Tag Archives: 3.5 burgers

Lay’s Wavy Original Potato Chips Dipped in Milk Chocolate

Lay's Wavy Original Potato Chips Dipped in Milk Chocolate BagPeople (and by people, I mean the Internet, of course) seem to be all in a tizzy over these new Lay’s Wavy Original Potato Chips Dipped in Milk Chocolate. When I first heard of them, I thought they sounded gross. But the more I thought about it, the more they made sense. Sweet and salty snacks have been around for quite a long time.

Kettle corn. Chocolate-covered pretzels. To be even more specific, Ben & Jerry’s Late Night Snack ice cream has “fudge-covered potato chip clusters”, and it’s been a popular flavor for years now. Heck there’s even a Wikipedia entry for chocolate-covered potato chips, which is definitely not the oddest Wikipedia page I’ve ever seen, but doesn’t exactly seem necessary.

In light of all this, LWOPCDiMC really don’t seem that crazy, after all. I guess it’s just the idea that this is the first time a snack titan like Frito-Lay has taken it on. It’s also a limited edition item, and given the season, I’m guessing you’re supposed to eat them for Christmas?

The packaging certainly isn’t Christmasy, but it does has a pleasing aesthetic. Lay’s managed to cram four different fonts into the chips’ name, but they all have a nice flow to them, as does the background. Despite being rather monochromatic, it has a certain elegance to it, like a glass Christmas tree ornament with a delicate filigree design. It’s the belle of the chip aisle ball.

It was a little disconcerting to pick up a snack-sized bag of chips and have it feel so…hefty. That was the chocolate at work, obviously. I didn’t see any full-sized bags of LWOPCDiMC, which made sense when I thought about it; the weight of so many chocolate-covered chips might end up crushing the bottom ones.

With the idea of chocolate-covered potato chips settling more easily in my mind, several key questions arose, and I was ready to get under the mistletoe with these chips.

Lay's Wavy Original Potato Chips Dipped in Milk Chocolate

The picture on the front of the bag led me to believe that these were chocolate covered chips. I should have paid attention to the super-long name of the product. These are chips dipped in chocolate. And in an interesting way: I would have expected one end to be dipped, but instead, one side was dipped.

One of my key questions was, what is the quality of the chocolate? The answer, as best as I can describe, is “middlin’”. There’s an obvious hierarchy of big-name chocolate, and I would put it well above Palmer, but just a step below Hershey’s.

The quantity of the chocolate on each chip was substantial. Despite having one side of the chip (mostly) naked, the layer of chocolate was quite thick, and also quite rich.

The chocolate and chip dynamic was interesting. Lay’s was going for a sweet/salty dynamic, and while there was some salty undertones to cut through the chocolate, it didn’t seem nearly as salty as a regular Wavy Lay’s chip. It was also hard to detect the flavor of the potato chip under all that chocolate.

What the chip did add was a welcome crunch. The thickness of Wavy Lay’s bore the brunt of the chocolate well, and I was impressed at the amount of completely intact chips in the bag. They weren’t quite as crunchy as the chips would have been on their own, but the combination of chocolate and crunch worked great together. It was kind of like eating a thin Crunch bar.

I half expected to dislike Lay’s Wavy Original Potato Chips Dipped in Milk Chocolate, but I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong. The chocolate was of a fair quality, and the Lay’s Wavy chips added a bit of salt and, best of all, a crunch that worked perfectly with the sweetness of chocolate.

I would have liked to have had a bit more of a balance between the two – I found the chocolate a little too rich to eat a whole bag at once, and the potato flavor of the chip got overwhelmed by its sweet counterpart. All in all, however, I think anyone who enjoys a sweet treat with a bit of salt would enjoy Lay’s Wavy Original Potato Chips Dipped in Milk Chocolate.

LWOPCDiMC don’t strike me as a gimmick or one of those things people would eat for the weird factor. These chips are something you could set out at your Christmas party that people who like chocolate with a bit of salt and crunch would enjoy just for what they are.

Lay’s Wavy Original Potato Chips Dipped in Milk Chocolate

  • Score: 3.5 out of 5 gettin’ intimate with potato chips under the mistletoe
  • Price: $3.49
  • Size: 5 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Target (exclusive)
  • Nutritional Quirks: Get ready to satisfy 22% of your recommended daily saturated fat needs with just one ounce of chips. Hey, ’tisn’t the season for eating healthy, people.

Popeyes Blackberry ‘N Cream Cheese Pie

Popeyes Blackberry 'N Cream Cheese PieI was originally going to tack this on to the Chicken Waffle Tenders review, since they both came out as new Popeyes items at the same time, but that review ran long, as they are wont to do. So Blackberry ‘N Cream Cheese Pie gets to have its own moment in the spotlight.

Moving that spotlight for a moment, I’d like to mention that this is my third Popeyes review but the first time I’ve actually spelled the restaurant’s name correctly. There’s no apostrophe in Popeyes. I guess that was my brain trying to make the name make sense, because “Popeyes” makes no sense. It is the plural of Popeye. So, unless every employee that works there is named Popeye, I just don’t understand. But a name’s a name, so if they want to be Popeyes, Popeyes they shall be.

Just wanted to throw that correction out there.

Back to pie!

I’m not really a fast food pie eater. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I ordered one. If I’m in the mood for some dessert with my artery-clogging burger, I’ll go for a sundae or a shake. Ice cream trumps pie in my book.

But when I saw the Blackberry ‘N Cream Cheese Pie on Popeyes’ website, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. I’m quite fond of blackberries, and the food artist did a great job of making them look enticing, berries and syrup bursting out of the cut crust like the most delicious crime scene.

It was really the cream cheese that got me, though. Gooey fruit in a crust pocket is pretty standard fast food pie fare, but I’m a sucker for cream cheese.

The crust of my pie was flaky but seemed a little overcooked. I was glad that it hadn’t been cooked until the edges were like biting through rock, but I would have preferred it to be a little lighter. I wasn’t there for the crust, though. I was there for the filling.

Popeyes Blackberry 'N Cream Cheese Pie Filling

Not exactly the bursting-with-berries creature I’d seen on the website, but that’s a given. My pie did seem a little deflated, though. Okay, maybe more than a little deflated. Like a bouncy house with a defective air pump.

Despite this, I was pleasantly surprised at the flavors that Popeyes Blackberry ‘N Cream Cheese Pie delivered. The blackberries made me think back to eating Knott’s Berry Farm’s Blackberry Jam as a kid – the filling didn’t have any artificial taste, and while I’m not often fond of seeds, I welcomed them here. It added authenticity.

The cream cheese did a good job of balancing the sweetness of the blackberries and syrup, and the textures worked well together. It seemed a little thinner than normal cream cheese, but that could have been the result of it being warmed up.

My biggest disappointment was that there wasn’t enough of it. As I said before, my pie was a bit lacking on filling, and while the strong flavor of the blackberries did its best to counteract that, there was no hiding the fact that there needed to be more cream cheese.

Given the fact that I haven’t had a fast food pie in forever, Popeyes Blackberry ‘N Cream Cheese Pie was a solid introduction back into the world of portable flaky desserts. The authenticity of the blackberry filling went a long way, and the addition of the cream cheese added another layer of flavor and texture. I know I probably shouldn’t expect much from a dinky little fast food pie, but the skimpy amount of cream cheese, and filling in general, left me wanting more.

Did I mention that I love cream cheese?

Popeyes Blackberry ‘N Cream Cheese Pie

  • Score: 3.5 out of 5 sad, deflated bouncy houses
  • Price: $1.29
  • Size: 1 pie
  • Purchased at: Popeyes #5636
  • Nutritional Quirks: May contain actual blackberries?

Brand Eating seems to have fared better with their filling.

Burger King Summer Menu: Rib Sandwich

Burger King Rib SandwichI know right away what you’re expecting out of this review. You want to know one thing: how does Burger King’s Rib Sandwich compare to the McRib?

Well, I’m here to tell you something right now: I’ve never had a McRib.

I assume you’re back after someone administered smelling salts and you’ve gotten up from your fainting couch.

I’m sure I must be the only person who writes about food on the Internet who has never had a McRib. Possibly the only person on the Internet who’s never had one. There’s no real explanation for it; I’m not allergic to unnaturally-formed meat – in fact, I think the record will show that, in most cases, I seek such things out.

I guess by the time I came around to the food review scene, the McRib, and the mockery of it, was already played out. I’d read about it, I’d heard about it on tv, seen all the “McRib facts”. Every time it comes back around, I mean to get one, but I get distracted by shiny things, and then it’s gone again.

I’m hoping this massive character fault doesn’t color your opinion of my opinion of Burger King’s Rib Sandwich. In fact, you could look at it the other way around – I may be the only food reviewer to look at this from the viewpoint of a true rib sandwich virgin.

Silver linings!

Okay, let’s get to this sandwich. Here’s how Burger King describes it: “Our new Boneless Rib Sandwich combines a juicy boneless rib patty with a sweet and tangy BBQ Sauce, and topped with crispy bread and butter pickles, all on a warm toasted artisan style bun.”

Burger King Rib Sandwich Halves

I liked the simplicity of the Rib Sandwich. Rib patty, sauce, pickles, bun.

Burger King Rib Sandwich Bun

I couldn’t recall if I’ve ever seen this kind of bun on a Burger King sandwich before. I wouldn’t call it “artisan” – a word that’s thrown around with impunity these days – but it definitely suited the Rib Sandwich better than, say, a regular sesame seed hamburger bun.

Burger King Rib Sandwich Open

Given that this sandwich only has three essential ingredients, I found it odd that pickles would be one of them. It turned out that the tangy sourness of them went really well with the BBQ sauce. I was also pleased that the quantity and spacing of the pickles was such that I got some in every bite.

Speaking of the sauce, this was obviously a very important component in the Rib Sandwich. I’m pretty particular about my BBQ sauce, and a sandwich can live or die depending on how the sauce tastes.

I was honestly surprised by Burger King’s BBQ sauce. I mean, I wasn’t instantly transported to an un-air-conditioned, bench-seating Memphis barbecue joint, but I really liked the flavor.

The biggest draw for me was that it wasn’t too sweet – a downfall I feel many fast food BBQ sauces suffer from. I feel like many of them are just ketchup with a drop of liquid smoke in it, or something similar.

Instead, Burger King’s had a strong hickory flavor with a nice spicy ending. There was also just the right amount of it; the sandwich wasn’t drowning in sauce, but the flavor was prominent.

With the sauce and the pickles being a success, all that was left was the meat itself.

“Juicy boneless rib patty” didn’t exactly inspire confidence in me. I mean, I’m not stupid – I know that they’re not real ribs. But the lack of mention of any specific meat was not exactly encouraging.

Luckily (or not?), Burger King’s website has a listing of the ingredients in everything on their menu. The first two ingredients in the “pork rib patty” are pork and water. There were like, seven other ingredients, but I refused to read them. Pork. That was enough for me.

Burger King Rib Sandwich Patty

Eating the sandwich as a whole, the rib patty actually tasted pretty good. It was a little spicy and did have a distinct pork flavor. Of course, the sauce did a lot to contribute to the flavor.

The firm texture of the bun, the crunchiness of the pickles and the moistness of the sauce all work as scaffolding to hold up the patty. Kudos to BK for finding this perfect balance, because when I ate a piece of the patty by itself, it was distinctly…spongy, which is something I didn’t notice when I was eating the sandwich as a whole.

The patty is obviously supposed to look grilled, but it certainly didn’t taste that way. I broke my own promise and went back to the ingredients list and found “Grill Flavor from Vegetable Oil”. I wish I hadn’t looked.

I really set the bar low for Burger King’s Rib Sandwich. My expectations ranged from “completely gross” to “bland and drowned in sweet BBQ sauce”. Instead, I found that, while the ingredients list is deceptively simple, each component played an important part. The “artisan” bun offered texture and stability, the pickles gave a nice tang and a welcome crunch, the sauce had a surprisingly hickory-spicy flavor and added moistness, and the boneless rib patty, while kind of gross by itself, used all these supporting characters to elevate itself above “spongy meat thing” and delivered the necessary pork flavor.

Well, my formed meat rib patty cherry has been officially broken. As I said, I’ve never had a McRib, but after trying Burger King’s Rib Sandwich, I’m betting I’d find BK’s superior. It wasn’t a life-changing experience, but it was pretty darn good. As long as you don’t look at the pork patty ingredients.

Burger King Summer Menu: Rib Sandwich

  • Score: 3.5 out of 5 rib sandwich popped cherries
  • Price: $3.99
  • Size: 1 burger
  • Purchased at: Burger King #17145
  • Nutritional Quirks: Grill Flavor from Vegetable Oil. What.

Other Burger King Rib Sandwich reviews: The Impulsive Buy, GrubGrade, Brand Eating

Australian Snaxplosion: Thins Light & Tangy and Chicken Thin & Crispy Potato Chips and Burger Rings

Australian Snaxplosion Thins Light & Tangy, Thins Chicken and Burger Rings Bags2A little while back, I got an email from a stranger living in Australia. She loves Skittles. She loves them so much, in fact, that she asked if I could ship her a bag of Darkside Skittles, since they didn’t have them where she lived.

She suggested we do a snack trade. Because I noted that she had her own food website, I immediately gave her my address, because you can obviously trust a complete stranger that you’ve emailed twice on the Internet, as long as they have a food blog.

I got into a lot of white, unmarked vans as a child. Obviously unrelated, but I felt I should mention it.

We made arrangements, and a surprisingly short time later, a totally awesome box full of Australian goodies arrived at my doorstep. So full, in fact, that there was no way I could fit them all into one review. Or two reviews. In fact, I may be reviewing them forever. Keeping this in mind, I won’t be using my usual review structure – I’ll just give a quick rating at the end of each item.

That said, enjoy part one of Australian Snaxplosion!

Thins Light & Tangy Thin & Crispy Potato Chips

Australian Snaxplosion Thins Light & Tangy Bag

Thins have a pretty much identical texture to Lay’s potato chips, which makes sense, since they were once owned by Pepsico, who bought them from Smith’s, but then sold them to…you know what, nevermind. Just know that the base chip is just like Lay’s.

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from Thins Light & Tangy, since neither of these words are particularly descriptive. Lightly flavored? Light in calories? Tangy…how?

The back of the bag offered me no clues. There was no nutritional information box, nor was there an ingredients list. I found this intriguing, since I’m pretty sure it’s a law or something to list that stuff in the United States. “Or something” – that’s good research, right there. In fact, none of the three items being reviewed today had any information on the back. You roll the dice when you snack Australian.

If you can’t tell by the pictures, all three of these snacks came in surprisingly small bags. By small, I mean, one serving. An actual serving, not an American serving. Something you would eat during a work break. It’s like comparing a 12-ounce soda to a Big Gulp. I wonder, do they offer gallon-sized jugs of soda in Australian convenience markets? My hunch is no.

Australian Snaxplosion Thins Light & Tangy Chips

Anyways, Thins Light & Tangy had a nice vinegar bite with an equal amount of…tang. I could definitely identify some onion in there, but it wasn’t sour cream and onion-flavored…perhaps a bit of a ranch flavoring? I think ranch would count as tangy.

Australian Snaxplosion Thins Light & Tangy Chips Close-Up

I won’t lie, I did look up the ingredients, but only after I’d tasted the chip. Some of the ingredients are “Vegetable Powders (Onion, Tomato), Flavour (Natural), Flavour Enhancer (621) and Herbs & Spices”.

I couldn’t taste any tomato, but the rest seemed about on point. Of course, I have no idea what 621 Flavour Enhancer is, but hey.

In the end, I never did learn what was so light about Thins Light & Tangy Thin and Crispy Potato Chips. I did, however, enjoy the taste. They had a nice balance of vinegar, salt, and a present but not overwhelming ranch-like flavor. Nothing crazy or groundbreaking, but a fine snack, nonetheless.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 kudos for using the moniker “Light” for seemingly no reason at all

Thins Chicken Thin & Crispy Potato Chips

Australian Snaxplosion Thins Chicken Bag

Chicken-flavored potato chips may seem pretty out there if you’re American, but according to my brief Internet research, chicken seems to be a pretty common flavor for Australian snacks. In fact, I got another chicken-flavored snack in my box, Chicken Twisties, but they didn’t survive the International travel very well, and by that I mean, both ends of the bag blew out. Amazingly, this was the only casualty of the whole box, so I consider myself lucky.

Maybe chicken doesn’t seem so out there when you consider the crazy flavors we’ve seen over the years. Mountain Dew-flavored Doritos, anyone? Besides that, if I had to pick a meat to flavor chips, chicken seems the most innocuous.

Australian Snaxplosion Thins Chicken Chips

Thins Chicken chips look remarkably similar to Light & Tangy, but the tastes are worlds apart. They look and feel almost identical – again, think Lay’s with some green flecks on them – but Chicken lacks all the twang that excites taste buds. Is it possible for a food to taste…matte? If it is, that is how I would describe Thins Chicken.

While the unfortunately unseen Twisties Chicken tasted like chicken bullion, Thins Chicken didn’t taste like chicken at all. In fact, I’m not sure what they tasted like. They were very salty, and there was a little onion, but that was about it.

Actually, there was a strange aftertaste that I can only describe as “chewing on an old jar of chicken bullion cubes”. It was very odd and unpleasant.

I was steeling myself for chicken-flavored potato chips when I opened up my bag of Thins Chicken Thin & Crispy Potato Chips, but what I got was actually worse. Instead of chicken, I got a flavor that was both bland and unnatural. After enjoying Thins Light & Tangy, I was surprised at how badly Thins Chicken failed to live up to its name.

Rating: 2 out of 5 ways that Thins managed to make chicken-flavored chips taste worse than chicken-flavored chips

Burger Rings

Australian Snaxplosion Burger Rings Bag

As you may imagine, Out of the three offerings shown here, I was most intrigued by this product. Burger Rings! Again, these may sound odd to Americans, and the lack of imagery plus the promise of “big burger taste” on the front of the bag may conjure memories of things like Doritos Late Night All-Nighter Cheeseburger. I know it did for me, and that was not necessarily a good thing.

Burger Rings are apparently very popular in Australia, so I thought, how bad can they be?

Australian Snaxplosion Burger Rings

That’s usually an ominous question, but for once, I was pleased to discover that they were not bad at all. In fact, I enjoyed them quite a bit.

Upon first glance, Burger Rings look like smaller, redder versions of Funyuns. They say we eat with our eyes, and in this case, my eyeballs were pretty spot-on. The texture was indistinguishable to that of Funyuns – light and somewhat puffy, but with a satisfying crunch. I would call it a “soft crunch”, if such a thing exists.

The flavor of Burger Rings was distinctly that of cheese and tomato. Breathe a sigh of relief – unlike the abominations that have been created in the US, Burger Rings made no attempt to make their product taste like meat. “Big burger taste” is just big talk.

Unlike Funyuns, Burger Rings are the perfect size for popping into your mouth. I found that I’d blown through my appropriately snack-sized bag rather quickly. With a generic cheesy tomato flavor and a crunchy but non-gum-stabbing texture, they were easy and fun to eat.

While I would have preferred something else to go with the cheese – maybe onion, or, dare I say, garlic – I can see why so many Australians like this snack. I was glad that my Aussie snack trading partner had included two bags, because one was just not enough. I’d love to see Burger Rings sitting next to Funyuns on store shelves. It’s time someone gave them a run for their money in the ring-shaped crunchy snack department.

Rating: 4 out of 5 sighs of relief that Burger Rings taste nothing like actual burgers

That wraps up part one of our unknown number of Australian snack food reviews! I’ll be back later with more treats from the land down under. In the meantime, watch out for drop bears, folks.

Taco Bell Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco and Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco Supreme

Taco Bell Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco and Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco SupremeTaco Bell first unleashed the Doritos Locos Taco upon the world early last year with their Nacho Cheese offering. The Internet could not have been more abuzz about it. A Taco Bell taco with a Doritos shell?! How could this be?

Every food review website on the planet was on this like…a food review website looking for blog hits. And yet, somehow, Junk Food Betty was strangely silent.

Why? I don’t know. I remember wanting to review it. And yet, somehow, it never happened. In fact, I never tried the Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco. I felt like I was doing penance for my neglect by denying myself the experience, which sounds incredibly stupid when I type it out.

Thankfully, the junk food gods gave me a second chance. Much like its Nacho brother, the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco was announced as an upcoming Taco Bell menu choice well before it came out. And, like its cheesy brethren, it received major attention from the Internet. Taco Bell is doing it again? With Cool Ranch Doritos this time? The sales of fainting couches sold on eBay spiked all over again.

Here’s the thing, and I say this looking over my shoulder, waiting for the Internet buzz police to break down my door: to me, Locos Tacos sound pointless and boring. It’s a regular Taco Bell taco with Doritos flavor dust on the shell. It’s a food crossover designed entirely for the hype machine.

That said, I’m a goddamn sucker, and after missing out on Nacho Cheese, I damned well wasn’t going to pass up on the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco. ONE OF US. ONE OF US.

Taco Bell Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco

Taco Bell Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco

This taco launched on March 7th, but Taco Bell had a secret: if you asked for it, you could get one a day early, even if it wasn’t on the menu yet.

Did I say secret? What I meant to say was they advertised this fact on Facebook, Twitter, and the front page of their website. I’m surprised someone wearing a Taco Bell polo shirt didn’t knock on my door and yell “YOU CAN GET IT A DAY EARLY” when I answered it. Remind me not to tell Taco Bell about that thing I did that one time that nobody can ever know about.

And yet, some Taco Bell locations didn’t get the memo, and therefore people chomping at the bit for a Cool Ranch taco were met with blank stares, which pissed them off, especially since they’d probably gotten five phone calls from Taco Bell (some during dinner, some in the middle of the night) letting them know that they could get it a day early. Perhaps Taco Bell should have used some of this marketing energy to inform their own restaurants about this promotion.

I have to say, I’m rather fond of the packaging of Locos Tacos. The custom-made sleeve is presumably designed to keep your fingers flavor-dust free while letting you know you’re definitely eating a Doritos taco, but if you’re not worried about flavor dust when you eat Doritos chips, why would you care when you’re eating a Doritos taco? Whatever, it’s still cute.

A regular Taco Bell Crunchy Taco contains seasoned ground beef, shredded lettuce and shredded cheddar cheese. This taco contains the same, except it’s wrapped in a Cool Ranch Doritos shell.

Taco Bell Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco Shell

Because Taco Bell’s regular Crunchy Taco is boring as hell, it’s been a really long time since I’ve had one. However, the Cool Ranch Doritos shell seemed a little thinner, like a regular Doritos chip. It also had all the flecks and markings of a Cool Ranch Dorito.

Taco Bell Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco Inside

Upon first bite, you get a little bit of that iconic Cool Ranch flavor, but it’s quickly swallowed up by the seasoned ground beef. However, the shell does have a nice crunch, and the flavor dust sticks to your lips, which gives you a little burst of Doritos flavor after you’re almost done chewing.

I was suspicious about Taco Bell’s choice to make Cool Ranch their next Locos Taco flavor. Nacho Cheese seemed like a natural (nachoral HAHAHAHA), but when I think taco, ranch isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind.

Lucky for me, even though I ordered a regular Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco, mine came with a hidden surprise – sour cream! You wouldn’t think one innocent ingredient would turn things around, but I think the Cool Ranch combined with the sour cream made for a much more enjoyable Loco experience.

I’d like to think I got a rogue Taco Bell employee who knew this and was secretly slipping sour cream into each regular Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco. The more likely scenario is that the Taco Bell employee that made my taco didn’t give a shit about what they were doing because they work at Taco Bell. But the tiny optimist in me hopes for the former.

Taco Bell Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco Supreme

Taco Bell Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco Supreme

Figuring that reviewing the Cool Ranch Loco in a (somewhat) timely manner was my penance, I decided to rock out a Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco Supreme.

Hey look, it gets its own branded sleeve! Still cute.

In case you weren’t aware, in Taco Bell speak, “Supreme” means “regular taco with diced tomatoes and reduced-fat sour cream”.

Why is Taco Bell’s sour cream always reduced-fat? I never understood that. You could order the fattiest, greasiest thing on Taco Bell’s menu, which I don’t even want to look up, and if it contained sour cream, that sour cream would be reduced-fat. Weird.

Taco Bell Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco Supreme Shell

Ignoring the fact that I spend too much time thinking about Taco Bell’s ingredient choices, the Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco Supreme offered no surprises. A lot of the words I wrote about the Cool Ranch variety apply here – the shell was a bit thinner, it tasted like Doritos, blah blah blah.

Taco Bell Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco Supreme Inside

If anything, the Nacho Cheese Doritos flavor wound up being more muted than the Cool Ranch version. Maybe it was the gloriousness of the Supremity. Maybe it was pitting nacho cheese flavor dust against real (real?) cheese. For some reason, the Nacho Cheese just didn’t stack up compared to the Cool Ranch. A surprising verdict from my taste buds.

But you know what? I feel better. I feel catharsis. I have now reviewed the Taco Bell Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco.  Supreme.

Now that I’ve done my duty as a person on the Internet who talks about food reviewing Taco Bell Doritos Locos Tacos, I can summarize both pretty easily: they are amazing, mind-blowing, and worth every bit of the buzz they’ve received.

Wait, no, I said that wrong. Let me rephrase: these tacos have Doritos shells, which makes them a little less boring than regular Taco Bell Crunchy Tacos and Crunchy Taco Supremes. Hooray? Oh, right, and they have custom sleeves! Double hooray?

I didn’t think to check the prices of these versus their boring un-Dorito-shelled counterparts, but I’m assuming they’re the same. In that case, why not Dorito-ify your taco? It’s a little extra flavor added to an otherwise lackluster menu item. Hooray! Go Loco with the change you found in your sofa cushions.

Taco Bell Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco

  • Score: 3.5 out of 5 sour cream surprises
  • Price: $1.39
  • Size: 1 taco
  • Purchased at: Taco Bell #004989

Taco Bell Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco Supreme

  • Score: 2.5 out of 5 feelings of taco closure
  • Price: $1.69
  • Size: 1 taco
  • Purchased at: Taco Bell #004989
  • Nutritional Quirks: Seriously, reduced-fat sour cream. WHY?

All those other guys who reviewed Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos (surely an incomplete list): The Impulsive Buy, Brand Eating, GrubGrade, Man Reviews Food, Fast Food Geek, So Good

Darkside Skittles

Darkside Skittles BagDarkside Skittles. Where to begin?

First of all, this is the most entertaining junk food packaging/concept I’ve seen in a long time. “The Other Side of the Rainbow”. What does that mean? I’ve never seen the other side of a rainbow, apparently. Or have I? Which side is the “other” side? I should really consult a leprechaun.

I’m pretty sure this is the “darkest”, for lack of a better word, candy concept I’ve ever seen, tie-ins to things like Disney villains notwithstanding. The dark blue packaging. The confusing yet ominous tagline. Even the flavors themselves, which I’ll get to in a moment.

There’s very little information about Darkside Skittles on the Internet, which I’m almost glad for, because it means that I can make up what kind of marketing Skittles was aiming for. I think I’ve actually figured it out, and it’s brilliant.

Darkside Skittles are the first ever commercial anti-Valentine’s Day candy.

Darkside Skittles Bag Broken Heart

I mean, just look at this heart, right on the package. It’s got an arrow through it, and the heart is broken.

The concept of Darkside Skittles is dark. The packaging is dark. The flavors are dark.

This is a candy meant for people who hate Valentine’s Day.

We all know someone who hates Valentine’s Day. Maybe they’re single; maybe they’ve had a nasty divorce or have had a string of bad relationships. Maybe they like to spout the usual rhetoric of Valentine’s Day being a holiday designed by Hallmark and Big Flowers and Candy. Maybe it’s you. Any way you slice it, there’s a large population of anti-V-Day people out there.

And Darkside Skittles are for them.

Or vampires. I can’t decide.

Darkside Skittles Bag Flavors

Let’s take a look at these flavors, which range from theme-appropriate to somewhat confusing to “what does that even mean?”

Darkside Skittles

Dark Berry: I’d file this one under “somewhat confusing”. There are many berries out there that are dark. Which one are you, Dark Berry? Are you blackberry? Blueberry? Boysenberry? Going with blackberry would have been perfect for the theme of these candies. Opportunity missed.

As it is, Dark Berry Skittles closely resemble “Berry Punch” from Wild Berry Skittles. I haven’t had Wild Berry Skittles in a while, but going from memory, they also seemed to be much alike in flavor. I wouldn’t be surprised if Skittles just poached them wholesale.

Dark Berry Skittles were true to their moniker, in that they were definitely berry-flavored but they don’t have a specific berry taste. It was kind of just…berry. Not unusual for a candy, but once I zoned on on the blackberry, it just made me more disappointed, even though I enjoyed the flavor.

Pomegranate: Well, at least this one has a straightforward name. Pomegranate has enjoyed some fad popularity of late, but it seems like an appropriate flavor for Darkside Skittles, as the arils (fancy name for seed coating; haha you just accidentally learned something) of the pomegranate are a deep, dark red. So is the juice, resembling very watery blood, which makes it a perfect choice for the Darkside.

The color of Pomegranate Skittles got pretty close to the real thing, but unlike pomegranate juice, dropping a Skittle on your shirt will not stain it forever, which is a plus. It was also the strongest flavor out of all the Darksides. It was very tart, as is real pomegranate, and actually did a pretty good job of capturing the flavor of the fruit. It lacked the depth of the real thing, but it’s also a bite-sized candy, so just coming close was a pretty good success.

Forbidden Fruit: I love the name, but had no idea what it represented until I ate one and rediscovered Original Sin. Whoops. Sorry, guys. I know, I know – a damn woman ruins things all over again. Figures.

Apparently, the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is darkish blue in hue, and tastes a lot like tropical punch. There was a definite melon flavor, complimented by what could have been a light berry flavor. Honestly, it was kind of hard to pin down, but it was tasty nonetheless. I guess when you’re the candy that got Adam and Eve kicked out of Eden, you’re allowed to be mysterious.

Midnight Lime: Here we come to the “what does it mean?” portion of Darkside Skittles. What the fuck is a Midnight Lime? Do they taste better at midnight? Oooo, do they turn pumpkin-flavored at midnight? Now that would be impressive.

Unfortunately, I’m old and am usually in bed by midnight, so I’ll never know. What I do know is that, at any time other than midnight, Midnight Lime tastes like…lime. Lime Skittles.

Darkside Skittles Midnight Lime Comparison

I just happened to have a bag of regular Skittles around, so I did a comparison, and I found almost no difference in appearance or taste. Okay, Midnight Lime is a little bit darker, and it was actually a teensy less tart, but if I slipped a Midnight Lime into your bag of regular Skittles, I bet you’d never know it.

If anyone who doesn’t fall asleep at 9pm after drinking a warm glass of Metamucil wants to try eating them at midnight, let me know how that goes in the comments section.

Blood Orange: Like Pomegranate, this one goes out to the vampires, or the knife-wielding ex-girlfriends. Blood oranges are orange on the outside and deep scarlet on the inside, and the color of these Skittles seems to be a compromise between the two.

Real blood oranges taste almost exactly the same as navel oranges, but they add a little bit more tart with the sweetness and are 100% more likely to ruin your shirt than regular oranges.

Blood Orange Skittles did a good job at mimicking this, being just a bit more tart than regular orange Skittles. Sure, “orange” is not a flavor that screams darkness, but you add “blood” to that and you’ve instantly got a solid concept, which beats the pants off Midnight Lime.

Like I said in the intro, I love the design of Darkside Skittles and am firmly convinced they are anti-Valentine’s Day candy, an idea that just delights me. Some of the flavors, like Midnight Lime and Dark Berry, feel a little phoned in. Forbidden Fruit and Blood Orange are flavors that aren’t exactly mind-blowing, but their concepts make them solid. Pomegranate is the one truly unique flavor in Darkside Skittles, and it’s got a color made for the Other Side of the Rainbow. While it doesn’t duplicate its namesake exactly, it gets definite points for coming close.

I have no idea if Darkside Skittles are limited edition or not – if they truly are an anti-V-Day candy, you’ll be seeing them in the clearance aisle soon. If they’re just made for vampires and goth kids, I guess they’ll be sticking around for a while. Hey, even goth kids need a little candy. They can’t subsist on black clove cigarettes alone.

Darkside Skittles

  • Score: 3.5 out of 5 pats on the back for not making one Star Wars reference the entire revie- dammit!
  • Price: $2.69
  • Size: 10.5 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Target
  • Nutritional Quirks: Serious points to Pomegranate Darkside Skittles for mimicking the fruit so closely with artificial flavors.

Candy Blog also crossed over to the Darkside.

Limited Edition Gingerbread Oreo

Nabisco’s been spitting out new Oreo flavors like hotcakes recently. I’d like to think that this is the reason their Limited Edition Gingerbread Oreo package is so goddamn boring.

I mean, look at that thing. Yellow – one of the classic Christmas colors, of course. An Oreo. And a gingerbread man that looks like he was decorated by the most unimaginative person on earth. Nary a Santa hat, tree ornament, or even a snowflake in sight.

Ah well, at least the gingerbread man looks happy. I’m assuming because he’s got the spotlight all to himself.

Can I stress all to himself? Because there’s not even a gingerbread man imprint on the cookie. In fact, if not for the scent that wafted out after I opened the package, just looking at the cookie itself, it just looks like a Golden Oreo. My heart just shrunk a size.

If the gingerbread man knew that his friends had been ground up and turned into a creamy paste, he might not be smiling so happily on the package.

Fortunately for Oreos, however, the boring packaging and cookie itself are masking a hidden treasure of gingerbread goodness. The creme does a great job of mixing the tastes of brown sugar, cinnamon, a bit of molasses, and whatever the hell else goes into making gingerbread cookies. I’m assuming one of those is ginger, but you wouldn’t know it from the ingredients list, which reads something like “sugar, sugar, flour, oil, sugar, oil, and natural and artificial flavors”.

Those last two really seem to be carrying the weight of making this cookie taste so much like actual gingerbread, and I have to admit, using the Golden Oreo as a vehicle for the creme was a good choice. The cookies add their own sweetness, but don’t interfere with the gingerbread flavor.

Well, that’s it. Shortest review ever.

Do you feel a little disappointed? I know I do. So much so, in fact, that I decided to try and eek some real Christmas spirit out of these cookies and make a Gingerbread Oreo house.

I have never made a gingerbread house. In fact, I’ve never really made anything out of food, unless you count the times I’d scrape the disgusting peanut butter out of the cheese cracker sandwiches they fed us in elementary school day care and made sculptures of noses out of it. Noses? I don’t know why, either, but it’s the only thing I remember sculpting. Maybe it had to do with the chronic sinusitis I had as a child.

Come to think of it, I have little to no knowledge or experience in architecture, structural integrity, infrastructure support, or pretty much any other subject that would help me build a house out of cookies.

This may not go well.

Many things went wrong during this experiment, as you may imagine. At first, I tried cutting the Gingerbread Oreos in half and using the flat base as a foundation, anchored by Gingerbread Oreo creme. I summoned my inner “everything I’ve learned from watching reality baking shows” and tried to roll the creme I’d carefully scraped off the cookies between my palms to act as an edible glue.

As it turns out, Oreo creme is neither fondant nor modeling chocolate, and rolling it between your palms results in…well, a bunch of delicious-smelling Oreo filling stuck to your hands. Thank god the odor of Gingerbread Oreos is quite pleasant. My hands smelled like Christmas.

Worried that this project would never even get off the ground floor, literally, I took some whole Gingerbread Oreos and just started smashing them together, because that’s the obvious next step. Surprisingly, this actually worked. I took my Oreo halves and smushed them onto the first ones, making a second layer.

I was pretty proud that I’d managed to make a second layer that didn’t immediately collapse, but soon realized I could go no further. That’s okay though, because I’d already thought of a roofing plan – White Chocolate Peppermint Pringles.

The main problem with this step is that I had no roof. I was determined to use the Pringles, however; they’ve been sitting around irritating me, and I figured this would be a safer use than chucking the canister at a random stranger, which is an urge I’d been fighting pretty much since I reviewed them.

Looking around the kitchen for something to save my gingerbread “house”, I found the perfect roofing material: Hot Chocolate Pop-Tarts!

I probably could have stuck the Pringles onto the Pop-Tarts with some of that Oreo creme, but I already knew there was no saving this disaster, so this is the finished product. The worst gingerbread house ever.

I love it.

Nabisco made the most boring packaging ever for Gingerbread Oreos, which is a shame, but I had fun spending half an hour making a horrible abomination out of them, so there is that. Plus, they taste and smell quite like gingerbread, which is, I suppose, the salient point. Much like my gingerbread “house”, I have a feeling the remaining Limited Edition Gingerbread Oreos won’t last long, because while they may not look like Christmas, they definitely taste like it.

Limited Edition Gingerbread Oreo

  • Score: 3.5 out of 5 realizations that I will never win a Food Network Challenge
  • Price: $2.68
  • Size: 15.25 oz. package
  • Purchased at: Walmart
  • Nutritional Quirks: Zero ingredients of actual gingerbread cookies listed, and yet, tastes like gingerbread. Christmas magic.

Burger King Summer Menu: Bacon Sundae

Did you know Burger King has a summer menu? I did not, until now. I have been writing reviews for almost three years now and, while I do have the memory of a goldfish, I don’t think I’d ever heard of it. What a shitty food reviewer.

But I know about it now, and I sure am glad I do, because that means I get to eat and write about the Bacon Sundae. I think history will show that there’s nothing better than throwing bacon onto or into someplace it shouldn’t be. Did I say better? I meant nauseating and traumatic. Why do they keep doing this to me? Oh, right. The hype.

Burger King describes their sundae as “Sweet and savory made with cool, creamy and velvety vanilla soft serve, chocolate fudge and smooth caramel, made to order with our new thick hardwood smoked bacon.”

I have to say, I’m relieved they went with caramel over the bacon-flavored syrup that Jack in the Box uses in their Bacon Shake. My unease would have gone from “eh, I can do this” to “please don’t make me vomit, seriously guys, I can’t take this anymore”.

The official description glosses over the actual function of the bacon in the sundae, but it’s basically a chocolate and caramel sundae sprinkled with pieces of bacon and garnished with a somewhat disturbing-looking full strip of bacon. It’s not often that I’m disturbed by garnishes. Piece of parsley on the edge of my plate? Kind of a waste of vegetation if you ask me, but completely normal. Celery in my Bloody Mary? Cumbersome, but good for stirring, at least. Sundaes need cherries on top. Not bacon.

I didn’t realize the bacon “garnish” would be a full strip of bacon. When I went to pull it out, thanks to the stickiness of the caramel and chocolate, half the sundae came with it and I almost lost half my ice cream treat on the kitchen counter. Most of the blob fell back in the cup, fortunately, and what you see here is the full glory of my bacon garnish. Looks delicious.

I actually tried the garnish strip first, thinking that it would either assuage my fears or prepare me to steel my stomach for the upcoming horror.

To my surprise, it did the former. The bacon was indeed thick, crunchy, and smoky; it far exceeded the quality of the side of limp bacon you’d get at Denny’s or the sad, flavorless bacon strips that come on most fast food bacon cheeseburgers. Even the part with the vanilla ice cream on it was not unpleasant, which was encouraging.

The vanilla ice cream was your typical soft serve, and the chocolate was thick and rich, much like you’d find in a typical sundae. The caramel was also thick, although I found that much of it had found its way to the bottom of my cup. In fact, it would have made a perfectly enjoyable chocolate caramel sundae in and of itself.

But this is not a typical sundae. It’s a Bacon Sundae.

I was surprised to find that I got at least a few bits of bacon in each bite of my sundae. I don’t know if there were bits hiding underneath the surface, or if the King has some sort of bacon magic, but it seemed like there were more pieces of bacon in the cup than appeared on the surface. Bacon magic.

It was obvious that they used the same bacon for the crumbles as was used for the garnish, because it was just as thick and smoky, and even stayed crisp in the ice cream, which is no small feat. I tried to get bacon, ice cream, chocolate and caramel in each bite, and I have to say, I was not repulsed!

Somehow, the vanilla and the bacon worked well together, creating that sweet and savory sensation as promised by BK. The chocolate was so rich that it actually overwhelmed most of the bacon taste, but the crunch combined with the chocolate was a great combo.

Conversely, it was the bacon that swallowed up a lot of the caramel flavor. It almost seemed like there was a disconnect; first I’d taste the bacon, then the caramel, but no real caramel-bacon taste. Having conquered vanilla-bacon and chocolate-bacon already, I was disappointed that the two didn’t want to be friends. It’s hard to believe I just said that. I wanted to taste caramel-bacon. What is happening to me?

I ate the entire sundae, which left me plum surprised. I went into Burger King’s Bacon Sundae with expectations of revulsion, but found myself actually kind of enjoying it. The quality of the bacon was fantastic and stayed crunchy even when drenched in ice cream, it somehow worked with the flavor of the vanilla soft serve, and even though the richness of the chocolate swallowed up the taste of the bacon, it still made a fun chocolatey crunch. The bacon and the caramel didn’t meld, but I was still able to enjoy their individual flavors.

Since I ate the whole thing, you may be wondering, would I buy it again? Well, the simple answer is…probably not. While I found much of the Bacon Sundae shockingly inoffensive, there’s something about having bacon in my ice cream that just doesn’t sit well with me. Call it mouth instinct – while I was able to judge the bacon and its interaction with the sundae’s various components objectively, overall, I just didn’t feel right eating it. Plus, that bacon garnish just creeps me out.

I believe Burger King’s motto is still “Have It Your Way”. If that’s really true, I just might roll up to the tinny speaker of BK’s drive-thru and order a Bacon Sundae with the bacon on the side, minus the crumbles, plus a few extra bacon strips. It’s a solid sundae, and I can’t get over how great the quality of the bacon is. I would love to enjoy them…separately.

Maybe I’ll get some weird looks at the window, but I don’t care. Don’t judge me, Burger King employee! You are compelled to make it MY WAY. Plus, it would be fun to watch the person struggle to figure out which buttons to push to make my order happen. Sweet, salty revenge.

There’s obviously more to Burger King’s Summer Menu than the Bacon Sundae, so keep a look out in the days to come, as I plan on reviewing some of the other highlights (well, we’ll see about that) on BK’s seasonal menu.

(The Impulsive Buy, So Good, Brand Eating and GrubGrade also weighed in on the Bacon Sundae.)

Burger King Summer Menu: Bacon Sundae

  • Score: 3.5 out of 5 magic bacon crumbles
  • Price: $2.59
  • Size: Uh…Burger King sundae-sized? There’s no size provided on BK’s website.
  • Purchased at: Burger King #17145
  • Nutritional Quirks: Goddamn that bacon was good. Talk about a quirk – who would have expected great bacon from a fast food joint?

Screaming Yellow Zonkers!

SNEAK PREVIEW ALERT! Screaming Yellow Zonkers will not be in stores until May 15, so don’t run out looking for them until that date!

Screaming Yellow Zonkers! Popcorn is something I seem to remember from my childhood (like Pop Qwiz), but don’t recall ever trying (probably because I was too busy eating Pop Qwiz). According to Wikipedia, which is the only real source of information I could find, so take all this with a grain of salt, Zonkers (I am dropping the exclamation point from now on since it’s annoying to have every word after that get auto-capitalized) were first introduced in the late 1960s. According to me, that was a run-on sentence.

For what seems like an innocuous snack food, Zonkers has quite the interesting history. Instead of pasting the entire Wikipedia article here, get off your Internet ass and read it yourself.

It seems they always had a sense of humor, and it seems they’ve kept that tradition alive, which just tickles my knickers. These days, food packaging is either THIS IS HEALTHY AND A SERIOUS MATTER or THIS PRODUCT IS SO FUCKING EXXTREEEEEME IT WILL LITERALLY BLOW YOUR MIND STRAIGHT OUT THE BACK OF YOUR HEAD. A little tongue-in-cheek is refreshing. Enjoy these commercials from the 1970s(?) and 1980s(?)  I especially like the latter; when was the last time you saw someone convulsing on the ground to advertise for a product?

Case in point: the top of my box says, “open here, but don’t get mouthy with me!” Get it? MOUTHY? Man, I’m the only one who appreciates a good pun anymore.

Zonkers were discontinued in 2007, but now they’re making a comeback! Which is obvious, since I am reviewing them. In true Zonkers fashion, on the side of the box they explain their absence:

“You may have noticed that have BEEN GONE for a while, and you can blame Bill for that one. He’s one of those bottom of the box KERNELS that’s missing some of his BUTTERY GLAZE, if you know what I mean. He decided that we needed to get out of this box and go on a trip to ‘FIND OURSELVES’. It was somewhere between here and there we had our A-HA MOMENT. We had it good, really good, so we came SCREAMING BACK to the good life!”

Damn that Bill. I bet there wasn’t a kernel of truth to his entire story. I hope they popped him right in the face.

Sorry, I’m being really corny.

Now that’s how you rock some puns.

ANYWAYS. Zonkers came back in four limited edition retro-looking boxes, and here they are! (You can see an example of an old school box on the Wikipedia page I referred to earlier that none of you clicked on.)

I wound up with limited edition box #3.

I’m happy with my box. I think it’s the most sinister-sounding. I imagine my box of Zonkers hovering around my house for days. I catch glimpses of it in the window, but think my eyes are playing tricks on me. Then, late at night, as I’m watching a rerun of Golden Girls, it suddenly bursts through my front door, eyes wild. “Did you MISS ME, baby?” It says, right before it violently stabs me 17 times, laughing maniacally the whole time.

Screaming Yellow Zonkers should be happy I’m not on their marketing team.

I should probably get to the actual product at some point. Given that “Screaming Yellow Zonkers” gives you zero clue as to what the actual product is, the box goes on to describe the product as “crispy butter-glazed popcorn snack!” Zonkers loves exclamation marks.

I’m not sure exactly what a Zonker is, but these little guys are certainly Screaming Yellow. This is not a color that occurs in nature. The glaze just adds to the unnaturalness. I feel like I should be repulsed, but I’m really not. I’ve eaten blue popcorn before. How many times am I going to reference Pop Qwiz in this review?

Considering I hadn’t viewed those commercials before I ate Zonkers for the first time, I was surprised to find that there was quite a bit of sweetness to them. I suppose I shouldn’t have been, but I’m dumb, whatever. It’s impossible to not immediately think of Cracker Jacks when you eat them. They feel exactly the same in your hand – glazed and a little sticky.

They also taste remarkably similar; take out the nuts and exchange caramel coating for butter coating, and there you have it. There’s really no better way to describe them.

The taste combination of butter and sugar is disconcerting at first, and yet I found that I kept eating them. After my mouth accepted the combination, I actually started liking them, until my sugar limits kicked in. The glaze also gives them a nice crunch, which I liked. It feels like one of those snacks you sit down with in front of the tv, and before you know it, you’ve eaten the entire box and consumed 360 calories.

Would I buy again? (Or in this case, use my own money to acquire.) Probably not. I like popcorn, and I like butter, but I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, and Screaming Yellow Zonkers are pretty damn sweet. While I accepted the combination of butter and sugar surprisingly easily, I can see how it would not sit well with others. I wish they could have been butter-glazed without the sugar, but I’m pretty sure you can’t glaze anything without using sugar, so I guess I’ll just have to wait for some sort of futuristic non-sugar-glaze technology.

While I didn’t like the sugar, I have to give props to the Zonkers marketing team for their excellent sense of humor. It’s not going to make me like the popcorn any more than I did, but I appreciate their efforts nonetheless.

If you like sugar and you’ve always wished Cracker Jacks had no nuts and tasted like butter, then you’ll like Screaming Yellow Zonkers. Unfortunately, they don’t come with a surprise toy. I only ate Cracker Jacks as a child because I was hoping for some temporary tattoos.

Screaming Yellow Zonkers will be available exclusively at Walgreen’s nationwide, so don’t search your local grocery stores fruitlessly, because you’ll only be met with heartbreak.

Required disclosure: my box of Screaming Yellow Zonkers was provided to me as a free sample by ConAgra Foods. As always, I remain objective and often insulting.)

Screaming Yellow Zonkers!

  • Score: 3.5 out of 5 sticky fingers. I hate having sticky fingers.
  • Price: Free sample, but you can score a box for $1.00
  • Size: 3 oz. box
  • Purchased at: Sent to me, but you can find them exclusively at Walgreen’s nationwide
  • Nutritional Quirks: That shade of yellow does not occur in nature.

Chester’s Fries Chili Cheese Flavored Corn & Potato Snacks

Today, a seemingly normal snack food that is shrouded in mystery. Chester’s Fries Chili Cheese Flavored Corn & Potato Snacks.

First, the procurement of said snack. I have never heard of these before in my life. Apparently, these have been showing up in the vending machine at my husband’s work off and on for a while now. A strange choice of offerings, given that most work vending machines I’ve seen (and I’ve seen my fair share) usually go with more traditional offerings, like original Lay’s or Rold Gold pretzels. If you’re lucky, you might score some Miss Vickie’s. But not this vending machine. This machine had gone rogue.

Somehow, these Chili Cheese Fries managed to slip in there. Or, more precisely, managed to slip out. The bag says 75 cents, but my husband scored them for free. During an innocent trip to the break room, he spotted them sitting on the counter. Alone, possibly even lonely; I can’t truthfully speak for the state of mind of the snack itself. He looked around, searching for an owner; the room was empty, fluorescent lights buzzing quietly, Formica tables bereft of employees shoveling bland Lean Cuisines into their mouths. No one was there to claim this odd bag of snacks. No one was coming back for them. Chester was officially an orphan.

So, my husband took them under his wing. No snack left behind. And now, like a de facto foster mother who is just in it for the paycheck, I will pass judgment on them.

There’s one more small mystery to this case. Much like whoever abandoned this bag of Chester’s Fries Chili Cheese, Frito-Lay seems to have abandoned them, as well. I couldn’t find them anywhere on F-L’s website, which extensively catalogs each flavor of each brand they carry. And trust me, that is an extensive list. They have Chester’s Flamin’ Hot Fries, but no Chili Cheese. I’m starting to wonder if this vending machine comes from the same magical source as the one that dispenses these.

The bag is pretty straightforward. There’s Chester, keepin’ it cool like he does, lounging around, eating his fries. There’s a picture of the fries, which the bag also informs me have been enlarged to show texture. To be honest, they do look like real seasoned fries. In the picture, that is.

There’s also a cartoon bowl of chili with cheese on top, which actually looks more like a bowl of mud with some yellow seagulls stuck in it. And then there’s the “guaranteed fresh by” date. Jan. 25. My husband only gave these to me a couple of weeks ago. Perhaps this explains the abandonment of the Fries. It also shows that perhaps this is not the most popular snack in the vending machine. I’m just hoping it’s Jan. 25 of this year.

Lucky for you readers, I’m a rogue. I don’t play by the rules. You can take my badge and my gun, but I’ll still conduct my own investigation. Expiration dates are for sissies.

The back of the bag describes these fries as “crispy, crunchy french fry-shaped snacks with a rich, hearty chili & cheese flavor. Satisfy your french fry fix with Chester’s Fries Chili Cheese Flavored Corn & Potato Snacks!” I appreciate a snack that actually uses the ridiculously long full name of their product anywhere other than on the front of the bag. It also says I can learn more at www.fritolay.com. This is obviously a lie. I always obey what the back of snack bags tell me to do, so I feel a little betrayed. Of course, if these expired Jan. 25, 2005, perhaps they were on Frito-Lay’s website at that time. We’ll never know.

Chester’s Chili Cheese Fries do not taste like french fries. They will not satisfy your french fry fix. They are, however, pretty good. The fries seem to be designed to each be a uniform 2.5 inches long, but given the various transports my bag endured, I’m not surprised some of them were broken. As you can see, they aren’t exactly the same color as the fries on the bag. The texture and density of them are pretty similar to Planters Cheez Balls, which no longer exist, which not only breaks my heart on a daily basis but also makes the comparison relatively useless. Let’s just say they’re less dense than Cheetos, but a little more dense than Cheetos Puffs.

I was surprised by the flavor. Considering they are, or perhaps were, part of the Frito-Lay family, I expected them to have the exact same flavoring as Chili Cheese Fritos. Instead, I got a much more subtle flavor. The cheese tasted a lot like Cheetos cheese but not as strong, and the chili seasoning had the flavors of other chili-flavored snacks, but again, it’s more subtle, which actually allows the cheese a little more room to shine.

I don’t know if you’ll ever be able to find Chester’s Fries Chili Cheese Flavored Corn & Potato Snacks. Maybe they’re everywhere and I’m just unobservant or live in the wrong area. Either way, Frito-Lay seems to deny their existence. I may never see them again, but I have to say, I enjoyed the bag I had. In a world of snacks that punch you in the mouth with aggressive flavoring, these fries had a subtle but pleasant flavor, which also allowed the flavor of the corn (and potato I guess, I couldn’t really taste much of that) and the tasty texture to come through. Chili and cheese have obviously been done before, but it’s the Cheez Ball-esque composition that I really enjoyed.

And for the record, they weren’t stale at all. Expiration dates are bullshit. Unless you’re dealing with milk. Don’t fuck with milk.

  • Score: 3.5 out of 5 Internet petitions to bring back Planters Cheez Balls
  • Price: Free, but someone else allegedly paid 75 cents
  • Size: 1 1/2 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Lovingly rescued at an undisclosed break room location
  • Nutritional Quirks: Expired by 3 months (or 10 years, depending), but still tasting fresh!