.

I’m pretty sure most of my blood is queso at this point. If you make a cheese that comes in sauce form, I’m pretty sure I’ve tried it. (Herdez Queso Blanco currently reigns supreme to me.) Quotes from the offensively boring commercial for Wendy’s line of queso products include “everything’s better with queso” and “feed your queso obsession”. I felt like they were talking directly to me.

Is everything really better with queso, though?

I thank both the Spring Oreos and the Herdez queso for their sacrifice. And yes, I tried it. It was beyond gross. Why did I do that?

Bacon Queso Burger

I picked the burger over the chicken sandwich that’s available (with all the same toppings) because I felt the beef/queso combo would be more interesting. I’ve dunked chicken into cheese sauce numerous times, but usually my cow interacts with cheese in slice form.

Wendy’s describes their Bacon Queso Burger as “A quarter-pound of fresh, never frozen beef topped with warm and spicy poblano queso, three strips of Applewood smoked bacon, fire-roasted salsa, red onions, and shredded cheddar cheese, all served on a toasted red jalapeno bun.”

I’ma get right down to it before I break down the various working parts: this burger was straight-up disappointing. I was hoping to just get real messy with some queso, but it was hardly there.

As you can see, there was more salsa than queso. It was had a little bit of heat, but the flavor was very bland. There was a hint of fire-roasted tomato, but other than that, it wasn’t something I would equate with actual salsa. It was more of a tomato mush.

I couldn’t taste any heat in the “red jalapeno” bun, although I could see little red flecks in it. It acted as little more than the usual deflated fast food bun, but the fact that it was toasted seemed to add a little extra touch to the burger that an untoasted bun wouldn’t; plus, that might have helped protect it from getting extra mushy from all the salsa.

One highlight: the bacon. I haven’t eaten at Wendy’s in quite a while, but one thing they seem to consistently get correct is their Applewood smoked bacon. It was thick, it was crunchy, and it was everything that fast food bacon usually isn’t. It’s just as good as if you made it at home in your cast iron skillet.

Also crunchy were the onions, being able to resist sogginess in their raw form. Their sharp bite seemed a bit unnecessary among all these other flavors, though.

And finally, on to the thing we’re really here for: the queso. The main star of the show. And the biggest problem.

First off, there were technically two types of queso on my Bacon Queso Burger. One of them was shredded cheddar cheese, except all I could detect were a few scant pieces on my burger. No worries though, because the star of the show is the queso sauce!

Except the queso sauce totally sucked.

First of all, I expected my burger to just be exploding with cheese sauce, much like with Jack in the Box’s Hella-Peño Burger. I don’t mind the mess; I welcome it. But the sauce was quite scant and the amount of salsa easily overshadowed it.

The biggest sin, however, is that this queso sauce had no queso flavor, and no poblano flavor to boot. Tasting it solo, there might have been a teensy bit of spiciness, but other than that, nothing. This burger had less cheese flavor than a regular cheeseburger, and it had TWO different cheeses on it.

Wendy’s Bacon Queso Burger made me sad. But I thought perhaps the next item I ordered would really let the queso shine…

Bacon Queso Fries

Wendy’s description: “Our natural-cut fries seasoned with sea salt and topped with warm and spicy poblano queso, three strips of Applewood smoked bacon, and shredded cheddar cheese.”

Okay, so no salsa mucking up the works now.

Which only reinforced how offensively bland this queso sauce was.

The bacon was still crispy and delicious (although a somewhat unwieldy fry topping) and Wendy’s fries are actually quite good and have that “natural potato” taste, so those were both good points. But it was, again, the highlight ingredient that was its downfall.

I will say that, on the surface, the fries looked short on toppings, but once I mixed it all together it coated all the fries quite nicely, and there was a lot of bacon to go around. Nothing irritates me more than cheesy fries or nachos that don’t get adequate coverage.

It took me a while to really pin it down, but Wendy’s queso is basically Bechamel sauce and xantham gum. Furthermore, Wendy’s promised me not just queso, but poblano queso, and while there seemed to be little bits of…things in the sauce, the flavor just wasn’t there.

You’ve besmirched the good name of queso, Wendy’s. I’d consider this a capital crime, but you do have really good bacon. And I can’t quit that chili. Just…work on your cheese sauce game, or just stay out of it.

Wendy’s Bacon Queso Burger

  • Score: 1.5 out of 5 “everything’s better with queso”s
  • Price: $4.89
  • Size: 1 burger
  • Purchased at: Wendy’s #00000621
  • Nutritional Quirk: On the Wendy’s website, the ingredients for Poblano Queso Cheese sauce just says “CONTAINS MILK”

Bacon Queso Fries

  • Score: 2 out of 5 “feed your queso obsession”s
  • Price: $2.49
  • Size: n/a
  • Purchased at: Wendy’s #00000621
  • Nutritional Quirk: At 510 calories, these fries are just 40 calories less than the burger. That seems wrong, somehow.

Thomas’ Bacon Buttermilk Pancake English Muffins

Why does the idea of bacon buttermilk pancake English muffins seem so weird to me?

Twenty years ago, that would have been a perfectly reasonable line of thought. But these days, food companies have collectively lost their minds, so this should just be another yawner. I guess it’s the idea of Thomas’ going off the deep end. English muffins don’t usually enter the realm of “weird”. Plus, they went with not one but TWO weird flavors for a muffin. Just cramming a full breakfast of flavors into something that is already a breakfast food. It’s just bizarre.

Another thing that’s bizarre: the proclamation that this product will only exist for six weeks. Six weeks from when? I don’t know. That seems like an incredibly arbitrary thing to print on a package. Who is keeping track of these six weeks? Wouldn’t it be easier just to say “only available until X day”?

Six weeks. Six weeks! That’s about half a semester of college. So you could eat some English muffins at the start of school, crave some of these nooks and crannies while studying for your midterms, and not be able to get that sweet savory breakfast treat. Hell, I’ve been learning Spanish on Duolingo for over six weeks and that stupid owl just told me I’ve learned 1% of it. These English muffins are available for less time than learning 1% of a foreign language.

I usually like to take a whiff of whatever I’m about to review before I eat it, but this time I had no choice: as soon as I opened the plastic sleeve, I was assaulted with a smell that was something like if artificial maple flavoring and styrofoam had a baby. It was unlike anything my nose had ever experienced, and it was highly disheartening for the culinary experience that was to come.

Sorry, I’m bad at cutting English muffins. It’s a genetic flaw.

What is going on here? I figured the little pink blobs were supposed to be bacon, but what are these coral-colored splotches? Is that the maple? The pancake? It’s certainly unlike any pancake I’ve ever seen.

Up close, the “bacon” pieces look like the haggard teeth of a witch who lives deep in the forest and tries to lure children to her cabin with weird breakfast pastries.

There’s no good preface to this, so let’s just get going.

It starts out by tasting pretty much like a regular English muffin, then a strange sweetness creeps in. It tastes almost like someone used something sweet to try to cover the faint taste of slightly rotten meat.

What the fuck is happening here? I couldn’t taste any pancake flavor, just a little bit of that weird, sweet maple. There was also some savory, but like I said, it tasted nothing like bacon – just like slightly off meat. And the taste lingered long after the muffin was gone.

Toasting and buttering helped, but that fake sweetness remained, along with that weird, slightly off taste that just stays and stays. An English muffin isn’t that big, but I couldn’t finish it. Also, yes, that’s not a shadow. I burned one side. It’s a genetic flaw.

I’m still trying to figure out the bacon situation. It wasn’t the flavor of meat, more the ghost of bad meat…like that time I must have gotten some raw steak juice in my reusable shopping bag and after a few days everything I put in there smelled really rank. Except I can’t run these English muffins through the washing machine.

Boy, I just make Thomas’ Bacon Buttermilk Pancake English Muffins sound like shit, don’t I? Well, they sure tasted like shit to me. Just a complete failure on the bacon and the pancake part. Sort of tasted like maple syrup, if you want to offend Canadians or whatever people from Vermont call themselves. Any savory aspect of it just tasted tainted.

But, in all fairness, a friend of mine tried them and she said they were “okay”. Not a rousing endorsement, but far from the experience I had. So maybe your mileage will vary? If you can find them within the mysterious six-week window, that is.

Thomas’ Bacon Buttermilk Pancake English Muffins

  • Score: 0.5 out of 5 “someone I know thought they were okay”s
  • Price: $3.49
  • Size: 6 English muffins
  • Purchased at: Fry’s Foods
  • Nutritional Quirk: Contains actual maple syrup. I am gobsmacked. Contains no trace of bacon. I am not gobsmacked.

Cheetos Sweetos Caramel Puffs

I always love when traditionally savory brands get into the holiday-themed snack game, but man, Cheetos, why did you have to puss out and go sweet on me? I know Frito-Lay has the dark magic ability to make meat-flavored snacks. Couldn’t we go ham, as it were? That’s an Easter classic!

Okay, sorry to start this review out with a rant. While I didn’t get the odd blessing/curse of ham-flavored Cheetos, I did at least get these Cheetos Sweetos. Last year around Easter, Cheetos introduced their first Sweetos flavor, Cinnamon Sugar. Now they’re adding Caramel to the line.

Unlike the bag of Cinnamon Sugar Puffs, Cheetos has erased all trace of connections with Easter. Chester is still as maniacally enthusiastic as ever, but gone are the rabbit ears. Now he’s crazy for what appears to just be an entire bowl of melted caramel. Cool your heels, bro. That amount of caramel is strictly for making caramel apples for Halloween.

Despite the Easter-scrubbing, for some reason Cheetos decided to keep the Puffs egg-shaped, which seems an odd choice given the lack of bunnies on the package. But at least it makes for a structurally sound Puff.

Upon opening the bag of Sweetos, I was struck by the unmistakable smell of Brach’s caramel squares. Points to Cheetos for authenticity on that one!

…And, after tasting them, points immediately taken away. Well, let me expound: the Puffs were absolutely true to the smell. Cheetos Sweetos Caramel Puffs have a super authentic caramel taste, and therein lies the problem.

The Cinnamon Sugar Puffs kind of worked because they were evocative of churros, but these just taste like sweet caramel on top of savory corn puff. It’s highly disconcerting to both the taste buds and the mouthfeel, because something that tastes exactly like caramel should not have this kind of crunchy and airy texture.

I really thought Cheetos Sweetos Caramel Puffs would just be a sort of “meh” experience, but my mouth has been deeply offended. In fact, now I wish waaaay more that Cheetos had come out with some ham-flavored egg-shaped Puffs. That would be infinitely better than these things. Nailing the caramel flavor turned out to be the actual problem.

Blech, I’m going to go drink some milk now to cleanse my palate. These things stick with you, too.

Oh, and unlike the Cinnamon Sugar Puffs variety, there’s no indication on the bag that these are limited edition. So you can not enjoy these all year-round!

Limited Time Cheetos Sweetos Caramel Puffs

  • Score: 0.5 out of 5 Easter Bunny Chester Cheetahs
  • Price: $1.39
  • Size: 2.6 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Target
  • Nutritional Quirk: Contains no actual caramel – just “caramel seasoning” – which makes the authentic taste even more mysterious and, in some ways, insulting?

Limited Edition Peeps Oreo

When I told a friend about Peeps Oreos, the first question out of his mouth was, “Are those Peep-flavored Oreos or Oreo-flavored Peeps?”

The question is 100% fair. Oreo is known for popping out a mind-boggling amount of flavors, but Peeps has developed a prodigious assortment, themselves. If you would have asked me 20 years ago what junk food franchise would go wild with their flavor selection, first I would have told you to fuck off because I was a teenager, and then I would have said literally anything but Peeps.

But for now, at least, the answer to his question is that these are Oreos with Peeps-flavored creme. For now. Expect the opposite soon.

The timing is no accident – Easter is around the corner, and before they were bats and Christmas trees, Peeps were, at heart, chicks.

Our packaging eschews all holiday-related tropes in favor of a more Spring-y landscape. The background pops with bright yellow and white polka dots, and cute little pink butterflies float around our rather solemn-looking Peep. Grass and a white picket fence complete this perfect little scene. Minus Mr. Peep, it’s as saccharine as a Peep Oreo itself!

The whole thing just makes me want to sneeze. But it’s also allergy season and I can actually smell the pollen in the air. These damn plants, always wanting to fuck all at the same time.

The idea of Oreo creme that tastes like a regular Peeps marshmallow is super boring, so they decided to spice things up by adding crunchy sugar crystals to the mix, which makes sense because Peeps are covered in sugar crystals.

As always, I tried the creme by itself before I ate the Oreo as a whole. It was a smart move adding those sugar crystals, because I swear I couldn’t detect a flavor that was any different than a normal Oreo. Peeps and Oreos don’t taste the same, but I feel like they really phoned it in, just adding some sugar crystals to the regular mix.

When eaten as a whole cookie, again, you’re basically just eating a Golden Oreo, although I will say that the crystals added a crunch that was different than just the cookie crunch. It was a more pleasant experience than just eating the creme alone, because it felt more crunchy than gritty.

While the flavor of Peeps Oreo is fairly boring, the color certainly isn’t. One of the first colors of Peeps was pink, and Oreo went PINK with this filling. If you happen to have read the Internet lately, this has caused something that the Internet loves talking about: colored poop!

That’s right, the most notable thing about Peeps Oreos is that, if you eat enough of them, they will turn your poop bright pink. This is due, of course, to good ol’ Red Number 3. So, because of my status as an Investigative Reporter, I had to do my doo-doo diligence…

…and eat a whole row of Oreos at once. Also, sorry about that joke.

A row of Oreos is seven, in case you weren’t aware. And I cheated and only ate the filling, after my initial taste test for the review. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the Barbie playset in my toilet that I was hoping for. There was a faint pink tinge, but that was it.

Now, the accounts I read said they’d consumed a whole PACKAGE to achieve real results on the back end. It was a labor of love for me to just eat one row of filling – who the hell can eat an entire package in one sitting?

Enough poop talk, though. Remember those little tablets your dentist gave you to put in your mouth after you brushed your teeth to ensure you’d brushed properly? The ones that stained any plaque you missed bright pink? It turns out Peeps Oreos have the exact same effect! Thanks, Oreos, for making sure I brushed real real good!

Here are some other things these Peeps Oreos stained:

My tongue (which was another documented side effect, but I wasn’t expecting it to be QUITE that bright)

My toothbrush bristles (permanently, as it turns out – I had to buy a new one)

My sink, after I spit out my toothpaste (luckily, I noticed it was stained and wiped it off before that became permanent also)

So this review has been more about “How can I use Peeps Oreos to dye everything in my life pink?” than the flavor themselves, which speaks volumes about how interesting they were, taste-wise. The only interesting thing were the sugar crystals, and while they added a little extra crunch, I’d much rather have Marshmallow Crispy Oreos than these. And I wouldn’t have to worry about permanently staining my shirt while eating them.

Limited Edition Peeps Oreo

  • Score: 1 out of 5 toilet Barbie playsets
  • Price: $1.88
  • Size: 10.7 oz. package
  • Purchased at: Safeway
  • Nutritional Quirk: Gotta give it up to Red No. 3. Always.

Taco Bell Naked Chicken Chalupa

The Naked Chicken Chalupa was in one test market in 2015 and another in 2016, and I read that it took two years to develop. Can you imagine being the person in charge for trying to make a fried chicken shell? Day after day, staring at this processed and battered (both literally and figuratively) piece of flat meat, trying through sheer force of will to transmogrify it into something it was never supposed to be?

“This is not how my life was meant to turn out,” he whispers to himself, fingers red and blistered from fry oil. “This was not why I got my Food Science degree. I was supposed to do good in this world.”

…If there’s a plus to rolling up on Taco Bell at 6:03am, it’s that your order is going to be fresh (or as fresh as you can expect). If there’s a drawback, it’s that you’re ordering a Naked Chicken Chalupa three minutes after opening time, and that feels embarrassing.

However, the nice man at the window did warn me that my Chalupa was fresh and therefore hot, which was both kind of him and made me chuckle at the accidental implication that the rest of my order was not, indeed, fresh. You mean the smashed wreckage that is the Meximelt isn’t lovingly crafted on the spot?

He was right though, as the fried chicken shell slightly burned my fingers when I took it out of its protective sleeve (smart move, Taco Bell) to photograph it.

I gotta say, I was surprised at how crunchy and juicy the chicken shell was. And spicy, too! I wasn’t even aware that it was supposed to be spicy, but my lips were slightly burning as I ate it.

Of course, the taco itself was mostly chicken. The sparse innards were your typical fare: shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, cheddar cheese and avocado ranch sauce. The last ingredient is the only real one of note, as its creamy texture and mild ranch flavor mixed nicely with the spicy chicken. Those bites were rare, but when they came together, it was really a good combo.

It’s disturbing how normal I felt while I was eating the Naked Chicken Chalupa. I mean, I’m eating a taco that has chicken instead of a shell. But really, it was just…eating some chicken. The thick, spicy breading and the moistness of the chicken were great surprises, especially given how pathetic the fillings were. It looks small, but it’s actually quite filling, and I can’t say as I wouldn’t have turned another one down.

Or maybe not, given what happened next.

I don’t often talk about the aftermath of eating the products I review, mostly because there isn’t one. Rarely, I get a surprise color poop, and that’s fun, but otherwise food is just food. In case you can’t tell, we’re going to get real with some toilet talk here. If that disturbs you, a.) why are you even here, and b.) skip the next paragraph.

Almost immediately after consuming the Naked Chicken Chalupa, I started having some pretty bad gas cramps. It was the only thing I’d eaten that morning, so I know it had to be the culprit. Just like any normal human, I get gas occasionally, but never have I had cramps that lasted for eight fucking hours. What I considered even more odd is that, while I was shitting more than usual, I wasn’t exactly wrecking toilets right and left. I’ve just never eaten something that left me in intestinal pain for an entire day, and I felt that was worthy of noting.

Junk Food Betty: Come to stare at gross pictures, stay for the shit jokes, leave a complaint in the comments.

Here’s a fun postscript: if you’re reading this, chances are you can’t actually get your hands on a Naked Chicken Chalupa. I suck at getting reviews out in a timely manner, and apparently this product was a big, fat failure. Less than a month after its premiere, Taco Bell has taken it off the menu. Everything you just read means nothing!

Taco Bell Naked Chicken Chalupa

  • Score: 3 out of 5 crampy food scientists
  • Price: $2.99
  • Size: 1 taco
  • Purchased at: Taco Bell #022951
  • Nutritional Quirk: No surprise, the item is no longer listed on Taco Bell’s website, so I can’t access the nutritional information. But given the “condition” I was left in after eating it, I’m assuming the entire taco was actually made of beans.

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