I’ve had Carl’s Jr.’s Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Shakes before. They’re actually quite good and taste very authentic. But shakes are pretty standard at a fast food restaurant, whether they taste like a real shake or a cup full of foamy chemicals. (I’m looking at you, McDonald’s, even though you’ve switched to your Triple Thick Shakes.)
Carl’s Jr. is taking a new spin on the ol’ shake routine by introducing the Strawberry Banana Smoothie Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Shake. And they’re getting a little carried away in the process. No, I’m not talking about the fact that it took them eight words to describe one beverage. I’m talking about the promo email that arrived in my inbox:
“IMAGINE STRAWBERRIES, BANANAS & ICE CREAM HAVING A 3-WAY”
Okay, well that’s a little disturbing. Fruit and ice cream doing it…not my kind of fetish, thanks. But there’s more: “That’s right, everyone. Carl’s Jr.® just turned a fruit smoothie into a shake. Someone better call the awesome police, because the Strawberry Banana Smoothie Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Shakes™ are here.”
OH SHI SOMEBODY CALL THE AWESOME POLICE! Okay, I admit, I kind of like that one. But they’re getting a little overenthusiastic about the whole smoothie/shake transformation. It’s not that revolutionary. “Strawberry banana milkshake” brings up about 217,000 results in Google.
Carl’s describes the shake as “Creamy, hand-scooped ice cream, blended with real milk and strawberry banana syrup, and then finished off with whipped topping.”
Doesn’t sound too bad. I do take issue with one other statement in the email, however. “Hey, you gotta get your fruit somehow. Might as well enjoy it.” Last I checked, “strawberry banana syrup” was not a fruit. Is that what’s up with the whole smoothie angle? Are they trying to make people believe this shake is healthy?
For what it’s worth, Strawberry Banana Smoothie Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Shake contains 770 calories, 35 grams of fat, 24 grams of saturated fat and 84 grams of sugars. Enjoy your “fruit”!
Consumer Reports recently conducted their first survey of major fast food chains. The survey included over 98,000 visits to 53 chains. They ran down everything from quality to speed to value and beyond. I figured I’d be a nice gal and sum it all up for you, since everybody prefers lists over actually reading something, right?
Worst Overall Chains (“uninspired food, so-so service, no bang for your buck”)
Burger King, KFC, McDonald’s, Taco Bell
Second-Worst Overall Chains
Arby’s, Quizno’s, Domino’s, Pizza Hut
Worst Food Quality
Burger King, KFC, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Sbarro
Best Value (Or “Bang for Your Buck”)
In-N-Out Burger, Papa Murphy’s, CiCi’s Pizza
Sbarro, Round Table Pizza, KFC
KFC, Popeyes, Pizza Hut
Best Burger Joints
In-N-Out, Burgerville, Five Guys, Culver’s, Backyard Burgers
Best Mexican Chains
Chipotle, Rubio’s Fresh, Qdoba, Baja Fresh
Best Chicken Chain
Best Subs (Or Hoagies Or Whatever Your Region Calls Them)
Jason’s Deli, Firehouse Subs, Jersey Mike’s Sub, Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches, Schlotzsky’s
Best Pizza Joint
Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza
This one gets broken down cleanly by Consumer Reports, but if you’re too lazy to click, know that Wendy’s new-ish Natural Cut Fries with Sea Salt barely beat out old favorite McDonald’s, and Burger King’s fries suck.
Best/Worst Main Dishes (In Other Words, the Foods That Best Define the Chain)
Lowest Overall Scorers: CiCi’s Pizza, Del Taco, Little Caesars, Sbarro, Taco Bell
Lowest Scored Chicken: KFC
Lowest Scored Burgers: McDonald’s
Interesting statistics! Notice how the biggest chains seem to score the lowest? Perhaps this will be a wake-up call to places like McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell. Instead of constantly churning out new products that are either rehashes of the same menu offerings or crazy wacky limited edition products that generate a buzz, maybe they should work on the quality of their food and service. Just sayin’.
Limited edition retro…throwback Ruffles and Cheetos! Have your nostalgia sensors gone wild yet? Are you ready to go out there and find these chips RIGHT NOW so you can pretend it’s…uh, whatever year these bags are meant to imitate?
I would love to tell you that year. Or anything else about these chips. The Internet seems completely devoid of information about their existence, minus this Flickr picture I found that showcases all the other retro brands I didn’t find; namely, Cheetos Puffs, Rold Gold Pretzel Rods and King Size Fritos. The photo also includes Taco Doritos, but I already reviewed those.
So this news post is sadly deprived of news, beyond the fact that I can tell you they exist. I can also tell you that I expected the chips to contain identical ingredients to a regular bag of Ruffles or Cheetos. The chips looked exactly the same as modern Ruffles and Cheetos. Going off of Frito-Lay’s website, the Ruffles contained the exact same and amount of ingredients as regular Ruffles.
The Cheetos are a little more interesting, however. I could taste no difference between retro and regular Cheetos, but the ingredients do appear different. Retro Cheetos use vegetable oil, while “contemporary” Cheetos use corn and/or sunflower oil. Retro Cheetos include cheddar cheese seasoning and cheddar cheese, while the regular Cheetos just have the latter. And finally, retro Cheetos list salt as the last ingredient, where salt falls in the middle of the list on regular Cheetos. So there do seem to be some differences, even if my palate is apparently not refined enough to taste them.
The back of the Cheetos bag also has Chester Cheetah goin’ all Uncle Sam, and also says, “Here’s to over 60 years of great flavor”. So Cheetos is having an anniversary. What about the rest of the brands? Who knows, the Internet won’t tell me. It is all mystery. But I figured they should be thrown up on the Internet, if only to catalog their existence.
Starting June 9th, Denny’s has introduced their new “Tour of America” menu. And by menu, I mean menu – there’s ten new items listed in their press release. That’s 20% of the United States!
I don’t normally cover sit-down restaurants, but there’s some…shall we say, interesting items on the Tour of America menu. Let’s get the more mundane out of the way before we get to the real meat and potatoes. You’ll groan at that pun later on. Just wait for it.
Pacific Northwest Iced Coffee – A “sweet and creamy iced coffee drink” that uses a blend of Sumatra and Arabica beans. Obviously a nod to Seattle and its coffee culture.
Hawaiian Tropical Smoothie – Made with coconut, pineapple and nonfat yogurt. Bring a flask of rum and ride the waves straight to Blackout Island!
California Club Salad – “Featuring shaved turkey, diced bacon, grape tomatoes and avocado atop a fresh spring mix”. Solid but uninspired, if you ask me. Not sure how I feel about sandwich meat on top of a salad, though. Carl Buddig scarred me for life.
Florida Orange Milk Shake – Florida is known for three things: old people, being the penis of America, and oranges. This offering combines vanilla ice cream and orange juice, creating what I hope tastes just like a 50/50 bar. Otherwise known as a Creamsicle. Let’s not get bogged down in semantics; there’s a lot to cover, here.
Georgia Peach French Toast – French toast topped with glazed fire-roasted peaches. ‘Nuff said.
Philly Cheesesteak Omelette – The name pretty much says it all: grilled prime rib, fire-roasted peppers and onions, sautéed mushrooms and melted Swiss cheese. Denny’s claims that it “truly captures the spirit of Philadelphia”. Dangerous words, Denny’s. I’ve watched enough cheese Travel Channel shows to know that Philly residents take their cheesesteaks very seriously.
Here are the offerings that really intrigued me:
Southern Shrimp and Grits – “Grilled shrimp served over creamy cheese grits and topped with a jalapeno lemon butter sauce and sprinkled with crisp crumbled bacon and fresh diced tomatoes.”
I’ve never had grits before; hailing from SoCal and currently living in Arizona, the chance has never really been put in front of my face. Denny’s had me at “jalapeno lemon butter sauce”. And bacon, of course.
Hawaiian Tropical Pancakes Breakfast – “Two fluffy macadamia nut pancakes layered with coconut whipped topping. Topped off with lightly grilled pineapple chunks, more coconut whipped topping and sprinkled with toasted coconut.”
Macadamia nut coconut pineapple coconut coconut. I hope you like coconut, because Denny’s is going to shove it in your mouth three times on one plate.
Hawaiian Tropical Pancake puppies – Haven’t had enough coconut? I bet you haven’t! Order these babies as an appetizer or a side to your Macadamia nut coconut pineapple coconut coconut pancakes. “Six bite-sized round pancakes packed with sweet pineapple and white chocolate chips, rolled in delicious toasted coconut.” Also comes with syrup for dipping. No word if the syrup is also made with coconut.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this long news post, I don’t usually cover sit-down restaurants. I’ve only done one sit-down restaurant review, and it just so happened to be at Denny’s. What would actually motivate me to get out of my car and see the face of the person I’m giving my order to? How about fried mozzarella sticks shoved inside a grilled cheese sandwich? Denny’s hopped on the Crazy Food Train, and I couldn’t miss that ride. Which brings us to…
Midwestern Meat and Potatoes Sandwich – Aaaand there’s your pun. Sounds innocuous enough, right? Well, when Denny’s prefaces the item description with the sentence, “Adventurous eaters, who tried Denny’s Fried Cheese Melt and the Maple Bacon Sundae, won’t want to miss out on Denny’s latest indulgence…”, you know you’re in for a treat.
“A Cheddar bun stuffed with grilled prime rib and French fries, smothered in brown gravy and topped with melted Swiss and American cheeses and mayo. A side of creamy mashed potatoes and yet more gravy completes this culinary masterpiece!”
Kiss my Southern Shrimp and Grits, Hawaiian Tropical Pancakes Breakfast! Two different kinds of potatoes, two cheeses, two instances of gravy and mayo all in one dish definitely trumps three coconuts. This is the Tour of America money shot, and Denny’s knows it.
You only have until August 29th to take this tour, so get down to your local Denny’s and spend all the money you were saving for an actual tour of America on these ten new items. I’m sure I won’t be trying all of these offerings, but I sense a date with some meat, potatoes and…ugh…mayo in my near future.
I get the feeling that the gritty details behind fast food politics don’t exactly excite all my readers, so I’ll get the backstory out of the way right off the bat: Burger King has seen sales decline since 2009, so it looks like they’ve brought in a new creative team to shake things up. They’re even inviting select franchisees to share their ideas, which rarely, if ever, happens.
The result of this shake-up is the interesting part: the restaurants will be revamped to exude a sleeker look; among other things, the interior design will go from earth tones to red and black, and look out for a striking black tower to be featured on the exterior.
Marketing efforts and menu items will shift away from targeting just young males and expand to appeal to a broader audience, including – gasp! – females!
The King will be going on an “extended vacation”, which fills me with relief, as I will no longer have to check my balcony before I go to bed to make sure he’s not lurking outside. Actually, now that he’s out of work, he’ll have a lot of time on his hands…okay now I’m even more terrified. But at least I won’t be seeing his nightmare-inducing mug on my television anymore.
But what about the food? The Whopper will remain, but their value menu will take a backseat to new, healthier items. BK is introducing more than a dozen new items in test markets across the country; here are just a few that have been confirmed:
An Asian chicken salad “with baby edamame, red cabbage and sesame lime vinaigrette; oatmeal “with dried fruit and maple sugar”, and mango and mixed-berry smoothies.
For carnivores, the Miami Herald reports that there will be “a new premium homestyle burger on a brioche bun with thick-cut bacon, romaine lettuce and a new spicy pepper grill sauce”, as well as a chicken BLT wrap with bacon and “country dijon” mustard.
Any of these new offerings sound familiar? Have you tried any of McDonald’s Premium Salads? How about their Fruit and Maple Oatmeal? Maybe a Mixed Berry Real Fruit Smoothie? Picked up a Snack Wrap lately?
It’s disappointing to see BK trying to turn themselves into McDonald’s in order to boost their sales and expand their menu and target audience. However, all new items are still in the testing stage, so we’ll have to wait and see what actually sticks. It’ll also be weird to see a black tower instead of a mansard roof as I drive past my local Burger King. However, as I mentioned before, there’s more than a dozen new products being tested out there, and hopefully something unique will pop out and get me excited about trying out their new menu.
(PS I totally knew the term “mansard roof” before I wrote this post because I secretly used to do construction as a side job and went to Roof College and everything. In no way did I read it on one of my source materials and have to look it up in Wikipedia to see what the hell it meant.)
When I think Wendy’s, I don’t exactly think fancypants. But their new Berry Almond Chicken Salad sounds fancypants as hell. From Wendy’s website:
“Picture fresh berries—plump, tangy blueberries and succulent, sliced, California strawberries—resting on a bed of freshly-chopped romaine and iceberg lettuce, which is tossed with a brightly colored spring mix boasting exotic-sounding greens, like Lolla Rossa and Tango. Surrounding the berries are California almonds roasted with sea salt, shaved natural Asiago cheese and a warm grilled chicken breast.”
Fresh berries? Almonds roasted with sea salt? Shaved Asiago? A bunch of green stuff I’ve never even heard of?! Who thought the day would come when a fast food company introduces me to new foods. Surely, it is the end of days.
I have to give it to Wendy’s though. They went balls to the wall on lavishness, and you can tell they know it, giving a little wink and a nod with the phrase, “boasting exotic-sounding greens”. I would have loved to be in that brainstorm meeting.
“Hey, let’s put chipotle on yet another menu item!”
“Fuck that, let’s blow everyone’s minds. Two words: Lolla Rossa.”
Available in Full Size and Half-Size portions, the former has 450 calories and 16 grams of fat, and the latter contains 270 calories and 12 grams of fat.
Couldn’t find any pricing info, but I’m guessing it will probably be outrageously expensive. Dusting of gold flakes will cost extra. I could call my local Wendy’s, but I prefer to think a fast food joint is selling a fancy-schmancy salad for $15.
The Berry Almond Chicken Salad is only available until summer ends, so go out there and get it. Let me know what Tango tastes like!
The Internet world of food news has been all aflutter about Nabisco introducing a new product called the Triple Double Oreo. It all started herehere and here, and was finally confirmed by associate director of corporate affairs for Nabisco Basil T. Maglari, who told Today.com, “Yes, the rumors are true.” The official statement from Nabisco: “This summer, Oreo will introduce a new ‘twist’ on the iconic cookie: the Triple Double Oreo. Three chocolate Oreo wafers with two layers of creme — one classic vanilla, and one chocolate. While we tried our best to safeguard this news, we couldn’t hold back the buzz.”
Yes, I’m sure Nabisco’s efforts to keep the Triple Double a secret were valiant, but you can’t hide anything from the Internet. I mean, who would want all that publicity, like when news of the Double Down came out and everyone went hog chicken wild over it. What a horrible thing to happen to a company’s new zany food product!
I’ve felt nothing but glee over the fast food war to see who can come up with the strangest menu item, and I’m glad to see it’s now spread to junk food. I can’t wait to see who steps up to the plate next. Keebler, I’m looking at you – when will we be seeing tuna and chocolate layered cracker sandwiches?
As stated by Nabisco, you won’t be able to get your chocolate vanilla chocolate chocolate chocolate fix until this summer. Just in time for bikini season! I couldn’t find any nutritional information, but you probably don’t want to know anyway.