Burger King A.1. Halloween Whopper (aka HA.1.loween Whopper)

Burger King A.1. Halloween Whopper (aka HA.1.loween Whopper) Mummy WrapperBurger King, YOU ARE THE BEST.

This is a sentence I have never said before, and possibly will never say again. Burger King has been soooo boring for years now, minus their Chicken Fries (which I inexplicably like) and their recent Red Velvet Oreo Shake (notable only for the amount of people who said “I thought I was going to die” after drinking it).

But for the next month, Burger King has won my heart. And all it took was some food coloring and a new wrapper.

In case you haven’t been following along, Halloween is my favorite holiday. And I happen to like junk food. So my demand for Halloween-themed food has always been high. For the most part, however, fast food keeps out of the Halloween biz, minus the occasional pumpkin pie milkshake or whatever.

The one exception was Taco Bell’s Black Jack Taco, released way back in 2009. And even then, they pretty much refused to associate it with Halloween, even though it was so obviously a Halloween taco.

Burger King isn’t trying to be sneaky with this one. They’ve embraced the darkness, literally, with their A.1. Halloween Whopper. Which they also call the HA.1.loween Whopper, a much more creative name that they seem to have stepped away from, possibly because nobody could pronounce it.

Look at that packaging. LOOK AT IT. It’s a burger wrapper made to look like mummy wrappings. Such a simple design, but so effective at making my heart explode with joy. You can tell the employees were instructed to wrap the Whoppers just so, so that you could see the mummy’s eyes staring out at you at just the right angle. I want to buy a bunch of them and use them as window decorations instead of store-bought clings.

Burger King A.1. Halloween Whopper (aka HA.1.loween Whopper)

Of course, the real draw here is the burger itself. Look at that burger. LOOK AT IT. I’d seen a million pictures of the HA.1.loween Whopper online, but nothing quite prepares you for having it right in front of you, knowing that you’re going to be putting that evil darkness into your own mouth.

As a fun aside, I asked for apple slices instead of fries with my burger and the person thought I wanted the apple slices on the burger. I hurriedly assured her that I did not. But it does prove that at Burger King, they really will make it your way.

Burger King A.1. Halloween Whopper (aka HA.1.loween Whopper) Bun

They claim that A.1. Sauce is baked right into the bun, but I took several bites of the bun alone and if there was any taste at all, it was merely the ghost of A.1. It tasted a little bitter to me, but I couldn’t tell if that was real or if it was because I was eating black bread.

Speaking of what’s in the bun, here’s a highlight reel from the laundry list of ingredients: FD&C Red #40, FD&C Blue #1, Raisin Juice Concentrate, Worcerstershire Sauce, and FD&C Yellow #6. You know what’s not listed? A.1. Sauce.

Burger King A.1. Halloween Whopper (aka HA.1.loween Whopper) Halves

As for the burger…I mean, do you really care about the rest of the burger? It’s a goddamn Whopper with A.1. Sauce on it. I guess the most interesting part was that they claim to use the Thick and Hearty version, but the sauce on the burger was anything but. In fact, the whole thing was messy as fuck, and it seemed like the Thin and Regular A.1. mixed with the mayo, resulting in watered-down flavor.

But at least as the mixed-up condiments ran down my hands, they looked kind of like blood. This is the kind of Halloweeny thinking you’ve got tap into to get that holiday spirit going while you eat a black burger in a mummy wrapper.

Oh, and the black bun had one last parting gift: I checked my mouth in the mirror right after eating the HA.1.loween Whopper, and my tongue was bright blue! I mean bright blue. Neon.

Actually, it might have one more parting gift – one similar to the Red Velvet Oreo Shake. But after looking at the bun and reading the list of food colorings in it, I’m prepared to not freak out if my Whopper says its final goodbye in a neon-colored way.

Burger King A.1. Halloween Whopper (aka HA.1.loween Whopper)

  • Score: 4 out of 5 neon blue tongues
  • Price: $4.99
  • Size: 1 burger
  • Purchased at: Burger King #17145
  • Nutritional Quirk:In case I wasn’t clear in the last paragraph, my poop might be neon blue. Just saying.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Milk Chocolate M&Ms

Pumpkin Spice Latte Milk Chocolate M&Ms PackageIf you’ve girded your loins for an avalanche of pumpkin spice reviews here on Junk Food Betty, prepare to ungird. I just can’t deal with the sheer amount of pumpkin spice that is out there on store shelves and in fast food restaurants.

That said, between the time I purchased these M&Ms and me actually getting around to writing this, I’ve already bought two more pumpkin-flavored items to review. Fuck me.

If that makes it sound like a lot of time has passed between purchase and review, it hasn’t really. It’s just that I have to buy pumpkin spice-flavored items or I will starve to death. And, admittedly, a little time has passed.

Why? Because these M&Ms are such a snooze-fest to me. The only reason I got them at all is because M&Ms got clever and tacked “Latte” on to the end of the flavor name. “Pumpkin Spice? Fuck ’em. Pumpkin Spice Latte? Well in that case…”

I don’t pay a lot of attention to M&Ms, but am I the only one who didn’t notice they added a second sexy female M&M? When did that happen? Last I knew, there was only one female M&M, Green, and she always creeped me out.

I just did some research, and apparently she was added in 2012. And is called Ms. Brown. And is voiced by Vanessa Williams. I’d like to thank my DVR for allowing me to skip over commercials and never notice she existed, until now. Damn you, Pumpkin Spice Latte M&Ms! Now I’m aware that there’s more than one creepy lady M&M out there.

Ms. Brown does look appropriately comfy in her scarf, though. And don’t think I missed that hipster-barista pumpkin design in the latte foam, either. I will give M&Ms props for that little touch.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Milk Chocolate M&Ms

As you can see, the candies are appropriately orange, dark brown and cream colored. As you can also see, I had a little fun. This is obviously an iced latte because there’s a straw.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Milk Chocolate M&Ms Inside

The candies are larger and fatter than regular milk chocolate M&Ms. They’re closer in shape and size to Peanut Butter M&Ms, I think.

I never tried Pumpkin Spice M&Ms, but I can tell you one thing – Pumpkin Spice Latte M&Ms nailed it. At first, all I got was chocolate, but then that familiar taste of pumpkin spice invaded. It didn’t come on too strong though, just a light cinnamon and pumpkin flavor that really went great with the chocolate.

Just when I thought I’d gotten all I was going to get out of it, the aftertaste left me with the distinct impression of a latte. Like a real latte, it was heavy on the cream and sugar and light on the coffee, but that taste was definitely there.

While I spent the first part of this review shitting all over pumpkin spice products, I now have to come to you and say that Pumpkin Spice Latte is the best M&Ms flavor I’ve had in a long time, and possibly my favorite holiday M&M flavor of all time. Whaaaat? I know it’s crazy, but the pumpkin spice was subtle and warm instead of pungent and cloying, it worked great with the milk chocolate, and they even managed to hit that latte flavor. It was a little faint, but it was a tall order for M&Ms and they completely pulled it off.

Now I want M&Ms to come out with a whole line of coffee-flavored candies. I also have a stomachache due to eating more M&Ms than I should have.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Milk Chocolate M&Ms

  • Score: 4.5 out of 5 creepy female M&Ms
  • Price: $3.19
  • Size: 9.9 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Target
  • Nutritional Quirk: No surprises (like M&Ms using actual pumpkin) here, just the dark magic of natural and artificial flavoring.

Einhorn’s Epic Cookies Cadiz Birthday Cake, Crisped Rice & Sprinkles

Einhorn's Epic Cookies Cadiz Birthday Cake, Crisped Rice & Sprinkles PackageI feel like I should warn you right off the bat that this is less of a review of a cookie and more a review of a brand. It’s about the zeitgiest of the product. Sure, I’ll let you know how it tastes, but that’s not really the point here.

What I’m saying is that we’re about to go on an adventure.

There’s no reason to pretend you’re not going to immediately notice the most awesome thing about the front of this cookie package – Cadiz. Cadiz is an anthropomorphized unicorn wearing a letter jacket with no sleeves and no shirt underneath. He has a dangling earring and a smug expression on his face as he twirls his long, luxurious mane.

In short, Cadiz is one of the awesomest things I have ever seen.

I’d never in my life heard of Einhorn’s Epic Cookies before I found this little gem in my Karepax box. And there’s a comic inside? About a unicorn?? eeeeeee! And then I turned the package over…

Einhorn's Epic Cookies Cadiz Birthday Cake, Crisped Rice & Sprinkles Package Back

omg omg omg. There’s more of them. At this point, I ran to the Internet to find Einhorn’s website, and when I got there, I found a treasure trove beyond compare.

The unicorns as a whole are called the R.E.F., or Royal Einhorn Force. Are you getting excited yet? If not, you should be, because on their website there’s a full bio for every unicorn.

Which we’ll get to in a second, but first, I’d like to mention that they live in Eintropolis. This includes such destinations as Einhorn Palace: “Legend has it that the Most Radical Pony chose this site for its natural beauty and strategic importance centuries ago.”

The Most Radical Pony, you guys.

There’s also the Federal Oat Reserve, and the Emergency Room Hip-Hop Club, where “not only will they diagnose your illest moves, they’ll write you a prescription for the sickest beats in the galaxy courtesy of resident spin-master D.J. BABY NOISES!”

I’m officially dying. I can’t go on.

But I have to, because I still have to tell you about the unicorns themselves.

Houston, image credit Einhorn's Epic Cookies

This is Houston, and in case you couldn’t tell from his shades, his fist-smashing and his grim visage, he’s the leader of the R.E.F. The bios on these unicorns are extensive, so I’ll just give you the highlights:

“In his teens he formed the still feared Dust Devils hyper-bike gang, a band of like-minded rebels dedicated to helping the underprivileged folk of the fringe territories.”

Favorite Snack: Sarsaparilla Sodey and Cactus Candy

Finishing Move: All of HIS moves are finishing moves

In conclusion, Houston is a total badass leader who rides a hyper-bike but also loves “Sodey”. This is the unicorn that gets all the lady unicorns.

Broxburn, image credit Einhorn's Epic Cookies

“Sporting huge muscles and an even bigger heart, Broxburn does not know the meaning of the word defeat (and not just because the orphanage dictionary was missing letters C through J).”

Hair Color / Style: Orange Mullet

Catchphrase: ‘Bro

Broxburn is obviously the dumb but loveable heavy-lifter of the group. If this were a game of D&D, he’d be a troll. It’s so nice to see R.E.F. isn’t exactly shattering stereotypes.

Romsey, image credit Einhorn's Epic Cookies

“As the youngest member of the Royal Einhorn Force, Romsey is a true innovator when it comes to style and swagger. Although hot-headed and impulsive, this show pony can actually back up his trash talking with his lightning fast hooves; equally impressive in a fight or on the dance floor.”

Group Affiliation: Royal Einhorn Force, Boogie Knightz Breaking Crew

Catchphrase: “Nerds”

Romsey is the AC Slater of R.E.F. He hates nerds and, actually, I could imagine AC Slater wearing that outfit. Unfortunately for Romsey, Saved by the Bell was 25 years ago. But I’m sure the Boogie Knightz Breaking Crew kicks ass.

Cadiz, image credit Einhorn's Epic Cookies

“Born into a life of wealth and privilege, Cadiz is a Prince with royal blood in his veins and an exceptionally acerbic wit. Attending the finest schools in the galaxy afforded him unprecedented access to cutting edge technologies; Cadiz’s passion for inventing grew as fast as his reputation for excess.”

Accessory: Robot Butler Gerard Van Nest

Fun Fact: Cadiz’s mane is insured for several million oats by the reputable Pony Brothers Insurance Stable

Cadiz is the rich fancypants of the group who always adjusts his mane after a fight. His bio actually makes him sound like kind of a shithead. He’s the wealthy unicorn that they keep around for funding purposes.

My god, it’s like the Royal Einhorn Force was made for Saturday morning cartoons. If only they had a theme song. Oh wait – THEY DO. Go anywhere on their site and click on the little “play” button on the left. I promise you won’t be disappointed, but I also promise that you’ll hate me for getting it stuck in your head for the rest of your life.

While they don’t have a cartoon – YET – they do have comics that come with each cookie! I got Issue #4 of Quest for the Einhorn, which is titled Rumble in the Brox. You can, and should, read it in its full glory here.

Einhorn's Epic Cookies Quest for the Einhorn Comic Issue #4

In it, Broxburn fights Bullhorn Barnes, an awesome-looking bull with a gnarly scar over his face and one broken horn. Highlights include Broxburn getting uppercutted onto a table of apples, Bullhorn getting elbowed into a table of French bread, Broxburn getting tossed into a display of startled-looking fish, and finally one of the vendors asking why Broxburn hates fish so much. Love it.

Bullhorn’s about to bitch out on the fight just because some guy named Farragut (the main bad guy?) told him to come home, but Brox holds him back, explaining how each of his unibros would have already defeated Barnes (gotta catch ’em all, kids!) but how “when all else fails, I hold the line!

Bullhorn then takes an innocent young newspony with an inexplicable cockney accent and tosses him in the air, for some reason, but Brox catches him and says, “Always remember, bro, be strong, be good.” Then there’s a little joke about how the pony shouldn’t copy Broxburns actions exactly, and we’re done.

Wait…we’re done? What? I mean, I know comics have long, drawn-out storylines, but all that got accomplished here was some poor horses (not unicorns, for some reason) had their livelihoods destroyed and one pony learned to be strong and good (bro). The theme song had more plot than that.

I forgive Einhorn, though, because Bullhorn Barnes would make an awesome action figure and the market would be a great playset to destroy.

Did I mention that all of this, all of it, is designed around some cookies?

Each ‘corn has its own flavor: Houston gets Chocolate Chip & Potato Chip, Romsey gets Peanut Butter, Bacon & Chocolate Chip, Broxburn gets Oatmeal Chocolate Chip & Maple, and Cadiz, as you might have figured out from the title, gets Birthday Cake, Crisped Rice & Sprinkles.

I feel like all of these have their own interesting qualities, but I’d guess Broxburn has the tastiest cookie. You just had to go and show off with the bacon, didn’t you, Romsey? And putting potato chips in a cookie is a bold move, Houston. Bold like your hyper-bike.

Which is not to say I drew the short stick with Cadiz. I love that the flavor is specifically birthday cake, which obviously tastes different than regular cake. It’s also the most colorful of all the Epic Cookies, with its sprinkles that remind me of Funfetti, which will always fill me with joy. Plus, there’s crisped rice, which means you got off-brand Rice Krispies in my cookie!

Einhorn's Epic Cookies Cadiz Birthday Cake, Crisped Rice & Sprinkles Cookie

Einhorn’s Epic Cookies are quite large – about the diameter of a softball, I’d say. Sort of like Grandma’s cookies before Grandma got cranky and shrunk them by about 50%. What’s also nice is that inside the package, both the cookie and the comic are wrapped individually, so you don’t have crumbs all over your comic, nor do you feel weird about eating a cookie that’s been touching a comic, if that’s something you’re inclined to feel weird about.

The texture of the cookie is very crunchy and crumbly, and my immediate impression of the flavor was “bizarre”. I think what I tasted first was the crisped rice, which was a flavor very out of place in the cookie world. Slowly, the taste of sweet cake emerged, but it was very artificial-tasting. The sprinkles were there just for decoration, and they did indeed make the cookie look festive.

It was hard to tell if the rice added to the crunchiness or just added to the off flavor, but it definitely was not a welcome addition. There was a buttery flavor too, but it just clashed with the fake cake taste. Honestly, this cookie was pretty terrible. Sorry, Cadiz!

But, like I said from the start, I was much more exciting to write about the world of the Royal Einhorn Force than to eat a cookie. So, while the cookie sucked, I feel like Einhorn’s Epic Cookies gave me much more happiness than any sweet treat could provide.


Einhorn’s Epic Cookies Cadiz Birthday Cake, Crisped Rice & Sprinkles

  • Score: 4.5 out of 5 ROYAL EINHORN F- oh god I am never going to get the theme song out of my head
  • Price: Indeterminate (part of a Karepax box)
  • Size: 1 cookie
  • Purchased at: I was going to say you could purchase your own Epic Cookies here, but I just noticed their store has been under construction for over a year. Did I just eat THE LAST EINHORN EPIC COOKIE?! Also how old was the cookie I just ate? That could explain some things…
  • Nutritional Quirk: …I just checked and I can’t find an expiration date on my cookie. So I think I just ate rancid butter cookie? Hurgh.

Jack in the Box Spicy Nacho Chicken Sandwich Munchie Meal

Jack in the Box Spicy Nacho Chicken Sandwich Munchie MealI get excited every time Jack in the Box comes out with a new Munchie Meal. I feel like Jack uses the Munchie Meal line to let their imaginations run wild and be completely unapologetic about the wacky foods they come up with. “Mozzarella sticks on a chicken sandwich? Yes. Jalapeño poppers on a burger? Yes. Chicken and hash browns on a croissant? HOW CAN WE NOT?”

If this all sounds like the ramblings of a stoner, well, Jack in the Box has done nothing to discourage this idea. Munchie Meals used to be advertised as available between 9pm and 5am, but they’ve since made it clear that if you have an office job, you can still get your munchies fix. It will just cost you $2 more, for some reason.

In another move away from weed culture, Jack has moved away from his “puppet hanging out with Weedlord Cheeto on the couch” commercials and has gone in a different, more mature direction.

It’s all narrated by the classic old man sitting in the corner of a dark, dingy pool hall, wearing a bowler hat because they’re always wearing a bowler hat. Jack enters looking like a bad update of the Fonz, but I guess he’s supposed to look really cool. He walks in, sinks an entire 8-ball rack in one shot, shoves a Spicy Nacho Chicken Sandwich in a surprised man’s face, and walks out.

“It was just an ordinary night until he showed up, with a hungry look in his eyes. And then…he made…the shot. And when jaws dropped, he had something for that too.” Then the old man chuckles because he is wise.

I’m not entirely sure what point the commercial is making. Or who Jack is playing against, since he just sinks the balls and walks right back out in the span of 21 seconds. Also, it’s pretty rude to just shove a sandwich into someone’s maw, but on the other hand it’s rude to walk in, take up a table and then leave without paying.

I guess I’d be surprised too, but in more of a “what the fuck just happened?” way than a jaw-dropping awed kind of way.

As always, my Munchie meal came with two tacos, halfsies (half regular, half curly fries), the sandwich and a drink. Since I’m easily susceptible to signage, I decided to order a Loco Lime Fruit Cooler as my drink, since I’d never had one before and there was an advertisement for it hanging right there.

However, the lady on the other end of the talky box thought “Loco Lime” translated to “iced mocha”. As soon as the words “Loco Lime” had left my lips, I regretted the silly phrase, and since I refused to say it twice, I just went with the coffee drink.

Let this be a lesson to fast food marketing teams – those of us who are easily embarrassed will be put off by silly-sounding menu items we have to say out loud. I’m looking at you, Taco Bell, with your Doubledillas and your Quesaritos.

Jack in the Box Spicy Nacho Chicken Sandwich

The Spicy Nacho Chicken Sandwich is unassuming on the outside, unlike the immediate mess that the Exploding Cheesy Chicken was. It’s also on the small side for a chicken sandwich, but that’s to be expected – after all, you’re also dealing with two tacos and halfsies. I’ve always found the “Munchie” in Munchie Meal to be a bit misleading, as I am always stuffed after eating one.

Jack in the Box describes the sandwich as “Spicy crispy chicken topped with onion rings all covered in nacho cheese sauce with jalapeños on toasted sourdough bread.” A pretty no-frills deconstruction.

Jack in the Box Spicy Nacho Chicken Sandwich Inside

After detaching the top bun, we get to the meat of the matter. Two onion rings that eerily compliment the circumference of the bun, three jalapeños, one spicy chicken…filet thing, and, of course, the nacho cheese sauce.

I was impressed with the methodology involved in constructing a Spicy Nacho Chicken – it appeared that an onion ring has been employed to keep the nacho cheese sauce and the jalapeños from running amok. Since the onion ring is almost as big as the bun, this didn’t limit these ingredients to just a tiny spot in the middle.

Jack in the Box Spicy Nacho Chicken Sandwich Halves

I always like when Jack puts something on sourdough, so I liked that part right off the bat. As for the chicken, it was a little thin, but fairly moist, and the breading actually had a nice little kick. I assume it’s the exact same chicken they use on the regular Jack’s Spicy Chicken. It was also nice that the breading stayed crispy, even under a layer of cheese sauce.

Amazingly, so did the onion rings. It’s nice to see onion rings on a sandwich actually be crispy. (I’m looking at you and your Western Bacon Cheeseburger, Carl’s Jr.) I feel like the breading added more taste and texture than the onion inside, which was largely flavorless and served mostly to just piss me off when it all wanted to come out in one long string, like onion rings do every damn time.

The nacho cheese sauce was your typical hyper-processed sauce, which I know is a big turnoff for some people. To me, however, it served as the perfect condiment, keeping everything moist and adding creamy texture and cheesy (if artificial) flavor.

Of course, the perfect compliment to nacho cheese is jalapeños! I only got three, but one of them was so massive it covered half the sandwich, ensuring that I got a hit of heat in every bite. They were your typical pickled jalapeños, and while those can sometimes lack a bite, these definitely packed a spicy punch that was supported by the chicken breading.

The Spicy Nacho Chicken Sandwich isn’t the craziest Munchie Meal Jack in the Box has ever dreamed up, but I think it’s a solid sandwich. The chicken was moist, crispy and spicy, the jalapeños were spicy, the cheese kept everything lubricated, and the crispy onion rings kept the whole thing from becoming a gigantic mess. None of these ingredients are new, but put together, they make for a solid late-night JitB run.

[Disclaimer: I paid for my Munchie Meal using a Jack Ca$h card provided to me by Jack in the Box. This in no way colors the objectivity of my review.]

Jack in the Box Spicy Nacho Chicken Sandwich Munchie Meal

  • Score: 3.5 out of 5 Fonz’d-out Jacks
  • Price: Free (normally $8)
  • Size: 1 Munchie Meal
  • Purchased at: Jack in the Box #106
  • Nutritional Quirk: Eating a whole Munchie Meal is really bad for you, if you look at the nutritional info. Since this isn’t really a surprise, I’ll just use this space to reiterate that I really hate those damn onion strings.

Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Finalists 2015: New York Reuben, Southern Biscuits and Gravy, Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries, Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 BagsSo, apparently Lay’s is doing their Do Us a Flavor contest every year now, which is perfectly fine by me, minus the fact that I have to keep typing “Do Us a Flavor” which makes me want to murder the entire Frito-Lay marketing division. But as long as the weird flavors keep coming, I’ll keep buying them!

Are you curious about these four new 2015 finalists, but don’t want to spend $10+ and take up an entire shelf of your cupboard? Well, that’s why I’m here to break them down for you in one giant post. And poke a little fun at the people behind the flavors in the process, because that’s just how I roll.

New York Reuben

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 New York Reuben Picture

I gotta hand it to Lay’s, the photos of the actual food on the bags look goddamn delicious; so much so that I wanted to showcase each of them more closely. They almost look too delicious, in that, after staring at the bag, I wanted to eat the actual food and not just a chip pretending to be the food.

There was a method to the madness that was tasting all these flavors, but I can’t remember what it was. I ate so many potato chips. Regardless, I started with New York Reuben, an iconic sandwich served in delis. And if you live in New York, one particular deli. (Hint: it’s the one where Meg Ryan faked an orgasm.)

Let’s look at the man behind the flavor first:

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 New York Reuben Creator

Meet Jeff Solensky of DuBois, PA. Before you start ranting about how Jeff isn’t even from New York, please note that he grew up in Long Island. He buries this lead by starting off telling you he works in a restaurant. I feel like Jeff is being real defensive, here. “Hey, I work in a restaurant and I’m from New York, so I know what corned beef should taste like, motherfuckers.”

I shouldn’t put words in Jeff’s mouth, though. He looks like a very nice man.

A traditional reuben sandwich consists of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing on rye bread. Knowing this, I was expecting a tangy chip with cheese and maybe a faint, unsettling beef flavor.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 New York Reuben Chips

I got none of that. Well, that’s not entirely true. What I did get was an overabundance of rye. Rye! Out of all the core aspects of a reuben, it wasn’t the bread that I was expecting to dominate the flavor of the chip.

If I closed my eyes and imagined real hard, there was a teensy bit of twang that could resemble Russian dressing, or maybe an off-base version of kraut. But in the end, it’s all rye all the time. You know those addictive Gardetto’s Roasted Garlic Rye Chips? It was like eating a flimsy version of those, except with no garlic flavor at all. So I guess the best thing I can say about Lay’s New York Reuben is that they sure did nail rye bread, and that makes for just as boring of a chip as you’d imagine. You could say this flavor went a-rye.

Southern Biscuits and Gravy

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 Southern Biscuits and Gravy Picture

From the Northeast we now travel to the South! In case you didn’t quite catch on, this year’s DUaF has a regional flair to it. I had mixed feelings before opening this one – on the one hand, I sure do love a good plate of biscuits and gravy. On the other hand – sausage chips.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 Southern Biscuits and Gravy Creator

This flavor comes to us via Hailey Green of Noblesville, IN. Again, you might be wondering what the hell somebody from Indiana is doing talking about southern cooking, but, like Jeff, she has a good reason: her grandparents are from Tennessee, and her Nonnie makes some kickass biscuits and gravy. You know this shit is serious because she calls her grandma “Nonnie”.

Wait, I just looked it up and apparently “Nonnie” is Italian for “grandmother”. I thought it was some sort of Southern term of endearment. What the hell, Hailey?

After the disappointment of New York Reuben, I had cautious optimism about Southern Biscuits and Gravy. As I mentioned, I really like this food, so I hoped it would go well and not horribly wrong.

Upon opening the bag, my nostrils were filled with the smell of promise. These chips smelled exactly like country gravy. My mouth started watering.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 Southern Biscuits and Gravy Chips

And I gotta say, the taste did not disappoint. If it seems gross to describe the flavor of a potato chip as creamy, keep in mind that sour cream and onion is one of the most popular potato chip flavors out there.

Which is interesting, because while Southern Biscuits and Gravy totally tasted like country gravy while I was chewing, there was a little sour cream and onion taste afterward.

Admittedly, there wasn’t much of a biscuit flavor happening, but the creamy gravy flavor was definitely there, complete with a nice black pepper kick (you can see little black flecks on the chips). There’s even a hint of sausage, but not disturbingly so.

Lay’s often uses dark magic to make their chips taste like other foods, and this is one of those times. The little sour cream and onion at the end was not off-putting, nor was the hint of sausage. These chips nailed the Southern Biscuits and Gravy flavor without hitting that Uncanny Valley flavor that can sometimes happen with weird-flavored chips. I will definitely be finishing these.

Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries Picture

First off, I had no idea that truffle fries were a thing before I saw these Lay’s chips, and I grew up on the west coast. Not that that makes me an expert on all things culinary from that region, but I feel like I should at least know that these things exist. I guess I’m just not highfalutin enough.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries Creator

Luckily, Angie Fu of Irvine, CA knows all about them. Angie has a compulsion disorder to immediately order truffle fries any time she sees them on a menu, so it makes sense that she would submit this idea to Lay’s. “Please enable my crippling addiction to truffle fries by making them available in my pantry at all times,” she pleads, desperately wringing her hands.

In case you are in the dark as I was, truffle fries are french fries tossed with truffle oil and often topped with parmesan cheese, black pepper and parsley. Ingredients may vary, but this seems to be the most popular application.

And, in case you don’t know what truffle oil tastes like, which I also have never experienced, it apparently has a very earthy taste and aroma, akin to mushrooms. Which, believe it or not, I have tasted. So at least there’s that.

The first whiff was promising: cheesy, a little musky, and overall mouth-watering. Every year, Lay’s seems to follow the formula of two regular chips, one Wavy and one Kettle Cooked, and they chose Wavy for West Coast Truffle Fries, which I believe was a good choice, because truffle fries tend to be steak-cut and the thicker texture of Wavy Lay’s sort of emulates that.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries Chips

And that first smell was spot-on. The parmesan flavor was the most prominent, making for a great flavor that wasn’t just generically “cheesy” but actually tasted of parmesan.

As I chewed, the truffle came in. With a strong aromatic like that, it could easily overwhelm all the other flavors, but it came in subtle, adding that trademark earthiness of truffles. I could even taste (and see) the little flecks of parsley playing backup.

And the ingredients list reads just as exotic as the chips’ namesake: romano and parmesan cheeses, duck fat, and actual black truffle. If these chips taste authentic, that’s because they used authentic ingredients, which is probably why I enjoyed the hell out of this flavor.

I hope you’ve stocked your pantry, Angie.

Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro Picture

Next, we head to…Greektown, wherever that is.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro Creator

Oh, according to James Wagner of Wichita Falls, TX, it’s in Wichita Falls, TX. Or, more accurately, “there’s a great little Greek place in town”, which makes it qualify for Greektown.

You know, there’s more than one place near where I live that offer some pretty awesome gyros. Does that mean I also live in Greektown? Have you ever had a good gyro, and if so, does that mean you also live in Greektown? Perhaps with this flavor, Lay’s is sending us a message: “We’re all Greektown, America! We don’t need to fight over regional foods!”

Which kind of goes against the previous three flavors, but hey.

Just because We Are All Greektown doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve tried a gyro from your local Mediterranean joint, so I will help you out. A gyro is a magical thing, consisting of spiced lamb meat cooked on a giant vertical spit, onions, tzatziki sauce, onions and tomatoes. (And sometimes lettuce.) It’s all wrapped in a warm pita, and dammit just talking about it makes me want one right now.

Remember how I talked about the Uncanny Valley of junk food with Southern Biscuits and Gravy? Well, Lay’s used their dark magic again, and managed to make Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro taste exactly like everything I just described above. This time, however, they went too far, and they fell straight into the Valley.

When I first opened the bag, my nose was confused. Nothing really stood out, it was just a murky mess of odor that smelled like nothing I could accurately describe. This left me suspicious.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro Chips

It also left me unprepared for what was to come when I put the first chip in my mouth. Kettle Cooked Lay’s seem to be the best at gripping flavor dust, and each Greektown Gyro chip was loaded with it. Unlike the murky smell, the flavor was very distinct.

First came the tzatziki sauce, that bright flavor of Greek yogurt, cucumber and dill. And then, tomatoes. As I delved further into the bag, onion joined the party, and last but certainly not least, the distinct flavor of gyro meat.

It was all there. A gyro in a chip. An amazing accomplishment, but unfortunately, also an unsettling one. I could only eat a few chips at a time before I had to put them away, my mouth confused, pleased, disturbed. Then I’d go back to them and get the same feeling.

So if you’ve been seriously hankering for all the wonderful elements of a gyro packed into one tiny chip, Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro is your thing. Just be ready for a serious flavor shock to your mouth.

Phew! Lotta words, right guys? But we got through all four of this year’s Do Us a Flavor finalists. What did we learn? First off, I will say that I’m thankful there were no fruit- or coffee-flavored entries this year. I also learned that New York Reuben skipped pretty much everything that makes a reuben a reuben and went straight to the rye bread, for some reason.

I learned that the junk food Uncanny Valley is a fine line, and Southern Biscuits and Gravy skirted that line to delicious success, while Kettle Cooked Greektown Gryo crossed that line, tasting too much like a gyro for my mouth to handle.

And finally, Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries taught me that I might actually want to try truffle fries in the future. This was easily the most snackable flavor out of the four, and used authentic ingredients to achieve that. I can see Truffle Fries winning this thing, and I’d gladly pick up another bag if it does (or before that, since I’m currently running on crumbs).

Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Finalists 2015

  • Score (New York Reuben): 1 out of 5 wry rye jokes
  • Score (Southern Biscuits and Gravy): 4 out of 5 Southern Nonnies
  • Score (Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries): 4.5 out of 5 truffle compulsion disorders
  • Score (Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro): 3 out of 5 Uncanny Valley chips
  • Price: $2.48 (each)
  • Size: 8 oz. bag (each)
  • Purchased at: walmart.com
  • Nutritional Quirk: While most of the ingredients lists said things like [name of flavor] seasoning, Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries included duck fat and black truffle. So fancy!

Cheez-It Crackers Extra Toasty

Cheez-It Crackers Extra Toasty BoxIf you’re reading this, you’re probably in one of two camps right now: you’re either saying to yourself, “Fuck yeah, Extra Toasty Cheez-Its! Finally, my dreams have come true!”

Or you’re saying, “What the fuck are Extra Toasty Cheez-Its?”

I was in the latter camp until I read this article. Apparently, there’s a whole group of people out there who absolutely shit themselves whenever they find a slightly over-baked Cheez-It in their box of regular Cheez-Its.

And because we live in the age of the Internet, these people have been, I assume, emailing, signing online petitions, and generally hassling the crap out of Sunshine to turn these into their own flavor.

Well, congratulations weirdos, you win! Before now, I personally have given zero thought to these particular Cheez-Its. I knew they existed, but not consciously. I ate my Cheez-Its, one would occasionally have a brown edge, I would eat it also and move on with my life, completely unaware that I had just consumed someone’s wet dream.

Ew. Sorry about that.

Cheez-It Crackers Extra Toasty Box Back

Cheez-It loves to anthropomorphize all of their flavors, and it looks like Extra Toasty is doing a PSA about the dangers of both sunbathing and not wearing sunscreen. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, people. Take care of it!

Cheez-It Crackers Extra Toasty

The smell upon opening the box was…actually, there’s no flowery way to put it. They smelled like burned cheese crackers. I have no other way to describe them. And they looked appropriately toasty – every cracker had that brown tinge to it.

Cheez-It Crackers Extra Toasty Comparison

Here’s a comparison with a regular Cheez-It, because I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have a box of Cheez-Its in my house. It’s just kind of how we operate. Here you can see the toastiness up-close.

As for the taste, the smell kind of says it all. They taste like Cheez-Its that were left in the oven, or on the conveyor belt, or however they make Cheez-Its, for too long. It’s a cheesy cracker with a burnt aftertaste.

It’s not so burnt that it’s straight-up gross, but the flavor is definitely there. Just a hint of overdone. Just a little too long in the sun.

Which is the whole selling point of Extra Toasty Cheez-Its, and also happens to be my main problem. I prefer my cheesy, salty squares with sunscreen, thank you. (Note to Sunshine: please don’t make coconut-flavored Cheez-Its.) I mean, these must be appealing to quite a few people, as it was, apparently, their #1 requested flavor. But to me, they just tasted like a box of mistakes. Not so much that I didn’t finish the box, but I’ll stick with my Originals. I guess I’m just a square.

Cheez-It Crackers Extra Toasty

  • Score: 2.5 out of 5 peeling sunburns
  • Price: $2.79
  • Size: 12.4 oz. box
  • Purchased at: Fry’s Foods
  • Nutritional Quirk: There’s a lack of quirks here. I was hoping for a “Gotcha!” journalism moment, but Extra Toasty’s nutritional information is completely identical to Original Cheez-Its.

News: Lay’s Do Us a Flavor 2015 Finalists Are Here!

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalists 2015So I guess we’re doing this every year now, and that’s perfectly fine by me. Lay’s has announced 2015’s Do Us a Flavor finalists, and I am excited. Legit excited. This is my life, folks. Giddy about chips.

As before, we have four finalists to choose from. You can vote for your favorite flavor starting July 27th on their website.

Here are the four flavors. I currently don’t have any more information than their names, but as soon as I can get my hands on them, I will surely be sharing my opinions with you.

Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro

Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries

Southern Biscuits and Gravy

New York Reuben

Looks like we’re taking a little cross-country tour this year. But here’s what I’m most excited about – no fruits! No crazy coffee flavors! Just straight-up savory weirdness.

I am so ready.

Image courtesy Lay’s

Happy 6th Birthday, Junk Food Betty!

Birthday Cake by Theresa Thompson, on FlickrToday is Junk Food Betty’s 6th birthday! I never thought I’d make it this far, but then again, I think that every year.

Once again, I want to thank loyal readers, newcomers, browsers, and those who leave comments for reading all my silly words (but probably just looking at the pictures).

Here’s to another year of crazy food! Cheers!

Ben & Jerry’s Save Our Swirled Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's Save Our Swirled Ice Cream CartonBen & Jerry’s loves them some punny names, and Save Our Swirled is no exception. “Oh, cute, it’s like Save Our World!” You might think when you first see the name of the ice cream.

“Oh, cute, is says SOS on the carton lip!” You continue. “Oh cute, there’s the little Ben & Jerry’s cow, wearing a sweater, standing…on a disappearing glacier in the middle of the ocean…”

At this point you read the sign the cow is holding up, which says, “If it’s melted it’s ruined!” and then you start bawling your eyes out in the frozen treats section of Target, thinking of all the polar bears and penguins and how our nation’s coastline will be underwater probably in your lifetime.

While all this is happening, other Target patrons are staring at you, probably thinking that you’re holding a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and sobbing because you’re thinking about how your boyfriend just broke up with you and you’re about to spend another night alone with the only two reliable men in your life and a Netflix queue of romantic comedies. Those people are totally sexist. Ignore them. They just don’t get it.

Drying your eyes and adding the ice cream to your cart, because depressing or not, it is a new Ben & Jerry’s flavor, you console yourself with the fact that a portion of the profits must be going towards something working to combat climate change, right?

Well…no. Not exactly. The carton urges you to go to this site to sign a petition in regards to working towards clean energy. And, to be fair, there’s a lot of information about climate change and how Ben & Jerry’s works towards being a green company.

But I feel like all those tears in the frozen food aisle would have felt more justified if I thought I was actively doing something by purchasing this flavor.

Much like the current state of our planet’s climate, Save Our Swirled sounds like a bit of a mess. The carton describes the flavor as “Raspberry Ice Cream with Marshmallow & Raspberry Swirls & Dark & White Fudge Ice Cream Cones”. Holy ampersands, Batman! I’m pretty sure my elementary school English teacher would ding me for a run-on sentence on that one. And the fact that it’s not a sentence.

Semantics aside, there are so many flavors going on here that my brain is confused, which makes me think my taste buds are going to be, also. I’m also not entirely sure what “dark & white fudge ice cream cones” means. Pieces of cone dipped in chocolate? I guess I’m going to have to dive in to find out.

Ben & Jerry's Save Our Swirled Ice Cream Open

It looks so innocent on the surface, but there is much hiding underneath. I’m going to have to break this down into parts.

Ben & Jerry's Save Our Swirled Ice Cream Fudge Cones

To my surprise, the “cone” part of this didn’t involve ice cream cones at all, but instead referred to the shape of these little candies that are half dark fudge and half white. I’m sure you can understand my confusion, because we are talking about ice cream, so my brain went to waffle cones. Regardless, the little candies were tasty, and the sweetness of the white fudge nicely complimented the slight bitterness of the dark fudge.

Ben & Jerry's Save Our Swirled Ice Cream

The marshmallow swirl is all of the white stuff that you can see in the picture. I found it to be weak in both flavor and texture – all it added was a little sweetness, and it was surprisingly thin to the point of being runny, which is not at all what I would expect from something billed as “marshmallow”.

The raspberry swirl was a tasty…goo-like substance that worked well with the dark chocolate. It was rich and easily distinguishable as raspberry. I really liked the swirl, but on top of already-raspberry ice cream, it started to taste like raspberry overload.

The marshmallow swirl would have done well to step in here and break things up, but apparently it was too busy over there not tasting or acting like marshmallow at all, so it was of no help.

While I enjoyed most of Save Our Swirled’s ingredients on their own, the whole did not add up to the sum of its parts. The raspberry-on-raspberry action was too much and the marshmallow swirl was entirely underwhelming. On the plus side, the dark/white fudge “cones” added a nice change of texture and worked well with the sweetness of the other ingredients.

On the whole, I’d call Save Our Swirled a rare misstep by Ben & Jerry’s. They usually manage to take a mishmash of ingredients and make them work together, but there were some things that just didn’t work here. SOS isn’t so bad that I won’t finish the pint, but I won’t be purchasing it again, especially with all the other B&J’s more delicious options out there. Sorry, world.

Ben & Jerry’s Save Our Swirled Ice Cream

  • Score: 2 out of 5 sob-inducing drowning cows
  • Price: $3.00 (on sale; regular price $3.99)
  • Size: 1 pint
  • Purchased at: Target
  • Nutritional Quirk: Nothing remotely marshmallow-sounding in the ingredients, so I’m going to blame “liquid sugar” as the marshmallow culprit.

Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Cheeseburger Crackers

Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Cheeseburger Crackers PackageWho doesn’t love a good cheeseburger? Well, I guess the answer to that would be vegetarians. But still. With it being July 4th, and on a Saturday no less, you can bet that grills all over the country are going to get fired up and many cows shall be sacrificed to the barbecue gods.

Which means, of course, that it’s the perfect time to break out…Goldfish crackers?

Yes, that’s right, Pepperidge Farms has a new flavor of Goldfish, and it’s Cheeseburger. Showing my age here, but I seem to remember a time when Goldfish were just cheese. Maybe pretzel? Now they have an actual section in the cracker aisle, complete with sweet flavors and foil-lined FLAVOR BLASTED varieties.

As you can see by the picnic-themed package, while the flavor is technically Cheeseburger, there’s actually three different fish flavors involved: ketchup, cheddar and burger. Does this sound gross to you? Well, it’s probably supposed to. Goldfish Cheeseburger Crackers has “intentionally outrageous” written all over it.

Speaking of packaging, I can’t help but comment on the weirdness I found on the back of the bag:

Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Cheeseburger Crackers Package Back

The caption above this picture reads, “They took a trip to Grandma’s house through hills and over dale, it’s always fun wherever they go. Now tell us your Goldfish tale.”

While that sounds innocent and all, I’m getting a real The Hills Have Eyes vibe from the picture. I feel like the convertible is filled with a group of carefree Goldfish teenagers on a summer road trip. The two in the front are probably a couple, feeling good after just engaging in some full-on out-of-wedlock canoodling just minutes earlier, while the three in the back passed a joint around.

Oh, sure, that Goldfish sitting on the porch in the background looks innocent, but when those teen fishies drive up to ask for directions, they’re going to be in a world of trouble. If you’ve never played Fallout 3 or seen Six String Samurai, let’s just say that the smiling, happy family living out in the sticks wants to have you for dinner, if you catch my drift.

Back to our less-doomed Goldfish. Well, not so much, considering I will be eating them. As I mentioned before, these seem to exist purely for their wtf value. But when you break it down, are they really that outrageous?

The cheddar ones are obviously just regular Goldfish.

Ketchup may seem weird, but only if you’re an American living outside of the Mid-Atlantic area – Herr’s, based in PA, makes Heinz Ketchup Potato Chips, which I was able to try thanks to MunchPak and actually found quite delicious (even though I don’t like actual ketchup). And if you live in Canada, you can probably find a bag of Lay’s Ketchup right next to the original flavor.

Burger is obviously the real yuck-factor flavor here. But is it really that far-fetched? Chicken in a Biskit has existed since 1964. Ritz has Bacon Crackers on store shelves, which I consider the spiritual successor to Nabisco’s tragically discontinued Bacon Thins. I could go on – Doritos has ventured into the world of meat-flavored chips several times.

The long-winded point I’m making here is that YOU DON’T SCARE ME, GOLDFISH! When I first picked them up, I had the knee-jerk hesitance anyone would have regarding Cheeseburger crackers, but now that I’ve broken it down, I feel a sense of relief.

Of course, I haven’t actually tried them yet.

Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Cheeseburger Crackers

When you eat a Cheeseburger, you don’t lick the bun, peel the cheese slice off and then bite the burger separately, but I felt like I should try each one separately before putting the whole thing together.

The smell when I opened the bag was very much…cheeseburger. Cheap cheeseburger. McDouble cheeseburger. I’ve encountered this phenomenon before, with Doritos Cheeseburger chips. Which was honestly encouraging, as I didn’t throw up after eating those, so hey. Not throwing up is always a plus when doing a review.

All ideas of trying each flavor separately went out the window as soon as I carefully picked out my first cheese-flavored Goldfish. I should have expected this, because obviously the flavor dust of the three respective flavors is going to mingle as they wiggle around in the bag. So, despite trying all three flavors separately several times, they all tasted pretty much the same.

I was surprised that burger wasn’t the overwhelming flavor – instead, there was mostly a traditional Goldfish cheese taste, with hints of tomato and something vaguely beefy. Honestly, the smell was much more reminiscent of cheeseburger than the actual taste.

What was most notable was the weird, bitter aftertaste that followed each handful of Cheeseburger Goldfish. I have zero explanation as to why it was there, but it definitely was, and it detracted greatly from my bizarro cheeseburger cracker experience. This was the most disappointing part of Goldfish Cheeseburger Crackers, which sounds strange when you’re talking about little burger fish.

I looked to the ingredients list for possible explanations for the bitterness, but was met only with more questions. I assume “grill flavor from sunflower oil” was meant to create the burger flavor, but what does that even mean? Tomato paste” accounts for the ketchup taste, but what the hell are juice concentrates of watermelon and apple doing in there? What is going on?

Another odd tidbit – a while after I’d put the Cheeseburger Goldfish away, I suddenly felt like my breath smelled like a pound of raw onions. I mean, there’s both onion powder and onion juice concentrate (ew) listed, but I never really caught that as a dominant flavor while I was eating the crackers.

I guess my final takeaway from Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Cheeseburger Crackers is confusion. They smelled so promisingly cheeseburger-y, but they didn’t taste nearly as strong, and the bitter aftertaste ruined the experience. That part became even weirder than the idea that I was eating burger fish. And what’s with the onion breath? How does sunflower oil turn into grill flavor? Watermelon juice?

I think I’ll just leave you with that question.

Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Cheeseburger Crackers

  • Score: 1.5 out of 5 cannibalistic Goldfish
  • Price: $1.99
  • Size: 6.3 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Target
  • Nutritional Quirk: With so many weird ingredients, it’s hard to pick just one. I do wonder why they didn’t use beef bouillon for flavoring, however.

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