[Kelley's Note: Boy do I wish I lived in the UK right now. Fortunately, guest reviewer Kirsten (of Pizza Hut Hot Dog Stuffed Crust Pizza fame) does, and she has done me the favor of reviewing one of the McDonald's Tastes of America burgers. We've done a little bit of collaborating, since she's tasting America and I'm living here, so expect me to chime in every once in a while for some insight from the States.]
Every year in the UK, or at least for as long as I can remember paying attention, McDonald’s UK has run a summer promotion called TASTES OF AMERICA, whereby 5 State-’inspired’ burgers are presented at a rate of one per week for 5 weeks, offering us Brits the chance to glimpse at the wonders of America in burger form. Sadly, I missed the first burger ‘Louisiana BBQ’ by a mere DAY, and grovel for your forgiveness. Instead, I present WEEK 2: CHICAGO.
When I think Chicago food, I think of pizza. That’s it, really. I got briefly confused about cheese curds, but that’s Wisconsin, apparently. Also, I am told that the Chicago Dog is the more prominent food association with Chicago. Clue’s in the name, I guess. I blame Chicago Town Pizzas. Whaddaya gonna do?
Anyway, a Chicago Dog is not at all what I expected. I dig the big bit of pickle in it (we don’t do pickle enough over here) but really it just seems like a Classic Hamburger set up, with a hot dog instead. I am not convinced at all. That is also completely nothing like the T.O.A: Chicago burger.
Here is McDonald’s UK’s description of The Chicago Supreme: “Experience the supreme taste of the Windy City. 100% beef patty, shredded lettuce, bacon, onions, cheese slices, spicy tomato salsa and cool mayo, all in a chilli, chive and sesame topped bun.”
[Kelley's Note: I actually had to explain what a Chicago Dog is to Kirsten. She had never heard of such a thing. I also explained to her that, even in the States, if you're going to make something “quintessentially Chicago”, you're probably going to try to emulate a Chicago Dog. (If you don't know what one consists of, read the first paragraph of this. It sums it up pretty perfectly.)
I was very amused by the UK's version of “Chicago”. Not to make too much fun, but...salsa? Oh well, all they're missing is the pickle. And the mustard. And the...okay, it's pretty much missing everything. I'd be curious to see what the citizens of Chicago have to say about this burger representing their city.
Okay, back to Kirsten, who actually ate the burger.]
The burger is a big burger. I’d say it’s about 1.5 times the length of a Big Mac. It’s an ovoid. The bun is also a fancy split-top bun, sprinkled with the chilli, chive and sesame. The bun itself was light and soft, though I found it hard to tell if the chilli and chive topping added anything because of the spicy salsa heat.
The mayo and onion were plentiful. The patty meat was perfect, beefy and flavoursomely charred, just the right side of crumbly, not tough or chewy at all. The sheer amount of sauces in combination gave good flavour but really just meant the patty was trying to escape the buns. My patty had too much lubrication. Now I see why they didn’t spread the load by adding any to the lower bun. Does anywhere do that? I think I’ve found salad there before.
There was a good amount of bacon, but at first I wondered if I’d imagined there was meant to be any – there was no bacon in sight. It only emerged after I’d bitten in, and was indeed pinned within, smothered by the heavy quantity of cheese slices and disguised by the nonchalant shredded lettuce, an accomplice to bacon obfuscation. It was the Thomas Crown Affair of burger bacon.
There was a lot of mayo. I’m not a big fan of mayo (in or out of burgers) but it didn’t ruin it for me, and just meant it was like an oddly creamy but tasty salsa, like a spicy prawn cocktail sauce. Y’all do that too right? With the ketchup and mayo, or ketchup and salad cream and then you get Marie Rose sauce or whatever? I like it with brandy in. There was no brandy in this burger. Good job, I don’t think that’s what it needed.
[Kelley's Note: I had to look up “Marie Rose sauce” - it is indeed a synonym of seafood or cocktail sauce, but, at least to me, sounds more like Thousand Island dressing. My definition of cocktail sauce contains stuff like horseradish and Worcestershire.]
The salsa was great, I’d like to see that back in another burger, maybe as a dip.
A dip, hey! That would have been real good with the special edition TOA: Crisscut fries I got too! I didn’t really like them. They were that kind of mashed and reformed potato shape and reminded me of potato waffles, a thing I have only had once in my life and avoided ever since. I still only eat hash browns when I’m desperately hungry.
They came with a sour cream and chive packet of dip which I gave a miss as I’m not eating any sour cream that doesn’t come from a fridge. I want to say the Crisscuts taste reminded me of Alphabites ((does that translate?)) but had a slightly spiced coating, which according to the website was onion powder and yeast extract. I won’t be ordering them again.
[Kelley's Note: This did not, in fact, translate for me. I was pretty sure Kirsten wasn't talking about the cereal. Luckily I found this, so now I know she was talking about a letter-shaped frozen potato product.]
In Hull, fries come with a coating of ‘chip spice’ (because we call fries ‘chips’, and chips ‘crisps’) which is more or less the same thing but with paprika and salt thrown in and I do not like that either. I did not know this when I first ordered fries in Hull, and have been scarred ever since. Consider this a PSA for if you ever find yourself there.
The TOA: Chicago burger was tasty but not as gourmet as I think it wanted to be. I think the oversized patty will continue to be an issue in the upcoming weeks, but I can’t fault them for being generous; it was good meat and cooked well.
Really, the TOA: Chicago was just a big ol’ Bacon Cheeseburger in a fancy bun, and whilst it was a good enough eat, I won’t be missing it from the menu a month down the line.
I am totally not ordering the TOA:Crisscuts again though, even though I think regular McD’s fries will serve to make the burger look even more enormous. One point to the Crisscuts – they are proportionally sized for the TOA burgers.
[Kelley's Note: Kirsten turned me on to McDonald's UK's Tastes of America website. We both agreed that it was an amazing feat of marketing. She let me take the reins on this one, so you'll be hearing from me from here until the roundup at the end of the review.]
Oh, McDonald’s UK Tastes of America. You’ve already given us so much. But once Kirsten showed me your website, I felt I had been given a special gift from the marketing gods.
While I’d love to break down each and every “Tastes” page, that would probably take up the length of an entire review, and we’re talkin’ about Chicago here, so let’s focus on that.
First off, every Tastes of America “tribute” page is an amazing feat of music and bizarre gifs. It’s like someone with a current knowledge of graphic artistry was instructed to make them look like a 1996 Geocities website. It is strange and mesmerizing at the same time.
I will give the UK this: Chicago is the longest-running American musical in the history of Broadway. Looking at the States from the outside in, this would be a pretty easy choice to encapsulate the spirit of the city. However, the Tastes of America takes it a little too far. The music is va-va-voom, the background is reminiscent of a Broadway marquee, and there’s attractive ladies wearing sexy tuxedos dancing around with canes.
Correction: one sexy lady, multiplied by eight. GIFS!
There are also two mirror-image limos thrusting in and out of the background in a way that makes me mildly uncomfortable.
The icing on the cake for me is the introduction of a jumble of red-clad basketball player gifs, obviously meant to represent the Chicago Bulls. I have some sad news for you, Britain: the iconic era of Michael Jordan and the Bulls’ dominance in the NBA ended in the 1990s. I’m sorry.
So what crazy gifs would I use to represent Chicago? Well, I’ve never even been to the Windy City, but here are some of my suggestions:
Lots of Tommy guns shooting with the sound of automatic fire as your music
One guy in a three-piece pinstripe suit repeated eight times making threatening gestures
A corrupt government official repeatedly signing a check and handing it to a shady character
Crates of bootleg alcohol dancing around
It’s obvious I’m also not intimately familiar with Chicago, but I still feel mine is a closer representation of the city than McDonald’s UK’s. Regardless, all of the Tastes of America pages are priceless, and I highly encourage you click on the link I posted above.
Okay, enough of my blathering. Here’s Kirsten’s round-up. A big thanks to her for the guest review!
McDonald’s UK Tastes Of America Chicago Supreme
McDonald’s UK Tastes Of America Crisscut Fries
A little while back, I got an email from a stranger living in Australia. She loves Skittles. She loves them so much, in fact, that she asked if I could ship her a bag of Darkside Skittles, since they didn’t have them where she lived.
She suggested we do a snack trade. Because I noted that she had her own food website, I immediately gave her my address, because you can obviously trust a complete stranger that you’ve emailed twice on the Internet, as long as they have a food blog.
I got into a lot of white, unmarked vans as a child. Obviously unrelated, but I felt I should mention it.
We made arrangements, and a surprisingly short time later, a totally awesome box full of Australian goodies arrived at my doorstep. So full, in fact, that there was no way I could fit them all into one review. Or two reviews. In fact, I may be reviewing them forever. Keeping this in mind, I won’t be using my usual review structure – I’ll just give a quick rating at the end of each item.
That said, enjoy part one of Australian Snaxplosion!
Thins Light & Tangy Thin & Crispy Potato Chips
Thins have a pretty much identical texture to Lay’s potato chips, which makes sense, since they were once owned by Pepsico, who bought them from Smith’s, but then sold them to…you know what, nevermind. Just know that the base chip is just like Lay’s.
I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from Thins Light & Tangy, since neither of these words are particularly descriptive. Lightly flavored? Light in calories? Tangy…how?
The back of the bag offered me no clues. There was no nutritional information box, nor was there an ingredients list. I found this intriguing, since I’m pretty sure it’s a law or something to list that stuff in the United States. “Or something” – that’s good research, right there. In fact, none of the three items being reviewed today had any information on the back. You roll the dice when you snack Australian.
If you can’t tell by the pictures, all three of these snacks came in surprisingly small bags. By small, I mean, one serving. An actual serving, not an American serving. Something you would eat during a work break. It’s like comparing a 12-ounce soda to a Big Gulp. I wonder, do they offer gallon-sized jugs of soda in Australian convenience markets? My hunch is no.
Anyways, Thins Light & Tangy had a nice vinegar bite with an equal amount of…tang. I could definitely identify some onion in there, but it wasn’t sour cream and onion-flavored…perhaps a bit of a ranch flavoring? I think ranch would count as tangy.
I won’t lie, I did look up the ingredients, but only after I’d tasted the chip. Some of the ingredients are “Vegetable Powders (Onion, Tomato), Flavour (Natural), Flavour Enhancer (621) and Herbs & Spices”.
I couldn’t taste any tomato, but the rest seemed about on point. Of course, I have no idea what 621 Flavour Enhancer is, but hey.
In the end, I never did learn what was so light about Thins Light & Tangy Thin and Crispy Potato Chips. I did, however, enjoy the taste. They had a nice balance of vinegar, salt, and a present but not overwhelming ranch-like flavor. Nothing crazy or groundbreaking, but a fine snack, nonetheless.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 kudos for using the moniker “Light” for seemingly no reason at all
Thins Chicken Thin & Crispy Potato Chips
Chicken-flavored potato chips may seem pretty out there if you’re American, but according to my brief Internet research, chicken seems to be a pretty common flavor for Australian snacks. In fact, I got another chicken-flavored snack in my box, Chicken Twisties, but they didn’t survive the International travel very well, and by that I mean, both ends of the bag blew out. Amazingly, this was the only casualty of the whole box, so I consider myself lucky.
Maybe chicken doesn’t seem so out there when you consider the crazy flavors we’ve seen over the years. Mountain Dew-flavored Doritos, anyone? Besides that, if I had to pick a meat to flavor chips, chicken seems the most innocuous.
Thins Chicken chips look remarkably similar to Light & Tangy, but the tastes are worlds apart. They look and feel almost identical – again, think Lay’s with some green flecks on them – but Chicken lacks all the twang that excites taste buds. Is it possible for a food to taste…matte? If it is, that is how I would describe Thins Chicken.
While the unfortunately unseen Twisties Chicken tasted like chicken bullion, Thins Chicken didn’t taste like chicken at all. In fact, I’m not sure what they tasted like. They were very salty, and there was a little onion, but that was about it.
Actually, there was a strange aftertaste that I can only describe as “chewing on an old jar of chicken bullion cubes”. It was very odd and unpleasant.
I was steeling myself for chicken-flavored potato chips when I opened up my bag of Thins Chicken Thin & Crispy Potato Chips, but what I got was actually worse. Instead of chicken, I got a flavor that was both bland and unnatural. After enjoying Thins Light & Tangy, I was surprised at how badly Thins Chicken failed to live up to its name.
Rating: 2 out of 5 ways that Thins managed to make chicken-flavored chips taste worse than chicken-flavored chips
As you may imagine, Out of the three offerings shown here, I was most intrigued by this product. Burger Rings! Again, these may sound odd to Americans, and the lack of imagery plus the promise of “big burger taste” on the front of the bag may conjure memories of things like Doritos Late Night All-Nighter Cheeseburger. I know it did for me, and that was not necessarily a good thing.
Burger Rings are apparently very popular in Australia, so I thought, how bad can they be?
That’s usually an ominous question, but for once, I was pleased to discover that they were not bad at all. In fact, I enjoyed them quite a bit.
Upon first glance, Burger Rings look like smaller, redder versions of Funyuns. They say we eat with our eyes, and in this case, my eyeballs were pretty spot-on. The texture was indistinguishable to that of Funyuns – light and somewhat puffy, but with a satisfying crunch. I would call it a “soft crunch”, if such a thing exists.
The flavor of Burger Rings was distinctly that of cheese and tomato. Breathe a sigh of relief – unlike the abominations that have been created in the US, Burger Rings made no attempt to make their product taste like meat. “Big burger taste” is just big talk.
Unlike Funyuns, Burger Rings are the perfect size for popping into your mouth. I found that I’d blown through my appropriately snack-sized bag rather quickly. With a generic cheesy tomato flavor and a crunchy but non-gum-stabbing texture, they were easy and fun to eat.
While I would have preferred something else to go with the cheese – maybe onion, or, dare I say, garlic – I can see why so many Australians like this snack. I was glad that my Aussie snack trading partner had included two bags, because one was just not enough. I’d love to see Burger Rings sitting next to Funyuns on store shelves. It’s time someone gave them a run for their money in the ring-shaped crunchy snack department.
Rating: 4 out of 5 sighs of relief that Burger Rings taste nothing like actual burgers
That wraps up part one of our unknown number of Australian snack food reviews! I’ll be back later with more treats from the land down under. In the meantime, watch out for drop bears, folks.
Are you guys ready for this? Maybe you should sit down. Have a fainting couch nearby and some smelling salts.
Because this is The Greatest Day in Chicken History.
At least, according to KFC, it is. Well, technically it was April 14, when they launched their new Original Recipe Boneless Chicken. But with such a bold declaration, I’m going to assume KFC thinks every day that Original Recipe Boneless Chicken exists is still The Greatest Day in Chicken History.
You’d think that would be enough of a marketing campaign, but KFC isn’t done yet. They’re pushing the slogan “I ate the bones!” hard through commercials and social media, including a #iatethebones contest starting April 22nd wherein you can submit your “best I ate the bones! face” in order to win money.
In case you haven’t sussed it out yet, the commercials show various people looking down at their empty KFC boxes and completely losing their shit, yelling “I ate the bones!” like they’re having an autistic freakout.
“Holy shit, I am so in love with this chicken that I ate the fucking bones and didn’t even notice, I may be dying and in need of medical attention” is not quite the ad campaign I would have gone for, but KFC is really committed to it.
Because I am a heartless jerk, I hope this leads to dozens of news stories about people actually eating KFC bones. Even better, I want to see pictures of people choking on bones entering the #iatethebones contest. That’s real commitment. I hope all KFC employees have been trained to give the Heimlich maneuver.
For a large chunk of my life, I refused to eat chicken-on-the-bone. It grossed me out. All those veins and tendons…no thanks. My chicken world was restricted to nuggets and strips, which is kind of funny, since I’m sure whatever goes into making nuggets is more disgusting than a bone. Even chicken strips weren’t what they are today in both quality and availability, so I think old me would have been thrilled at the idea of KFC Original Recipe Boneless chicken.
Fortunately I have expanded my culinary horizons since then, so I’m perfectly fine gnawing on a leg or a thigh. But if this Boneless version can stand up to KFC’s regular Original Recipe, I may go back to my no-bone ways. Plus, that’s one less thing for my cats to try to dig out of the trash while I’m asleep.
My first impression when I saw the two pieces of Original Recipe Boneless Chicken that came with my meal was that they were a little smaller than, say, a bone-in breast, but they were still fairly sizable.
The piece of white meat actually did resemble a chicken breast, and the breading looked just like Original Recipe, although less greasy.
I was pleased when I ripped the white meat piece apart. It was obviously juicy, and it did, indeed, taste juicy. The chicken was just the right texture, too.
I have no idea how KFC makes their Boneless pieces happen. I’d like to think it’s Gary Larson’s vision come to life. No matter how they do it, I was pleased that it didn’t feel or taste like a Frankenstein’s chicken monster – it had the taste and texture of a chicken breast, with the added bonus of not having to work around bones. This resulted in a more even breading-to-chicken ratio.
As for the dark meat Boneless piece, it seemed a little more misshapen than the white, making it look a little odd. Exactly what part of the chicken did this come from? You know what, don’t answer that.
I was pleased when I ripped it open to see that it was obvious that this was the dark meat piece. I mean, it’s not like they came labeled, but I had my suspicions as to how the dark meat piece would actually pan out. It also didn’t look processed or cobbled together on the inside, despite its outward appearance.
I found the dark meat piece to be not only more flavorful, but also a little juicier. These are things I typically feel about dark meat vs. white meat, so Boneless really scored there.
When you’re dealing with bone-in chicken, you tend to have to work a little harder to get that dark meat, and there’s less of it than you’ll find on a white meat chicken breast. I found this a particularly nice quality in the dark meat Boneless, because being able to eat a big, juicy piece of dark meat with even breading and without having to work around bones and other…stuff was a unique and enjoyable experience.
Please take note that I am staying far, far away from “big, juicy dark meat” entendres.
In the end, I enjoyed both pieces. Both had juicy and tender meat that tasted like I was eating chicken and not chicken by-product. The breading-to-meat ratio was great on both pieces, and there was a noticeable grease decrease. I found this to be both good and bad – while it added to the crunch of the breading, I found myself missing the pleasure of eating those greasy pieces of skin. That could be a plus or a minus, depending on your viewpoint.
One thing I did notice was that, when you rip the Original Recipe Boneless white meat into pieces, it feels pretty similar to eating chicken strips, which is something you could easily order off the KFC menu and get pretty much the same experience.
Where I felt the Original Recipe Boneless really shone was with the dark meat piece. It had more flavor, and the experience of eating a big ol’ piece of dark meat with little effort and with a nice distribution of breading was pretty unique.
Have I reformed back to the chicken-off-the-bone ways that I had worked to conquer? Not completely. I missed the skin and the greasiness of bone-in chicken, while on the other hand, I loved having such a large piece of dark meat that I could chomp and crunch easily.
Fortunately for me, KFC offers buckets that are part Original Recipe Boneless and part regular bone-in Original Recipe. If I’m hankering for some skin and grease but still want that large-piece-chicken experience, that would work great. Or, if I just want to rip into some crunchy dark meat, I could get my 2-piece Original Recipe Boneless meal with two dark meat pieces. It’s nice to have options.
I just hope I don’t accidentally eat the bones. And because I’m not a wild, laughing hyena ripping into my KFC chicken with wild abandon and incredible jaw strength, I don’t think that will be a problem.
KFC Original Recipe Boneless Chicken
Pizza Hut and Domino’s are like rival siblings. As long as I can remember, they’ve been the two biggest pizza delivery chains in the USA. Back when I was a kid, both companies had their own schtick: Domino’s had the infamous Noid and their “30 minutes or free” guarantee, and Pizza Hut had…well, Pizza Hut had some weird commercials. I thought Pizza Hut had a 30 minute guarantee, too, but I can’t find evidence of that on the Internet.
Basically, both company’s marketing was pretty plain back then. “Hot and fresh.” It was a simpler time, when you had to use a corded phone to place your order, and the Hawaiian pizza was probably the most exotic thing on either of their menus.
Now you can order your pizza online, customizing it yourself and not having to tell another human being, “I want everything on my pizza. No, I mean literally everything. And make that with triple cheese.” Technology has come so far in allowing us to hide our shame.
But enough about me. The point here is that, as they’ve grown up, Domino’s and Pizza Hut have gone very different ways. Domino’s launched their “our pizza sucked, but now it’s better!” campaign, which has worked out very well for them.
Pizza Hut has gone in a very different direction – instead of focusing on quality, they’ve decided to focus on gimmicks and hype.
Hype is smart. The Internet loves gimmicks, and Pizza Hut has given it a lot to buzz about. P’Zolos. Overstuffed. Sliders. And these are just pedestrian gimmicks from the United States. Pizza Hut has gone batshit loco internationally. I was lucky enough to have a friend in the UK review one of these offerings, but you can see even more craziness here.
To round out the admittedly loose sibling analogy, Domino’s found success by admitting its past mistakes, straightening up and flying right, while Pizza Hut found success in stuffing cheese and whatever else it found on the floor into their pizzas. It’s like Domino’s went to med school while Pizza Hut started selling weed. Both are making good money, but how.
This analogy sucks. Let’s get to the Crazy Cheesy Crust Pizza, shall we!
First off, I’d like to give you a choice nugget from Pizza Hut’s press release: “Pizza Hut, the world’s largest pizza company, announced today the debut of one of its most-heralded and highly-anticipated new products of all time – Crazy Cheesy Crust.”
“Most-heralded and highly-anticipated new products of all time.”My, aren’t we full of ourselves! As my grandma would say, don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back, Pizza Hut.
Pizza Hut describes Crazy Cheesy Crust Pizza as “16 dough pockets as its outer edge…each pocket is filled with a blend of five Italian cheeses.” Those cheese specifically are provolone, asiago, mozzarella, fontina, and mild white cheddar. I don’t know if “mild white cheddar” is Italian, but hey.
As you can see above, the Crazy Cheesy Crust Pizza looks like a beautiful, greasy flower.
And the slices look like greasy hearts! I love it! I also think Pizza Hut was remiss not to launch this around Valentine’s Day. Nothing says “I love you” like clogged arteries.
I went for pepperoni on my Crazy Cheesy Crust Pizza because that’s the topping that was shown on Pizza Hut’s website. I am a mindless follower.
As expected, there’s not much to say about the pizza itself. It is a Pizza Hut pepperoni pizza. We’re really here for the crust.
I wasn’t really sure what Crazy Cheesy Crust etiquette was. Was I supposed to rip them off right off the bat? Turn the slice around and eat the crust first, then the pizza?
In the end, I just ate it like a regular slice of pizza. Once I got to the cheese pockets, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they tasted very different than the rest of the pizza.
I am not a pizza crust person. If I were not so strongly against wasting food, I’d toss the crust of pretty much every slice of pizza I’ve ever eaten in the trash. Instead, I “tolerate” the crust, and by that I mean, I drown it in ranch dressing mixed with Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. Don’t judge it ’til you’ve tried it, folks.
Given my distrust of crust, I was dubious about just how Crazy this Cheesy Crust would be. Consider me plum surprised. The cheese-to-crust ratio was just right, making it seem like I wasn’t eating crust at all. It was more like eating a little cheesy-laden thin breadstick. The cheese was plentiful and gooey, and you could actually taste the different cheeses. Well, I’m no affineur, so I couldn’t identify all the cheeses, but I definitely detected the asiago and mozzarella, so I can say with confidence that Pizza Hut wasn’t completely trying to shine me on.
After tasting the cheese pockets in their natural habitat for the sake of objectivity, I could have dipped. But you know what? I didn’t. I truly felt it did not need to be dipped. And that’s big, coming from me. The cheeses were tasty enough to stand on their own.
It turns out that Pizza Hut Crazy Cheesy Crust Pizza isn’t that crazy, after all. Sure, it looks a little odd. Cute, but odd. But when it comes down to what’s important, which is taste, it actually delivers. The cheese in the pockets are plentiful and delicious, although they are admittedly greasy as hell. But for someone like me who considers pizza crust nothing more than a necessary evil, I was truly impressed.
The biggest problem with Pizza Hut’s Crazy Cheesy Crust Pizza is that it’s attached to a Pizza Hut pizza. Seriously, why can’t they give the whole pizza the Crazy Cheesy treatment? It would make their pizza 100% tastier.
So, while Crazy Cheesy Crust Pizza temporarily cured me of my dislike of pizza crust, it could not cure me of my dislike of Pizza Hut pizza. It’s back to dipping the crust of better pizzas for me.
Pizza Hut Crazy Cheesy Crust Pizza
Spring has arrived, and that means it’s time for another round of seasonal Burger King offerings! I love this marketing scheme that they’ve developed: new (or new-ish, or returning) menu items available for a limited time. It keeps things fresh without over-crowding the menu. I would love to see every fast food restaurant adopt this model, although that would result in me drowning in grease and also a backlog of reviews.
BK’s Spring Menu showcases Smooth Roast Coffee, Lattes, Donut Holes, Piña Colada Smoothie, Peach and Unsweetened Iced Teas, Turkey and Veggie Burgers, Chipotle Chicken Sandwiches and Wraps, Chipotle Whopper, Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger and Loaded Tater Tots.
That’s an impressive lineup. Today we’ll be looking at the latter two items, simply because they sounded tasty and vaguely interesting, and I think I’ll tear my hair out if I have to review something chipotle-flavored and type the sentence “this doesn’t really taste like chipotle” one more time.
Who am I kidding, that’s inevitable.
Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger
Burger King describes this as “A Mouthwatering USDA Inspected fire-grilled ground beef patty stuffed with hardwood smoked bacon and savory cheddar cheese, topped with fresh-cut lettuce, juicy tomatoes, ketchup, mayo and crispy onion rings all on a warm, artisan-style bun.”
I’d like to translate this: “We took the stuff that tastes good on top of a hamburger and buried it inside the hamburger, thus ensuring that you do not actually taste them. But hey, it sounds like a good gimmick, right?”
You may call this harsh, since this was my immediate impression of the burger before I even tasted it. It’s just that I’ve had “stuffed” burgers before, and that’s pretty much what happens – all that good cheese and bacon flavor gets buried inside the burger, which is no fun at all. But hey, maybe Burger King will be different!
Burger King is not different. Ignoring the especially lackluster lettuce and “good enough” tomatoes, I was pleased with the amount of onion rings on my Stuffed Burger. While the quantity was good, the quality was not – resting under mayo, ketchup and tomatoes, they were soggy as all get-out.
While I would have liked the added crunch, the onions and the breading did add some flavor to the burger, which was welcome because…
…while I could obviously see the bacon and cheddar stuffed inside the Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger, as I predicted, I could not really taste them. Every third bite or so, I’d get some creaminess or a hickory smoke taste, but they paled in comparison to a regular, topped bacon cheeseburger.
The Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger is all gimmick with little taste delivery. You’d be much better off just Having it Your Way and getting a cheeseburger with bacon on top. Burger King has some of the best bacon of all the fast food restaurants, and it’s a shame to bury it inside the patty.
Loaded Tater Tots
It took me a while to realize that Burger King had already introduced the idea of fried cheese potato bites when they introduced their Cheesy Tots on the Winter Menu. That was only a season ago, which is less a testament to the idea that they were so forgettable and more that I have the memory of a goldfish.
Loaded Tater Tots are a somewhat different beast, however. In my review of Cheesy Tots, I mentioned that they were good but that I wanted more out of them. It seems that Burger King has listened to me.
BK describes the Loaded Tots as “A bite-sized snack that is sure to kick your meal up a notch! Enjoy warm fluffy potatoes filled with flavorful bacon and sweet onions on the inside, with a savory and crispy crumb coating on the outside. Available in eight, 10 or 12 piece servings. These LOADED TATER TOTS™ potatoes are great for sharing and are a savory complement to any meal.
With the addition of bacon and onions, these Tots have become Loaded. They’re shaped more like a jalapeño popper than the Cheesy Tots, which had a more rounded shape.
While BK’s description oddly leaves out that there’s cheese inside…well, there’s cheese inside. The potato innards were indeed warm and fluffy, and there was a pleasant amount of creamy cheese that worked well with the potatoes. The crumb coating was nice and crunchy, but a little thinner than I would have liked.
The main problem with Loaded Tater Tots is that it’s hard to taste the Loaded. They had a pleasant hint of onion, but the bacon taste was a little lacking. Even though you can see the little bits of bacon, there’s barely a hint of that smoked bacon flavor, and there’s no real bacon texture.
Burger King’s Loaded Tater Tots are tasty. Getting the potato-to-cheese ratio is half the battle, and they accomplished that. Unfortunately, the Loaded upgrade was lacking. I’m glad that the onion wasn’t overwhelming, but they went too far in the other direction, making it rather underwhelming. My biggest disappointment was obviously with the bacon – bigger, more flavorful chunks would have added that hickory flavor that works great with potato and cheese, and having a little extra crunch from them would have been nice, too.
Burger King’s Spring Menu has a lot of variety in it. I wish I could hit it all, but then I’d probably be reviewing them well into their Fall menu. I chose the Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger and Loaded Tater Tots for their uniqueness and possible tastiness.
Unfortunately, the Stuffed Burger made a classic mistake, which is “stuffing a burger”, thus negating the very flavors they were trying to stuff, making it taste mostly like a regular ol’ hamburger.
The Loaded Tater Tots fared a little better and were indeed tasty, but the onion and especially the bacon flavor had a hard time shining through, thus making the Loaded Tater Tots a lot like BK’s Cheesy Tots. I’m achin’ for some bacon, over here.
Burger King Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger
Burger King Loaded Tots
For being such a well-known and widely available candy, M&Ms did not make finding White Chocolate Carrot Cake easy. First off, it’s a Walmart exclusive. Not an uncommon phenomenon, but one I always find displeasing, because…Walmart.
Second, not only is it a Walmart exclusive, it’s only available at select Walmarts. I didn’t know this until some sort of snack sense told me I should try to look up available locations before I left my house. I’m glad I did, since Walmart has a whole website devoted to finding a select store that carries them.
My closest Walmart was not on this list, which is why I’m so glad I looked, because going to Walmart is one thing, but going to Walmart and not finding the one thing I’m looking for just makes me want to murder every person in the store. Lucky for me, the next closest Walmart actually did have them. This is a lot of effort for goddamn M&Ms.
I consider the effort worth it, however. Easter is a holiday made for candy, but most of that candy comes in the form of chocolate bunnies, and regular candies packaged in plastic Easter eggs or pastel packaging.
That said, I give M&Ms credit right off the bat for actually thinking up an Easter flavored candy. I mean, eggs already taste like eggs, the church kind of has a stranglehold on things that taste like Jesus, and I don’t think making something rabbit-flavored would go over very well. Biting the ears off a bunny that’s made of chocolate is satisfying; actually chomping on a bunny-tasting bunny-shaped candy would make me uncomfortable and probably not go over well with the kids.
Given all that, I think M&Ms coming up with carrot cake is brilliant. Will the execution compete with the concept? We shall see in a moment.
First, I have to bitch and moan some more. Surprise! This time, it’s about the packaging. For the most part, the bag is simple and effective – it’s carrot cake. Here’s a slice of carrot cake.
That’s all well and good, but I am so not a fan of anthropomorphic Green M&M. Red and Yellow are dumb, but whatever. When they introduced Green as the “sexy” M&M, however, I was yucked out. Maybe it’s because I’ve been on the Internet for too long, but I am not fond of sexualizing any inanimate object.
The whole Green M&M schtick is annoying, and that is showcased here, with “her” wearing bunny ears and posed like Leonardo DiCaprio is about to draw her portrait. Plus, she totally has bedroom eyes, which is a sentence I feel dirty just typing. Ugh, take it away, I don’t want to look at it anymore. I’d rather see Red dressed up as a Playboy bunny looking bored or pissed off.
Okay, here we are, with the actual candies. They’re about the same diameter as regular M&Ms, but have a bit more girth. I like the color scheme – the orange is obviously the brightest, representing, duh, the carrot. The green is more of an Easter pastel, but you can’t have a carrot-themed…whatever without some green representing the carrot stem.
The off-white is an interesting choice, but one that I approve of. It’s unrelated to the vegetable, but pertinent to carrot cake itself – part of the deliciousness of carrot cake is the cream cheese icing, which is pretty close to the color of these M&Ms. It’s an attention to detail that I appreciate.
I have to say, I was prepared to be disappointed by M&Ms White Chocolate Carrot Cake. I felt the candy had lofty goals that it wouldn’t be able to reach. Upon opening the bag, however, I was met with a strong and very pleasant cinnamon-and-nutmeg odor along with sugary sweetness. It was surprisingly reminiscent of real carrot cake.
As it turned out, my olfactory sense did not betray me – these M&Ms are about as close to tasting like actual carrot cake as a candy can get. Again, you’ve got that great blend of cinnamon and nutmeg that is prominent but not overwhelming. The use of white chocolate was an excellent choice – it let the spice flavors shine, while adding just the right amount of sweetness and acting as a cream cheese substitute.
In fact, there might even be a little cream cheese flavor magic going on here – while it’s easy to identify the above spices, there seems to be a little extra something that pushes it beyond just spice territory into an actual, cohesive carrot cake candy. The ingredient list doesn’t offer me any help: it’s mostly white chocolate and the regular sugar and food coloring flavors, along with the always-mysterious “natural and artificial flavors”.
Like I said, I had serious doubts about M&Ms White Chocolate Carrot Cake being able to deliver on their promised flavor. I’m happy to say I was wrong. Those crazy candy wizards over at Mars pulled it off. I love carrot cake, and I found myself continuing to shovel these guys into my mouth until I had to force myself to stop before I made myself sugar sick.
If you don’t like carrot cake, you’re not going to like these M&Ms, but that’s just another point showing how well they showcased the flavors. I’m sorry I got around to this review so late, but hey – you can probably run out and get some right now, or wait until Monday, when they’ll probably already be on clearance.
My biggest beef, besides my hatred of Green M&M, is how Walmart is only selling them in select stores. That makes no sense to me and is really annoying. But if you like carrot cake and would like to try a unique Easter treat, use the locator tool I linked above to see if there’s a Walmart within 500 miles of you that has been mysteriously chosen to be one of the select stores that carry them. Happy Easter! Or “Hoppy Easter”, if you like old, tired puns!
M&Ms White Chocolate Carrot Cake
The Impulsive Buy also reviewed these White Chocolate Carrot Cake M&Ms!
The three finalists for Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” contest have been out for a little while now. And for me, “been out” is a literal term – I first spotted all three of them at my local store and picked up the Sriracha flavor, thinking at the time that I’d review each flavor separately. When I went to the store a few days later, there was a handful of Srirachas and one Cheesy Garlic Bread bag on the shelves, which I grabbed.
After that? Nothing.
It was like they’d gotten one shipment and that was that. I couldn’t find Chicken & Waffles, the obvious crazygonuts flavor of the three, anywhere. I looked, I waited, and yet…nothing.
Just when I’d resigned myself to only reviewing two of the three flavors, leaving a large, probably-disgusting-tasting chip-sized hole in my heart, I found them. I did an actual pirouette in the store. My husband pretended he didn’t know me, which is not unusual.
So here they are. The Do Us a Flavor finalists, chosen out of 3.8 million fan submissions last summer. Lucky for me, the three people who are up for a million dollars or 1% of their flavor’s 2013 sales if they win are plastered all over each of the bags, so I get to make fun of them and/or blame them for their choices.
So let’s get to these chips, presented by coincidence in order of purchase and what I anticipate to be the best-to-worst flavors.
Sriracha is blowin’ up right now. One might say it is on fire, if one were to make puns about hot sauce. I used to only find it at the Vietnamese market, but now it’s pretty common on your everyday grocery store shelves. You’ve probably seen it – it’s the one with the rooster on the label, which gives everyone with a 5th grade sense of humor (me) carte blanche to call it “cock sauce”.
Hello, Tyler Raineri from Lake Zurich, IL. I’m not going to make fun of people’s pictures, because you can’t pick your genetics, but you can pick your words. And if these quotes were what these people decided would be the best blurbs to represent them on chip bags nationwide, you can bet I’m going to dig in to them.
Grandma’s chips and sriracha seem like an odd combination, but hell, I’d put sriracha on just about anything, so I’ll let it slide.
What really gets me is the last sentence. “Nothing’s better than old memories.” It sounds bizarre and mildly sinister, for reasons I can’t explain. We all have “old memories”, but I wouldn’t say they are literally the best thing ever. I get this weird vibe that grandma’s desiccated corpse is sitting in Tyler’s basement or something, but maybe I’ve just seen too many horror movies.
Onward to the chips. I was actually excited to try Lay’s Sriracha, because, as I mentioned, I love the cock sauce, and it seemed like a flavor that would marry well with potato chips. It’s mostly chili, vinegar, and a hint of garlic, but it has a very unique and delicious taste.
Unfortunately, my hopes were quickly dashed. Not just dashed, but obliterated. The chips had a bit of heat to them, and a faint garlic taste, but there was also the strong presence of cream cheese and sour cream flavors.
What? What the hell is that? I checked the ingredients, and, according to Lay’s, “sriracha seasoning” contains, among other things, sour cream, cream, onion powder, cream cheese, paprika extract, cheddar cheese, and swiss cheese.
What the fuck?
With my mouth expecting sriracha, all these cheese flavors made my taste buds instantly revolt. These chips tasted wrong, wrong, wrong. So wrong, in fact, that I went and looked at some other reviews of Lay’s Sriracha Chips – something I don’t normally do until after I finish a review, for the sake of objectivity.
To my surprise, several reviewers gave these chips high marks for tasting like the hot sauce. I’m not going to pull out my “I liked sriracha before sriracha was cool and I’m a cock sauce expert” card, but I have to say, these chips taste nothing like sriracha, and the addition of all that cheese flavoring was incredibly disconcerting.
I went back and revisited Lay’s Sriracha Chips a little later, after my mouth had had time to calm down. If you pretend these chips are called “Spicy Cheese Chips” instead of “Sriracha Chips”, they’re actually not so bad. But if Tyler’s grandma could taste these chips, she’d probably roll over in her grave. Or in her rocking chair in Tyler’s basement. Either way.
Cheesy Garlic Bread
With my hopes of sriracha-flavored chips crushed, I turned my attention to Cheesy Garlic Bread. I expected these to be a very middle-of-the-road flavor – take some cheese, take some garlic flavor, and there you go. However, after the sriracha disaster, I was starting to feel nervous.
Meet Karen Weber-Mendham from Land o’ Lakes, WI, a bold woman who is not afraid to hyphenate her name post-marriage and is also from a place that I didn’t think actually existed outside of the realm of butter.
Everything about Karen’s quote is hilariously stupid. First off, I’m 100% positive her “favorite Italian restaurant” is the Olive Garden. It’s just one of those hunches I feel deep down inside.
Second, she’s WAITING FOREVER. That’s just bad customer service. Plus, the breadsticks are supposed to be there for when you are waiting forever. Karen, you need a new Olive Garden.
The last sentence is the icing on the cake. “Finally, the breadsticks come & they save your life!” I can’t stop reading that and laughing out loud. They save your life, people. You are sitting in a booth at the Olive Garden for so long that you are literally starving to death. I think Karen has a fondness for being melodramatic.
One more thing to nitpick about – breadsticks and cheesy garlic bread are not the same thing. If we’re taking the picture on the front of the bag to be said bread, I’ve never been to an Italian restaurant that will rock out free garlic bread like that. Maybe I was wrong about Karen’s favorite Italian restaurant. I guess I’d be more willing to WAIT FOREVER if I could get free cheesy garlic bread like that. To save my life.
A strange thing happened with Lay’s Cheesy Garlic Bread Chips. They didn’t taste like cheese garlic chips at all. After the sriracha fiasco, you’d think this would have pissed me off. But quite the opposite.
Instead of tasting like cheese and garlic-flavored chips, these tasted like cheesy garlic bread. Seriously. I know it sounds weird and kind of stupid, but it’s damn true. Lay’s made a chip that tastes like a piece of bread slathered in strong garlic butter and topped with Parmesan.
At first, this had the opposite of the intended effect. It was so realistic, it was off-putting. Lay’s Cheesy Garlic Bread is in the uncanny valley of chips. The more I ate, however, the more I grew to accept this, and embrace it for its cheesy, garlicky, buttery goodness. Lay’s must be using some sort of dark magic, but I don’t care. It’s delicious dark magic.
Chicken & Waffles
Well, here we are. The Do Us a Flavor Finalist everyone’s buzzing about. Chicken & Waffles. Fuck.
Meet Christina Abu-Judom from Phoenix, AZ.
…Of course. Of course she’s from the Valley in which I live. Because Phoenix doesn’t get shat on enough as the asshole of the United States, and if you are to believe television shows and movies, every murderer and child molester comes to Arizona to hide out from the cops. Thanks so much, Christina, for improving our image.
Aaaaaand her quote is stupid, too. Also, either her nephew is a total dick, or Christina likes to really blow things out of proportion. Can you imagine the Abu-Judom family gatherings? Either her nephew brings up this most insignificant part of his life so much that everyone tells him to shut the fuck up, or Christina herself can’t talk about anything else. “Hey nephew, remember how you never let me live down that one time I stole a bite of your waffle?” Everyone rolls their eyes and goes back to talking about how much the construction sucks on Central Ave.
I’m sad to say that there are no surprises, here. These chips are disgusting. The overwhelming taste is that of maple syrup, with undertones of a buttery waffle-like taste and just a smidge of chicken bouillon. If that sentence grossed you out, congratulations, you have a modicum of common sense.
I ate the barest of bare minimums of Lay’s Chicken & Waffles Chips just so I could explain the flavor to you, dear reader. I’ve eaten several very disgusting things in my time as a food reviewer, and these are honestly close to the top. If taste buds could throw up, I believe mine would have, which probably would have made my stomach throw up, resulting in one of those chain-reaction vomits that would fill my entire apartment with maple-smelling bile.
“The overwhelming taste is that of maple syrup, with undertones of a buttery waffle-like taste and just a smidge of chicken bouillon.” I just wanted to repeat that sentence to emphasize how utterly repulsive these chips are. I knew I was in for a bad trip when I bought these, but this was like, bat country bad trip.
I can’t even give much credit to Lay’s for getting the Chicken & Waffles flavor right. The syrup flavor was dominant and cloying, and the chicken very subdued, for which my taste buds were thankful. You could taste a bit of butter and waffle, though, so at least there’s…that.
I feel bad for Tyler, because his Sriracha Lay’s wound up tasting nothing like the hot sauce and more like a spicy cheese chip.
Karen got her wish, because Cheesy Garlic Bread tastes eerily like what it’s supposed to taste like. I was put off by this at first, but came to embrace the accuracy and tastiness of these chips.
I hate Christina for her stupid story and her even more stupid flavor suggestion, but I hate Lay’s the most for picking it as a finalist. You know they did it just to be jerks, and they succeeded.
I find it hard to believe that out of 3.8 million submissions, these three people made unique suggestions – especially sriracha. Regardless, you can vote on your favorite on Lay’s Facebook page until May 4, 2013. If I were the Facebook voting type, which I am not, you’ve probably gathered that I would vote for Cheesy Garlic Bread. That way, Karen could keep a bag in her purse at all times and never have to worry about starving to death again.
Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Finalist: Sriracha Potato Chips
Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Finalist: Cheesy Garlic Bread Potato Chips
Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Finalist: Chicken & Waffles Potato Chips
Taco Bell first unleashed the Doritos Locos Taco upon the world early last year with their Nacho Cheese offering. The Internet could not have been more abuzz about it. A Taco Bell taco with a Doritos shell?! How could this be?
Every food review website on the planet was on this like…a food review website looking for blog hits. And yet, somehow, Junk Food Betty was strangely silent.
Why? I don’t know. I remember wanting to review it. And yet, somehow, it never happened. In fact, I never tried the Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco. I felt like I was doing penance for my neglect by denying myself the experience, which sounds incredibly stupid when I type it out.
Thankfully, the junk food gods gave me a second chance. Much like its Nacho brother, the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco was announced as an upcoming Taco Bell menu choice well before it came out. And, like its cheesy brethren, it received major attention from the Internet. Taco Bell is doing it again? With Cool Ranch Doritos this time? The sales of fainting couches sold on eBay spiked all over again.
Here’s the thing, and I say this looking over my shoulder, waiting for the Internet buzz police to break down my door: to me, Locos Tacos sound pointless and boring. It’s a regular Taco Bell taco with Doritos flavor dust on the shell. It’s a food crossover designed entirely for the hype machine.
That said, I’m a goddamn sucker, and after missing out on Nacho Cheese, I damned well wasn’t going to pass up on the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco. ONE OF US. ONE OF US.
Taco Bell Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco
This taco launched on March 7th, but Taco Bell had a secret: if you asked for it, you could get one a day early, even if it wasn’t on the menu yet.
Did I say secret? What I meant to say was they advertised this fact on Facebook, Twitter, and the front page of their website. I’m surprised someone wearing a Taco Bell polo shirt didn’t knock on my door and yell “YOU CAN GET IT A DAY EARLY” when I answered it. Remind me not to tell Taco Bell about that thing I did that one time that nobody can ever know about.
And yet, some Taco Bell locations didn’t get the memo, and therefore people chomping at the bit for a Cool Ranch taco were met with blank stares, which pissed them off, especially since they’d probably gotten five phone calls from Taco Bell (some during dinner, some in the middle of the night) letting them know that they could get it a day early. Perhaps Taco Bell should have used some of this marketing energy to inform their own restaurants about this promotion.
I have to say, I’m rather fond of the packaging of Locos Tacos. The custom-made sleeve is presumably designed to keep your fingers flavor-dust free while letting you know you’re definitely eating a Doritos taco, but if you’re not worried about flavor dust when you eat Doritos chips, why would you care when you’re eating a Doritos taco? Whatever, it’s still cute.
A regular Taco Bell Crunchy Taco contains seasoned ground beef, shredded lettuce and shredded cheddar cheese. This taco contains the same, except it’s wrapped in a Cool Ranch Doritos shell.
Because Taco Bell’s regular Crunchy Taco is boring as hell, it’s been a really long time since I’ve had one. However, the Cool Ranch Doritos shell seemed a little thinner, like a regular Doritos chip. It also had all the flecks and markings of a Cool Ranch Dorito.
Upon first bite, you get a little bit of that iconic Cool Ranch flavor, but it’s quickly swallowed up by the seasoned ground beef. However, the shell does have a nice crunch, and the flavor dust sticks to your lips, which gives you a little burst of Doritos flavor after you’re almost done chewing.
I was suspicious about Taco Bell’s choice to make Cool Ranch their next Locos Taco flavor. Nacho Cheese seemed like a natural (nachoral HAHAHAHA), but when I think taco, ranch isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind.
Lucky for me, even though I ordered a regular Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco, mine came with a hidden surprise – sour cream! You wouldn’t think one innocent ingredient would turn things around, but I think the Cool Ranch combined with the sour cream made for a much more enjoyable Loco experience.
I’d like to think I got a rogue Taco Bell employee who knew this and was secretly slipping sour cream into each regular Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco. The more likely scenario is that the Taco Bell employee that made my taco didn’t give a shit about what they were doing because they work at Taco Bell. But the tiny optimist in me hopes for the former.
Taco Bell Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco Supreme
Figuring that reviewing the Cool Ranch Loco in a (somewhat) timely manner was my penance, I decided to rock out a Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco Supreme.
Hey look, it gets its own branded sleeve! Still cute.
In case you weren’t aware, in Taco Bell speak, “Supreme” means “regular taco with diced tomatoes and reduced-fat sour cream”.
Why is Taco Bell’s sour cream always reduced-fat? I never understood that. You could order the fattiest, greasiest thing on Taco Bell’s menu, which I don’t even want to look up, and if it contained sour cream, that sour cream would be reduced-fat. Weird.
Ignoring the fact that I spend too much time thinking about Taco Bell’s ingredient choices, the Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco Supreme offered no surprises. A lot of the words I wrote about the Cool Ranch variety apply here – the shell was a bit thinner, it tasted like Doritos, blah blah blah.
If anything, the Nacho Cheese Doritos flavor wound up being more muted than the Cool Ranch version. Maybe it was the gloriousness of the Supremity. Maybe it was pitting nacho cheese flavor dust against real (real?) cheese. For some reason, the Nacho Cheese just didn’t stack up compared to the Cool Ranch. A surprising verdict from my taste buds.
But you know what? I feel better. I feel catharsis. I have now reviewed the Taco Bell Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco. Supreme.
Now that I’ve done my duty as a person on the Internet who talks about food reviewing Taco Bell Doritos Locos Tacos, I can summarize both pretty easily: they are amazing, mind-blowing, and worth every bit of the buzz they’ve received.
Wait, no, I said that wrong. Let me rephrase: these tacos have Doritos shells, which makes them a little less boring than regular Taco Bell Crunchy Tacos and Crunchy Taco Supremes. Hooray? Oh, right, and they have custom sleeves! Double hooray?
I didn’t think to check the prices of these versus their boring un-Dorito-shelled counterparts, but I’m assuming they’re the same. In that case, why not Dorito-ify your taco? It’s a little extra flavor added to an otherwise lackluster menu item. Hooray! Go Loco with the change you found in your sofa cushions.
Taco Bell Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco
Taco Bell Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco Supreme
Hey guys, know what time it is?
It’s Lent, of course! The time of year when every fast food joint ramps up advertising on or creates a new fish product!
Wait…Lent is a holiday that isn’t specifically engineered to sell fast food fish? It’s some sort of religious thing? Man, I had no idea.
I am, of course, joking. But in case you weren’t aware, Lent lasts 40 days, during which time Catholics are not supposed to eat red meat, pork, chicken and probably a bunch of other meats I’m forgetting. I’m oversimplifying here, but if you’d like to know more about Lent, consult your local Internet!
Catholics can, however, eat fish, which is why fast food companies really roll out the red carpet for these water-dwellers. It may not be the only time they serve fish, but it’s when fish really shines on their menus. And if reading the Internet has taught me anything, it’s the best time to order fish, because it moves off the shelves faster, thus ensuring that you get a fresher product.
For the record, I have never, ever eaten fish from a fast food restaurant. Sorry, Long John Silver’s. It just seems like such a bad idea to me. I’m sure it’s probably fine – otherwise the news would be all over people constantly getting sick from it – but I’d probably rather eat 99% of any fast food restaurant’s offerings than fish.
For the record, I’m pretty sure bagged spinach has made more people sick than fast food fish. Just saying.
I decided to set my paranoia about fast food fish aside and try McDonald’s new Fish McBites. McDonald’s already has the Filet-O-Fish, but these McBites are a new and limited time menu item, and they set themselves apart in the world of fast food fish by not being a sandwich.
This is the part where I thought I’d start talking about the food itself. But then I saw the Fish McBites commercial.
We start with a cabin, presumably located deep in the woods. The décor screams “rustic hunter” – a bearskin rug, pelts slung over the couch, and a lamp fashioned out of antlers. There’s a dude sitting on the couch, and two young women walk in.
Every bone in my body says that this is a bad situation. Is the dude on the couch a serial killer with a trophy collection of women’s heads just off-screen? Are they going to start a ménage à trois, which will result in a 100% chance of some disfigured maniac bursting in and slaughtering them all with a chainsaw?
Something awful is about to happen, of that I am sure. However, the nature of this impending doom is far worse than I imagined.
Before I even had a chance to notice what would truly make my skin crawl, one of the women asks the guy on the couch, “Hey, what are those?”
“Mmmm, McDonald’s new Fish McBites.” This response comes not from the man, but from a fish. Hanging on the wall.
And then it happens.
Suddenly, “Ba-ZIIIIING” Ruffles girl doesn’t seem quite so bad.
Get ready, because I am about to break this down.
Remember Big Mouth Billy Bass? You do. I know you do. Well, this is like I stepped into a time machine and fell into the middle of a Spencer Gifts circa 1998. However, instead of just one Billy Bass, there are 15 of them. And they are, for lack of a better term…”rapping”.
“Fishfish McBites, McBites. Fishfish McBites, McBites.
At this point, the guy on the couch is nodding his head to the beat, like there’s absolutely nothing horribly wrong with this situation, proving that he must have something wrong in his head.
The camera pans out to show the whole panel of fish, all wiggling around like Billy Fucking Bass, and we get the full brunt of it – it’s the sound of an F-list Salt-N-Pepa cover band. Of fish.
“Fish McBites are succulent and breaded to perfection/So take a trip to Mickey-D’s and get-get-get-getya soooome”
At this point, an invisible, innocuous voiceover guy tells you the mundane details while all three humans sit around enjoying their Fish McBites. The whole thing only lasts 31 seconds, but I feel like I have lost part of my soul and about ten years off my life. It doesn’t help that I had to replay it a dozen times to make sure I got all the lyrics just right. Is there a word for something that goes beyond masochism?
Another little part of me withered and died away when I saw you could go to McDonald’s website and “create a mix of our catchy tune”. I would normally enjoy a pun like using the word “catchy”, but I hate McDonald’s so much right now that I can’t enjoy it.
While a phat beat plays in the background, you can click on a panel of fish like the one in the commercial, except all these fish say different and stupid things like “dipdipdip” and “TANGY TARTAAAAAR!”. After you’re done recording your abomination, you can share it with your friends on Facebook. And then you will have no more friends.
Okay. I’ve done it. I watched it so you don’t have to. Now let’s actually talk about the food. Hopefully it will help me forget what I just watched. Though I have a feeling I will never forget.
I’m a big fan of poppable foods like popcorn chicken, so McDonald’s already had me there. Burgers and sandwiches have their place in my heart, of course, but I’m a sucker for bite-sized dippables. Perhaps that’s what made me feel more comfortable making this my first fast food fish.
That said, let’s get real, here – we’re dealing with fish at McDonald’s. The jingle from MADtv’s “Lowered Expectations” skit ran through my head pretty much the whole time I was purchasing them. To compare Fish McBites to fish from a nice restaurant would be like comparing a McDouble to a kobe beef steak. It wouldn’t be fair.
To my surprise, I found there was no need to set the bar so low that a midget could clear it in a pole jump competition. The breading was light but crunchy, with no sogginess in sight. It looked seasoned, but the seasoning was very light.
The fish itself was flaky and moist, with a very mild fish flavor. It was so flaky, in fact, that the McBites had a tendency to fall apart when dipped in the tartar sauce. A bit of a pop-and-dip malfunction, but I didn’t mind. While I have just enough decorum left not to do this in public, I had no problem getting my fingers saucy by fishing (augh) the rogue pieces out of the tartar, which was nice and tangy, complimenting the poppers.
I found myself trusting McDonald’s like I trusted the Gorton’s fisherman during my youth. It was impossible not to notice the similarity – like Gorton’s fish sticks, the Fish McBites were flaky, mild, and breaded, although I have to say, McDonald’s beat Gorton’s in the breading department by not being a soggy mess.
I ordered the “snack size” McBites, which turned out to be 13 McBites that wound up feeling like half a meal.
This being my first foray into the world of fast food fish, I can’t compare McDonald’s Fish McBites against any other restaurant’s fish offerings. On the plus side, having a virgin palate gave me an arguably objective opinion of them.
Sure, McDonald’s Fish McBites aren’t haute cuisine. But if you ask me, they’re a tasty treat that I would actually order again. While the fish (Alaskan Pollock, allegedly) might have a flavor too mild for some, they were moist, flaky, crunchy, and very poppable. I surprised even myself when I realized that I would definitely order these again, which had better be soon, since they’re a limited-time offer that will presumably disappear when Lent is over.
McDonald’s Fish McBites
Happy Valentine’s Day! Nothing says “I love you” like frosted toaster pastries.
Conversely, nothing says “I want to fatten you up so you lose all of your self-esteem and never leave me” like frosted toaster pastries.
Okay, so these Limited Edition Pop-Tarts Frosted Red Velvet aren’t technically for Valentine’s Day, but they might as well be. They came out about a month ago. They are, as the box screams, limited edition. And they are red and white.
In fact, why didn’t Kellogg’s market these as Valentine’s Day Pop-Tarts? Why isn’t their little toaster mascot wearing a diaper and holding a bow and arrow on the front of the box? Like many people on Valentine’s Day, I feel disappointed. By Pop-Tarts.
While I’m disappointed by the missed opportunity for a holiday tie-in, I wasn’t disappointed by the appearance of Red Velvet Pop-Tarts. They were looking to emulate a red velvet cupcake, which is the most obvious sentence ever since there’s a picture of a red velvet cupcake on the freakin’ box, but they did do a pretty darn good job of it. Bright white frosting, fun red sprinkles, and a pastry shell that is red as red can be.
While it’s not feasible to make a Pop-Tart to look exactly like a moist cupcake, the back of Red Velvet Pop-Tarts do a great job of looking like a brick, which I consider a plus. If you’ve ever dreamed of making an edible Fire Station, now is your time.
Am I the only person who has never noticed there’s punny little comments on the foil packages of Pop-Tarts, a la Taco Bell sauce packets? One I noticed was “I have a funny filling about this.”
Funny filling, indeed. Yeah, I’m making a terrible joke about exactly what you think I’m making a terrible joke about. Junk Food Betty is the New Yorker of food review sites.
Pop-Tarts describes their Red Velvet offering as “sweet cream-cheese-flavored filling enveloped by a red velvety crust and topped with vanilla icing and sprinkles. Toast it for a delicious treat your taste buds won’t soon forget.”
Unfortunately, I have to disagree with that last statement. My taste buds found these Pop-Tarts regrettably forgettable. I toasted them, which always makes Pop-Tarts better, but I couldn’t find any red velvet flavor in the pastry shell.
I was really looking forward to the cream-cheese-flavored filling, but what I got instead was a standard vanilla filling full of sugary sweetness. There was a tiny hint of cream cheese flavor, but I really had to concentrate to taste it. Mostly, I just tasted sweet pastry and sweet, gooey vanilla filling.
The frosting and sprinkles on top added a nice crunch to contrast the filling, but again, they added no red velvet aspect to these toaster pastries.
I wanted to like Limited Edition Pop-Tarts Frosted Red Velvet. As I mentioned, I was especially looking forward to the cream cheese filling. Cream cheese icing is the best, and I thought that this taste would really elevate these Pop-Tarts to the top of my Pop-Tarts flavor list, which is a real thing that I keep in my mind.
What I got instead was a perfectly generic Pop-Tart. Sweet frosting, sweet filling, pastry crust…Red Velvet Pop-Tarts nailed all of this, but the fact of the matter is that they’re supposed to taste like red velvet, and they do nothing of the sort.
Red Velvet Pop-Tarts do look pretty, and despite the lack of marketing as such, make a cute Valentine’s Day treat. But if you’re looking for some red velvet, do yourself a favor and go buy a real red velvet cupcake. Use these Pop-Tarts to make that edible Fire Station.
Limited Edition Pop-Tarts Frosted Red Velvet