With recent news that the healthy school lunch initiatives undertaken by the First Lady might just be starving our kids, I can imagine quite a few in the K through 12 ranks are contemplating a switchover to the old brown bag lunch. As a former “bringer,” (every day, for 12 straight years, and DAMN PROUD) let me welcome them to the world where anything goes and what your parents pack you very rarely ends up down your gullet.
I’m talking trades, haggling, and straight up bartering for the best goods this side of a 7-Eleven snack aisle.
But before you trade away for old Howie Klinchenstien’s two bags of Cooler Ranch Doritos and Rachel Jimbobberycooters’ Dunkaroos, you’re going to have to equip yourself with some serious hardware. Forget that couscous and marinated mozzarella salad Mom made the other night, and ditch Dad’s homemade crunchy chickpeas with cumin and black pepper. These days, the freaking lunch lady’s can whip up that, and hell if I’m gonna eat something I can’t even pronounce. No, what’s really hot on the middle school lunch trade market right now is a bit more…how should I put this…elicit.
Chicken nuggets are where it’s at. And thanks to Lunchables’ new Snackers Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets, you can not only bring chicken nuggets to your no-fun lunchroom, but you can do so without even having to sneak into the teacher’s lounge to use the microwave.
Because the 15 second heating instructions are “optional,” I decided to sample my pre-cooked nuggets both cold and warm. I highly suggest neither option.
After opening the bag, you’ll be greeted by a smell I can only describe as “soggy cafeteria chicken nugget.” Ah, the sweet smell of maltodextrin, corn meal, and reconstituted white meat chicken with rib meat. Tell me, is there anything more American?
Cold, the nugget breading rubs off on your fingers in a mealy and grainy way that gives new meaning to the time-honored grade school condition known as “you have cooties,” and tastes strongly – and only – of salt and garlic. The chicken is moist, I guess, but moist only in the sense that it came off as a circle of chewy chemicals and stuff that might have once gone “cock-a-doodle-doo.” Despite its name, I definitely didn’t taste any honey or BBQ flavor.
Warmed up, the nuggets are even worse. The breading becomes soggy and oily, covering your fingers in a mealy and wet substance that’ll make you drop more footballs in a recess pick-me-up game than Terrell Owens dropped in his short-lived preseason comeback bid for the Seattle Seahawks. The heated nuggets taste like, well, heated and overly salted pieces of something vaguely chickeny, with little, if any, taste of honey or BBQ. Instead, there are strong generic garlic and cornmeal flavors in the pinkish, orangeish “breading,” which can’t be overcome by ketchup or a dipping sauce alone.
On a scale on 1 to 10 in terms of the classic middle school lunch tradability matrix, Lunchables Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets score about a negative six. Meaning that if you’ve got a hankering for the lightly salted rice cakes that the girl on the “diet” has or the fishy smelly thing the kid from Thailand always brings to the table, then you’ve got the golden ticket. Otherwise, these little guys keep to the time-honored Lunchables tradition of making actual 1990s cafeteria food look halfway decent, and making us all question how we survived eating that crap.
(Nutrition Facts – 6 nuggets (85 g) – 180 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 420 milligrams of sodium, 13 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.)
Item: Lunchables Snackers Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets
Purchased Price: $3.98
Size: 9.8 ounces
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 1 out of 10
Pros: Civil disobedience in the lunchroom. No heating required. Avoiding starvation due to healthy public school lunches. Great if you like trading your lunch away for rice cakes.
Cons: Absolutely freaking disgusting. Doesn’t taste like BBQ. Or honey. Or chicken. Lacking proper lunch-table trading material. Does actual deep-fried pieces of chicken byproduct an absolute disservice.