Remember last week’s free tacos from Jack in the Box? Well, it must have worked out so nice, they’re doin’ it twice, because it’s back! Get your coupon here and head on down today to get your free, incredibly greasy tacos!
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.
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 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.
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!
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!
Amongst the junk mail that arrived in my mailbox recently was a coupon for buy one order, get one free for Jack in the Box’s Mini Buffalo Ranch Chicken Sandwiches. Free, you say? Buffalo sauce and ranch, you say? Don’t mind if I do, Jack.
I’m glad I hadn’t seen the commercial for these sandwiches, because if I had, I might have thought differently. You can view it on YouTube here. The song alone is supremely annoying, even compared to your average commercial jingle. I mean, it’s no freecreditreport.com, but I still wanted to strangle the woman singing it. Lucky for her, I was soon distracted by the image of Jack dancing with cowboy midgets. Just to reiterate that point, the Jack in the Box ball-head guy was dancing with some midgets dressed up as cowboys.
I’ve been on the Internet long enough to know where this is headed.
Before my brain starts melting out of my ears from thinking about that for too long, let’s move on to the sandwiches. One order contains three sandwiches, because, as the name of the sandwich proclaims, they are miniature. This is not the first time Jack in the Box has gone tiny-sized – they also have Mini Sirloin Burgers. Their commercial, my research shows, also contains midget cowboys, but we’re just going to leave that one alone.
I have a beef, pardon the pun, with the recent trend of fast food restaurants miniaturizing their burgers. You can call them mini burgers, you can call them “Burger Shots” like Burger King does, but let’s face it – they’re Sliders. Or Slyders, or whatever the hell. White Castle introduced Slyders over 70 years ago, and for a long time, that was the only small hamburger most people knew about. I live on the west coast, so I’ve never been to a White Castle, but I know people on the east coast, who say that you go to White Castle a.) because you are drunk and crave bad, greasy food, or b.) because you are hungover and crave bad, greasy food. From what I have been told, there are usually regrets later on in the day.
It seems like recently, Slyders have become popular amongst the hip crowd. Much like how it’s now cool to buy a shirt that looks like it’s already seen 100 wash cycles, it is now cool to eat the cheap, greasy burger of the proletariat. Other fast food chains have noticed this, and probably thought, “Hey! We can make small burgers, too! Look at us, hipster college kids, we have Slid- I mean, mini burgers!” I’m surprised they aren’t rushing out to get licensed to sell beer so that they can make a Pabst Blue Ribbon/mini burger combo meal. Their stores would be flooded with moppy-headed guys wearing girl jeans.
So I suppose you could sum up my problem with the influx of mini burgers by imagining an old woman shouting at the kids to get off my lawn. I guess I’m just too old to appreciate national chains pandering to the trends of a younger generation, and I don’t see the point in eating a bunch of smaller burgers when one larger burger would suffice.
But what about the food? The wha? Ohhh, the food! Right.
Well, they don’t exactly look like the fluffy little guys in Jack in the Box’s official picture up at the top there, but that’s pretty much to be expected. Let’s check out the innards.
I see chicken, red sauce, and white stuff, so that’s promising, right? The lettuce looks a little sad and sparse, which is confirmed upon taking a bite. I was hoping the lettuce would produce a nice, crunchy foil to the texture of the chicken and the softness of the bun, but that didn’t really happen. The chicken is acceptable; it sort of falls in the middle of the spectrum between the disturbing flavor of a chicken nugget and an authentic, breaded chicken breast.
The sauces are what I was hoping would be the real stars of the show. The buffalo sauce is actually Frank’s RedHot, which calls itself a hot cayenne pepper sauce, but does taste almost exactly like buffalo sauce. I definitely got a hint of it as I ate the sandwich – I would have preferred a stronger presence, but I’m a saucemonger, and I’m assuming Jack’s testing determined that most people don’t want a wave of buffalo sauce flooding their mouth upon every bite. The ranch manages to be even more elusive. For those who know nothing about American bar food, ranch is traditionally served with buffalo wings, as a dip, to foil the heat of the sauce, which is why ranch is such a natural addition to this sandwich. I can detect a hint of tangy ranch flavor, but it gets a little overwhelmed by the flavors of the buffalo sauce and the chicken. They probably could have gotten away with omitting the ranch altogether, seeing as how there’s not really enough buffalo sauce to require something to quench the heat, but the occasional tang is a nice little addition.
I could only put down two of the three sandwiches, but I have the small appetite of a dainty, proper lady, so three is probably just the right number for most people. Overall, I was underwhelmed, but at the same time, hadn’t really expected to be blown away in the first place. The chicken is decent, the lettuce is sad, and the sauces are subtle, but present. An average sandwich from a national fast food chain – what more can you expect? If you’re in a hurry and crave a little buffalo, then give them a try – at least until a regular-sized version comes out, in which case, fuck mini sandwiches. Also keep in mind that they work out to over a buck a sandwich, and you can get a larger chicken sandwich for less off the value menu. If you’ve got a little time on your hands, this would be a pretty easy sandwich to assemble at home, and it would probably be a lot more flavorful.
- Score: 2.5 out of 5 hamburgers for the sandwich; 4 out of 5 Internet horrors for the commercial
- Price: $3.89
- Size: 3 mini sandwiches
- Purchased at: Jack in the Box
- Nutritional Quirks: Nothing too quirky here; just as unhealthy as you would expect a fast food chicken sandwich to be.
Today and next Monday (August 3rd), participating locations of McDonald’s are offering free iced and hot coffees from 7am to 7pm. Apparently, it’s mochas only, and apparently, they are “sample” sized (8 ounces), so caffiene addicts shouldn’t expect to catch a buzz unless they plan on McDonald’s-hopping all over the city. Considering it’s late July, I would suggest getting the iced version, but if you’re a big fan of drinking a diuretic that’s also hot when it’s 100 degrees outside, knock yourself out. I haven’t had their fancy mochas with the whipped cream and the chocolate syrup and the hey lady!, but I’ve had their regular iced coffee and it’s surprisingly good for having come from a restaurant that makes burgers that look like they’ve been run over by a pickup truck. Enjoy!
Bug Juice – is it truly a junk food, you ask? Maybe not per se, but as I examined this little gem in the beverage section of my local convenience store, I just couldn’t resist its charms. On first glance, it seems to be nothing more than a novelty kid’s drink, no more original than those little plastic baby bottles filled with candy that make me vaguely uncomfortable for some reason. Maybe that’s true, but hey – it was 8am, I was hungover, and I bought it. So now we’re going to look at it.
The label is adorable – there’s a polka-dotted bee…thing, a vampire-fanged spider (obviously the villain in the cartoon tie-in – I mean look at those eyebrows), a humble ladybug that may or may not have been poisoned by Fangs Eyebrow, and that obviously drunk guy at the bottom that my Internet research tells me must be some sort of centipede/millipede hybrid. There’s also some sort of scared worm, but he seems to be more of a bit player. What a cast of characters! Who knows what kinds of wacky adventures they’ll get into next? We don’t know a whole lot about their backgrounds, but I did find this:
Let’s ignore the “especially for kids” part and get to the real meat: FROM THE JUNGLES OF THE GREAT NORTH COAST! Which coast? What continent? These guys are getting more interesting all the time!
There’s also a giant American flag, which I didn’t immediately notice in the store, being all absorbed in the potential mishaps of the Bug Brigade. I have several questions about that flag. Most obviously, what is it doing there? It has nothing to do with my interesting insect friends. Why is it so prominent? Do they really think I’m going to care that my Bug Juice is made in the U.S.A., when there’s so much more going on here?
I don’t have the answers to any of these questions, so let’s move on to the drink itself. As you can see, the liquid is colored neon blue, and is described as “Berry Raspberry”. I would think this to be an unlikely flavor for actual bug juice, but who am I to question? I also find the term “berry raspeberry” to be a bit redundant; I suppose it could be taken to mean “raspberry and also some other random berries you may have heard of”, but since the ingredient list predictably only lists “natural and artificial flavors”, we’ll never know.
But how does it taste? If you’re like me, you’re a sucker for all things that are both blue and ingestible. The fact that most blue foods are also raspberry flavored (way to take up the red market, cherry) is just an added bonus. So, as you might imagine, it tastes like most other blue raspberry things – sweet, but also with a nice kick of sour that leaves your lips all puckery and the back of your throat slightly angry at you. Just harken back to Kool-Aid’s Berry Blue, which I consider to be the grandfather of all blue foods, whether or not that is actually true, and you’ll get the idea of how this Bug Juice tastes. The biggest difference is that Bug Juice really amps up the sour – after drinking half of the kid-sized 10 oz. bottle, I felt like I needed to coat the inside of my mouth with a Lip Smacker.
An inexplicably award-shaped ribbon urges me to meet the bugs at www.drinkbugjuice.com. I wanted to, I really did. I was dying to know more about my new friends. However, going to that URL results in a holding page, informing me that the website is in development and will be online soon. Imagine my crushing disappointment. Bug Juice, you are a tease in every way.
Bug Juice definitely delivers on the packaging, from the cute critters to the petite size to the mysterious patriotism. Honestly, it could have tasted like Windex and I still wouldn’t have had any hard feelings for Fangs Eyebrow. The truth is, this drink is marketed just for kids, and the taste is something only a kid would really want to drink. As an adult, I’m probably not supposed to like blue raspberry as much as I do, but even I can’t get down with drinking a whole bottle of what is essentially the outer coating on a blue Warhead candy. If you’re under the age of twelve, you’ll probably like Bug Juice, and if you’re an adult who eats lemons for fun, you’ll probably like Bug Juice, too. Outside of those demographics, you’ll probably find your face turning inside out after the first swallow.
- Score: 3.5 out of 5 hamburgers
- Price: $1.09
- Size: 10 oz. bottle
- Purchased at: Circle K
- Nutritional Quirks: One bottle contains 125% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C, which I suppose explains the extreme sourness.
Only available today until 2:30pm, Long John Silver’s is offering a free Baja Fish Taco. They claim that it “sounds weird, tastes delicious”. Who are these people that think fish tacos sound weird? No offense if you live in Iowa. Whether you think it’s weird or not, barge in to your local Long John Silver’s and demand your free taco, you cheapass.
Doritos has been going off the rails for years now, from their “X-13D Flavor Experiment” to “The Quest” to their recent “Late Night” line. The Flavor Department (I’d like to think such a thing exists) has been given carte blanche to create whatever gimmick they conjure up in their fevered delusions, and that is why we have things like Doritos Flavor Shots.
I have chosen Atomic Chile Limon, but you can also treat your taste buds to Blazin’ Buffalo Rush. The complicated process, as illustrated on the back of the bag, is as follows:
- Open the bag.
- Take out the “flavor shot”, which is a little packet that looks just like the packet on the front of the bag, except it comes in a little clear wrapper that makes you think you’re pulling a toy out of a cereal box, except instead of being covered in sugar, it’s covered in nacho cheese flavoring, and instead of being a toy, it’s a packet of atomic flavor.
- Open the packet (the clear packet protecting the flavor packet actually opens quite easily, which I found surprising; I expected an epic five-minute battle culminating in a pair of scissors) and sprinkle the impossibly neon orange powder inside into your bag of chips. This is described on the bag as “unleashing flavor”.
- Experience the “FULL FLAVOR FORCE!”
The base chips, as proclaimed on the bag, are indeed identical to Doritos’s nacho cheese flavored chips, so if you drop the flavor packet on the floor of your car, at least you’ve got nacho cheese as a backup. I unleashed the flavor and shook the bag for a few seconds to ensure as even a distribution of the powder as possible. I then made the mistake of opening the bag and sticking my nose in it, which was kind of like snorting a line of chili powder. After I could think again, I figured this was a positive sign; at least the chile part of the chile limon was present.
The first chip I picked looked like it had about half the powder from the flavor packet on it, which I had figured would happen, seeing as how I am a human being lazily shaking a bag of chips for a few seconds and not a giant metal cylinder constantly rotating a batch of corn chips while a line of nozzles evenly sprays flavoring on them for what I’m sure is a well-researched period of time. Which started to get me kind of irritated. You know, Doritos, I’m not paying you for atomic chips so that I can then do all the work. I don’t go to a restaurant so that I then have to cook my own food, and I don’t buy a bag of chips so that I have to add my own flavoring. I buy a bag of chips because I’m a lazy fuck who can barely muster up the strength to open the bag itself, let alone struggle with a double-wrapped packet of neon orange powder.
Inappropriate anger over chip gimmicks aside, the first chip’s flavor was actually rather mild. Between the blast of pain my nose received and the thick coating of powder on the chip, I was expecting the FULL FLAVOR FORCE! that was promised to me on the bag. Instead, I got the flavor of a nacho cheese Dorito, with a hint of chile flavor and some spice on the back end. Not very atomic. However, I ate a few more to give them a chance and finally came upon one that delivered. The only hint of limon I detected in the first couple of chips was probably only in my imagination, but this was was fairly bursting with what I can only describe as artificially flavored margarita mix with some chili powder mixed in. The lime-ish flavor recedes, but as you eat more chips, the spice starts to build in your mouth not unpleasantly. I wouldn’t call it fiery hot, but if you’re a giant sissy, you might find yourself fanning your own mouth and reaching for a glass of milk.
Resentment over having to do all the flavor work aside, I probably won’t be buying another bag of Doritos Nacho Cheese Flavor Shots Atomic Chile Limon chips again. I’m just not that fond of chips that taste like a non-alcoholic, spicy margarita. It almost makes me think of lime Lifesavers, which I believe no longer exist, which makes me feel old. Not to mention, I do not believe chips should taste like fruit-flavored candy. The strikes are piling up against you, Doritos.
In conclusion, if you like fruity chips, or you like the idea of violently shaking a bag of chips until it is nothing but crumbs, these Flavor Shots may be for you. If you like the latter but aren’t too crazy about the former, you could always try the other Flavor Shots flavor, Blazin’ Buffalo Rush. I will say this for them, though – out of all the Doritos flavors I’ve tried over the years, I’ve never encountered any that taste like a spicy margarita. Points for uniqueness. Well, maybe not points. Point. Half a point.
- Score: 2 out of 5 hamburgers
- Price: $1.29
- Size: 2 1/5 oz. bag
- Purchased at: Circle K
- Nutritional Quirks: The flavor packet adds 25% more sodium to the chips.