[Please enjoy this guest review from Robert - Not Bob, a valued sometimes-contributor to Junk Food Betty who had the privilege (or curse - read on to determine) of being in a test area for this new product. Thanks, Robert!]
In the five (!) years since Junk Food Betty first graced the information superhighway (Congrats, by the way), I’ve almost certainly read more about, and spared more thought for, fast food than I probably had in all my previous years combined. That’s a bit of a mixed blessing, obviously, but it has amused me, and on occasion, I’ve even learned a few things.
One of the things I’ve learned is that the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area is a seething hotbed of fast food test-marketing. For that reason, I find myself, once again, submitting a guest review, this time for McDonald’s Chorizo Breakfast Burritos. Well, that and the fact that your JFB host isn’t one to eat an egg, regardless of how it’s gussied up.
For those not in the know, there are actually two very dissimilar food items called “Chorizo”. One is a hard, cured European sausage, made from pork and Spanish paprika. The other is a fresh Mexican sausage made of God only knows what.
Chorizo con Huevos, which is Mexican chorizo and eggs, is a breakfast staple of taquerías, and is commonly rolled into burritos or breakfast tacos. However, it’s long been conspicuously absent from the fast food breakfast lineup. Even nominally “Mexican” fast food chains like Taco Bell, not one to shy away from mystery meat, has kept it out of their breakfast burrito offerings. I’m guessing that this is because chorizo tends to be spicy, and not spicy in a way that’s anything like the pickled jalapeño flavor that pretty much forms the basis of the typical fast food consumer’s idea of “spicy”. It has a pretty unique taste and texture, and is not very similar at all to familiar breakfast meats like bacon or ham.
A quick look at the sign advertising the chorizo burritos also confirms that whoever designed it has little familiarity with chorizo. In the burritos pictured you can clearly see chunks of yellow egg and chunks of something red, which is presumably pretending to be the chorizo. As anyone that’s had it can attest, that’s not the way chorizo and eggs look. When you cook chorizo and eggs together, they basically become one homogenous mass. Perhaps that’s another factor that’s kept it off most breakfast menus. When Americans look at their meat and eggs, they want to see identifiable meat chunks, rather than a pile of eggs that just look like someone got confused with the dye at Easter.
Let’s take a look inside the real burritos.
As I had two burritos to work with, I cross-sectioned one, and unrolled about the other.
As you can see, these bear little resemblance to what was pictured, but we all know that that’s the norm with fast food advertising. Anyway, there’s not much to look at here. Chorizo and egg mix, a few red and green pepper bits and a flour tortilla. The strong odor of chorizo seemed pretty promising and, once tasted, I had to admit, these weren’t bad at all. The tortillas themselves left a bit to be desired – the ones you get at taquerías tend to be more flavorful and are typically pan fried before use – but the chorizo y huevos inside tasted exactly like it should. And, for two for $3, seems like a pretty decent breakfast deal.
Along with the burritos I received 4 packets of McDonald’s Picante Sauce, two mild and two “hot”. Do not be tempted to put these on your chorizo burritos. Place them in the nearest trash receptacle. I tasted the “hot” and it was thoroughly vile. Putting ketchup on your chorizo burrito would be unforgivable, but would still be a better choice than McDonald’s Picante Sauce. If you do want to put some sauce on your chorizo burritos, that bottle of Tapatío in your file cabinet drawer or those old packets of Taco Bell “Fire Sauce” in your glove box are both much better options.
I do know of at least two taquerías in the path of my morning commute that offer chorizo and egg burritos that are about the same size, and are slightly better, and are slightly cheaper, so I probably wouldn’t make McDonald’s version a regular purchase. However, if I found myself in a taquerías-free zone (yes, even in Texas that can happen) and wanted a breakfast fix, I could definitely see getting them again.
McDonald’s Chorizo Burrito
Here are the winners of the Jack in the Box Jack Ca$h Card giveaway!
Congrats, winners! I’ll be emailing you soon! Thanks to everyone who participated!
In conjunction with Jack in the Box’s Hella-Peno Burger Munchie Meal, they have kindly provided me with three $10 Jack Ca$h Cards to give away to three lucky readers!
All you have to do is leave a comment on this post. Tell me about your day, or how much you hella-love jalapeños, whatever you like. Just make sure you include your email address!
This giveaway will end at 11:59pm PST Monday, August 11, 2014, and the winners will be announced Tuesday, August 12.
The not-so-fine print: Your email address will not be publicly visible and will only be used for the purpose of informing winners. No repeat comments. No spammin’.
In case you don’t remember because you were completely high when you read my last Munchie Meal review, Jack’s Munchie Meals are available between 9pm and 5am, aka Prime Stoner Time. Each one comes with two tacos, an order of halfsie fries (half french, half seasoned curly) and a 20 ounce drink to help you combat cotton mouth.
The real star, however, is always the entree. Previous Munchies have included things like the Stacked Grilled Cheese Burger and Loaded Nuggets, and the newest Munchie Meal is just as stonertastic: the Hella-peno Burger. A name that should leave me groaning, but I find myself smirking instead. Call it contact high.
Jack made more than a passing nod at the idea of their Munchie Meals being stoner-themed when the first batch came out, and this time around, I feel like they’ve embraced the idea with a vengeance.
Nowhere is this more apparent than the commercial for the Hella-peño burger. We start out with a girl sitting in a beanbag chair in what has to be the classiest room I’ve seen since I went to a friend’s kegger in college. His house was inhabited entirely by males, and the height of their artistic interior decoration was a poster of two girls making out, which was placed front-and-center in their living room.
This should give you an idea of what their garage looked like, which is pretty much what this girl’s room looks like, complete with lava lamp and Big Mouth Billy Bass. It looks like a garage sale threw up in someone’s 1970s wood-paneled basement. I’ve known many dedicated pot smokers in my day, and most would be downright offended by this aesthetic.
“Would you rather have spoons for hands…or elbows for ears?” The beanie-clad girl asks in a dreamy, disconnected voice.
The Jack puppet, who is sitting in a beanbag chair next to her, replies, “I’d rather have food,” to which I wholeheartedly agree, if only to end this commercial.
After briefly describing the Hella-Peno Munchie Meal, this whole embarrassment ends with the puppet saying, “I’ll eat it with my spooooooon haaaaands,” to which the girl replies, “What? I can’t hear you. Talk into my ellllbooooow.”
It’s also hella-apparent that they’re hella-stoked about the name, encouraging people to Tweet with the hashtag #hellahungry. They also describe the burger as “hella-hot” and mention that the Munchie Meal is available hella-late. Are you hella-tired of this yet?
Now to the actual burger. According to Jack, the Hella-peño is “A burger heaped with both stuffed and sliced jalapeños, gooey cheese and taco sauce.”
Right off the bat, I could tell that gooey cheese was definitely present, as it had leaked all over the wrapper. You may find this gross; I find it a harbinger of good things to come.
And good things were there, indeed. Upon removing the top bun, I was so pleased to see that the stuffed jalapeños covered almost every square inch of the burger. Topping coverage – a rare sight, indeed! There were a few sliced peppers, as promised, covering the areas the stuffed ones missed. And, holding it all together, a mess o’ cheese. Lookin’ good, Hella-Peno burger.
And, I have to admit, it tasted hella-good. (Sorry. I really am.) The combination of stuffed and sliced jalapeños meant there was a delicious amount of heat in every bite, and the breading of the stuffed ones remained, through some sort of dark magic, perfectly crunchy. So often have I seen fast food restaurants promising crunchy toppings, only to receive a soggy mess. Not the case here!
And the cheese was everywhere. I feel like half of it had leaked out onto the wrapper, which was unfortunate, but the cheese stuffed inside the poppers definitely took up the slack, adding at least double the amount of cheese you’d find on a regular cheeseburger and probably triple the calories, although I’m pretty sure you’re not concerned with that if you’re eating a Munchie Meal at 2am.
The Hella-Peno burger was not without fault, however. Jack in the Box’s taco sauce, which is a laughable approximation of hot sauce to begin with, completely disappears under the heat and flavor of the jalapeños. In fact, pretty much everything takes a backseat to the jalapeños and the cheese. I almost forgot there was an actual burger in this Hella-Peno burger.
These are minor complaints, however. I love jalapeños. I love cheese. I love the crunch that the breading added to the burger. I love that, for once, there was actual topping coverage.
I will, however, bitch about the fact that a.) Munchie Meals are only available from 9pm to 5am, and b.) you can’t just buy the Hella-Peno burger on its own. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Jack’s tacos, aka grease pockets, and the halfsies are nice, but I’d like to have a choice of when and with what I order my Hella-Peno burger.
In the end, what’s important is that if you like jalapeños, and you like cheese, and you like some actual crunch on your burger, then the Hella-Peno is for you. Putting poppers on a burger screams gimmick, but it really works. And if you scream gimmick to my elbow, I will use my spoon hand to punch you in the face.
[Disclaimer: Jack in the Box kindly provided me with a gift card to purchase this product and contacted me in regards to potentially reviewing this product. This has in no way influenced my review of said product; neither has any drug, illicit or otherwise.]
Jack in the Box Hella-Peno Burger Munchie Meal
Frito-Lay recently announced the flavors of their Doritos Jacked Test Flavors, as well as the winner via fan votes on their “Bold Experiment” website.
I fully intended to review these mystery flavors before they were announced, but I got derailed by my move and just plain ol’ missed the boat. Look at that picture at the top! I took that picture!
Well, now that the cat’s out of the bag, I figured I’d share the actual flavors of the Test Flavors as well as what I predicted they were. If you’re thinking I could easily cheat, that’s true; but I think you’ll see by my predictions that I’m being honest, possibly to the point of embarrassment.
Test Flavor #404
My guess: “Garlic-Lime Chicken” – there was a strong citrus presence right off the bat with some definite garlic notes. There was also a bit of spice, but I couldn’t figure out how that fit into the equation. I picked chicken only because it seemed to make the most sense when paired with lime. There was no strong chicken flavor, it just…seemed to make sense.
Actual flavor: “Caribbean Citrus Jerk”. That actually makes a lot of sense, and is way more interesting of a flavor name than my guess.
Test Flavor #855
My guess: I went with “Spicy Taco Deluxe” due to what tasted like spicy taco seasoning, but with a strong sour cream flavor and some cheese. I figured it would be a good bet, given the recent collaboration with Taco Bell and their Doritos Locos Tacos.
Actual flavor: “Spicy Street Taco”. Okay, so I was kind of close on this one, but the taco seasoning was pretty easy to spot. However, I strongly dispute the use of the term “Street”. I challenge you to find a street taco that contains sour cream. Or cheese, for that matter.
Test Flavor #2653
My guess: Easily the most interesting of the bunch, I decided on “Mole Enchiladas”. I figured the chipotle and chocolate combo (confirmed by the ingredients list) made this one a dead giveaway. I was also very pleased with the flavor of these chips and they were my favorite of the bunch.
Actual flavor: “Chocolate Chipotle Bacon”. Bwaaaa? I mean, both chocolate and chipotle were listed as ingredients, but bacon? I contributed the smoky flavor to the chipotle, and wanted to give Doritos points for actually capturing that aspect of the pepper. If it really had turned out to be Mole, I would have patted myself on the back and never been the wiser. I feel like they threw the bacon term in there just for a buzzword. Also, I’d be 1000% more likely to try Chicken Mole Enchilada Doritos as opposed to Chocolate Chipotle Bacon ones.
And the winner? Spicy Street Taco. Way to be boring, America. Frito-Lay goes on to describe it as “a bold combination of sriracha sauce and savory taco spices cooled with a kick of sour cream.” I tasted no sriracha, no street taco has sriracha or, again, sour cream, and I’m generally disappointed by this entire thing. The end.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something red, white and blue.
…Okay, that was super lame. But it seems thematically appropriate for Taco Bell’s new Quesarito and Dr. Pepper Vanilla Float Freeze. I moved a little while back and that really threw off my game, so I’m a little rusty. But I’m back! And here’s a double review for you!
Taco Bell Quesarito
Here we have the something old and something borrowed. I think you can see where this is going. While the Quesarito is a new menu item, it has employed the classic Taco Bell technique of rearranging existing ingredients into a new configuration.
In case you couldn’t figure it out from the name or the inside of the wrapper (kudos to Taco Bell for making a unique wrapper for the Quesarito, as a side note), this is a burrito snuggled inside a quesadilla.
In Taco Bell’s own words, “The NEW Quesarito is the best of a quesadilla and burrito rolled into one! It’s filled with seasoned beef, premium Latin rice, Chipotle sauce, reduced-fat sour cream, and then wrapped up in a grilled quesadilla loaded with melted cheeses.”
I did not have high hopes for the Quesarito. Upon unwrapping it, I was impressed with the grilling marks. Upon cutting in half, I said to myself, oh hell yes.
Look at those globs of melty, melty cheese. Eating with my eyeballs alone, I was already sold. If that looks like an oozing mass of grease and fat, you’re right, and my heart sang at the sight. In a sort of choking, crying voice, but it sang nonetheless. I was expecting a sad, barely-visible layer of cheese hidden between two layers of too much tortilla, but I was so glad to be wrong.
There was another thing that there was also a hell of a lot of too – the Latin rice. In one of those classic cases of “who the hell made this?”, there was rice throughout, but all the ground beef was in one half and all the sour cream was in the other. In fact, by pure coincidence, the lines were drawn pretty much exactly down the line where I cut it for the picture.
The rice actually had a bit of flavor to it – it seemed to be the same rice as their Cantina rice, which has hints of lime and cilantro.
But, seriously, how hard is it to evenly distribute the meat and sour cream?
What was evenly distributed was the Chipotle sauce, and for once, there was an actual hint of chipotle flavor there, nice and smoky. Holy shit. It also had a nice kick, and they didn’t skimp on it. This paired great with the sour cream and with the gooey cheese. I’d actually like to see this as a sauce packet option in the future. I would put it on pretty much any Taco Bell item.
I want to give high praises to the Quesarito, in spite of the bizarre ingredient distribution, if just because of the surprising amount of cheese and the Chipotle sauce. However, soon after I got this Quesarito, I went and got another one, and on that one the cheese layer was almost non-existent, which really diminished the experience. So I have to knock it down a notch because, depending on who prepares your Quesarito, it’s either going to be solid or it’s going to be disappointing. It’s all about the queso.
Taco Bell Dr. Pepper Vanilla Float Freeze
Here we have something new and something red, white and blue. The second part of that sentence may be confusing until you realize that Dr. Pepper Vanilla Float came out in grocery stores first, and their packaging looks like everything Americana threw up all over it.
Taco Bell took that drink and turned it into a freeze. If you ask me, this was a great idea; the soda itself is already designed to taste float-like, so freezing it should just add to that experience.
The original Dr. Pepper taste was a little toned down, allowing the vanilla taste to come through. I found the vanilla flavoring to be somewhat less artificial-tasting than some other vanilla-spiked sodas I’ve tried. Maybe it was the unique flavor of Dr. Pepper when combined with the vanilla, but I was impressed. This paragraph is dying for a synonym for vanilla.
As for the float part, I really could taste a bit of floatiness coming through in the soda. Maybe it was the slushy-freeze element that helped that along, but there was a distinct creaminess to it that went beyond just vanilla flavoring. Maybe that’s why I felt it stood apart from the plethora of vanilla sodas already on store shelves.
Nothing is going to replace an actual ice cream float, but Taco Bell’s Dr. Pepper Vanilla Float Freeze is a pretty good substitute, especially if you like soda slushies. This is probably my favorite “commercial” vanilla soda creation I’ve had in a long time. Bald eagle stars and stripes fireworks Uncle Sam.
Taco Bell Quesarito
Taco Bell Dr. Pepper Vanilla Float Freeze
Today marks Junk Food Betty’s 5th Birthday!
I’d rather be posting a review than a birthday announcement, but this is a good time to apologize for my lack of posts recently. I recently moved, which is obviously chaotic, and threw off my already inconsistent rhythm.
That said, I want to thank all of my loyal readers and let you know that there are reviews to come! Five years is a pretty long time in Internet years, but I’m glad to be sticking with it, and as always, am grateful to everyone who has found me one way or another.
Here’s to another year of crazy junk foods and some more guffaws!
The Good: These ain’t your kids’ sandwich crackers – they have a strong spicy kick with actual buffalo flavor instead of just “generic spiciness”. There’s lots of flavor dust. The filling has some tangy ranch flavor. You can taste that signature buttery Ritz cracker under the buffalo spice.
The Not-So-Good: Because these are sandwich crackers, you may look silly eating them as an adult. In that same vein, kids probably aren’t going to like these because of the heat level. The filling is grainy instead of being creamy. When eaten as a whole Crackerful, the buffalo of the cracker completely overwhelms the ranch. Would have made a better buffalo cracker than a Buffalo and Ranch Crackerful.
The Good: The bacon was actually crisp. Appeared to be actually crumbled up bacon and not just sad little bacon bits. Carl’s uses buttermilk ranch, which has more flavor and is thicker than regular ranch. It also helped immensely in getting the bacon to stick to the fries, which I’ve found to be frustrating in the past when eating fries that involve bacon as a topping.
The Not-So-Good: I appreciate that my fries were hot, but that just made my ranch hot, which is not very appealing. As often is the case with fries covered with toppings, the toppings are far too sparse, with all the bacon clustered in the middle and almost nothing getting to the bottom fries. I wound up adding my own ranch. $3 is a pretty high price for some fries, the equivalent of a side cup of dressing and about one slice of crumbled bacon.
Mrs. Fields. To me, the name is synonymous with childhood trips to the mall with my parents: hours of agonizing shopping in boring department stores, where the only means of entertainment were hiding under clothing racks and touching things I was explicitly told not to touch.
My only relief: the promise of a trip to the food court afterward. Oh, the wonders! The choices! So much fast food, all in one place! What to choose?
Well, inevitably I chose Sbarro, because the only time I got to eat at Sbarro was when we went to the mall. For dessert, I would always get CheeseKorn from the KarmelKorn store attached to the Orange Julius, because I was a weird kid who didn’t really like sweets.
While I walked around smearing orange dust on things when my parents weren’t looking, my mom would munch on a Mrs. Fields cookie – another mall-only staple. At the time, the only thing that interested me about Mrs. Fields were the giant, pizza-sized cookies they’d always have on display.
I dreamed of one day getting one of those cookies, but every time I’d ask for one, my mom reminded me that I’d never actually eat it, which I had to admit was true. In hindsight, she should have just acquiesced and then taken the whole thing for herself. Opportunity missed.
The days of having to walk past a Hot Topic just to get a Mrs. Fields cookie are finally over, however – the First Lady of Cookies is finally breaking into the grocery store game, introducing her Nibblers cookies to Kroger stores nationwide in three flavors: Milk Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Chip and Double Chocolate.
All three varieties have some things in common: first off, they are, indeed, Nibblers – they’re about the size of an Oreo, as opposed to the larger size of other Mrs. Fields cookies or even a regular Chips Ahoy. They also have all had their previously bare bottoms dipped in fudge. Let the fudge and butt jokes commence.
I was mailed these cookies courtesy of Mrs. Fields, and I was worried about what kind of shape they’d be in when they arrived, given the high temperatures and the nature of the cookies. I figured I’d wind up with one giant, melted cookie mess, which, don’t get me wrong, had a certain appeal – the idea of a giant chocolate chip and fudge cookie wad holds a certain allure.
Mrs. Fields had it covered, though – each box of Nibblers contains a plastic tray that holds each cookie separately, and it’s further protected by foil packaging. My Nibblers were still a little melty, but for the most part, they remained intact and unbroken. Not the most eco-friendly packaging, but effective!
I went with Milk Chocolate Chip first, it being the most pedestrian-sounding of the flavors. The fudge-dipped bottom started melting the instant I touched it, making me once again thankful that the cookies were kept apart from each other.
Chewy Chips Ahoy are one of my favorite cookies; I much prefer soft cookies to hard ones. These Mrs. Fields Nibblers were like a slightly upgraded version of those cookies. There was a little bit of a crunch on the top which quickly gave way to the chewy innards. The two textures mixed together nicely.
The milk chocolate chips, which were mini to match the size of the cookies, were evenly distributed in almost all the cookies in the package. The cookie flavor itself was spot-on for a chocolate chip cookie – not overly sweet and baked just right.
The fudge bottom added more chocolate goodness without being too overwhelming, although I think calling it “fudge” is a bit of a misnomer; it tasted much more like melty milk chocolate.
I was most excited to try the Peanut Butter Chip Nibblers, because soft peanut butter cookies are great and peanut butter cookies with chips and dipped in chocolate can only be better, right?
Well, yes and no. The sad news is, there are no chips in these Peanut Butter Chip Nibblers. At least, not that I could see or feel. Which raises fundamental questions about the name of these Nibblers. I’m straight confused.
The good news: these cookies are delicious. My mom used to make soft peanut butter cookies for Christmas, and I’ve never found any brand confection that could compare. Grandma’s Cookies were the closest I could get, but Mrs. Fields blows those out of the water, and adds a nice milk chocolate – er, fudge – finish to boot.
I just wish there were peanut butter chips. Sniffle.
I figured “Double Chocolate” would mean “double milk chocolate”, but I guess it means “milk chocolate and white chocolate chips”, although it’s also fudge-dipped, so technically it’s triple chocolate. Again, confusing name.
I was surprised at both the lack of richness of the chocolate in these chocolate cookies and also how much the white chocolate chips contributed to the flavor. I figured the chips would disappear under the chocolate flavor of the cookie, but it was actually the chips that took over in the flavor department.
While these Nibblers do actually live up to their Double Chocolate name, chocolate lovers are going to be ultimately disappointed at the lack of richness in the cookie itself.
Mrs. Fields Nibblers are generally delicious and almost too easy to eat – I found myself having to force myself to put the packages away before I plowed through the entire box and got about 500% of my daily recommended value of saturated fat.
I thought Milk Chocolate Chip was a little too pedestrian, given that it was pretty close to Chewy Chips Ahoy. I fell in love with Peanut Butter Chip, even though they had no chips. Double Chocolate Chip was pretty good, but I felt like the white chocolate chips did most of the work and the cookies themselves lacked chocolate’s signature richness. And the fudge dipping wasn’t really fudge-y, but still added a little something extra to each of the chips. Including sticky fingers.
Overall, Mrs. Fields Nibblers are a solid cookie offering. The biggest question for me is the price – I got mine for free courtesy of Mrs. Fields, but they’re available at Kroger stores nationwide in a 15-count box. A quick Internet search didn’t yield a price point. But if they’re not mall-price expensive and you’re a fan of Mrs. Fields and soft cookies, they’re worth a try.
[Disclaimer: These Nibblers cookies were provided for free via mail courtesy of the kind people at Mrs. Fields. This is no way influences my review of the products, and, in the nature of full disclosure, I still hate the mall.]
Mrs. Fields Nibblers