Category Archives: Junk Food

Spooky Nerds

Nerds LogoThis probably won’t be a full-on review, but I wanted to immortalize these Spooky Nerds on the Internet. When you see these big bags of Halloween candy with smaller, individually-wrapped packages inside, they usually put little effort into getting into the holiday spirit. They might throw a bat or a tombstone on the outer bag, but that’s about it. I guess they figure that the kids don’t give a shit if it looks spooky, and the adults are only buying the candy to hand it out to little assholes so their house doesn’t get egged, so who cares about Halloween themery?

Well, I’ll tell you who: Willy motherfucking Wonka.

Spooky Nerds

Check it out! Nerds running wild, dressed up as a witch, a ghost who is apparently vision impaired, and, flipping the bird to fundamentalist Christians everywhere, a little devil holding a pitchfork. With…fangs. Who is brown, which is odd, since there don’t appear to be any brown Nerds in this bag. Perhaps he’s meant to symbolize diversity. Wonka is totally a liberal.

That white one actually came in the orange box.  Being imperfect makes Spooky Nerds even cuter.
That white one actually came in the orange box. Being imperfect makes Spooky Nerds even cuter.

Here’s where Nerds really beats out the competition in Halloween coolness. It’s not just the bag that’s spooky – it’s the mini boxes inside, too! I would have liked to have seen black Nerds instead of white, but I understand – white fruit punch Nerds are already featured in several other Nerd varieties, so it’s easy to just toss them in a box. Orange Nerds are a little more inscrutable, as I’ve never seen them featured in the classic Nerd “two flavors, two sides” boxes. But then I remembered the gigantic boxes of Nerds they sell at movie theatre concession stands.

Rainbow Nerds

Goddamn, those boxes are huge. I’d imagine you’d be seeing rainbow going down AND coming up if you tried to eat that whole box in the course of one movie. Anyway, it looks like there could be some orange in there, but, unless you’ve got a serious case of OCD, you’re not separating all those flavors out, you’re just putting your mouth to the box, tipping up, and flooding your mouth with little tangy candies. Never before have orange Nerds appeared in such a pure form. Now’s your time to shine, guys.

Fruit punch Nerds get the little devil, sans pitchfork. I won’t go too much into the taste, since I’m sure most people have had fruit punch Nerds at least once in their lives, but I will say that they are indeed tiny, tangy, and crunchy. For being so small, Wonka does a good job of packing in the flavor. They’re loaded with that blurred, vaguely tropical taste fruit punch usually has. Actually, they taste a lot like Hawaiian Punch, which has that little zing in addition to its punchiness. Fruit punch Nerds get extra points for recalling memories of drinking Hawaiian Punch out of a can during summer break.

Orange Nerds get the little ghost guy at the bottom of the outer package that I couldn’t get into the shot. Actually, it looks kind of like a bat wearing a ghost costume. Double Halloween-y! That’s awesome.

Orange Nerds taste exactly like you would expect, which is like, well, artificially flavored orange candy. They never really taste like an actual orange, but they always have that citrus zip that lends itself well to Nerds and their claims of being tangy. If you like, say, the little oranges in Runts candy, you’ll like orange Nerds.

Maybe the kids these days won’t appreciate the effort Willy Wonka has made in turning Nerds into Halloween treats, but I would love getting a box or two of these way more than getting a fun-sized Milky Way that looks like the same candy bar I could get at the store any of the other 364 days out of the year. I think they make trick-or-treating just a bit more festive. BatGhost rules.

  • Score: 4 out of 5 newt eyes
  • Price: Free – my mom sent them as a Halloween present
  • Size: 1.16 lb. bag (It doesn’t say how many boxes are in the bag, and I’m not counting.)
  • Purchased at: I don’t know, so let’s just say, HAGRA’S HOUSE OF HORRORS
  • Nutritional Quirks: No brown Nerds inside.

Doritos They’re Back: Black Pepper Jack and Smokin’ Cheddar BBQ

Doritos They're BackWhen I first saw the display of these two limited edition Doritos flavors at my local store, I was quite confused. Smokin’ Cheddar BBQ and Black Pepper Jack, both with a mysterious message on the front. What did the two have to do with each other? Why were they back to begin with? Mystified, I picked up the Black Pepper Jack and went about my business.

When I got home, I took a closer look at the bag and its mysterious message.

Doritos They're Back Close-Up

Okay, Doritos. I will do your bidding and see back panel for details.

Commit Yourself

If this is their idea of “details”, I’m glad Doritos is in the chip-making business and not writing furniture assembly instructions for Ikea. Mostly blank, with a couple of words urging me to commit myself, and a shadowy dude opening a door at the top. The big black box with the Doritos logo in it looks like I should be able to scratch it off to reveal something, but it’s the same material as the rest of the bag. I said whatever to these chips and tossed them in the cupboard.

It wasn’t until I was at the checkout at the same store the next day that I looked at the chip display from further away. Hmmm…orange bag, black bag, some kind of cardboard creepy something-or-other on the top of the display…

Oh fucking duh. It’s Halloween time!

Disturbed by my own complete lack of cognitive ability, I picked up a smaller bag of the Smokin’ Cheddar BBQ at a convenience store a few days later and tried to piece together this mystery. “They’re back…” is an obviously spooky saying, used prodigiously in horror movies, usually said by a small child to make it as creepy as possible (because small children are inherently creepy). After extensive Internet research of about 30 seconds, I discovered that Black Pepper Jack existed on store shelves sometime between 2004 and 2008, and Smokin’ Cheddar BBQ sometime around 2007. The latter was part of one of those “the public chooses what flavor wins” competitions. I don’t know who won. I did not have a website that caused me to care so much about flavor competitions in 2007. I am sorry.

So what’s with this asylum626.com bullshit? Again using my incredible powers of deduction, I put the name of the website and the phrase “commit yourself” together and figured that Snack Strong Productions had put together some sort of creepy interactive Halloweeny thing involving a mental asylum that had gone craaaazy, so to speak. And I was right!

Asylum 626

I won’t go too much into it, but Asylum 626 is apparently a sequel to Hotel 626, and if you’re reading this and click that link at any time that isn’t between 6pm, and 6am, Doritos hates you and won’t let you play the game. Actually, it sounds like a pretty cool concept, and you can read a rather informative review of the game here, which is where I found out what that enigmatic black box on the back of the bag is for – apparently, it’s an “augmented reality marker”. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I do know that you need to have a bag of either Black Pepper Jack or Smokin’ Cheddar BBQ to play the game. Very clever, Doritos, but you haven’t tricked me. I bought BOTH bags.

After putting it all together, having two Halloween-colored bags of flavors that have come “back from the dead” to tie in with your scare-inducing interactive online game during the Halloween season makes a lot more sense now. Dammit. I hate it when Doritos makes sense.

But what of the flavor of these chips? Are they actually tasty, or just a shitty front for a Halloween gimmick? Let’s find out.

Black Pepper Jack

Black Pepper Jack – These chips smell pretty similar to Spicy Nacho Cheese Doritos. I couldn’t really detect any black pepper smell – it was more of a spicy pepper smell. Unlike Spicy Nacho Cheese, however, these chips lack the neon orange flavor powder, instead being lighter orange with little black flecks that I’m assuming are the black pepper and little red flecks that I suppose are the peppers in pepper jack cheese.

Black Pepper Jack Close-Up

The cheese flavor is milder in these chips than regular Nacho Cheese Doritos. It has less of the twang of most of the cheese-flavored Doritos.  I almost want to describe the cheese flavor as “creamy”, but calling artificially flavored chip powder creamy would be madness. Instead, I’ll call it “crammy”. Crammy cheese flavor. Yes.

There is no real black pepper taste as you’re eating the chip, but after you’ve swallowed, it hits you right in the back of the throat, along with that classic generic Doritos “spicy” flavor. If you’ve ever been the new and inexperienced owner of a pepper grinder, you’ve probably over-peppered something at some point, tasted it, and almost choked on the pepper. That’s what the aftertaste of this chip is like, but less intense and unpleasant. It’s nice that the cheese flavor has a chance to shine through, because I feel that if the pepper flavor was any stronger, it would be too powerful and overwhelm the cheese flavor. Besides, if you’ve ever eaten one of those Bertie Bott’s pepper-flavored jelly beans, you know that black pepper belongs as a seasoning, not a main flavor. And yes, I have eaten one of those jelly beans. I couldn’t tell if I was choking on the taste, or my own shame.

Smokin' Cheddar BBQ

Smokin’ Cheddar BBQ – I stuck my nose in this bag of chips and was overwhelmed by the smell of fake BBQ seasoning, just like the smell you find on Lay’s Barbecue chips, except stronger. There’s a subtle undercurrent of cheesy smell, and even that smells smoky, like the BBQ has infected the cheese, but in a good way.

Smokin' Cheddar BBQ Close-Up

The coating on these chips is different from the Black Pepper Jack variety – the latter had a fine dusting of powder with speckles, while the former has a thick, sticky coating of what I guess you would call flavor paste. It’s like when you’ve eaten a bunch of chips and all the flavor comes off on your fingers and when you’re done, the oil from your hands has combined with the powder, causing a thick gunk that takes you several licks and sucks to get off. That’s disgusting. You’re disgusting.

The flavor is strikingly similar to the smell – overwhelmingly barbecue with a hint of smoky cheddar. Smokin’ Cheddar BBQ Doritos really deliver on the name this time. Two complaints – first, the hint of cheddar is nice, but I’d like to see it shine through a little more. Second, the BBQ taste is just…so…barbecuey. My palate is being assaulted by liquid smoke, which is not actually on the ingredients list, but I’m convinced they just dumped a whole bottle into the bag.

This is the first tortilla chip I’ve ever encountered that was BBQ-flavored, and maybe there’s a reason for that. Potato chips like Lay’s lend themselves well to the flavor, but there’s something disagreeable about it on a tortilla chip. Maybe Doritos should stick to the more Mexican-inspired flavors. Okay, so three complaints, I guess. (I’m just kidding, Doritos; never stop being insane.)

After I’d solved the mystery of these resurrected (and zombified, I’m assuming) chips, they charmed me before I’d even tasted them. During this time of the year you can’t throw a Jack O’ Lantern without hitting a Halloween-themed candy, but the other junk foods fail miserably at creating spoooky gimmicks for this holiday. For that reason, I have to admire Doritos for having the only porch light on in the curmudgeonly cul-de-sac of savory snacks. Black Pepper Jack Doritos are like a fun-sized Snickers bar, Smokin’ Cheddar BBQ is a box of raisins, but hey, at least you’re trying. I won’t egg your house, but you may be cleaning up toilet paper tomorrow. I promise to only hit the bushes and leave the tree alone.

Black Pepper Jack Doritos

  • Score: 2.5 out of 5 bottles of Witch’s brew
  • Price: $3.99
  • Size: 11 1/2 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Fry’s Foods
  • Nutritional Quirks: Makes me think of Bertie Bott’s jelly beans

Smokin Cheddar BBQ Doritos

  • Score: 1.5 out of 5 sad, smashed Jack O’Lanterns
  • Price: 99 cents
  • Size: 2 1/8 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Circle K
  • Nutritional Quirks: Liquid smoke not listed in the ingredients, but they’re LYING

Kroger Jelly Belly Pudding Snacks

Kroger Jelly Belly Pudding AllSometimes a food product comes along that’s just so wrong, so repulsive, that I have to eat it. It’s like rubbernecking at a car accident, except instead of just slowing down as you drive by, you yank on your steering wheel and crash into the already existing pile of mangled cars.

That is what purchasing Kroger Jelly Belly Pudding Snacks is like. You know that it is a terrible idea that you will live to regret, but you put them in your basket anyway, filled with guilt and shame as you do so. This train wreck all started when a friend of mine (I’m strongly reconsidering our status as “friends”) emailed me to tell me that he had seen some cotton candy pudding at his local store, and that I should review it. I looked it up to see if it might be available at one of my local stores, since we live in different states, and while I found little information about it, I did find that they are sold under the Kroger brand, which is Fry’s Foods generic brand.

I immediately set out to find it. Amazingly, the Cotton Candy flavor was sold out the first time I looked. Cotton candy pudding, sold out. The mind reels. The second time I looked, however, Cotton Candy was in stock, along with the other three available flavors – Very Cherry, Juicy Pear, and Watermelon. The puddings are meant to taste like the Jelly Belly jelly beans that come in these flavors, which, obviously, are meant to taste like actual foods. It is metapudding. It should not exist. However, I’m here to eat it so you don’t have to, so here I present to you reviews of four of the most eldritch puddings ever to have existed. I will go from what I believe to be least to most repulsive. We’ll see if I’m right.

Kroger Jelly Belly Cotton Candy Pudding Snacks

Cotton Candy

The smell was sickly sweet, with a strong overtone of artificial strawberry flavoring that I wasn’t expecting. Real cotton candy has a light, sugary smell, but this was pretty overpowering. It looked somewhat harmless to me – a nice, soft pink, sort of like the yummy bubble gum-flavored medicine I took as a kid. Or Pepto Bismol.

Cotton Candy Close-Up

The taste? Urgh. Not as sweet as I thought it would be, but instead, you get hit with the strawberry flavor, but with a foreboding chemical undertone that makes me wonder if I’m going to die. This tastes nothing like a Cotton Candy Jelly Belly, let alone actual cotton candy. The jelly beans do a pretty fair job of replicating the taste of cotton candy, but really, that’s not hard to do. Sugar. Boom. You’re done. If you gave this to a child at an amusement park or fair, they would cry, then later throw up.

I only took two bites, but I already feel a little unsettled. I thought this would be the least offensive of the puddings. I angrily throw the cup in the trash and curse every state fair I’ve ever been to.

Kroger Jelly Belly Very Cherry Pudding Snacks

Very Cherry

At the store, I commented to my fiancé that this seemed to be the least offensive of the bunch, and he looked at me like I’d just suggested that there was a least offensive flavor of Kroger Jelly Belly Pudding Snacks. He asked me what would ever possess me to think such a thing, and then I realized that I was trying to associate pudding with Jell-o. Pudding and Jell-o: not the same thing, not the same acceptable flavors. I think my brain was desperately trying to make justifications. It fell out of favor as the potentially least offensive, at that point.

Very Cherry Close-Up

Okay, let’s peel back the cover, and…it smells like cough syrup. Encouraging. I don’t know what’s worse, the smell or the fact that it looks like compote gone bad. I never thought my life would come to this.

When you first taste it, you think everything’s going to be okay. The smell was a false alarm. Well, you are fucking wrong, buddy. It tastes like you just swallowed half a bottle of cherry Nyquil and chased it with a commercial-sized bag of Sweet’N Low. I would say sugar, but it doesn’t taste like sugar, it tastes like something that people who can’t eat sugar shudder at and then dump into their iced tea, because they have made poor life decisions and now they have type II diabetes and they’re probably going to lose all their toes even if they stop giving all their money to Hostess. It does taste closer to a Very Cherry Jelly Belly than an actual cherry, but that is because every cherry-flavored candy always tastes a little bit like cough syrup. There. We all think it. I just said it.

I can’t stop staring at it, even after I’ve stopped eating it. It glistens unnaturally. It looks like some Vietnamese dish Anthony Bourdain ate on No Reservations, where he sucks the marrow out of the bone of some unknown animal. It is not of this world.

The sight and taste of this pudding have induced queasiness. I ate almost half the cup, because I was trying to figure out just the right way to describe the vague, unnameable horror. I furiously throw the cup in the trash and write a furious letter to Cherry from Punky Brewster for being associated with this product in even the smallest of ways.

Kroger Jelly Belly Juicy Pear Pudding Snacks

Juicy Pear

Juicy Pear and Watermelon duked it out for potentially worst Kroger Jelly Belly Pudding Snack, but Watermelon won, because I seem to remember Juicy Pear Jelly Bellys being a little tastier than Watermelon. Mind you, I haven’t had a Jelly Belly in years, but I’m confident that I can still sort of remember the flavors. I’m also confident that none of these puddings will taste like those jelly beans to begin with, so the point is moot.

Juicy Pear Close-Up

I wish I could have gotten a better picture of the pudding, but let me assure you, it looks like a cross between lemon custard and the ectoplasm that Slimer leaves behind. Lemon custard is tasty, and Slimer is fun, but neither of these are reassuring when we’re talking about pear pudding. Actually, nothing is reassuring when talking about pear pudding. Like a lamb with two heads, pear pudding should not exist.

I don’t even want to know what these puddings smell like anymore. I don’t need a sneak preview in pain. So I will just eat some.

HUUUUURGH. What the fuck. Who the fuck would ever, ever think that this was a good idea? It tastes like a mix of perfume made out of sweet farts and artificial banana flavoring. I am going to tie down every single member of the Kroger and Jelly Belly marketing team, feed them each an entire 4-pack of Kroger Jelly Belly Juicy Pear Pudding Snack, and demand to know where the pear is in this disgusting, slimy concoction. It is made from the tears of neglected kittens with infected eyes and the blood of baby koalas who are force-fed bananas from birth.

My stomach has tried to crawl out of my throat with each bite I have taken. For some reason, I find myself asking for forgiveness for pushing down that girl who had a lisp in the fourth grade. Enraged, I throw the cup in the trash and use a proton pack to zap Slimer out of existence.

Kroger Jelly Belly Watermelon Pudding Snacks

Watermelon

I just noticed as I pulled the 4-pack of Kroger Jelly Belly Watermelon Pudding Snacks out of the fridge that two of them are dented. Maybe I will get a horrible case of Botulism from them and die. One can only dream.

Well, this is the last one. I feel as though I am standing before the ninth circle of Hell, after having already passed through the third, fifth, and seventh circles. There is no saving my soul now.

I have no choice but to smell the watermelon pudding, as the odor hits my nose as soon as I peel back the lid. It is…surprisingly reassuring. Just your standard fake watermelon flavor, nothing ominous hidden underneath. But then I really examine it…

Watermelon Close-Up

Look at the way the pudding slides down the spoon, in one big clump. When I picked up the spoon after taking the picture, I accidentally tipped it to the side, but when I picked it up, there was no pudding residue left on the towel. Holy shit, Jelly Belly Watermelon pudding is The Blob! I am going to die.

Oh my god, what is happening here. After I took the first bite, I actually squeezed my eyes closed, like someone was physically flagellating me. This is…this is not watermelon. This is not even fake watermelon. It tastes like…oh god, I can’t even tell what it tastes like, which means I have to take another bite.

It tastes like melted plastic mixed with Novacaine, without the blessed numbness that my mouth is currently begging for. It tastes like decomposing animal flesh blended into a smoothie of rotten eggs and rubber tubing. It tastes like year-old Nickelodeon Slime engulfed a gag gift rubber sewer rat, slowly dissolving it into a toxic, semi-solid soup. Not only that, it looks like something they would use to cast dentures.

It is very, very terrible.

I have started hallucinating. My world is a hellish dreamscape of impossible colors and disturbing scents. Giant, malformed blob-monsters form and dissolve on the peripherals of my vision. Every surface glistens with an unnatural, slimy shine. With a cry of primal rage, I throw the cup in the trash, only to find that another one has taken its place. Gallagher suddenly appears before me, and I smash him with a large mallet, over and over, until he is nothing more than the mush that has been the fate of so many watermelons at his hands. The tiny pieces of his ruined body turn into jelly beans.

  • Score: 1 out of 5 eldritch horrors for all, what were there, 400 of them?
  • Price: $1.59, $0.99 on sale, I should have been paid to eat them, not the other way around
  • Size: 4 3.5 oz. cups
  • Purchased at: Fry’s Foods
  • Nutritional Quirks: Everything

Doritos Collisions Cheesy Enchilada/Sour Cream

Doritos Collisions Cheesy Enchilada Sour Cream FrontSay what you will about Doritos’ crazy flavor ideas, and I do, frequently, but at least they aren’t content to rest on their laurels. For better or worse, Frito-Lay releases a new Doritos flavor every three days, which makes it difficult to keep up. That’s why, when I saw these Doritos Collisions Cheesy Enchilada/Sour Cream tortilla chips, I wasn’t sure if I’d missed the boat or found a new Collisions flavor. The Hot Wings/Blue Cheese and Zesty Taco/Chipotle Ranch versions of Collisions had been a staple in my local grocer’s snack food aisle for years now, and I thought that was the end of the story, but the Doritos team wasn’t done colliding deliciously compatible flavor powders yet! According to Wikipedia, there’s also Pizza Cravers/Ranch, which I vaguely recall seeing somewhere, and Habanero/Guacamole, which I have never seen but hope to, since it sounds wonderful, and, of course, Cheesy Enchilada/Sour Cream, which I hold in my hands today. Oddly, the official Doritos website doesn’t seem to recognize Pizza Cravers/Ranch or Habanero/Guacamole Collisions, which makes me wonder if both Wikipedia and my dubious memory are lying to me.

Snack Strong Productions does recognize Cheesy Enchilada/Sour Cream Collisions, however, and according to them, this flavor combo was launched in 2009, which means that I haven’t missed the boat and that the Collisions series is an ongoing Doritos project. As you can see, the front of the bag says “2 flavors – 1 bag”, which, if you’re anything like me, immediately brings up disturbing thoughts about girls and cups.

Let’s just leave that one alone and move on. As you can deduce from the front of the bag, the two powdered flavors are not combined, but are dusted separately on individual chips and then thrown into one bag together. Of course, as they rub up against each other, the powders will mix. I’m not sure if this is actually the point of Collisions or not. If it is, why bother dusting the individual chips separately? If not, then are you supposed to eat one chip at a time and enjoy the progression of flavors, or pick out one chip of each flavor and cram them both into your mouth at once, like some sort of bleary-eyed stoner sitting on his couch at 2am watching the Magic Bullet infomercial and stuffing everything within arm’s reach into his maw?

Doritos Collisions Cheesy Enchilada Sour Cream Back

The back of the bag declares that I control the ultimate Doritos (DORITOS) flavor combination. It’s comforting to know that I’m in control of my junk food experience. I hate it when Big Chip tells me how to snack. At the bottom, the Doritos team  begs me to tell them what Collisions (COLLISIONS) combo I will unleash. Exactly what kind of options do you think I have here, Doritos? I have purchased your bag of Collisions Cheesy Enchilada/Sour Cream Doritos. My options are pretty limited, here. Are you expecting me to buy all of your Collisions flavors and get freaky? Maybe a little Pizza Cravers/Zesty Taco action? How about some Blue Cheese/Guacamole?

Perhaps giving me so much control wasn’t such a good idea after all.

The bag shows the chips as having distinctive physical characteristics, namely that Cheesy Enchilada is violently orange and Sour Cream looks exactly like Cool Ranch. If my “getting intimate in the bag together” theory is correct, I won’t actually be able to tell them apart. Let’s find out.

Doritos Collisions Cheesy Enchilada/Sour Cream Chips

Well what do you know, there really is a difference between the appearance of the two flavors. Cheesy Enchilada is an unnaturally bright orange with a heavy coating of flavor powder, while Sour Cream is more subtle, letting its tortilla nature shine through a milder coating of white powder dotted with little green speckles. I’ve never had sour cream with green speckles in it before, but, depending on the expiration date on the container, I might not be adverse to it.

The smell coming off the chips is nearly identical to the smell of Nacho Cheese Doritos, which doesn’t bode well for Cheesy’s success in capturing all the different flavors of an enchilada. I decided to try them separately at first, and then employ the stoner method. I tackled Sour Cream first, since its appearance and assumed lack of contribution to the aroma told me it would probably be more muted.

I guess appearances don’t lie, because Sour Cream tastes almost exactly like Cool Ranch. Maybe a bit more mellow, but that initial bit of zip, or tang, or whatever you’d like to call it, from Cool Ranch is exactly what is present here. I really don’t taste any of the essence of what real sour cream tastes like. Which doesn’t mean they’re bad, mind you; I like Cool Ranch Doritos just fine. I just don’t usually put ranch on my enchiladas, is all.

Now, let’s try Cheesy Enchilada.  Hey! They’re not exactly like Nacho Cheese Doritos! Color me pleasantly surprised. There’s a definite cheesy flavor present that is reminiscent of the Nachos, but it’s a little less overpowering. Which is great, because that allows the second flavor to come through – a hint of smoky spiciness that stays with you after the chip is gone. The two flavors really play nicely with each other, creating a tasty snack with a bit of complexity.

And now, of course, for the true test: the Collision. To ensure accuracy, I took two similarly-sized chips and shoved them into my mouth together, creating a rain of crumbs on my kitchen counter and the uncomfortable feeling that someone could see me doing this. It is quite the flavor explosion, although I can’t say that the two flavors marry very well. There’s a lot of cheese and ranch, and even a little bit of the smokiness comes through, but at no point did I close my eyes and get transported to a fine Mexican restaurant, where I was eating a delicious cheese-filled tortilla smothered in enchilada sauce with a dollop of sour cream on top. Instead I was a woman, disgraced, standing alone in her kitchen, mangling two chips together so they would both fit into her mouth at once.

As a tag team, Doritos Collisions Cheesy Enchilada/Sour Cream chips don’t really work, which is sad because that is the whole premise of this gimmick. Apart, however, they are both tasty tortilla chips. It’s like being friends with a married couple who should have gotten divorced years ago; together, they are constantly at odds, and you are mildly embarrassed to be seen with them as they quarrel in public.   However, separately they are both fun, decent people. Plus, there’s a lot less crumbs involved.

  • Score: 3 out of 5 hamburgers Collided; 4 out of 5 hamburgers separately
  • Price: $3.29, $2.88 on sale
  • Size: 11 3/4 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Fry’s Foods
  • Nutritional Quirks: Not much surprising here, although sour cream is actually listed as an ingredient.  Mud on my face, I guess.  COOL RANCH-FLAVORED MUD.

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.

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.

José Olé Chicken & Cheddar Empanadas

The simplest explanation of the second law of thermodynamics describes the fact that heat, of its own volition, always flows into cold. This tendency has been observed and expanded over the years by science, leading to a much more profound truth: nature tends toward higher levels of uniformity, or entropy. Simply put, the Universe is constantly striving for mediocrity.

This brings me to José Olé Chicken & Cheddar Empanadas.

empanadasstockpic

Packaging: Right out of the gate, José Olé starts writing checks his empanadas can’t cash, and it all begins with the ingredient list. There are a total of 87 ingredients in the list, which sprawls across one side of the box like a mural of the periodic table of elements, and I’m beginning to doubt the bold claim of “Authentic Flavor” emblazoned on the front. This feeling of grave concern was immediately compounded by the appearance of American Process Cheese Product nestled among the assorted dubious quackery and unrequested (but ultimately insightful) diarrhea treatments.

The reflex reaction of any sane man would be to immediately set fire to the entire grocer’s freezer containing José Olé Chicken & Cheddar Empanadas, as an act of simultaneous protest and purification. However, there were two mitigating factors that resulted in another evening spent comfortably at home, rather than enjoying the austere hospitality of the Maricopa County criminal justice system. First, the proprietors of Junk Food Betty are not what you’d call “together”, in the psychological sense. Second, there is an inviting visage smiling warmly from the box.

The Face of Flavor
The Face of Flavor

I can only assume that this handsome, distinguished gentleman is the eponymous Señor Olé, beaming powerful waves of avuncular sincerity directly to my father-figure cortex. Here, I thought to myself, is a man who is to be trusted and respected. Here is a man who will deliver Authentic Flavor at a reasonable price, because he is a man of strong moral integrity. From under the soaring brim of his majestic hat, he commands one to “Taste the Fiesta!” Very well, José Olé, you pillar of convenient ethnic cuisine, I will taste your fiesta.

Preparation: There are three proffered preparation procedures present on the package. I chose the mean method in terms of labor – baking – though the paths of microwaving and pan-frying are also available to the discriminating consumer (who, incidentally, will not be purchasing José Olé Chicken & Cheddar Empanadas). After twenty minutes in a preheated 375 °F oven, I was ready to open my mouth and my heart to receive La Fiesta. I was feeling optimistic because, unlike other pre-fried products that bake, I did not have to flip the empanadas halfway through cooking. This is because José Olé knows what a hassle it is to heave my decaying corpus off the couch twice in twenty minutes.

Dining Experience: I can only assume it’s due to the highly ferrous nature of the product, but José Olé Chicken & Cheddar Empanadas manage to maintain a steady 10,000 °F internal temperature for like twenty goddamned minutes. It’s as if the act of heating them ignited a self-sustaining fusion reaction deep within their chickeny cores.

Once the product had cooled, and been sifted out of the smoking rubble of my once-palatial residence, I noted with appreciation that the empanadas looked, on the outside, strikingly identical to those depicted in the packaging. With trembling hands and a grumbling stomach, I bisected the golden brown pastry and peered into the transcendent face of Authentic Flavor:

empanadacrosssection

You wound me, José Olé.

Elevated to astronomical heights of ecstatic anticipation, the first bite flooded my mouth with a blandness almost intimidating in its aggression. The experience was something like eating a tight bundle of Kraft Singles deep-fried in a wonton wrapper. The aftertaste of the product creates a wave of salty regret. I continued to eat, desperately chasing the fleeting dream of La Fiesta.

To be honest, there are moments when the empanada isn’t offensive. Here and there, you’ll experience a bite where the chicken and chilis do come through. Unfortunately, this is interspersed with intervals of American Process Cheese Product Purgatory, and long, harrowing moments of introspection. The final result is a confusing, bitter dining experience, which wasn’t made any better by the laughing mug of José Olé staring me down with a mirth I now understand to be the savage joy of the betrayer.

On the bright side, I was reasonably full after the whole ordeal was over. The empanadas are filling enough that you won’t be hungry for the hours-long bout of ennui that follows eating them. Furthermore, none of the 87 ingredients were immediately lethal. Overall, however, oral consumption of José Olé Chicken & Cheddar Empanadas is tantamount to yelling “fuck you, mouth!” and then punching yourself in the teeth with a salt lick.

  • Score: Dos sándwiches de carne de vacuno infeliz.
  • Price: $6.39, $5.59 on sale
  • Size: 1 lb.
  • Purchased at: Albertson’s #980
  • Nutritional Quirks: 87 ingredients, some of which are magnetic

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.

Bug Juice

PICT0938

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.

PICT0949

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:

bugjuicepromo

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!

PICT0955

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.

Doritos Nacho Cheese Flavor Shots Atomic Chile Limon

Doritos Flavor Shots Chile Limon

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:

  1. Open the bag.
  2. 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.
  3. 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”.
  4. 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.