All posts by Kelley

Junk Food Freebie: T.G.I. Friday’s Buffalo Wings

TGIFridaysLogoSunday, September 13, and Monday, September 14, you can head down to your local participating T.G.I. Friday’s and score six free buffalo wings.  Apparently, you must be sitting at the bar, but we all know that’s where you’d be anyway, sipping that fabulous green appletini.  I guess this is supposed to promote the start of the NFL season with the “Largest Kickoff Party In the U.S.A.”  Yeah, baby!  Go Raiders!

…Who am I kidding.  I hate football and I hate T.G.I. Friday’s.  But I do love free food.  So, if you’re willing to tolerate throngs of jerkoffs yelling at a flat-screen television in order to score six buffalo wings for free, go for it!

Junk Food Freebie: Chick-fil-A Original Chicken Sandwich

FreeChickfilALogo

Get a free original chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A on Labor Day.  Not so fast, though, hoss – there’s a catch.  You must be wearing some item of clothing (or a tattoo?  Face paint?  The promo wasn’t too clear on that) that contains a sports logo.  If you’re a sports fan, this should be no problem.  If you’re a giant nerd, you’ll feel debased and ashamed as you borrow your brother-in-law’s Raiders jersey just so you can get a chicken sandwich.  Either way, it’s free!

ChickfilASandwichEquation

Jalapeño Cheddar Tortilla Combos

Combos Jalepeno Cheddar TortillaCombos have a special place in my heart. As a child, I was absolutely in love with their Pizzeria Pretzel flavor. Maybe it was the alliteration that captivated me. Who knows? There was just something about the salty pretzel combined with the tastes-nothing-like-pizza filling.

Sometime in my teens, Pizzeria Pretzel Combos disappeared, at least where I was living at the time, and I was heartbroken. I sat alone in my room, listening to The Cure, wondering what I had done wrong. Had I not bought enough to ensure their continued existence? Surely that could not be the case. As time went on, I eventually got over it, and Pizzeria Pretzels became nothing more than a distant memory, something I got misty-eyed about only after a few too many margaritas. I do the same thing when I remember my sordid love affair with Planters Cheez Balls. Prepare to be embarrassed if you ever take me to a T.G.I. Friday’s.

They eventually brought them back, but by then, I was older, more mature. I had moved on to more sophisticated fare, like shoving my face into a bag of Flamin’ Hot Funyuns.

…Okay, that is obviously a lie. Which is why, when I saw a bag of these new Jalapeño Cheddar Tortilla Combos, my mind harkened back to all the good times I had with Pizzeria Pretzel, and I knew I just had to get them. I haven’t had Combos in many years; will I fall in love all over again? Will that crunchy outer shell and creamy, ever-so-artificial filling sweep me off my feet?

Before we get to that, I have something important to tell you about. You know, it’s always nice when I pick up a fairly ordinary snack food and think, “What am I going to write about this to make it something more than just a description of what it tastes like?” And then there’s something on the packaging or their website that makes my head explode.

Such is the case with the Combos website. I don’t even know where to begin. Their home page can’t decide if it’s trying to look manly or Cold War-era Communist. In the middle of the page is “A Guide to Combivore Living”. What? Combivore? I understand trying to create a catchy new word that will associate your product with something people enjoy (Chocl-O-Bots and Delect-O-Cons come to mind), but seriously Combos, you’re trying way too hard. Combivore is a terrible, terrible word. Furthermore, there’s only one kind of Combos that’s even vaguely carnivore-related, and that’s pepperoni. Pepperoni is a pussy. Steak beats pepperoni up at recess every day and takes its lunch money.

I just realized that “Combivore” sounds a lot like “combover”. If you’re trying to project machismo, Combos, invoking thoughts of a man’s desperate attempts to conceal his dwindling virility by pasting the last few strands of his hair across his bald head is not the way to go about it.

There are so many more horrors, I can’t even describe them all, or this post would be 700 paragraphs long, so we’ll skip past the very obviously male-skewed marketing (in addition to “Combivore”, there’s a NASCAR promotion, a “Man Zone”, and a contest to win the “Ultimate Mancation”) and get right to the part that really made my head explode: the Combivore Tools section. It claims to have “blueprints for the Combivore lifestyle”. What it really contains is the blueprints for madness. I can’t even begin to describe these pictures, so I’ll just show you:

Combos Combrero

I appreciate that they illustrate the man wearing the Combrero as having giant jowls and probably weighing upwards of 500 pounds. Truth in advertising is so rare these days. The optional beverage holder is a nice touch. Wouldn’t have to want to actually reach out to grab your beer to wash down all those Combos you are eating OUT OF A FUCKING HAT.

Combos Tuxeato

Nobody who is looking at this website has, or ever will, wear an actual tuxedo.

Combos Handset Feeder

What is happening here? Is he yelling at the Combo? Surely he is not yelling at the Combo, unless he’s saying, “GET IN MY FUCKING MOUTH!” I guess he’s yelling at whoever is on the phone with him because their call interrupted his Combo eating. Except that’s not a real phone, it’s the Combos equivalent of those little plastic cell phones with the candy inside. This man is obviously insane.

Like I said: madness. I can’t even look at this website anymore. You can view a few more blueprints for unraveling the very fabric of reality at the official Combos website.

In order to give Combos a shot at reclaiming my heart, I’m going to pretend that the Combos marketing team that made that website is Combos’s crazy mother-in-law who collects Richard Nixon memorabilia and always smells like boiled cabbage. I have to visit her occasionally, but she lives in a special needs home far, far away, and I can pretend she doesn’t exist most of the time.

So, let’s see what you’ve got, Japaleño Cheddar Tortilla Combos.

Jalapeno Cheddar Tortilla Combos

Well, yeah, those are Combos, all right. What you see is pretty much what you get – a somewhat-creamy filling surrounded by a tubular shell of, in this case, crunchy tortilla. They smell strongly of artificial cheese flavoring. Anyone with half a brain and a desire not to die at age 30 of cardiac disease would find this smell mildly repulsive. It’s an innate warning sign, like the bright coloring of poisonous animals – stay away. Here there be danger. But I obviously have some sort of defective gene, since I find the smell kind of attractive. Fortunately, I’m sure evolution will step in at some point and ensure that I never procreate and infect the gene pool with my inferior survival instincts.

In spite of the strong cheesy smell, it’s actually the jalapeño that hits you upon first bite. These things are actually spicy! I was expecting the usual cheddar cheese Combos flavor with maybe a hint of bite on the back end, but the jalapeño just bursts in and takes over the joint. The flavor is somewhat akin to the juice that pickled jalapeño slices soak in. It’s hard to even tell what the cheese tastes like, but from what I can tell, it’s a lot like Cheddar Easy Cheese. If that gives you no frame of reference because you’ve never eaten cheese out of a can, then fuck you. Get off my website.

As I mentioned before, I haven’t had Combos in a long time, but if my memory serves correctly, the shell tastes exactly like a Combos cracker shell. Which is to say, it tastes like nothing. There’s absolutely nothing tortilla-esque about them. Honestly, I think they just slapped the word “tortilla” on the package and just used regular ol’ cracker shells. The front of the package really wants to tell me about how they’ve used stone ground corn, so I guess that’s the difference? Regardless, I probably couldn’t tell them apart in a blind taste test. It’s not to say they are bad – they just aren’t anything more than a solid, handleable vessel for the filling.

Did I mention these are spicy? It hits you right away and lingers well after you’ve finished eating them. Jalapeño Cheddar Tortilla Combos really aren’t fucking around.

On the scale of “how bad for me is this junk food product”, Combos just strikes me as being quite low on the spectrum. They just taste wrong. It’s just impossible to eat them without feeling like the guy wearing the Combrero, which is to say, wondering what you are doing with your life and taking your eyes off the tv for one second to contemplate the very real possibility of dying alone and nobody finding your body until the neighbors report a funny smell two weeks later. When you eat Cheetos, you feel like you’re indulging in a snack food craving. When you eat Combos, you feel like you’ve made some very poor life decisions.

So, did Jalapeño Cheddar Tortilla Combos reclaim my heart? Well, judging from the numbness that’s radiating down my left arm, I guess you could say they have, in a way.

All that aside, they are very spicy!

  • Score: 2.5 out of 5 hamburgers
  • Price: $2.29 (yeesh, seriously?)
  • Size: 6.30 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Circle K
  • Nutritional Quirks: If you eat the whole bag at once, which is what I used to do as a child, you will be consuming 840 calories.  Dude, seriously, put the Combrero down and go get a Big Mac or something.

News: Gizmodo’s Taste Test Week

The folks over at Gizmodo are running a little thing they call Taste Test. I’ll let them explain it best:

Taste Test is our weeklong tribute to the leaps that occur when technology meets cuisine, spanning everything from the historic breakthroughs that made food tastier and safer to the Earl-Grey-friendly replicators we impatiently await in the future.

They explore everything from turning fast food into gourmet creations to Duracell’s energy drink, with lots of interesting stuff in between.  I strongly suggest you check it out!

News: KFC Double Down – I want it

Holy cow.  The KFC Double Down.  According to this LA Times post, it’s only available in Omaha, NE and Providence, RI right now, which makes me weep. Two fried chicken fillets sit where the two pieces of bread on a sandwich would be, and in between them are slices of cheese, bacon, and Colonel’s Sauce.  Amazing.

Photo courtesy the LA Times
Photo courtesy the LA Times

You’d better believe I’m going to get one of these on my hands as soon as possible.  Is there anything that better represents this great country?  America!

Cheez-It Pepper Jack Baked Snack Crackers

Cheez-It Pepper Jack Box

The box of my Cheez-It Pepper Jack crackers claims to be new, but according to my somewhat dubious research, it’s been out since the beginning of this year. No matter, they’re new to me! Besides that, I’m inclined to believe anything that snack product packaging tells me. So, let’s check out some NEW! Cheez-It Pepper Jack Baked Snack Crackers.

Cheez-Its are one of the world’s greatest snacks. Cheesy and salty, you can take them anywhere. You can eat them while driving on a long road trip and not get greasy fingers. They are the perfect size and always the same shape, and the box keeps most of them from being broken. What more can you ask for?

I have not yet tried the Pepper Jack Cheez-Its, but I am predicting that this review will be pretty short, because really, how much can you say about Cheez-Its?  Even the pepper jack ones. How bad can they be? I’ve tried the Hot & Spicy and the White Cheddar varieties, and I found them both to be satisfactory, although their flavorings come in the form of a powder on the cracker, so I’d stick with the original if you’re driving, or if you’re on a date and don’t want your potential new lover to see you sucking a thick layer of seasoning off your fingers. Of course, if you’re on a date and you’re eating Cheez-Its, something has already gone very wrong.

Well, let’s crack this puppy open and get started!

Cheez-It Pepper Jack Crackers

Upon opening the bag inside the box, I’m greeted with that familiar Cheez-It smell. Nothing smells spicy, but I attributed that to an initial characteristic which surprised me: instead of the pepper jack flavoring being delivered via a powder resting on the surface of the Cheez-It, the flavor had instead been baked into the cracker. Score one for keeping a box of these in the car, if you are the type of person who feels they need to have snack food in their car at all times.  Don’t laugh; these people exist.

Cheez-It Pepper Jack Close-Up

You can see the little pieces of pepper inside the cracker. It does seem to look a bit like a little square of pepper jack cheese, with the bits of green and red peppers spread throughout, although some of the crackers had barely any visible peppers. They seem to be paler than normal Cheez-Its. I also noticed that these Cheez-Its had less salt on them. On regular Cheez-Its, you can see little crystals of salt covering the cracker, but those were mostly absent here.

I was really disappointed by the first few Pepper Jack Cheez-Its I ate. They tasted just like regular Cheez-Its, except blander, and you could definitely notice the lack of salt. I kept eating them, because hey, bland Cheez-Its are better than no Cheez-Its, and that’s when the pepper flavor hit. The more I ate, the more it built up, until I had a nice spicy heat sensation in my mouth. These guys really do taste a lot like pepper jack cheese. I can see now why they went easy on the salt – by making them less salty and toning down the cheese flavor, the peppery heat is really allowed to shine. My one complaint is that they might have toned down the cheese flavor a little too much – I think a little more cheesiness could have stood up to the heat, and been a nice compliment.

Of course, I’m just being a dick about that point – real pepper jack cheese is made with Monterey Jack, which is traditionally mild in flavor. And, true to its namesake, Pepper Jack Cheez-Its do contain Monterey Jack, although it seems the main cheese used to flavor these crackers is white cheddar. Perhaps I should be thankful – without the cheddar, there might not have been any cheese flavor coming through. Red bell peppers, green bell peppers, natural jalapeño flavor and red pepper are also listed as ingredients. Sounds pretty on par, if you ask me.

Well, looks like I managed to pull a pretty decent-sized review out of this box, after all. Cheez-It Pepper Jack Baked Snack Crackers are a-ok in my book. Will they be replacing regular Cheez-Its as the cheesy cracker staple in my household? Probably not. Regular Cheez-Its are tasty but largely inoffensive; these crackers pack a bit of a punch, enough that anyone with a palate sensitive to capsaicin-related heat might actually find themselves reaching for a glass of milk. These people are pussies. However, I think if I’m sitting on the couch, watching a nine-hour marathon of Law & Order in my pajamas, I’d prefer the cheesy saltiness of regular Cheez-Its over the spicy, but more mild and less salty flavor of Pepper Jack Cheez-Its.

  • Score: 4 out of 5 burgers
  • Price: $4.59
  • Size: 13.7 oz.
  • Purchased at: Albertson’s #980
  • Nutritional Quirks: Real cheese and real peppers, even if they were listed in the “contains less than 2% of” section.

Strawberried Peanut Butter M&M’s

SPBMM Package

Defying all stereotypes of what it means to be a woman, I’m not one of those people who runs around craving chocolate like a vampire coming off a two-week blood fast.  I’ll rock a Heath bar a few times a year, but other than that, I’m more of a savory type than a sweet tooth.  That said, I will admit that Peanut Butter M&M’s hold a special place in my heart.  Other M&M’s aren’t terrible; I grew up in a house where there was always a bowl of them on the coffee table, whether it be regular, peanut, or mint at Christmastime, and I wasn’t adverse to grabbing a handful occasionally.  But for me, peanut butter is the M&M of my heart.

Which is why I was mildly mortified when I saw the limited edition Strawberried Peanut Butter M&M’s popping up on store shelves back in May.  I avoided them for as long as I could, pretending that such an atrocity didn’t exist, but now that I have this place where I write about junk food, I figured it was my duty as a citizen of the Internet to try them.

As you can see by the packaging, Strawberried Peanut Butter M&M’s were launched as a tie-in with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.  Upon first glance, the two orange Ms appear to be dressed up as Mudflap and Skidz, two new Autobots introduced in the movie.  They are labeled as “The Twins”, they’re wearing the same colors as the bots in the movie, and the guy in green has a gold tooth, which they apparently had in the movie.  While I haven’t actually seen the movie, there has been some controversy over these two characters – I’ve read several articles that accuse them of being racist.  Gold teeth, illiterate, from the ghetto…draw your own conclusions, I’m not here to discuss cinema.  Either way, probably a poor decision to have the most controversial characters in the movie representing your wholesome snack.

Seems pretty conclusive, right?  Well, then I read the official Mars press release and got a little confused.

“The limited-edition flavor along with traditional M&M’S® Chocolate Candies are available in seven limited-edition collector packs featuring “Red,” “Blue,” “Yellow” and “Orange” M&M’S® characters, transformed into CHOCL-O-BOTS™ and DELECT-O-CONS™ alongside images of the dynamic “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” characters.”

So they’re not Autobots, they’re…CHOCL-O-BOTS?  And where are these Transformers that they are supposed to be standing alongside?  It seems that the official Transformer guys appear on other M&M’s packages, but not the limited edition ones.  Why?  Furthermore, what seizure-addled brain came up with the names Chocl-O-Bots and Delect-O-Cons?

Okay, I have to admit, Delect-O-Cons is a pretty clever play on Decepticons.  But still.

So what does strawberry have to do with all this?  Oh, sorry, I meant “strawberried”.  I guess if you’ve already come up with shit like Chocl-O-bot and Delect-O-Con, you might as well go all the way and start bastardizing words that already exist in the English language.  I guess they’re trying to say that peanut butter M&Ms have been transformed by strawberry.  Get it?  Huh?  Yeah, that’s pretty weak.

Crimes against grammar aside, I suppose I should actually eat the things at some point.  I wasn’t really looking forward to this – the idea of strawberry and peanut butter together in one M&M frankly disgusted me.  Upon further thought, however, I realized that I ate peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwiches almost every day as a kid.  That injected just enough optimism in my mind to go through with it.

WherestheBlue

Paying over a buck for 22 M&M’s seems a little steep, but hey, check out that snazzy faux-metal packaging up there.  Giving the candies a quick sniff, I was greeted with the smell of Nestle Nesquik strawberry milk.  I’m not sure if that’s a good sign or not.  And, hey, where did all my colors go?  Brown, red, and…baby diarrhea with red speckles?  I was immediately reminded of…

Peach Jelly Belly

Peach Jelly Bellies?!  The Mars Corporation has gone mad.

The flavor is a little confusing.  Upon first bite, your mouth is flooded with the exact Nesquik artificial strawberry taste that I had initially smelled.  The creaminess of the peanut butter was there, but the strawberry was overwhelming.  As the candy shell melted away, that familiar peanut butter M&M flavor started coming through.  However, after you’ve swallowed it all, your mouth is left with the memory of strawberry.  It’s all very discordant.  It’s as if strawberry and peanut butter were engaged in the classic comedy bit where strawberry goes out one door just as peanut butter enters through another, so peanut butter leaves just as strawberry goes back in, repeat ad nauseam.  They just never manage to meet up.

I tried sucking the candy shell off first instead of biting right into it, and had better results with that.  The strawberry essence in the shell is powerful and blatantly artificial, but I’ve always enjoyed that flavor.  Sucking the shell off gives time for it to fade before peanut butter steps up to the plate, wherein you’re basically left enjoying a peanut butter M&M without the chocolate component; the smoothness and flavor are basically identical.  It seems that letting the shell melt off first results in a finish of peanut butter, instead of strawberry muscling its way back into the picture when you chew the candy up straight away.

All in all, I felt like I was eating two different candies – one sweet, fast-melting strawberry hard candy and one creamy inside of a traditional Peanut Butter M&M.  It was bizarre, but I have to say overall it wasn’t the gastronomical nightmare I thought it was going to be.  The strawberry flavor is powerful and very sweet; if you don’t like the transparently artificial character of strawberry milk, you’re not going to like these M&M’s, and if you don’t like Peanut Butter M&M’s, then why the hell would you bother buying Strawberried Peanut Butter M&M’s, you freak.  In conclusion, I liked them – as two separate candies.  Combined, it’s a candy that’s jarring and inharmonious.

  • Score: 2 out of 5 burgers for the actual M&M’s; 4 out of 5 cans of Nesquik for the imaginary strawberry candy; 5 out of 5 Peanut Butter M&M’s for the imaginary Peanut Butter M&M candy
  • Price: $1.19
  • Size: 1.40 oz.
  • Purchased at: Circle K
  • Nutritional Quirks: 22 pieces of candy, 40% of your daily recommended allowance of saturated fat.  And there’s not even any chocolate.

Junk Food Freebie: Two Free Tacos from Jack in the Box

All day tomorrow, you can bring in the coupon pictured below and get yourself not one, but two free tacos, no questions asked!  You can print the coupon out from here.  I wouldn’t advise printing it straight from this blog, as it’s a little smaller on here than the real one is, and wouldn’t you be sad if they wouldn’t give you any tacos because your coupon was the wrong size.  You would be heartbroken.  You could try crying, but if the cashiers at Jack in the Box are anything like the cop that pulled me over today, that’s not going to work.  So print that coupon and have yourself a free lunch tom0rrow!

JitB 2 Free Tacos

Junk Food Freebie: Quiznos Toasty Toasty $1 Sub Sale

Quiznos One Dollar Sale

Okay, so it’s not exactly free, but it’s close enough.  I’m sure many of you have heard of this promotion already, but it’s a pretty darn good deal so I felt the need to share.  At participating locations, Quiznos is offering a buy one sandwich, get one for $1 deal.  That’s any size sandwich, which means you could buy a large, or foot-long, or whatever they call it, and get another one of the same size for a buck!  You’d be saving like, five dollars.  Not bad.  There’s two catches – the first is that both subs must be the same kind, and the second is that the deal only applies to four of their sandwiches: Classic Italian, Traditional, Turkey Ranch & Swiss and Mesquite Chicken.  Most of those are pretty self-explanatory, but what the heck does “Traditional” mean?  I guess I should buy one, or, rather, two, to find out.  This deal is for a limited time only – I read somewhere it ends on August 9th, but that wasn’t officially stated.  Either way, get your $1 sammiches while you can!