Tag Archives: 4.5 burgers

Jack in the Box Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich

Jack in the Box Blazin' Chicken SandwichJack in the Box didn’t form a large campaign around their Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich, instead opting for a sexual harassment commercial that, while mildly amusing, I found frankly disappointing.

Normally, I would barely notice or care if a fast food place went pedestrian when it comes to sandwich marketing – after all, new menu items come out all the time, especially if you’re Jack in the Box – but as soon as I heard the description for the Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich, I was struck with the Lightning Bolt of Marketing Brilliance.

“The new Jack’s Blazin’ Chicken has spicy crispy chicken, Ghost Pepper Ranch sauce, and sliced jalapeños.”

I took two words away from this: Ghost Ranch.

Jack went all out with their Bacon Insider Burger, giving us an inside view of Jack’s farm that includes a curly fry tree and a helicopter.

But you know what’s missing? Jack’s motherfuckin’ Ghost Ranch.

Imagine the commercial: Jack’s tooling around the farm, moving hay bales or experimenting with the genetics of mutant animals or what have you, and suddenly he hears a strange noise coming from a corner of the farm that has long since been abandoned and neglected.

He parts the branches of a grove of weeping willows to find a spooky-looking ranch, complete with fog machine and maybe a graveyard for all the previous failed genetic abominations he’s created. Suddenly, he hears a loud noise…


Jack jumps three feet in the air, probably not soiling his overalls since this is a rated G commercial, but then he sees a chicken with a loudspeaker!

“Aw, I messed it up,” the chicken says, looking crestfallen. “I was supposed to say ‘BOO!’”

“That’s okay, I’ll keep your secret,” Jack says amicably. “What is this place?” But as he looks back the chicken is suddenly…gone.

Flummoxed and freaked out, Jack notices a strange glowing a little ways away. He goes over to explore, and finds a whole field of ectoplasmic slime! But right in the middle of the goo, he spots it – the ghost pepper plant.

And then some other spooky stuff happens. I kind of ran out of ideas at this point.

Sooo let’s move onward to the actual sandwich!

Jack in the Box Blazin' Chicken Sandwich Inside

There’s three heat factors to the Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich, and I will address them separately first. Let’s start with the jalapeños.

Dear every fast food chain ever: Why can’t you put more than three fucking peppers on my sandwich? This is a widespread, chronic problem that continues to frustrate me. Is this some sort of rule? The three jalapeño max? Pickled jalapeños must cost, like, half of a cent each. So why can’t you give me enough to cover my whole sandwich?

That said, there was nothing special about these peppers, but they did add a nice touch of heat to the sandwich.

Next up, the spicy crispy chicken. I actually quite enjoyed my chicken – it was juicy and definitely crispy, with a thick breading that had an excellent amount of seasoning and a nice touch of heat. I’m assuming it’s the same chicken they use on Jack’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich, which I’ve never had, but I’d put it up at the top of my list of spicy chicken sandwich filets.

Jack in the Box Blazin' Chicken Sandwich Ghost Pepper Ranch

And finally, the ingredient designed to set the Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich apart: the Ghost Pepper Ranch. While my lack of jalapeños was disappointing, the amount of ghost pepper ranch on my sandwich made up for it.

I’ve come up with a scale when it comes to fast food peppers: take whatever spicy ingredient they claim they’re using and take it down about two notches (unless you can see physical evidence of the pepper itself). For example, if you see “habanero”, think “jalapeño”.

Therefore, when I saw “ghost pepper”, which is actually the first time I’ve seen a fast food place with the balls to use them, I figured “habanero”. Which is not an unimpressive amount of heat, mind you.

Jalapeño slices and spicy breaded chicken already make a great combo, but I have to say, I was really impressed by the Ghost Pepper Ranch. The base was distinctively ranch dressing, with its signature tanginess, but the ghost pepper part of the equation really did pack a punch. It hits you immediately and builds with every bite. In fact, my lips were burning after just a few bites, and continued to do so after I’d finished the sandwich.

The Ghost Pepper Ranch wasn’t just heat for heat’s sake, though – it was also quite delicious. The ranch balanced the heat, which is exactly what it should do, and the flavor of the peppers also managed to come through the spiciness. I’m so glad I got a heaping helping of it, and I wanted more even after my sandwich was done and my mouth was burning.

Jack in the Box Blazin' Chicken Sandwich Halves

Now let’s put all these ingredients together. I got some sad lettuce, as per usual, and some nice tomatoes that I didn’t feel were really necessary. The bun was pedestrian sesame, and the cheese, which Jack in the Box calls “Swiss-style”, was actually melted and added a nice creaminess to compliment the crunch of the chicken, which was not at all soggy, I might add.

I just noticed on Jack’s website that I was supposed to get grilled onions on my sandwich. They were nowhere to be found. That sucks. They wouldn’t have been necessary, but they would have been a nice addition.

By the way, maybe it was just the amount of Ghost Pepper Ranch on my particular buy, but my Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich was messy as hell. I didn’t care, since I was eating it in the privacy of my own home, but my buns were sliding all over the place (teehee) and the whole thing needed constant rearrangement to keep from falling apart completely.

All in all, I call Jack in the Box’s Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich a rousing success. I got a sucky amount of jalapeños, but Jack makes a nice spicy chicken, and the shining star was the Ghost Pepper Ranch sauce. I wasn’t exactly crying tears of capsaicin horror, but it was legit spicy and delicious at the same time. I want Jack to start offering Ghost Pepper Ranch as a side sauce. I would put it on everything.

I usually conclude a supposedly-spicy fast food sandwich by saying something like, “you suck, this wasn’t at all spicy, I hate when fast food even mutters the word spicy, blah blah blah”, but in the case of the Jack in the Box Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich, I can recommend it with a clear conscience if you’re looking for a kick from your chicken. Just ask for extra jalapeños. And extra-extra Ghost Pepper Ranch. And extra napkins.

[Disclaimer: This Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich was purchased with a gift card courtesy of Jack in the Box. This in no way influences my review or changes my mind that Jack should have had a Ghost Ranch.]

Jack in the Box Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich

  • Score: 4.5 out of 5 soiled overalls
  • Price: Free (regular price $4.69)
  • Size: 1 sandwich
  • Purchased at: Jack in the Box #111
  • Score Quirk: I’m calling this a “score quirk” because I gave it high marks despite the lack of onions and not enough jalapeños. Sometimes you can’t blame the company for the franchise. Plus I got extra ghost pepper ranch so nyah.

Twix Gingerbread Cookie Bars

Twix Gingerbread Cookie Bars BagTwix bars are one of my favorite chocolate treats. It’s the perfect combination of crunchy cookie, creamy caramel, and chocolate.

It is because of my love for this balance of flavors that I hesitate to try any variations. On the other hand, I generally give points any time an established snack food gets on the holiday train. And, given the Christmas-related flavors they had to choose from, I find gingerbread to be more encouraging than, say, peppermint. Peppermint and caramel does not seem like a good idea.

I gotta say, I’m finding this intro pretty weak. I have no special stories about Twix; Twix didn’t murder my parents or cause some sort of dramatic, humiliating grade school incident, like the time I got my arm caught in the back of my desk chair in second grade and the maintenance guy had to come get me free in front of the whole class.

That is a true story. Just like when I went to Target to buy these Twix Gingerbread Cookie Bars and there was only one bag left. Just as I was reaching for it, Batman swooped in and tried to steal it from my hands.

An epic battle ensued; I knocked over a display of ornaments while I dodged Batman’s barrage of Batarangs and fought back using a Nerf gun I’d modified to shoot fruitcakes. He then stopped to tell me some sad tale about how Twix killed his parents, and while he was distracted, I strangled him from behind with a strand of Christmas lights and made off with the precious bag of candy.

Victory was mine! Stupid whiny Batman.

Okay! I feel better now. Let’s get going.

Simple packaging, but effective and also darling. Those androgynous gingerpeople look so cheery with their smiley faces and pink scarves. They’re probably happy because they know that they are there just as Twix spokescookies and will not be the victims of a mastication beheading.

Twix Gingerbread Cookie Bars Wrapper

Hard to see in this picture because metallic wrappers are my mortal enemy, but the individual Twix wrappers have teensy little gingerdudes (or gingerladies; I’m being so politically correct today!) on them, which is a cute touch.

Twix Gingerbread Cookie Bar

Each bar is “fun size”, good for about two bites each, or one bite if you’re one of those weird, annoying people who shoves entirely too much food into your maw at once. Don’t be that guy.

If I’d taken two seconds to read the bag, I wouldn’t have felt the need to bite the top off one of the bars to figure out that the gingerbread flavor is in the caramel, not the cookie. This may seem like a strange choice, since gingerbread men are cookies, but I think it was wise. Keeping the original texture of the Twix cookie kept that cookie/caramel/chocolate combination that I so enjoy.

As for the gingerbread flavor itself, I can say with happiness that Twix nailed it. It was all there – the brown sugar and molasses taste with ginger and cinnamon in the mix. Somehow, Twix fit all that in there and still managed to keep the integrity of the caramel flavor, not just its texture.

Twix Gingerbread Cookie Bars fill my mouth with Christmas and joy. All the things I love about Twix remained intact, and they managed to get that perfect gingerbread flavor in there.

I have no complaints about Twix Gingerbread Cookie Bars, but I will say that, at least to me, gingerbread is a sometimes flavor. For some reason, it just seems weird to eat gingerbread at any other time of year than Christmas. I’m happy to enjoy Gingerbread Twix in December but go back to good ol’ original come New Year’s.

Twix Gingerbread Cookie Bars

  • Score: 4.5 out of 5 Batarangs
  • Price: $3.19
  • Size: 10 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Target
  • Nutritional Quirks: Not one damn ingredient listed that actually indicates gingerbread. Hooray for artificial flavors!

Starburst Fruit Flavored Candy Corn

Starburst Fruit Flavored Candy Corn BagThis website isn’t a Lisa Frank diary where I talk about my personal life and how Bobby put a worm in my hair at recess today, but I feel I owe my dear readers an explanation as to why JFB has been even more sparsely updated than usual, especially since it’s my favorite time of year, when I at least try to cram as much Halloween goodness as I can on here.

Thing is, I’ve had two brain surgeries over the span of two weeks this month. Don’t worry, I’m not dying, nor did they remove the part of my brain that thinks awful puns are funny – much to the regret of all of you, I’m sure.

But I couldn’t help the timing, and it kinda wiped me out, resulting in a mostly Halloween-free October. Trust me, nobody’s face is more 🙁 than mine about this. Then again, my surgeries went really well and I could not be more 🙂 about them. Emoticons!

Plus, half my head is shaved and I have some gnarly-ass stitches, so I’ve pretty much got a built-in Halloween costume. Suck it, Bride of Frankenstein!

With all that business out of the way, let’s get to some candy.

Starburst Fruit Flavored Candy Corn. Because, as you may have noticed, I just can’t get enough candy corn.

Super unimpressed with the packaging. There’s nothing Halloweeeny about it. Couldn’t throw a bat or a witch onto the purple background? Maybe turned the traditional Starburst font into dripping blood? If it weren’t for the fact that it’s candy corn, this could easily look like a year-round product.

Starburst Fruit Flavored Candy Corn

These corns are based on the original Starburst flavors: cherry, lemon, strawberry, and orange. I probably didn’t have to clarify that, but I figured I’d be thorough. Throwing a bone to my colorblind readers.

My feelings about the Starburst candy corns themselves were the exact opposite of what I felt about the packaging. Bless the dark magic in your heart, Starburst: you made a candy corn with the exact texture of candy corn, but zero candy corn flavor.

So what do these candy corns taste like, if not candy corn? Well, they tasted exactly like Starburst! It was like having a bag of Starburst candies that, instead of being chewy, were easily masticated and dissolved into a giant burst of sugary fruit candy.

Regular Starburst candies take a little time to get through due to their texture, but I found I could easily get into Halloween stomachache mode eating handfuls of these.

The easiest way to put it is that if you like Starburst, you’ll like Starburst Fruit Flavored Candy Corns. And I like Starburst.

I really can’t think of anything bad to say about these candy corns, but for the sake of playing devil’s advocate, I guess some people might bitch about the fact that they’re called candy corns but taste nothing like candy corns. Obviously, I see this as a plus. But if you’re some sort of candy corn-loving weirdo, well, spider crawl your way back to Brach’s.

Heck, maybe they’re onto something with the generic packaging after all. I could definitely eat these year-round. For the sake of my teeth and my stomach, I guess I’m glad these are a holiday treat.

Or I could go back and buy 12 more bags.

Starburst Fruit Flavored Candy Corn

  • Score: 4.5 out of 5 “you missed a perfect score on a technicality since haters gonna quibble that you ain’t really candy corns”
  • Price: $2.69
  • Size: 20 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Target
  • Nutritional Quirks: Candy corn: 0. Starburst: 100%!

T.G.I. Friday’s Dill Pickle Chips with a Zesty Horseradish Sauce

T.G.I. Friday's Dill Pickle Chips with a Zesty Horseradish Sauce BoxIt’s so easy to hate T.G.I. Friday’s. It’s a big chain restaurant that caters to both families and people who don’t know how to drink properly, the latter category of which I belonged to in my early twenties.

Sure, I have fond memories of my friends and I hitting Friday’s after work, ordering brightly-colored drinks with names like Pink Punk Cosmo or Patrón Cosmo ‘Rita Shaker. These days, if anything on your drink menu uses the term “’Rita’”, I’m probably out. In those days, I still drank Boone’s Farm. So that should tell you something.

I’d like to say I shouldn’t pass judgment, but I do anyways. These days, I can’t think of Friday’s without thinking of Office Space and Jennifer Aniston’s Flair.

The thought of dining at a TGI Friday’s (they can’t seem to decide whether or not they want the periods in their TGI acronym or not) fills me with a revulsion that can only be called snobbery. Oh, sure, I’ll eat peanut butter with a spoon, standing in my kitchen with no pants on. But eat at a Friday’s? Please. I’d so rather give my money to one of the dozens of mom ‘n’ pop places around here that lack both air conditioning and a strong grasp of English.

That said, I’ve bought T.G.I. Friday’s frozen foods on a number of occasions. There have been a proliferation of chain restaurants with frozen food selections these days, from P.F. Chang’s to Boston Market to Claim Jumper.

T.G.I. Friday’s takes up some serious shelf space, from appetizers to meals-in-a-bag to sliders and quesadillas. I am admittedly rather fond of their frozen Spinach, Cheese & Artichoke Dip. I feel less dirty buying their frozen products because I don’t have to look at anyone’s Flair while I heat it up in the microwave.

I have to say, I became a little resentful when I got home and read the preparation instructions for T.G.I. Friday’s Dill Pickle Chips with a Zesty Horseradish Sauce. There’s no microwave option – only conventional oven and deep fryers – but I’ve dealt with that before.

T.G.I. Friday's Dill Pickle Chips with a Zesty Horseradish Sauce Frozen

My real issue was that it only gave instructions for making the entire box (which is listed at 3 servings, or 22-24 pickles). It also said, and I quote, “discard unused portion of horseradish sauce”.

Basically, TGI Friday’s is telling you that you should not be eating these pickles alone. Honestly, you should never be eating at TGI Friday’s alone, because that’s just weird. But this is a freezer item. I feel like I should not have to eat 22-24 pickles all at once, and then just throw away the sauce. I call no fair.

Already annoyed that I had to make the whole box at once, I was ready to resent the 12-minute bake time at 450, mostly because I had to flip 22 pickles at the halfway mark. The instructions for the horseradish sauce were to thaw it in hot water for 6-8 minutes.

T.G.I. Friday's Dill Pickle Chips with a Zesty Horseradish Sauce

I didn’t expect such a short amount of time soaking to thaw it out, but it actually worked well, producing a sauce with the right viscosity and just warm enough to compliment the straight-from-the-oven pickles.

T.G.I. Friday's Dill Pickle Chips

The fried pickles themselves were well-battered and came out of the oven browned and impressively crunchy.

T.G.I. Friday's Dill Pickle Chips Inside

Far from bland, the coating had nice hints of garlic and onion, and complimented the briny tang of the juicy pickles, with neither overshadowing the other. Between the coating and the pickles, this was a seriously salty snack, of which I have no qualms.

T.G.I. Friday's Dill Pickle Chips with a Zesty Horseradish Sauce Horseradish Sauce

As I mentioned, the Zesty Horseradish Sauce thawed out nicely and had a good consistency to go with the crispy Dill Pickle Chips. TGI Friday’s was not fucking around with this sauce – the first pickle I dipped and ate, the horseradish cleared my sinuses with a quickness. I could even see little horseradish bits in the sauce.

I love horseradish, and this was serious horseradish. So much so that it overwhelmed the pickle chips entirely. I went back and forth between dipping and eating the chips straight, because I enjoyed both flavors, but couldn’t seem to get them to fit together. I was either crunching on some well-seasoned pickle chips, or wiping my runny nose from the potency of the sauce.

It took me some time to realize that maybe I should try dipping the Dill Pickle Chips into the Zesty Horseradish Sauce like a normal human being; and by that I mean, giving the chip a nice little dunk instead of scooping up sauce like the cup was going to run out of the room unless I showed it I was the boss.

After I tried this method, the flavors did get a little more balanced, but even then, the horseradish was really trying to steal the show.

In the end, I ate all 22 of T.G.I. Friday’s Dill Pickle Chips and did not have to suffer much anxiety throwing away the tiny amount of leftover Zesty Horseradish Sauce. 22 fried pickle chips is what I would call a somewhat hefty meal for myself, or a decent appetizer for two.

Having tasted the amount of horseradish in the Zesty Horseradish Sauce, I can now see why they’d tell you to discard the unused portion – I know from experience that horseradish will go bitter on you fast. But why not just have two, or even three separate packages, in that case?

I thoroughly enjoyed T.G.I. Friday’s Dill Pickle Chips with a Zesty Horseradish Sauce. (What’s with the “a”? It’s odd and clunky.) The pickle flavor was not lost and the coating was crispy and complimented the briny, juicy pickles. The horseradish sauce was authentic and sinus-clearing, which, beyond the fact that I was forced to eat the whole box at once, was my biggest complaint. I mean, I love horseradish, but at the level that Friday’s delivered it, I could definitely see it as not appealing to everyone.

But if you’re really going to be a pussy about it, just eat the chips and DISCARD the sauce, and you’ll still have a tasty treat. For a frozen appetizer, T.G.I. Friday’s Dill Pickle Chips with a Zesty Horseradish Sauce is truly solid, and I’ll be looking for it on shelves in the future. Even if it will only be for a party of one.

T.G.I. Friday’s Dill Pickle Chips with a Zesty Horseradish Sauce

  • Score: 4.5 out of 5 pieces of Flair
  • Price: $2.98
  • Size: 11 oz.
  • Purchased at: Walmart #3799
  • Nutritional Quirks: One box will provide you with an impressive 2,100 milligrams of sodium!

McDonald’s McCafé Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie

McDonald's McCafé Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie CupI am an unabashed fan of McDonald’s McCafé beverages. Because I have been raised on media that tells me McD’s is nothing but crap, I feel almost weird saying that they’ve got some quality coffee drinks, but they do, so shut up.

The McCafé line doesn’t just stop at coffee drinks, though. There’s shakes and something called a “Chiller” and several different flavors of smoothies.

The latest addition to the smoothie line is Blueberry Pomegranate, two words that already make my mouth water. Pomegranate is one of those flavors that’s been tossed around as trendy, but I liked pomegranate before it went mainstream, man. I rarely buy it in juice form because it’s obscenely overpriced, but if I were rich I would have a constant supply of Pom bottles in my fridge.

I don’t generally drink things for my health. Orange juice if I’m sick. Water to keep me alive. Vodka and cranberries to keep my urinary tract infection-free and to kill malicious bacteria. (That’s how booze works, right?)

That said, smoothie places annoy me. If I’m going to drink a smoothie, it’s because I’m in the mood for a cold, fruity drink. I don’t need any of Jamba Juice’s ten different “Boosts” or a wheatgrass shot that looks like swamp-in-a-cup.

Well, given the way I eat, I probably could use some of those things. But I don’t want some fruitista (I’m assuming that’s the smoothie equivalent of a barista) trying to upsell me. I just want fruit blended with ice and yogurt. No more, no less.

This is why I like McDonald’s over Starbucks for coffee drinks. I don’t have to be all “soy half-caf I don’t even know what”. (Try asking for one of those sometime and see what happens!) I get a pretty good iced vanilla latte and I get it in about 1/3 the time I would at Starbucks, with minimal human interaction.

I’m hoping the same applies to their smoothies.

McDonald's McCafé Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie Inside

I’m including this picture because it looks kind of disgusting. In reality, my smoothie did not look disgusting at all, but apparently my camera disagreed.

McDonald's McCafé Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie

There, that’s a little more accurate. My Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie had an attractive dark red/purple hue, and it smelled like berry goodness with a hint of tart.

McD’s says of this smoothie, “Made with an alluring combination of blueberries and raspberries and a splash of pomegranate juice blended with ice and creamy low-fat yogurt.”

There’s actually more to it than that: there are several other fruit juices listed in the ingredients, but the pertinent parts are there – blueberry puree, raspberry puree, and pomegranate juice concentrate.

I would honestly call this more of a Raspberry Pomegranate Smoothie than a Blueberry one. It had a lovely raspberry taste and a nice, tart pomegranate finish that wasn’t too overpowering. I don’t know why I wasn’t getting very much blueberry flavor, but I was actually okay with that, because raspberries are my favorite berry.

The texture was indeed smooth – smoother than most smoothie joint smoothies, in fact. (smooth smoothie smooth smooth.) While I love raspberries, I hate getting the seeds stuck in my teeth when I’m drinking a smoothie. I’m guessing the fact that McD’s used puree instead of straight-up berries eliminated that problem.

McDonald’s McCafé did it again – the Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie, while more raspberry than blueberry, was chock full of berry flavor, not too sweet, and had a nice, tart pomegranate finish. Plus, no seeds stuck in my teeth!

With 220 calories and a whopping 44 grams of sugar for a 12 ounce beverage, make no mistake that this is not exactly a health drink. However, if you’re looking for a nice, cool fruit beverage and don’t want to see a shot of wheatgrass anywhere in sight, you might want to hit up the McDonald’s drive-thru. Not having to leave my air-conditioned car in the scorching heat is already a plus in and of itself.

McDonald’s McCafé Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie

  • Score: 4.5 out of 5 swamp-in-a-cup-wielding fruitistas
  • Price: $2.49
  • Size: 12 oz. smoothie
  • Purchased at: McDonald’s #23767
  • Nutritional Quirks: “Clarified Demineralized Pineapple Juice Concentrate” – I don’t know what that means, and I don’t generally like pineapple, but I couldn’t taste it so I’m just going to pretend it doesn’t exist.

M&Ms White Chocolate Carrot Cake

M&Ms White Chocolate Carrot Cake BagM&Ms seems to have a thing going with white chocolate holiday-themed flavors. First it was Candy Corn. Then Peppermint. And just in time for Easter, we now have Carrot Cake.

For being such a well-known and widely available candy, M&Ms did not make finding White Chocolate Carrot Cake easy. First off, it’s a Walmart exclusive. Not an uncommon phenomenon, but one I always find displeasing, because…Walmart.

Second, not only is it a Walmart exclusive, it’s only available at select Walmarts. I didn’t know this until some sort of snack sense told me I should try to look up available locations before I left my house. I’m glad I did, since Walmart has a whole website devoted to finding a select store that carries them.

My closest Walmart was not on this list, which is why I’m so glad I looked, because going to Walmart is one thing, but going to Walmart and not finding the one thing I’m looking for just makes me want to murder every person in the store. Lucky for me, the next closest Walmart actually did have them. This is a lot of effort for goddamn M&Ms.

I consider the effort worth it, however. Easter is a holiday made for candy, but most of that candy comes in the form of chocolate bunnies, and regular candies packaged in plastic Easter eggs or pastel packaging.

That said, I give M&Ms credit right off the bat for actually thinking up an Easter flavored candy. I mean, eggs already taste like eggs, the church kind of has a stranglehold on things that taste like Jesus, and I don’t think making something rabbit-flavored would go over very well. Biting the ears off a bunny that’s made of chocolate is satisfying; actually chomping on a bunny-tasting bunny-shaped candy would make me uncomfortable and probably not go over well with the kids.

Given all that, I think M&Ms coming up with carrot cake is brilliant. Will the execution compete with the concept? We shall see in a moment.

First, I have to bitch and moan some more. Surprise! This time, it’s about the packaging. For the most part, the bag is simple and effective – it’s carrot cake. Here’s a slice of carrot cake.

That’s all well and good, but I am so not a fan of anthropomorphic Green M&M. Red and Yellow are dumb, but whatever. When they introduced Green as the “sexy” M&M, however, I was yucked out. Maybe it’s because I’ve been on the Internet for too long, but I am not fond of sexualizing any inanimate object.

The whole Green M&M schtick is annoying, and that is showcased here, with “her” wearing bunny ears and posed like Leonardo DiCaprio is about to draw her portrait. Plus, she totally has bedroom eyes, which is a sentence I feel dirty just typing. Ugh, take it away, I don’t want to look at it anymore. I’d rather see Red dressed up as a Playboy bunny looking bored or pissed off.

M&Ms White Chocolate Carrot Cake

Okay, here we are, with the actual candies. They’re about the same diameter as regular M&Ms, but have a bit more girth. I like the color scheme – the orange is obviously the brightest, representing, duh, the carrot. The green is more of an Easter pastel, but you can’t have a carrot-themed…whatever without some green representing the carrot stem.

The off-white is an interesting choice, but one that I approve of. It’s unrelated to the vegetable, but pertinent to carrot cake itself – part of the deliciousness of carrot cake is the cream cheese icing, which is pretty close to the color of these M&Ms. It’s an attention to detail that I appreciate.

I have to say, I was prepared to be disappointed by M&Ms White Chocolate Carrot Cake. I felt the candy had lofty goals that it wouldn’t be able to reach. Upon opening the bag, however, I was met with a strong and very pleasant cinnamon-and-nutmeg odor along with sugary sweetness. It was surprisingly reminiscent of real carrot cake.

M&Ms White Chocolate Carrot Cake Inside

As it turned out, my olfactory sense did not betray me – these M&Ms are about as close to tasting like actual carrot cake as a candy can get. Again, you’ve got that great blend of cinnamon and nutmeg that is prominent but not overwhelming. The use of white chocolate was an excellent choice – it let the spice flavors shine, while adding just the right amount of sweetness and acting as a cream cheese substitute.

In fact, there might even be a little cream cheese flavor magic going on here – while it’s easy to identify the above spices, there seems to be a little extra something that pushes it beyond just spice territory into an actual, cohesive carrot cake candy. The ingredient list doesn’t offer me any help: it’s mostly white chocolate and the regular sugar and food coloring flavors, along with the always-mysterious “natural and artificial flavors”.

Like I said, I had serious doubts about M&Ms White Chocolate Carrot Cake being able to deliver on their promised flavor. I’m happy to say I was wrong. Those crazy candy wizards over at Mars pulled it off. I love carrot cake, and I found myself continuing to shovel these guys into my mouth until I had to force myself to stop before I made myself sugar sick.

If you don’t like carrot cake, you’re not going to like these M&Ms, but that’s just another point showing how well they showcased the flavors. I’m sorry I got around to this review so late, but hey – you can probably run out and get some right now, or wait until Monday, when they’ll probably already be on clearance.

My biggest beef, besides my hatred of Green M&M, is how Walmart is only selling them in select stores. That makes no sense to me and is really annoying. But if you like carrot cake and would like to try a unique Easter treat, use the locator tool I linked above to see if there’s a Walmart within 500 miles of you that has been mysteriously chosen to be one of the select stores that carry them. Happy Easter! Or “Hoppy Easter”, if you like old, tired puns!

M&Ms White Chocolate Carrot Cake

  • Score: 4.5 out of 5 kicks to Green M&M’s stupid bedroom face
  • Price: $2.88
  • Size:9.9 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Walmart
  • Nutritional Quirks: Damn you, “natural and artificial flavors”! I want to know what you use to make magical carrot cake candy! (On second thought, maybe I don’t…)

The Impulsive Buy also reviewed these White Chocolate Carrot Cake M&Ms!

Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Finalists: Sriracha, Cheesy Garlic Bread and Chicken & Waffles Potato Chips

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalists Sriracha, Cheesy Garlic Bread and Chicken & Waffles Potato Chips BagsThe three finalists for Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” contest have been out for a little while now. And for me, “been out” is a literal term – I first spotted all three of them at my local store and picked up the Sriracha flavor, thinking at the time that I’d review each flavor separately. When I went to the store a few days later, there was a handful of Srirachas and one Cheesy Garlic Bread bag on the shelves, which I grabbed.

After that? Nothing.

It was like they’d gotten one shipment and that was that. I couldn’t find Chicken & Waffles, the obvious crazygonuts flavor of the three, anywhere. I looked, I waited, and yet…nothing.

Just when I’d resigned myself to only reviewing two of the three flavors, leaving a large, probably-disgusting-tasting chip-sized hole in my heart, I found them. I did an actual pirouette in the store. My husband pretended he didn’t know me, which is not unusual.

So here they are. The Do Us a Flavor finalists, chosen out of 3.8 million fan submissions last summer. Lucky for me, the three people who are up for a million dollars or 1% of their flavor’s 2013 sales if they win are plastered all over each of the bags, so I get to make fun of them and/or blame them for their choices.

So let’s get to these chips, presented by coincidence in order of purchase and what I anticipate to be the best-to-worst flavors.


Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Sriracha Potato Chips Bag

Sriracha is blowin’ up right now. One might say it is on fire, if one were to make puns about hot sauce. I used to only find it at the Vietnamese market, but now it’s pretty common on your everyday grocery store shelves. You’ve probably seen it – it’s the one with the rooster on the label, which gives everyone with a 5th grade sense of humor (me) carte blanche to call it “cock sauce”.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Sriracha Potato Chips Tyler

Hello, Tyler Raineri from Lake Zurich, IL. I’m not going to make fun of people’s pictures, because you can’t pick your genetics, but you can pick your words. And if these quotes were what these people decided would be the best blurbs to represent them on chip bags nationwide, you can bet I’m going to dig in to them.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Sriracha Potato Chips Tyler Quote

Grandma’s chips and sriracha seem like an odd combination, but hell, I’d put sriracha on just about anything, so I’ll let it slide.

What really gets me is the last sentence. “Nothing’s better than old memories.” It sounds bizarre and mildly sinister, for reasons I can’t explain. We all have “old memories”, but I wouldn’t say they are literally the best thing ever. I get this weird vibe that grandma’s desiccated corpse is sitting in Tyler’s basement or something, but maybe I’ve just seen too many horror movies.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Sriracha Potato Chips

Onward to the chips. I was actually excited to try Lay’s Sriracha, because, as I mentioned, I love the cock sauce, and it seemed like a flavor that would marry well with potato chips. It’s mostly chili, vinegar, and a hint of garlic, but it has a very unique and delicious taste.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Sriracha Potato Chips Close-Up

Unfortunately, my hopes were quickly dashed. Not just dashed, but obliterated. The chips had a bit of heat to them, and a faint garlic taste, but there was also the strong presence of cream cheese and sour cream flavors.

What? What the hell is that? I checked the ingredients, and, according to Lay’s, “sriracha seasoning” contains, among other things, sour cream, cream, onion powder, cream cheese, paprika extract, cheddar cheese, and swiss cheese.

What the fuck?

With my mouth expecting sriracha, all these cheese flavors made my taste buds instantly revolt. These chips tasted wrong, wrong, wrong. So wrong, in fact, that I went and looked at some other reviews of Lay’s Sriracha Chips – something I don’t normally do until after I finish a review, for the sake of objectivity.

To my surprise, several reviewers gave these chips high marks for tasting like the hot sauce. I’m not going to pull out my “I liked sriracha before sriracha was cool and I’m a cock sauce expert” card, but I have to say, these chips taste nothing like sriracha, and the addition of all that cheese flavoring was incredibly disconcerting.

I went back and revisited Lay’s Sriracha Chips a little later, after my mouth had had time to calm down. If you pretend these chips are called “Spicy Cheese Chips” instead of “Sriracha Chips”, they’re actually not so bad. But if Tyler’s grandma could taste these chips, she’d probably roll over in her grave. Or in her rocking chair in Tyler’s basement. Either way.

Cheesy Garlic Bread

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Cheesy Garlic Bread Potato Chips Bag

With my hopes of sriracha-flavored chips crushed, I turned my attention to Cheesy Garlic Bread. I expected these to be a very middle-of-the-road flavor – take some cheese, take some garlic flavor, and there you go. However, after the sriracha disaster, I was starting to feel nervous.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Cheesy Garlic Bread Potato Chips Karen

Meet Karen Weber-Mendham from Land o’ Lakes, WI, a bold woman who is not afraid to hyphenate her name post-marriage and is also from a place that I didn’t think actually existed outside of the realm of butter.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Cheesy Garlic Bread Potato Chips Karen Quote

Everything about Karen’s quote is hilariously stupid. First off, I’m 100% positive her “favorite Italian restaurant” is the Olive Garden. It’s just one of those hunches I feel deep down inside.

Second, she’s WAITING FOREVER. That’s just bad customer service. Plus, the breadsticks are supposed to be there for when you are waiting forever. Karen, you need a new Olive Garden.

The last sentence is the icing on the cake. “Finally, the breadsticks come & they save your life!” I can’t stop reading that and laughing out loud. They save your life, people. You are sitting in a booth at the Olive Garden for so long that you are literally starving to death. I think Karen has a fondness for being melodramatic.

One more thing to nitpick about – breadsticks and cheesy garlic bread are not the same thing. If we’re taking the picture on the front of the bag to be said bread, I’ve never been to an Italian restaurant that will rock out free garlic bread like that. Maybe I was wrong about Karen’s favorite Italian restaurant. I guess I’d be more willing to WAIT FOREVER if I could get free cheesy garlic bread like that. To save my life.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Cheesy Garlic Bread Potato Chips

A strange thing happened with Lay’s Cheesy Garlic Bread Chips. They didn’t taste like cheese garlic chips at all. After the sriracha fiasco, you’d think this would have pissed me off. But quite the opposite.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Cheesy Garlic Bread Potato Chips Close-Up

Instead of tasting like cheese and garlic-flavored chips, these tasted like cheesy garlic bread. Seriously. I know it sounds weird and kind of stupid, but it’s damn true. Lay’s made a chip that tastes like a piece of bread slathered in strong garlic butter and topped with Parmesan.

At first, this had the opposite of the intended effect. It was so realistic, it was off-putting. Lay’s Cheesy Garlic Bread is in the uncanny valley of chips. The more I ate, however, the more I grew to accept this, and embrace it for its cheesy, garlicky, buttery goodness. Lay’s must be using some sort of dark magic, but I don’t care. It’s delicious dark magic.

Chicken & Waffles

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Chicken & Waffles Potato Chips Bag

Well, here we are. The Do Us a Flavor Finalist everyone’s buzzing about. Chicken & Waffles. Fuck.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Chicken & Waffles Potato Chips Christina

Meet Christina Abu-Judom from Phoenix, AZ.

…Of course. Of course she’s from the Valley in which I live. Because Phoenix doesn’t get shat on enough as the asshole of the United States, and if you are to believe television shows and movies, every murderer and child molester comes to Arizona to hide out from the cops. Thanks so much, Christina, for improving our image.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Chicken & Waffles Potato Chips Christina Quote

Aaaaaand her quote is stupid, too. Also, either her nephew is a total dick, or Christina likes to really blow things out of proportion. Can you imagine the Abu-Judom family gatherings? Either her nephew brings up this most insignificant part of his life so much that everyone tells him to shut the fuck up, or Christina herself can’t talk about anything else. “Hey nephew, remember how you never let me live down that one time I stole a bite of your waffle?” Everyone rolls their eyes and goes back to talking about how much the construction sucks on Central Ave.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Chicken & Waffles Potato Chips

I’m sad to say that there are no surprises, here. These chips are disgusting. The overwhelming taste is that of maple syrup, with undertones of a buttery waffle-like taste and just a smidge of chicken bouillon. If that sentence grossed you out, congratulations, you have a modicum of common sense.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Chicken & Waffles Potato Chips Close-Up

I ate the barest of bare minimums of Lay’s Chicken & Waffles Chips just so I could explain the flavor to you, dear reader. I’ve eaten several very disgusting things in my time as a food reviewer, and these are honestly close to the top. If taste buds could throw up, I believe mine would have, which probably would have made my stomach throw up, resulting in one of those chain-reaction vomits that would fill my entire apartment with maple-smelling bile.

“The overwhelming taste is that of maple syrup, with undertones of a buttery waffle-like taste and just a smidge of chicken bouillon.” I just wanted to repeat that sentence to emphasize how utterly repulsive these chips are. I knew I was in for a bad trip when I bought these, but this was like, bat country bad trip.

I can’t even give much credit to Lay’s for getting the Chicken & Waffles flavor right. The syrup flavor was dominant and cloying, and the chicken very subdued, for which my taste buds were thankful. You could taste a bit of butter and waffle, though, so at least there’s…that.

I feel bad for Tyler, because his Sriracha Lay’s wound up tasting nothing like the hot sauce and more like a spicy cheese chip.

Karen got her wish, because Cheesy Garlic Bread tastes eerily like what it’s supposed to taste like. I was put off by this at first, but came to embrace the accuracy and tastiness of these chips.

I hate Christina for her stupid story and her even more stupid flavor suggestion, but I hate Lay’s the most for picking it as a finalist. You know they did it just to be jerks, and they succeeded.

I find it hard to believe that out of 3.8 million submissions, these three people made unique suggestions – especially sriracha. Regardless, you can vote on your favorite on Lay’s Facebook page until May 4, 2013. If I were the Facebook voting type, which I am not, you’ve probably gathered that I would vote for Cheesy Garlic Bread. That way, Karen could keep a bag in her purse at all times and never have to worry about starving to death again.

Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Finalist: Sriracha Potato Chips

  • Score: 2.5 out of 5 opportunities to say cock sauce
  • Price: $3.19 (on sale; regularly $3.49)
  • Size: 9 1/2 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Fry’s Foods
  • Nutritional Quirks: It bears repeating: contains sour cream, cream, onion powder, cream cheese, cheddar cheese and swiss cheese,none of which are actually in sriracha hot sauce

Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Finalist: Cheesy Garlic Bread Potato Chips

  • Score: 4.5 out of 5 uncanny valleys of snack food
  • Price: $3.49
  • Size: 9 1/2 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Safeway #1717
  • Nutritional Quirks: Dark magic not listed as an ingredient, but gouda cheese is. Fancy!

Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Finalist: Chicken & Waffles Potato Chips

  • Score: 0.5 out of 5 fuck you Christina
  • Price: $1.99 (on sale; regularly $3.49)
  • Size:9 1/2 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Safeway #1717
  • Nutritional Quirks: It’s gross. Also contains “natural flavor (including chicken flavor)”, which is not a phrase I find at all comforting.

Other Do Us a Flavor Finalist reviews: The Impulsive Buy (Chicken & Waffles, Sriracha, Cheesy Garlic Bread), Junk Food Guy, So Good, Fat Guy Food Blog

Kettle Brand Potato Chips 30th Birthday Limited Batch Red Chili, Jalapeño Jack, Salsa with Mesquite and Cheddar Beer

Happy 30th Birthday, Kettle Potato Chips! I realize I’m a little late. Consider this your belated birthday card. Pretend it says something “funny” about me being old and forgetful. Preferably with the word “fart” involved, because that’s comedy gold in the world of greeting cards.

But this is not about me. This is about Kettle. You can read a little bit about the history of the company here, but here are the salient points: busted-up van selling chips and a picture of six people that shows definitive proof that Kettle Chips did, indeed, start in 1982.

Seriously, go look at that picture. We’ve got two guys wearing all white, one that looks like a professor of Sociology who has experimented liberally with LSD while the other is rocking a badass ‘stache and probably drove a sweet ’78 Camero with an extensive Zepplin cassette library in the center console.

The lone female in this picture looks like she’s wearing a stylish cowgirl shirt. She probably makes a mean pot of chili. She’s sitting comfortably close to a man wearing a knit cap before knit caps were cool and sporting an impressive beard. The familiarity of the two in the photo suggests they’re a couple; he probably chops his own wood and shoots deer for food, not sport. Maybe he even mined for gold before mining for gold was the subject of 700 different Discovery Channel reality shows.

In the middle we have the very picture of early 1980’s youth – a magnificent mane, moppy and tow-headed, a wide smile on his face conveying optimism and a healthy work ethic. He appears to be wearing a rubber apron, which means he either shucks oysters after school to help out his family or they make him do all the chip frying because he’s the low man on the kettle totem pole. If he played his cards right, he is probably very rich now.

Last but not least, we have Cool 80’s Dude. Everything about him, from that haircut to that stylish jersey shirt to that smug smile says, “Hey ladies.” More interested in chasing tail than making chips, he was probably in charge of standing outside the van, flashing those pearly whites and using his obvious charisma to draw in sales.

I also hope their van had a kickass mural of a barbarian dude in a loincloth standing in front of a volcano, sword held high in the air, while two scantily-clad ladies cling to his massive, muscular thighs. The other side has a wizard summoning lightning from the sky while a unicorn rears up in glory.

In reality, the van probably just had a bunch of chipped avocado-colored paint and maybe the words “Kettle Chips” crookedly stenciled on the side in spray paint.

Enough picking the low-hanging fruit of mocking the way people looked in 1982. I’m lucky Kettle blessed me with that photograph, because their packaging is severely lacking in ridiculousness to make fun of. It’s clean, it’s simple, it’s classy, and it’s the same format for all four flavors. Kudos for that, Kettle, even though I’d have had more to work with if there was a panda doing an ollie over your logo or something. That’s okay; we’ve got a lot of chips to check out, here.

A little blurb from Kettle:

There’s a reason why timeless classics never go out of style, and why we’ll forever covet dad’s vintage cars and grandma’s pearls. We’re bringing back four of our favorite retired flavors to celebrate turning the big 3-0 this year: Red Chili, Jalapeño Jack, Salsa with Mesquite and Cheddar Beer. Our four limited edition flavors celebrate 30 years of what Kettle Brand® does best: coming up with innovative flavors and making great tasting products, naturally.

Well, these flavors must have gone at least a little out of style, considering they were all discontinued. And I’m not even gonna touch that “grandma’s pearls” comment. Let’s just look at the chips.

Kettle Brand Potato Chips Red Chili Limited Batch

Kettle says:

Hold on to your time machine, because it’s a blast from the past with this sweet and spicy flavor classic. Red Chili was our very first flavor produced in 1982, after Sea Salt, and marries the flavor of sriracha sauce with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper for a searing chili sensation that leaves just the right amount of heat on the tip of your tongue. We’re sure this Kettle Brand® flavor favorite will set off a symphony of fireworks in your mouth.

I love that Red Chili was the second Kettle Brand flavor ever created. Most companies would go for salt and vinegar, or maybe cheese, but not Kettle Brand. Red Chili! With sriracha, no less! I’ve seen sriracha rise in popularity in recent years, even inspiring a popcorn collaboration with The Oatmeal. I guess you know you’ve arrived on the Internet when you get your own food product. Junk Food Betty Smothered Meat Patties, anyone?

Anyways, there was no Internet to go insane about foods in 1982, so I count Kettle using sriracha as an ingredient in their chips to be way ahead of the curve. Feel free to say something like “I was eating chips with sriracha before sriracha was cool” if you actually ate these Red Chili chips back in the day.

While there’s not much to say about the nicely-designed front of the packaging of these 30th birthday chips, each bag has a cute little blurb on the back that I’d feel remiss if I didn’t include them.

You go, Jimmy. You’re an inspiration to us all.

I tried the chips before I read Kettle’s description of Red Chili, and while I guess my palate isn’t refined enough to have immediately identified the sriracha, once I knew it was there, it explained how nicely Kettle Brand managed to capture the flavor of chilis.

I’ve eaten a lot of “chili” chips in my day, and Kettle Brand Red Chili was among the best, in my opinion. Instead of just being generically spicy, there was the actual flavor of chili, not just the heat. In fact, the flavor came through even before the heat, which built nicely but didn’t overwhelm. I’m glad they didn’t actually “sear”, as Kettle’s description says.

I really was impressed by these chips, and am sad that they are a limited edition flavor. Perhaps someone will start an Internet petition and bring them back! Internet petitions always work, right? JIMMY, GET ON IT!

Kettle Brand Potato Chips Jalapeño Jack Limited Batch

From Kettle:

Who needs the cheese slice when you have this Southwestern cheesy blend on a crunchy, perfectly cooked chip? The second oldest flavor in the collection, this 1989 classic has the same creamy flavor as Jack cheese but packs a fiery punch with peppercorns and jalapeño pepper that you can actually see.

Jack is obviously an egomaniac, but I feel I’ve learned so much about him in these two little paragraphs that I really don’t have the heart to tell him that his name is also a cheese. He also must not know much about cheese.

I came into Kettle Brand’s Jalapeño Jack with the feeling that I’d be tasting something I’d tasted a hundred times before: spice + cheese. Woohoo. Furthermore, we’re talking about Jack cheese, which has a mild taste that most chips render invisible by overpowering it with spice, or add a cheese flavor that doesn’t taste anything like actual Jack cheese.

Without trying to sound overdramatic, this was possibly the first time I have ever actually tasted Jack flavor on a chip that claimed to have Jack flavor. I don’t know what kind of dark magic Kettle used to achieve this, but it was wonderful to taste.

This feat is even more impressive when you consider that Jack’s companion is jalapeño. Kettle taught jalapeño some manners – it politely let the flavor of Jack go first, and then came in soon afterwards to compliment it instead of overwhelming it. There was just the right amount of heat. I wouldn’t go so far as to never buy jalapeño jack cheese ever again – I could give about a dozen answers to the question “who needs the cheese slice” that Kettle imposed – but these were some damn hell good chips. I found myself wishing once again that these weren’t a limited edition flavor.

Kettle Brand Potato Chips Salsa with Mesquite Limited Batch

From Kettle:

We all know the chip is a vehicle for party dip, but our Salsa with Mesquite cuts out the middle man for a smoky-sweet salsa everyone can agree on! No chunks in this one-just the unmatched flavor combination of sweet tomatoes and bell pepper, with a sneaky and sultry mesquite smokiness. Launched in 1999, our fans have been pining for this zesty dip-on-chip ever since.

Much like with pepper jack cheese, I think we all know that a salsa-flavored chip could never replace actual chips and salsa. However, Kettle Brand does their best, and they do a pretty good job. I could definitely taste the tomato and onion flavors, and there was a bit of zip without really being spicy, which I guess I could attribute to the bell pepper.

The mesquite flavor was a subtle finish. I wouldn’t exactly call it “sultry” – in fact, please kick me if I ever describe a chip as “sultry” – but it was a nice touch.

Salsa with Mesquite is a solid chip, but I didn’t exactly find anything surprising or groundbreaking about it. The taste delivered, but there’s a lot of other chips out there with similar flavor profiles.

I could go without hearing the phrase “smoky two-step for your tongue” ever again. And the hips reference just made me cringe. I’d prefer to hear more about Jimmy and Jack.

Kettle Brand Potato Chips Cheddar Beer Limited Batch

Go Kettle:

Who can resist the hearty flavors of the Midwest? Robust and malty beer notes are layered on this chip with extra sharp and tangy cheese for a perfect balance that goes down smooth. Smooth as a beer we think, but we’ll let you decide. And we have to tip our hats to the fans on this one, who chose this flavor during our first People’s Choice vote in 2005.

I love that Kettle chose to use the word “partying” when they obviously mean “getting super drunk off of kegstands, hitting on your best friend’s girlfriend, and then puking over the banister”. We all know what you mean, Kettle. And I wouldn’t worry about the chips part – I don’t think anyone considers making potato chips “partying”. Then again, people build boats inside bottles for fun, so.

There’s a reason you shouldn’t let people on the Internet decide what flavor your next chip offering is going to be, and Cheddar Beer is a good example. I’m sure people saw “beer” and went “FUCK YEAH BEER CHIPS!”

There’s also a good reason these were discontinued, presumably not long after 2005. The chips started out with a pleasant although mild cheese flavor that would have made for a perfectly acceptable chip.

However, the cheese flavor soon gives way to an odd, bitter taste, that only resembles beer if you’ve been drinking some very crappy beer. I guess that keeps with the spirit of “partying”, since frat parties aren’t exactly stocked with the finest beers from the local microbrewery.

The bitterness stays long after the cheddar has disappeared, along with another, more subtle flavor, which I will blindly attribute to the ingredient “tortula yeast”, which makes me think “tortuga yeast”, which seems bad in any situation.

Kettle Brand Cheddar Beer Chips have at least taught me one thing, and that is that you should not make beer-flavored chips. This is one flavor I’d like to see kept retired.

All in all, I like that Kettle Brand Chips decided to trot out some old-timey flavors to celebrate their 30th birthday. It’s a fine gimmick, the bag design is well-executed, and I love all the little blurbs on the back that tell a little story about the flavors. It makes me feel like Kettle is still being run by six people in a shitty van and not some giant, faceless mega-corporation. Whether or not this is true, I don’t care. I had fun eating them, writing about them, and taking 700 pictures of them.

Kettle Brand Potato Chips 30th Birthday Limited Batch Red Chili, Jalapeño Jack, Salsa with Mesquite and Cheddar Beer

  • Score (Red Chili): 4.5 out of 5 “I knew sriracha before sriracha was cool” old hipsters
  • Score (Jalapeño Jack): 5 out of 5 egomaniacal security guards
  • Score (Salsa with Mesquite): 4 out of 5 unwanted honest hips
  • Score (Cheddar Beer): 2.5 out of 5  puking frat boys
  • Price: $14.99 (before shipping)
  • Size: 5 5 oz. bags (including Sea Salt; not pictured)
  • Purchased at: Kettle Brand’s website
  • Nutritional Quirks: Sriracha! Yay! Tortuga yeast. Boo.

Count Chocula Treats

I can’t find anything on the Internet that indicates Count Chocula Treats existed before this year, so I’m going to declare them a new Halloween product for 2012. Go ahead, try and refute me. Just don’t be surprised when you see someone wearing a hockey mask standing outside your window. That heavy breathing sound when you pick up the phone? Ignore it, I’m sure it’s nothing.

Count Chocula and his friends Boo Berry and Frankenberry have been around for over 30 years, making October mornings just a little more awesome for kids. Due to some kind of gross oversight, I was never one of those kids.

It doesn’t make sense. My mom loves Halloween. I love Halloween. I grew up in a time where parents weren’t worried about vaccines causing autism or sugary breakfast cereals turning their kids into obese blobs. I ate Lucky Charms and Frosted Flakes with the best of them. So how come I never ate any of the General Mills monster cereals? It is a perplexing mystery.

No use crying over unspilled sugary milk, however. Last year, I tried Boo Berry cereal for the first time. Now I’m going to sink my teeth into Count Chocula, this time in Treat form.

I usually give big points to any Halloween packaging that’s overstuffed with ghosts, goblins, ghouls, and whatever else you can fit onto a box or wrapper. Basically, I want everything to look like a Michael’s craft store threw up all over it.

That said, I like the cohesive minimalism Of Count Chocula’s Treat box. The color palate sticks to differing shades of brown, which keeps things looking clean and on-target with the product. Count Chocula keeps his appropriate font, and the other text also has a sufficiently spooky font.

The Treats are described as “Chocolatey Cereal Bar with Spooky-Fun Marshmallows”. Boo Berry also used the phrase “Spooky-Fun Marshmallows”, which I kind of like, but I also think General Mills isn’t giving kids enough credit. Just calling them “spooky marshmallows” would up the Halloween factor, and I can guarantee no child is going to be frightened by practically-formless blobs of sugar. By just calling them spooky, the fun is implied.

Moving on to Count Chocula himself. He has gone through several redesigns over the years, but his general undead spirit remains intact. I never really took a good look at him before now, but upon close inspection, he’s quite the interesting form of vampire.

First we have the cape with the giant collar, which is required for any self-respecting bloodsucker (or chocolatesucker, in this case). Then there’s his fabulous double-pointed hairstyle, which very few people could pull off, but Count Chocula does it with finesse and also with a wicked widow’s peak that would make any self-respecting vampire jealous.

The Choc-Man starts getting weird when we begin examining facial features. I respect his pointy ears that seem to extend almost beyond the top of his skull, But what is with that schnoz, man? I’ll skip right past the racist Jewish joke and ponder the idea that the Count is somehow related to Pinocchio and he just told a really big lie. I hope it’s not about the marshmallows being spooky-fun, or that his Treats are “naturally” flavored. He’s already got a loophole in describing the bars as “chocolatey”, which implies some degree of chocolateness but makes no claims in regards to actual chocolatude.

Maybe his big nose helps him to sniff out chocolate. Like Toucan Sam’s, it always knows.

I never noticed this before I started a triple-digit-wordcount-breakdown of every damn aspect of Count Chocula like he was auditioning for America’s Next Top Monster, but what is happening with his fangs, if you could even call them that? Dude, are you a vampire or some sort of undead human/nutria hybrid? It’s a good thing he’s a chocolate vampire and not a blood-sucking vampire, else he’d just be ineffectively trying to gnaw on people’s necks until they just got uncomfortable and squirmed away. Also, General Mills apparently does not provide dental insurance, because the poor Count has lost all his teeth except for two. That is sad.

Now that I’ve spent an unreasonable amount of time completely sperging out on Count Chocula, let me just completely contradict everything I’ve said and say that Count Chocula is awesome. It’s our flaws that make us beautiful, right? He may a buck-toothed big-nosed chocolate vampire, but he’s our buck-toothed, big-nosed chocolate vampire, dammit.

If you ask me, the one flaw in this packaging is that there’s too much emphasis on the cereal bar. You’ve already hooked us with Count Chocula and the promise of spooky-fun; I really don’t care what the dang thing looks like. The fang-ished guy doesn’t even make an appearance on the bar wrappers themselves. Give the immortal man his deserved time to shine (note: shine should not come from the sun).

Count Chocula Treats, much like the Count himself, aren’t exactly pretty, but sure do have a lot going on. Just on the surface, I could see chocolate chips, chocolate drizzle, Count Chocula cereal, and even a peek of marshmallows. There also seemed to be a sheen of chocolate glaze, and oh, by the way, the entire foundation of the bar is made out of chocolate.

In other words, this ain’t no Nutri-Grain breakfast bar. This is a chocolate mecca in cereal bar form. It’s seriously no wonder the Count lost all but two of his teeth.

But was it worth it? My mouth says yes. Biting into a Count Chocula Treat creates an instant chocoparty in your mouth. The Chocula cereal adds one of the many chocolate dimensions and a bit of crunch. The marshmallows are more formless and less spooky-fun; I think there’s a marshmallow ghost assistant that adds that chewiness and flavor that makes this a Treat (think Rice Krispies) and not just a “bar”.

My biggest complaint about these Treats is that the spooky-fun marshmallows are mostly hidden inside the bar and have no discernible form. At first, I thought this was a design flaw in the bar, but the more I looked on the Internet, the more I became convinced that Count Chocula cereal’s marshmallows never actually had a form. Just amorphous blobs. Hey, blobs have their own place in the Halloween echelon, but I’d like to see some effort to make them look like…something. Fangs, maybe?

The chocolate chips, drizzle topping, glaze and chocolate foundation all add to the overall chocolatey taste, but it’s the taste and texture of the Count Chocula cereal and the marshmallow goo that really makes Count Chocula Treats come together, as it were.  If you’re not a fan of chocolate or marshmallow treats, you’re obviously going to hate this. If you love Count Chocula cereal and have always wished it could be made into an even less healthy and more chocolatey S’mores-like food, then these bars will make your Halloween just that much more happy.

Completely unrelated note: Count Chocula Treats were listed on my receipt as “COUCHO”. Little-known fact, Count Chocula is a long-lost Marx brother!

Count Chocula Treats

  • Score: 4.5 out of 5 pretty women being mildly irritated as Count Chocula tries to gnaw their necks
  • Price: $2.66
  • Size: Box of 6 0.85 oz. bars
  • Purchased at: Target
  • Nutritional Quirks: Each bar contains a surprisingly low 100 calories, but they are also rather small at only 0.85 oz. per bar. But who cares about calories; it’s Halloween!

Dinosaur Dracula and The Surfing Pizza also bit into some Count Chocula Treats.

Cadbury Screme Egg

Now this is Halloween. I hope those four simple words got that song from The Nightmare Before Christmas stuck in your head, because I have had it stuck in mine for three days now. I could think of worse Halloween songs. See: The Worst Witch.

Now you really hate me. We’re off to a great start.

The packaging of Cadbury Screme Eggs is simplistic but effective: black background, green oozy blob, and purple accents. Oh, sure, black and orange get all the attention around this time of year, but I think green and purple are the backup players that really add to the Halloween spirit.

And, of course, there’s the name. Could a candy be more primed for a Halloween makeover? Just pop an S on “creme” and you are set.

Cadbury wasn’t content to just make a slight name change and re-decorate some foil, however. More on that in just a second.

Screme Eggs are new in the US this year, but they’ve existed in the UK for…I’m not sure how long, but at least a year. I know this for a fact, because a friend of mine (the same one that sacrificed herself to ingest a pizza stuffed with hot dogs just for the sake of JFB) sent me a Halloween care package last year from the UK that included these eggs. Unfortunately, due to accursed international shipping, the package didn’t arrive until after Halloween was over.

I should have told November to screw off and reviewed the awesome sampling of products anyways, but for some reason I took a hard line on Halloween. I ate the goodies, but I really should have reviewed them. I have regrets, but also bragging rights that I ate Cadbury Screme Eggs before most people in the US had this opportunity. The regret still lingers, however.

Looks pretty innocuous, right? Just another already-existing product with some Halloween packaging. Yawn.

JFB confession time: I hate eggs. I have hated eggs for as long as I can remember. I don’t want to hate eggs; it makes ordering breakfast an unjust challenge. I have often seen breakfast products and thought, “That sounds delicious…too bad it’s an omelet.”

I wish I could say that I’m up for anything when it comes to reviewing foods, but I just can’t bring myself to eat things with eggs in them. I’d consider it a grand character flaw, but I’m sure most people out there have at least one food that they just can’t stand. Eggs are my kryptonite.

This all leads up to an anecdote: when I was a child, I was absolutely convinced that Cadbury Creme Eggs had actual egg inside. Try as she might, my mom could not convince me that these eggs were nothing more than a sugary Easter treat that just happened to look like an egg, inside and out. It took years before I was willing to try one. Kids are stupid.

However, perhaps if I’d had Cadbury Screme Eggs in my life as a child, I would have been much more willing to try them.

AAAHHHHHH! That’s not the typical white-and-yellow filling of a Cadbury Egg! The yolk has been replaced with green ooze! You’ve now completely won my heart, Cadbury Screme Eggs. You’re my Ectoplasm hero.

And yes, as a youth I probably would have been more willing to try an egg with green ooze inside than one that somewhat simulated actual egg filling. Kids.

Not one to rest on their slimy laurels, Cadbury also has a very Halloweenie website, complete with haunted house, bats, and a Halloween countdown clock on the home page. It also has suggestions for Halloween activities like “eyeball race” (hells yeah!) and “pin the wart on the witch”, which I think should replace pin the tail on the donkey year-round.

There’s also a Halloween trivia quiz, with questions like, “Why were Jack o’Lanterns created?” and multiple choice options like “People were lonely and found the face comforting.” It is rather adorable. Let’s face it, Cadbury Screme Eggs are for kids, and adults like me who turn into kids when October 1st rolls around. I also like the idea of lonely people carving into squash because they need a friend. “Oh Jack, you’re such a good listener. No hard feelings about scooping your guts out, right?”

As for the taste, if you’ve eaten a Cadbury Creme Egg, you’ve tasted a Cadbury Screme Egg. Sugar goo inside a milk chocolate shell. Oh, sure, they could have changed the flavoring of the green goo to green apple or something, but you know what? I love Cadbury Screme Eggs just the way they are. Good packaging, fun website, and green ooze inside.

My only bone to pick would be that the egg itself doesn’t have a cool skull on it, but after careful consideration, I think leaving the egg as-is works just as well. It’s innocence betrays nothing of the fun ghost goo that lies inside. It’s like a wall at a haunted house that suddenly drops away to reveal a bloody psychopath who wants to cut you in half with a chainsaw. Halloween is a time of surprises.

As an added bonus, I’m now halfway to making green eggs and ham, and I don’t even have to eat real eggs!

Cadbury Screme Egg

  • Score: 4.5 out of 5 disembodied heads covered in slime
  • Price: $0.79
  • Size: 1.2 oz. egg
  • Purchased at: Target
  • Nutritional Quirks: These things are almost literally pure sugar. Parents BEWARE