REVIEW: KFC Fully Loaded Box Meal

With Guitar Hero’s market share thoroughly decimated by the popularity of Rock Band, it comes as no surprise that they would look towards the Colonel for a little promotional help. Pretending to rock out with Guitar Hero is now something to be ashamed of, like playing with K’NEX instead of LEGO or rooting for the LA Clippers.

Box meals from KFC seem to vary from location to location, with some offering popcorn chicken and others giving you a Snacker, but as Linkin Park once said as I cried myself to sleep in junior high: In the end, it doesn’t even matter. These meals will be the ruin of you. At easily over a thousand calories, not including the gigantic cauldron of soda that you’ll have to hold in your child’s car seat, either the fat, salt, or sheer mass intake will be sure to have you running to Yahoo Answers so that you can ask about the possible side effects of bulimia.

The meal came with a Snacker, a leg or thigh, two original crispy strips, two sides, and a biscuit. I might as well have asked them to deep fry the biscuit in that secret batter just to ensure that all non-side items taste exactly the same. I tried to entice my taste buds by asking for the Buffalo Snacker. That was a mistake. The sauce tasted like tomato paste that had been mixed with a bottle of pepper spray and nuked in the microwave until it completely exploded. You will almost certainly choke on the fumes, but at least you’ll have a few shreds of iceberg lettuce to numb the pain.

The rest of the meal is your standard KFC fare, deep fried chicken that seems to be getting saltier every year. I think some company did a chemical test on the secret “11 herbs and spices” recipe and exposed it as merely salt, pepper, and MSG. At this point, that revelation tastes pretty spot-on. Still, I have to admit that I enjoy KFC chicken when it comes in a reasonable quantity. And I must say that I am addicted to KFC’s potato wedges. It’s just too bad that only one in every two KFC’s seem to carry them. I have to restrain myself from hopping over the cashier’s table and recklessly throwing boxes of food around looking for these hot and crispy morsels whenever they don’t have them. But alas, I can’t jump that high.

The other side I chose was the iridescent and fluorescently orange macaroni and cheese. I would bet money on it glowing in the dark, which would be nice if I was decorating a garden and not actually ingesting it. You can choose healthier alternatives, but I have a sneaking suspicion that KFC only puts green beans on their menu to keep the FDA off their asses. I have never seen a human order it and doubt that they even have it in the restaurant. Let’s face it − you’ve gone this far, you might as well load yourself fully.

(Nutritional Facts – Varies depending on items, but it’s probably best not to know.)

(Editor’s Note: Thanks to TIB reader Hank the Tank for suggesting this feast.)

Item: KFC Fully Loaded Box Meal
Price: $6.99
Purchased at: KFC
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Lots of variety and choices for your taste buds to enjoy and for your gullet to suck down. Comes in a box that you can conveniently weigh on a scale to really make you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth. You can probably share the meal and still be satisfied.
Cons: Food can be kind of greasy. KFC’s buffalo sauce is liquid dynamite. Will make you feel like absolute crap. Listening to Linkin Park on those cloudy Mondays in middle school.

REVIEW: Mrs. T’s Potato & Cheddar Pierogies

I guess this solves the mystery of what happened to Clubber Lang after Rocky III − he retired and decided to use the money he won prizefighting to start a pierogi company for his wife. But this opens another line of questioning: Why was he always so damn pissed off? These things are delicious and easy to make; a great quick lunch just as advertised on the back of the box.

Oh well, Mr. T’s misfortune is our gain. I’ve never had pierogies before and can’t imagine that these things are anything close to authentic, but I love the idea of eating two starches at once. The ability to chew mashed potatoes sounds like something out of my dreams. Pierogies feel like something that Willy Wonka would invent if he wasn’t so obsessed with killing kids addicted to sweets. And as it turns out, cheesy mashed potatoes wrapped like ravioli in a sturdy pasta shell is just as tasty as I would have imagined.

As with almost any frozen food, I decided to cook it “ghetto style.” They say to sauté it for eight minutes, but who’s got that kind of time to spare? I microwaved them for a minute and then threw them in a pan with some margarine, oil, and onions until slightly browned. Gently lay them on a bed of lettuce with a dollop of sour cream and you have yourself a plate of food that you’d slap your mama for, all for about a buck and in under four minutes. Take that, Sandra Lee!

After a micro-sauté, the skin is nice and chewy with some bits of the shell becoming crispy. The contrast in textures is almost crack-like in addictiveness and you’ll probably eat more than the recommended serving size. Have I mentioned that these are like chewing on cheesy mashed potatoes dipped in sour cream? But don’t feel bad − the box says that it’s low on fat! Though I’m left to wonder if they take the copious amount of margarine, olive oil, and sour cream into account…

(Nutritional Facts – 3 pierogies -170 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 5 mg of cholesterol, 510mg sodium, 32 grams of carbs, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 1 gram of sugar, 6 grams of protein, 2% Vitamin A, 10% Vitamin C, 4% Calcium, and 8% Iron)

Item: Mrs. T’s Potato & Cheddar Pierogies
Price: $2.19
Size: 16 ounces
Purchased at: Stater Bros.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Chewing on mashed potatoes. Ability to dip said mashed potatoes into various creams and sauces. Skin is chewy and crispy. You can make a quick and cheap meal from these things.
Cons: Mashed potatoes and cheese are obviously of the flake and powder variety, respectively. Eastern Europeans would probably shun these. You’ll almost certainly eat too many. Mr. T’s anger issues in Rocky III.

REVIEW: Jack in the Box Sirloin Steak Teriyaki Bowl

I love Jack in the Box. Not the food, but the character and everything that is associated with his adorable giant head. Let’s face it – he’s the greatest fast food mascot in the history of the universe. Jack is non-threatening, yet authoritative, pleasant and jovial without being silly. I even buy a Jack antenna ball for every season of the year and enjoy it thoroughly until it’s stolen. In this era of terrible white-guy-rap McDonald’s commercials, Jack brightens my day.

But then there’s the food. Their Ultimate Cheeseburger can leave you constipated for weeks and their egg rolls are filled with the saltiest pork mixture I’ve ever tasted, which is saying something because I eat fried salt pork as a snack. I know some people swear by them, but these are people who have probably never had a real egg roll as a reference point.

Jack in the Box’s latest foray into the realm of Asian-themed food comes in bowl form, fresh off the heels of their hideous yet tasty breakfast bowls. I guess this was the logical progression. The combo even comes with one of those aforementioned egg rolls for your dipping pleasure.

These sirloin steak and chicken teriyaki bowls are made up of white rice topped with julienne carrots, broccoli, and the meat of your choice covered in a sweet teriyaki sauce. At around five bucks, they are a bit pricey, but you do get a generous amount of meat in the bowl. But as they say, quantity doesn’t beat quality unless you’re trying to get drunk. My first taste led to a resounding shrug of the shoulders and a high-pitched “Eh,” a reaction that I felt was necessary even though I was eating lunch by myself.

The steak, while abundant, obviously came pre-packaged and had that unnaturally soft texture that frozen steak tends to have. Needs more tendony mouth feel, I’d say! Unlike Yoshinoya, however, the broccoli and carrots were sufficiently crunchy. All of this smacks of mediocrity and is quite literally topped off with the one-note sweetness of the teriyaki sauce. Completely uninteresting and bland come to mind. I say stick with Yoshinoya and their baby food-soft vegetables if you want Asian-style fast food, or better yet, try a Flame Broiler if you have one in your area.

It’s a noble effort from a mascot I love, but it’s only worthwhile as a last resort when you’re desperate for some teriyaki and the better places aren’t open.

(Nutritional Facts – 1 bowl – 650 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 45 mg of cholesterol, 1740mg sodium, 106 grams of carbs, 4 grams of fiber, and 30 grams of protein)

Item: Jack in the Box Steak Teriyaki Bowl
Price: $4.79
Purchased at: Jack in the Box
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Jack is a superior mascot. Branching out into ethnic foods can lead to possible future interesting foods. Steak is abundant and plentiful. Vegetables maintain their texture.
Cons: Steak has pre-packaged taste and texture. Sauce is obnoxiously sweet and ordinary. There’s probably a better variation of this bowl at Yoshinoya or a local joint. People stealing my Jack antenna balls.

Domino’s Philly Cheese Steak Oven Baked Sandwich

Good news for people who love the idea of delivered food but hate eating Domino’s pizza! These oven-baked sandwiches are actually pretty tasty for something that comes from a nationwide pizza chain. That probably isn’t say much considering most new products from these companies usually involve various varieties of pizza dipped in ranch dressing, but these sandwiches most likely pack enough flavor and heft to satisfy you.

Domino’s has been pushing these sandwiches for a while because they want to compete with Subway for your lunch-time dollars. They have even gone as far as to set up taste tests to see if they can compete with Subway’s fresh flavors. They thoroughly kick Subway’s ass in these surveys, but that’s not a great accomplishment when Subway uses processed chicken and Domino’s sandwiches are basically made from bacon and lard. It would take Jared another thousand Veggie Delites to burn the calories from a month of eating these babies. That’s what we call a “mismatch,” folks.

But I suppose if you’re ordering from Domino’s, you really don’t mind a little grease dripping from your sandwich. Hell, that’s how you know it’s good! I ordered the Philly Cheese Steak one and intently watched Domino’s Online Pizza Tracker as it baked in a 450-degree oven. When it arrived, I took note of the grease spots surrounding the box and its impressive-but-won’t-scare-the-ladies 8-inch length.

I bit into the “thick and crispy artisan bread,” which tasted like a cross between Ciabatta bread on the outside and pizza dough on the inside. It wasn’t bad and held up pretty well through the delivery process even if it’s nothing like a real Philly cheese steak roll. The steak wasn’t piled as high as I would have liked, but it was real steak topped with nicely melted provolone cheese and a random smattering of peppers and onions.

I must say that it’s pretty much the farthest thing away from authentic that I can think of. It’s still nonetheless a tasty steak sandwich that filled me up. I can’t really stand eating Domino’s pizza, so this is a good alternative to order when I have cheap friends over who enjoy their 5-5-5 Deal. A ringing endorsement if there ever was one!

(Nutritional Facts – 1 sub – 690 calories, 250 calories from fat, 27 grams of fat, 14 grams of saturated fat, 90 mg of cholesterol, 2080 mg of sodium, 72 grams of carbs, 41 grams of protein, 15% Vitamin A, 20% Vitamin C, 50% Calcium, and 15% iron)

(Editor’s Note: The folks at Fast Food Critic reviewed the Chicken Bacon Ranch version of the sandwich.)

Item: Domino’s Philly Cheese Steak Oven Baked Sandwich
Price: $4.99
Purchased at: Domino’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Real, unprocessed slices of steak. Bread doesn’t get soggy after being delivered. Cheese and toppings are nicely melted. Much better than Domino’s actual pizza.
Cons: It’s going to make you feel fat. Meat isn’t really piled that high. Doesn’t taste like a real cheese steak. Can be pricey once delivery + tip are taken into account.

Del Taco Crispy Jalapeno Rings

“Why would we fry a jalapeno?”

That was the response I got from the first Del Taco I went to. And it pretty much sums the crazy world of the fast food arms race that we live in. It took me four Del Taco’s and a gallon of gas before I finally arrived at a location that sold these mysterious treats. The Del Taco’s that don’t sell these looked at me like I was either insane or pulling a stupid prank. The Del Taco that did sell these things pimped them out like Christmas had come early. They are red and green, I suppose.

After realizing that I put far too much time and effort into finding something that most stoners have already made at home, I was finally able to try one of these crispy rings. My first mistake was popping one in my mouth while I was driving back home. Not only did the oil scorch my soft palate, but the combination of heat and fat managed to squeeze through my blood within a matter of seconds. I clutched at my heart as I felt a sharp sting run through my chest, nearly barreling off the road.

Don’t eat these while you’re driving.

I somehow made it home and opened the bag to find a meager box of deep-fried jalapeno slices that looked pretty sad and lonely in there. I looked through the rest of the bag incredulously, wondering why I paid $1.79 for what amounts to three jalapenos and a tablespoon of flour and water. I eventually got over it and ate a few more pieces before my body forced me to stop. The slices have been pickled, so you’ll get some moisture once you bite past the crispy-as-advertised outer batter. Other than that, they’re just fried jalapenos that will almost certainly give you nausea or a stomachache if you eat the whole thing.

I should note that it comes with what is advertised as a white “secret sauce” that looks and tastes just like Trader Joe’s tahini sauce. That is to say, it pretty much tastes like watered down yogurt. I would tell you what it tastes like with some ranch dipping sauce, but Del Taco doesn’t have that and basically shut me down when I asked. Bastards!

Stick with jalapeno poppers for now. They might not come in festive colors, but at least you’ll have some cream cheese to cheer your up.

Item: Del Taco Crispy Jalapeno Rings
Price: $1.79
Purchased at: Del Taco
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Batter stays extremely crispy for a while. Jalapeno slices are plenty spicy. Comes in two colors.
Cons: Pricey for the amount you get. Special sauce does not taste very special. The feeling inside of your body after consuming deep fried jalapenos.