Tag Archives: 4 burgers

McDonald’s Chorizo Burrito

McDonald's Chorizo Burrito

[Please enjoy this guest review from Robert – Not Bob, a valued sometimes-contributor to Junk Food Betty who had the privilege (or curse – read on to determine) of being in a test area for this new product. Thanks, Robert!]

In the five (!) years since Junk Food Betty first graced the information superhighway (Congrats, by the way), I’ve almost certainly read more about, and spared more thought for, fast food than I probably had in all my previous years combined. That’s a bit of a mixed blessing, obviously, but it has amused me, and on occasion, I’ve even learned a few things.

One of the things I’ve learned is that the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area is a seething hotbed of fast food test-marketing. For that reason, I find myself, once again, submitting a guest review, this time for McDonald’s Chorizo Breakfast Burritos. Well, that and the fact that your JFB host isn’t one to eat an egg, regardless of how it’s gussied up.

For those not in the know, there are actually two very dissimilar food items called “Chorizo”. One is a hard, cured European sausage, made from pork and Spanish paprika. The other is a fresh Mexican sausage made of God only knows what.

Chorizo con Huevos, which is Mexican chorizo and eggs, is a breakfast staple of taquerías, and is commonly rolled into burritos or breakfast tacos. However, it’s long been conspicuously absent from the fast food breakfast lineup. Even nominally “Mexican” fast food chains like Taco Bell, not one to shy away from mystery meat, has kept it out of their breakfast burrito offerings. I’m guessing that this is because chorizo tends to be spicy, and not spicy in a way that’s anything like the pickled jalapeño flavor that pretty much forms the basis of the typical fast food consumer’s idea of “spicy”. It has a pretty unique taste and texture, and is not very similar at all to familiar breakfast meats like bacon or ham.

McDonald's Chorizo Burrito Don't Mess with Breakfast

A quick look at the sign advertising the chorizo burritos also confirms that whoever designed it has little familiarity with chorizo. In the burritos pictured you can clearly see chunks of yellow egg and chunks of something red, which is presumably pretending to be the chorizo. As anyone that’s had it can attest, that’s not the way chorizo and eggs look. When you cook chorizo and eggs together, they basically become one homogenous mass. Perhaps that’s another factor that’s kept it off most breakfast menus. When Americans look at their meat and eggs, they want to see identifiable meat chunks, rather than a pile of eggs that just look like someone got confused with the dye at Easter.

Let’s take a look inside the real burritos.

McDonald's Chorizo Burritos

As I had two burritos to work with, I cross-sectioned one, and unrolled about the other.

McDonald's Chorizo Burrito Halved

McDonald's Chorizo Burrito Open

As you can see, these bear little resemblance to what was pictured, but we all know that that’s the norm with fast food advertising. Anyway, there’s not much to look at here. Chorizo and egg mix, a few red and green pepper bits and a flour tortilla. The strong odor of chorizo seemed pretty promising and, once tasted, I had to admit, these weren’t bad at all. The tortillas themselves left a bit to be desired – the ones you get at taquerías tend to be more flavorful and are typically pan fried before use – but the chorizo y huevos inside tasted exactly like it should. And, for two for $3, seems like a pretty decent breakfast deal.

McDonald's Hot and Mild Picante Sauce Packets

Along with the burritos I received 4 packets of McDonald’s Picante Sauce, two mild and two “hot”. Do not be tempted to put these on your chorizo burritos. Place them in the nearest trash receptacle. I tasted the “hot” and it was thoroughly vile. Putting ketchup on your chorizo burrito would be unforgivable, but would still be a better choice than McDonald’s Picante Sauce. If you do want to put some sauce on your chorizo burritos, that bottle of Tapatío in your file cabinet drawer or those old packets of Taco Bell “Fire Sauce” in your glove box are both much better options.

I do know of at least two taquerías in the path of my morning commute that offer chorizo and egg burritos that are about the same size, and are slightly better, and are slightly cheaper, so I probably wouldn’t make McDonald’s version a regular purchase. However, if I found myself in a taquerías-free zone (yes, even in Texas that can happen) and wanted a breakfast fix, I could definitely see getting them again.

McDonald’s Chorizo Burrito

  • Score: 4 out of 5 pork salivary glands
  • Price: $3.00
  • Size: 2 burritos
  • Purchased at:McDonald’s #35172

Taco Bell Quesarito and Dr. Pepper Vanilla Float Freeze

Taco Bell Quesarito Wrapper and Dr. Pepper Vanilla Float FreezeSomething old, something new, something borrowed, something red, white and blue.

…Okay, that was super lame. But it seems thematically appropriate for Taco Bell’s new Quesarito and Dr. Pepper Vanilla Float Freeze. I moved a little while back and that really threw off my game, so I’m a little rusty. But I’m back! And here’s a double review for you!

Taco Bell Quesarito

Taco Bell Quesarito

Here we have the something old and something borrowed. I think you can see where this is going. While the Quesarito is a new menu item, it has employed the classic Taco Bell technique of rearranging existing ingredients into a new configuration.

In case you couldn’t figure it out from the name or the inside of the wrapper (kudos to Taco Bell for making a unique wrapper for the Quesarito, as a side note), this is a burrito snuggled inside a quesadilla.

In Taco Bell’s own words, “The NEW Quesarito is the best of a quesadilla and burrito rolled into one! It’s filled with seasoned beef, premium Latin rice, Chipotle sauce, reduced-fat sour cream, and then wrapped up in a grilled quesadilla loaded with melted cheeses.”

Taco Bell Quesarito Filling

I did not have high hopes for the Quesarito. Upon unwrapping it, I was impressed with the grilling marks. Upon cutting in half, I said to myself, oh hell yes.

Look at those globs of melty, melty cheese. Eating with my eyeballs alone, I was already sold. If that looks like an oozing mass of grease and fat, you’re right, and my heart sang at the sight. In a sort of choking, crying voice, but it sang nonetheless. I was expecting a sad, barely-visible layer of cheese hidden between two layers of too much tortilla, but I was so glad to be wrong.

There was another thing that there was also a hell of a lot of too – the Latin rice. In one of those classic cases of “who the hell made this?”, there was rice throughout, but all the ground beef was in one half and all the sour cream was in the other. In fact, by pure coincidence, the lines were drawn pretty much exactly down the line where I cut it for the picture.

The rice actually had a bit of flavor to it – it seemed to be the same rice as their Cantina rice, which has hints of lime and cilantro.

But, seriously, how hard is it to evenly distribute the meat and sour cream?

What was evenly distributed was the Chipotle sauce, and for once, there was an actual hint of chipotle flavor there, nice and smoky. Holy shit. It also had a nice kick, and they didn’t skimp on it. This paired great with the sour cream and with the gooey cheese. I’d actually like to see this as a sauce packet option in the future. I would put it on pretty much any Taco Bell item.

I want to give high praises to the Quesarito, in spite of the bizarre ingredient distribution, if just because of the surprising amount of cheese and the Chipotle sauce. However, soon after I got this Quesarito, I went and got another one, and on that one the cheese layer was almost non-existent, which really diminished the experience. So I have to knock it down a notch because, depending on who prepares your Quesarito, it’s either going to be solid or it’s going to be disappointing. It’s all about the queso.

Taco Bell Dr. Pepper Vanilla Float Freeze

Taco Bell  Dr. Pepper Vanilla Float Freeze

Here we have something new and something red, white and blue. The second part of that sentence may be confusing until you realize that Dr. Pepper Vanilla Float came out in grocery stores first, and their packaging looks like everything Americana threw up all over it.

Taco Bell took that drink and turned it into a freeze. If you ask me, this was a great idea; the soda itself is already designed to taste float-like, so freezing it should just add to that experience.

The original Dr. Pepper taste was a little toned down, allowing the vanilla taste to come through. I found the vanilla flavoring to be somewhat less artificial-tasting than some other vanilla-spiked sodas I’ve tried. Maybe it was the unique flavor of Dr. Pepper when combined with the vanilla, but I was impressed. This paragraph is dying for a synonym for vanilla.

Taco Bell  Dr. Pepper Vanilla Float Freeze Close-Up

As for the float part, I really could taste a bit of floatiness coming through in the soda. Maybe it was the slushy-freeze element that helped that along, but there was a distinct creaminess to it that went beyond just vanilla flavoring. Maybe that’s why I felt it stood apart from the plethora of vanilla sodas already on store shelves.

Nothing is going to replace an actual ice cream float, but Taco Bell’s Dr. Pepper Vanilla Float Freeze is a pretty good substitute, especially if you like soda slushies. This is probably my favorite “commercial” vanilla soda creation I’ve had in a long time. Bald eagle stars and stripes fireworks Uncle Sam.

Taco Bell Quesarito

  • Score: 4 out of 5 oozing cheese blobs
  • Price: $1.99
  • Size: 1 Quesarito
  • Purchased at: Taco Bell #029492
  • Nutritional Quirk: I’m betting the amount of cheese you get in your Quesarito will vary the calories by like, 500 either way.

Taco Bell Dr. Pepper Vanilla Float Freeze

  • Score: 4.5 out of 5 “is there another word for vanilla?”
  • Price: $1.00 (“Happy Hour” price)
  • Size: Regular
  • Purchased at: Taco Bell #029492
  • Nutritional Quirk: A lot less calories and fat than a real ice cream float!

Ruffles Deep Ridged Classic Hot Wings Potato Chips Inspired By Buffalo Wild Wings

Ruffles Deep Ridged Classic Hot Wings Potato Chips Inspired By Buffalo Wild Wings BagDear Ruffles,

How deep do your ridges have to go until you’re satisfied? I mean, you already made ULTIMATE ridges that are HARDERCORE, whatever that means. Now you’re making them 2x as deep? Where will it end? Ridges so extreme that they look like the EKG of someone having a panic attack? Just one giant chip per bag with sharp edges that make your gums bleed? How far is too far, Ruffles?

These Ruffles Deep Ridged chips aren’t just Classic Hot Wings Flavored; they’re Inspired by Buffalo Wild Wings Classic Hot Wings Flavored!

Does this excite you? It does not excite me, because I’ve never been to a Buffalo Wild Wings so I have no idea what their wings taste like. I’m not really a sports bar kinda gal, what with having no interest in sports, watching sports, or gathering with other people who like sports.

I also just found out by looking at their website that they call themselves B-Dubs, which makes me want to punch them in the face. “Hey brosefs let’s go down to B-Dubs grab some Jag bombs and get supes trashed brah.” This is only reinforcing my dislike of sports bars.

This is not Ruffles’ fault, however, so I won’t hold it against them. What I will hold against them is what’s written on the back of the bag:

Ruffles Deep Ridged Classic Hot Wings Potato Chips Inspired By Buffalo Wild Wings Bag Back

Chicken…and wing sauce…and chicken…and wing sauce…and what the hell is someone having a stroke? Also, I feel that implying that these flavors are what taste great on deep ridges means you’re not supposed to dip them, which was what the Ultimate hardercore Ruffles were specifically designed to do. We have 2X deeper ridges for no reason at all, now. “Deeper ridges, just because we can.”

Ruffles Deep Ridged Classic Hot Wings Potato Chips Inspired By Buffalo Wild Wings

After all this bizarre marketing, I wasn’t sure what to expect out of the chips themselves. I thought they might be overly thick, but they were about the same thickness as regular Ruffles; in fact, having the depth of the ridges makes them further apart, giving them a more delicate texture, but with lots of crunch.

The heat of hot wing flavoring was immediately evident and also had just the right level of burn. The vinegar taste was also there, but it knew its place as a backup player. Given the obsessive mantra on the back of the bag, I expected some chicken flavoring, but if it was supposed to be there, it got swallowed up by the hot wing heat and flavoring. I was perfectly okay with that.

I’ve had a lot of buffalo-flavored chips, but Ruffles Deep Ridged Classic Hot Wings have managed to climb pretty far up on the list. I refuse to believe the deeper ridges had anything to do with the flavor, and I don’t think they’d hold up well with dip, but they did give the chips a different texture than regular Ruffles.

The heat and the vinegar were at just the right levels, creating a hot wing chip that, while not exactly original, managed to stand out just a little bit above some others. I have no idea if they taste anything like the sauce that Buffalo Wild Wings uses, but they’re a perfectly fine choice to pick up on the go, so long as you’ve got napkins with you so you can wipe off the bright reddish-orange flavor dust.

Ruffles Deep Ridged Classic Hot Wings Potato Chips Inspired By Buffalo Wild Wings

  • Score: 4 out of 5 violent stabs to the face for whoever came up with the term “B-Dubs”
  • Price: $1.49
  • Size: 2 1/2 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Walmart #2482
  • Nutritional Quirks: Actually contains chicken fat, but my mouth didn’t know it.

Jack in the Box Bacon Insider Burger (and TWO Giveaways!)

Jack in the Box Bacon Insider Burger WrappedJack in the Box always delivers on the marketing side of things, and the Bacon Insider burger is no exception. First off, we have the commercial.

I want to hate the jingle, but for some reason I find it difficult to do so, even though I managed to memorize the entire thing and get it stuck in my head after just two viewings. Well, I guess that’s the sign of a good jingle.

What does it say about me that I’d rather have the curly fry tree than the chopper out back?

What we really need to focus on here, though, is the bork. In case you haven’t figured it out, it’s beef and pork, represented in the commercial by pigs with cow-like markings on them.

This creative take on the “stuffed burger” concept seems cute and innocent in the commercial, but I sense some dark, Island of Dr. Moreau-esque undertones. This is punctuated by the bork at the very end of the commercial that proclaims, “Moink?”

It’s the desperate cry of an abomination, confusion showing in the question mark as it struggles to understand its place in nature when, in reality, it has none.

I’m just fucking with you. I instantly fell in love with “Moink?” and have said it like, five times today. It’s a delightful portmanteau.

If you want a real bonus treat, watch the Spanish-language version of the commercial, which contains mariachis wearing Mexican pointy boots, a thing I did not know existed until now. The boots, not mariachis. Credit to sometime guest-reviewer Robert for finding this gem.

Also true to form, Jack in the Box has created a special promo site for the Bacon Insider, including a tour of Jack’s farm and a game where you control a bork in…virtual space? that shoots bacon at regular hamburgers and turns them into Bacon Insiders. If this weren’t Jack in the Box, I’d consider that a bizarre sentence.

Jack in the Box Bacon Insider Burger

Here’s Jack’s long-winded description of the Bacon Insider: “Jack’s newest creation is a bacon triple threat. A juicy beef patty mixed with savory pieces of bacon. This new bacon and beef patty is sandwiched between hickory smoked bacon and topped with creamy bacon mayo, lettuce, tomato, and American cheese. All served on our new soft warm brioche bun. This burger is sure to make you want to ‘bring home the bacon.’”

Can we pretend they never used the phrase “bring home the bacon” and just stick with “moink” and “bork”? I’m sure the Swedish Chef would agree. Bork bork bork.

Jack in the Box Bacon Insider Burger Open Top

The Bacon Insider, deconstructed. The lettuce was a little sad, but the tomatoes were juicy, and look at that lovely bacon configuration. Instead of letting the slices just flop out the sides, they’ve been neatly arranged to fit in the burger. And plenty of it, too!

Jack in the Box Bacon Insider Burger Open Bottom

But wait, there’s more! And by that I mean more bacon and bacon mayo underneath the bork patty. Double bacon layer. That’s pretty awesome.

Jack in the Box Bacon Insider Burger Bacon Mayo

Speaking of the bacon mayo, I tasted some on its own and it was tangy (because it’s mayo, duh) but only vaguely bacon-y. As you can see, there were little speckles in it that looked bacon-ish, but it wasn’t like there was some JitB employee hand-crumbling pieces of bacon into the condiment.

Jack in the Box Bacon Insider Burger Bork Patty

Now we come to the bork patty. There were definitely some visible bacon pieces in the burger, and when tasted on its own, the bacon was impressively noticeable. In my experience, most “stuffed” burgers don’t actually gain any flavor from whatever they’re stuffed with, so this is a bit of an accomplishment.

Now that we’ve deconstructed the Bacon Insider, the real question is, how did it taste altogether?

I found it to be what is probably the most baconiest fast food burger I’ve ever had. The bacon strips were what I would call mid-level crispy, and the configuration of the strips, in addition to having them on top of and beneath the burger, guaranteed that I got bacon in each and every bite. How often does that happen with a bacon cheeseburger?

Looking at the big picture, it seems like it’s the proliferation of bacon strips that did all the heavy lifting on the Bacon Insider. Maybe the bork patty and the bacon mayo added a little extra bacon support, but I could also argue that their flavor disappeared under all that bacon.

The bottom line, however, is that the Jack in the Box Bacon Insider burger really does deliver the bacon goodness. (I almost made a “bring home the bacon” joke there, and then realized what I was doing and quietly backspaced. Oh, wait, I probably wasn’t supposed to tell you that.) I credit the amount and configuration of the bacon strips, but I do wish the bacon mayo and the bork patty had been able to shine a little more. However, it made for a great marketing campaign, and I learned about Mexican pointy boots!

At the end of the day, all I can say is…moink?

[Disclaimer: This Bacon Insider burger was purchased with gift cards provided by Jack in the Box. This is no way compromises the integrity of this review.]

See below for giveaway rules!

 

Jack in the Box Bacon Insider Burger

  • Score: 4 out of 5 Bork bork, bork bork bork bork.
  • Price: $4.99
  • Size: 1 burger
  • Purchased at: Jack in the Box #106
  • Nutritional Quirks: 68% of your daily recommended amount of total fat. But with that much bacon, can you really find that surprising?

Thanks to Jack in the Box, I have TWO freebies to give away today! One lucky person will receive two $10 Jack Ca$h Cards, and another will receive one $10 Jack Ca$h Card and a special “What Does the Bork Say” (size large) t-shirt!

Just leave a comment on this post – the two winners will be chosen at random and announced Tuesday, February 18, 2014. Make sure to include your email address – this information is not public but I will need it to contact the winners!

Ben & Jerry’s Ron Burgundy’s Scotchy Scotch Scotch Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's Ron Burgundy's Scotchy Scotch Scotch Ice Cream CartonIt was quite the struggle, finding Ben & Jerry’s Ron Burgundy’s Scotchy Scotch Scotch Ice Cream. At first it was only available at B&J’s Scoop Shops, the closest of which is approximately 200 miles from me.

I like ice cream, but not that much.

Once I found it, I made a decision: I will not turn this review into one giant Anchorman reference.

This is going to prove difficult and also result in a short and probably very unfunny review, but I figure every single other person on the Internet who has even mentioned this ice cream in passing has made some sort of Anchorman joke.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the movie, and it’s very quotable. I toyed with making the entire review a sarcastic conversation between Veronica Corningstone and Ron Burgundy. I considered writing it as if I were Brick Tamland.

But in the end, I decided to go the opposite direction. If I were to psychoanalyze this decision, I’d come to the conclusion that this is because there’s a part of me deep inside that strives to go against the mainstream.

I’d never psychoanalyze myself, however, because self-awareness is totally overrated.

Scotchy Scotch Scotch is described as “Butterscotch Ice Cream with Butterscotch Swirls”. That’s pretty Scotchy, all right.

Ben & Jerry’s couldn’t help but get into the Anchorman spirit on the back of the carton: “We don’t know how to put this but this flavor is kind of a big deal. Discovered by the Germans in 1904, they named it ‘Scotchy Scotch Scotch’. Scholars maintain that the translation was lost hundreds of years ago. Stay Classy, From all of us at Ben & Jerry’s.”

See? I let B&J do all the Anchorman references for me.

Ben & Jerry's Ron Burgundy's Scotchy Scotch Scotch Ice Cream

The coloration of the ice cream didn’t do Scotchy Scotch Scotch any favors. The ice cream itself was cream-colored, a fine hue for butterscotch, but the swirls were a disturbingly bright shade of orange, like the inside of a Butterfinger bar. Or maybe some carrot baby food.

I was worried that butterscotch-on-butterscotch action would result in an ice cream that was too rich, which is a problem I’ve occasionally come across with Ben & Jerry’s flavors. I’m pleased to report that this was not the case.

The butterscotch ice cream base is smooth and creamy, and tasted much like a Werther’s Butterscotch Candy. I could eat quite a large amount of it at once without feeling butterscotch overload.

The butterscotch swirls, however, were somewhat odd. Aside from the alarmingly bright color, they were crunchy swirls, which I was not expecting. I think I would have been better prepared for this if they’d called them “Butterscotch Candy Swirls”. In fact, that describes them perfectly.

Once I got accustomed to the fact that the swirls were crunchy, they offered a nice counterpoint to the smooth ice cream. They had a little more intense butterscotch flavor than the ice cream itself, which is how a butterscotch/butterscotch swirl ice cream should be.

I went in to Ben & Jerry’s Ron Burgundy’s Scotchy Scotch Scotch Ice Cream with a few expectations, but was ultimately surprised. The two scotches didn’t make the ice cream too rich, the swirls looked like baby food but were a nice crunchy counterpoint to the ice cream, and I actually had to be careful not to eat the whole pint before I’d finished taking all my pictures. B&J sometimes tries to cram too many flavors into one ice cream, but this one was butterscotch through and through, and it worked well.

This is a limited batch tie-in flavor, and often times to me that equals “we didn’t really try”, but I’d like to see Scotchy Scotch Scotch become a permanent fixture on grocery store shelves. Of course, they’d have to change the name to something less topical; might I suggest something like “Grandma’s Ancient Candy Bowl”?

Okay, that’s not exactly complimentary. I guess I’ll leave that up to B&J’s marketing team, if my wish for a permanent place in the frozen foods aisle ever comes true.

Ben & Jerry’s Ron Burgundy’s Scotchy Scotch Scotch Ice Cream

  • Score: 4 out of 5 lamps. I couldn’t help myself.
  • Price: $3.88
  • Size: 1 pint carton
  • Purchased at: Walmart
  • Nutritional Quirks: The inclusion of “vegetable juice” as an ingredient makes me further wonder if I was conned into eating baby food.

Jack Link’s Sriracha Beef Jerky and Burrito Beef Jerky

Jack Link's Sriracha Beef Jerky and Burrito Beef Jerky PackagesUsed to be, if you wanted some beef jerky from the store, you had very limited flavor choices. These were usually Original, Peppered, and Teriyaki. But, much like everything else in the snack aisle, jerky options have exploded in recent years.

BBQ? Psh, of course. Jalapeño? Yep. Hickory Sweet A1 Steakhouse? I’m not sure what half of that even means, but it’s probably out there.

Jerky doesn’t even imply cow these days; you can easily find turkey jerky on store shelves, and bacon jerky, because if you can bacon it it’s gonna get baconed.

If you want to get real crazy, there’s websites out there that will ship you jerky made from alligators and ostriches and like, I dunno, platypus or something.

When I was growing up, we had a meat store right around the corner. I think it’s technically called a butcher shop, but the sign on the building just said MEAT in huge letters, so I thought of it as the meat store.

Amazing beef jerky came from the meat store. It wasn’t fancy; it was just quality. As you may imagine, ever since the meat store closed long ago, I’ve found store-bought jerky to be lacking. Too thick, too thin, too tough, too “this jerky is actually slicing up my gums” (that one is the worst).

Rather than live in a jerkyless world out of pure petulance, I’ve learned to adapt. And with new flavors coming out all the time, at least it keeps my mouth entertained.

Two of the newest flavors to grace the dried meat family are Jack Link’s Sriracha and Burrito. Both of these were intriguing to me, for reasons I hope are obvious.

Jack Link’s Sriracha Beef Jerky

Jack Link's Sriracha Beef Jerky Package

Sriracha is the new darling of the Internet, and if you can somehow incorporate the Asian hot sauce into your food product, I would consider it wise to do so. They’ve used it in everything from potato chips to popcorn. I’m pretty sure Kellogg’s is trying to figure out how to make sriracha cereal as we speak.

From Jack Link’s website: “Jack Link’s Sriracha Beef Jerky is packed with an explosion of hot chili peppers and garlic. This limited edition flavor will keep you comin’ back for more.”

The back of the bag expounds: “Jack Link’s Sriracha Beef Jerky is made with premium cuts of lean beef and seasoned with hot chili peppers, garlic and other traditional spices for an authentic Sriracha flavor.”

Jack Link's Sriracha Beef Jerky

The sriracha beef jerky is indeed hot, but it falls into that unfortunate but all-too-familiar category of “spicy hot but tastes nothing like the hot sauce it’s supposed to taste like”.

Sriracha has a unique flavor of, as Jack Link said, chili peppers and garlic, but their beef jerky just tastes generically spicy. If you blindfolded me, I’d never guess the sriracha was in there.

It’s a tasty, spicy jerky, but sriracha it is not.

Jack Link’s Burrito Beef Jerky

Jack Link's Burrito Beef Jerky Package

How could I not be interested in Burrito Beef Jerky? It sounds at once both awesome and terrifying. It also makes one wonder how it came to exist. How does burrito-flavored beef jerky go from the brainstorm room to shelves? I really would have liked to have been a fly on the wall for that one.

Just thinking about shoving a burrito’s flavor into beef jerky makes me laugh. It’s hard to be scared when you can’t stop being amused.

Mr. Link’s website description: “¡Ay, caramba! Jack Link’s limited edition Burrito Beef Jerky has an authentic south-of-the-border flavor creating the ultimate burrito experience.”

Yeah, guys? Gonna go with “¡Ay, caramba!” Do we really have to bring 1992 Bart Simpson into this whole thing?

Jack Link's Burrito Beef Jerky

After I tasted Jack Link’s Burrito Beef Jerky, I checked the back of the bag. “Jack Link’s Burrito Beef Jerky is made with premium cuts of lean beef, expertly seasoned with chili peppers, onion and garlic for an authentic burrito flavor.”

Sound familiar? Yeah.

That said, I actually liked the burrito jerky. Did it taste like a burrito? Of course not, it’s beef fucking jerky. But the garlic and onion flavors were really prominent, which tasted great with the peppers, which are much more subdued here than in the Sriracha Beef Jerky.

Both Sriracha and Burrito Beef Jerky are part of Jack Link’s new Limited Edition Wild Side flavors, which consist of these flavors and…uh…well, just these flavors, at least for now. What could be next for the Wild Side? Shrimp Cocktail Beef Jerky? Spaghetti Beef Jerky?

While I found that neither Jack Link’s Sriracha nor Burrito Beef Jerky actually tasted like their namesake, both were enjoyable. Sriracha packed in a good amount of heat, although not the actual flavor of the hot sauce.

Burrito never had a chance of tasting like burrito, but surprised me with the amount of garlic, and how well it worked with the onions and peppers. Jack would have done himself a favor by ditching the weird-ass Burrito moniker and going with a simple “Garlic and Pepper” type name.

Sometimes simple is best. Even if Burrito Beef Jerky still makes me laugh.

Jack Link’s Sriracha Beef Jerky and Burrito Beef Jerky

  • Score (Sriracha): 3.5 out of 5 platypus jerkies
  • Score (Burrito): 4 out of 5 eatings of my shorts
  • Price: $3.98
  • Size: 3.25 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Walmart
  • Nutritional Quirks: “Burrito” not listed as an ingredient in the Burrito Beef Jerky. I CALL FALSE ADVERTISING

Popeye’s Chicken Waffle Tenders with Sweet Honey Maple Sauce

Popeye's Chicken Waffle Tenders with Sweet Honey Maple Sauce ComboIf I had to pick an iconic American food that would suddenly enter the junk food hype machine, I would have never guessed that chicken and waffles would be the next Big Thing. But here we are, with chicken and waffle-flavored chips (which lost Lay’s Do Us a Flavor contest but are now back on shelves – don’t even get me started on that), Torani Chicken ‘N Waffles Syrup that you could theoretically put in your coffee or on your ice cream or whatever you want to turn disgusting, and now Popeye’s Chicken Waffle Tenders.

I give kudos to Popeye’s for this concept. They’ve taken a pre-existing platform – their chicken, as opposed to something like chips or syrup – and added the waffle aspect in a rather unique way.

Oh, sure, they could have just chucked a few pieces of waffle in with their chicken, but Popeye’s got creative. According to their commercial, Chicken Waffle Tenders are all white-meat tenders marinated in Louisiana spices and hand-crafted with a light, crispy waffle coating.

What this basically means is that the tenders are dipped in waffle batter instead of traditional egg wash before they’ve been coated with Popeye’s signature seasoned coating and fried up.

Pretty ingenious, right? Okay, maybe not ingenious, but at least not outright lazy.

I have to admit, I came into this biased. I’ve never had actual chicken and waffles, which means I should probably shut my mouth right now. But I’ve had fried chicken and I’ve had waffles, and it just doesn’t seem like a combination I’d like. In general, I like my savory and my sweet separate. It’s just a personal preference. It’s part of the reason why I disliked Lay’s Chicken & Waffles chips.

I really wanted to give Popeye’s a fair shake, though, so I put my on my Objective Journalism Cap and went to work.

Actually, before I put the objective cap on, one more thing – Popeye’s customer service sucks. I don’t think I’ve ever had an experience there that went smoothly. They get my order wrong. They’re out of whatever it is I happen to be ordering. They do that thing where they make me pull around from the drive-thru and park in front to wait for my food.

This last incident happens almost every time, and wouldn’t bother me that much, except as I sit there the a/c in my car gradually starts to grow warmer until I’m marinating in my own distinctly not-Louisiana spices.

You could chalk this up to one bad location, but I’ve had several friends from different parts of the nation have the same experiences. I dunno what it is about Popeye’s, but it seems they just can’t get their shit together.

On this trip, I decided that, in addition to my Chicken Waffle Tenders, I’d get some Zatarain’s Butterfly Shrimp as a backup lunch in case I really hated the tenders. Even though it’s still featured on their website, I was informed that they no longer carried them, because that was last month’s promotional item.

You know what? Fair enough. I was willing to give them a pass on that.

Other than my crustaceous disappointment, things actually went smoothly. I was a little irritated that the Chicken Waffle Tenders were only available as a combo with a biscuit, fries and drink, but that was a minor complaint. I was in the mood for lemonade anyways.

Then I got home and pulled this out of the bag:

Wait, what?
Wait, what?

Before my Rageometer reached critical mass, I opened up the box:

Popeye's Chicken Waffle Tenders with Sweet Honey Maple Sauce Combo

Oh, okay. Fairly new item. Using up old boxes. Whatever. At least my order was correct. I could tell, because the smell of Popeye’s seasoning was mixed with a faint waffle scent. Plus, I got the Sweet Honey Maple Sauce that is advertised specifically for this item. I had to sit down for a moment, in shock that I’d received the correct order.

The tenders also had a darker coating than normal Popeye’s fried chicken, which I took as an indication of the presence of waffle batter.

Popeye's Chicken Waffle Tenders

I tried the tenders without the sauce first. The chicken was moist and tender, which is not unusual for Popeye’s. They may suck at customer service, but then generally deliver some pretty darn good chicken.

The fried coating had just the right amount of crunch and was not at all soggy. It did have an annoying tendency to flake off the tenders more than regular fried coating, though.

Of course, the important part here is the Waffle part of Chicken Waffle Tenders. I am pleased to say that, despite all my predictions, I actually liked the waffle flavor. When I first bit into a tender, I tasted those Popeye’s Louisiana spices right off the bat. As I got through the bite, the waffle flavor came through, almost as a finishing taste. It was distinctly and authentically waffle, but it wasn’t very sweet at all, and I was so happy Popeye’s decided to keep their spices and add the waffle batter, because the two worked really well together.

Enter the Sweet Honey Maple Sauce. This seems like another smart move on Popeye’s part, since what is chicken and waffles without syrup? It seems the perfect dipping compliment to Chicken Waffle Tenders.

Popeye's Chicken Waffle Tenders with Sweet Honey Maple Sauce

Except for the fact that something went horribly wrong. While I really enjoyed the tenders on their own, the Sweet Honey Maple Sauce ruined the whole thing for me. It did, indeed, have a strong maple flavor, and I liked the touch of honey, but it was cloyingly sweet.

Now, if you like your chicken and waffles smothered in syrup, this sweetness may not be an issue for you. What I consider to be a completely objective problem with this sauce was the texture.

Have you ever tried a dip that was so thick in all the wrong ways that whatever you were dipping either came out of it with no dip at all, or just one giant glob of dip? That’s exactly what Sweet Honey Maple Sauce is like. A small cup of ectoplasmic goo far too thick for a chicken tender, and also far too sweet for my taste.

I’m a dipper by nature, but I wound up eating all three of my tenders straight after my initial bite of the sauce. The spices and the waffle batter combined with the moist chicken were all the flavor that was needed. I really couldn’t think of a substitute dip that would outshine the flavor of the tenders themselves.

This was my first taste of actual chicken with actual waffle (if in batter form), and I definitely see the appeal. I thought the waffle flavor would ruin the chicken, but instead, it enhanced Popeye’s spices and didn’t overwhelm the moist chicken or the seasonings with sweetness. The waffle batter may have caused the fried coating to flake off too easily, but it was still nice and crunchy, even if I had to sort of cobble it back on to the tenders.

While I considered the Sweet Honey Maple sauce subjectively too sweet and objectively too goopy, I don’t fault the Chicken Waffle Tenders for it. Popeye’s took a trending flavor and managed to put a rather clever and successful spin on it, and I consider this a pretty high bar for future chicken-and-waffle-flavored concoctions. (Note: I’d really rather not see any more chicken-and-waffle-flavored concoctions. I’m glaring at you, Taco Bell Doritos Locos Tacos.)

Popeye’s Chicken Waffle Tenders with Sweet Honey Maple Sauce

  • Score: 4 out of 5 let’s-pretend-Sweet-Honey-Maple-Sauce-never-happened
  • Price: $5.99
  • Size: 3-tender combo with biscuit, fries and drink
  • Purchased at: Popeye’s #5636
  • Nutritional Quirks: I couldn’t seem to find any nutritional info on Popeye’s website, but I’m pretty sure the Sweet Honey Maple Sauce was made with Slimer’s secretions.

Other Chicken Waffle Tenders reviews: The Impulsive Buy, GrubGrade, Brand Eating

McDonald’s Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder

McDonald's Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder SideDear readers, I am here to tell you that you have been tricked. Bamboozled. Flim-flammed. By McDonald’s, of all places. The most universally trusted fast food restaurant in the world.

Okay, that’s probably not true. Neither is the idea that you’ve been tricked, per se. The truth is, McDonald’s has, rather quietly, removed the Angus Third Pounders from their menu and replaced them with three new Quarter Pounders.

The old Angus Third Pounders were Bacon and Cheese, Deluxe, Mushroom and Swiss, and, later on, the Chipotle BBQ Bacon and Cheddar Bacon Onion.

A lazy amount of Internet research seems to indicate that the Angus Third Pounders weren’t doing that well, possibly due to their high price – $3.99 – in relation to the rest of their menu and the current trend towards value menus.

This idea is directly contradicted by the fact that the new Quarter Pounders are the exact same price, so I’m just going with “nobody seemed to like the Angus Third Pounders so we’re trying something else”.

The new Quarter Pounders are Bacon and Cheese, Deluxe and Bacon Habanero Ranch. Guess which one I chose to review?

…Oh, right, you don’t have to guess. It’s in the review title. Gosh darn spoilers.

The Bacon and Cheese and Deluxe varieties are just as boring as you can imagine they are, containing ingredients like…bacon, and…cheese. I’m not even sure what I’m supposed to be impressed with in the Deluxe – it’s got mayo, and lettuce, and tomatoes, and zzzzzzzzzzzz.

So I find myself with the Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder, which, in stark contrast to the other two, actually sounds interesting. “A quarter pound* of 100% beef topped by smooth white cheddar,** thick-cut Applewood smoked bacon, tomato and leaf lettuce, and a spicy-cool habanero ranch sauce, all on a toasted, bakery-style bun.”

If you’re curious about the asterisks, the first lets you know that’s the weight before cooking and the second informs you that the cheese is pasteurized process. There, I’ve done my boring due diligence.

At this point I was about to launch into the part where I actually eat the fucking burger, but I stumbled upon something on McDonald’s website that I just could not, in good conscience, ignore.

McDonald's Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder Website

In recent times I’ve made a point of not poaching pictures, because I’m pretty sure there’s copyright issues involved. But a picture is worth a thousand words, which I’ll probably end up writing anyways, and I just couldn’t help myself on this one. So up it goes until I get a cease and desist email from Ronald.

Look at it. Love it for its ridiculousness. HABANEROS SLAPPING YOUR TONGUE! ZING! Bacon shaming!

The tongue-slapping is my obvious favorite, but I’m also very fond of, “I see you looking at me?” With some different punctuation, it could be construed as an amusing threat from the aggressive habanero pepper. But phrased as a question, it a.) makes no goddamn sense and b.) makes the habanero sound insecure.

I’m lovin’ it. (Please kill me.)

Okay. Burger time.

McDonald's Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder
Hab.

First off, I took pictures and ate my Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder before I did all that researchy stuff, which led to me being surprised by the lack of habanero peppers on my burger. I thought it was bacon, habanero and ranch, not bacon and habanero ranch.

I was a little disappointed, but that’s okay. As far as I can remember, this is the first time a major fast food chain has gone habanero, in any form.

In case you didn’t know, habaneros are pretty serious business. To give you a point of comparison, jalapeño peppers rate between 3,500–8,000 units on the Scoville scale, while habaneros are between 100,000–350,000 units. Even if you don’t know what the Scoville scale is, and you should, you can see the impressive disparity in those numbers.

What I’m trying to say here is that habaneros are hot.

McDonald's Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder Open

Let’s get the boring parts out of the way. My lettuce sucked. It was sad and limp and looked to be on the precipice of being tossed in the garbage. My tomato was also lame and added nothing to the burger. I could have easily done without it. But, these are the vagaries of fast food.

My “bakery-style bun” was a goddamn McDonald’s hamburger bun. I had no idea it was toasted. It was neither good nor bad; it was just a necessary delivery vehicle for the contents inside.

My asterisk asterisk pasteurized process white cheddar was not melted. That seems like a pretty basic oversight. It didn’t really matter though, because it really didn’t add much to the Quarter Pounder. Perhaps if it had been melted, it would have added a nice, creamy touch. The world will never know.

McDonald's Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder Half

Getting to the good stuff, the thick-cut Applewood smoked bacon was indeed smoky, crunchy and flavorful, words I’d never expect to write about McDonald’s bacon but am happy to do. That crunchiness added a lot of texture to the burger, picking up the slack of my sad-ass lettuce.

McDonald's Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder Top Bun

Now to the star of the show – the habanero ranch. They weren’t stingy with it, for which I was thankful. I could see little peppery flecks in it and it was appropriately bright, which made it look threatening, like a poisonous neon-colored frog in a rainforest.

McDonald's Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder Sauce

You know how fast food chains are constantly claiming that such-and-such menu offering is so spicy it will burn your taste buds off and send you screaming to the emergency room? Yeah, that never actually happens. In fact, you’re lucky if you get anything spicy at all.

This is not the case with the Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder! The habanero ranch was creamy and spicy, turning this burger from mediocre to something I honestly enjoyed.

Did it have the burn power of an actual habanero pepper? Well, no. It made the burger nice and spicy but not so much that I was rushing for a glass of milk.

You could call it sad that it takes an incredibly spicy pepper just to make a burger “noticeably spicy”, but this is the world we live in, so I was happy just to get some heat out of the Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder.

There were some lowlights – lackluster toppings, unmelted cheese – but these are location/time-related problems. The surprisingly crunchy and flavorful bacon combined with the tasty, plentiful and spicy habanero ranch dressing really turned this burger around. Was my tongue, indeed, slapped? I’d say yes, but I’d rate it as more of a “snap out of your hysteria” slap and less of a “you just called me the c-word” slap.

I am, indeed, looking at you, Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder. And you’re lookin’ pretty good. But you need to work on accessorizing.

McDonald’s Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder

  • Score: 4 out of 5 tongue-slaps from insecure habaneros
  • Price: $3.99
  • Size: 1 burger
  • Purchased at: McDonald’s #23767
  • Nutritional Quirks: “Contains less than 1% habanero pepper” – well, that’s a bummer. On the plus side, the “dried cayenne red pepper sauce” that is listed more prominently seems to be doing a good job. I guess “Bacon Dried Cayenne Red Pepper Sauce Ranch Quarter Pounder” doesn’t have quite the same ring.

McDonald’s UK Tastes of America Week 2: The Chicago Supreme and Crisscut Fries

McDonald's UK Tastes of America Logo and Chicago Supreme Logo Box[Kelley’s Note: Boy do I wish I lived in the UK right now. Fortunately, guest reviewer Kirsten (of Pizza Hut Hot Dog Stuffed Crust Pizza fame) does, and she has done me the favor of reviewing one of the McDonald’s Tastes of America burgers. We’ve done a little bit of collaborating, since she’s tasting America and I’m living here, so expect me to chime in every once in a while for some insight from the States.]

Every year in the UK, or at least for as long as I can remember paying attention, McDonald’s UK has run a summer promotion called TASTES OF AMERICA, whereby 5 State-‘inspired’ burgers are presented at a rate of one per week for 5 weeks, offering us Brits the chance to glimpse at the wonders of America in burger form. Sadly, I missed the first burger ‘Louisiana BBQ’ by a mere DAY, and grovel for your forgiveness. Instead, I present WEEK 2: CHICAGO.

When I think Chicago food, I think of pizza. That’s it, really. I got briefly confused about cheese curds, but that’s Wisconsin, apparently. Also, I am told that the Chicago Dog is the more prominent food association with Chicago. Clue’s in the name, I guess. I blame Chicago Town Pizzas. Whaddaya gonna do?

Anyway, a Chicago Dog is not at all what I expected. I dig the big bit of pickle in it (we don’t do pickle enough over here) but really it just seems like a Classic Hamburger set up, with a hot dog instead. I am not convinced at all. That is also completely nothing like the T.O.A: Chicago burger.

Here is McDonald’s UK’s description of The Chicago Supreme: “Experience the supreme taste of the Windy City. 100% beef patty, shredded lettuce, bacon, onions, cheese slices, spicy tomato salsa and cool mayo, all in a chilli, chive and sesame topped bun.”

[Kelley’s Note: I actually had to explain what a Chicago Dog is to Kirsten. She had never heard of such a thing. I also explained to her that, even in the States, if you’re going to make something “quintessentially Chicago”, you’re probably going to try to emulate a Chicago Dog. (If you don’t know what one consists of, read the first paragraph of this. It sums it up pretty perfectly.)

I was very amused by the UK’s version of “Chicago”. Not to make too much fun, but…salsa? Oh well, all they’re missing is the pickle. And the mustard. And the…okay, it’s pretty much missing everything. I’d be curious to see what the citizens of Chicago have to say about this burger representing their city.

Okay, back to Kirsten, who actually ate the burger.]

McDonald's UK Tastes of America Week 2 The Chicago Supreme

The burger is a big burger. I’d say it’s about 1.5 times the length of a Big Mac. It’s an ovoid. The bun is also a fancy split-top bun, sprinkled with the chilli, chive and sesame. The bun itself was light and soft, though I found it hard to tell if the chilli and chive topping added anything because of the spicy salsa heat.

McDonald's UK Tastes of America Week 2 The Chicago Supreme Inside

The mayo and onion were plentiful. The patty meat was perfect, beefy and flavoursomely charred, just the right side of crumbly, not tough or chewy at all. The sheer amount of sauces in combination gave good flavour but really just meant the patty was trying to escape the buns. My patty had too much lubrication. Now I see why they didn’t spread the load by adding any to the lower bun. Does anywhere do that? I think I’ve found salad there before.

McDonald's UK Tastes of America Week 2 The Chicago Supreme Close-Up

There was a good amount of bacon, but at first I wondered if I’d imagined there was meant to be any – there was no bacon in sight. It only emerged after I’d bitten in, and was indeed pinned within, smothered by the heavy quantity of cheese slices and disguised by the nonchalant shredded lettuce, an accomplice to bacon obfuscation. It was the Thomas Crown Affair of burger bacon.

McDonald's UK Tastes of America Week 2 The Chicago Supreme Half

There was a lot of mayo. I’m not a big fan of mayo (in or out of burgers) but it didn’t ruin it for me, and just meant it was like an oddly creamy but tasty salsa, like a spicy prawn cocktail sauce. Y’all do that too right? With the ketchup and mayo, or ketchup and salad cream and then you get Marie Rose sauce or whatever? I like it with brandy in. There was no brandy in this burger. Good job, I don’t think that’s what it needed.

[Kelley’s Note: I had to look up “Marie Rose sauce” – it is indeed a synonym of seafood or cocktail sauce, but, at least to me, sounds more like Thousand Island dressing. My definition of cocktail sauce contains stuff like horseradish and Worcestershire.]

The salsa was great, I’d like to see that back in another burger, maybe as a dip.

McDonald's Tastes of America Crisscut Fries Box

A dip, hey! That would have been real good with the special edition TOA: Crisscut fries I got too! I didn’t really like them. They were that kind of mashed and reformed potato shape and reminded me of potato waffles, a thing I have only had once in my life and avoided ever since. I still only eat hash browns when I’m desperately hungry.

McDonald's Tastes of America Crisscut Fries

They came with a sour cream and chive packet of dip which I gave a miss as I’m not eating any sour cream that doesn’t come from a fridge. I want to say the Crisscuts taste reminded me of Alphabites ((does that translate?)) but had a slightly spiced coating, which according to the website was onion powder and yeast extract. I won’t be ordering them again.

[Kelley’s Note: This did not, in fact, translate for me. I was pretty sure Kirsten wasn’t talking about the cereal. Luckily I found this, so now I know she was talking about a letter-shaped frozen potato product.]

In Hull, fries come with a coating of ‘chip spice’ (because we call fries ‘chips’, and chips ‘crisps’) which is more or less the same thing but with paprika and salt thrown in and I do not like that either. I did not know this when I first ordered fries in Hull, and have been scarred ever since. Consider this a PSA for if you ever find yourself there.

The TOA: Chicago burger was tasty but not as gourmet as I think it wanted to be. I think the oversized patty will continue to be an issue in the upcoming weeks, but I can’t fault them for being generous; it was good meat and cooked well.

Really, the TOA: Chicago was just a big ol’ Bacon Cheeseburger in a fancy bun, and whilst it was a good enough eat, I won’t be missing it from the menu a month down the line.

I am totally not ordering the TOA:Crisscuts again though, even though I think regular McD’s fries will serve to make the burger look even more enormous. One point to the Crisscuts – they are proportionally sized for the TOA burgers.

[Kelley’s Note: Kirsten turned me on to McDonald’s UK’s Tastes of America website. We both agreed that it was an amazing feat of marketing. She let me take the reins on this one, so you’ll be hearing from me from here until the roundup at the end of the review.]

Oh, McDonald’s UK Tastes of America. You’ve already given us so much. But once Kirsten showed me your website, I felt I had been given a special gift from the marketing gods.

While I’d love to break down each and every “Tastes” page, that would probably take up the length of an entire review, and we’re talkin’ about Chicago here, so let’s focus on that.

First off, every Tastes of America “tribute” page is an amazing feat of music and bizarre gifs. It’s like someone with a current knowledge of graphic artistry was instructed to make them look like a 1996 Geocities website. It is strange and mesmerizing at the same time.

I will give the UK this: Chicago is the longest-running American musical in the history of Broadway. Looking at the States from the outside in, this would be a pretty easy choice to encapsulate the spirit of the city. However, the Tastes of America takes it a little too far. The music is va-va-voom, the background is reminiscent of a Broadway marquee, and there’s attractive ladies wearing sexy tuxedos dancing around with canes.

Correction: one sexy lady, multiplied by eight. GIFS!

There are also two mirror-image limos thrusting in and out of the background in a way that makes me mildly uncomfortable.

The icing on the cake for me is the introduction of a jumble of red-clad basketball player gifs, obviously meant to represent the Chicago Bulls. I have some sad news for you, Britain: the iconic era of Michael Jordan and the Bulls’ dominance in the NBA ended in the 1990s. I’m sorry.

So what crazy gifs would I use to represent Chicago? Well, I’ve never even been to the Windy City, but here are some of my suggestions:

Lots of Tommy guns shooting with the sound of automatic fire as your music

One guy in a three-piece pinstripe suit repeated eight times making threatening gestures

A corrupt government official repeatedly signing a check and handing it to a shady character

Crates of bootleg alcohol dancing around

Um…wind?

It’s obvious I’m also not intimately familiar with Chicago, but I still feel mine is a closer representation of the city than McDonald’s UK’s. Regardless, all of the Tastes of America pages are priceless, and I highly encourage you click on the link I posted above.

Okay, enough of my blathering. Here’s Kirsten’s round-up. A big thanks to her for the guest review!

McDonald’s UK Tastes Of America Chicago Supreme

  • Score: 4 out of 5 dancing gifs
  • Price: £4.89 plus £0.40 Crisscut upgrade (~$7 USD)
  • Size: Regular meal with Chicago Supreme, Crisscut fries and drink
  • Purchased at: McDonald’s – Leeds 2
  • Nutritional Quirks: Nothing like a Chicago Dog, but at least there’s lots of protein?

McDonald’s UK Tastes Of America Crisscut Fries

  • Score: 2 out of 5 potato Alphabites (NOT the cereal)
  • Size:8 lattices
  • Purchased at: McDonald’s – Leeds 2
  • Nutritional Quirks: Say no to chip spice.

 

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

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

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

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

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

That said, enjoy part one of Australian Snaxplosion!

Thins Light & Tangy Thin & Crispy Potato Chips

Australian Snaxplosion Thins Light & Tangy Bag

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

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

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

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

Australian Snaxplosion Thins Light & Tangy Chips

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

Australian Snaxplosion Thins Light & Tangy Chips Close-Up

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

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

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

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

Thins Chicken Thin & Crispy Potato Chips

Australian Snaxplosion Thins Chicken Bag

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

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

Australian Snaxplosion Thins Chicken Chips

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

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

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

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

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

Burger Rings

Australian Snaxplosion Burger Rings Bag

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

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

Australian Snaxplosion Burger Rings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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