Archive | September, 2011

NEWS: McDonald’s Offering Sweet Autumn Shake At Limited Locations

Written by | September 30, 2011

Topics: Fast Food, McDonald's

First Time Outside - Orange Kitten in Autumn Leaves

Update: Click here to read our McDonald’s Sweet Autumn Shake review

Yesterday, Impulsive Buy reader Lisa told us on our Facebook page about McDonald’s new Sweet Autumn Shake. It’s features cinnamon and nutmeg mixed in McDonald’s reduced fat ice cream and topped with whipped cream and a cherry.

After doing a little searching on Google, it appears to be a regional (or test) item, available at select McDonald’s locations in the Midwest and East Coast. It’s been available at some of those locations since the beginning of the month.

I do have my doubts that it will be rolled out nationwide because the McDonald’s restaurants here on this rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean have just begun offering the limited time only Arctic Orange Shake.

But I’m not sure I want to try the McDonald’s Sweet Autumn Shake, because Lisa said of it, “Nastiest thing I’ve had in a while.” However, here’s a positive review, so it might not be as bad.

If you’ve had the McDonald’s Sweet Autumn Shake, let us know what you think about it in the comments below.

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REVIEW: Beer Battered Onion Rings Ruffles

Written by | September 30, 2011

Topics: 7 Rating, Chips, Ruffles

Beer Battered Onion Rings Ruffles

So you’re hosting a fall harvest barbecue with a backwoods gourmet theme heavily influence by your lack of funds and the fact that you ran over a wild animal on your way home from work last night. Frankly, this sounds a bit questionable, but lord knows, I’ve got no room to judge.

Anyway, the meal is shaping up to be a disaster (big shock there). With your first guests set to shuffle over from their neighboring trailers in about fifteen minutes, your found opossum entree still isn’t done (at least, it doesn’t look done – but I’m no opossum roasting expert) and your multi-layer Jell-O jiggler hors d’oeuvres aren’t setting nearly as fast as you’d hoped. You don’t have nearly enough time left to whip up your beloved cheese puff casserole! Whatever will you do for a side dish?

Well, lucky for you, you’ve got me, and a local Walmart. Simply send a significant other/friend/child out for some limited edition Beer Battered Onion Rings Ruffles and you’ll already be halfway to neighborhood acclaim. Seeing as you’ve prepared no other sides, I’d recommend, oh, roughly 1/3 bag per person.

“But Nichol,” I assume you’re asking, “I can’t just serve them bagged. That’s not gourmet! And the only bowl I have big enough for the five bags of chips you estimate I’ll need has snowmen and dancing Santas all over it!”

Holy crap! Chill out! I’ve got you covered. Quit interrupting.

Do you have construction paper? No? Well, quick – call the person you sent out for chips and have them pick some up. I’ll wait.

Okay? Okay. Now, what you want to do next is come up with an appropriate replacement theme for the bowl. You’ve already got the Fall thing going, so let’s work with that. Now’s the time to get creative. I recommend covering Frosty and St. Nick’s faces with lots and lots of paper leaves. If, however, you wish to take things a bit further, maybe shift forward a few weeks with your décor, you could also craft zombie parts for the Santas, so that they appear to be hunting down the poor snowmen, or vice versa.

In either case, that’s not a problem you’ve got on your hands so much as a fantastic crafting opportunity.

“But what about the chips themselves?” You now say because you’re just horribly whiny and out of sorts today. “What makes them classy? And shouldn’t I opt for more of a variety?”

First off, no. Just these. Don’t confuse your guests with five thousand similar looking lesser chip varieties. They deserve better.

Second, these chips happen to be a limited edition, fan-chosen, Walmart exclusive. If that’s not enough for your crowd of snobbish rednecks, tell them this: Beer Battered Onion Rings Ruffles are a one-of-a-kind treat, occupying a blurry middle ground somewhere between Funyuns and their comparatively mundane Sour Cream and Onion Ruffles cousins.

Beer Battered Onion Rings Ruffles Closeup

They are the mellow, potato chip equivalent to French’s French Fried Onions, by which I mean the oniony notes are vivid, sweet, and unmistakably Vidalia-like, and the chips taste very much deep fried in some batter you won’t recognize but will wish you could replicate. They offer just a hint of completely unnecessary brown sugar (which I assume is supposed to lend a caramelized taste) and subtle buttermilk undertones. The coating is light, sidestepping both the weird film Funyuns leave behind in one’s mouth and the heaviness one feels by one’s second or third handful of sour cream and onion chips.

The flavor pairs wonderfully with a nice peppery Saison. What? I lost you all there? Fine. These chips pair decently with any cheap beer devoid of fruity elements, wheat, and most other adjectives. Is that what you want to hear? Honestly, why do I even try with you?

Basically, if your guests enjoy onion rings, they will enjoy these chips. And if they are the kind of crowd that enjoys opossum, I’m just going to stereotypically assume they’re onion ring fans. Or at least fans of fried things, which is close enough.

Oh, and I should probably mention that the layers of flavor flatten out to nothing but semi-fake onion as you keep shoveling the Beer Battered Onion Rings Ruffles into your gullet. Make sure to periodically offer up more beer and opossum parts to avoid potential party-killing monotony.

Good Luck!

(Nutrition Facts – 1 ounce/ about 11 chips- 160 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 2.5 grams polyunsaturated fat, 5 grams monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 200 milligrams of potassium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, 2 grams of protein, 0% vitamin A, 0% calcium, 8% Vitamin B6, 10% vitamin C, 4% thiamin, 2% phosphorous, 4% magnesium, and 2% iron.)

Other Beer Battered Onion Rings Ruffles reviews:
Fat Guy Food Blog

Item: Beer Battered Onion Rings Ruffles
Price: $2.98 (on sale)
Size: 9 ounces
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: No Funyuns film. DIY re-holiday-ification. Buttermilk. Jell-O hors d’oeuvres. Vidalia sweetness. Good addition to the existing faux-fried onion flavor family. Zombie Santas.
Cons: Found opossum entrees. Attempt at caramelized flavor lends a weird barbeque-like edge. Jell-O refusing to cooperate. Descends into an oniony borefest after a few minutes.

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REVIEW: Hot Pockets Limited Edition Spicy Hawaiian Style Pizza

Written by | September 29, 2011

Topics: 7 Rating, Frozen Food, Hot Pockets

Hot Pockets Limited Edition Spicy Hawaiian Style Pizza

Hot Pockets had to eventually make their Limited Edition Spicy Hawaiian Style Pizza because they were running out of normal pizza varieties to stuff into their crust.

Let me go through the list, which, by the way, IS NOT the list of pizzas I’m going to use to pull a prank on a particular person who knows what they did and deserves whatever punishment I give them. So if you happen to have a pizza delivery person at your door who says they have one or two dozen pizzas for either a Jack Ulf or Jack Haas, it wasn’t from me.

There are currently Hot Pockets in the following pizza varieties: supreme, cheese, pepperoni, sausage, and pepperoni and sausage. That pretty much covers the entire basic pizza spectrum, so Hot Pockets had to start going into “specialty pizzas.” Hell, I’m surprised Hot Pockets didn’t do a little Marvel/DC Universe-like crossover action with California Pizza Kitchen frozen products. Hot Pockets California Pizza Kitchen BBQ Chicken Pizza sounds tasty and verbose.

Each Hot Pockets Limited Edition Spicy Hawaiian Style Pizza is stuffed with Canadian-style bacon, pepperoni, pineapple, mozzarella cheese and sauce. There are also tiny chunks of jalapeño peppers which adds a little heat. The crust that envelops all those ingredients looks slightly different than your normal Hot Pocket. There’s appears to be some seasoning baked into it and it’s a lot less pale than a regular Hot Pocket. It looks like a classy Hot Pocket, which I know sounds like a total oxymoron. like jumbo shrimp or fast food salad.

I thought I wouldn’t care for this particular Hot Pocket because of my indifference towards Hawaiian pizza, but just like Katy Perry kissing a girl, I liked it. Although, before I ate the Hot Pockets Limited Edition Spicy Hawaiian Style Pizza I was really hungry, so perhaps I enjoyed it because of hunger pangs, which, if you think about it, are the beer goggles of the digestive system.

Hot Pockets Limited Edition Spicy Hawaiian Style Pizza Innards

If you find Hawaiian pizzas offensive because of its use of pineapples, you’re not going to enjoy this Hot Pocket because every bite has the taste of pineapple. Although it gets that pineapple flavor mostly from pineapple juice because I counted only three small chunks of pineapple in each of the two Hot Pockets I consumed. But its flavor is noticeable and it gives the Hot Pocket a nice sweetness.

While there aren’t a lot of pineapple chunks, there’s a lot of Canadian-style bacon. Sadly, the pepperoni didn’t stand out as much as I hoped, getting lost in between the ham and jalapeño. Speaking of the jalapeño, its mild spiciness and flavor are the reasons why I enjoyed this Hot Pocket more than I thought I would. Its heat is not going to make you instantly reach for a glass of water, but it’s going to make you think you should have one handy.

Overall, if the idea of Hawaiian pizza doesn’t gross you out and the idea of eating a Hot Pocket doesn’t gross you out, then I really suggest you try the Hot Pockets Limited Edition Spicy Hawaiian Style Pizza before they disappear. The combination of sweet pineapple and savory meats with spicy jalapeño peppers makes for a very mouthwatering ménage à trois.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 Hot Pocket – 290 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat*, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 610 milligrams of sodium, 41 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, 9 grams of protein, and a bunch of vitamin and minerals.)

*Uses partially hydrogenated soybean oil.

Item: Hot Pockets Limited Edition Spicy Hawaiian Style Pizza
Price: $3.89 (on sale)
Size: 2 Hot Pockets
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: A mouthwatering ménage à trois of sweet, savory, and spicy. Lots of Canadian-style bacon. Jalapeño adds a mild spiciness and makes this Hot Pocket better than I thought it would be. A future Hot Pockets/CPK crossover.
Cons: Pineapples might be off-putting for many. The idea of a Hot Pocket might be off-putting for many. Pepperoni wasn’t noticeable. Not a lot of pineapple chunks. It’s a limited edition product. Uses partially hydrogenated oil.

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REVIEW: Trident Layers Sweet Cherry + Island Lime Gum

Written by | September 28, 2011

Topics: 4 Rating, Gum, Trident

Trident Layers Sweet Cherry + Island Lime

The first thing that occurred to me when I purchased my trim, little magenta-and-white package of Trident Layers Sweet Cherry and Island Lime sugar free gum is that it sounds like a 70’s-era grindhouse action duo. Sweet Cherry is the prostitute-turned-undercover-inner-city-vice-detective and Island Lime is her hard-hitting, trash-talking, crime-solving Rastafarian partner.

I should invent a secret time machine and become a 70’s Hollywood producer. I’d make millions….. MILLIONS!!! (But maybe not if I forget to adjust for inflation.) The second thing that occurred to me is that it looks like the lime is violently bisecting the cherry on the package. This gum will be rated R.

Trident Layers Sweet Cherry + Island Lime Closeup

The Sweet Cherry and Island Lime gum itself is shaped like a rectangular block. Upon first chew, you immediately taste a strong splash of artificial lime flavor. Not terrible, but a bit too strong. Then the cherry flavor comes in. It’s not as potent as the lime… definitely more understated. The cherry is a subtle low note to the lime’s sparking high note. Though I soon began to wish the lime would shut up.

Like other Trident Layers gum flavors, the taste disappears after only a couple minutes of vigorous chewing. I thought for a second that maybe I was chewing too hard, and then I remembered that this is America, and I will chew my gum as hard and as quickly as I damn well please. Nonetheless, I did attempt to chew another piece more slowly to see if the sweetness would stick around longer, but alas, it wasn’t enough to prolong the fruity sensation. If this were one of those old gum commercials where the blast of flavor was portrayed as a bitchin’ wave, I would’ve bottomed out on the ocean floor and shredded my face on a coral reef in seconds. Totally NOT tubular, dude.

Trident Layers Sweet Cherry + Island Lime Opened

Trident Layers Sweet Cherry and Island Lime gum is all right, but its flavor lacks longevity, and even if it did last longer, I probably wouldn’t like it because the artificial sweetness is too much. The overall flavor profile of cherry mixed with lime is that of a jaunty cocktail minus the alcohol (a mocktail), although I guess you could chew this gum immediately after downing a couple shots of straight vodka and really have yourself a drink. I’d imagine you’re saving that kind of thing for the weekend. Or for when Sweet Cherry and Island Lime’s Badasssssss Fruit Splash Song premieres in a theater near you, back in 1974. But perhaps I’ve said too much.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 stick – 5 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates, and 0 grams of sugar.)

Other Trident Layers Sweet Cherry + Island Lime Gum reviews:
Mmm…Deliciousness
Gum Alert
TV & Gum Are Awesome

Item: Trident Layers Sweet Cherry + Island Lime Gum
Price: $0.99
Size: 14 pieces per pack
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: High notes of lime flavor accompany low notes of cherry very well. Exploitation cinema. Chewing your gum American-style. Mimics the flavor of jaunty, fruit-flavored mocktails. Time machines.
Cons: Artificial sweetness is overpowering. Flavor doesn’t last long. Mocktails. Wipe out, dude. Forgetting to adjust for inflation.

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REVIEW: Domino’s Artisan Pizza (Spinach & Feta and Italian Sausage & Pepper Trio)

Written by | September 27, 2011

Topics: 7 Rating, Domino's, Fast Food, Pizza

Domino's Spinach & Feta Artisan Pizza

When I signed up to review Domino’s new Artisan Pizzas, I immediately began thinking of disparaging comments to make about their choosing to use the word artisan. “Domino’s employees are to artisans,” I imagined myself writing, “as the Noid is to a relevant cultural icon.” That’s not even the cleverest or pithiest analogy I had lined up, if you can believe that’s even possible.

I was so ready to do the whole snarky-blogger thing, but Domino’s has preempted any snark by actually embedding it into their ad campaign. The text on their new pizza boxes starts with, “We’re not artisans, we don’t wear black berets,” and their new TV ad vilifies some vaguely French chef who’s acting like a prima donna. By acknowledging the images associated with artisans and wink-winking at the ridiculousness of their artisanal aspirations, the folks at Domino’s have managed to take all the fun out of making fun of them. (Although it’s great we can all still make fun of the French – what is with those berets, amirite?)

While they could get out in front of my snarkiness, I knew they couldn’t stop me from criticizing their crappy pizzas, and I was intent on writing a blistering review. There was only one problem: these pizzas were actually pretty good.

Each pizza was rectangular and cut into eighths, with all the toppings reasonably well-distributed across the slices. Both pizzas had crusts that were thinner and crispier than usual Domino’s fare but still structurally sound enough to support the toppings.

The Spinach & Feta pizza had alfredo sauce, feta and parmesan-asiago cheeses, fresh baby spinach, and onions. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was a significant amount of feta, as its sharp tanginess was the primary flavor of the pizza. In some places the cheese was spread almost from edge-to-edge, leaving the crusts quite tasty, as well. The spinach and onions were noticeable in their contributions to the texture of the pizza, but I wish there had been more of each topping, as both were mostly overwhelmed by the feta.

Domino's Italian Sausage & Pepper Trio Artisan Pizza

The Italian Sausage & Pepper Trio had parmesan-asiago cheese, sliced Italian sausage, and red, green, and banana peppers. The sausage was nothing special; it had some sweetness but wasn’t particularly spicy. I imagine it was the same as can be found on any other Domino’s pizzas, but serving it in thicker slices rather than the usual crumbles seemed to hold in the flavor better. The green and red peppers added some mild crunch, but they were completely upstaged by the banana peppers. The banana peppers were the clear-cut stars of the Pepper Trio, much like Beyonce to Destiny’s Child or Joe to the Jonas Brothers or somebody else that would make you look less poorly upon my musical tastes. I had never ordered a pizza with banana peppers before, but their strong vinegary, spicy presence on the Italian Sausage & Pepper Trio has convinced me to add banana peppers to the toppings rotation from now on. A generous dusting of oregano rounded out a pretty well-made pizza.

Domino's Artisan Pizza Slices

As far as other complaints go, the pizza was relatively pricey and fairly small compared to their regular offerings (they measure in at 13″ x 9″, so roughly the size of one of their medium pizzas for the price of a large). Still, I give these pizzas a thumbs-up, and they’re certainly better than Domino’s re-launched pizzas from last year. Domino’s, you guys are running some annoyingly self-aware ad campaigns, but as long as you keep up the tastiness of these Artisan Pizzas and the Francophobia in your commercials, I will make sure to keep my blogger snark in check.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/6th of a pizza – Spinach & Feta – 150 calories, 7 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 250 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 6 grams of protein. Italian Sausage & Pepper Trio – 160 calories, 7 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 330 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of protein.)

Other Domino’s Artisan Pizza reviews:
Grub Grade

Item: Domino’s Artisan Pizza (Spinach & Feta and Italian Sausage & Pepper Trio)
Price: $7.99
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Domino’s
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Spinach & Feta)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Italian Sausage & Pepper Trio)
Pros: Crust was thinner and crispier than regular Domino’s pizzas. Spinach & Feta had significant amount of feta cheese spread from crust-to-crust. Italian Sausage & Pepper Trio had delicious banana peppers and thickly-sliced sausage. Vilifying French people. Referencing the Noid. Beyonce’s having a baby!
Cons: Not enough spinach and onion to stand out against the feta. Green and red peppers were kind of useless. Pizzas were a bit expensive for the size. Domino’s pre-empting my snark. Spellcheck not recognizing snark as a word.

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