Tag Archives: bacon

The Bacon Jams Bacon Spread: All Original, Black Pepper and Red Chile & Garlic

The Bacon Jams Bacon Spread All Original Black Pepper Red Chile & Garlic JarsI’m not one to back down from a food challenge. I’d like to think that’s readily apparent. So when I was given the opportunity to try Bacon Jams, I took a deep breath and did two things:

  1. I looked up The Bacon Jams to make sure this wasn’t some sort of fake product, which it obviously isn’t (although that would make for an interesting review, I guess)
  2. I found out that bacon jam is actually a real thing, and not just some hype invented by this company. In fact, in Austria it has its own much cooler and unassuming name, Verhackert.

I kind of want to call Bacon Jams Bacon Spread Verhackert for the rest of the review, because it just sounds so much better.

I’ll be straight – I try to be objective on all my reviews, but sometimes it’s difficult. This is one of those times. The idea of bacon jam does not give my taste buds any enthusiasm. I just keep thinking of bacon stuck in sweet, gelatinous goo, and it makes my stomach lurch a little.

While my stomach flips, my brain goes on yet another rant about bacon. I love bacon, I’m just so tired of Internet bacon hype. The Bacon Jams seem to be part of this hype.

And while my stomach flips and my brain rages, my heart ventures to ask the question: What if I actually like bacon jam?

I have to say, my heart (but not my arteries) softened a little after I read about The Bacon Jams’ humble beginnings. It was created by a group of home brewers, including a food scientist, and was funded by Kickstarter. After all that, now you can buy it from SkyMall!

Okay, SkyMall went bankrupt, but still.

Knowing that they take their product seriously – despite having a pig playing a guitar as your logo – and this isn’t just some Archie McPhee-style product made me a little less scared to try it.

All Original

The Bacon Jams Bacon Spread All Original Jar

I will tell you I almost gave up my profession and changed my address when I opened the All Original jar and there was fat on top. That whole “less scared” thing kind of flew out the window.

The Bacon Jams Bacon Spread All Original

I chose toast to spread my jam upon, as it seemed the most bland of the foods I could pick to let the real jam taste shine through.

Part of me wants to tell you that, after all this build-up, Bacon Jams was awful and I immediately vomited into my kitchen sink. But the truth is…it’s not that bad. I know that’s also not a gushing endorsement, but that was how I felt after my first taste of All Natural.

The first taste that comes through is bacon. Reassuring, right? And not Bacon Bits bacon. Not artificial bacon flavor with Liquid Smoke. Honest-to-goodness, cooked on the stove bacon.

Almost immediately after the bacon comes the sweetness. It’s not a cloying sweetness, however. I was immediately reminded of eating bacon after I’d accidentally gotten some syrup from my pancakes on it. Or, maybe you put syrup on your bacon on purpose.

That was it. Sweet, mapley bacon. Oh, and onions. The texture was chunky, but not like crispy bacon. I assume being suspended in jam inevitably softened the bacon itself. I attribute most of the chunkiness to the inclusion of the onions, which worked to make the texture more pleasant as I chewed, keeping it Bacon Jam and not Bacon Jelly, which somehow manages to sound worse.

Red Pepper & Garlic

The Bacon Jams Bacon Spread Red Chile & Garlic Jar

I found this flavor to be most intriguing, as red pepper and garlic aren’t flavors you commonly find associated with bacon.

The Bacon Jams Bacon Spread Red Chile & Garlic

This was the least bacon-y of the Jams. It’s hard to imagine a food where bacon is the main ingredient not tasting like bacon, but the flavor is definitely muted. Instead, the stand-out here is the onions and garlic. It’s like a sweet onion-garlic spread.

What of the red chile, you ask? I also ask. Because it wasn’t there. I could see it, but I just couldn’t taste the spicy bite of it. Perhaps the fat from the bacon neutralized the heat? All in all, it was the most subtle jam of the three, and the least bacon-y.

Black Pepper

The Bacon Jams Bacon Spread Black Pepper Jar

Black Pepper was my favorite of all the Bacon Jams, if I had to pick a favorite.

The Bacon Jams Bacon Spread Black Pepper

If you enjoy thick-cut bacon coated with black pepper, this is the Jam for you. It was the most savory of the Jams, which is why I liked it the most. There was still some sweetness there, but that black pepper bite cut through it quite pleasantly. The ever-present onion also complimented the pepper nicely.

After ingesting three slices of The Bacon Jams Bacon Spread toast, my stomach felt a little funky, but I attribute that to the sweetness – which is also my biggest complaint about Bacon Jams. I get that many people like their bacon sweet, and that this is also a jam, but that part just wasn’t my cup of tea.

That said, Bacon Jams is actually a quality product, with goddamn real bacon – which it better have, for the price of $15 per 8 ounce jar. All Original will please maple bacon fans, while those who like a savory bacon (still with some sweetness) might prefer Black Pepper. As for Red Chile & Garlic, it just came off as kind of weak.

While I wouldn’t buy this for myself, I could definitely see others enjoying this on toast, or on top of a bagel schmear, or maybe even on a BLT or grilled cheese. As for The Bacon Jams, they have higher aspirations, whichi were showcased in a nice little recipe book that came with my jar. Some of them I find to be quite a stretch, like S’mores Bacon Jam (hurgh) and Swedish Meat Balls with Bacon Jam Sauce, which sounds like they just made a scary dish scarier.

So, I didn’t throw up, which was good, especially after opening up that first jar. But I didn’t fall in love, either, which is also good, because of how much this stuff costs. If you’ve got the money and love bacon, WHICH IF YOU ARE ON THE INTERNET RIGHT NOW READING THIS I AM SURE THAT YOU DO, then you might try giving it a shot, if just to experience a unique pork product.

[Disclaimer: I received this product for free from The Bacon Jams. This in no way colors the objectivity of my review, as is evidenced by the amount of time I reference vomiting.]

The Bacon Jams Bacon Spread: All Original, Black Pepper and Red Chile & Garlic

  • Score (All Original): 2 out of 5 layers of fat
  • Score (Red Chile & Garlic): 1.5 out of 5 missing chiles
  • Score (Black Pepper): 3 out of 5 Swedish meatballs
  • Price: Free
  • Size: Three 8 oz. jars
  • Purchased at: Delivered for free
  • Nutritional Quirk: Contains real, actual bacon! Also contains only 2 grams of fat per tablespoon serving, which is way lower than I thought it would be.

Quick Pick: Ritz Bacon Crackers

Ritz Bacon Crackers BoxToday is International Bacon Day! To celebrate, here’s a little thing I’ve had on the back burner for a while.

You might look at new Ritz Bacon Crackers and see yet another bacon-flavored fad product.

I see the potential to relive a childhood favorite in a matte red box.

Nabisco used to have a cracker called Bacon Thins that I just adored as a child. They disappeared, and I’ve lamented them ever since. Can Ritz Bacon Crackers fill that void in my heart?

The Good: Has the familiar taste of Bacon Thins that I loved so much. The buttery flavor of Ritz is still there, but doesn’t interfere with the bacon flavor like I thought it would. They have cracked black pepper in them that doesn’t really show up until after you’re almost done chewing, but has a pleasant, lingering spice to it.

Ritz Bacon Crackers

The Not-So-Good: I would prefer them without the butter flavor. Even though I love it, the bacon taste is very artificial, so may not appeal to some. These have that flaky Ritz texture as opposed to the old Bacon Thins, which had a crisper and more dip-worthy texture.

Ritz Bacon Crackers aren’t perfect, but the flavor is so close to Bacon Thins that they make my nostalgic belly happy. Hope you enjoy International Bacon Day!

  • Score: 4.5 out of 5
  • Price: $2.50
  • Size: 13.25 oz. box
  • Purchased at: Walmart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jack in the Box Bacon Insider Burger

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

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

Jack in the Box Bacon Insider Burger Open Top

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

Jack in the Box Bacon Insider Burger Open Bottom

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

Jack in the Box Bacon Insider Burger Bacon Mayo

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

Jack in the Box Bacon Insider Burger Bork Patty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See below for giveaway rules!

 

Jack in the Box Bacon Insider Burger

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

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

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

Burger King Summer Menu: Bacon Sundae

Did you know Burger King has a summer menu? I did not, until now. I have been writing reviews for almost three years now and, while I do have the memory of a goldfish, I don’t think I’d ever heard of it. What a shitty food reviewer.

But I know about it now, and I sure am glad I do, because that means I get to eat and write about the Bacon Sundae. I think history will show that there’s nothing better than throwing bacon onto or into someplace it shouldn’t be. Did I say better? I meant nauseating and traumatic. Why do they keep doing this to me? Oh, right. The hype.

Burger King describes their sundae as “Sweet and savory made with cool, creamy and velvety vanilla soft serve, chocolate fudge and smooth caramel, made to order with our new thick hardwood smoked bacon.”

I have to say, I’m relieved they went with caramel over the bacon-flavored syrup that Jack in the Box uses in their Bacon Shake. My unease would have gone from “eh, I can do this” to “please don’t make me vomit, seriously guys, I can’t take this anymore”.

The official description glosses over the actual function of the bacon in the sundae, but it’s basically a chocolate and caramel sundae sprinkled with pieces of bacon and garnished with a somewhat disturbing-looking full strip of bacon. It’s not often that I’m disturbed by garnishes. Piece of parsley on the edge of my plate? Kind of a waste of vegetation if you ask me, but completely normal. Celery in my Bloody Mary? Cumbersome, but good for stirring, at least. Sundaes need cherries on top. Not bacon.

I didn’t realize the bacon “garnish” would be a full strip of bacon. When I went to pull it out, thanks to the stickiness of the caramel and chocolate, half the sundae came with it and I almost lost half my ice cream treat on the kitchen counter. Most of the blob fell back in the cup, fortunately, and what you see here is the full glory of my bacon garnish. Looks delicious.

I actually tried the garnish strip first, thinking that it would either assuage my fears or prepare me to steel my stomach for the upcoming horror.

To my surprise, it did the former. The bacon was indeed thick, crunchy, and smoky; it far exceeded the quality of the side of limp bacon you’d get at Denny’s or the sad, flavorless bacon strips that come on most fast food bacon cheeseburgers. Even the part with the vanilla ice cream on it was not unpleasant, which was encouraging.

The vanilla ice cream was your typical soft serve, and the chocolate was thick and rich, much like you’d find in a typical sundae. The caramel was also thick, although I found that much of it had found its way to the bottom of my cup. In fact, it would have made a perfectly enjoyable chocolate caramel sundae in and of itself.

But this is not a typical sundae. It’s a Bacon Sundae.

I was surprised to find that I got at least a few bits of bacon in each bite of my sundae. I don’t know if there were bits hiding underneath the surface, or if the King has some sort of bacon magic, but it seemed like there were more pieces of bacon in the cup than appeared on the surface. Bacon magic.

It was obvious that they used the same bacon for the crumbles as was used for the garnish, because it was just as thick and smoky, and even stayed crisp in the ice cream, which is no small feat. I tried to get bacon, ice cream, chocolate and caramel in each bite, and I have to say, I was not repulsed!

Somehow, the vanilla and the bacon worked well together, creating that sweet and savory sensation as promised by BK. The chocolate was so rich that it actually overwhelmed most of the bacon taste, but the crunch combined with the chocolate was a great combo.

Conversely, it was the bacon that swallowed up a lot of the caramel flavor. It almost seemed like there was a disconnect; first I’d taste the bacon, then the caramel, but no real caramel-bacon taste. Having conquered vanilla-bacon and chocolate-bacon already, I was disappointed that the two didn’t want to be friends. It’s hard to believe I just said that. I wanted to taste caramel-bacon. What is happening to me?

I ate the entire sundae, which left me plum surprised. I went into Burger King’s Bacon Sundae with expectations of revulsion, but found myself actually kind of enjoying it. The quality of the bacon was fantastic and stayed crunchy even when drenched in ice cream, it somehow worked with the flavor of the vanilla soft serve, and even though the richness of the chocolate swallowed up the taste of the bacon, it still made a fun chocolatey crunch. The bacon and the caramel didn’t meld, but I was still able to enjoy their individual flavors.

Since I ate the whole thing, you may be wondering, would I buy it again? Well, the simple answer is…probably not. While I found much of the Bacon Sundae shockingly inoffensive, there’s something about having bacon in my ice cream that just doesn’t sit well with me. Call it mouth instinct – while I was able to judge the bacon and its interaction with the sundae’s various components objectively, overall, I just didn’t feel right eating it. Plus, that bacon garnish just creeps me out.

I believe Burger King’s motto is still “Have It Your Way”. If that’s really true, I just might roll up to the tinny speaker of BK’s drive-thru and order a Bacon Sundae with the bacon on the side, minus the crumbles, plus a few extra bacon strips. It’s a solid sundae, and I can’t get over how great the quality of the bacon is. I would love to enjoy them…separately.

Maybe I’ll get some weird looks at the window, but I don’t care. Don’t judge me, Burger King employee! You are compelled to make it MY WAY. Plus, it would be fun to watch the person struggle to figure out which buttons to push to make my order happen. Sweet, salty revenge.

There’s obviously more to Burger King’s Summer Menu than the Bacon Sundae, so keep a look out in the days to come, as I plan on reviewing some of the other highlights (well, we’ll see about that) on BK’s seasonal menu.

(The Impulsive Buy, So Good, Brand Eating and GrubGrade also weighed in on the Bacon Sundae.)

Burger King Summer Menu: Bacon Sundae

  • Score: 3.5 out of 5 magic bacon crumbles
  • Price: $2.59
  • Size: Uh…Burger King sundae-sized? There’s no size provided on BK’s website.
  • Purchased at: Burger King #17145
  • Nutritional Quirks: Goddamn that bacon was good. Talk about a quirk – who would have expected great bacon from a fast food joint?

Jack in the Box Bacon Shake

I’m sure we can all agree that this bacon thing has gotten out of control. Bacon has become an Internet meme, putting it right up there with cat breading. Don’t know what cat breading is? Look it up. You won’t thank me.

What does this have to do with absolutely goddamn anything? Jack in the Box has a new BLT Cheeseburger. That’s fucking boring. You know what other companies call that? A bacon cheeseburger with toppings. However, there’s more to this story. So much more.

Jack in the Box has made a special website encouraging you to marry bacon. I know some gay couples who might believe Jack has his priorities a little out of order, but we’ll leave that hot button topic alone.

Political portion of this post now over, let’s take a look at this website. First off, there’s a video of a man marrying a BLT Cheeseburger, ending with the line, “You may now eat the bride.” There are jokes here ranging from generically unsettling to just plain crass, so I’ll let you choose which way you want to go on that one.

There’s also a section of bacon-related .gifs called “Wedding Gifts” with the “t” crossed out (get it? GET IT?!) and a Tumblr site, both containing items either boring or disturbing, the latter being a .gif of a woman eating a piece of bacon and then presumably devouring the face of the man next to her like a praying mantis that has just copulated.

Impossibly, things get even more disturbing with the “Make a Bacon Baby!” feature. You get a pretty clear idea of what this entails with the picture on the website, which looks like a female version of the Elephant Man’s face if she’d also been in a terrible fire and then had her head stuck on the body of a baby.

As if this weren’t horrible enough, Jack gives you the opportunity to make your own Bacon Baby. I’ve written seven paragraphs without mentioning what I’m actually reviewing, but since the title of the post is a jerk and always gives it away, you already know that all of this is really about Jack in the Box’s Bacon Shake.

I’ve had a previous experience with a bacon-flavored beverage, namely Jones Bacon Soda. To this day, it ranks #1 on the list of most horrible things I’ve ingested for Junk Food Betty, and quite possibly the worst thing I’ve ever tasted in my life. And I have made some serious mistakes with expiration dates.

I knew right away who would be my Bacon Baby: Jones Bacon Soda Creepy Pig-Nose Girl.

Appropriately terrifying.

The Bacon Shake itself looked surprisingly innocent, a light pink color with whipped cream and a cherry on top. One could walk around with it and no one would know you’re holding a complete abomination. Not even any bacon sprinkles on top. Although now that I think about it, it does mimic the skin tone of a pig pretty accurately. Ugh.

It actually took a little sucking up to, well, suck it up. I stood in my kitchen, taking deep breaths, while flashbacks of the Jones Bacon Soda experience ran through my head like I was a Vietnam vet on the 4th of July. It occurred to me that I have food PTSD. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of.

I finally got up the nerve and took the plunge. The first few sips through my straw were not unpleasant; the shake was thick and creamy, a little bit less sweet than your usual shake. As I got further in, however, the porcine flavor started to come through. It was like tasting a pork belly that had been smoked to preserve it on a olde tyme boat making a venture to the New World, but made more subtle, and then mixed with vanilla ice cream. A little smoky, a little bacon-y, but not overwhelming and not very salty.

I didn’t throw up, so that’s always a plus.

Honestly, the Bacon Shake was not the horrorshow I thought it would be. The smoky bacon flavor is subdued enough that it almost works with the vanilla flavor of the shake. Almost. The shake isn’t made with actual pig; Jack in the Box uses Torani Bacon Syrup to flavor it, which is scary in and of itself, because Torani syrups are the flavors you’ll often see behind the counter at your local coffee shop, which means…well, we can all see the terrible possibilities there.

The worst part of the Bacon Shake was that it had a lingering ham flavor that stuck in my mouth long after I’d finished dumping most of it down the drain. A lingering ham mixed with ice cream flavor. I did not appreciate it.

Jack in the Box’s Bacon Shake didn’t give me PTSD, but it did make me rinse my mouth out afterwards, and I can think of about 700 other flavors I’d like in a shake besides bacon. Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, bacon does not belong in everything, and I can now put milkshakes in that category. At the very least, I can say that the smoky flavor was subtle enough that it wasn’t completely discordant with the ice cream. Hell, if you like the combination of smoky, sweet and hammy, you may even enjoy the Bacon Shake. You may also have a bad palate.

Jack in the Box Bacon Shake

  • Score: 1.5 out of 5 Creepy Pig-Nose Girl Bacon Babies
  • Price: $2.79
  • Size: Regular (16 oz.) cup
  • Purchased at: Jack in the Box #161
  • Nutritional Quirks: Bacon syrup. It exists. Enough said.

The Impulsive Buy also reviewed the Bacon Shake, unfortunately for them.

Quiznos Chicken Bacon Dipper

I think we all know by now that when it comes to bizarre fast food items, it’s on. It’s an arms race to see who can come up with the weirdest new product; who can generate the most Internet buzz? Pizza Hut has recently come out with a stuffed crust pizza that includes toppings AND cheese (obligatory “yo dawg I heard you like pizza in your pizza so I stuffed your pizza with pizza” joke), but, not to be one-upped, Quiznos has come out with the Chicken Bacon Dipper.

The sandwich itself seems pretty loaded, but largely innocent: all-white-meat chicken, smoky bacon, mild chipotle mayo and chipotle jack bread. Sounds good, right? Chipotle, fast food’s favorite flavor-of-the-month, comes into play twice, and you’ve got bacon, which the Internet seems to get a boner about whether it’s in a sandwich or used to construct a bacon house slathered in Baconnaise.

But wait, this isn’t just any sandwich: it’s a Dipper! What does this mean? Well, it’s not unheard of to dip a sandwich, of course; you can find a French Dip on almost any diner’s lunch menu. But this ain’t no jus, son; this is cheese dip! More specifically, Quiznos’ “signature” cheese sauce, which contains tomatoes, diced green chiles and “traditional Mexican spices”.

I guess this is considered weird. I’ve seen news articles and blogs on it calling it a “horror”, saying Quiznos is “trippin’”. I don’t see it as that bizarre. You can’t tell me that some stoner college student hasn’t dipped a ham sandwich into a jar of Tostitos Salsa con Queso at 3am. It’s possible I have done this, completely sober. I swear I’ve dipped a sandwich into some ranch dressing at some point. But that’s just me, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t fall into the “normal” category when it comes to food habits.

I’ll tell you what is weird, though: the commercials. Obviously intended to be bizarre, but I’m pretty horrified by the dude who sticks his beard into the cheese sauce and then starts rubbing his sandwich on it, and I’m terrified I’m going to wake up one day and find the woman in “The Cement Mixer” staring into my bedroom window. I never thought I’d say this, but I’d rather have The King stalking me.

So is this sandwich truly that strange? Let’s find out. I have to say, I’m walking into this with more anticipation that trepidation. Sandwich + cheese sauce? Genius, I say.

There’s a lot to say about this sandwich, so I’ll try to break it all down. The bread was soft, but it was hard to discern if there was any chipotle or jack in it. The chicken was surprisingly juicy, and as you can see, there was some sort of herbal seasoning on it that was really tasty. I think I detected some rosemary, and there was some more stuff going on that I couldn’t specify, but overall it really added some great flavor to the chicken and I’m surprised it wasn’t included in the sandwich’s description.

Unfortunately, the contents of the sandwich were rather anemic. I could have used a lot more chicken, as well as more bacon, which was smoky and added some good flavor but suffered from the all-pervasive Limp Fast Food Bacon Syndrome. There was also a serious lack of chipotle flavor. Having chipotle in both the mayo and the bread, you would think it would be prominent, but all I could taste was a little bit of heat and that’s it. Chipotle has a distinct smoky heat, and that just didn’t come through, which was disappointing.

On to the dip! Oh, the dip. So much potential, and so much failure. Where to begin? Well, first of all, the cheese sauce was way too thick. So thick, in fact, that when I dipped the sandwich into it, it sucked out half the contents of the sandwich, resulting in my having to go on a fishing expedition to get my chicken back into the sandwich after each dip, resulting in serious Cheesy Fingers.

While the addition of diced chiles and “traditional Mexican spices” (whatever that means) added just the right amount of heat, the cheese itself was…how do I put this nicely…the most artificially-flavored cheese I’ve probably ever eaten. Now, hey, I likes me some artificial cheese sauce. I eat cheese out of a can. I won’t apologize. But even Easy Cheese tastes less artificial than Quiznos’ signature cheese dip. After I’d finished it, I felt like I’d just ingested about 500 different chemicals. I couldn’t find any nutritional information about the Chicken Bacon Dipper on their website, but that’s probably for the best, because I’m sure the ingredient list for the cheese dip reads like a Dickens novel.

Sadly, I actually kind of liked the cheese sauce. Like I said, the seasoning gave it a nice bit of heat, and that and the cheesiness, however fake, worked well with the contents of the sandwich. I had to take a step back, however. I had to remove my own sick palate from the situation and be objective. How would a “normal” person feel about this dip? The answer: they would most likely be repulsed. It really does taste artificial and just…wrong. It’s just wrong, this dip. I hate to promote one of my favorite foods twice in one post, but really, you would be so much better off dunking this sandwich into some Tostitos Salsa con Queso. How hard is it to make a cheese dip that’s the right consistency and doesn’t taste like you’re eating at a high school cafeteria?

I wanted so badly to love this sandwich, but in the end, it just didn’t live up to my expectations at all. The chicken was delicious but there wasn’t enough of it. The bacon was also lacking. There was no real chipotle flavor to be found. The sandwich worked well with the dip, which added some heat and some cheesy flavor, but it tasted so artificial that most people would probably be put off by it. My body felt wrong after eating the dip (which, by the way, I did finish, and found the cheese-to-sandwich ratio to be just about perfect), and when your body feels just wrong after eating something, that probably means you shouldn’t have eaten it.

Chicken Bacon Dipper, I wanted to like you so badly, but in the end, you let me down. I hope this doesn’t discourage Quiznos or other fast food places, though; in the future, I want to see all sandwiches come with some form of dip. That’s right, I said it. Gravy, cheese, ranch, jus, I don’t care. I just want to dip it. Dip it good.

  • Score: 2 out of 5 Cheesy Finger fishing expeditions
  • Price: $2.99 (with coupon; regular price $5.19)
  • Size: 1 sandwich
  • Purchased at: Quiznos #7845
  • Nutritional Quirks: No nutritional information available, but that’s probably for the best.  Quiznos signature cheese dip is probably just one big quirk.

Arby’s Angus Three Cheese & Bacon

It’s easy to poke fun at Arby’s. It’s the red-headed stepchild of the fast food world. It’s so easy, in fact, that when I told a friend I was going to Arby’s, he pulled out a quote from The Simpsons.  The episode it was from is basically a parody of Lord of the Flies. If you don’t immediately understand the context because you never read Lord of the Flies, you should probably stop reading this review and go back to high school.

It’s night time and the kids sit around the fireplace.

TERRI
I’m so hungry I could eat at Arby’s!

LISA
Oh my gosh!

NELSON
That IS hungry.

LISA
REALLY hungry…

So The Simpsons stole my joke. In 1998. That’s harsh.

But wait! This is 2011, 13 years later, and Arby’s has a new sandwich that could change everything. The Angus bandwagon is getting pretty crowded these days, and Arby’s decided to jump on. It’s the Angus Three Cheese & Bacon, and according to Arby’s, it’s “Angus beef the way it should be -Premium, lean, freshly sliced and piled high to perfection with 3 cheeses on an authentic Italian roll.”

Well, that sounds okay. But it looks like there’s a lot more going on in the promo picture on their website. The Atlanta Journal Constitution, an organization that I know nothing about, seems to have more details: “The black Angus, top round beef is thinly sliced and topped with Swiss and Cheddar cheeses, a Parmesan peppercorn ranch sauce and pepper bacon.”

Arby’s should have that as the description on their website, because that is way more enticing than their official breakdown of the sandwich. Arby’s actually has me intrigued now, and that’s saying something.

Let’s get to the important part first: I have to say, the meat on the Angus Three Cheese & Bacon is a step (or three) above Arbys’ normal “shaved”…roast beef, if you could call it that. Is it Angus quality? Weeell, I don’t know if I would go that far, but I’d put it on par in quality, texture and taste to the meat in a french dip at a chain diner. Unfortunately, there was no jus to hide the fact that the meat was a little on the dry side.

Before we move on, I have to mention a caveat: my sandwich had a case of Jekyll and Hyde like I’d never experienced before. It came pre-cut in half, and one side was well-constructed, while the other was disheveled. It’s like they came from two different sandwiches. I’ll give a quick rundown of Mr. Angus Hyde, since I feel it’s more fair to judge the sandwich based on Dr. Angus Jekyll. The Hydewich’s meat was more dry and it was lacking in bacon, cheese and sauce. So it was basically some meat in between two pieces of bread.

Fortunately, I also got the Jekyll side, for which I have no sandwich-related nickname. This side was more moist because it had more sauce and cheese, but you could still tell the meat was a bit dry. This side had a good amount of bacon, and the bacon was surprisingly crunchy and flavorful. It was thickly cut, and you could taste that it was peppered. I would have never guessed that Arby’s, of all fast food joints, would avoid Limp Fast Food Bacon Syndrome, but they did! I could have taken the bacon straight off the sandwich, eaten it, and been satisfied with the quality.

The cheese was creamy and added an extra textural dimension to the sandwich, but I really couldn’t identify the three separate cheeses. I appreciated their presence, but they didn’t really pop. Likewise, the sauce added welcome creaminess, but I couldn’t have guessed that it was a Parmesan peppercorn ranch sauce. In fact, even when sampled separately, it didn’t have much flavor at all; the best I could say for it is that it had a mild ranch taste. For a sauce with such a descriptive (and tasty-sounding) moniker, it really failed to deliver.

I’ve had a fair amount of Arby’s sandwiches over the years. Too many, you might say. Compared to their regular shaved roast beef sandwiches, the Angus Three Cheese & Bacon is a step above the rest. That doesn’t mean it’s a fantastic sandwich, however. I wouldn’t call the meat Angus quality, and it was a little dry, but it was okay for fast food roast beef. The bacon was obviously the star; peppered, thick and crunchy, it was some of the best fast food bacon I’ve had in a long time. The cheese was creamy, as was the sauce, but both disappointed in the flavor department, particularly the sauce.

What can I say? It’s pretty solid for a fast food sandwich, but it’s not something for which you should run out of the house with no shoes on. But hey, if you find yourself trapped inside an Arby’s, which has happened to me at least a half dozen times (why do all the doors look just like the windows? Help meeeeee), give it a shot.

  • Score: 3 out of 5 Jekyll & Hydewiches
  • Price: $4.99
  • Size: 1 sandwich
  • Purchased at: Arby’s #7117
  • Nutritional Quirks: Parmesan Peppercorn Ranch Sauce appears to contain all the ingredients for Parmesan peppercorn ranch sauce, yet this is not reflected in the flavor. Also, no LFFBS!

Jones Bacon Flavored Soda

Jones Soda went totally weaksauce with their holiday offerings this year. No Halloween soda, only Tofurky & Gravy for Thanksgiving, and this “Bacon Holiday Pack”. I have no idea what any of the items included in this pack (more of which you’ll be seeing later) have to do with any holiday whatsoever, but I have a sneaking suspicion that thousands of people wrote angry letters about this lack of holiday participation. I imagine they went something like this:

Dear Jones Soda,

I am absolutely outraged to see that you are not offering your usual amount of holiday-related soda flavors this year. Now what soda am I going to drink that will make me gag with its unholy flavor? I have been so delighted to vomit into my sink such wonderful offerings as Candy Corn, Mashed Potatoes & Butter and Green Bean Casserole. The idea that you are not offering me a new carbonated beverage that tastes like meat or vegetables is unacceptable. Have you run out of ideas? Because I have a few:

Crab Cake
Potatoes Au Gratin (extra cheese flavor, please!)
Roasted Garlic Hummus
Chicken Tikka Masala
Lobster Roll
Expired Milk
Leftovers of Indeterminate Origin
Rotting Flesh

Feel free to take any and all of these ideas and transform them into wonderful, pure cane sugar-sweetened soda, so that I can gross out my friends and voluntarily traumatize my own palate. If I don’t see some new flavors that make bile rise up into my throat at just the mere mention of the name, I am going to boycott Jones Soda forever, tell all of my friends to do the same, and start an Internet petition.

Sincerely yours,

Disappointed in Denver

I imagine Jones Soda R&D and Marketing Departments were in a tizzy. What were they to do? Frazzled, there was an emergency brainstorming meeting called. Amongst the chaos, someone in the room called out, “What about BACON?! Bacon is so in right now! It’s all over the Internet!” Perhaps another bright up-and-comer chimed in, “Hey, maybe we could team up with J&D’s!” Nobody knew what the fuck this guy was talking about, so he added, “They’re the ones that make Bacon Salt! The nerds love it!”

It was an instant success, of course, and the soda was developed and packaged immediately. In a strange attempt to make it holiday-relevant, they added some completely unrelated bacon-flavored shit to make it a “pack” and put it out there for all the Internet to see. The buzz was immediate, because when you combine bacon and Jones Soda, there’s gonna be press.

Of course, I’m a sucker, so I had to buy it. I paid a completely unreasonable amount of money for some soda. The shipping was actually more than the product itself. But it was all worth it when the UPS man showed up on my doorstep with the box that clearly showed that I was ordering soda off the Internet. At least it didn’t show the flavor on the box.

Wait a second…

Jones Bacon Flavored Soda Label Pig Girl

WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?! I signed up for bacon-flavored soda. I did not sign up for creepy-ass pig-nose girl. And she is on both bottles. Why couldn’t I get overly excited guy in a bacon suit, like on their website? Happy bacon suit guy makes me feel a little better about this soda. Creepy pig-nose girl is like an ominous foreshadowing of horrible things to come.

The front of the label is not the end of things, however. Jones tries to justify itself on the back: “Bacon flavored soda? Okay, pigs may not be able to fly, but that’s not stopping us from bottling a batch of this stuff for you anyway. Drawing inspiration from everyone’s favorite cured meat, we partnered with J&D’s Foods, the makes of Bacon Salt, and produced this refreshingly meaty creation. So, crack open a bottle and ‘ink-dray up-way’…because everything tastes better with bacon.”

Puns make everything better. Here we have a pigs flying reference, and, my favorite, the use of pig latin, which actually took me a second to get the joke. Kudos to Jones for correctly utilizing the rule for words in pig latin that begin with a vowel. I had to think back to third grade to confirm that was the correct way to do it.

I may have been a sucker for buying this soda, but I’m not enough of a sucker to think that Jones didn’t say “refreshingly meaty” without tongue firmly planted in cheek. They know there’s nothing refreshing about this soda. They know it’s gross and wrong. And, sadly, even though they just stated that “everything tastes better with bacon”, their own product is probably about to prove that statement wrong for the first time. Jesus wept.

Somehow, I doubt that.

The color of the soda is ominous. It looks dark brown in the bottle, like a piece of bacon that’s just a little bit burnt, which I enjoy. In bacon, not in soda. On the other hand, it also looks like maple syrup. Oh god, what if they went with maple-flavored bacon instead of just straight-up bacon? Things just got worse. I need to just do this before I prematurely vomit just from psyching myself out.

First of all, upon opening the bottle, foam exploded out of the top of the bottle, despite zero jostling on my part.

Bacon soda went everywhere, and apparently instantly stains everything. That is my countertop after having spilled soda on it for five seconds before being wiped up.

That is my special review towel, which already had some stains on it, but now appears to be ruined forever. (Update – washed the towel immediately with OxyClean Stain Gel and all the soda came out.  Yay!)

This is the soda in my kitchen sink, about three minutes after the bacon soda explosion. The foam refuses to go down. Also, what appeared to be dark brown soda is pink. What.

None of this means anything, however, because bacon soda is the worst thing in the world and I will now attempt to use mere mortal words to describe it.

First of all, I smelled it. It smells awful. It smells, literally, like poop. Shit. Feces. Excrement. An obese man’s bathroom after a night at Pancho’s all-you-can-eat Mexican buffet.

I stood with the bottle in my hand, leaning against the sink, for a good two minutes. I didn’t want to drink it, but I knew I had to. I finally took a swig out of the bottle. I couldn’t tell if it was remarkably tasteless and the feces smell was just drifting into my sinuses, or what, but I really was smelling more than I was tasting, and the smell continued to be awful.

I poured it in a glass and took a drink from that, wondering if perhaps the flavor would blossom in there, which I really didn’t want it to do, but had to know. I took my second drink.

I would say the taste is indescribable, but that is not true. It is very describable.

Anyone who has ever watched Mythbusters has probably seen the episode in which they place pig carcasses in a car, seal it airtight, and leave it for two months. When the car was opened, Adam Savage described the smell (I’m paraphrasing off of memory here) as one of the worst odors he’s ever experienced. I believe he also stated that the smell clung to him, refusing to leave. This is a man who has probably experienced more bad smells than 99% of the world’s population (along with Mike Rowe), so I take his claims seriously.

I have never been anywhere near a rotting, decomposed, maggot-filled pig carcass, but I can imagine exactly what it smells like. And that is exactly like what Jones Bacon Flavored Soda tastes like. After my second swallow, I reeled around the kitchen, holding my forearm to my nose and mouth like a rookie cop who just entered his first overripe crime scene. I’m sure it looked over-dramatic, but the reaction was completely real. Rotting pig corpse filled my mouth and my nostrils, clinging to me, refusing to dissipate.

Surprisingly, I didn’t throw up or even gag. I have to believe that the smell and taste was so bad that it overwhelmed my senses too much to even think about gagging. I dumped the glass down the sink and ran the hot water. I sealed the remaining soda in the bottle as tightly as I could and threw it in the trash. The smell lingered in my kitchen.

I had to go to the store shortly afterward. I felt like the stink covered me like a cloud. For the first time in my life, I bought a bottle of Listerine. When I brought it home, I didn’t take my shoes off or even walk all the way to the bathroom; I busted it out of the bag and swished my heart out at the kitchen sink. I have to say, Listerine is very refreshing! It also made me feel free of the dead pig cloud. 5 burgers to you, Listerine.

I don’t really feel like this review needs a wrap-up paragraph, but it’s a tradition, so. Jones Bacon Flavored Soda tastes absolutely nothing like bacon. Its only connection to that delicious food is “pig”. Instead of tasting like bacon, this soda tastes like they took the decomposing remains of a pig and combined it with carbonated water. The pure cane sugar wasn’t even necessary, as the sickly sweet smell of rotting meat was already taken care of. I wrote that little fake letter to Jones before I tasted the soda; I guess now I can cross “rotting flesh” off the list. Congratulations, Banquet, you no longer hold the gold medal for worst “edible” thing I’ve ever ingested. Jones Bacon Flavored Soda is the worst ever.

Note: The Impulsive Buy also hated…I mean, reviewed, this product.

  • Score: 0 out of 5, you guessed it, rotting, bloated, decomposed pig carcasses covered in maggots
  • Price: $9.99 for the holiday pack, my innocence forever in not knowing what a two-week-old crime scene smells and tastes like
  • Size: 1 bottle of 12 fluid ounces of pure evil
  • Purchased at: jonessoda.com
  • Nutritional Quirks: “Natural and artificial flavors” must mean “the liquefied insides of dead animals”.