Category Archives: Junk Food

Cheetos Sweetos Caramel Puffs

I always love when traditionally savory brands get into the holiday-themed snack game, but man, Cheetos, why did you have to puss out and go sweet on me? I know Frito-Lay has the dark magic ability to make meat-flavored snacks. Couldn’t we go ham, as it were? That’s an Easter classic!

Okay, sorry to start this review out with a rant. While I didn’t get the odd blessing/curse of ham-flavored Cheetos, I did at least get these Cheetos Sweetos. Last year around Easter, Cheetos introduced their first Sweetos flavor, Cinnamon Sugar. Now they’re adding Caramel to the line.

Unlike the bag of Cinnamon Sugar Puffs, Cheetos has erased all trace of connections with Easter. Chester is still as maniacally enthusiastic as ever, but gone are the rabbit ears. Now he’s crazy for what appears to just be an entire bowl of melted caramel. Cool your heels, bro. That amount of caramel is strictly for making caramel apples for Halloween.

Despite the Easter-scrubbing, for some reason Cheetos decided to keep the Puffs egg-shaped, which seems an odd choice given the lack of bunnies on the package. But at least it makes for a structurally sound Puff.

Upon opening the bag of Sweetos, I was struck by the unmistakable smell of Brach’s caramel squares. Points to Cheetos for authenticity on that one!

…And, after tasting them, points immediately taken away. Well, let me expound: the Puffs were absolutely true to the smell. Cheetos Sweetos Caramel Puffs have a super authentic caramel taste, and therein lies the problem.

The Cinnamon Sugar Puffs kind of worked because they were evocative of churros, but these just taste like sweet caramel on top of savory corn puff. It’s highly disconcerting to both the taste buds and the mouthfeel, because something that tastes exactly like caramel should not have this kind of crunchy and airy texture.

I really thought Cheetos Sweetos Caramel Puffs would just be a sort of “meh” experience, but my mouth has been deeply offended. In fact, now I wish waaaay more that Cheetos had come out with some ham-flavored egg-shaped Puffs. That would be infinitely better than these things. Nailing the caramel flavor turned out to be the actual problem.

Blech, I’m going to go drink some milk now to cleanse my palate. These things stick with you, too.

Oh, and unlike the Cinnamon Sugar Puffs variety, there’s no indication on the bag that these are limited edition. So you can not enjoy these all year-round!

Limited Time Cheetos Sweetos Caramel Puffs

  • Score: 0.5 out of 5 Easter Bunny Chester Cheetahs
  • Price: $1.39
  • Size: 2.6 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Target
  • Nutritional Quirk: Contains no actual caramel – just “caramel seasoning” – which makes the authentic taste even more mysterious and, in some ways, insulting?

Limited Edition Peeps Oreo

When I told a friend about Peeps Oreos, the first question out of his mouth was, “Are those Peep-flavored Oreos or Oreo-flavored Peeps?”

The question is 100% fair. Oreo is known for popping out a mind-boggling amount of flavors, but Peeps has developed a prodigious assortment, themselves. If you would have asked me 20 years ago what junk food franchise would go wild with their flavor selection, first I would have told you to fuck off because I was a teenager, and then I would have said literally anything but Peeps.

But for now, at least, the answer to his question is that these are Oreos with Peeps-flavored creme. For now. Expect the opposite soon.

The timing is no accident – Easter is around the corner, and before they were bats and Christmas trees, Peeps were, at heart, chicks.

Our packaging eschews all holiday-related tropes in favor of a more Spring-y landscape. The background pops with bright yellow and white polka dots, and cute little pink butterflies float around our rather solemn-looking Peep. Grass and a white picket fence complete this perfect little scene. Minus Mr. Peep, it’s as saccharine as a Peep Oreo itself!

The whole thing just makes me want to sneeze. But it’s also allergy season and I can actually smell the pollen in the air. These damn plants, always wanting to fuck all at the same time.

The idea of Oreo creme that tastes like a regular Peeps marshmallow is super boring, so they decided to spice things up by adding crunchy sugar crystals to the mix, which makes sense because Peeps are covered in sugar crystals.

As always, I tried the creme by itself before I ate the Oreo as a whole. It was a smart move adding those sugar crystals, because I swear I couldn’t detect a flavor that was any different than a normal Oreo. Peeps and Oreos don’t taste the same, but I feel like they really phoned it in, just adding some sugar crystals to the regular mix.

When eaten as a whole cookie, again, you’re basically just eating a Golden Oreo, although I will say that the crystals added a crunch that was different than just the cookie crunch. It was a more pleasant experience than just eating the creme alone, because it felt more crunchy than gritty.

While the flavor of Peeps Oreo is fairly boring, the color certainly isn’t. One of the first colors of Peeps was pink, and Oreo went PINK with this filling. If you happen to have read the Internet lately, this has caused something that the Internet loves talking about: colored poop!

That’s right, the most notable thing about Peeps Oreos is that, if you eat enough of them, they will turn your poop bright pink. This is due, of course, to good ol’ Red Number 3. So, because of my status as an Investigative Reporter, I had to do my doo-doo diligence…

…and eat a whole row of Oreos at once. Also, sorry about that joke.

A row of Oreos is seven, in case you weren’t aware. And I cheated and only ate the filling, after my initial taste test for the review. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the Barbie playset in my toilet that I was hoping for. There was a faint pink tinge, but that was it.

Now, the accounts I read said they’d consumed a whole PACKAGE to achieve real results on the back end. It was a labor of love for me to just eat one row of filling – who the hell can eat an entire package in one sitting?

Enough poop talk, though. Remember those little tablets your dentist gave you to put in your mouth after you brushed your teeth to ensure you’d brushed properly? The ones that stained any plaque you missed bright pink? It turns out Peeps Oreos have the exact same effect! Thanks, Oreos, for making sure I brushed real real good!

Here are some other things these Peeps Oreos stained:

My tongue (which was another documented side effect, but I wasn’t expecting it to be QUITE that bright)

My toothbrush bristles (permanently, as it turns out – I had to buy a new one)

My sink, after I spit out my toothpaste (luckily, I noticed it was stained and wiped it off before that became permanent also)

So this review has been more about “How can I use Peeps Oreos to dye everything in my life pink?” than the flavor themselves, which speaks volumes about how interesting they were, taste-wise. The only interesting thing were the sugar crystals, and while they added a little extra crunch, I’d much rather have Marshmallow Crispy Oreos than these. And I wouldn’t have to worry about permanently staining my shirt while eating them.

Limited Edition Peeps Oreo

  • Score: 1 out of 5 toilet Barbie playsets
  • Price: $1.88
  • Size: 10.7 oz. package
  • Purchased at: Safeway
  • Nutritional Quirk: Gotta give it up to Red No. 3. Always.

Galerie Fries Before Guys Marshmallow Fries

“Hey Sharon, happy February 14th! I mean, fuck Valentine’s Day, right?”

“Well Carol, it’s my first Valentine’s Day without John, so I’m feeling-”

“It’s just a stupid Hallmark holiday anyways, amirite?”

“I mean, it’s my first Valentine’s Day without him, so I-”

“You know what? We should have an anti-Valentine’s Day girls’ night out! That’s right, I said anti!” How awesome would that be?”

“Carol, I’m not really feeling up to-”

“And to celebrate, I got all my gal pals these. Screw guys, amirite? We’re gonna do so many shoooooots!”

[quiet sobbing as Sharon holds her Fries Before Guys]

And that little play was pretty much what I thought of when I first saw Fries Before Guys. Listen, I get it. I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. I have a person that I love deeply (gross) and for one V-day we went to the shooting range (interesting and informative) but ultimately, it’s just a day. I won’t go on preaching, because to be perfectly honest I have another review to write because I’m a slave to consumerism who will buy any new Valentine’s-

Aw, dammit.

These things aren’t really designed for the taste, but just for the hell of it, here you go: it’s pretty weird to eat a marshmallow french fry. The taste and texture is sort of like you went cheap and got generic marshmallows instead of good ol’ Kraft Jet-Puffed, and if there’s any vanilla there, I couldn’t detect it. It was just a spongy, vaguely sugary fry thing.

And that’s it; that’s the gimmick. The real crime here is that there’s no “ketchup” packet to go with my “fries”. What are fries without ketchup? (I personally don’t like ketchup but the rest of the country disagrees, so I’m going with it.) This hokey candy might have won my heart if it came with a little packet of, say, raspberry syrup. That would have put it waaaay over the top.

Happy Anti-Valentine’s Day!

Galerie Fries Before Guys Marshmallow Fries

  • Score: 1 out of 5 sobbing Sharons
  • Price: $1.79
  • Size: 2.65 oz.
  • Purchased at: Target
  • Nutritional Quirk: It’s a marshmallow. It’s sugar.

Hershey’s Cupcake Kisses

Hey, did you know Valentine’s Day is tomorrow? I didn’t, which tells you just about how much I value the holiday! So I’ve got a couple of things to do quick reviews on before I hit the holiday deadline and these new V-Day treats become obsolete!

“Cupcake Kisses” isn’t an overtly Valentine’s Day-sounding name, but everything about the packaging tells you that you should be eating them in February. We’ve got pink overload, and hearts everywhere. Did you catch that those trees in the background are upside-down hearts? It’s a small but effective decoration on this otherwise sparsely-designed bag.

More hearts on the inside, and the flag says “CUPCAKE” instead of the usual “KISSES”. Interestingly, these are actually “white cookie cupcake” flavored Kisses. What is a white cookie cupcake? Your guess is as good as mine, but it just looks like bakery word salad to me.

The candies themselves look like an albino kid got the chicken pox, but when you cut them open they get a lot more fun! Little pink balls of cookie await your mouth as you chomp on them, evoking the exact texture of Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme, but instead of chocolate balls, these pink guys seem to be nothing-flavored. Sugar-flavored? The whole shebang just tastes like Hershey’s white chocolate with some extra sugar thrown in.

Hershey’s Cupcake Kisses don’t taste like cupcakes, but the crunchy balls inside do have a cookie-like texture. There’s an essential flavor failure here, but I feel like that’s not really what we’re here for. We’re here for a fun Valentine’s-themed candy, and on that front these Kisses succeed. Biting into one and seeing fun pink crunchies is better than eating a conversation heart, that’s for sure.

What irritates me the most is that they could have made the pink crunchies raspberry or strawberry-flavored, and then they would have had a truly unique Hershey’s Kisses flavor. But they just went the decorative route and slapped “cookie cupcake” on there. So I guess I basically just contradicted the previous paragraph in saying they weren’t a failure.

But at least they’re still kinda fun!

Hershey’s Cupcake Kisses

  • Score: 2.5 out of 5 albino kids with chicken pox
  • Price: $3.59
  • Size: 10 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Target
  • Nutritional Quirk: Nothing weird here, guys. It’s all just sugar.

Great Value Double Decker Chicken & Bacon Sandwich

As we all know, there are times when life will kick you in the balls. I mean really just get in there hard, like your dick reverberates and even your taint feels it. That’s how nard-kicking works, right?

It is at these times that you think this pain will never end, and there is no joy in the world. Well, dear reader, I want you to remember when you feel this way that there was a time, a time when you were a part of this universe, that Walmart sold a KFC Double Down Sandwich knockoff under their most generic of brands, Great Value.

I want you to always keep this information with you and call upon it in times of sorrow. This is a real thing that happened, while you were alive. And I ate it. My gift to you.

And look at that box design. “Late Night Cravings” and the overall design seem to invoke Jack in the Box’s Munchie Meals, but ALSO completely plagiarizes an old line of Doritos Late Night flavors that included Tacos at Midnight, Last Call Jalapeño Popper and All Nighter Cheeseburger, the latter of which I reviewed waaaay back in the day.

Psh, what was I thinking? Totally different.

Anyways, everything about this item thrills and horrifies me. The idea of someone mimicking the Double Down in frozen form seems clever and almost inevitable, but for Great Value to be the ones to do it? Great Value?! The mind boggles. And with zero fanfare whatsoever. In this zeitgeist of food as clickbait, Walmart just quietly put their Late Night Cravings line on shelves and walked away.

Oh yeah, there’s more of these fuckers. Can you say Donut Cheeseburger? Great Value can. I can’t even remember if my Walmart stocked those or if I only had eyes for the generic Double Down. Or maybe my brain couldn’t handle the idea of eating a Great Value Donut Cheeseburger. I took the lesser of two evils…maybe?

Since this whole line is obviously aimed at stoners and/or drunks, just like Munchie Meals, there are only microwave instructions for it. What surprised me, however, was that there were steps. C’mon, guys, who has time for steps? This is (generic) Hot Pocket-level food and should have been designed to be cooked accordingly.

This did, however, give me a chance to inspect the ingredients of this sandwich. The chicken patties looked fairly okay even frozen, but can we talk about this “bacon”, please? What the fuck is this? The cheese just looked like a bunch of Kraft American squares frozen together, but in what world is this weird, thin, floppy meat-disc bacon? It is not. Much like this generic sandwich, it is generic meat. I’d be more frightened, but it’s so thin that I feel like it can’t do too much harm.

Not off to a great start in the looks department.

When I took the chicken out to assemble and finish cooking it, it was kind of soggy, which gave me worry. However, more cook time and a little bit of time to cool down make the chicken…buns firm up nicely. The breading was only crispy around the edges but it did have a little bit of flavor to it, which was more than I was expecting. What I was expecting was horror, obviously.

The quality of the chicken was about on par with name-brand frozen nuggets, which was also more than I was expecting. Somewhat rubbery with a couple of disturbing bits of gristle. At least the meat wasn’t grey, right guys!

The cheese tasted simultaneously like plastic and nothing, which was right on par. It added a little bit of greasy lube into the mix, if that helps things. I guess it helped things? I’m eating a Walmart Double Down; I’m not sure anything I say is to be trusted at this point.

Floppy meat-disc did exactly what I wanted it to, which was nothing. Well, actually, it did add some artificial smoke flavor, which helped to make things a little more flavorful. But any texture this thin little meat thing would have added completely disappeared between two large hunks of chicken.

The Great Value Double Decker Chicken & Floppy Meat-Disc Sandwich does have one thing going for it, which is that it is quite filling. Each chicken bun has definite heft, and when you squish them together and add cheese, this is no snack – it’s a full-on meal.

Oh, there’s another thing it has going for it: like the Colonel, Great Value also has 11 secret herbs and spices, except the secret is that all of them are fucking salt. Two salty chickens, one disc of what might just be pure salt with Liquid Smoke added, and I’m pretty sure they salted the cheese, too. I love salt more than the next person, but this thing had me downing a good 50 ounces of water and coming back for more. Check the nutritional quirks below to see just how much salt.

Things could have gone so, so much worse with Great Value Double Decker Chicken & Bacon Sandwich. I wouldn’t trust my ass with Great Value toilet paper, so trusting my mouth with this imitation Double Down was a real risk. In the end, it just wound up being a hefty salt bomb. Nothing too scary (as long as you didn’t look at the bacon), but nothing particularly flavorful, either.

I will say this, though: hours later, it was still sitting in my stomach as a ball of unrest, judging me for the lifestyle choices that have led me to this point. Or maybe I was just so, so full of water.

Great Value Double Decker Chicken & Bacon Sandwich

  • Score: 0.5 out of 5 floppy meat-discs
  • Price: $2.98
  • Size: 2 sandwiches
  • Purchased at: Walmart
  • Nutritional Quirk: Get ready for 2,090 milligrams of sodium in your mouth from one sandwich. A real KFC Double Down had 1,380 mg and the Internet was losing its shit about how much salt it contained. At least you won at one thing, Great Value.

Doritos Loaded Jalapeño & Cheese

Happy New Year! How was your Christmas? And your…Thanksgiving? My god, how long have I been gone?

If you thought I was dead, fear not, for instead of being dead, I’ve just been in a lazy rut. If I believed in making New Year’s resolutions, mine would be to put out more content this year. But I don’t. So enjoy this review for a product that isn’t even that new!

Doritos Loaded have been around for a while, but I kind of forgot to look for them, until I found myself staring at them recently during a stroll through Walmart. My world shrank. It was just me and the Doritos Loaded. Part of me wanted them, because of you. Part of me wanted them because I was fascinated. And part of me wanted to walk away, because who wants to look someone in the eye while they scan your box of Doritos Loaded?

Thank god Walmart has self-checkout.

These actually began as a fast food offering from Burger King before transitioning to the freezer aisle. Between these and the Doritos Loco Taco, it seems like Doritos will just whore themselves out to any old restaurant. Coming soon: Doritos Orange Chicken at Panda Express!

Conversely, Burger King has gotten cozy with Frito-Lay once more, using a slightly different orange dust to coat their Chicken Fries with Cheetos. Coming soon: The Cheddar & Sour Cream Ruffles Whopper!

I don’t think BK ever had a jalapeño and cheese version, just the cheese variety. That’s also available in frozen form, but I had to go with the spicy version, of course. The box is strangely…ordinary. Almost like a regular bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos. Almost like it’s normal to be eating these.

But don’t worry! As soon as you open the box, you realize you’re getting into something. Each triangle, which is about the size of a chicken nugget, is violently orange, like the most flavor-dusted chip you’d ever find in a bag of tortilla chips. And once you open the bag, damned if it doesn’t smell just like Nacho Cheese Doritos. It’s like you’ve been blessed with a bag of eight very big, fat, neon Doritos. Except you have to cook them.

You’d think such a stonerific food would have a microwave option, but no! If you want to enjoy Doritos dust stuffed with cheese, you gotta fire up that oven. Seems like a lot of effort for a little snack, but after cooking them, I think I can see why they wouldn’t work in the microwave.

Fresh out of the oven, the breaded outside of these guys was very crispy and entirely reminiscent of a jalapeño popper. If you’ve ever tried to reheat poppers in the microwave, the breading turns into a bit of a soggy mess – thus the oven-baking instructions.

Despite the strong odor when I initially opened the bag and the neon orange coloring, Loadeds were pretty light on the actual Doritos flavor. There were hints of that classic Nacho Cheese flavor in the breading, but it definitely lacked the taste of tortilla chips.

Further overshadowing the taste of Doritos, these big ol’ triangles were quite spicy. Which isn’t a complaint; it’s actually a compliment. Those festive little red and green jalapeño bits packed a pleasant punch.

With so many things going for them, Doritos Loaded fails on a pretty important component, which is the cheese filling. Sure, it was gooey and probably very artificial and worked great with the peppers, but these puffy orange pillows were mostly full of hot air. Am I proud of that joke? A little bit. But I’m also a little miffed at Doritos for not filling these things with more cheese. They should be bursting with cheese.

So just to recap, all these words amount to a really simple breakdown: Doritos Loaded are basically deconstructed jalapeño poppers. And while I wanted to be all like, “Ew, gross, so weird,” I love me some jalapeño poppers. It just so happens that these have the Doritos brand on them. And they’re triangles. And they’re bright orange. But beyond the very light nacho cheese flavor in the breading, these could have been any other brand of frozen poppers.

I enjoyed the crispy breading and the level of spice, but there just wasn’t enough cheese. The added flavor to the breading was a nice change-up, but if I’m going to compare them to other frozen poppers, the cheese quantity becomes a real issue.

On the other hand, at least when you bite into them, the whole jalapeño doesn’t come sliding out, depositing molten hot cheese and grease all over your fingers. That’s a nice plus.

Doritos Loaded Jalapeño & Cheese

  • Score: 3 out of 5 neon orange triangle pillows
  • Price: $2.98
  • Size: 8 pieces
  • Purchased at: Walmart
  • Nutritional Quirk: There are so many ingredients on the side of the box that I tried to count them twice and lost my place. Suffice to say it’s well over 30.

Cheetos Bag of Bones Flamin’ Hot

cheetos-bag-of-bones-flamin-hot-bagToday is Halloween and I didn’t do ONE SINGLE spooky review this year. What a shitty Junk Food Betty.

Honestly, I was really unimpressed with this year’s offerings, but that’s no excuse. To make it up you, here is my heart:

cheetos-bag-of-bones-flamin-hot-heart

Or, more specifically, my rib cage. But I thought it looked like a heart.

The one thing that caught my eye this year was Cheetos Bag of Bones Flamin’ Hot. I know, I know, it’s not a new flavor OR a new concept. But it’s so perfect.

Look at our skeleton man on the package. He’s obviously being tortured by an Evil Chester Cheetah, who cackles in glee at his misfortune. Eeee!

cheetos-bag-of-bones-flamin-hot-skeleton

Here’s this year’s Cheeto skeleton, or should I say, HELLeton. As you can see, several of his bony demon fingers have been pulled off, either through some method of torture or because the OSHA standards are clearly lacking in hell.

cheetos-bag-of-bones-flamin-hot

Here is a hell sun, because when the demons come to walk the earth it will be like the scorching of a thousand suns. Or something? I don’t know! Ask Evil Chester Cheetah!

Happy Halloween, everybody!

Lay’s Passport to Flavor Kettle Cooked Indian Tikka Masala and Brazilian Picanha Potato Chips

lays-passport-to-flavor-kettle-cooked-indian-tikka-masala-and-brazilian-picanha-bagsHere we have the last half of the Passport to Flavor varieties. I’m pretty excited about these last two flavors, as they represent some of my favorite flavors. Without further ado, let’s dive in!

Kettle Cooked Indian Tikka Masala

Previously we traveled from Greece to China; now we’re heading off to India. The flight from China to India is only four and a half hours – that’s less than it takes to cross the United States!

Lay’s calls it Indian Tikka Masala, but this dish purportedly originated in Glasgow and is actually a British national dish. In case you weren’t aware, Indian food is insanely popular in the UK.

The pictures Lay’s uses to symbolize India are a lotus flower, an elephant with a fancy…riding thing on its back, something that I’m pretty sure is supposed to be a mandala, and the Taj Mahal. If they were being fair, it would have British things on it, like…rain, and, I don’t know, a TARDIS? Just a big picture of Morrisey on the bag.

Our back-bag blurb for this one says, “Packed with flavorful spices like turmeric and cumin, the tomato-based dish Tikka Masala is a fixture in global cuisine. Open this flavor and bring some khushee to your day!”

I love that Lay’s is trying to teach us foreign languages, one potato chip bag at a time. Here we have the Hindi word khushee, which I learned means joy or happiness! Or picnic. Picnic was also listed as a defintion.

I barely got the bag open before my nose was assaulted with the smell of curry spices. Oh, what a delightful odor!

lays-passport-to-flavor-kettle-cooked-indian-tikka-masala

The chips are an appropriately bright shade of orange, considering that real Tikka Masala is often so violently colored that it looks like it’s going to commit federal crimes on your digestive system.

Unlike the Chinese Szechuan Chicken flavor of Lay’s, the chicken flavor wasn’t super prominent in Indian Tikka Masala. Instead, you’re punched in the mouth with the flavors of tomato, turmeric and cumin, along with a level of heat that is not shabby.

Lay’s definitely captured the essential flavors of Tikka Masala, but managed to do it in a way that isn’t so heavy that you can only eat a few at a time. These are totally munchable, especially if you like your chips with a little bit of a kick. Warning: you’ll definitely crave some solid curry after eating some of these.

Brazilian Picanha

From India we go to Brazil, our final destination. The flight was 19 hours; at this point, you want to kill yourself, but the flight is mostly empty so you get an entire row to yourself so you can lay down. Score! But the only in-flight movie available is Gigli. You win some, you lose some.

Brazil is represented by a sun, a parrot, a soccer- sorry, football, and a palm tree. Damn, I feel like Lay’s really phoned it in for Brazil. Which is especially insulting since these chips came out around the same time as the Olympics.

I’ve never had picanha, but it sounds amazing. There’s a Brazilian steakhouse near me called Fogo de Chão, where people just walk around with giant slabs of meat and cut it off for you right at your table. This sounds like the most amazing thing in the world to me.

Lay’s has a trick up its sleeve with this flavor: in teeny-tiny print under the chip name, it says “Steak & Chimichurri Sauce”.

So maybe I’ve never had proper picanha. But I’ve had the shit out of some chimichurri sauce. It’s like pesto’s Argentinian cousin, except made with parsley and oregano. It’s so, so good. I just got at least 80% more excited about these chips.

Now let’s learn something from Lay’s: “Picanha, the finest cut of Brazilian steak, is skewer-grilled with coarse salt to lock in flavor. Mix in the bright flavors of chimichurri sauce & you’ll be saying ‘mais, por favor!’”

I didn’t have to look this one up, because I have a rudimentary knowledge of Spanish and there’s some overlap into Portuguese, so this obviously means “more, please!” Much easier to understand than the picnic word.

lays-passport-to-flavor-brazilian-picanha

Might as well lay it out there: Brazilian Picanha potato chips taste like actual grilled steak and what dark goddamn magic is Lay’s hiding in their flavor laboratory?

These chips are goddamn delicious. My problem lies with the chimichurri flavor, though. Maybe it’s just my experience, but I was hoping for a stronger presence with more kick. Instead, it was more laid back, throwing some garlic and a little herbiness in with the predominant steak flavoring.

That said, the ingredients list does include everything in chimichurri, even extra virgin olive oil. Once I adjusted my expectations, I found out I liked Brazilian Picanha even more. The steak is the real flavor here, and it shines in all of its unnaturally realistic glory.

These were two solid flavors from Lay’s and a great way to end our Passport to Flavor trip. I hope you had a great trip!

Lay’s Passport to Flavor Kettle Cooked Indian Tikka Masala and Brazilian Picanha Potato Chips

  • Score (Kettle Cooked Indian Tikka Masala): 4 out of 5 digestive federal crimes
  • Score (Brazilian Picanha): 4.5 out of 5 men walking around with meat slabs
  • Price: $5.98 (for an embarrassingly large multipack of 20 bags of Lay’s)
  • Size: 1 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Walmart
  • Nutritional Quirk: Along with beef fat, Brazilian Picanha also contains “beef extract”. Perhaps we’re better off not knowing what that is.

 

Lay’s Passport to Flavor Wavy Greek Tzatziki and Chinese Szechuan Chicken

lays-passport-to-flavor-wavy-greek-tzatziki-and-chinese-szechuan-chicken-bagsLay’s has come out with four new flavors, and for once they’re not asking you to make agonizing decisions about what should stay and what should go. Instead, they’re running a contest called Passport to Flavor, where you can enter to win…I don’t know, trips to places and stuff. I’m just here for the chips.

Lay’s Wavy Greek Tzatziki

lays-passport-to-flavor-wavy-greek-tzatziki

The first stamp on our flavor passports takes us to Greece. You can tell because there’s a pegasus on the bag! I feel like a pegasus belongs more on the bedroom wall of 11-year-old me than a bag of chips, but hey. There’s also a dove with an olive branch, in case you haven’t been hit over the head with mythology enough.

To finish up the theme, we also have the Parthenon, and a scroll, because…you know…scrolls. I like that Lay’s couldn’t think of anything from Greece that had come about in the last two millenia.

No matter when the Greeks invented it, tzatziki is a baller condiment. And I say that as a great lover of condiments. I never would have thought that I’d be a fan of putting yogurt on meat, but no gyro is complete without the stuff.

The back of the bag has a little blurb that says, “When the Greeks mixed dill, garlic, and other unique spices to yogurt, Tzatziki became a Mediterranean classic! There’s no doubt this creamy flavor will have you saying ‘OPA!’”

I’ve heard people say “OPA!” before, but I was never quite sure what it meant, so I decided to look it up. According to one website, “The actual meaning of “Opa!” is more like “Oops” or “Whoops!” Among Greeks, you might hear it after someone bumps into something or drops or breaks an object.”

The idea of Lay’s telling me that I’ll be saying “Whoops, stubbed my toe eating tzatziki-flavored potato chips!” just tickles me.

What also tickles me is the flavor of these chips. They’re like Sour Cream & Onion’s hairier cousin. It’s simple, but it works: the base flavor of creamy, tangy yogurt, with highlights of bright dill and even a bit of refreshing cucumber. It’s that simple, and it’s spot-on tzatziki. If you like the flavor of this Greek dressing, then you’ll like these Lay’s.

It’s also worth noting that one of the ingredients is “tzatziki seasoning”, which contains natural dill, cucumber, and yogurt flavor, although I’m not entirely sure what natural yogurt flavor means. Powdered yogurt?

Chinese Szechuan Chicken

lays-passport-to-flavor-chinese-szechuan-chicken

Our next stop is China. Your flight was 12 hours long; it totally sucked, but at least you had the aisle seat.

Lay’s has represented China with bamboo, a pagoda, a traditional Chinese dragon and one of those paper lanterns that I associate more with a trip to Party City than China itself.

The poor Szechuan chicken on the bag doesn’t even get the dignity of being placed on a plate; it’s just represented in a take-out box, delivered to a young couple in love who just got their first studio apartment, eaten while they sit on the bare floor and make Goo Goo Gai Pan eyes at each other.

“The regional Sichuan pepper is where takeout favorite Szechuan Chicken gets its name. Why wait for delivery – we’ve got the tongue-tingling sensation of ‘málà’ right here!”

It seems like the theme for Lay’s Passport to Flavor is to use one foreign word per cringingly caps lock-filled blurb on the back of their bags. I’d never heard of málà before, so I looked it up, and apparently it’s a “popular oily, spicy, and numbing Chinese sauce which consists of Sichuanese peppercorn, chili pepper and various spices simmered with oil.”

“The term málà is a combination of two Chinese characters: “numbing” (麻) and “spicy (hot)” (辣), referring to the feeling in the mouth after eating the sauce. The numbness is caused by Sichuan pepper, which contains 3% hydroxy-alpha-sanshool,” Wikipedia goes on to educate me, combining etymology and science into one compressed lesson.

I’ve had Chinese food many times, but I’ve never had Szechuan chicken. I was worried that this would impact my ability, but luckily (maybe?) Lay’s seemed to have me covered, seizing my taste buds with chopstick-like precision. I don’t know what that means.

My first chip flooded my mouth with chicken bullion flavor, but was quickly followed up with strong notes of soy sauce, peppers (both with flavor and heat) and then a hint of something bizarrely nostril-clearing. Wasabi? Horseradish?

This seemed out of character with the flavors of Szechuan chicken, but maybe it was the málà at play? Very curious indeed.

Some of the ingredients listed include actual roasted Szechuan peppers and “natural Szechuan wok type flavor”, which is a mysterious phrase for an ingredient. Gotta love that natural wok (type) flavor.

All of these flavors complemented each other nicely and created a complex mélange that would be delicious as part of a Chinese meal, but doesn’t make for a very snackable potato chip. It’s just too rich and intense to eat more than a few chips at a time.

Lay’s Passport to Flavor Wavy Greek Tzatziki and Chinese Szechuan Chicken

  • Score (Wavy Greek Tzatziki): 4 out of 5 awesome pegasi
  • Score (Chinese Szechuan Chicken): 3 out of 5 wok type flavors
  • Price: $5.98 (for an embarrassingly large multipack of 20 bags of Lay’s)
  • Size: 1 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Walmart
  • Nutritional Quirk: The Chinese Szechuan Chicken flavor contains THREE different chicken ingredients! (Broth, powder and fat)

 

 

 

Limited Edition Choco Chip Oreo Cookies

Limited Editon Choco Chip Oreo Cookies PackageIf I’m counting correctly, Choco Chip Oreos are the sixth Oreo to come out in 2016. An astonishing number. And yet, I’ve only reviewed one out of the other five. Why so lax? Why aren’t I on these like sugary creme on sugary cookie?

I’m just so Oreo-d out. I probably could have drummed up some interest in the Fruity Crisp ones, but I just never got around to them. My brain and my cupboard just didn’t have room for it.

But for some reason, these Choco Chip Oreos caught my attention. On the outside, it looks like a pretty boring premise, and not unlike the Limited Edition Cookie Dough Oreos from early 2014. But once you look deeper, it becomes somewhat of an Inception-esque cookie creation: The cookie part looks like chocolate chip cookies and the creme is “Choco Chip” flavored.

The sum of its parts is an Oreo, a cookie unto itself that has inspired countless knock-offs and mix-ins, that is masquerading as a chocolate chip creation, and entirely different type of cookie that also has countless mix-ins.

It has finally happened. Oreo has taken the cookie and folded it in upon itself, causing some sort of cosmic cookie implosion. This is the end, my friends. It’s been a good ride.

Okay, so that’s drastic. The cookie world will not end. In fact, there’s probably a PR being written right now about yet another Oreo cookie flavor. But for now, there is Choco Chip.

The name itself raises questions. Choco Chip could be a cutesy name, which is fine, but then Oreo really commits to the phrase by also calling the creme Choco Chip. I guess, unlike Cookie Dough Oreos, these are not made with “chocolatey chips”, which is also a dubious “ingredient”. Choco Chip just takes it one step further outside the zone of a real food item.

Limited Editon Choco Chip Oreo Cookies

When I opened the package I took a big ol’ whiff, and the smell was like the memory of chocolate chip cookies combined with something artificial…maybe the creme. It was an interesting olfactory sensation. It’s like chocolate chip cookies, but if this was a dystopian future and everyone had forgotten the recipe, so they just tried to make them from their grandmothers’ memories of their mothers’ kitchen.

Limited Editon Choco Chip Oreo Cookies Creme

As has been my habit when trying new Oreo flavors, I tried the cookie part first. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it did not, indeed, taste like a dystopian cookie memory; instead, it tasted like an almost-there Chips Ahoy! cookie. It had a very satisfying crunch – typical of an Oreo – and extra-crunchy bits that, while I had no illusions about being actual chocolate chips, added an extra layer of texture.

I’d honestly be curious to see how these Oreos stacked up against the newly-released Chips Ahoy! Thins.

But, as we all know, there’s two parts to an Oreo, and arguably the most important part is the creme filling. Like the cookie, it was flecked with a darker chocolate color, but again, these were not chocolate chips. Unlike the cookie, however, they added no different texture to the creme.

What was most notable about the filling was how much it didn’t taste like a chocolate chip cookie. Alone, it had a light, fake chocolate taste with a bit of an odd aftertaste, as well as Oreo’s typically over-sweet creme flavor.

Chocolate chip cookies have a distinct taste even without the chocolate chips, and the creme in Limited Edition Choco Chip Oreo Cookies totally failed to capture that flavor. It didn’t even manage to get a good chocolate flavor going.

The cookies, however, had a nice, chocolate chip cookie-esque flavor to them, which was bolstered by the crunchy texture and the added crunchy bits. I started to wonder if I was just imagining the extra crunchiness, so I ate way more Oreos than I usually can tolerate in an attempt to figure it out. My conclusion? I had a stomachache, and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t just imagining them.

When you eat a Choco Chip Oreo as a whole, you get a sad juxtaposition of good and bad, chocolate chip cookie and Choco Chip weirdness. If only they could have made the creme match the cookie; then they would have had a real powerhouse Limited Edition flavor on their hands.

I might just wind up twisting the rest of these apart, eating the cookies, and using the creme to make some sort of weird golem sculpture. After all, Halloween is right around the corner, friends!

Limited Edition Choco Chip Oreo Cookies

  • Score: 2.5 out of 5 Inceptioned creme golems
  • Price: $2.50
  • Size: 10.7 oz package
  • Purchased at: Walmart
  • Nutritional Quirk: The Choco Chip-iest ingredient listed is cocoa, which is depressingly far down on the list.