It’s been quite a long time since I’ve been in a drugstore. I’m not sure why; I guess since I shop like I’m British and all the grocery stores I frequent have pharmacies, I never really have the need to visit them. However, after a recent trip to the bank went wrong (after almost three decades of life you’d think I’d have learned that banks are closed on national holidays), I noticed that the new Walgreen’s across the street had opened. I also remembered that drugstores often have the best Halloween sections.
As you can see, I was NOT disappointed. There were so many gems that I wanted to bring home with me, but my cupboards are already so full of Halloween crap that if I brought home another armful, I’d have to put the Cheez-Its out on the streets, and that would have been immoral. Everybody knows Cheez-Its got no street smarts. They wouldn’t last a day out there. They’d be eaten alive. MUAHAHAHA BAD PUN HALLOWEEN TIE-IN.
I stood in that aisle for a good five minutes, taking everything in and trying to decide what I would pick. The store was almost empty and strangely silent. I felt exposed and conspicuous. No grown woman should spend that much time looking at novelty Halloween items. Which is not to say I picked Take-Out Gummy Fried Noodle & Eyeball with Candy Sauce out of panic or embarrassment. (Not that that hasn’t happened before.) No, I think the picture and the name say it all. I mean, c’mon. Miniature Chinese take-out box? Fake noodles with eyeballs and sauce? Tiny plastic chopsticks?! I think the chopsticks were what ultimately won me over.
One of the hazards that a food reviewer has to navigate through is the Embarrassing Cashier Moment. Much like how a grown woman shouldn’t spend five minutes looking at novelties, a grown woman also shouldn’t walk up to the cashier with nothing but a fake take-out box containing gummy noodles. I considered buying a few other items, like maybe a box of suppositories and a can of nuts, in an attempt to look like I hadn’t just come in for bizarre candy. In the end I decided to man up and walked to the counter with my silly, lonely purchase. Lucky for me, the teenager who rang me up had dead zombie eyes and couldn’t have cared less what I was buying. It was so anticlimactic that I felt mildly disappointed.
While arranging my Take-Out Gummy Fried Noodle & Eyeball with Candy Sauce for its Glamour Shot, I became unreasonably grossed out. Maybe it was the plastic smell of the gummies. Maybe it was the squishy, elastic texture. Maybe it was the fact that I knew I was going to have to eat it. Whatever it was, dread filled my stomach, and I came to realize that this was a good thing. I was being grossed out by a gross-out Halloween candy! My body became confused with revulsion and joy. ‘Tis the reason for the season. I fell even more in love with my take-out candy.
Turns out, my fears were largely unfounded. I bit into an eyeball, squinting my eyes closed, and…it was a gummy eyeball. It was squishy and tasted like high-fructose corn syrup. That was it. I had that feeling you get when you exit a Halloween maze – you’ve just been tormented by normal people playing crazy psychos and werewolves, you screamed like a little baby, but now that it’s over, you just laugh at yourself. That wasn’t so bad! I tried a noodle and it tasted exactly like the eyeball. Also, kudos to the noodles for looking like earthworms. It’s the kid-friendly version of Fear Factor. That show ended four years ago. My pop culture references are always so timely and relevant.
More props to Take-Out Gummy Fried Noodle & Eyeball with Candy Sauce for putting some extra care into the Candy Sauce packet. That is one evil-looking green apple, right there. The sauce itself is more like a super-thick syrup; I had to coax it out of the packet and somehow managed to get it all over my hands. I hate sticky hands. The syrup calls itself “sweet”, but never believe an evil green apple. It will lie to you. The syrup was actually sour green apple. Very sour. Delightfully so. I took a bite of earthworm noodle coated in it, and my lips were puckered for thirty minutes afterward. I approve.
Really though, who gives a shit about how Take-Out Gummy Fried Noodle & Eyeball with Candy Sauce tastes. It’s all about appearance, and this candy delivers in spades. From the box to the chopsticks with convenient eyeball holder to the earthworm noodles to the evil apple sauce packet, this novelty Halloween candy is the best. One box of TOGFN&ECS could make the centerpiece of your whole Halloween party. Evil Green Apple for President 2012.
Score: 4 out of 5 earthworm gummy fried noodles
Size: 5.19 oz. fake take-out Chinese food box
Purchased at: Walgreens
Nutritional Quirks: Eyeballs do not actually taste like eyeballs. Halloween!
Doritos has decided to team up with Electronic Arts and their colossus series of Madden NFL video games to produce two new “Madden NFL-inspired” flavors: Stadium Nacho and Tailgate BBQ. I’m finding the whole collaboration surprisingly difficult to describe. On the official website, they’re calling it “Change the Game”. I’m not sure what game I’m supposed to be changing. Football? Madden NFL 11, which is the newest game in the series and which seems to be the focus of the whole promotion? Hold on, let me just quote part of the website:
“…for a limited time, redeem exclusive on-bag codes for Madden Ultimate Team rewards from Madden NFL 11.”
Okay, so what the fuck is Madden Ultimate Team? Here’s the website again to help me understand:
“Madden Ultimate Team combines the best aspects of Madden NFL 11 gameplay, card collecting and fantasy football.
Earn, purchase and participate in user auctions to collect player cards, manage your fantasy roster and compete in online matches with your friends.”
I am now more confused than ever. Is it because I’ve never played a Madden game? There’s a card game? You can auction your cards? There’s a Madden-exclusive fantasy football league, or do they just mean fantasy football in general? By online matches do they mean the video game, which I would assume would have online competition functionality to begin with, or do they mean online matches with your cards? Are the cards vital to the fantasy football league? Do you have to collect enough cards, which I’m now assuming have football players on them, to have a full roster before you can engage in any card-playing at all? Is buying Doritos to get the special codes the only way you can get these cards?
To further complicate things, their website takes an intolerable amount of time to load, has an animated intro that tells you nothing, and either has very little information beyond the quotations above or makes it impossible to find any more information.
You know what? Fuck that website, and fuck me for not just reading the back of the fucking bag first.
There. Fine. Enter code. Get cards. But wait, there’s some fine print at the bottom of the bag…
“Collect all 3 ‘Ultimate Team Cards’ for use with EA Sports Madden NFL 11 Video Game with your packaging code…Limit 1 ‘Ultimate Team Card’ per packaging code. Limit 3 (1 of each exclusive ‘Ultimate Team Card’) per email address.”
So there’s only three cards available and you have to buy (or just write down from the bag in the middle of the store) three bags of Doritos to get all three cards but you can only have three per email address. And they have something to do with the video game.
You know what, Doritos? You win. I’ve been able to decipher your opium haze-induced marketing schemes for years now, but you’ve totally lost me with this one. Congratulations, your gimmicks have gotten so fucking complicated, obtuse and downright insane that I am ragequitting trying to figure this one out. I just spent 523 words trying to describe it, and I want to erase them all out of anger and just start the review with this next paragraph.
Doritos has some new fucking chips. The fucking flavors are Stadium Nacho and Tailgater BBQ. They are doing a fucking promotional tie-in with Madden NFL 11. Here is what the fucking chips taste like.
Doritos Stadium Nacho Inspired by EA Sports Madden NFL 11 Tortilla Chips
If you’ve never had literal stadium nachos, because you are a nerd or have common sense or whatever, they’re basically how you would imagine them: generic round tortilla chips with globs of processed cheese sauce. You have to close your eyes and use your imagination to believe there’s any real cheese involved. After laying out your $8 for soggy chips and tasteless chemical goo, you can fight your way through the milling masses of painted faces and foam fingers to the condiment bar, where you can ladle on enough spoonfuls of pickled jalapeño slices to fool yourself into thinking you’ve invested in something with flavor. Of course, by this time, you’re probably on your fourth plastic cup of beer and don’t really give a shit what you’re shoveling into your mouth anyway.
From this perspective, Doritos Madden Stadium Nacho succeeds greatly. I hesitate to say they taste remarkably similar to the classic Nacho Cheese Doritos, since I haven’t actually had a “normal” flavored Dorito in about 15 years, but they do seem to have that flavor, except a little toned down, which is reflected in the toned-down flavor powder colors. There appears to be flecks that would indicate some sort of pepper flavor, but I couldn’t discern anything spicy in the chip, thus ruining my opportunity to rant about Doritos repackaging their cheese/jalapeño flavor over and over again.
So, much like real stadium nachos, Doritos Madden Stadium Nachos are similar to real nacho cheese, but with less nacho cheese flavor. I’m a little conflicted – I mean, they aren’t gross, or bad, they’re just mediocre. If you’re sitting on your couch playing Madden NFL 11 and want to get that real stadium nacho feeling, these would be perfect for you. Like the guy who’s already half-sloshed on overpriced beer, you’re not really paying attention to the taste, anyway. As long as they’re a mild facsimile of the real thing, you’re satisfied.
Doritos Tailgater BBQ Inspired by EA Sports Madden NFL 11 Tortilla Chips
I went into Tailgater BBQ with low expectations. I’ve had bbq chips before. Who hasn’t? I consider Lay’s Barbecue chips to be as iconic as regular Cheetos, or, to tie this review together a little, Doritos Nacho Cheese. I see the appeal – they really do taste a lot like barbecue sauce – but I’m just not into it. Maybe I’ve grown bored of the flavor. Maybe I’m just not into that hint of sweetness. Either way, barbeque is barbeqboring. Wow that was horrible.
I figured I’d just be a little disappointed and also mention that bbq flavoring doesn’t belong on tortilla chips, but this was not the case. Tailgater BBQ goes further than just BBQ, and this is something I have said before, and will continue to say:
DORITOS: STOP MAKING MEAT-FLAVORED CHIPS. PLEASE. I BEG OF YOU.
This should be a large lesson for me as a reviewer in not going into foods with expectations. I’ve been around the Doritos block so many times now that I feel like I could write any review about their chips without opening the bag. Stadium Nacho taught me I was wrong with their lack of jalapeño flavor, and I should have taken that as a warning. Tailgater BBQ really brought the message home. Oh yes, there’s a definite barbeque flavor, although a little more subtle than a chip like Lay’s Barbecue, but there’s also a distinct meat flavor. Particularly, pork. Doritos Madden NFL 11 Tailgater BBQ tastes like barbeque ribs.
I have to say, kudos to Doritos for teaching me a lesson on expectations and also managing to create a tortilla chip that tastes like bbq pork ribs. I have no idea how much effort goes into achieving such a feat, but in my mind it seems like it would take a lot. Hundreds of hours in the flavor lab, trying to nail that balance between barbecue and meat. Not just any meat – distinctly pork. Kind of amazing, really.
After having a few more chips and thinking this over, I feel kind of bad for yelling at Doritos. I got blasted in the comments for giving Doritos Late Night All-Nighter Cheeseburger such a poor rating, and I’ve thought about it occasionally, because these are the things I think about. And I think they’re right. Doritos nailed the cheeseburger taste, and they shouldn’t be penalized for the fact that I think meat-flavored chips are disturbing. In fact, I think I may be coming around a little to the idea of eating meat chips. It challenges the palate in a way that I should embrace.
Okay, Doritos. You know what? You’ve won me over. I still hate your convoluted Madden NFL 11 promotional game with an inappropriate amount of passion, but your barbecue pork rib chips are a-okay in my book. I may not finish the bag or even eat another chip out of it, but you’ve done an impressive job on flavoring and I can’t deny that any longer.
However, I do have one more thing to yell about, now that I’ve changed my mind:
DORITOS: WHERE THE FUCK ARE MY BACON-FLAVORED CHIPS?!
Doritos Stadium Nacho Inspired by EA Sports Madden NFL 11 Tortilla Chips
Score: 3 out of 5 plastic cups filled with overpriced beer
Size: 11 1/2 oz. bag
Purchased at: Safeway #1717
Nutritional Quirks: Not much quirky going on here. They’s just cheese chips, yo.
Doritos Tailgater BBQ Inspired by EA Sports Madden NFL 11 Tortilla Chips
Score: 4 out of 5 spiritual revelations about meat chips
Price: Free (Buy one get one free sale with Stadium Nacho)
Size: 11 1/2 oz. bag
Purchased at: Safeway #1717
Nutritional Quirks: Contains no actual pork. You clever Doritos flavor lab bastards. Not sure if this is a relief or not.
Note: The Impulsive Buy has also reviewed Doritos Stadium Nacho and Tailgater BBQ Inspired by EA Sports Madden NFL 11 Tortilla Chips, with a much shorter review title. So has Food Junk, and he found the spice mine seem to lack.
I’m inappropriately excited about reviewing these Doritos 1st, 2nd and 3rd Degree chips. You see, I’ve been seeing 1st and 2nd Degree Burns in at least two separate stores. But wherever I looked, I just couldn’t seem to find the 3rd degree. I couldn’t understand – why so elusive? Why would you sell the first two, but not the third? Is it that dangerous? My frustration over my inability to locate the third burn only intensified my curiosity. And I couldn’t just review the first two, that would be…somehow wrong. Incomplete. So I was left to be constantly confronted by two thirds of a trio that I so wanted to take pictures of and write about on the Internet.
But then…then, one fateful Saturday afternoon, I walked into one of the stores that had been taunting me with burns that only required aloe vera and not a trip to the hospital and what did I see…3rd DEGREE BURN, MOTHERFUCKERS! I excitedly grabbed a bag and headed over to where the first two had been taunting me in the store for close to a month now. And yet, they were not there. I traversed the whole store, and couldn’t find them. So…you finally get the third, and then remove the first two? That don’t make no sense.
Luckily, I knew another place that also only carried the first two, so I picked those up and basked in triumph. And thus ends two paragraphs’ worth of a story that is only interesting to me.
Moving on! In case you don’t have a grasp on the simplest of medical concepts, the gimmick here is that there are three different levels of heat. Let’s take them literally, just for fun. The first degree, Blazin’ Jalapeño, will make your tongue mildly uncomfortable. There may also be some swelling. Run some cool water over your tongue for a while and stop being such a pussy.
The second, Fiery Buffalo, will…wait a second. How is buffalo hotter than jalapeño? According to the Scoville scale, jalapeños register in at 2,500 to 8,000 units. “Buffalo” isn’t a pepper, and thus isn’t on the Scoville scale, but I’ve had my fair share of buffalo sauces, and I don’t think any of them were in any way hotter than eating a raw jalapeño. I guess they could have just used a really hot sauce to make them. Well, regardless, after consuming these chips, you will experience severe pain and swelling of the tongue, as well as developing disgusting blisters. Cold water can also help here, but it is advised that you suck on the sap of an aloe vera plant throughout the day. Try not to pop those blisters that are filling up your mouth. That would probably taste pretty gross, and it’s bad for the wound. A sterile gauze bandage may be applied to your mouth to help protect the burn. I guess you should just stuff a bunch of gauze in there and carry around a pen and paper. It would probably hurt too much to talk, anyways.
The third degree, Scorchin’ Habanero, will fuck your shit up. Habanero peppers register on the Scoville scale at 100,000 to 250,000 units. It is advised that you wear protective gloves while handling these chips to prevent skin irritation. After you eat these chips, you should seek immediate medical attention. Do not remove any clothing you may be wearing on your tongue. Elevate the tongue to above the heart le- well I guess that one is taken care of. Call 911 or have someone drive you to the nearest Emergency Room; do not drive yourself, as you may go into shock and cause a car accident, which would only make things worse. Your tongue will require constant medical attention and bandage changes for weeks afterward. A skin graft may be required. They may harvest your new tongue skin from your buttocks.
After hearing all that, you must think I’m a fool for attempting to eat all three burns in one day. Well, maybe I am a fool, but I’m a fool who eats things so that you don’t have to. Some may call me a fool; others, a hero.
What I’m trying to say here, and I think you’ve all pretty much guessed it by now, is that there’s nothing new in Blazin’ Jalapeño. I could go on a giant tirade about Frito-Lay constantly recycles their flavors into new gimmicks, but I don’t even want to get started, because that would then become half the content of this website. I just need to accept it and move on.
I don’t see that actually happening.
For those of you who haven’t tried any of these other iterations, the flavor is pretty straightforward – spicy heat with an undertone of artificial cheese flavoring. I actually like them quite a bit, and they pack a surprising amount of heat. Jalapeño pepper powder is listed as one of the ingredients, and it’s definitely not shy. Anyone who is not a big fan of capsaicin definitely would not like these. They’ve got a good burn, but not so much so that the flavors are overwhelmed.
I don’t really have a lot more to say about 1st Degree Burn Blazin’ Jalapeño, other than that we’re off to a pretty promising start. If this is 1st degree, I’m eager to see how much my tongue hates me as we move on!
2nd Degree Burn Fiery Buffalo
I wondered briefly why 1st Degree got the Blazin’ moniker and Doritos didn’t take alliterative advantage (heh heh) and call these Blazin’ Buffalo. And then I remembered why. I swear I’ve had Blazin’ Buffalo & Ranch Doritos before, and I don’t recall the buffalo chips being hot at all. Just sufficiently buffalo-flavored.
Holy crap! Holy crap these chips are hot! The first chip delivered a blast that immediately hit my sinuses in a way 1st Degree didn’t. It was a feeling akin to what happens when you put too much wasabi on a sushi roll. As I kept eating them, the burn kept building. I ate about a half dozen of them and my whole mouth was on fire. My lips were burning, and continued to do so for minutes afterwards. I actually had to sniffle a few times, as the heat was making my nose run a little.
I have to say, I’m honestly blown away. These are the hottest chips I’ve ever eaten. I didn’t know you could actually make tortilla chips this hot. I’m not getting a lot of buffalo flavor (although the “fiery” part certainly is present), but I could see how these would be really great with a nice, thick ranch dip. I’m sorry, but throwing some Cool Ranch Doritos into the mix won’t help this time – you’re gonna need a pretty serious dairy product to cut through the heat.
The flavor is really kind of hard to describe…”burny” is all that comes to mind. But it’s kind of a good burn. I’ve always poo-pooed those people who like to eat super hot hot sauce. What’s the point of eating something if all you taste is pain? And yet, I really liked 2nd Degree Burn. The little masochist inside of me enjoyed the slow build of torture. I don’t think I would eat them all the time, but honestly, if I had some good ranch dip around, I could really lay into these guys, watching tv with a box of Kleenex nearby so I could blow my nose as snot runs down my face.
I’m impressed! And now terrified of 3rd Degree Burn Scorchin’ Habanero. I’m actually going to have to wait a while before eating them to get some feeling back in my mouth.
3rd Degree Burn Scorchin’ Habanero
Okay so seriously I’m a little scared. Take a look at what I’m up against:
When I was taking pictures, before any actual tasting started, I saw these and thought, oh, these are just going to be like Flamin’ Hot Doritos, because of the coloration. I’ve never had Flamin’ Hot Doritos, but I’ve had the Cheetos, and they are delicious, but not really that hot. The most threatening thing about them is that the violently brightly colored flavor powder stains your fingers, letting the world know that you have recently indulged in some form of Flamin’ Hot junk food.
Now, I am not so sure.
Well, there’s only one thing to do about it, and that is to eat them. Let’s get on with it, then! I feel like I should have some sort of spotter or sitter nearby. Maybe a LifeAlert necklace. C. Everett Coop is looking down at me disapprovingly from the afterlife.
Here we go…
SPOILER ALERT: I’m alive! And I didn’t even have to go to the hospital (yet). I actually feel like 3rd Degree is about as hot as 2nd Degree. Of course, 2nd Degree could have turned my tongue into a charred wasteland, rendering me incapable of noticing heat differences. I got the mouth and lip burn. Less sinus irritation; only one sniffle came out of it. But I did get some eye tearing with 3rd Degree, and I definitely feel it more in the throat area. While I was eating them, I got that choking, burning feeling, like when you accidentally swallow some hot, spicy pho broth the wrong way. Like I need to cough, or gag. Or make that gross “HUUUKKKGGGHHH” sound uncivilized guys make right before they hock a loogie on the ground. Even after having not eaten them for a little while, my esophagus feels a tad scorched. Scorchin’! Well done, Doritos.
I actually got a little more flavor (other than “ouchy”) out of 3rd Degree than 2nd. They taste a lot like Spicy Nacho Doritos. Spicy Nacho Doritos are the wimpy kid in middle school who gets bullied on his way home one day, and the next day his older brother, Scorchin’ Habanero, comes out and absolutely kicks the shit out of those little assholes, sending them running home crying to mama. Apparently my mouth is the gaggle of bullies, in this scenario. My mouth is misunderstood; life at home is hard, and…oh, nevermind. The burning isn’t going away as fast this time and I think it has spread to my brain and I can no longer think straight enough to complete an already poorly constructed analogy.
Doritos 1st, 2nd and 3rd Degree Burns kicked my ass, and I’m happy to say that. I’m so used to fast food gimmicks claiming to be hotter than Hades winding up being about as spicy as your grandmother’s love life that I severely underestimated Doritos. Frito-Lay comes out with a new gimmick approximately once a week, and it’s usually the same flavors we’ve seen before with a shiny new bow and a poorly-executed concept. This time, however, they took a solid concept and really ran with it. Okay, so 1st Degree Blazin’ Jalaepeño was a total rehash, but it still fit perfectly into the progression of Burns and is still a tasty product, even if this is its fourth iteration. Heck, even if 2nd and 3rd Degrees are also rehashes and I just don’t know/remember it, the overall theme is solid, fun, and goddamn painful. Painfully delicious!
Ask me to say that again tomorrow when I’m on the toilet cursing every good thing I ever said in this review while my digestive tract stages a grassroots rebellion against Frito-Lay.
Oh, and as a side note, Doritos Burns has a little cross-promo with Pepsi Max, which claims it will “cure the burn”. I think they would have been better off striking a deal with Hidden Valley.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, my mouth has a date with a wad of gauze.
As I’m sure most of you already know, either because you’re a fan of the event or because your beloved NBC Thursday night lineup has been interrupted, the 2010 Winter Olympics are currently being held in Vancouver. Never one to miss a promotional opportunity, McDonald’s has introduced a new dipping sauce for their McNuggets – Sweet Chili Sauce – and they’re attempting to drum up interest in this limited time offering by tying it to the Olympics. How do these two things relate to each other, you ask? The answer: I have no goddamn clue. However, they are trying very, very hard to connect the two, and you know what happens when marketing teams try too hard, don’t you? Don’t you? If you’ve been reading this blog for any appreciable amount of time, you do. It’s called madness.
Once again, if you’ve been following JFB for a while, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve unconsciously developed a formula to my writing that goes something like this:
Intro paragraph, may or may not have anything to do with the product I’m reviewing.
Four or five paragraphs mocking the marketing of said product.
One, two if it’s lucky, paragraphs about how the food actually tastes.
Closing paragraph with summary and why you will probably hate it.
It’s not like I did this on purpose. It just sort of came to be. We humans are creatures of habit, I suppose. Well, today I’m going to break that habit. I’m going to tell you about the food first, and then I’m going to show you what McDonald’s thinks is the most effective way of getting you and I to buy it. We’re taking a train ride; it’s going to make a brief stop in Tasteville, and then it’s leaving the station and heading right to Crazy Town. Buckle up, kids; this could be a bumpy ride.
(Do trains have seat belts? I don’t think I’ve ever actually been on a train. Fuck it, trains have seat belts now. Sit down and shut up.)
First off, let me say that I had to go to McDonald’s twice, once again the victim of fast food employee incompetence. Last night I went and ordered, and asked the drive-thru speaker if they had the new Sweet Chili Sauce. “Sweet and Sour?” she replied. I wanted to sit her down right then and there and educate her about how different words mean different things. “You see, honey, ‘chili’ and ‘sour’ do not mean the same thing!” One wonders how she functions in the world, with such a debilitating learning disorder. Anyway, after I repeated the question, got the message across, and was told no, we don’t have that,I took the McNuggets off my order, discouraged.
When I drove up to the window to get my food, there was a man wearing a tie handing it to me, and seeing a tie behind the counter of a McDonald’s screams “manager”, so I asked him if he knew when they would be getting the Sweet Chili Sauce in. “We already have it,” he replied. Well, I’d already taken the nuggets off my order, and I didn’t feel like being a pain in the ass, so I just left. My discouragement transformed into a mild, frustrated rage. There’s something about getting fucked over by fast food employees that just pisses me off. If a new item comes out, they should know about it. I got even more enraged when I got home and saw the bag that my burgers (figured I’d get dinner while I was there) came in:
IT’S ON THE FUCKING BAG, MOTHERFUCKER! The sauce is right on the goddamn bag. A bag that you are surrounded by, day in and day out, that you probably handle dozens, if not hundreds, of times a day. IT IS ON THE BAG.
I made a second trip to McDonald’s today. A different McDonald’s, of course. There was no problem obtaining Sweet Chili Sauce this time. The chick who took my money even gave me the sauce before I got the nuggets, informing me that the button for the sauce did not yet exist, and she wanted to make sure I got them. That was very thoughtful of you, lady order-and-money-taker. You should go down the street and talk to the other lady order taker.
I won’t even go into the McNuggets. I have to imagine that 99% of people reading this have had a McNugget at some point in their lives. For the other one percent: tastes like a chicken nugget. Mushed up chicken meat, formed into little chunks, breaded, fried. Glad we got that out of the way.
That’s not bad photography, although I would understand if you thought that, considering my past photographic endeavors. In real life, the sauce is much darker.
The sauce is a very deep red, and if you hold it in just the right light, you can see little red pepper flakes spread throughout the sauce, which is a good thing, since they are listed as an ingredient. Cayenne pepper is also listed, so there’s your “spicy”. When you get your nose up close, there’s a strong vinegar scent with what smells like a spicy barbecue sauce. Off to a fairly good start.
I was surprised by the consistency. It seems less like a sauce and more like a glaze. Just trying it straight off my finger, I was very pleased with the flavor. The sweet is what you taste first, but it’s not sweet in the way that candy is sweet; it’s that kind of sweet that goes well with savory, like sweet and sour sauce. At first, I was a little disappointed by the spicy side of Sweet Chili Sauce, but as I ate more (still off my finger, like a savage), the heat gradually built up, plateauing at a level of heat that was just right. As a whole, the sauce tastes sort of like a combination of orange chicken glaze and a mild barbecue sauce. They work well together.
On a McNugget, the flavors are more muted, but they don’t disappear altogether. You get more of the orange chicken glaze than the barbecue on the nugget, and it seems to mute the heat a little as well, but it still holds up. I also appreciate the thickness of the sauce – no worries about sauce dripping on your nice blouse as you wolf down an unhealthy lunch right before that important meeting. Although I imagine the number of successful businesswomen ordering chicken nuggets from McDonald’s for lunch is fairly low.
I didn’t really hold any expectations for Sweet Chili Sauce going in. I figured it could go either way. Fortunately, it went the right way. I usually like to keep my sweets away from my savories, but I really enjoyed this dip. It does live up to its claims of being sweet and spicy, which makes me think they should have gone with that instead of “Sweet Chili”. Just seems more appropriate to me. I would totally get this dip again the next time I order some McNuggets, but considering that this is the first time I’ve eaten McNuggets since I was probably twelve years old, I have a feeling we won’t be running into each other much in the future. Actually, that’s pretty much a done deal, because Sweet Chili Sauce is only sticking around as long as the Olympics are, so if you want to try it, you’d better get your butt down to a McDonald’s pretty soon. Except don’t go to McDonald’s #11427, because they employ dirty, dirty liars.
Now, here is where we arrive at Crazy Town, aka The McNuggets Village. Meant to vaguely resemble an Olympic village, different buildings offer different activities and nugget-related items, which I will break down for your pleasure.
There’s the actual McDonald’s, which explains the connection between the Olympics and Sweet Chili Sauce: “McDonald’s is bringing you the taste of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games – new Sweet Chili Sauce, the perfect blend of sweet and spicy.” This sentence is pretty amazing, because not only does it absolutely not explain the connection between Sweet Chili Sauce and the Olympics, but it also describes Sweet Chili Sauce as “sweet and spicy”. Never before have I seen a sentence that manages to offer absolutely no information whatsoever. It’s like a rich man burning a hundred dollar bill – there’s no purpose or reason to it whatsoever. It is a waste of words, space, and my time.
Oh what the motherfuck. “How do you McNugget?” They want me to accept the word “McNugget” as a verb, now? No. No. I refuse. I can’t even bear to watch the videos of Olympian athletes, people who have worked very hard every day of their lives to excel at one athletic feat, talking about how they McNugget. My head would explode.
Here, you can enter a sweepstakes to win a trip to the 2012 Summer Olympics. All you have to do is answer a few questions about how Olympians, sigh, McNugget. Just go to the Athletes Club, watch the videos, and answer accordingly. I have entirely too much pride to participate in any of this nonsense.
This is where the wheels really come off the tracks. I don’t feel that I need to use too many words here; the pictures will say it all. I will tell you how McDonald’s explains this surreal little activity, though: “You’ll see athletes from all over the world pass it, spin it, dunk it and attack it. Get the inside scoop on the games they play – and see what it all means in the Wide World of McNuggets.” Showing all of them to you would take too long, so I just chose the ones I found particularly…interesting.
Let’s just…let’s just do this.
Junk Food Betty translation: Be a selfish bastard to your friends. Sharing does NOT mean caring, apparently.
Junk Food Betty translation: Make a heart shape with your hands to confuse and distract the person eating McNuggets in the booth next to you, then steal their last McNugget. Being an asshole isn’t just for friends; you can do it with strangers, too.
Junk Food Betty translation: What the fuck? Who does this? Who puts a McNugget on their poorly-cleaned table and then proceeds to slide it across the table, presumably over the edge, into an impossibly small tub of sauce, both of which will then tumble onto the ground? If you are doing this in a McDonald’s, you will be asked to leave. If you are doing this at home, you’ve just stained your carpet with Sweet Chili Sauce, and your dog is now eating the McNugget. This is not a “common act”. Nobody does this.
Junk Food Betty translation: You fucking mooch, you already stole my last McNugget the other day, and now you want me to give you another one, after you already stuffed your face with your own 12-piece? I’ve had enough of your bullshit, buddy. Get your stuff together and get out of my house. You will never sleep on my couch again.
Junk Food Betty translation: You fat, gluttonous fuck. That is disgusting. I can’t even finish my own lunch after watching you shove two McNuggets at a time down your gaping maw. I’m getting out of here. Feel free to make a Critical fucking Grab when I’m gone.
Future Gold Training Center
This is where you can meet the McDonald’s Champion Kids. I do not know why they are Champions. The videos of them that are presented would probably tell me why, but I don’t care. Here’s what I really care about: “They’ve come from all over the United States to experience the games, meet their hero athletes, and see the Olympic Values of Friendship, Excellence, and Respect in action.”
I sure do hope that the Champion Kids are not allowed inside McNuggets Stadium, because all that Friendship, Excellence, and Respect are going to go right out the window once they read the McNuggets translation of various sports terms. As you can see above, McNuggets believe in Begging, Gluttony, Stealing, and Unsanitary Eating Conditions. These are the Values that McNuggets believe will turn you into Champion Kids and responsible members of society in the future. God help us all.
Also, I hate hate hate inappropriate capitalization. I hate you so much, McNuggets Village.
Score: 4 out of 5 chicken nuggets on the floor
Price: Free, but $3.88 for the McNuggets
Size: Two 1 oz. tubs of sauce; 6 nuggets
Purchased at: McDonald’s store #I don’t remember because I lost the damn receipt
Nutritional Quirks: More of a glaze than a sauce; not sure where “chili” fits in.
Note: I actually wrote the bulk of this review on Tuesday, February 16, which is when I purchased the McNuggets, but I was so overwhelmed by the website that I’m just today finishing it up. So please note that all references of dates and times are from the 16th.
I should have mentioned this in my last post, but the Coconut M&M’s, Milky Way Simply Caramel Bar and 3 Musketeers Truffle Crisp Bar were all released this month from Mars. The Coconut M&M’s were a re-release, but the latter two are brand new offerings. I bought all three at the same time, and apparently there was some sort of promotional coupon for doing so, but the cashier at my local convenience store and I had some language barrier problems, so when I looked at the receipt when I got home, there were all kinds of mysterious discounts. I guess I got one free for buying all of them at once. Who knows.
The point is that these guys are kind of related, and while Coconut M&M’s got a whole website for me to make fun of, both Milky Way and 3 Musketeers don’t even mention their new products on their website. Way to promote, guys. So, with little information to go off of beyond the wrapper and my own taste buds, I decided to combine the two into one review, since apart, they would probably be pretty short reviews. Consider it a twofer!
Milky Way Simply Caramel Bar
Milky Way Simply Caramel is described on the wrapper as “Real milk chocolate surrounding nothing but rich delicious caramel”. For any of you out there who grew up with parents who refused to allow you any sugar, never went trick-or-treating, and grew up to be the same kind of hippy douchebags as your parents, a regular Milky Way bar is a thick layer of nougat topped by a thinner layer of caramel, all coated with milk chocolate. Simple, tasty, familiar. So basically, all they’ve done is removed the nougat, leaving caramel to stand on its own.
I probably should have tried to pull the bar apart instead of cutting it, to better represent the gooeyness of the caramel, but I used a knife, so deal with it. Trust me, though, it is gooey. Very gooey. The caramel is super thick; chewing it will get you nothing more than a bunch of teeth coated in caramel. You have to sort of roll it around in your mouth, letting the caramel and chocolate melt and slide down your throat. It’s very akin to eating one of those Brach’s Milk Maid Caramel Cubes, except you get the chocolate in there, too. You gotta work at it. You can’t just muscle through this candy bar, unless swallowing a big hunk of caramel whole is your thing, in which case, that’s just weird and I hope you choke on it.
I also probably shouldn’t have left the candy bar in my special picture-taking place while I went to check out the photos and start the review on the computer. Silly me, thinking a cat would take no interest in a chocolate and caramel bar. A few minutes after that picture was taken, the plate was on the floor, the top half was nowhere to be found, and my cat was licking his lips compulsively. I marveled at how a cat could eat that much candy bar that fast, but the intrigue evaporated approximately 30 seconds later, when he barfed up a giant, half-chewed piece of caramel and chocolate. So I guess he is one of those guys mentioned in the paragraph above. I’m glad he barfed instead of choking, but I do want to choke him a little bit for almost ruining my review.
Perhaps I should thank him for taking half, though, because there’s no way I could finish this whole candy bar on my own. The combination of chocolate and caramel is obviously tasty, but it is so rich. The caramel is very thick, and sweet, and each bite takes about three minutes to fully melt in your mouth. My jaw and tongue were exercised to their limits on the one half that I ate, and I felt like I was going into sugar shock.
Milky Way Simply Caramel Bar is a tasty choice if you’re in the mood for a candy bar. Caramel and chocolate always go great together. But you’d better have a friend (or cat) that’s got a serious hankering for some caramel too, because Simply Caramel ain’t playing around. If I had to choose between Simply Caramel and the regular Milky Way bar, I’d choose about one fourth of the Simply Caramel. But if someone had a gun to my head and demanded that I eat the entire bar, which, by the way, happens so often it’s getting ridiculous, I’d go for the original Milky Way. I’m not terribly fond of nougat, but its inclusion in the original Milky Way makes the candy bar lighter, and lets the caramel come through without you feeling like you just sucked your way through an entire bag of those caramel cubes. So, give it a try with some of your caramel-inclined friends, or wait until the fun size version comes out, because that would be the perfect portion of the Milky Way Simply Caramel Bar.
3 Musketeers Truffle Crisp Bars
Quite the departure from an original 3 Musketeers bar, 3 Musketeers Truffle Crisp Bars are described on the wrapper as follows:
I’ll be honest with you, I don’t exactly know what chocolate truffle means. I’d imagine they aren’t literally truffles, as in, the fungus that pigs are famous for finding. So I looked it up! According to ehow.com, they are not, in fact, truffles, but are called that because the cocoa-dusted ones resemble truffles.
I like the use of the word “enrobed”. I imagine the 3 Musketeers Truffle Crisp Bars wearing a silky milk chocolate smoking robe, a glass of scotch on the table beside it as it sits in its red velvet, high-backed chair before the fireplace, nonchalantly smoking his fine wooden pipe. 3 Musketeers Truffle Crisp Bars is the shit, and it knows it.
Anyways, the bars look pretty much like they do on the wrapper. Kind of enticing, really. They smell very rich and chocolaty, a much higher quality of chocolate than you’d typically find when sniffing a candy bar. This could be the chocolate truffle coming into play.
When you bite into the bar, it gives very easily, and the texture is very delicate. There’s a fun little snap when you hit the crisp. The crisp bottom part of the bar is much lighter than, say, the crisp of a Kit-Kat, and it plays well with the smooth chocolate of the truffle part.
I’ve never had a chocolate truffle, so I can’t honestly say if 3 Musketeers has hit the mark on the taste, but it’s definitely tasty. Satiny, and with a more refined taste and texture than the chocolate you’ll find in most other candy bars. The crisp part doesn’t really have much of its own flavor; instead, it takes on the flavor of the truffle, and adds that little crunch that plays with the smooth chocolate.
3 Musketeers Truffle Crisp Bars are quite different than other candy bars. I feel like I should hold my pinky out while I bite into the bar; it’s light and delicate, the chocolate is silky, and it melts quickly and easily in your mouth. It’s like the polar opposite of the Milky Way Simply Caramel Bar. I’ve got more of a salt tooth than a sweet tooth, so I don’t buy candy bars often, but if I did get that rare chocolate craving, this would rank high up on my list when it came time to decide what impulse item to buy. If you’re in the mood for chocolate, but don’t want anything too heavy and also don’t want to go down the more expensive road of fancier chocolates, I would definitely recommend you try a 3 Musketeers Truffle Crisp Bar.
Milky Way Simply Caramel Bar
Score: 2.5 out of 5 jaw workouts
Price: $1.19, $1.00 on sale
Size: 1.91 oz. bar
Purchased at: Circle K #2821
Nutritional Quirks: Cats can swallow it whole.
3 Musketeers Truffle Crisp Bar
Score: 4 out of 5 times I had to think of a synonym for the word “smooth”
Price: Free, I guess? Something here was free.
Size: 1.1 oz. pack of 2 bars
Purchased at: Circle K #2821
Nutritional Quirks: 85 calories per bar ain’t bad. Also: smooth.
As a responsible junk food reviewer, I feel I have an obligation to my enormous readership to remain as objective as possible when tasting the foods I will be writing about. Now, that can be easy when something tastes good, or boring, or I basically have no opinion at all going into it, but when it’s something that I already know I’m not going to like before I even open the package, it gets a little harder.
Such is the case with these limited edition Coconut M&M’s. I do not like coconut. I never have. I can see how others would enjoy the taste, but for some reason, it just doesn’t appeal to me. So, I could go out there and give this candy a terrible review just because I don’t like coconut, or I could try to get into the mindset of someone who does like coconut, and give it a fair shake. As tempting as it is to do the former, mainly because I enjoy talking shit, I suppose I’ll do the responsible thing and attempt the latter.
Coconut M&M’s page on the M&M’s website is sparse but not too hard on the eyes. They describe their product as “Sun, fun, and M&M’s Brand Coconut Chocolate Candies! This limited-edition flavor is sure to be a hit, whether you’re at the beach, or just dreaming of one.”
If I’m at the beach, my primary concern is probably not M&M’s, but I understand their need for a tie-in. Ms. Green M&M looks like she’s having a pretty good time maxing and relaxing on the front of the package, although go-go boots and butler gloves wouldn’t be my first fashion choice for the beach; but, oh no, what’s going on with Yellow over there in the background! He appears to be in distress, falling out of a Coconut M&M’s tree (now you know how Coconut M&M’s are made – grown on trees) and losing hold of his binoculars, which I’m assuming he was using to check out (read: stalk) Green M&M.
Apparently he is stranded on a desert island, about to incur serious injuries as a result of his fall, and without the proper medical attention he’ll need, he’ll probably die a very painful death soon. But before that happens, I can watch his antics (read: struggle to survive as gangrene sets in) on a live feed! …Except I can’t, because every time I click on the button, I get “page not found”. I guess Yellow is already dead. RIP, Yellow M&M. Your bright color and obsession with Green M&M will be missed.
Yes, please do imagine the power. I wanted the evil eye story to be a baseless lie, but according to Wikipedia, it’s true, and Wikipedia is always right, so I guess I’ll have to leave M&M’s alone on that one. In fact, here’s a totally awesome website that will show you how use a coconut to ward away the evil eye! From what I can see, chocolate would not help this ritual at all. But, I guess you never know.
Coconut M&M’s come in three colors, as shown above. I assume the brown represents the outer coconut shell, the white the flesh inside, and the green for the leaves of the coconut tree. I enjoy that they’ve stuck with the theme. But what’s this?
Out of the 25 M&M’s that came in my bag, 5 of them had special designs on them! Three beach umbrellas and two palm trees on little beaches. I was excited to see the special little images, but a little disappointed in the amount of candies that only had the “m”, and the lack of variety in the pictures was a bit of a letdown. I thought the flower image on the candy represented above might be one of the ones I didn’t get, but looking at the picture from the Coconut M&M’s website, I’m only seeing umbrellas and palm trees, so I guess everybody is representing. Well, hey, it’s better than nothing.
Coconut M&M’s retain the round shape of regular M&M’s, but they’re a little bit fatter, like regular M&M’s with a thyroid disorder. I bit one in half to see if there would be a special white filling, but found only chocolate inside. However, the taste of coconut is definitely present. As I stated before, I’m not a fan of coconut, but even I found these to be not horrible. You mostly taste the familiar M&M’s chocolate flavor when you first start chewing on a piece of the candy, but as the shell melts away and the chocolate breaks down, a nice, subtle wave of coconut washes over your mouth. I really appreciate that the flavor isn’t strong or overwhelming the chocolate; it’s like a delicate note that compliments the chocolate, instead of trying to compete for the spotlight. The audience is your taste buds. Understand?
I really expected and kind of wanted to hate Coconut M&M’s. Stupid coconut, ruining everything from donuts to mixed drinks to suntan lotion. However, the coconut flavor in these candies is an understated, almost elegant addition to the chocolate of regular M&M’s, and while it is obviously artificially created, it still tastes distinctly coconut. Also, despite the fact that I cannot watch Yellow M&M’s ghastly demise live from my computer, I like the beach-y theme that runs throughout, from the packaging to the colors to the special little images on the candies, scarce as they may be. If you like coconut and you like M&M’s, you’re almost certainly going to enjoy Coconut M&M’s. It’s almost certain that I’ll never finish my own package of them, but I can still objectively appreciate them as a fun and unique sweet snack.
UPDATE: Just as I finished writing up this review, I took a closer look at the package of Coconut M&M’s sitting in front of me on my desk and noticed this:
I see a little sun and the aforementioned flower in there! I was gypped! Oh well. At least I got half of the Coconut M&M’s tropical imagery experience.
Score: 4 out of 5 pours onto the ground for Yellow M&M
Price: $1.19, $1.00 on sale
Size: 1.5 oz. bag
Purchased at: Circle K #2821
Nutritional Quirks: Probably the least I’ve ever hated coconut.
Whataburger’s A.1. Thick & Hearty Burger has been an off-and-on limited edition menu item for at least a few years now. I’m not sure why they feel the need to compulsively add it to the lineup, take it away after a few months, and then bring it back around a year later, but I suppose Whataburger can do whatever Whataburger wants. Maybe it drums up excitement and anticipation in the burger community. I don’t know. I didn’t go to burger college.
Whatever the reason, it’s moot now, as Whataburger has decided to do away with it forever. As you can see in the banner above, as of December 21, 2009, the A.1. Thick & Hearty Burger will no longer exist to satisfy your meaty cravings. I have had several of them over the years, and wouldn’t usually do a review on something that has become fairly commonplace to me, but I feel I owe it to the T&H to give it a proper send-off and immortalize it on the Internet.
For those of you who don’t live in the ten select states in the southern part of the United States that have Whataburgers, Whataburger is like a higher-end fast food burger joint. Sort of like In-n-Out, but with a more expanded menu. You can walk in or drive thru, but either way, your wait is going to be longer than it would be at a place like Burger King or McDonald’s, and the food is going to be a little more expensive. Conversely, the food will be of higher quality. If you want to see what you’re missing, you can take a gander here.
Whataburger wants to make sure that you know you should be seriously mourning the passing of the A.1. Thick & Hearty Burger. We’re talking weeping, pulling hair, rending clothes. There’s a commercial out now that shows a man standing in front of a Whataburger counter; once he catches a glimpse of the “Gone Forever” announcement on the menu above the cashier’s head, he goes through the seven stages of grief, throwing his body on the counter, shaking his head, and generally acting like that homeless guy who gets a free cup of coffee at McDonald’s so he’ll go away and stop making the other customers uncomfortable.
Whataburger wants to make sure that you do not end up becoming that homeless man due to going mentally insane from grief and despair, so they’ve set up a website where you can “let the healing begin”. You can view other people’s fond memories of the burger, support a friend, find some coping tips, or sign a virtual card bidding farewell to what is apparently supposed to be a close friend of yours. A hamburger. Listen, I’m not here to judge, if your best friend is a hamburger from a fast food joint, then that’s your business. Whatever floats your boat. Some of my best friends are hamburgers. I’m just saying.
To be honest with you, I am sad to see it go. It is a pretty darn delicious burger. There’s two generously sized beef patties, not suffering from the anemia of other fast food burger patties; when you bit into it, you feel like you’re getting a real, juicy, meaty burger, instead of that familiar feeling of “I’m not exactly sure if this is made out of beef, but I guess I’ll eat it anyways.” The bun is a little flatter and denser than most other burgers, but it tastes fine (I mean really, how much can you say about a damn bun), and the denseness makes you feel like you’re holding a substantial sandwich. The cheese is strategically placed between the patties, so it oozes out as you take a bite. However, the real stars of the show, what sets it apart from a regular burger, are on top.
A.1. Thick & Hearty Steak Sauce is slathered on the top bun. It differs from the original A.1. Steak sauce in that it is both thicker and heartier, a shocking discovery, given the name of the product. It’s also a little sweeter and smokier than the original, more in the vein of barbecue sauce than steak sauce, with less of a vinegar taste. The bacon is a bit limp, an epidemic trait amongst fast food bacon, but it’s still a little crisper and more flavorful than you’d find on other fast food burgers that employ bacon.
While the A.1. sauce is obviously supposed to be the star of the show, what I was really surprised by was how much the onions turn this burger up a notch.
Seemingly innocuous in their bath of sauce, you would expect these little chopped onions to be spongy and flavorless. Instead, they add a welcomed bright note to the burger, giving it a great crunch and mild but definitely present onion flavor that ties together the meatiness of the beef and the smokiness of the sauce.
While not the greatest burger of all time, the Whataburger A.1. Thick & Hearty Burger is a step above your ordinary bacon cheeseburger, and if you’re lucky enough to live in one of the ten states that have a Whataburger, I’d recommend that you get out there and try one before they disappear forever on December 21st. Sure, you could make a close facsimile at home with ease, but if you’re on the road and looking for a shitty burger to satisfy your protein cravings, the Thick & Hearty burger is a tasty and unique option that will leave your belly and your taste buds satisfied.
Score: 4 out of 5 overly dramatic send-offs
Size: 1 1/2 lb. hamburger
Purchased at: Whataburger #421
Nutritional Quirks: Contains 120% of your daily recommended saturated fat intake; also contains “bun oil”.
This probably won’t be a full-on review, but I wanted to immortalize these Spooky Nerds on the Internet. When you see these big bags of Halloween candy with smaller, individually-wrapped packages inside, they usually put little effort into getting into the holiday spirit. They might throw a bat or a tombstone on the outer bag, but that’s about it. I guess they figure that the kids don’t give a shit if it looks spooky, and the adults are only buying the candy to hand it out to little assholes so their house doesn’t get egged, so who cares about Halloween themery?
Well, I’ll tell you who: Willy motherfucking Wonka.
Check it out! Nerds running wild, dressed up as a witch, a ghost who is apparently vision impaired, and, flipping the bird to fundamentalist Christians everywhere, a little devil holding a pitchfork. With…fangs. Who is brown, which is odd, since there don’t appear to be any brown Nerds in this bag. Perhaps he’s meant to symbolize diversity. Wonka is totally a liberal.
Here’s where Nerds really beats out the competition in Halloween coolness. It’s not just the bag that’s spooky – it’s the mini boxes inside, too! I would have liked to have seen black Nerds instead of white, but I understand – white fruit punch Nerds are already featured in several other Nerd varieties, so it’s easy to just toss them in a box. Orange Nerds are a little more inscrutable, as I’ve never seen them featured in the classic Nerd “two flavors, two sides” boxes. But then I remembered the gigantic boxes of Nerds they sell at movie theatre concession stands.
Goddamn, those boxes are huge. I’d imagine you’d be seeing rainbow going down AND coming up if you tried to eat that whole box in the course of one movie. Anyway, it looks like there could be some orange in there, but, unless you’ve got a serious case of OCD, you’re not separating all those flavors out, you’re just putting your mouth to the box, tipping up, and flooding your mouth with little tangy candies. Never before have orange Nerds appeared in such a pure form. Now’s your time to shine, guys.
Fruit punch Nerds get the little devil, sans pitchfork. I won’t go too much into the taste, since I’m sure most people have had fruit punch Nerds at least once in their lives, but I will say that they are indeed tiny, tangy, and crunchy. For being so small, Wonka does a good job of packing in the flavor. They’re loaded with that blurred, vaguely tropical taste fruit punch usually has. Actually, they taste a lot like Hawaiian Punch, which has that little zing in addition to its punchiness. Fruit punch Nerds get extra points for recalling memories of drinking Hawaiian Punch out of a can during summer break.
Orange Nerds get the little ghost guy at the bottom of the outer package that I couldn’t get into the shot. Actually, it looks kind of like a bat wearing a ghost costume. Double Halloween-y! That’s awesome.
Orange Nerds taste exactly like you would expect, which is like, well, artificially flavored orange candy. They never really taste like an actual orange, but they always have that citrus zip that lends itself well to Nerds and their claims of being tangy. If you like, say, the little oranges in Runts candy, you’ll like orange Nerds.
Maybe the kids these days won’t appreciate the effort Willy Wonka has made in turning Nerds into Halloween treats, but I would love getting a box or two of these way more than getting a fun-sized Milky Way that looks like the same candy bar I could get at the store any of the other 364 days out of the year. I think they make trick-or-treating just a bit more festive. BatGhost rules.
Score: 4 out of 5 newt eyes
Price: Free – my mom sent them as a Halloween present
Size: 1.16 lb. bag (It doesn’t say how many boxes are in the bag, and I’m not counting.)
Purchased at: I don’t know, so let’s just say, HAGRA’S HOUSE OF HORRORS
The Black Jack taco is ridiculous. I first heard about it the day before it came out, when Taco Bell started spamming the hell out of my Twitter feed, desperately trying to get me to try it. Well, you’ve won this round, Taco Bell, despite your terrible marketing slogan. “Black is the new black”? Seriously? That’s the best you could come up with? I haven’t seen the commercials yet, but I sure hope they come up with something that doesn’t sound like an Access Hollywood segment teaser.
See, here’s the thing: it is October, and you are releasing a black taco. October. Halloween time. Black taco. Is this setting off any alarms? All you had to do was take another taco shell, dye it orange instead of black, throw some nacho cheese on that motherfucker, and put a ghost on the wrapper. You would have made a friend for life – namely, me. You could have called it the Spooooky Taco Bell Halloween Combo, featuring the Nacho Nightmare and Jack O’Licious tacos. Why do I have to do everything for you, Taco Bell?
Instead, they decided to call it the Black Jack taco. Because the shell is black, you see, and there is pepperjack sauce inside. Why is the shell black, you ask? I do not know. Perhaps Taco Bell’s shell manufacturing facility shares warehouse space with a squid de-inking factory, and there was a terrible mix-up, with hilarious results? I’m going to go ahead and call that the most likely scenario. Cue the laugh track.
Despite what you may think from the words above, I didn’t actually expect the Black Jack taco to be bad. I just expected it to be boring. Judging from the promo photo and the 89 cent price tag, I expected it to be pretty much identical to Taco Bell’s “Crunchy Taco”, which is also 89 cents on the Value Menu. There’s nothing wrong with this menu item; it just tastes like 89 cents’ worth of shell, mystery meat, iceberg lettuce and some cheese.
Which is exactly what I got on my first few bites of the Black Jack taco. I’d already expected the sauce to be sparse and unexciting, but I had actually expected it to be there. But then, on the third bite, I got a good mouthful of sauce. And you know what? It was actually goddamn tasty! I can actually say that Taco Bell’s use of the word “zesty” when describing the sauce on their website is accurate. It’s got a nice consistency, like creamy nacho cheese sauce, but instead of being spicy, it’s got a twangy zip that makes your taste buds salivate for more. After those first few dry bites, the middle of my taco had just the right amount of the pepperjack sauce. It oozed out the sides, which would have made a great picture, but I was too busy eating it to stop and get the camera. Bob’s taco had a lot less sauce, which was disappointing, but too bad for him. I gots the sauce. I win.
I found myself actually wishing I had another Black Jack taco. No, it’s not the greatest taco in the world – it is from Taco Bell, after all – but if you’re going to eat a shitty 89 cent taco, why not slap some tasty sauce on there, inexplicably dye it black, and give it a stupid name? The point is, I would shell out 89 of my very own cents to buy one again, of my own volition, and that’s not something I can say too often on this site. So, way to go, Taco Bell – you made a retarded gimmick and a moderately tasty taco. Wear your crown of mediocrity proudly.
Score: 4 out of 5 hamburgers, all dyed black
Price: 89 cents
Size: 1 taco
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Nutritional Quirks: May or may not contain squid ink?
The box of my Cheez-It Pepper Jack crackers claims to be new, but according to my somewhat dubious research, it’s been out since the beginning of this year. No matter, they’re new to me! Besides that, I’m inclined to believe anything that snack product packaging tells me. So, let’s check out some NEW! Cheez-It Pepper Jack Baked Snack Crackers.
Cheez-Its are one of the world’s greatest snacks. Cheesy and salty, you can take them anywhere. You can eat them while driving on a long road trip and not get greasy fingers. They are the perfect size and always the same shape, and the box keeps most of them from being broken. What more can you ask for?
I have not yet tried the Pepper Jack Cheez-Its, but I am predicting that this review will be pretty short, because really, how much can you say about Cheez-Its? Even the pepper jack ones. How bad can they be? I’ve tried the Hot & Spicy and the White Cheddar varieties, and I found them both to be satisfactory, although their flavorings come in the form of a powder on the cracker, so I’d stick with the original if you’re driving, or if you’re on a date and don’t want your potential new lover to see you sucking a thick layer of seasoning off your fingers. Of course, if you’re on a date and you’re eating Cheez-Its, something has already gone very wrong.
Well, let’s crack this puppy open and get started!
Upon opening the bag inside the box, I’m greeted with that familiar Cheez-It smell. Nothing smells spicy, but I attributed that to an initial characteristic which surprised me: instead of the pepper jack flavoring being delivered via a powder resting on the surface of the Cheez-It, the flavor had instead been baked into the cracker. Score one for keeping a box of these in the car, if you are the type of person who feels they need to have snack food in their car at all times. Don’t laugh; these people exist.
You can see the little pieces of pepper inside the cracker. It does seem to look a bit like a little square of pepper jack cheese, with the bits of green and red peppers spread throughout, although some of the crackers had barely any visible peppers. They seem to be paler than normal Cheez-Its. I also noticed that these Cheez-Its had less salt on them. On regular Cheez-Its, you can see little crystals of salt covering the cracker, but those were mostly absent here.
I was really disappointed by the first few Pepper Jack Cheez-Its I ate. They tasted just like regular Cheez-Its, except blander, and you could definitely notice the lack of salt. I kept eating them, because hey, bland Cheez-Its are better than no Cheez-Its, and that’s when the pepper flavor hit. The more I ate, the more it built up, until I had a nice spicy heat sensation in my mouth. These guys really do taste a lot like pepper jack cheese. I can see now why they went easy on the salt – by making them less salty and toning down the cheese flavor, the peppery heat is really allowed to shine. My one complaint is that they might have toned down the cheese flavor a little too much – I think a little more cheesiness could have stood up to the heat, and been a nice compliment.
Of course, I’m just being a dick about that point – real pepper jack cheese is made with Monterey Jack, which is traditionally mild in flavor. And, true to its namesake, Pepper Jack Cheez-Its do contain Monterey Jack, although it seems the main cheese used to flavor these crackers is white cheddar. Perhaps I should be thankful – without the cheddar, there might not have been any cheese flavor coming through. Red bell peppers, green bell peppers, natural jalapeño flavor and red pepper are also listed as ingredients. Sounds pretty on par, if you ask me.
Well, looks like I managed to pull a pretty decent-sized review out of this box, after all. Cheez-It Pepper Jack Baked Snack Crackers are a-ok in my book. Will they be replacing regular Cheez-Its as the cheesy cracker staple in my household? Probably not. Regular Cheez-Its are tasty but largely inoffensive; these crackers pack a bit of a punch, enough that anyone with a palate sensitive to capsaicin-related heat might actually find themselves reaching for a glass of milk. These people are pussies. However, I think if I’m sitting on the couch, watching a nine-hour marathon of Law & Order in my pajamas, I’d prefer the cheesy saltiness of regular Cheez-Its over the spicy, but more mild and less salty flavor of Pepper Jack Cheez-Its.
Score: 4 out of 5 burgers
Size: 13.7 oz.
Purchased at: Albertson’s #980
Nutritional Quirks: Real cheese and real peppers, even if they were listed in the “contains less than 2% of” section.
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