Tag Archives: 5 burgers

Nabisco Cinnamon Bun Oreo Cookies

Nabisco Cinnamon Bun Oreo Cookies PackageI’m so relieved to see that Nabisco’s 2016 New Year’s resolution wasn’t “stop making 700 different flavors of Oreos”.

I’m pretty sure that was sarcasm, but even I can’t tell anymore.

When I opened up the kitchen cupboard that’s reserved for things I’m going to review, I was greeted with the sight of several unopened packages of last year’s limited edition Oreos. My heart had good intentions of reviewing them, but my brain said, “Please, stop. I just can’t do this anymore.” Then my stomach said, “Seriously, Brain is right, this is just out of control. Stop.”

So I did. But then the hype machine went into overdrive about Cinnamon Bun Oreos, and I couldn’t resist. Everyone seemed to be going bonkers waiting for these cookies to arrive on shelves, so I had to check them out.

Besides, who doesn’t like cinnamon buns?

Two things of note about Cinnamon Bun Oreos – first, the cookie part isn’t just a regular Golden Oreo, it’s a Cinnamon Cookie Oreo. It’s the creme that is cinnamon bun-flavored. Second, unlike many of Oreo’s million flavors, nowhere on this package are the words “Limited Edition”. So is this meant to be a permanent fixture in the Oreo lineup?

Nabisco Cinnamon Bun Oreo Cookies

If not, it should be, because Oreo nailed it. And not in that way they usually do, where you go, “holy shit, this does taste like this other thing, but I don’t want it to.”

Nabisco Cinnamon Bun Oreo Cookies Creme

The first thing I did was twist off the top and eat it, because, duh. The cookies have little flecks in it that I suspect do nothing other than let you know you’re not eating a normal Oreo, but maybe they’re really cinnamon; what do I know. The cookie alone tasted exactly like Cinnamon Teddy Grahams. Do those still exist? Hold on.

Okay, I’m back. Cinnamon Teddy Grahams do still exist. Of course, I’m an adult, so I haven’t eaten them in about 20 years, but I’m pretty sure these Oreos tasted exactly like them. The cinnamon wasn’t overpowering, and the cookie wasn’t overly sweet, which I loved.

(Just kidding about the adult thing, this is me we’re talking about. I just haven’t felt the urge to buy any Teddy Grahams lately.)

They could have sold these cookies alone as Cinnamon Oreo Wafers and I’d still love them. But there’s more! Cinnamon bun creme! After I ate the top, I obviously licked the innards…

What the… am I at an airport? Because I feel like I just ate a motherfuckin’ Cinnabon. The creme had that absolutely perfect cinnamon bun glaze taste, but it tasted like the bun, too.

Next up, I ate a cookie as a whole. I highly recommend this method of Oreo consumption for Cinnamon Bun Oreo Cookies. The cookie tempered the sweetness of the creme, and it really all comes together to make a somehow even more realistic cinnamon bun experience.

The best part was that at no time during this review did I feel like I need to add the word “artificial” as a descriptor to anything. These really, truly tasted like cinnamon buns. It’s pretty cut-and-dry: if you like cinnamon buns, you’re going to love Cinnamon Bun Oreos. And if you don’t, well, you’re a monster. And you won’t like these cookies.

Nabisco Cinnamon Bun Oreo Cookies

  • Score: 5 out of 5 fattening airport sweets
  • Price: $3.09
  • Size: 12.2 oz.
  • Purchased at: Safeway
  • Nutritional Quirk: Just for fun, I looked up the nutritional information for a Cinnabon. There are 880 calories in a Cinnabon Classic Roll. There are 150 calories in a serving of two Cinnamon Bun Oreo Cookies. Just sayin’.

KarePax Snacks and Comics

KarePax LogoKarePax is a monthly subscription service wherein you give them a monthly fee of $26 via the Internet and they send a box international snacks to your domicile.

Does this sound familiar? It should, because it’s the exact same premise as MunchPak!

There is one thing that sets Karepax apart though – they include comics!

Now, there’s nothing wrong with some healthy competition, and the idea of including comics sounded like fun, so when Karepax offered to send me a free box, I gladly accepted.

Let’s get the vanilla facts out of the way before we get to the contents: according to Karepax, for your $26, you get between 11 and 13 snacks from 3-4 countries, as well as a handful of small candies and 2-3 comic books.

Sounded like a good deal to me, but would it live up to the hype?

My box arrived promptly and, much like with MunchPak, I felt like I was having a tiny Christmas. The box was bigger than a MunchPak, and for good reason. Let’s get down to it, because this is going to be a big one.

KarePax Contents

As you can see.

Small Candies

KarePax Small Candies

Here are some of the small candies. I will admit that I have not tried them all yet, because there’s a lot of stuff here and I’d probably die if I tried to eat it all. I call this collection the “somewhat disappointing part of your trick-or-treat haul”.

There’s a little package of Whoppers. A hard candy labeled “lemon” but with coloring that looks confusingly like it should be lime. Some chocolate coins that look like Mardi Gras gelt. And some Japanese coconut candy.

Some More Interesting Small Candies

KarePax Other Candies

Here we have a Japanese corn candy, shaped so accurately like a cob of corn that it’s disturbing but also adorable, because it’s tiny, and candy.

Also Japanese are these Flower’s Kiss candies, one with a picture of a sunflower and one with…uh…well, I’m not a botanist and I don’t read Japanese, so I’m not sure.

We also have a package of Hi-Chew. I swear I get a Hi-Chew in every MunchPak. I have Hi-Chew coming out my ears. Hi-Chew is pretty tasty, but damn, one woman can only masticate so much. This time, I got mango.

Last but not least we have a Boyer Mallo Cup. The Internet tells me that these were first made in the 1940s, and the packaging looks like it hasn’t changed a lick since then. I love when manufacturers do that.

The Internet also tells me that Mallo Cups were the first cup candy made in the United States. Way to go, Mallo!

Japanese Kit Kats

Japanese Kit Kats

I would have included these as “small snacks”, but Japanese Kit Kats are way too fascinating to not have their own section. I don’t know why, but Japan makes Kit Kats in like, 700 different flavors. It’s amazing. I would subscribe to a Japanese Kit Kat-only snack program. Go Google if you don’t believe me.

Since I can’t read a damn word on these wrappers besides “YouTube”, I had to try to figure out what flavors I had using the power of the Internet and search terms like “Japanese Kit Kat green wrapper”.

This was surprisingly useful, as it seems my best bet was that the green wrapper one was green tea-flavored. The flecked moss green color of the candy supported this, as did the flavor. It tasted like white chocolate with a little green tea flavoring, and was actually really good. I felt lucky, because this is one of the JKK flavors I’ve always wanted to try.

It seems that the black wrapper Kit Kat is “otona no amasa” flavored, which I guess translates into “Taste of Adult”. Leave it to Japan to make a Kit Kat sound absolutely dirty.

What this actually means, however, is that this was a Kit Kat marketed more towards adults than children, which is supported by the snazzy-looking black wrapper that looks like it got dressed up to go to a charity ball.

The chocolate had a darker hue than a normal Kit Kat, and that’s exactly what it tasted like. Less sweet and more bitter than a regular bar, but not quite as bitter as most dark chocolate I’ve had. This totally makes sense, as most kids I know are not fond of dark chocolate.

I got no Internet love for the third Kit Kat, but luckily there were a few helpful pictures on the wrapper, namely a wine glass and a big ol’ bunch of grapes. I was surprised that Google turned up absolutely nothing on this one. Did I somehow grab a rare Kit Kat? Are they like Pokemons?

The candy bars looked exactly like white chocolate. And holy shit, they tasted exactly like white chocolate and wine. Actual wine! Not just grapes, but wine, with all the acidity and a lot of acridness. So, not good wine. But my taste buds were completely transfixed. I’ve never tasted any candy remotely close to this. I kind of want to save the second bar for posterity or something.

Now we’re going to move on to the “big” snacks.

Jammie Dodgers

Jammie Dodgers

Jammie Dodgers are a popular British cookie, or biscuit if you live there. They are made of shortbread and raspberry jam, and are apparently named after Rodger the Dodger from the comic The Beano. I can’t do any more research on this because this review is already taking me about 20 hours.

The package proudly touts that Jammie Dodgers have “no added nasties”. But they are “full of jammie mischief”. Fucking adorable.

Shortbread cookies are less sweet and more crumbly than most American cookies, and the raspberry jam was more like a thin layer of raspberry glue. Jammie Dodgers aren’t my cup of tea, but who am I to go against an entire country of snackers? I’ll blame it on different palates.

Štark Smoki

Stark Smoki Flips

Smokis are a Serbian snack known as “flips”. If you’re intrigued by the idea of Serbian snack food, you’re not alone. But hey, everyone’s gotta snack.

Flips are peanut-flavored, peanut-shaped snacks made of cornmeal grits. If this doesn’t sound appealing, again, you’re not alone. They don’t taste appealing. They taste and feel like styrofoam packaging with some peanut flavoring that has a bad aftertaste. I guess it’s appropriate that a Serbian snack would taste depressing.

Kinder bueno

Kinder bueno

Kinder bueno is made by Ferrero, which technically makes it an Italian snack. I figured it was most popular in the UK, but it turns out it they didn’t start marketing it there until 2004. It’s really an international snack, popular from Germany to Gibraltar. We’re just a little slow here in the States.

I’ve had Kinder bueno before, and I think it’s one of the most delicious and well-crafted snacks that you could pick up at the store. (If you lived in another country.) The chocolate is delicious, the wafer is thin, light and crisp, and the cream hazelnut filling is smooth and wonderful. These really need to catch on here.

Delicje Orange European Biscuits

Delicje Orange European Biscuits

Delicje comes to us from E. Wedel, a Polish confectionery company that is apparently very well-recognized in Poland.

While you might think “European Biscuit” just means “cookie”, especially after reading about Jammie Dodgers, you’d be wrong. In this case, it’s actually more like a Jaffa Cake.

What’s a Jaffa Cake? I was about to go into it, including some interesting details about old tax laws regarding cakes versus biscuits, but holy shit, I’m getting really deep down the snack food rabbit hole here, so just read this.

Delicje are a wonderful combination of soft, dense sweet cake and orange jelly goop covered in chocolate that doesn’t taste at all cheap. I would have much more preferred a berry as opposed to orange jelly, but the overall concept is high quality and highly snackable.

Churritos Fuego Hot Chili Pepper & Lime

Churritos Fuego Hot Chili Pepper & Lime

Churritos are made by Barcel, a rather prolific Mexican snack company. At first, I thought it was funny that they would boast the “same spicy flavor as Takis”, until I realized that Barcel also makes Takis. Given that Takis are rolled corn chips, doesn’t that make Churritos the exact same thing?

I should have read the bag better, because I would have seen that these are “corn snack sticks”, not rolled corn chips. They look sort of like shoestring fries, and they’re crunchy without being gum-stabby, which Takis can be.

If you’ve ever had Flamin’ Hot Cheetos con Limon, that’s pretty much exactly what Churritos taste like. Hot chip flavoring with a hint of tart lime. These were tasty.

Nestle Sütlü Cikolatah

Nestle Sutlu Cikolatah

Check out my umlauts, ladies. This one was a little tougher to research because most of the websites were in Turkish. Which makes this from Turkey, heads up. “Sütlü” translates to “milk” and I’m going to go out on a limb with cikolatah, so it looks like we’re dealing with a milk chocolate wafer bar.

This is your typical chocolate-covered and chocolate layered wafer bar. It’s pretty good, but there’s nothing particularly special about it.

Holiday Crispie Pop

Holiday Crispie Pop

I was going to call this “Mysterious Snowman Lollipop Dude” but then I spotted the name on the back of the wrapper. It is made by the Long Grove Confectionery Co. in the good ol’ USA, which looks like an adorably wholesome little company. And that’s all I know about it.

I was delighted to discover that Holiday Crispie Pop is a Rice Krispy treat dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with big sugar crystals. The chocolate was fairly good quality and it was a fun eat. Good job, Long Grove!

Walkers Simply Roast Chicken Crisps

Walkers Simply Roast Chicken Crisps

If the Walkers logo looks familiar to US residents, that’s because it highly resembles the Lay’s logo. This is no accident, as juggernaut Frito-Lay acquired the UK brand in 1989. And, Frito-Lay-style, they have a huge corner of the crisps market across the pond.

Roast Chicken probably sounds like one of those wacko flavors that Frito-Lay is always tossing on shelves for a few months for hype value, but in reality it’s one of the staple flavors of the Walker brand. If you think that’s crazy, consider some of their other current and former flavors, like Prawn Cocktail, Marmite and Lamb & Mint Sauce, just to name a few. Roast Chicken is relatively tame by comparison.

Roast Chicken boasts that it’s made “with free range chicken from Devon”, which is impressively specific for mass-manufactured potato chips with flavor dust on them. The flavor dust does, in fact, list Devon Free Range Dried Chicken Breast as an ingredient. Disturbing, but authentic.

Upon tasting, “weird” is the first adjective that comes to mind. Unsurprisingly. There’s hints of garlic and onion, but the main ingredient I taste is “what?” If I pretend, I can taste chicken, but I’d never guess that’s what they were if the bag was blank. They’re not inedible, they’re just really odd.

Nongshim Honey & Apple Honey Twist Snack

Nongshim Honey & Apple Honey Twist Snack

If the name Nongshim sounds familiar to you, you’ve probably eaten, or at least seen, their Bowl Noodle brand of ramen on store shelves. They’re the big styrofoam ones next to Top Ramen that say “I can afford ramen that costs more than ten cents” or maybe “I don’t own a bowl”.

Nongshim is South Korea’s largest processed food manufacturer. I don’t have a full list of their products, but I figured they were only in the noodle biz. I guess they’ve got a lot of foods floating around out there, including Twist Snacks.

Honey Twist Snacks are very crunchy and have too little sweetness at first, but the more I chewed, the more the light honey glaze came through. I didn’t taste too much apple, but the honey was sweet without being cloying.

Swoffle Caramel Filled Stroopwafel

Swoffle Caramel Filled Stroopwafel

Swoffle Stroopwafel is easily my favorite snack name out of the whole bunch. It is, apparently, a “traditional Dutch treat”, but the brand Swoffle is wholly American, based out of Massachusetts.

Swoffle apparently decided they needed to make a gluten-free, healthy, organic, non-GMO stroopwafel. I’m sure the 19th century bakers who used leftover ingredients to make their stroopwafels would just shake their heads at this.

The stroopwafel smells like pancakes and syrup, which is awesome. It’s like a big, flaky, chewy piece of sugar and molasses. Not the best travel snack, but worth the sore jaw from chewing if you want a sugar fix.

Comics!

KarePax Comics

I’m not going to review the comics, because this is not Comic Book Betty. But my two comics came in a nice sleeve. It’s a super fun idea, and I could totally imagine flipping through the pages while I munched on a stroopwafel.

Wacky Packages

Wacky Packages Bumpkin Dimwits Ditz Stickers

I’m going to turn into an 8-year-old now, so bear with me. Wacky Packages are the best thing ever. They’re not just stickers, they’re trading cards. My first reaction when I saw these was “What the shit?” Then I looked at them for a few more seconds and said, “Oh my god…they’re like Garbage Pail Kids for food.”

I had to sleuth out that their true name is Wacky Packages. They’re made by Topps, and, to further blow my mind, they’ve been around since 1967 and I’ve never heard of them. They don’t just parody food brands, they parody all brands, from toothpaste to motor oil.

I got Bumpkin Dimwits, a parody of Dunkin Donuts, and Ditz, which is obviously Ritz. They’re completely juvenile and groan-inducing and I want to collect every single one of them that ever existed.

So there you have it. One KarePax box, two comics, two Wacky Packages stickers, and 28 snacks of varying sizes. I had my doubts about this service and its ability to rival MunchPak, but after doing this review, I am completely sold. I hate to fawn, but I have to admit – I’ve switched my loyalties and my subscriptions, at least for a few months. KarePax has won me over.

I also like that there’s a level of customization – you can opt out of comics for some extra snacks, or request youth-oriented comics. You can also specify peanut allergies, meat-free, or just give them a couple of flavors you don’t like so they leave those out.

If you’re interested in a box of your own, the company has given me a discount code for $10 off a 3, 6 or 12-month subscription. Enter KPXRV459 at checkout.

[Disclaimer: I received these snacks for free from KarePax. This in no way effects the objectivity of my review.]

KarePax

  • Score: 5 out of 5 Bumpkin Dimwits
  • Price: Free
  • Size: One box
  • Purchased at: Delivered for free; available at http://karepax.com/
  • Nutritional Quirk: There’s so many snacks in here, you would probably die if you tried to eat it all in one sitting. Or at least vomit.

Boulder Canyon Thanksgiving Feast Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

Boulder Canyon Thanksgiving Feast Kettle Cooked Potato Chips BagBoulder Canyon Thanksgiving Feast chips are truly something to give thanks for. It’s like an early Christmas gift I wasn’t expecting and didn’t know I wanted, but now that I have it, I’m in love with it.

First off, let me explain that Thanksgiving Feast actually contains four separate bags of chips that are all Thanksgiving-flavored. I’ll obviously be getting to that in a moment, but first I want to celebrate the bag that contains the bags.

Look at that wonderful thing. The picture on the front truly is a feast, showing a Norman Rockwell-esque spread interspersed with chips, because I always have chips strewn around the stuffing and pie at my holiday dinner gatherings.

What may be less apparent in the picture, however, is the background of the bag. At first, it just looks like an autumn-colored bag, which works. But upon closer inspection…

Boulder Canyon Thanksgiving Feast Kettle Cooked Potato Chips Bag Close-Up

Yeah, that’s right. The bag itself is a fucking turkey. I don’t usually apologize for cussing in my reviews, but I feel like this is one that young and old alike should enjoy. On the other hand, it’s fucking awesome. Sorry, moms and dads.

The bag is even the exact size of a turkey. I don’t want to open it. I should have bought two and just kept one for display purposes. I don’t really have any Thanksgiving decorations, but I feel like a life-sized turkey bag full of Thanksgiving chips would be super appropriate, and not at all weird to anyone entering my house.

But I also want those Thanksgiving chips, so I’m going to have to break the seal. Maybe I’ll just fill it with crumpled-up newspaper and put it on the mantle afterwards. Again, not at all weird.

Cranberry Flavored Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

Boulder Canyon Thanksgiving Feast Kettle Cooked Potato Chips Cranberry Bag

After such a fabulous package, which I have practically asked to marry me in the above intro, Boulder Canyon could have easily phoned it in on the individual packages. But they didn’t. I love these little bags. Such cute font. And that teeny little pot filled with cranberries. I decided to start with cranberries because…well, I never eat cranberries at Thanksgiving, but I figured you have to start slow before you get to the main attraction.

Of course, the drawback here is that these are cranberry-flavored chips. My eyes narrow in suspicion. No good can come from this. I’m not scared of them; after all, I’ve eaten coffee-flavored chips and mango-flavored chips, so I was prepared.

Boulder Canyon Thanksgiving Feast Kettle Cooked Potato Chips Cranberry

These Cranberry Kettle Chips were festively, although irregularly, coated with reddish flavor dust. Perhaps it’s the lack of coverage that caused these chips to be completely under-flavored. They tasted mostly like kettle chips, with just a slight hint of sweet and a little tart at the end.

The sweet/tart mix is signature cranberry, but it wasn’t distinct or strong enough to distinguish it as that berry specifically. Honestly, I’m not heartbroken by this, as I don’t think cranberries belong on potato chips.

Turkey & Gravy Flavored Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

Boulder Canyon Thanksgiving Feast Kettle Cooked Potato Chips Turkey & Gravy Bag

Now we’re getting to the main course, because, really, who can resist diving into that turkey and pouring on the gravy? That’s a nice-lookin’ bird on that there bag. You might think turkey-flavored chips sound weird, but this ain’t my first rodeo in the “chips that taste like meat” department. It’s not always a good rodeo, but at least I know what I’m doing. I bet I can last eight seconds with these chips.

Boulder Canyon Thanksgiving Feast Kettle Cooked Potato Chips Turkey & Gravy

The little green flecks on these Turkey & Gravy chips were instantly inviting, and coated the chips much more evenly than the cranberry flavor dust did.

That’s not the only difference between the two – these chips were loaded with flavor, and completely spot-on. My mouth seriously felt like I was tasting gravy, and – I’m not sure if it was the spices they used, or what – but I could swear there was some turkey in there. They were incredibly salty, which is fine by me.

Turkey & Gravy Chips truly did taste like Thanksgiving to me, which is crazy. Boulder Canyon nailed this flavor, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Stuffing Flavored Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

Boulder Canyon Thanksgiving Feast Kettle Cooked Potato Chips Stuffing Bag

Of course, you can’t have Thanksgiving without stuffing. I would lament the oversight of mashed potatoes in this bag of Thanksgiving Feast, but then I realized that I was eating potato chips, so, uh, I guess we kind of have that covered.

Stuffing gets a bit of a weird artistic interpretation on its bag. It looks more like a bowl of popcorn or maybe irregular cashews than stuffing, but hey. I have the highest hopes for this flavor, because stuffing is my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner.

Boulder Canyon Thanksgiving Feast Kettle Cooked Potato Chips Stuffing

Much like Turkey & Gravy, Stuffing was covered encouragingly with green flecks. And also much like T&G, Stuffing did not disappoint.

Once again, I was in Thanksgiving heaven. The flavor profile was somewhat similar to Turkey & Gravy, but there were subtle and delicious differences. The ingredient list gave me no clues as to what they were using to flavor either of these chips – both just listed “spices” – but I swear, if you blindfolded me, I could tell the difference and identify each flavor.

Stuffing was a little less salty and less aggressive than T&G, but Boulder still nailed that classic side dish flavor.

Pumpkin Pie Flavored Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

Boulder Canyon Thanksgiving Feast Kettle Cooked Potato Chips Pumpkin Pie Bag

Much like at actual Thanksgiving, at this point I was getting pretty full. But there’s always room for dessert, right? I don’t know if I would say that in regards to pumpkin pie-flavored potato chips.

The bag showcases a slice of pie with whipped topping and a couple off cinnamon cloves. I must say, this was the flavor I was looking forward to least. Not only is it an inappropriate potato chip flavor, but I’m so sick of pumpkin spice-flavored products at this point in the season that I’m over it in any shape or form.

Boulder Canyon Thanksgiving Feast Kettle Cooked Potato Chips Pumpkin Pie

Unfortunately, Boulder Canyon got these Pumpkin Pie chips just right. Unlike the cranberry, the flavor was very prominent – the pumpkin, the cinnamon, even the sweetness of the whipped topping in the picture. Or just sweetness in general – in fact, they were very sweet, and that made them very nasty. I was glad I was already full, because I could only stomach a few of these chips. Blech.

I don’t want to end on that sour note, because all in all, I’m still in love with Boulder Canyon Thanksgiving Feast Potato Chips. So much attention to detail in the packaging, and so much attention to detail in the flavors themselves. The Cranberry fell short, but the Turkey & Gravy, Stuffing and Pumpkin Pie were all spot-on. That didn’t work so well on the last one, but I was transported to Thanksgiving heaven with the two savory flavors.

Jones Soda may have given up on the tradition of turning inappropriate foods into Thanksgiving flavors, but Boulder Canyon took the torch and ran with it, and I love ’em for it.

Boulder Canyon Thanksgiving Feast Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

  • Score: 5 out of 5 “I forgive you for the Pumpkin Pie”s
  • Price: $4.99
  • Size: A TURKEY
  • Purchased at: Target
  • Nutritional Quirk: If you eat all four bags of these chips in one sitting, you will probably be almost as full as you are after Thanksgiving dinner.

MunchPak: 1 Box, 25 Snacks

MunchPak Logo TapeWelcome to what I have to assume will be the longest JFB review ever written! We’ve got 25 snacks to cover, here. Don’t worry, there will be lots of pictures and we’re all going to learn some new things!

I’ve been excited ever since I heard about MunchPak back in October of last year. In their own words, “MunchPak is our solution to provide the average person with a monthly variety pack of the best and most popular snacks and treats from all over the world. Unlike other subscription boxed services, MunchPak aims to provide our subscribers with the best and tastiest snacks, as opposed to just the ‘healthiest’.”

This last part may confuse you, but I’m pretty sure MunchPak is making a jab at Graze. Graze operates off the same principles as MunchPak, but they offer healthy items such as seeds, nuts and dried fruits. They’ve been operating out of the UK for some time, and I was lucky enough to get a very early invite to the US beta of Graze.

It’s fun, but as MunchPak points out, it’s also very healthy, and does not offer anything brand name. As you might guess, the idea of having international, brand name junk food delivered to my door was something I was mighty interested in.

MunchPak Box

MunchPak sent me a sample to review, and it did not disappoint in quantity or variety.

MunchPak Contents

Some will have few words and only packaging pictures; this is just too big to get into everything. I’m going to assume Americans are familiar with some of these; I apologize to my international audience, but to be fair, MunchPak is made for US residents.

You might notice something missing – the Herr’s Ketchup Potato Chips. I have no idea where that bag went. My only two guesses are that one of my cats managed to get in the box and drag it off to some hidden location, or I got drunk and ate them and forgot I did so. The latter seems more likely.

Anyways, it looks like the rest survived, so let’s get down to business!

Chex Mix Traditional

Chex Mix Traditional Package

A classic. Can’t go wrong here.

Gardetto’s Original Recipe Snack Mix

Gardetto's Original Recipe Snack Mix Package

Another classic. Gardetto’s also makes bags that contain nothing but their Roasted Garlic Rye Chips, which I think is genius because those are obviously the best part of their Snack Mix.

de la Rosa Peanut Candy Marzypan Style

de la Rosa Peanut Candy Marzypan Style Package

Here we have our first international offering. De la Rosa is a Mexican candy company, and I see them often on store shelves. MunchPak just so happens to be based out of Scottsdale, AZ, which is about a ten minute drive from where I live, so I know for a fact they’ve got easy access to Mexican treats.

Despite the availability, I rarely sample any of these goods. There’s no particular reason for this; I’ve just never gotten around to it. This is one of the reasons why I love the idea of MunchPak so much – I might see these things on store shelves every day, but never bother trying them if it weren’t for MunchPak.

This Peanut Candy Marzypan (I love that spelling so much) Style is like deconstructed peanut butter. As soon as it hits your saliva, it turns into a sugary peanut powder.

I can’t say I’ve ever had such a candy experience before. Neither the sugar nor the peanut are overpowering, but the texture is super interesting. I can’t say I’m in love with it, but it was definitely unique.

Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme Bar

Hershey's Cookies 'n' Creme Bar Package

I used to really dislike milk chocolate, and when Hershey’s came out with this candy bar, I was over the moon about it. I’ve since expanded my horizons, but I’m still fond of Cookies ‘n’ Creme, with its white chocolate and little chocolate crunchy balls.

Meiji Hello Panda Biscuits with Milk Cream

Hello Panda Biscuits with Milk Cream Package

Hello Panda is a Japanese candy, in case you couldn’t guess. This box is adorable.

Hello Panda Biscuits with Milk Cream

Sports I was able to identify: sailing, shouting into a megaphone?, fencing, being a pirate with a scimitar?, parasailing, kayaking, rollerblading, playing basketball with a baseball, golfing, hockey, lacrosse, skateboarding, and what I can only describe as “boogie-ing”.

That’s a crazy fucking variety of prints! I’m totally impressed, Hello Panda, even if some of these don’t really seem like sports. Golf, for example. Heh heh heh.

As for the taste, it’s kind of like a thin vanilla Teddy Graham filled with some knockoff Oreo creme. I feel like I’m not really nailing it there, but I tried.

Pop-Tarts Strawberry Toaster Pastry

Pop-Tarts Strawberry Toaster Pastry Package

Hey, it’s Strawberry Pop-Tarts! Okay!

Unknown Asian Rice Cracker Thingies

Unknown Asian Crackers Package

What you see is what you get, here. Puffy cracker…things in a clear package, with three symbols on them, presumably Japanese? There’s no way for me to even look this up. If you know what these wrappers say, I’d love to hear it in the comments.

How do I describe this thing? It was very crunchy, like a dense rice cracker. It was not sweet; it had a somewhat earthy flavor to it. It tasted foreign. I wish I had better words for it. Seaweed? Some sort of bizarre curry? I’m at a loss. The one thing I do know is that I would not like to see this in future MunchPaks.

CornNuts BBQ Crunchy Corn Kernels

CornNuts BBQ Crunchy Corn Kernels Package

CornNuts are one of those snacks that I feel I’m too adult to be eating. Like, it was okay to eat them as a kid, but no respectable adult actually eats them. I’m pretty sure that’s a weird thing to think, but I will also say that as an older person with bad teeth, I’m terrified that they will break my mouth. Seriously, CornNuts are hard.

Imagine every BBQ-flavored chip/sunflower seed/whatever other snack, and you know the flavor of these CornNuts, although I will say the BBQ powder is nicely understated.

Morinaga Hi-Chew Grape Fruit Chews

Hi-Chew Grape Fruit Chews Package

Hi-Chew is Japanese in origin and was apparently created in 1931 by a guy who wanted to find a way to make swallowable gum because taking food out of your mouth is considered impolite in Japan. I guess the whole “Want some ABC gum?” joke doesn’t go over well there. Also, I’m pretty sure everything is considered impolite in Japan.

Anyways, that’s a pretty cool origin story, and apparently more than 113 flavors have been created over the years.

I got grape.

Hi-Chew Grape Fruit Chew

The texture of Hi-Chew was unlike any other chewy candy I’ve had. It was like a mix between a Starburst and a gummy bear. It lasted a little while, like the former, but was also springy and wanted to stick to itself, like the latter. Very interesting.

I wasn’t too fond of the grape flavor – it reminded me a little too much of grape-flavored medicine.

Snyder’s of Hanover Peanut Butter Pretzel Sandwiches

Snyder's of Hanover Peanut Butter Pretzel Sandwiches Package

Here’s another common snack that I’ve never bothered to try. Peanut butter pretzel sandwiches are completely pedestrian, but I’ve never had Snyder’s before. Frankly, the whole cracker/pretzel sandwich thing reminds me of elementary school day care. But if you’re looking for a high-quality snack sandwich, I would say Snyder’s is the way to go.

de la Rosa Japanese Cocktail Peanuts

de la Rosa Japanese Cocktail Peanuts Package

de la Rosa Japanese Cocktail Peanuts are vying for “favorite MunchPak snack” before I even taste them for several reasons: first off, they’re Japanese peanuts made by a Mexican snack company. So multicultural! Also, what the hell is a cocktail peanut? I can’t wait to find out!

Third and most obvious:

de la Rosa Japanese Cocktail Peanuts Package Cartoon

I have never seen a happier pair of semi-racist peanuts. I wish I could find that much joy in my life, and I’m an easily amused person.

So, if these are any indication, cocktail peanuts are peanuts with a salty, crunchy coating that actually has very little flavor, unless you count peanut. This basically makes them peanuts+. Could definitely see having a beer with these.

Penguin Original

Penguin Original Package

Those two words are the only things I know about this, without doing any research. That is all the package had to say. I assumed it was a candy. That was all.

According to Wikipedia, this is a “milk chocolate-covered biscuit bar filled with chocolate cream”. They were apparently created in Glasgow, which is in Scotland, just in case you failed geography. My first Scottish snack!

Actually, there’s one more thing – each wrapper comes with a joke! Are you ready for some laffos?

Q: What do you call a happy Penguin?

A: A Pen-Grin

I kind of love you already, Penguin.

Penguin Original Bar

The bar was basically a chocolate-covered chocolate wafer. Despite being chocolate-on-chocolate, it was actually very light, airy and not too rich or overwhelming. Way to go, Penguin!

I also really, really want to buy a case of Penguin bars just so I can read all the penguin-related jokes. Really. Really.

Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats Marshmallow Square

Kellogg's Rice Krispies Treats Marshmallow Square Package

Another pedestrian offering. And yet, the moment I saw it, I said to myself, you know what, I do want a Rice Krispies Treat! This is perfect.

Observant me, at first I thought this was some bizarre blank packaging. And then I saw, “A wrapper you can write on!”

Kellogg's Rice Krispies Treats Marshmallow Square Package JFB

How adorable is that for a mom making her kid’s lunch? Screw Post-It notes when you can write on a Rice Krispies Treat!

Marinela Barritas fresa Strawberry Filled Cookies

Barritas fresa Strawberry Filled Cookies Package

These guys be Mexican in origin.

Barritas fresa Strawberry Filled Cookies

I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I tried one, but when I opened the package, I was instantly reminded of Tactical Sammich, which is something you never want to be reminded of when you’re supposedly eating a strawberry cookie.

In reality, these things have the exact taste and texture of a Strawberry Fig Newton, which I guess are technically Strawberry Newtons. Another snack I haven’t had in forever. Verdict: yum.

The Original Cracker Jack

The Original Cracker Jack Package

Another classic. But there is one thing that always makes Cracker Jacks unique…

The Original Cracker Jack Prize

SCORE! A motherfuckin’ temporary tattoo. The best of all Cracker Jack prizes, in my opinion. Now, back in my day, you got a a whole booklet of the things, but I will accept Underbite Swashbuckle, He of Ye One Gold Tooth. Swashbuckle rules. If I were still in school, he’d be plastered on my cheek tomorrow. And we’re talking college, here.

De la Rosa Pulparindo Hot and Salted Tamarind Pulp Candy

de la Rosa Pulparindo Hot and Salted Tamarind Pulp Candy Package

Tamarind is a popular candy flavor in Mexico. I’m pretty sure I’ve never tasted it before. It has a Wikipedia page that is as intimidating in length as tamarind itself is in looks. The words “hot and salted” are a little scary, too, but this is all about new things and adventure.

de la Rosa Pulparindo Hot and Salted Tamarind Pulp Candy

It was like a short, thick Fruit Roll-Up, and also the stickiest candy I have ever encountered. The instant my fingers touched it, they could touch nothing else without leaving a gross residue.

It was easy to chew and the sugar quickly disintegrated, but I am apparently not fucking man enough for Mexican candy.

It tasted like a sugary, salty piece of soft taffy made entirely of chili powder. Hogod. I don’t feel comfortable calling it terrible, because I know tamarind candy is crazy popular in the Mexican community and I think I’m just experiencing culture shock. But my mouth was not ready for a chili powder Fruit Roll-Up. The more it sat in there melting, the more I thought, hmmm, maybe I could get used to this. But for now? Whoo.

Nutella Hazelnut Spread with Skim Milk & Cocoa

Nutella Hazelnut Spread with Skim Milk & Cocoa Package

I’ve never had Nutella. I’ve been told that puts me in the minority. I’ve also been told you’re supposed to spread it on toast, but I decided to just dunk my finger right in there, like the classy lady I am. Listen, I’m going through 25 snacks, here. I don’t have time for things like toast.

Also, look at that little package! It’s adorable! It’s like a single serving jam, but somehow even less healthy!

I’m not gonna get all into how it tasted since I’m guessing most Americans already know. I will say, however, that it is delicious, and I have been missing out. Thank you for educating me, MunchPak!

Walkers Pure Butter Shortbread

Walkers Pure Butter Shortbread Package

In case you couldn’t tell by the “this is my fancy kilt” packaging, Walkers Pure Butter Shortbread are made in Scotland.

Walkers Pure Butter Shortbread

And I have to say, what happened, Scotland? You did so well with the Penguin Original Bar, but this is a total disaster. It tasted like a buttery, slightly salty dog biscuit. While I’d like to pretend I’ve never had a Milk Bone before, I’m almost positive that I tried one during my curious youth, and I’m really not far off, here.

There’s only four ingredients: wheat flour, sugar, butter, and salt, but I think they switched the order around. I’m pretty sure sugar belongs last on this list. Blech. Woof.

Marukawa Strawberry Bubble Gum

Marukawa Strawberry Bubble Gum Package

This is a Japanese gum. The box is adorably small – only a little bit bigger than a quarter. You could easily forget and leave it in your pocket, resulting in a laundry disaster that I have experienced firsthand and is entirely unpleasant.

I would have made Marukawa Bubble Gum the gum of choice for my Barbie dolls back in my childhood days.

Each piece of gum is round and a little smaller than a Lemonhead, which means you’ll have to toss all four pieces into your mouth if you want anything close to a normal amount of gum.

It had a pleasant artificial strawberry with an odd hint of mint.

The texture was also very weird – the balls had a shiny coating, but that quickly gave way to the feeling that the gum was going to fall apart in my mouth at any second. Have you ever made the mistake (as a kid, hopefully) of trying to eat chocolate and gum at the same time? That was the sensation I felt, except it just baaaarely kept holding itself together. It did blow a pretty good bubble, though.

It’s bizarre to actually feel something new in the way of gum, but this certainly qualifies for me, so at least there’s that.

Chick-O-Stick

Chick-O-Stick Package

I’ve never had a Chick-O-Stick, but it seems like one of those candies that have always been around. According to this very narrow package, it is “Crunchy Peanut Butter and Toasted Coconut Candy”.

What does this have to do with chicks? Not a damn clue.

I’m not that fond of coconut, but of course I was going to give it a try. They’ve been around since the Great Depression, so something must be going right for them.

Holy shit are Chick-O-Sticks bright orange. But you know what? It turns out their taste and texture is almost exactly like that of a Butterfinger! I was very pleasantly surprised.

There is a faint aftertaste of coconut, but the Butterfinger-esque flavor is so strong that I really didn’t mind it, and the two went pretty well together. Lesson: don’t be scared of snacks, kids!

Marinela Gansito Filled Snack Cake

Marinela Gansito Filled Snack Cake Package

As you may have guessed, this is a product of Mexico. Apparently, “gansito” translates to “little goose”, which explains the mascot. But does anyone else think he looks like he’s barely escaping a lawsuit from Disney for looking like Scrooge McDuck’s nephews? Just sayin’.

Marinela Gansito Filled Snack Cake

Honestly, this was pretty disappointing. I guess the best I could describe it is as a generic knock-off chocolate-covered Twinkie. The chocolate covering tastes cheap, and the sprinkles on top add nothing. The sponge cake inside is okay, but the cream tastes slightly off. Just overall mildly disappointing.

Toxic Waste Sour Smog Balls

Toxic Waste Sour Smog Balls Package

This candy comes with a story on the back of the package! I already love it. Here it is! This is the longest story I’ve ever seen on a candy package!

Toxic Waste Sour Smog Balls Dr. Smogg Professor Sauernoggin

THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. SMOGG

“Dr. Igor Smogg is a wealthy industrialist who made his fortune in heavy manufacturing. But his methods are wasteful and produce lots of toxic by-products, which he disposes of in environmentally irresponsible ways. His latest scheme is to pump massive amoutns of toxic smog into the atomosphere from the smokestacks of his factory. Once airborn, the pollution will condese into particles of solid waste and rain down upon the unsuspecting countryside.

“Fortunately, Professor Sauernoggin is on the case! Sauernoggin has dedicated his life to finding ways to transofmr toxic waste into good and useful products. Once blast from his [unreadable] ‘Smog-o-matic’ ray gun and the cloud will rain down delicious sour candy balls…an outcome Dr. Smogg is less than pleased about!”

Whew! That’s quite the backstory!

Toxic Waste Sour Smog Balls are Crunchy Candy with a Sour Chewy Center and come in blue raspberry, strawberry, lemon, grape, lime and cherry. Way to not fall for the green apple trend, Toxic Waste!

I dunno if I’d call the center “chewy”, exactly. More like “fall apart-y”. The sour level is what I’d call middlin’. It’s one of those novelty candies for the kids that delivers more in fun than in taste. But how can you not love Dr. Igor Smogg and Professor Sauernoggin?

Wow. We’re done. I dunno about you, but I’m exhausted. I obviously didn’t sample all these in one day; I’m not even sure that would be possible.

MunchPak offers a Mini version and a FamilyPak, and you can get it delivered monthly, bi-weekly or weekly. If I were rich, I would get a weekly family pack, but I’ve instead opted for the Original MunchPak delivered monthly for $20.20. It seems like all these snacks actually add up to more than that if you were to buy them separately, which is cool.

I got my first paid-for MunchPak before I finished this review, and I am so happy to report that my one fear was completely unfounded. I thought perhaps I’d wind up getting the same things month after month, but my two MunchPaks are completely different from each other. This excites me to no end. Seriously.

I really, really love MunchPak. I think it’s a great idea and it’s fun as hell. If you spend any amount of time in the snack aisles of the convenience store, I highly, highly recommend this.

Oh my god we’re done.

[Disclaimer: Junk Food Betty received this product free from MunchPak. This is no way compromises the integrity of my review.]

MunchPak

  • Score: 5 out of 5 amazing snacks
  • Price: Free (sample)
  • Size: Original
  • Purchased at: Received free in the mail
  • Nutritional Quirks: I’m pretty sure nothing in this box is actually good for you. Yay!

Kraft Philadelphia Spicy Jalapeño Cream Cheese and Chipotle Cream Cheese

Kraft Philadelphia Spicy Jalapeño Cream Cheese and Chipotle Cream Cheese ContainersCream cheese is in the Gentleman’s Club of dairy products. While nearby shelves in the refrigerated section explode with 700 different brands and varieties of yogurt, cream cheese remains largely unchanged. For the most part, you’re going Kraft Philadelphia or you’re going generic, and even then, you’re probably not getting much variety from the generic brand.

I have a long-standing love of bagels, particularly when toasted and schmeared with what even I would admit is an embarrassing amount of cream cheese. There used to be a local mom ‘n’ pop bagel shop around the corner from where I live that I absolutely adored. The plethora of bagel flavors, the cream cheese selection…it was like a little breakfast heaven.

And then they went out of business.

Heartbroken and with nary an Einstein Bros. In sight, I turned my eye to the grocery store, and then I remembered why I love bagel shops so much. I can take the limited variety of bagel flavors in stores – I’ll make do with an Everything – but the cream cheese flavors suck.

I’ve never been fond of the fruity cream cheeses, and this really limits a girl. If you want savory, Philadelphia generally offers Salmon, Chive & Onion or Garden Vegetable, none of which I’ve found particularly exciting.

But then Philly pulled through for me.

Kraft Philadelphia Spicy Jalapeño Cream Cheese

First I found the Spicy Jalapeño flavor, and I did a happy snack dance right there in the dairy aisle. This has always been my absolute favorite flavor of cream cheese from bagel shops, and I always wondered, sometimes sadly, sometimes angrily, why this was never a flavor found in grocery stores.

I was seriously stoked. Like, way more than a person should be about cream cheese. But this was like a dream fulfilled. A wish granted. Cream cheese.

Kraft Philadelphia Spicy Jalapeño Cream Cheese

And I am so very glad to report that Spicy Jalapeño lived up to my every expectation. The texture of the cream cheese was classic Philly – thick but easily spreadable.

Kraft Philadelphia Spicy Jalapeño Cream Cheese Close-Up

They weren’t skimpy on the peppers, either; it was chock full of perfectly-sized chunks of real jalapeño that delivered on heat and flavor. It was great to bite into my toasted bagel and get the smooth cream cheese punctuated by crunchy little bits of heat. The cool cream cheese and the spicy peppers made a perfect combo.

Verdict: match made in heaven.

Kraft Philadelphia Chipotle Cream Cheese

But oh, Kraft was not done with me yet. I was happily buying yet another tub of Spicy Jalapeño when I saw something I had neither dreamed of nor tasted before – Philadelphia Chipotle Cream Cheese.

It probably goes without saying that the dance came out again.

I was a little more trepedatious about this one. Acutely aware that I sound like a broken record as I write this, I am constantly dissatisfied with things that claim to be chipotle-flavored. It seems like most companies think “chipotle” means “generically spicy” or, if you’re really lucky, “spicy with a little fake smoky flavor”.

Having already fallen in love with Philadelphia Spicy Jalapeño, I thought I may have pushed my luck too far.

Kraft Philadelphia Chipotle Cream Cheese

First of all, hello orange. I was not expecting that when I opened up the tub. It’s not exactly the most attractive hue for cream cheese; in fact, it reminded me of pumpkin, but maybe that’s just the fact that I can’t turn around in a grocery store without seeing something pumpkin spice-flavored.

The hue actually makes sense though; chipotle peppers are much softer than regular jalapeños, so they would blend much more easily into the cream cheese, leaving just small chunks.

Kraft Philadelphia Chipotle Cream Cheese Close-Up

I found it interesting that Philly Chipotle Cream Cheese is a lot thinner than your run-of-the-mill cream cheese. It’s not at all runny, it’s just smooth and easily spreadable, whereas, say, Spicy Jalapeño can be applied with some chunkiness.

In fact, it’s probably a good thing the Chipotle Cream Cheese was thinner, because it’s actually spicier than the Jalapeño variety. Whereas the spice bursts come with the pepper chunks in the latter, it seems more uniform in the former. My nose was even a little runny after I’d finished my bagel.

As for actually tasting like chipotle? Score. Spicy, smoky and flavorful, Philly Chipotle Cream Cheese actually managed to capture the true essence of chipotle peppers, while also letting the flavor of cream cheese come through.

Through sheer coincidence, somebody made a comment about these two cream cheeses on a review I did for The Impulsive Buy back in January for some Chipotle Crema Doritos. I’d forgotten I’d even mentioned it, but in the review, I mused that I should really try blending chipotles with cream cheese, because that sounded delicious.

It was destiny.

I think I sound like I’m writing a really long commercial for Kraft Philadelphia Spicy Jalapeño and Chipotle Cream Cheeses, but the truth is that I love them both and will most likely keep them in stock in my fridge at all times. Nevermore do I have to hit a bagel shop just to get my spicy cream cheese fix; now I can just hit the dairy aisle of my local grocery store.

Now then, about those limited bagel flavors…

Kraft Philadelphia Spicy Jalapeño Cream Cheese and Chipotle Cream Cheese

  • Score (Spicy Jalapeño): 5 out of 5 cream cheese dreams fulfilled
  • Score (Chipotle): 5 out of 5 runny noses
  • Price: $2.79 each
  • Size: 8 oz. tub
  • Purchased at: Safeway #1717
  • Nutritional Quirks: Both flavors contain real peppers near the top of their ingredient lists, and it shows.

McDonald’s UK Tastes of America Week 3: The Arizona Nacho Grande

McDonald's UK Tastes of America Logo and Arizona Nacho Grande Logo Box[Kelley’s Note: We are joined again by Kirsten for this review of the uniquely UK phenomenon that is McDonald’s Tastes of America. Check out her review of Week 2’s burger here. As with before, I will be adding some tidbits from an American’s point of view. Enjoy!]

So, here we are at the third week of McDonald’s UK’s Tastes Of America. This week is the Arizona Nacho Grande. Big nachos? I’ve had a few. Huh. Actually, I’ve not had ANY in Arizona. Maybe next time, eh?

Time to fess up – I don’t really know Spanish. If we were talking coffee language, grande would mean medium, but through the generic way we all absorb media and television, I can make a good guess at what they’re getting at.

There is a place in AZ called Casa Grande, I know that. Maybe they thought it was a cute play on it- you know, pick somewhere off a map? No? No? Okay, we’ll stick with the Spanish thing. Or well, Mexican thing I guess.

[Kelley’s Note: Poor Kirsten. Having lived in the southwest (or South-West) all my life, my mind baffles at the idea that someone would not know that grande means “large” in Spanish. Then again, I had to have Kirsten explain the definition of “quid” to me just a few days ago, so I guess we’re even.]

AZ is South-West. In the UK, South-West is Cornwall, where the Cornish Pasty comes from. It was invented for miners. Why is there no pasty in Minecraft? I had a pasty in Phoenix, AZ once. That was pretty unexpected. All the way over there, 3 billion miles, just to sit in a desert eating foods from my homeland? Bah! An Arizonan sure wouldn’t have that eating the Arizona Nacho Grande. Now I regret not being in Cornwall to eat one, that’d show them. That’d show you all, HAH!

Ahem.

Had I not holidayed in Arizona the last two years, I’d have been hard-pressed to guess at the cuisine of the State. As is, ‘TexMex’ is insulting because AZ is not Texas, but still conjures up that shared love of meat, spicy food, and Mexican flavours. Arizona was where I first discovered pulled pork. I haven’t been the same since. I came back 2 months later hoping for more (and also to attend a wedding [the wedding of the pulled pork dealer]).

Had my first taste of Arizona been this burger, I’d have no idea what I could even have begun to expect.

McDonald's UK Tastes of America Week 3 The Arizona Nacho Grande

From McDonald’s: “Treat yourself to the taste of Arizona. 100% beef patty topped with nacho-style sauce, shredded lettuce, pepperoni, crunchy nacho chips and cheese with peppers, all in a sesame topped bun.”

[Kelley’s Note: I feel like I can chime in here with some authority, having lived in Arizona for about ten years now. I find this burger most adorable. “Nacho-style sauce” fills me with doubts. I guess the chips make sense. But you know what I like most on my nachos? Pepperoni. Nothing says Arizona and nachos like pepperoni. Forget jalapeños, or poblano chiles…pepperoni is pure Arizona.]

As I predicted, we’re talking about the same dimensions and ratio of patty to bun as the Chicago Supreme. Big patties. The Nacho Grande just has a plain old, no-nonsense sesame topping on the split top. No messing around there. It keeps its fancy secrets on the inside, keeping things closer to its chest.

McDonald's UK Tastes of America Week 3 The Arizona Nacho Grande Top Bun

Looking inside, there was no way to differentiate between the ‘nacho sauce’ and the peppered cheese. And that’s the bell pepper kind, not the cracked black stuff. Just a mountain of cheesy goo. I dug in.

McDonald's UK Tastes of America Week 3 The Arizona Nacho Grande Half

I can’t imagine anything finer will ever be created at McDonald’s. Taking a big bite, you get that soft, perfect beef patty, chewy tangy pepperoni, the crunch of the nacho chips, the gooey cheese and the subtly palate-refreshing shredded lettuce. It’s a mouthful of sheer flavour and texture.

McDonald's UK Tastes of America Week 3 The Arizona Nacho Grande Inside

The ingredients on their own are a little ordinary (I would consider the nacho tasted stale outside of the ensemble) but in combination they have created something that means I will leave a tiny offering to the junk food deities in hopes that it returns again next year.

McDonald's UK Tastes of America Week 3 The Arizona Nacho Grande Inside Close

I ate one on Thursday on the way to work. I was so hungry that I didn’t pause to study it enough, so I ate one the next day for breakfast. Just for you. It was magnificent.

The Nacho Grande is a thing of wonder. I will say here and now, I don’t expect the remaining TOA burgers to live up to its glory and majesty. It will live on, past this week, in my heart forever (probably literally, lining my arteries).

[Kelley’s Note: As with the Chicago burger, Arizona gets its own little wonderful gif-filled tribute on McDonald’s UK website. I’ll take it from here.]

I’ll admit, there are a lot of preconceptions about the Grand Canyon State that I can understand. Heck, when I moved here ten years ago from sunny Southern California, I was amazed that people actually had lawns. I thought it was all rocks and cacti. And, admittedly, there are a lot of cacti. And rocks. And kokopelli.

If you go off of crime dramas, movies, and pretty much any media, Arizona is where every serial killer, rapist, and kidnapper runs to to hide from the police. Just a whooooooole state full of reprobates.

I had a friend from Australia who literally thought everyone in Arizona rode around on horses carrying lassos and guns. McDonald’s UK’s website is not too far removed from that.

We start with the music, which is some serious honky-tonk banjo playin’ business accompanied by a one-dude-eight-gifs wearing a cowboy hat and playing a guitar, which is funny because I do not hear any guitar in the music. I swear, just hearing it makes me want to shout “YEE-HAW!” and say “y’all” about twenty times.

The background image is a neverending stretch of desolate highway with nothing but dirt surrounding it, which is actually pretty accurate if you’ve ever driven anywhere outside of the Valley. There’s also some red rocks, which is fair, because we do have those. So, okay, two points in favor of McDonald’s UK.

…And now I’m going to immediately take those two points away for the two big-rig flatbeds zooming in a loop on the neverending highway. Really? A whole state full of fairly iconic crap, and you pick trucks. What is that trying to convey, even? “Arizona – so damn full of big trucks!” That’s just weird and mildly insulting.

Next to pop up is a cactus (fair) and then a row of Route 66 signs.

Now I’m just getting nitpicky. Route 66 runs through Arizona. It also runs through, like, seven other states, and stretches over 2,000 miles of the US. We’ve now brought the highway-related images for the Arizona burger up to three. Is that how the UK views Arizona? “Just driving through.”

Actually, I think that’s how most Americans view this state, too. Man, Arizona sucks.

All is redeemed at the last second, however, with what might be one of my favorite gifs ever created. Two giant bald eagle heads suddenly appear, bobbing their heads in a loop that I could probably watch forever. Words do it no justice. It’s so random, and the eagles look so serious, and…it’s just great. Go there.

I love you, bald eagle gifs. I love you so much.

Okay, back to Kirsten. Let’s wrap this thing up!

McDonald’s UK Tastes Of America: Arizona Nacho Grande

  • Score: 5 out of 5 head bangin’, wing flappin’, boot scootin’ eagles.
  • Price: £3.49
  • Size: Just the burger, ma’am.
  • Purchased at: McDonald’s – Leeds 2
  • Nutritional Quirks: Plain on the outside, party on the inside. Both kindsa cheese, sliced and molten. Completely irrelevant to its namesake state.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A little blurb from Kettle:

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

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

Kettle Brand Potato Chips Red Chili Limited Batch

Kettle says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kettle Brand Potato Chips Jalapeño Jack Limited Batch

From Kettle:

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

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

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

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

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

Kettle Brand Potato Chips Salsa with Mesquite Limited Batch

From Kettle:

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

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

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

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

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

Kettle Brand Potato Chips Cheddar Beer Limited Batch

Go Kettle:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kool-Aid Ghoul-Aid Scary Blackberry

Ghoul-Aid Scary Blackberry is not new. I am sorry that I have to call Kool-Aid’s packaging a liar, but The Surfing Pizza caught you with the exact same packaging last year. Oops.

But that’s okay, because I love Ghoul-Aid. I wasn’t aware of it last year, but once I saw it this year, it brought back old, vague memories of it having existed sometime in my childhood.

I knew I’d had Ghoul-Aid before. I knew a part of me missed it. And the Internet proved me right.

Doing a quick Google Image Search for “old Ghoul-Aid” showed me that it wasn’t just a fever dream or wishful thinking. I WAS RIGHT. And now I have the chance to relive those wonderful memories. Or prove once again that things I loved as a child don’t really hold up in adulthood. Either way.

To be honest, I can’t see this going wrong. Kool-Aid has almost never let me down, and if Ghoul-Aid doesn’t scream Halloween to you, well then, you have a dead soul.

Just look at that package. How many things are awesome about it? Let me count the ways.

Spooooooky black/purple background, complete with giant moon and bats. Creeeeepy slime font declaring this to be Ghoul-Aid, which is a no-brainer in the Halloween re-branding department, if you ask me. Scary Blackberry flavor, which not only brings the right color to the Halloween party, but it also rhymes. Seriously, Kool-Aid would be committing a crime not to have initially thought of this. It all writes itself.

And then, of course, there’s the Kool-Aid Man. He’s done a lot of things throughout the years; busting through walls, surfing, even riding a motherfucking pink shark. Fuck that Dos Equis guy; the Kool-Aid Man is obviously the most interesting man in the world.

I’d like to think the Kool-Aid Man actually is a vampire, and Ghoul-Aid is his one chance to show his true colors and his snazzy suit and classic vampire cape. I like the sneakers; it says, “sure, I vant to suck your blhaad, but I’m still a fun guy”.

One glaring omission: no fangs! I was pretty disappointed by this, until I realized that the Kool-Aid Man is filled not with a classic red Kool-Aid flavor, but with blood. Who needs fangs when your entire head is full of blood? Watch out, dude; you’re spilling your precious hemoglobin.

I love his stance, too. It looks like he’s lunging forward, about to throw some ice cubes and Scary Blackberry right in someone’s face. He seems pretty happy about it, too. I have a feeling the recipient would be less happy, especially if they were wearing white. Who cares, though – he’s the Kool-Aid Man; he can do whatever the fuck he wants. One “OH YEAH!” and all is forgiven.

In case you’re a mummy who just woke up after a thousand-year sleep, here’s how you make Kool-Aid: get a pitcher. Empty a packet of the powder into the pitcher. Add a cup (more or less, depending on how sweet or tart you like it) of sugar. Add two quarts of water. Stir that shit.

It’s so easy, even I can make Kool-Aid, and most of the time without setting anything on fire!

Upon opening the wrapper that contained the 5-pack of Ghoul-Aid, I was pleasantly surprised with a strong and definitive blackberry odor. This, before I had even opened a packet! Things were off to a good start.

And check this shit out! Scary Blackberry powder is orange! omg omg I love you even more now Ghoul-Aid for you have managed to incorporate both of Halloween’s colors into one beverage.

I would have seen this coming if I’d actually read through the links I posted earlier, but I didn’t, and I was glad because Halloween should be full of fun surprises and this was one of them.

Another fun surprise: as soon as water touched the powder, it instantly turned black. To quote Nathan Explosion, it was blacker than the blackest black…times infinity. Add “dark magic” to the Kool-Aid Man’s list of awesome abilities.

Even when diluted with two full quarts of water, Ghoul-Aid remained black with just the tiniest hint of purple. I know it’s a little late, but man, you need to be serving this at your Halloween party. I can’t think of another more appropriate beverage, besides maybe some of that blood from the Kool-Aid Man’s head.

I have to say, Ghoul-Aid Scary Blackberry is delicious. I added just a teensy bit less than a full cup of sugar because I like my Kool-Aid a little tart, and it came out perfect. While not an exact match to actual blackberry juice, Ghoul-Aid came amazingly close. I think if you blindfolded someone and asked them to identify the flavor, they could actually identify it as blackberry. Shame on you for blindfolding someone and making them miss out on the joy of being able to see they’re drinking liquid darkness.

Call it odd that I have such enthusiasm for a powder-based sugar drink, but I do. I eerily do. Kool-Aid Ghoul-Aid Scary Blackberry has the perfect name, great packaging and awesome orange powder that magically turns completely black. Oh, right, and it actually tastes like blackberry! I bought it in a pack of five, but I think I might go back and buy some more before Halloween ends so that I can have Ghoul-Aid year-round. I will have a perpetually black-stained zombie tongue, and I’m okay with that.

Kool-Aid Ghoul-Aid Scary Blackberry

  • Score: 5 out of 5 pitchers of blood
  • Price: $1.00
  • Size: Pack of 5 0.14 oz. packets
  • Purchased at: Target
  • Nutritional Quirks: Does amazing color-changing powder count? I say yes.

Del Taco Shredded Beef Taco Del Carbon

When I heard that Lou Dobbs was leaving CNN, it reminded me how puzzled I am about the whole immigration debate. And by “debate”, I mean lot of douchebags like Lou Dobbs yelling ridiculous things and making mountains out of assorted mole hills. Personally, I don’t see the problem. I love Mexico, and Mexican culture.

I visit Mexico every chance I get. It has everything you could possibly want in a Third World country you can visit easily and then thank Christ you don’t live there. It has great music. It has a beautiful language. It has cheap liquor. It has cheap women. It has a very laid-back attitude about public drunkenness and attendant antics. It has an easily bribable (and subsequently cheerful) police force. And above all, it has incredible food, across the entire nation. I’ve never had a bad meal in Mexico.

In my opinion, the best dish to be had in Mexico is the taco. Put what you want in it: carnitas, camaron, al pastor, or my favorite, cabeza, it’s a goddamned delight, and as rich in history as it is in flavor.

Sadly, most Americans (I’m looking at you, too, Canada) have never had a taco. There is an abomination being passed as a taco around American food vendors like a tired whore lying boneless in a fried corn shell.

Maybe that’s a little strong. I’ve been known to enjoy an American-style “taco”, and the owner of this site apparently freaking loves them if they’re dyed black in an inexplicable marketing ploy. But for nervous white guys like me, who furtively prowl the bad parts of town and stutter awkwardly accented Spanish to nonplussed strangers for our fix, it’s just not the real thing.

That was until 2003, and the release of Del Taco’s Taco Del Carbon line of products. It’s about as authentic as you can get without dodging roving bands of angry young cholos or submitting to uncomfortable border searches. I only recently heard that Del Taco also re-released their shredded beef offerings. It’s the best thing to happen to Del Taco since they discontinued carnitas.

Del Taco Shredded Beef Taco Del Carbon

The Del Taco Shredded Beef Taco Del Carbon consists of slow-simmered shredded beef, minced onions, chopped cilantro, and a “California” chili sauce, on two warm corn tortillas. I’m not sure what the Hell a “California chili sauce” is supposed to be, but the important thing is what the Taco Del Carbon does not include: namely, carbon, which means “coal” in Spanish. There is a distinct lack of coal, for which I think we can all be grateful. Maybe they’re referring to the sixth element, which I assume is present in the dish in spades.

I’m the kind of guy who measures his self-worth in his ability to find things to complain about. You know the type: pretentious know-it-alls who drone on and on about how American tacos aren’t authentic. That said, I can’t find a single thing to complain about with this taco.

The first thing you’ll notice when biting into this delicious taco is that it’s juicy as all get-out, from the first bite to the last. You have to kind of suck on it as you bite in order not to get meat juice all over yourself.

…go ahead, get it out of your system. Juicy meat and chin drippings. I’ll wait.

The flavors are all there. The onion and cilantro are bold without being overwhelming, letting the beef play its intended central role. The sauce is understated, and comes through as a very subtle enhancement, with the barest hint of heat that’s unnoticeable until the finish. I guess the corn flavor in the tortilla could be a little stronger, but what’s present rounds out the bite nicely. In short, the Del Taco Shredded Beef Taco Del Carbon is probably the best thing I’ve ever eaten from a fast food establishment, short of the carnitas Tacos Del Carbon that were discontinued. If you’ve got a Del Taco within driving distance, you’re doing yourself a tremendous disservice in passing up this opportunity before Del Taco starts up their own take on the McRib cycle.

And if you’re ever in Mexico, Lou Dobbs, I’m the white guy lying on the floor of a filthy Mexican cantina, with cheap women pouring cheap tequila down my throat. Come say hi, we’ll talk.

  • Score: 5 out of 5 easily bribed federales
  • Price: $1.49
  • Size: About 3.5 ounces
  • Purchased at: Del Taco #884
  • Nutritional Quirks: The lack of coal is a relief.