This year, Do Us a Flavor is branching out to include some of their different varieties of chips. For Wasabi Ginger, we get Kettle Cooked. This seems like a random combination, but I’m okay with it.
Wasabi Ginger is the brainchild of Meneko Spigner McBeth, who may not win the contest but definitely wins “Best Finalist Name”. She’s a registered nurse in Philadelphia, so she can help you out if you choke on her Wasabi Ginger potato chips. Just a little Heimlich and you’re right as rain.
Meneko’s grandmother apparently used to make her sushi by hand when she was growing up, which both melts my heart a little and makes me extremely jealous. So now we know why she came up with this flavor.
Meneko’s fun fact is that her friends have dubbed her “The Clearance Queen” because she always finds the best bargains. This is what your fun fact is when you have three kids. This is what your life becomes. Also, I hope she doesn’t buy clearance sushi because that’s gross.
I’m not sure what the methodology was in deciding what flavor got what kind of chip, but kettle seems to suit Wasabi Ginger just fine. Lay’s kettle chips aren’t the best on the market, but they’re passable. Also, this doesn’t seem like a flavor made for dipping, so the sometimes-crumpled-up nature of the kettle chip won’t be a hindrance.
Wasabi Ginger was off to a good start when it hit my taste buds. The distinctive taste of wasabi was strong and spot-on. I’m using the term “wasabi” liberally, because when you eat sushi, the majority of the time you’re getting horseradish-wasabi, not actual wasabi.
Let’s just say that the wasabi you know was the wasabi that was represented in this chip. Strong enough to be delicious, but not so strong that my sinuses exploded.
I also detected a hint of soy sauce, which was a great compliment to the flavoring.
This all sounds like it’s going great, which it was, but then the ginger hit. Once again, we go back to Lay’s totally nailing the flavor, but it being a double-edged sword. After the lovely soft-burn of the wasabi, I was suddenly bestowed the flavor of those thin-sliced pieces of ginger that are served with sushi.
I did a quick Google search to verify that ginger is served as a palate-cleanser (answer: yes) and Wikipedia taught me that the actual term for it is gari, and this also reminded me of an important disclaimer:
Dear readers, I know that the definition of sushi, sushi-eating, and pretty much everything related to sushi are hotly debated. Please do not bring this debate here. We are talking about Lay’s potato chips. Give me some leeway.
Okay, got off on a tangent there. The point here is that I was perfectly happy enjoying my wasabi chips, and then the pickled ginger came along and made everything wonky. Ginger is refreshing, but “refreshing” is not really a quality I’m looking for in a potato chip.
While I was initially put off by this, I found myself continuing to eat Lay’s Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Potato Chips. The wasabi and soy sauce combo was fantastic, and these would easily be a winner in my book if the ginger hadn’t come along. That said, it didn’t deter me enough to not finish the bag.
These chips really do a great job of emulating the whole sushi package. Chalk it up to umami, I guess? Honestly, this is one of the most unique Frito-Lay flavors I’ve tasted that doesn’t seem to be designed to be purposefully disgusting. If I had my druthers, these wouldn’t win the Do Us a Flavor contest, and then Lay’s would immediately turn around and come out with Kettle Cooked Wasabi Soy Sauce Potato Chips. Now that is something I would buy again.
Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Finalist: Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Potato Chips
Lay’s is at it again with another “Do Us a Flavor” contest. The first one garnered a lot of attention, and the winner wound up being Cheesy Garlic Bread, which was surely better than Chicken & Waffles, but more boring than Sriracha, although those didn’t even taste like- you know what, not going to get into that again.
Here’s the thing, though – after the contest was over, they continued to sell all three of the flavors in stores. I feel like Lay’s betrayed us. How can I trust them again after that? What’s the point of a contest if all the flavors are just going to wind up on the shelves anyways?
Well, regardless, I feel it is my duty to cover this round of flavor finalists. This time there are four instead of three. I shall be covering all four, and I figured I shouldn’t bury the lead. So here we go, with cappuccino-flavored potato chips.
Cappuccino is, of course, is the crazywacky entry for Do Us a Flavor. There’s one in every batch. It’s the flavor that will never win, but that everyone will talk about for the weirdness factor.
I predict this will be the worst flavor, which is kind of like predicting the sky will be blue tomorrow morning. I bet it will also get a ton of votes, because people on the Internet are ridiculous, but I’m also sure this whole voting thing is rigged, so it doesn’t matter. Again: the Internet.
While we don’t get pictures or quotes on the bags this time, we get even more detail this year on the voting website.
Meet Chad Scott, a visiting lecturer at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Now you know exactly where to send your angry letters after eating his chips. What does he lecture on? I have no idea, but “creating awful chip flavors” seems the most obvious guess.
He apparently submitted this flavor because “cappuccino is his lifeblood”. I hope tasting his own chip creation does not turn him off of his lifeblood forever, because then he will die.
Each flavor finalist has a “fun fact”, and Chad’s is that he didn’t like his name as a youth so he introduced himself as Corey. This is more weird than fun, and raises many questions. Why Corey? Where did Corey come from? Was Corey more charismatic than Chad? Would Corey have taken a life path divergent from Chad, one that led him away from thinking cappuccino-flavored potato chips was a good idea? Maybe I should write a letter.
Okay, time to get to the chips. I guess. Do I have to, mom?
Upon opening the bag, all I could smell was that familiar Lay’s potato chip odor. But I was not fooled. The flavor dust looked exactly as you’d expect – a brown, speckled dusting that spoke of things to come.
I’m a little confused as to whether or not I should praise Lay’s for this next statement. Cappuccino Potato Chips tasted exactly as they’re supposed to. It’s so ridiculously easy to describe: take a bag of regular Lay’s, sprinkle in one of those high-end instant coffees (something like Starbucks VIA comes to mind), and you’ve got these chips.
What makes this especially detrimental is that this isn’t straight coffee, so more than the flavor of that caffeinated beverage, you get prominent notes of milk and sickly sweet vanilla. These are not things that you want to taste on your salty potato chip.
So Lay’s nailed the flavor, but, as we’ve seen in the past, this is not always a good thing. Cappuccino is a great example of that. While they weren’t so bad that they made me gag, they were disgustingly sweet and I threw them away as soon as I’d nailed down the flavor profile, which was quickly.
Oh, by the way, Lay’s wants you to know very firmly that these potato chips do not contain caffeine. That’s a shame, because that would have been the only redeeming quality about these chips. Unless vanilla-milk-coffee-flavored chips are your thing. Which they shouldn’t be.
Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Finalist: Cappuccino Potato Chips
Today is International Bacon Day! To celebrate, here’s a little thing I’ve had on the back burner for a while.
You might look at new Ritz Bacon Crackers and see yet another bacon-flavored fad product.
I see the potential to relive a childhood favorite in a matte red box.
Nabisco used to have a cracker called Bacon Thins that I just adored as a child. They disappeared, and I’ve lamented them ever since. Can Ritz Bacon Crackers fill that void in my heart?
The Good: Has the familiar taste of Bacon Thins that I loved so much. The buttery flavor of Ritz is still there, but doesn’t interfere with the bacon flavor like I thought it would. They have cracked black pepper in them that doesn’t really show up until after you’re almost done chewing, but has a pleasant, lingering spice to it.
The Not-So-Good: I would prefer them without the butter flavor. Even though I love it, the bacon taste is very artificial, so may not appeal to some. These have that flaky Ritz texture as opposed to the old Bacon Thins, which had a crisper and more dip-worthy texture.
Ritz Bacon Crackers aren’t perfect, but the flavor is so close to Bacon Thins that they make my nostalgic belly happy. Hope you enjoy International Bacon Day!
[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!