Tag Archives: habanero

McDonald’s Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McDonald's Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder Website

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

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

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

I’m lovin’ it. (Please kill me.)

Okay. Burger time.

McDonald's Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder

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

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

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

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

McDonald's Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder Open

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

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

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

McDonald's Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder Half

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

McDonald's Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder Top Bun

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

McDonald's Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder Sauce

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

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

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

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

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

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

McDonald’s Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder

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

Doritos 1st, 2nd and 3rd Degree Burn: Blazin’ Jalapeño, Fiery Buffalo and Scorchin’ Habanero Tortilla Chips

I’m inappropriately excited about reviewing these Doritos 1st, 2nd and 3rd Degree chips. You see, I’ve been seeing 1st and 2nd Degree Burns in at least two separate stores. But wherever I looked, I just couldn’t seem to find the 3rd degree. I couldn’t understand – why so elusive? Why would you sell the first two, but not the third? Is it that dangerous? My frustration over my inability to locate the third burn only intensified my curiosity. And I couldn’t just review the first two, that would be…somehow wrong. Incomplete. So I was left to be constantly confronted by two thirds of a trio that I so wanted to take pictures of and write about on the Internet.

But then…then, one fateful Saturday afternoon, I walked into one of the stores that had been taunting me with burns that only required aloe vera and not a trip to the hospital and what did I see…3rd DEGREE BURN, MOTHERFUCKERS! I excitedly grabbed a bag and headed over to where the first two had been taunting me in the store for close to a month now. And yet, they were not there. I traversed the whole store, and couldn’t find them. So…you finally get the third, and then remove the first two? That don’t make no sense.

Luckily, I knew another place that also only carried the first two, so I picked those up and basked in triumph. And thus ends two paragraphs’ worth of a story that is only interesting to me.

Moving on! In case you don’t have a grasp on the simplest of medical concepts, the gimmick here is that there are three different levels of heat. Let’s take them literally, just for fun. The first degree, Blazin’ Jalapeño, will make your tongue mildly uncomfortable. There may also be some swelling. Run some cool water over your tongue for a while and stop being such a pussy.

The second, Fiery Buffalo, will…wait a second. How is buffalo hotter than jalapeño? According to the Scoville scale, jalapeños register in at 2,500 to 8,000 units. “Buffalo” isn’t a pepper, and thus isn’t on the Scoville scale, but I’ve had my fair share of buffalo sauces, and I don’t think any of them were in any way hotter than eating a raw jalapeño. I guess they could have just used a really hot sauce to make them. Well, regardless, after consuming these chips, you will experience severe pain and swelling of the tongue, as well as developing disgusting blisters. Cold water can also help here, but it is advised that you suck on the sap of an aloe vera plant throughout the day. Try not to pop those blisters that are filling up your mouth. That would probably taste pretty gross, and it’s bad for the wound. A sterile gauze bandage may be applied to your mouth to help protect the burn. I guess you should just stuff a bunch of gauze in there and carry around a pen and paper. It would probably hurt too much to talk, anyways.

The third degree, Scorchin’ Habanero, will fuck your shit up. Habanero peppers register on the Scoville scale at 100,000 to 250,000 units. It is advised that you wear protective gloves while handling these chips to prevent skin irritation. After you eat these chips, you should seek immediate medical attention. Do not remove any clothing you may be wearing on your tongue. Elevate the tongue to above the heart le- well I guess that one is taken care of. Call 911 or have someone drive you to the nearest Emergency Room; do not drive yourself, as you may go into shock and cause a car accident, which would only make things worse. Your tongue will require constant medical attention and bandage changes for weeks afterward. A skin graft may be required. They may harvest your new tongue skin from your buttocks.

After hearing all that, you must think I’m a fool for attempting to eat all three burns in one day. Well, maybe I am a fool, but I’m a fool who eats things so that you don’t have to. Some may call me a fool; others, a hero.

1st Degree Burn: Blazin’ Jalapeño

Hm.  These certainly taste familiar.  Where have I experienced this unique taste before?  Oh, I think I remember!  I think they remind me quite strongly of Doritos Late Night Last Call Jalapeno Poppers. Or maybe I’m thinking of Doritos Poppin’ Jalapeño! No, that can’t be it, I didn’t even know that was a flavor of Doritos until about five minutes ago. Well hey, maybe it was Doritos 3Ds Jalapeño & Cheddar, part of a brief and apparently unsuccessful gimmick from the mid-2000s!

What I’m trying to say here, and I think you’ve all pretty much guessed it by now, is that there’s nothing new in Blazin’ Jalapeño. I could go on a giant tirade about Frito-Lay constantly recycles their flavors into new gimmicks, but I don’t even want to get started, because that would then become half the content of this website.  I just need to accept it and move on.

I don’t see that actually happening.

For those of you who haven’t tried any of these other iterations, the flavor is pretty straightforward – spicy heat with an undertone of artificial cheese flavoring. I actually like them quite a bit, and they pack a surprising amount of heat. Jalapeño pepper powder is listed as one of the ingredients, and it’s definitely not shy.  Anyone who is not a big fan of capsaicin definitely would not like these.  They’ve got a good burn, but not so much so that the flavors are overwhelmed.

I don’t really have a lot more to say about 1st Degree Burn Blazin’ Jalapeño, other than that we’re off to a pretty promising start.  If this is 1st degree, I’m eager to see how much my tongue hates me as we move on!

2nd Degree Burn Fiery Buffalo

I wondered briefly why 1st Degree got the Blazin’ moniker and Doritos didn’t take alliterative advantage (heh heh) and call these Blazin’ Buffalo. And then I remembered why.  I swear I’ve had Blazin’ Buffalo & Ranch Doritos before, and I don’t recall the buffalo chips being hot at all.  Just sufficiently buffalo-flavored.

Holy crap!  Holy crap these chips are hot!  The first chip delivered a blast that immediately hit my sinuses in a way 1st Degree didn’t.  It was a feeling akin to what happens when you put too much wasabi on a sushi roll.  As I kept eating them, the burn kept building.  I ate about a half dozen of them and my whole mouth was on fire.  My lips were burning, and continued to do so for minutes afterwards.  I actually had to sniffle a few times, as the heat was making my nose run a little.

I have to say, I’m honestly blown away.  These are the hottest chips I’ve ever eaten.  I didn’t know you could actually make tortilla chips this hot.  I’m not getting a lot of buffalo flavor (although the “fiery” part certainly is present), but I could see how these would be really great with a nice, thick ranch dip.  I’m sorry, but throwing some Cool Ranch Doritos into the mix won’t help this time – you’re gonna need a pretty serious dairy product to cut through the heat.

The flavor is really kind of hard to describe…”burny” is all that comes to mind.  But it’s kind of a good burn.  I’ve always poo-pooed those people who like to eat super hot hot sauce.  What’s the point of eating something if all you taste is pain?  And yet, I really liked 2nd Degree Burn.  The little masochist inside of me enjoyed the slow build of torture.  I don’t think I would eat them all the time, but honestly, if I had some good ranch dip around, I could really lay into these guys, watching tv with a box of Kleenex nearby so I could blow my nose as snot runs down my face.

I’m impressed!  And now terrified of 3rd Degree Burn Scorchin’ Habanero.  I’m actually going to have to wait a while before eating them to get some feeling back in my mouth.

3rd Degree Burn Scorchin’ Habanero

Okay so seriously I’m a little scared.  Take a look at what I’m up against:


When I was taking pictures, before any actual tasting started, I saw these and thought, oh, these are just going to be like Flamin’ Hot Doritos, because of the coloration.  I’ve never had Flamin’ Hot Doritos, but I’ve had the Cheetos, and they are delicious, but not really that hot.  The most threatening thing about them is that the violently brightly colored flavor powder stains your fingers, letting the world know that you have recently indulged in some form of Flamin’ Hot junk food.


Now, I am not so sure.

Well, there’s only one thing to do about it, and that is to eat them.  Let’s get on with it, then!  I feel like I should have some sort of spotter or sitter nearby.  Maybe a LifeAlert necklace.  C. Everett Coop is looking down at me disapprovingly from the afterlife.

Here we go…

SPOILER ALERT: I’m alive!  And I didn’t even have to go to the hospital (yet).  I actually feel like 3rd Degree is about as hot as 2nd Degree.  Of course, 2nd Degree could have turned my tongue into a charred wasteland, rendering me incapable of noticing heat differences.  I got the mouth and lip burn.  Less sinus irritation; only one sniffle came out of it.  But I did get some eye tearing with 3rd Degree, and I definitely feel it more in the throat area.  While I was eating them, I got that choking, burning feeling, like when you accidentally swallow some hot, spicy pho broth the wrong way.  Like I need to cough, or gag. Or make that gross “HUUUKKKGGGHHH” sound uncivilized guys make right before they hock a loogie on the ground.  Even after having not eaten them for a little while, my esophagus feels a tad scorched.  Scorchin’!  Well done, Doritos.

I actually got a little more flavor (other than “ouchy”) out of 3rd Degree than 2nd.  They taste a lot like Spicy Nacho Doritos.  Spicy Nacho Doritos are the wimpy kid in middle school who gets bullied on his way home one day, and the next day his older brother, Scorchin’ Habanero, comes out and absolutely kicks the shit out of those little assholes, sending them running home crying to mama.  Apparently my mouth is the gaggle of bullies, in this scenario.  My mouth is misunderstood; life at home is hard, and…oh, nevermind.  The burning isn’t going away as fast this time and I think it has spread to my brain and I can no longer think straight enough to complete an already poorly constructed analogy.

Doritos 1st, 2nd and 3rd Degree Burns kicked my ass, and I’m happy to say that.  I’m so used to fast food gimmicks claiming to be hotter than Hades winding up being about as spicy as your grandmother’s love life that I severely underestimated Doritos.  Frito-Lay comes out with a new gimmick approximately once a week, and it’s usually the same flavors we’ve seen before with a shiny new bow and a poorly-executed concept.  This time, however, they took a solid concept and really ran with it.  Okay, so 1st Degree Blazin’ Jalaepeño was a total rehash, but it still fit perfectly into the progression of Burns and is still a tasty product, even if this is its fourth iteration.  Heck, even if 2nd and 3rd Degrees are also rehashes and I just don’t know/remember it, the overall theme is solid, fun, and goddamn painful.  Painfully delicious!

Ask me to say that again tomorrow when I’m on the toilet cursing every good thing I ever said in this review while my digestive tract stages a grassroots rebellion against Frito-Lay.

Oh, and as a side note, Doritos Burns has a little cross-promo with Pepsi Max, which claims it will “cure the burn”.  I think they would have been better off striking a deal with Hidden Valley.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my mouth has a date with a wad of gauze.

Doritos 1st Degree Burn Blazin’ Jalapeño Tortilla Chips

  • Score: 3.5 out of 5 failed 3D snacks
  • Price: $0.99
  • Size: 2 1/4 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Circle K #2821
  • Nutritional Quirks: Magically reanimated flavor!  Zombification ingredients not listed.  🙁

Doritos 2nd Degree Burn Fiery Buffalo Tortilla Chips

  • Score: 4 out of 5 surviving taste buds
  • Price: $0.99
  • Size: 2 1/8 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Circle K #2821
  • Nutritional Quirks: Addition of ranch dip will significantly up the grams of fat, but it’s worth it.

Doritos 3rd Degree Burn Scorchin’ Habanero Tortilla Chips

  • Score: 4.5 out of 5 charred taste buds
  • Price: $0.99
  • Size: 2 1/8 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Fry’s Foods
  • Nutritional Quirks: FIRE IN MY MOUTH!  HALP!