Tag Archives: 2.5 burgers

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.

Jack in the Box Mini Buffalo Ranch Chicken Sandwich

JitBMiniBuffaloStackAmongst the junk mail that arrived in my mailbox recently was a coupon for buy one order, get one free for Jack in the Box’s Mini Buffalo Ranch Chicken Sandwiches.  Free, you say?  Buffalo sauce and ranch, you say?  Don’t mind if I do, Jack.

I’m glad I hadn’t seen the commercial for these sandwiches, because if I had, I might have thought differently.  You can view it on YouTube here.  The song alone is supremely annoying, even compared to your average commercial jingle.  I mean, it’s no freecreditreport.com, but I still wanted to strangle the woman singing it.  Lucky for her, I was soon distracted by the image of Jack dancing with cowboy midgets.  Just to reiterate that point, the Jack in the Box ball-head guy was dancing with some midgets dressed up as cowboys.

I’ve been on the Internet long enough to know where this is headed.

Before my brain starts melting out of my ears from thinking about that for too long, let’s move on to the sandwiches. One order contains three sandwiches, because, as the name of the sandwich proclaims, they are miniature.  This is not the first time Jack in the Box has gone tiny-sized – they also have Mini Sirloin Burgers.  Their commercial, my research shows, also contains midget cowboys, but we’re just going to leave that one alone.

I have a beef, pardon the pun, with the recent trend of fast food restaurants miniaturizing their burgers.  You can call them mini burgers, you can call them “Burger Shots” like Burger King does, but let’s face it – they’re Sliders.  Or Slyders, or whatever the hell.  White Castle introduced Slyders over 70 years ago, and for a long time, that was the only small hamburger most people knew about.  I live on the west coast, so I’ve never been to a White Castle, but I know people on the east coast, who say that you go to White Castle a.) because you are drunk and crave bad, greasy food, or b.) because you are hungover and crave bad, greasy food.  From what I have been told, there are usually regrets later on in the day.

It seems like recently, Slyders have become popular amongst the hip crowd.  Much like how it’s now cool to buy a shirt that looks like it’s already seen 100 wash cycles, it is now cool to eat the cheap, greasy burger of the proletariat.  Other fast food chains have noticed this, and probably thought, “Hey!  We can make small burgers, too!  Look at us, hipster college kids, we have Slid- I mean, mini burgers!”  I’m surprised they aren’t rushing out to get licensed to sell beer so that they can make a Pabst Blue Ribbon/mini burger combo meal.  Their stores would be flooded with moppy-headed guys wearing girl jeans.

So I suppose you could sum up my problem with the influx of mini burgers by imagining an old woman shouting at the kids to get off my lawn.  I guess I’m just too old to appreciate national chains pandering to the trends of a younger generation, and I don’t see the point in eating a bunch of smaller burgers when one larger burger would suffice.

But what about the food?  The wha?  Ohhh, the food!  Right.

PICT0960

Well, they don’t exactly look like the fluffy little guys in Jack in the Box’s official picture up at the top there, but that’s pretty much to be expected.  Let’s check out the innards.

PICT0966

I see chicken, red sauce, and white stuff, so that’s promising, right?  The lettuce looks a little sad and sparse, which is confirmed upon taking a bite.  I was hoping the lettuce would produce a nice, crunchy foil to the texture of the chicken and the softness of the bun, but that didn’t really happen.  The chicken is acceptable; it sort of falls in the middle of the spectrum between the disturbing flavor of a chicken nugget and an authentic, breaded chicken breast.

The sauces are what I was hoping would be the real stars of the show.  The buffalo sauce is actually Frank’s RedHot, which calls itself a hot cayenne pepper sauce, but does taste almost exactly like buffalo sauce.  I definitely got a hint of it as I ate the sandwich – I would have preferred a stronger presence, but I’m a saucemonger, and I’m assuming Jack’s testing determined that most people don’t want a wave of buffalo sauce flooding their mouth upon every bite.  The ranch manages to be even more elusive.  For those who know nothing about American bar food, ranch is traditionally served with buffalo wings, as a dip, to foil the heat of the sauce, which is why ranch is such a natural addition to this sandwich.  I can detect a hint of tangy ranch flavor, but it gets a little overwhelmed by the flavors of the buffalo sauce and the chicken.  They probably could have gotten away with omitting the ranch altogether, seeing as how there’s not really enough buffalo sauce to require something to quench the heat, but the occasional tang is a nice little addition.

I could only put down two of the three sandwiches, but I have the small appetite of a dainty, proper lady, so three is probably just the right number for most people.  Overall, I was underwhelmed, but at the same time, hadn’t really expected to be blown away in the first place.  The chicken is decent, the lettuce is sad, and the sauces are subtle, but present.  An average sandwich from a national fast food chain – what more can you expect?  If you’re in a hurry and crave a little buffalo, then give them a try – at least until a regular-sized version comes out, in which case, fuck mini sandwiches.  Also keep in mind that they work out to over a buck a sandwich, and you can get a larger chicken sandwich for less off the value menu.   If you’ve got a little time on your hands, this would be a pretty easy sandwich to assemble at home, and it would probably be a lot more flavorful.

  • Score: 2.5 out of 5 hamburgers for the sandwich; 4 out of 5 Internet horrors for the commercial
  • Price: $3.89
  • Size: 3 mini sandwiches
  • Purchased at: Jack in the Box
  • Nutritional Quirks: Nothing too quirky here; just as unhealthy as you would expect a fast food chicken sandwich to be.