Tag Archives: 3.5 burgers

Ruffles Loaded Chili & Cheese and Molten Hot Wings Potato Chips

Ruffles are not one of Frito-Lay’s products that gets a lot of new family members. Doritos seem to fuck like rabbits, producing a new flavor every two seconds, and Cheetos get a lot of play, but Ruffles are just…Ruffles. Ridged and thicker than Lay’s, original Ruffles are the perfect chip for dipping. There’s a few flavors, like Authentic Barbecue and Sour Cream & Onion, but they’re pretty pedestrian. I do have to say, I love their Cheddar & Sour Cream. But generally, Ruffles have been one of the quietest of all the Frito-Lay children.

Until now! Ruffles has come out with not one, but two new Ruffles flavors, and I’m excited about both of them. Molten Hot Wings and Loaded Chili & Cheese? Hells yeah, sign me up for flavor country! I would have just been happy with Hot Wings, but these are Molten Hot Wings. Chili & Cheese gets my blood pumping (Fritos Chili Cheese chips rock), but these are Loaded Chili & Cheese. How are they loaded? Onions on top? Sour cream? Or just really drunk? It is a mystery, and I hope it’s a delicious one.

You might be thinking that Frito-Lay just up and decided to give Ruffles some love. But there’s an ulterior motive going on here. A sinister ulterior motive.

Okay it’s not that sinister. It’s just silly.

If you read Frito-Lay’s Snack Chat blog, and I know you don’t, you would know that there’s a theme going on here. Ruffles Molten Hot Wing and Loaded Chili & Cheese are being released with a buddy, Doritos Pizza Supreme. Are you seeing a theme here? Have you noticed that, on some recent Sundays, there’s suddenly the smell of grilling and the sound of yelling in the air? Did you perhaps wonder when church got so damn exciting? If so, you’re probably a nerd who doesn’t watch sports. This means you probably didn’t know the Super Bowl is happening this Sunday. A friend of mine called the Super Bowl a “football contest” today. I’m pretty sure he didn’t get the theme.

In other words, yes: Frito-Lay is trying to convince you that, instead of making (or ordering) real hot wings, chili cheese dip, and pizza for your big Super Bowl party, you should just lay out three big bowls full of these chips. Don’t take it from me, they pretty much lay it out like that in the blog: “The crunch of Ruffles Original with the bold, hearty flavors of chili cheese and hot wings. Who needs a meal when you’ve got these to snack on?”

I NEED A MEAL. If I were to go to someone’s Super Bowl party and see nothing but Ruffles laid out on the coffee table, I would overturn the table in a fit of rage, break a bottle of beer over it, and stab the party host in the face. Motherfucker trying to just feed me chips. I bet the beer is non-alcoholic, too. Bitch be trippin’.

Leaving behind any talk of food/chip substitutions and physical assault, let’s just see how they taste.

Loaded Chili and Cheese

After looking at the back of the bag, I now see what they mean by loaded: “You know that dream where all your favorite food is piled high and ready to go? It’s not a dream. It’s Ruffles Loaded Chili & Cheese Flavor. Chili? Check. Cheese? Heck yeah. Onions and peppers. Bingo. Now put all that on a chip. Pinch yourself, you’re really awake. Okay, now hit yourself. Oh well, it was worth a shot.”

I want to find the person that wrote this little gem. I’ve seen some pretty out there back-of-bag descriptions, but this one is just plain funny. First of all, I don’t think I’ve ever had that dream. And if I did have that dream, it would look more like a steak smothered in onion dip, artichoke dip, pesto and cheese sauce, bangers and mash, all topped off with a pickle. Somehow that doesn’t sound too appetizing.

By the way, I punched myself in the face after I finished reading the bag. I always obey the bag.

Unsurprisingly, Loaded Chili & Cheese Ruffles taste a hell of a lot like Chili Cheese Fritos. Heck, they probably just used the same flavor powder with some minor modifications. But you know what? I don’t care. I love Chili Cheese Fritos and I love Chili Cheese Ruffles. They don’t taste exactly the same, since Ruffles are potato chips and Fritos are corn chips, but it works either way.

If you’ve never had Chili Cheese Fritos before, let me explain the Ruffles for you. They basically taste like chili powder mixed with cheese powder. There’s also a little onion and garlic flavors thrown in there, too. The Ruffles do have some different ingredients than the Fritos, which results in a larger depth of flavor, particularly in the onion region. I couldn’t really taste any peppers, but that’s okay. I don’t really consider peppers to be a standard in chili cheese dip, but maybe that’s just me.

Loaded Chili & Cheese Ruffles get a thumbs up in my book. The chili flavor is pretty aggressive, which may not appeal to some pussies people, but I found it to be just right.

Molten Hot Wings

Let’s check out what kind of crazy is on the back of this bag! “You. Your buds. The game… What’s missing? One word, “Wings.” Dripping with sauce and ready to wash down with your favorite beverage(s). Wait, it gets better. It’s Ruffles Molten Hot Wings Flavor and it’s all on a chip. So now what’s missing? Two words, ‘personal cheerleaders.’ Dream big, chief.”

First of all, you’re not doing a very good job of selling these chips as a replacement for hot wings. “What’s missing? Meaty chicken wings covered in delicious sauce. You know what’s better? Eating potato chips.” Not exactly the same experience.  Most guys would choose meat over potato chips.

Speaking of guys, what kind of sexist fuck wrote this blurb? Personal cheerleaders? “Chief”? Don’t call me chief. I am a motherfucking lady, you punk-ass little bitch. How dare you assume that only guys are going to eat Molten Hot Wings? My outrage is palpable.

I wouldn’t mind some hot personal cheerleaders, however. The more vapid, the better! Honey I ain’t paying you to talk, I’m paying you to cheer me on every time I finish another beer. Or someone makes a touchdown or something. Whatever.

Given the picture on the bag and the whole “molten” angle, I expected these chips to be fire engine red. Not so much. Don’t be deceived, however; these chips pack a surprising punch. They’re pretty fierce, but in a buffalo sauce sort of way more than say, a jalapeño spicy sort of way. My mouth puckered. That signature vinegar component of buffalo sauce is definitely there.

There was an underlying flavor that I had trouble identifying, until it finally hit me: chicken. Son of a- I’M TIRED OF BEING AMBUSHED BY MEAT-FLAVORED CHIPS! DAMN YOU AND YOUR FLAVOR SORCERY, FRITO-LAY!

Honestly though, once I got done shaking my fist in the air and yelling at a snack food manufacturer while standing alone in the middle of my kitchen, I gave them a second try and really didn’t find the chicken undertone all that bad. I would say it’s the least disturbing of all the meat-flavored chips I’ve tried. Molten Hot Wings Ruffles would hit it off pretty well with some ranch dip. While not exactly molten, they do pack some heat, and I’ll forgive Ruffles just for using the word “molten”. I’m a big fan of creative adjectives in snack foods. And it sure as hell beats “XTREME”.

I’m glad to see Ruffles getting more flavors. Fortunately, I actually enjoyed both Loaded Chili & Cheese and Molten Hot Wings, even though the former seems to just be a slightly different iteration of Chili Cheese Fritos and the latter has an undertone of…chicken. I’d still cut a bitch if I went to a Super Bowl party and all they had was Ruffles, but the cuts would require less stitches. I’d even leave some chips for them after they got back from the hospital.

(Note: Brand Eating also reviewed Ruffles Loaded Chili & Cheese Potato Chips and The Impulsive Buy reviewed both of them.)

Ruffle Loaded Chili & Cheese Potato Chips

  • Score: 4 out of 5 sexy food dreams
  • Price: $0.99
  • Size: 1 7/8 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Fry’s Foods
  • Nutritional Quirks: Contains red and green bell pepper powder, even though I couldn’t taste it. I’ve never seen bell pepper powder before. More Frito-Lay sorcery!

Ruffles Molten Hot Wings Potato Chips

  • Score: 3.5 out of 5 personal cheerleaders
  • Price: $0.99
  • Size: 1 7/8 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Fry’s Foods
  • Nutritional Quirks: Contains chicken fat, chicken broth and chicken powder. Chicken powder sounds ominous, but is probably just bullion. I’m a little disturbed that my potato chips have chicken fat in them, though.

Limited Winter Edition Cheetos Puffs Winter White Cheddar

Limited Winter Edition Cheetos Puffs Winter White Cheddar apparently really wants you to know that it’s winter. I’m sure those of you who live in the Northeast are already well aware of that. Nevertheless, Cheetos wants a reason for the season. Actually, they want a reason to make limited edition Puffs. Winter is often white, because of snow. White cheddar is (somewhat) white! Boom. I’m disappointed they didn’t make the Puffs in the form of snowflakes. Perhaps that technology is not yet available.

Cheetos already makes White Cheddar Puffs, but they’re only available in their Natural line of products. This means that instead of organic corn meal, cheddar cheese and sour cream, Winter White Cheddar Puffs contain enriched corn meal, cheese seasoning, and MSG. But Chester Cheetah is riding a Puff like it’s a snowboard! The back of the bag says “Strap on your gear because you’re in for a ride.”

I’m assuming by “gear” he means your obesity-necessitated sleep apnea machine and by “ride” he means the ambulance ride you’ll take when you forget to take your insulin. I’m just saying.

I just read on Frito-Lay’s Snack Chat blog that Winter White Cheddar Puffs were only available through the end of December. I guess that shows you how long I’ve had them (in my defense they have not reached their expiration date yet) and also that you will not be able to eat them. I’m sorry. Egg on my face, eh?

Snack Chat also brought to me this interesting sentence: “The packaging even features Cheester Cheetah snowboarding, and they’re made with real cheese.” The “even” makes me feel like they’re a little desperate. Wait, didn’t I already explore this joke three paragraphs ago? It’s disturbing to think that I’ve started mind-melding with Frito-Lay’s marketing department.

The sentence is also worded in such a way that it reads like the two have something to do with each other. Snowboarding and cheese, together at last. Oh, and I just realized Frito-Lay blog writer “Katherine” spelled Chester’s name wrong! With quality writers like Katherine, how am I not writing for Snack Chat already? Oh, it’s probably because of unnecessarily scathing criticisms like these. Hm.

While the white cheddar on the Puffs is rather white, apparently they couldn’t take a step further and bleach the enriched corn meal. This means the Puffs themselves are yellow, and they couldn’t drench them in enough cheese seasoning to hide that fact. So the Winter White is more like Summer Sunset Pale Yellow. Ah well, at least you can still use them as a snowboard.

I’ve never had Cheetos Puffs before. I was surprised at how big they are. Any one of them could have replaced my index finger, if I wanted my index finger to always be crooked and Cheetos were medically approved to be used as finger transplants. One day, technology will catch up.

Cheetos Puffs are fluffy, crunchy and somewhat dense at the same time. They remind me a little bit of Planters Cheez Balls. The corn meal taste of Cheetos is definitely present, and the white cheddar powder compliments that flavor. I found myself going from “eat for review” to “see how I can fit a Puff into my mouth like I have a retainer” to “mindlessly munching while watching TV instead of writing review”. At worst, that makes them inoffensive. At best, I seem to enjoy shoving giant Cheetos into my mouth.

Limited Winter Edition Cheetos Puffs Winter White Cheddar stands on a pretty weak gimmick, especially considering there’s already a version of Cheetos White Cheddar Puffs out there with (allegedly) healthier and more “real” ingredients, but I like them anyway. I’m a sucker for limited edition products, even more so when they’re trying to tie themselves to a holiday or season. Plus, you know, Chester Cheetah riding a Puff like a snowboard. You could pick up pretty much any white cheddar-flavored snack food and get the same flavor powder, but hey, why not have it on a Winter Puff? Oh, right, because they no longer exist. The texture of the Puff is interesting, although I wish they hadn’t made them the size of my entire jaw. Will I Winter Puff again? Well, no, because I’m an asshole and waited too long to write this review, so now we all can’t. But I may try the Natural White Cheddar Puffs just to see if the better ingredients add up to better flavor.

  • Score: 3.5 out of 5 Cheeeeeesters
  • Price: $1.29
  • Size: 3 1/4 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Circle K
  • Nutritional Quirks: With the same serving size, Winter White Cheddar Puffs and Natural White Cheddar Puffs have the exact same amount of calories.  Natural has one less gram of fat.  Winter actually has 70 mg less sodium. So much for natural meaning healthier!

Jack in the Box Chorizo Cheesy Fries

Jack in the Box revamped their french fries last year, which I reviewed over at The Impulsive Buy. I gave them a 7 out of 10, which some people objected to, but I don’t even remember what they tasted like. People have strong opinions about fries, and they really want you to know those opinions. Fair enough. The point here is not that I possibly suck at judging fries, the point is that Jack in the Box has now put stuff on their fries. Namely, cheese sauce and chorizo. Chorizo! I do not believe I have ever seen a fast food restaurant that had anything with chorizo on or in it before. Kudos to Jack. In the competitive world of fast food one-upmanship, it’s hard to find something unique.

There are Cheesy Fries and Chorizo Cheesy Fries available on the menu. I chose the latter because I figured I could tackle two birds with one stone. Interestingly, I’ve seen very little media coverage about these. No commercials, no emails…there’s no promo on JitB’s website, but the Cheesy Fries are in the menu section. No chorizo to be seen. The only real advertising I’ve seen is a big poster in the window of the restaurant itself. Just seems…odd.

Anyway. I love chorizo. I love chorizo even though it gives me terrible heartburn, every time. It’s an abusive relationship, but chorizo always tells me baby, I’m sorry, it won’t happen again. In the back of my mind I don’t believe it, but I can’t quit chorizo. So I was pretty excited to try these fries.

My husband was with me when I ordered the Chorizo Cheesy Fries, so he got an order, too. I opened mine up and was greeted with a sad box of fries with barely any chorizo on it. The other box fared a little better, so he made the ultimate sacrifice and let me have his box to photograph and eat. He’s an honorable, courageous man. I’m organizing a 5k in his honor.

Even with the switch, there wasn’t as much chorizo or cheese sauce as I would have liked. It may look like a fair amount in the picture, but it really wasn’t. Look at all those naked outliers. I want my fries smothered and covered, and these fries were like, wearing a towel around their waists. Terrible analogy that I will not continue.

I know this picture looks disgusting. I know a lot of pictures I take of fast food look disgusting. But this one has an actual defense in that chorizo always kind of looks like a dog barfed up a bowl of chili. Don’t judge a book by its cover, people. Chorizo has a really great personality and a great sense of humor. Your blind date with it will go fantastic, I’m just sure of it.

I was surprised by how authentic the chorizo tasted. I guess I’ve kind of gotten used to fast food that kind of tastes like real food. Taco Bell’s ground beef kind of tastes like ground beef. McDonald’s chicken nuggets kind of taste like real chicken. But this chorizo actually tasted like chorizo, with that delightful spicy sausage flavor. It was a pleasant surprise. It was also greasy as hell, but that’s just the way chorizo is. And I wonder why I get heartburn.

Unfortunately, since there was so little cheese sauce and chorizo has a very strong flavor, the cheese sauce basically disappeared. That made me sad, because I really like JitB’s Bacon Cheddar Potato Wedges, and I assume they used the same cheese sauce on these fries as they do on the wedges. Granted, the cheese sauce on the wedges isn’t super flavorful, but they always pile it on and for some reason I really like it.

Overall, I enjoyed Jack in the Box’s Chorizo Cheesy Fries. The fries were soggy, but that’s to be expected, and that’s why you get a fork. It was also really salty, but I dig that. It’s the perfect drunk food, but I think I’ve established that I don’t have to be drunk to enjoy that particular niche of edibles. I think if I get them again, I’ll request double cheese and double chorizo, so that I can get the proper smothering (and extra heartburn) I was looking for. Hopefully, with a double cheese sauce, it will become a bigger player. The strong and authentic flavor of the chorizo helped me feel less sad about all those naked fries. I think Jack has the formula right, but the application wrong. A simple portion fix would really elevate Chorizo Cheesy Fries to the next level.

(Note: The Impulsive Buy also reviewed these fries AND the Cheesy Fries.)

  • Score: 3.5 out of 5 swigs of Mylanta
  • Price: $1.99
  • Size: 1 box
  • Purchased at: Jack in the Box #196
  • Nutritional Quirks: Since Chorizo Cheesy Fries aren’t on Jack’s website, I looked at the Cheesy Fries. With them already at 1,145 milligrams of sodium, I can’t imagine what the chorizo would bring to the salt party. Have water nearby!

Doritos 1st, 2nd and 3rd Degree Burn: Blazin’ Jalapeño, Fiery Buffalo and Scorchin’ Habanero Tortilla Chips

I’m inappropriately excited about reviewing these Doritos 1st, 2nd and 3rd Degree chips. You see, I’ve been seeing 1st and 2nd Degree Burns in at least two separate stores. But wherever I looked, I just couldn’t seem to find the 3rd degree. I couldn’t understand – why so elusive? Why would you sell the first two, but not the third? Is it that dangerous? My frustration over my inability to locate the third burn only intensified my curiosity. And I couldn’t just review the first two, that would be…somehow wrong. Incomplete. So I was left to be constantly confronted by two thirds of a trio that I so wanted to take pictures of and write about on the Internet.

But then…then, one fateful Saturday afternoon, I walked into one of the stores that had been taunting me with burns that only required aloe vera and not a trip to the hospital and what did I see…3rd DEGREE BURN, MOTHERFUCKERS! I excitedly grabbed a bag and headed over to where the first two had been taunting me in the store for close to a month now. And yet, they were not there. I traversed the whole store, and couldn’t find them. So…you finally get the third, and then remove the first two? That don’t make no sense.

Luckily, I knew another place that also only carried the first two, so I picked those up and basked in triumph. And thus ends two paragraphs’ worth of a story that is only interesting to me.

Moving on! In case you don’t have a grasp on the simplest of medical concepts, the gimmick here is that there are three different levels of heat. Let’s take them literally, just for fun. The first degree, Blazin’ Jalapeño, will make your tongue mildly uncomfortable. There may also be some swelling. Run some cool water over your tongue for a while and stop being such a pussy.

The second, Fiery Buffalo, will…wait a second. How is buffalo hotter than jalapeño? According to the Scoville scale, jalapeños register in at 2,500 to 8,000 units. “Buffalo” isn’t a pepper, and thus isn’t on the Scoville scale, but I’ve had my fair share of buffalo sauces, and I don’t think any of them were in any way hotter than eating a raw jalapeño. I guess they could have just used a really hot sauce to make them. Well, regardless, after consuming these chips, you will experience severe pain and swelling of the tongue, as well as developing disgusting blisters. Cold water can also help here, but it is advised that you suck on the sap of an aloe vera plant throughout the day. Try not to pop those blisters that are filling up your mouth. That would probably taste pretty gross, and it’s bad for the wound. A sterile gauze bandage may be applied to your mouth to help protect the burn. I guess you should just stuff a bunch of gauze in there and carry around a pen and paper. It would probably hurt too much to talk, anyways.

The third degree, Scorchin’ Habanero, will fuck your shit up. Habanero peppers register on the Scoville scale at 100,000 to 250,000 units. It is advised that you wear protective gloves while handling these chips to prevent skin irritation. After you eat these chips, you should seek immediate medical attention. Do not remove any clothing you may be wearing on your tongue. Elevate the tongue to above the heart le- well I guess that one is taken care of. Call 911 or have someone drive you to the nearest Emergency Room; do not drive yourself, as you may go into shock and cause a car accident, which would only make things worse. Your tongue will require constant medical attention and bandage changes for weeks afterward. A skin graft may be required. They may harvest your new tongue skin from your buttocks.

After hearing all that, you must think I’m a fool for attempting to eat all three burns in one day. Well, maybe I am a fool, but I’m a fool who eats things so that you don’t have to. Some may call me a fool; others, a hero.

1st Degree Burn: Blazin’ Jalapeño


Hm.  These certainly taste familiar.  Where have I experienced this unique taste before?  Oh, I think I remember!  I think they remind me quite strongly of Doritos Late Night Last Call Jalapeno Poppers. Or maybe I’m thinking of Doritos Poppin’ Jalapeño! No, that can’t be it, I didn’t even know that was a flavor of Doritos until about five minutes ago. Well hey, maybe it was Doritos 3Ds Jalapeño & Cheddar, part of a brief and apparently unsuccessful gimmick from the mid-2000s!

What I’m trying to say here, and I think you’ve all pretty much guessed it by now, is that there’s nothing new in Blazin’ Jalapeño. I could go on a giant tirade about Frito-Lay constantly recycles their flavors into new gimmicks, but I don’t even want to get started, because that would then become half the content of this website.  I just need to accept it and move on.

I don’t see that actually happening.

For those of you who haven’t tried any of these other iterations, the flavor is pretty straightforward – spicy heat with an undertone of artificial cheese flavoring. I actually like them quite a bit, and they pack a surprising amount of heat. Jalapeño pepper powder is listed as one of the ingredients, and it’s definitely not shy.  Anyone who is not a big fan of capsaicin definitely would not like these.  They’ve got a good burn, but not so much so that the flavors are overwhelmed.

I don’t really have a lot more to say about 1st Degree Burn Blazin’ Jalapeño, other than that we’re off to a pretty promising start.  If this is 1st degree, I’m eager to see how much my tongue hates me as we move on!

2nd Degree Burn Fiery Buffalo


I wondered briefly why 1st Degree got the Blazin’ moniker and Doritos didn’t take alliterative advantage (heh heh) and call these Blazin’ Buffalo. And then I remembered why.  I swear I’ve had Blazin’ Buffalo & Ranch Doritos before, and I don’t recall the buffalo chips being hot at all.  Just sufficiently buffalo-flavored.

Holy crap!  Holy crap these chips are hot!  The first chip delivered a blast that immediately hit my sinuses in a way 1st Degree didn’t.  It was a feeling akin to what happens when you put too much wasabi on a sushi roll.  As I kept eating them, the burn kept building.  I ate about a half dozen of them and my whole mouth was on fire.  My lips were burning, and continued to do so for minutes afterwards.  I actually had to sniffle a few times, as the heat was making my nose run a little.

I have to say, I’m honestly blown away.  These are the hottest chips I’ve ever eaten.  I didn’t know you could actually make tortilla chips this hot.  I’m not getting a lot of buffalo flavor (although the “fiery” part certainly is present), but I could see how these would be really great with a nice, thick ranch dip.  I’m sorry, but throwing some Cool Ranch Doritos into the mix won’t help this time – you’re gonna need a pretty serious dairy product to cut through the heat.

The flavor is really kind of hard to describe…”burny” is all that comes to mind.  But it’s kind of a good burn.  I’ve always poo-pooed those people who like to eat super hot hot sauce.  What’s the point of eating something if all you taste is pain?  And yet, I really liked 2nd Degree Burn.  The little masochist inside of me enjoyed the slow build of torture.  I don’t think I would eat them all the time, but honestly, if I had some good ranch dip around, I could really lay into these guys, watching tv with a box of Kleenex nearby so I could blow my nose as snot runs down my face.

I’m impressed!  And now terrified of 3rd Degree Burn Scorchin’ Habanero.  I’m actually going to have to wait a while before eating them to get some feeling back in my mouth.

3rd Degree Burn Scorchin’ Habanero


Okay so seriously I’m a little scared.  Take a look at what I’m up against:

AHHHHHHHHHHH

When I was taking pictures, before any actual tasting started, I saw these and thought, oh, these are just going to be like Flamin’ Hot Doritos, because of the coloration.  I’ve never had Flamin’ Hot Doritos, but I’ve had the Cheetos, and they are delicious, but not really that hot.  The most threatening thing about them is that the violently brightly colored flavor powder stains your fingers, letting the world know that you have recently indulged in some form of Flamin’ Hot junk food.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Now, I am not so sure.

Well, there’s only one thing to do about it, and that is to eat them.  Let’s get on with it, then!  I feel like I should have some sort of spotter or sitter nearby.  Maybe a LifeAlert necklace.  C. Everett Coop is looking down at me disapprovingly from the afterlife.

Here we go…

SPOILER ALERT: I’m alive!  And I didn’t even have to go to the hospital (yet).  I actually feel like 3rd Degree is about as hot as 2nd Degree.  Of course, 2nd Degree could have turned my tongue into a charred wasteland, rendering me incapable of noticing heat differences.  I got the mouth and lip burn.  Less sinus irritation; only one sniffle came out of it.  But I did get some eye tearing with 3rd Degree, and I definitely feel it more in the throat area.  While I was eating them, I got that choking, burning feeling, like when you accidentally swallow some hot, spicy pho broth the wrong way.  Like I need to cough, or gag. Or make that gross “HUUUKKKGGGHHH” sound uncivilized guys make right before they hock a loogie on the ground.  Even after having not eaten them for a little while, my esophagus feels a tad scorched.  Scorchin’!  Well done, Doritos.

I actually got a little more flavor (other than “ouchy”) out of 3rd Degree than 2nd.  They taste a lot like Spicy Nacho Doritos.  Spicy Nacho Doritos are the wimpy kid in middle school who gets bullied on his way home one day, and the next day his older brother, Scorchin’ Habanero, comes out and absolutely kicks the shit out of those little assholes, sending them running home crying to mama.  Apparently my mouth is the gaggle of bullies, in this scenario.  My mouth is misunderstood; life at home is hard, and…oh, nevermind.  The burning isn’t going away as fast this time and I think it has spread to my brain and I can no longer think straight enough to complete an already poorly constructed analogy.

Doritos 1st, 2nd and 3rd Degree Burns kicked my ass, and I’m happy to say that.  I’m so used to fast food gimmicks claiming to be hotter than Hades winding up being about as spicy as your grandmother’s love life that I severely underestimated Doritos.  Frito-Lay comes out with a new gimmick approximately once a week, and it’s usually the same flavors we’ve seen before with a shiny new bow and a poorly-executed concept.  This time, however, they took a solid concept and really ran with it.  Okay, so 1st Degree Blazin’ Jalaepeño was a total rehash, but it still fit perfectly into the progression of Burns and is still a tasty product, even if this is its fourth iteration.  Heck, even if 2nd and 3rd Degrees are also rehashes and I just don’t know/remember it, the overall theme is solid, fun, and goddamn painful.  Painfully delicious!

Ask me to say that again tomorrow when I’m on the toilet cursing every good thing I ever said in this review while my digestive tract stages a grassroots rebellion against Frito-Lay.

Oh, and as a side note, Doritos Burns has a little cross-promo with Pepsi Max, which claims it will “cure the burn”.  I think they would have been better off striking a deal with Hidden Valley.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my mouth has a date with a wad of gauze.

Doritos 1st Degree Burn Blazin’ Jalapeño Tortilla Chips

  • Score: 3.5 out of 5 failed 3D snacks
  • Price: $0.99
  • Size: 2 1/4 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Circle K #2821
  • Nutritional Quirks: Magically reanimated flavor!  Zombification ingredients not listed.  🙁

Doritos 2nd Degree Burn Fiery Buffalo Tortilla Chips

  • Score: 4 out of 5 surviving taste buds
  • Price: $0.99
  • Size: 2 1/8 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Circle K #2821
  • Nutritional Quirks: Addition of ranch dip will significantly up the grams of fat, but it’s worth it.

Doritos 3rd Degree Burn Scorchin’ Habanero Tortilla Chips

  • Score: 4.5 out of 5 charred taste buds
  • Price: $0.99
  • Size: 2 1/8 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Fry’s Foods
  • Nutritional Quirks: FIRE IN MY MOUTH!  HALP!

Sonic Drive-In Ched R Pepper SuperSONIC Cheeseburger

I’m going to murder whoever designed Sonic’s website and hunt down every last relative of that person with a Bowie knife clenched between my perpetually gnashing teeth.

Perhaps that’s not the best way to start out a review, but it’s how I feel right now, after having attempted to do the bare minimum research on the product about which I will be talking. If I’m lucky, after ten minutes the home page for Sonic Drive-In’s website will load. If I’m unlucky, I get a server error page. I’m unlucky more than I’m lucky. C’mon, people, you’re a national fast food chain. Make a fucking website that works, for Christ’s sake.

Nerd rage aside, I was finally able to struggle through the steaming, fetid bog of Sonic’s site to find the information I needed. First, I wanted to write a statement along the lines of “I never saw a Sonic before I moved to Arizona; apparently, my home turf of Orange County thought itself too good to allow them.” I figured I’d fact check that last part before dozens of angry, well-tanned OC residents left outraged comments. It turns out that while my former comment remains true, there was a Sonic within two miles of the house I spent the first 22 years of my life living in. Apparently, I’m just a clueless, unobservant fuck.

That aside, I’ve now lived within THREE miles of a Sonic for the last six years of my life, and the only thing I’ve ever ordered from there was a SuperSONIC Breakfast Burrito (the only breakfast burrito I’ve ever found that could support itself as a decent food item when you order it without eggs) and a blue Powerade Slush. Both are great for hangovers, by the way. I’m sure the flavor of the slush is not actually “blue”, but really, you all know what I mean. Nobody actually identifies sports drinks by flavor. Yellow, blue, purple, orange. These are your choices.

All this blathering about NOT going to Sonic has a vague purpose, in that I’ve never actually had a Sonic burger. Until NOW. Sonic recently released a limited edition burger called the Ched R Pepper SuperSONIC Cheeseburger. I’d seen the commercial for them a few times and gave it a dismissive wave of the hand, figuring Sonic thinks they’ve reinvented the wheel by adding a little more cheese and maybe some jalapeños to whatever regular goddamn burger they’ve got on the menu. But then I saw the commercial again one day and something caught my eye, so much so that I had to rewind my DVR and pause it at this moment:

Holy shit, they put jalapeño poppers on a burger! More specifically, “Ched R Peppers”, which I didn’t even know were on Sonic’s menu, since they’re not listed on the website. First of all, what a fucking terrible name. Ched R Peppers? Really? Not even gonna, you know, maybe throw an apostrophe in there? Fuck Ched R Peppers. I reserve the right to call them poppers throughout the rest of this review.

Furthermore, on their official YouTube video of the commercial, they call it a “Cheddar Pepper Burger” several times. Even Sonic itself is embarrassed.

I was repulsed and intrigued at the same time. On the one hand, putting random snack food inside a burger is ridiculous. On the other hand, putting random snack food inside a burger is awesome, and I love ridiculous. So, I knew I had to try one.

First of all, the burger is MASSIVE. It’s also probably the messiest burger I’ve ever eaten, due, in part, to the bottom bun falling apart in my hands. Poor bottom bun, it just couldn’t handle the responsibility of two giant patties, AND a ridiculous amount of cheese, AND two Ched R Peppers. It was doomed from the start. Actually, I think the real problem there is that they put all the lettuce, tomatoes, dressing, and everything else underneath the meat and poppers. There’s probably a reason they’re usually on top.

Aw, look! There they are!

Epic battle with sliding toppings and chipotle mayo-covered hands aside, I quite liked the burger. The meat was superior to McDonald’s but probably wouldn’t hold up to In-N-Out’s standards. I’d give it a medium on the scale of rat meat patties to hand-grilled burgers at a barbeque. The cheese, well, the cheese was plentiful. Between the two thick slices on the burger and the cheese inside the poppers, ooey gooey goodness was everywhere. The chipotle mayo added a muted flavor and was pretty abundant, which was nice, except I think I licked more of it off of my hands than I actually ate inside the burger, once again due to the bottom bun rolling a crit fail. Bottom bun is Black Leaf.

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with how well the poppers played with the burger. The deep-fried breading on the poppers gave it a nice crunch, sort of like the way onion rings would, except on most burgers I’ve had with rings, the rings are so soggy that they deliver no crunch at all. Maybe that’s why the condiments were all on the bottom of this burger. Keeping the poppers dry preserved that crunch. So, both a good call and a bad call on Sonic’s part. You can’t win them all.

Actually, I just realized that there’s a burger on top already protecting the poppers, so putting the condiments on top wouldn’t have made a difference. It makes no sense. Ched R Peppers.

The jalapeños add their delicious flavor and a little bit of heat, but not as much as if you’d put a bunch of jalapeño slices on the burger. This could be because the fat in the cheese binds to the capsaicin molecules in the pepper, thus reducing their potency. SCIENCE!

Or it could be because Sonic buys milder jalapeños, because all fast food chains think Americans can’t handle actual spicy food. Whatever.

Sonic wins points for the Ched R Pepper SuperSONIC Cheeseburger being insa- uh, creative, but loses points for being poorly constructed, resulting in a burger you should never, ever eat in your car, on your way to an important interview. Then again, if you’re eating a cheeseburger on your way to an interview, you’re probably applying at Sonic Drive-In, so have at. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the poppers played with the burger, and I also liked how plentiful and complimentary the chipotle mayo was. The meat and the abundant cheese were also satisfying. Putting jalapeño poppers on a burger may seem ridiculous, but consider that they’ve been doing it in New Jersey for about 40 years, so maybe it isn’t so crazy, after all. As a matter of fact, I’d like other fast food chains to start stepping up their game and stuffing their burgers full of various kinds of bar food. It’d keep me in business for months!

  • Score: 3.5 out of 5 Fat Kokos (Don’t know what that means?  You’re the jerk who doesn’t click the links!)
  • Price: $4.69
  • Size: 1 burger (418 grams)
  • Purchased at: Sonic #3517
  • Nutritional Quirks: 1,899 milligrams of sodium.  Suck it, Double Down!

Mountain Dew Throwback

Mountain Dew ThrowbackMountain Dew Throwback first came out with much to-do in April 2009. As you may have already been beaten over the head with, its big draw was that it was made with real sugar, instead of the high-fructose corn syrup that has taken over the lives of every American, caused an epidemic of obesity, and will probably kill each and every one of you reading this article, if the Internet and my television are to be believed. Way to go, fatties.

But wait! Salvation has arrived from PepsiCo, in the form of Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback! Even though they’ve been feeding you that deadly HFCS for I don’t know how long, they’ve decided to throw you a rope, and now you can enjoy your sweet, sweet soda without fear. Because sugar is natural, so therefore, giant amounts of it are good for you! Unlike HFCS. Stupid, deadly corn syrup.

But wait! PepsiCo apparently only wanted you to have a taste of the sweet life, because both Throwbacks went away in June of 2009, leaving you to drive your Jazzy right on back to the original Mtn Dew and its poisonous sweetener. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

But wait! Before you even had a chance to keel over from Type II Diabetes, at least, I’m assuming, Throwback is back! For eight weeks starting December 28, 2009 and ending February 22, 2010, you can satisfy your massive sweet tooth with real sugar and not syrupy suicide. If they keep this up, all you’ll have to do is buy a few dozen pallets of Throwback from Costco and you can ride out the drought until they re-release it again.

I didn’t have a website to vomit my opinions of food onto the Internet and generally insult many of my readers when the first Throwbacks came out, and I don’t generally drink soda, so I never got a chance to try them. However, BevReview and The Impulsive Buy did, so you can read their expert opinions on the original Throwbacks.

I chose to review Mountain Dew Throwback and not Pepsi, or both, because a.) I am a cheap bastard, b.) I never really liked the taste of Pepsi in the first place and find Mountain Dew to be less offensive, and c.) because it contains caffeine, and probably for some other stupid reasons I don’t know or care about, Mountain Dew has become associated with geeks and gamers, so I get to work in some jokes about mom’s basement and Cheeto dust and World of Warcraft. There. All worked in, now.

The original Throwbacks went retro in their packaging to help emphasize their regression back to using sugar, as seen in this ad:

Throwback Old Ad

The new Throwbacks have all new can designs, and while Pepsi went back to the late 80s style that I’ll always associate with the beverage, since my mom drank about a six pack a day during my formative years, Mountain Dew went waaaay further back, drawing from the original can design from the 1950s.

Mountain Dew Throwback Label

Ya-hooo! Indeed! That there is Gran’ Pappy, the official mascot of Mountain Dew from way back in the day, smiling as he narrowly averts death by cork from a moonshine bottle. On the original logo, Gran’ Pappy had a gun, pointing at a fleeing figure who was presumably trying to steal his booze. I mean, soda. For those not in the know, “mountain dew” is, or was, slang for moonshine, so ol’ Gran’ Pappy there makes a great mascot for the soda. Of course, as time moved on, I’m sure the marketing team realized that associating soda with illegal hooch, guns and hillbillies wasn’t the best strategy, so Gran’ Pappy faded into the past, and the logo evolved, eventually becoming “edgy” and XTREME to appeal to young, fat video gamers. They even officially changed the name to MTN DEW in 2008, because kids these days don’t have the attention span for extra letters. And, of course, it’s easier to text message. You can see a nice picture timeline of the transformation here.

After spending several hours researching this bullshit for your benefit, let’s get to the fucking drink already.

Mountain Dew Throwback Comparison

Obviously, the packaging between HFCS Mtn Dew and Mountain Dew Throwback is different, but how do the flavors stack up?

First of all, I’d like to mention that I almost couldn’t get the cap off the Throwback, which would have resulted in much anguish on my part. The cap on Throwback is shorter, smoother, and has less ridges than the Mtn Dew cap. Subsequently, my frail, Victorian era-esque hands did not have the strength and lacked the purchase to open the bottle easily. Fortunately, I drew upon the strength within myself, my desire to get this fucking review over with, and was able to crack the cap.

Mountain Dew Throwback Bubbles
Left: HFCS Mtn Dew Right: Mountain Dew Throwback

There’s no real appreciable difference in appearance. They both have the citrus-y smell typical of Mtn Dew, but the original HFCS has a sweeter smell to it. Throwback tastes cleaner and feels more watery in your mouth, compared to the thicker, more syrupy feel of Mtn Dew. However, Throwback tastes almost identical to Mtn Dew. This could be because it contains orange juice concentrate, just like the HFCS version does. Apparently, this is something that was lacking in the Throwback of early ’09, which probably resulted in a difference in taste that may have put some people off. But I suppose I’ll never know, since I didn’t try it.

Mountain Dew Throwback Flat
In case you forgot - Lt: HFCS Mtn Dew Rt: Mountain Dew Throwback

Something interesting I noticed while I was taking my pictures is that the Throwback seemed to lose its bubbles almost immediately, while Mtn Dew had big bubbles of carbonation clinging to the sides of the glass, occasionally breaking free and rising to the surface. Even as the two glasses sit on my desk while I write this, the Mtn Dew continues to show bubbles, while the Throwback looks as flat as if it had been sitting there for three days. Interestingly, however, Throwback doesn’t taste flat, but it does seem to be more subtly carbonated than Mtn Dew. While this doesn’t effect the taste, it does differ the texture, making it go down a little different than your typical soda, which can cause a carbonation explosion in your mouth if you’re not careful.

I think the addition of orange juice concentrate into the re-release of Mountain Dew Throwback was a smart move, because it results in a soda that tastes very similar to the original Mtn Dew. However, it does have a cleaner taste that goes down more smoothly and feels less like it’s coating your mouth with sugary syrup. The sweetness levels are almost identical; I feel like Mtn Dew is one of the less cloyingly sweet sodas, and the substitution of sugar for HFCS in the Throwback version doesn’t make it taste any more or less sugary. In the end, it’s a matter of preference in texture – original Mtn Dew feels a little thicker and more carbonated, while Mountain Dew Throwback goes down cleaner, but in a way that some Mtn Dew enthusiasts may say makes it taste watery. If forced to choose between the two, I’d go with Throwback, but just by a hair. I prefer the cleaner feel in my mouth, but in the end, the authentic Mtn Dew taste is the same in both of them. And, of course, it’s made with real sugar, whereas everybody knows high-fructose corn syrup causes bunions and what’s known as “Stomach Liver Hybridization”, among many other unspeakable things.

  • Score: 3.5 out of 5 pours onto the ground for Gran’ Pappy
  • Price: $1.49, $0.99 on sale
  • Size: 20 oz. bottle
  • Purchased at: Albertsons #980
  • Nutritional Quirks: HOLY SHIT IT’S REAL SUGAR

BevReview has also written a review of the new Mountain Dew Throwback.

KFC Fiery Grilled Wings

KFC Fiery Grilled Wings BucketI’ve been burned before, if you’ll excuse the pun, by fast food chains’ claims of spiciness and heat in new menu items they introduce. Burger King’s Angry Whopper and Taco Bell’s Volcano Menu come specifically to mind, with their commercials of people sweating and steam coming out of their ears and, well, volcanoes, and yet, the heat just isn’t there. So you can understand my wariness when I learned of KFC’s new Fiery Grilled Wings. I decided to try them anyways, though, since I already like their grilled chicken, so at the very least I’d be eating grilled chicken wings, and I can think of a lot worse things to be eating.

For those of you who only eat organic produce and don’t have a television, KFC introduced their grilled chicken in April of 2009, making a big to-do with their “UNFry Day”, launching their UNTHINK ad campaign and touting the new product as a healthier option than their traditional fried chicken products. I didn’t have this website back then, but I did try their grilled chicken, and found it to be delicious. In fact, in the handful of times I’ve been to KFC since they launched their grilled chicken, I haven’t once gone the way of the fried.

KFC went with “fiery” instead of “spicy” for their new grilled wings, which, of course, opens the door to a whole wave of ridiculousness in their commercials.

KFC Fiery Grilled Wings Firebreather

Caution: KFC Fiery Grilled Wings are to beat eaten outside, and only by a trained professional.

KFC Fiery Grilled Wings Tiger

I guess here you are the tiger, and you are jumping through hoops to get to KFC’s new Fiery Grilled Wings.

KFC Fiery Grilled Wings

The wings have similarities and differences to both traditional buffalo wings and to their un-fiery big brothers. Instead of getting your fingers covered in buffalo sauce, you will get them covered in grease. They have a crispy skin like KFC’s other grilled chicken, but the pieces I got seem to lack the somewhat disturbingly fake-looking grill marks that the bigger chicken pieces have. Most of the reason I love KFC’s grilled chicken so much is that, first of all, it seems to be juicier than their fried chicken, and second, it has a great spice blend on the skin that reminds me of their Rotisserie Gold chicken that disappeared in the mid-1990’s, much to my anger and despair. Even in high school, I was already writing angry letters in my head to fast food chains.  With these wings, they’re about as juicy as any other chicken wing you’ll find, and the grilled chicken spices seem to be masked by the “fiery” spice.

KFC Fiery Grilled Wings Spice

The spice, I have to say, does not disappoint. It tastes nothing like the heat of buffalo sauce, instead delivering a straight-up capsaicin heat that comes from the little pepper bits on the surface of the wing. After a couple of wings, my lips were actually burning, but the heat didn’t hit my mouth enough to necessitate a glass of milk or perhaps a dip of ranch dressing, a traditional accoutrement to buffalo wings that did not accompany my Fiery Grilled Wings. They were fiery, but not so aggressive as to put off the average American’s pussy-whipped taste buds.

With a crispy skin and a bit of bite, KFC’s Fiery Grilled Wings are a tasty alternative to traditional buffalo wings. I, however, will probably never purchase them again. I have a beef (again, pardon the pun) with chicken wings. I used to enjoy them, until one day, one of my pretentious foodie friends got on his soapbox about them, declaring them bullshit on the grounds that they are basically the worst part of the chicken, and positing a conspiracy amongst chicken producers to spin chicken parts with very little meat into a very profitable party snack.

I usually ignore his ranting, but it made me think, and after a while, I decided that I agreed with him. Chicken wings are difficult to eat, yielding very little meat, which you really have to work for as you navigate around a heavy concentration of bones, tendons, and other icky bits. So, while I like the kick of Fiery Grilled Wings, I’d rather stick with KFC’s grilled chicken drumsticks, thighs, breasts, and the like. KFC’s Fiery Grilled Wings come in a sad biscuit box of five pieces (at least, that’s what my order came in), or considerably cooler-looking buckets of 20 or 30 pieces. If you’re the type who likes to sit down with some friends and some wings to watch a football game, there’s nothing wrong with giving these a try. Don’t let my opinion on chicken wings in general stop you. I’ll just secretly judge you as an uneducated goon who likes sub-par chicken and watching grown men in spandex pile on top of each other. I’m just saying.

  • Score: 3.5 out of 5 fire-breathing tigers
  • Price: $3.99
  • Size: 5 wings
  • Purchased at: KFC #Y303048
  • Nutritional Quirks: Contains beef powder, dehydrated carrot, and, most tastily, calcium silicate.

The Impulsive Buy has also written a review of KFC Fiery Chicken Wings.  Check out his opinion, too!