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.

Skittles Orchards

Skittles Orchards BagI’m taking liberties in calling Skittles Orchards “new”, but they’re still the newest Skittles, so I’m okay with that. I was actually aware of (and excited for) these when they came out, but then something distracted me, probably something important like a slow-motion video of a dog failing at catching food, and time got away from me.

But now here we are! Not only with a bag of Skittles Orchards, but with a Very Important Topic that I’ve been wanting to discuss for a long time.

Lime Skittles.

If you’ve read this site for any amount of time, I’m sure you can smell a rant coming, and your cybernose would be correct. Shit’s about to get real.

You see, in early 2013 and with understandably no fanfare, Lime was ousted in favor of Green Apple in every bag of Original Skittles. No big deal, right? WRONG. YOU ARE SO WRONG. And if you don’t believe me, look at the over 200 (and still rising) comments posted on Candy Blog’s coverage of the change.

I’m going to take a controversial stance here: green apple sucks. Lime is awesome. And this replacement isn’t isolated to Skittles; it seems like green apple is the go-to for green candy and lime has just been thrown aside like common trash. Lime is the Jon Snow of candy flavors, and, much like that Watcher’s fate, everyone knows it’s totally unfair. Unfortunately, unlike Jon Snow, I don’t see redemption in Lime’s storyline. Spoiler?

Skittles did throw Lime a bone, however – in what can in no way be a coincidence, Darkside Skittles came out at almost the exact same time Lime disappeared, and Darkside includes the mysteriously-monikered Midnight Lime. Which is exactly like regular Lime, except you can no longer mash it together with it’s friend Lemon unless you buy a bag of Original to do so.

So, yeah. You could say I have strong feelings about Lime Skittles.

What does any of this have to do with Skittles Orchards, you ask? While I would feel perfectly justified in saying “Nothing at all, I just needed to get that off my chest,” Skittles Orchard also includes Lime! Spoilers?

Skittles Orchards Flavors

I’m happy to report that all the fruit flavors represented in Orchards do, indeed, actually grow in orchards. I know this sounds like a simple point to get right, but you never know when it comes to snack foods.

If you grew up in SoCal, like I did, you automatically know that oranges grow in orchards because your grandparents loved to point out exactly which part of your home city used to be one. At length.

If you married someone from the East Coast, like I did, you know red apples grow in orchards because you get to hear about family outings to go pick apples. At length.

If you majored in English in college, like I did, you know that cherries grow in orchards because you had to read The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov and then write about it. At length.

If you live in Georgia…well, I’ve never lived in Georgia, but I’m sure anyone who does is intimately familiar with their orchards.

As for lime, well, I drew conclusions based on my citrusy upbringing. I’m actually convinced that Lime was included in Orchards solely due to the outcry of Skittles lovers everywhere who were just outraged about the Green Apple change. I also assume they purposefully dodged that bullet again by making the Apple flavor Red.

Skittles Orchards

Lime: It seemed like Orchards Lime was a little darker-colored than Original Lime, but that old flavor was definitely there. Juicy and a little tart. I missed you, Lime!

Red Apple: I was looking forward to this, as it’s an interesting new flavor to include, albeit a perfect fit for Orchards. I’m pleased to report that Red Apple has almost nothing in common with its Green Apple kin. It was not at all candy-like, like Green, and had an earthy apple flavor that was actually a little bitter and not very sweet. It’s a strange flavor for a candy, but it’s definitely unique.

Orange: I feel like this was a more aggressive orange flavor than the one in Original, but I’m pretty positive my mind was just playing tricks on me. I mean, c’mon, it’s Orange.

Cherry: Unlike what the back of the bag would leave you to believe, Cherry and Red Apple were remarkably similar in color. Unless you’re eating your Skittles in good lighting, chances are you’re going to get them confused. Sorry, moviegoers. Minus the surprise of getting Red Apple in with your Cherry, there was nothing new here. Bright, juicy cherry flavor, mercifully with only a hint of that cough medicine taste I hate so much.

Peach: I’ve never been a fan of peach-flavored candy, and Skittles did nothing to change my mind here. That said, in the name of objectivity, the peach flavor was bold and juicy, so if you’re a fan of peach candy, Peach Orchards will do you just fine.

Skittles Orchards is a perfectly fine bag of candy, but there’s not much new under the sun here. Orange was obviously straight out of the Original vat. Lime is lime, which, yay, but that’s already present in Darkside’s Midnight Lime. It’s been a while since I’ve had a bag of Wild Berry Skittles, but I’m pretty sure Cherry is just Wild Cherry from there.

I was going to say that Peach is already in Skittles Desserts, but a quick search tells me that I’m wrong. So, okay, two out of the five flavors are unique. Given the glut of candies out there, that’s not too bad.

Even though I don’t like peach flavoring, Peach really popped. Anyone who likes that flavor will like this Skittle. As for Red Apple, I have mixed feelings. It’s a very unique flavor, but I’m not sure it belongs in a bag of Skittles. I just don’t think it’s sweet enough for most candy lovers and feels out of place, even though it’s thematically correct. Plus, why so close in color to Cherry?

I’m always happy to see a new Skittles flavor hit the shelves, so I really don’t have too many gripes against Skittles Orchards. It’s a cute idea and it has Lime in it, and I feel like Peach is a flavor that should already exist in Skittles form. That said, Red Apple is a misstep and the other flavors are recycled, so I think I’ll stick with my Darksides.

Skittles Orchards

  • Score: 3 out of 5 LIME LIME LIME LIME
  • Price: $2.49
  • Size: 14 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Target
  • Nutritional Quirk: Lime.

Doritos Jacked 3D Jalapeño Pepper Jack

Doritos Jacked 3D Jalapeño Pepper Jack BagWith all the wild snacks out there on shelves today, Doritos 3D isn’t exactly revolutionary. In fact, I might have skipped over it altogether were it not for one fact – Doritos 3D aren’t new at all.

You might be wondering why I’d even bother to review them, then. You see, my friends, Doritos 3D are new now, but they previously existed back in the early-mid 2000s. Back when 3D movies belonged to Captain EO, although nobody really cared about Captain EO. Back when 3D chips were a wacky concept.

I managed to find an old, degraded commercial for the old-school version, which you can find here. It stars Ali Landry in a laundromat. Don’t know who Ali Landry is? Neither did I, although I did remember the commercial once I watched it. I guess she was a pageant winner and Doritos girl or something.

The commercial also appears to have Sean Hayes in it, although it’s kind of hard to tell due to the poor quality. Sean Hayes went on to have a much bigger career than Ali Landry, funnily enough. If it’s not him, then that guy really should have gone on to be a professional Sean Hayes impersonator. There’s a big demand for that, right?

[Edit: The fact that that is, indeed, Sean Hayes is confirmed, after I read the Internet for like, two seconds. But I wanted to leave that paragraph in there because I’m still tickled by the idea of a Sean Hayes impersonator.]

When the first iteration of Doritos 3D (actually called 3D’s back then) came out, I was first in line to get some. Or rather, to tell my dad to get some next time he went to the store. I have to admit, they didn’t exactly live up to the hype. They were basically thin flavor shells filled with air, which made them weird to bite into because they basically crumbled to pieces once your teeth hit them.

This also resulted in a large amount of broken 3D’s in the bag. Nothing worse than half your bag of 3D’s being 2D.

Doritos Jacked 3D Jalapeño Pepper Jack

The new Doritos 3D seem less third-dimensional than their puffy pyramid predecessors, but what they lack in bulge they make up for with style.

Doritos Jacked 3D Jalapeño Pepper Jack Close-Up

Seriously, look at that thing. It looks like a crazed Triforce, or an alien Star Trek transponder, or a rat maze created by a particularly cruel scientist. It is abstract art.

Doritos 3D are obviously thicker than regular Doritos, which also helps give them their dimensional shape and works very well in keeping all the chips intact. Can I even really call them chips?

The thickness comes closer to a corn snack like Fritos Scoops, but these definitely have a tortilla base, which makes them a unique find on store shelves, at least as far as my memory serves.

Jalapeño Pepper Jack is currently the only flavor available in the Jacked 3D line. As with previous Jacked flavors, Doritos uses adjectives like “intense” and “bold” to describe these. What that basically translates to is that every chip…thing has an extra dose of flavor dust on it. It’s like hitting that rare, extra-coated Dorito, except almost all of them are like that.

As for the flavor, my mouth almost immediately related the taste of Jalapeño Pepper Jack to Salsa Verde Doritos. It’s been a while since I’ve had those, but my taste buds apparently have muscle memory. They had a light cheese taste, unlike Salsa Verde, and they seemed spicier too, although not “my mouth is on fire” spicy.

You can call Doritos Jacked 3D Jalapeño Pepper Jack a gimmick, much like their predecessor, but the fact is that they are a solidly snackable product. The crunch and texture are unique, the flavor dust is abundant, spicy and delicious, and the shape is both fun and pops easily into your mouth. While the flavor itself isn’t groundbreaking, it does the job.

And these would make super fun props for your action figures to play with. Ancient Egyptian monolith? Triangle of Supreme Power? The only limit is your imagination and your ability to restrain yourself from eating all the chip…triforces.

Doritos Jacked 3D Jalapeño Pepper Jack

  • Score: 4.5 out of 5 cruel rat mazes
  • Price: $2.50
  • Size: 11 1/2 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Safeway
  • Nutritional Quirk: Dense like a corn chip, but made with tortilla!

Limited Time Cheetos Sweetos Cinnamon Sugar Puffs

Cheetos Sweetos Cinnamon Sugar Puffs BagI love that Cheetos has been engaging in the holiday spirit lately. The holidays usually belong to the world of candy and cookies. First there was Bag of Bones, and now there’s Sweetos Cinnamon Sugar Puffs.

On paper, the name shows no affiliation whatsoever with a holiday, but on bag, Cheetos Sweetos are Easter Central.

Cheetos Sweetos Cinnamon Sugar Puffs Chester Cheetah Easter Bunny

Chester Cheetah, one of my favorite snack mascots, is totally ready to party. He’s rocking the same cheap bunny-ear headband you yourself could buy at Party City, but he refuses to part with his trademark sunglasses. Then again, the sky is blue and the grass is green, so maybe he’s just being smart and protecting his eyes from the springtime sun.

He’s obviously on an Easter egg hunt, and he’s already grabbed some sweet finds for his basket – I spot “Monster Eyes” egg, “Charlie Brown, pastel style” egg, and what looks like a timely tribute to Barney the dinosaur.

But Chester’s after the best eggs of all – that’s right, Sweetos are shaped like decorated Easter eggs!

Except…why is this not in the name? Why not call them Sweetos Eggos? Oh…wait. Right. Actually, I can’t think of a single Easter pun that would work in this context, which is a rare  for me. So I guess I should stop bashing Cheetos for going with “Cinnamon Sugar Puffs”. Rhyming Cheetos and Sweetos is good enough for me.

When I first heard of Sweetos, I was pretty excited (like I do) and brought them up in conversation several times. Each time, I got the same response: “Ew, gross!”

I don’t understand this knee-jerk reaction at all. What’s with the immediate revulsion to the idea of cinnamon sugar puffs? My brain instantly went to Taco Bell (like I do) and their Cinnamon Twists.

I haven’t purchased these in at least a decade, what with having to save that precious stomach room for one extra Meximelt, but Cinnamon Twists are a tasty treat and I dare you to say otherwise. It’s the closest thing you’re going to get to a churro without going to the fair. Or Disneyland.

Upon opening my Sweetos bag, I was hit a strong, delicious aroma that I immediately recognized: Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Cinnamon Toast Crunch is one of my favorite cereals, so I was off to a good start.

Cheetos Sweetos Cinnamon Sugar Puffs

Cheetos Sweetos (why yes, I do enjoy saying that) could taste like dog turds and I still couldn’t deny them the kudos that the snack’s shape deserves. Each one is distinctly egg-shaped instead of just oval, with a larger base and narrower tip. And each one has two “stripes” that work both aesthetically and as a support structure to the shape. Despite their delicate texture, which was way less dense than a regular Cheeto, very few of my Sweetos were broken.

And yes, I was totally right – they taste a lot like Taco Bell Cinnamon Twists. Vindication, naysayers! They were very light and airy, but all had a generous amount of flavor dust on them. That’s another good reason to include the stripes – more surface area for the dust to cling to!

If only that dust carried more sugar. This is Cheetos Sweetos’ biggest downfall – the cinnamon is fine, but I found the sugar coating to be lacking. If I’m going to eat a cinnamon sugar snack, I want it to be cavity-inducing. This left them tasting a little flat.

The corn base is so airy that it tastes like almost nothing, which is kind of the point. The cinnamon and sugar should mask all corn. Again, the cinnamon does its job, but there’s only a little bit of sugar.

I might be wrong, but I can’t think of any snack out there on store shelves that’s like Cheetos Sweetos Cinnamon Sugar Puffs. And, since these are a Limited Time flavor, soon they’ll be gone forever, too.

I was going to say that I wish Cheetos Sweetos would stick around forever, but I kind of enjoy that such a thing is only available for a limited time. This is probably because I have to believe Sweetos will be back for another holiday. Tiny flag puffs for 4th of July, maybe?

Limited Time Cheetos Sweetos Cinnamon Sugar Puffs

  • Score: 3 out of 5 Easter Bunny Chester Cheetahs
  • Price: $2.49
  • Size: 7 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Fry’s Foods
  • Nutritional Quirk: With brown sugar, sugar and molasses listed as ingredients, you’d think my sweet tooth would be more entertained.

The Bacon Jams Bacon Spread: All Original, Black Pepper and Red Chile & Garlic

The Bacon Jams Bacon Spread All Original Black Pepper Red Chile & Garlic JarsI’m not one to back down from a food challenge. I’d like to think that’s readily apparent. So when I was given the opportunity to try Bacon Jams, I took a deep breath and did two things:

  1. I looked up The Bacon Jams to make sure this wasn’t some sort of fake product, which it obviously isn’t (although that would make for an interesting review, I guess)
  2. I found out that bacon jam is actually a real thing, and not just some hype invented by this company. In fact, in Austria it has its own much cooler and unassuming name, Verhackert.

I kind of want to call Bacon Jams Bacon Spread Verhackert for the rest of the review, because it just sounds so much better.

I’ll be straight – I try to be objective on all my reviews, but sometimes it’s difficult. This is one of those times. The idea of bacon jam does not give my taste buds any enthusiasm. I just keep thinking of bacon stuck in sweet, gelatinous goo, and it makes my stomach lurch a little.

While my stomach flips, my brain goes on yet another rant about bacon. I love bacon, I’m just so tired of Internet bacon hype. The Bacon Jams seem to be part of this hype.

And while my stomach flips and my brain rages, my heart ventures to ask the question: What if I actually like bacon jam?

I have to say, my heart (but not my arteries) softened a little after I read about The Bacon Jams’ humble beginnings. It was created by a group of home brewers, including a food scientist, and was funded by Kickstarter. After all that, now you can buy it from SkyMall!

Okay, SkyMall went bankrupt, but still.

Knowing that they take their product seriously – despite having a pig playing a guitar as your logo – and this isn’t just some Archie McPhee-style product made me a little less scared to try it.

All Original

The Bacon Jams Bacon Spread All Original Jar

I will tell you I almost gave up my profession and changed my address when I opened the All Original jar and there was fat on top. That whole “less scared” thing kind of flew out the window.

The Bacon Jams Bacon Spread All Original

I chose toast to spread my jam upon, as it seemed the most bland of the foods I could pick to let the real jam taste shine through.

Part of me wants to tell you that, after all this build-up, Bacon Jams was awful and I immediately vomited into my kitchen sink. But the truth is…it’s not that bad. I know that’s also not a gushing endorsement, but that was how I felt after my first taste of All Natural.

The first taste that comes through is bacon. Reassuring, right? And not Bacon Bits bacon. Not artificial bacon flavor with Liquid Smoke. Honest-to-goodness, cooked on the stove bacon.

Almost immediately after the bacon comes the sweetness. It’s not a cloying sweetness, however. I was immediately reminded of eating bacon after I’d accidentally gotten some syrup from my pancakes on it. Or, maybe you put syrup on your bacon on purpose.

That was it. Sweet, mapley bacon. Oh, and onions. The texture was chunky, but not like crispy bacon. I assume being suspended in jam inevitably softened the bacon itself. I attribute most of the chunkiness to the inclusion of the onions, which worked to make the texture more pleasant as I chewed, keeping it Bacon Jam and not Bacon Jelly, which somehow manages to sound worse.

Red Pepper & Garlic

The Bacon Jams Bacon Spread Red Chile & Garlic Jar

I found this flavor to be most intriguing, as red pepper and garlic aren’t flavors you commonly find associated with bacon.

The Bacon Jams Bacon Spread Red Chile & Garlic

This was the least bacon-y of the Jams. It’s hard to imagine a food where bacon is the main ingredient not tasting like bacon, but the flavor is definitely muted. Instead, the stand-out here is the onions and garlic. It’s like a sweet onion-garlic spread.

What of the red chile, you ask? I also ask. Because it wasn’t there. I could see it, but I just couldn’t taste the spicy bite of it. Perhaps the fat from the bacon neutralized the heat? All in all, it was the most subtle jam of the three, and the least bacon-y.

Black Pepper

The Bacon Jams Bacon Spread Black Pepper Jar

Black Pepper was my favorite of all the Bacon Jams, if I had to pick a favorite.

The Bacon Jams Bacon Spread Black Pepper

If you enjoy thick-cut bacon coated with black pepper, this is the Jam for you. It was the most savory of the Jams, which is why I liked it the most. There was still some sweetness there, but that black pepper bite cut through it quite pleasantly. The ever-present onion also complimented the pepper nicely.

After ingesting three slices of The Bacon Jams Bacon Spread toast, my stomach felt a little funky, but I attribute that to the sweetness – which is also my biggest complaint about Bacon Jams. I get that many people like their bacon sweet, and that this is also a jam, but that part just wasn’t my cup of tea.

That said, Bacon Jams is actually a quality product, with goddamn real bacon – which it better have, for the price of $15 per 8 ounce jar. All Original will please maple bacon fans, while those who like a savory bacon (still with some sweetness) might prefer Black Pepper. As for Red Chile & Garlic, it just came off as kind of weak.

While I wouldn’t buy this for myself, I could definitely see others enjoying this on toast, or on top of a bagel schmear, or maybe even on a BLT or grilled cheese. As for The Bacon Jams, they have higher aspirations, whichi were showcased in a nice little recipe book that came with my jar. Some of them I find to be quite a stretch, like S’mores Bacon Jam (hurgh) and Swedish Meat Balls with Bacon Jam Sauce, which sounds like they just made a scary dish scarier.

So, I didn’t throw up, which was good, especially after opening up that first jar. But I didn’t fall in love, either, which is also good, because of how much this stuff costs. If you’ve got the money and love bacon, WHICH IF YOU ARE ON THE INTERNET RIGHT NOW READING THIS I AM SURE THAT YOU DO, then you might try giving it a shot, if just to experience a unique pork product.

[Disclaimer: I received this product for free from The Bacon Jams. This in no way colors the objectivity of my review, as is evidenced by the amount of time I reference vomiting.]

The Bacon Jams Bacon Spread: All Original, Black Pepper and Red Chile & Garlic

  • Score (All Original): 2 out of 5 layers of fat
  • Score (Red Chile & Garlic): 1.5 out of 5 missing chiles
  • Score (Black Pepper): 3 out of 5 Swedish meatballs
  • Price: Free
  • Size: Three 8 oz. jars
  • Purchased at: Delivered for free
  • Nutritional Quirk: Contains real, actual bacon! Also contains only 2 grams of fat per tablespoon serving, which is way lower than I thought it would be.

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