REVIEW: McDonald’s Classic Chicken Sandwich

McDonald s Classic Chicken Sandwich

Despite its oblong-shaped filet, squished profile, and two perfectly-centered pickles, McDonald’s Classic Chicken Sandwich is not as good as Chick-fil-A’s namesake chicken sandwich.

That said, it’s a better and more economical showcase for McDonald’s buttermilk chicken than the Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich and a dramatic upgrade over the McChicken.

McDonald s Classic Chicken Sandwich 2

It’s built similarly to the bygone Southern Style Chicken Sandwich, but skips the butter and steamed bun for a regular bun and McDonald’s signature sauce. Otherwise, it makes no attempt to shy away from borrowing a page from Chick-fil-A’s book.

Overall, its minimalist approach works great. I’ve had McDonald’s buttermilk chicken on three or four occasions and always thought it was okay if not a little out-of-place in the Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich. Sans mayo, tomato, and lettuce (and $1.89 cheaper) the buttermilk flavor really comes out.

McDonald s Classic Chicken Sandwich 3

With a crispy, uniform breading, the buttermilk chicken checks the prerequisite boxes for adequate juiciness and flavor, although it doesn’t wow you. Nevertheless, a slightly spicy aftertaste, with strong notes of black pepper and garlic powder, tastes wonderful with the tangy-sweet signature sauce, which like a mustard-spiked ketchup. The pickles add a nice layer of crunch, but otherwise go unnoticed.

McDonald s Classic Chicken Sandwich 4

It’s good, but not Chick-fil-A good, lacking the succulent, plump texture from Chick-fil-A’s pressure cooking, as well as the sweet and nutty flavors imparted by the peanut oil and seasonings. Additionally, I found myself missing Chick-fil-A’s buttered bun, as well as the steamed effect when you get it to go in one of those specially-designed pouches. Still, the Classic Chicken Sandwich is probably the most enjoyable McDonald’s chicken sandwich I’ve ever had, and at 45 cents cheaper than Chick-fil-A’s, it’s a good value.

That said, I’m not crazy about the national rollout of the $1-$2-$3 menu at McDonald’s, which killed the 2 for $3 and 2 for $4 deals that had been staples at my local restaurant. Pressed between spending $3 on a medium fries and double cheeseburger or spending the same amount on the Classic Chicken Sandwich, I’d choose the latter 9 out of 10 times, if only because of its modest size.

All things considered, if you love McDonald’s buttermilk chicken, you’re going to love this sandwich. I can only hope the Golden Arches finds a way to increase the value a bit more by including it on the 2 for $5 menu.

(Nutrition Facts – 510 calories, 210 calories from fat, 23 grams of total fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 1040 milligrams of sodium, 50 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 6 grams of sugar, 25 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.00
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Chicken is both crispy and juicy, with strong buttermilk flavor. Tangy and sweet signature sauce pairs well with the kick of the chicken’s seasoning. Cheaper than most similarly sized chicken sandwiches.
Cons: Not as good as Chick-fil-A’s. Bun is lackluster and would be better steamed and buttered. Moderate size and not the greatest deal if you add a medium fries, which McDonald’s somehow decided to leave off the value menu.

REVIEW: Arby’s Oreo Bites

Arby s Oreo Bites

Generally speaking, there are three ways companies try to make something better: make it bigger, make more of it, or transform it in such a fundamental way that it becomes something completely different, like the crap direction Disney is taking the Star Wars Universe in.

As you can tell by my feelings on the last option, none of these strategies are foolproof.

Fresh off putting brisket, pork belly, and Bambi’s mom into a sandwich, the people who practically trademarked the plural version of “meat” have set out to transform an Oreo cookie into a doughnut hole.

Surprisingly, the results are pretty good.

Arby s Oreo Bites 2

Arby’s advertises these as “doughnut bites,” but the texture defies such a simple classification. The bites lack the light shell and spring of a yeast doughnut hole but also the sturdy and firm interior of a cake doughnut hole. Instead, they have a sort of partially deflated volleyball texture.

As horrible as that sounds, the chocolate cures all. The exterior has a warm, moist give that has that characteristic deep flavor of an Oreo wafer and then some. Served hot, each bite reminded me of a chocolate lava cake, while the dusting covering each bite could have been from the bottom of a bag of mini Oreo cookies.

While the deep chocolate flavor nails, and perhaps even improves, the classic Oreo wafer, the crème is about as disappointing as Rian Johnson’s treatment of Luke Skywalker.

Arby s Oreo Bites 3

“Goo” would be a better way to describe the crème, which is slightly thinner than an Arby’s milkshake. Served warm, it has a kind of melted marshmallow mouthfeel (say that fast 10 times) and a moderate vanilla flavor. But there’s nothing overly sweet about it, which means there’s no dramatic contrast with the chocolate bite. Put another way, the chocolate-to-crème ratio borders on reduced fat Oreo standards —- a far cry from the ideal Double Stuf Oreo we all love.

Arby s Oreo Bites 4

Complicating things, the goo sloshes around the bite and all too easily squirts out. It creates a Gushers effect in cookies and crème form. All things considered, the crème neither delivers on its own or in a complete bite with the rest of the Oreo elements. It would make a pretty lit coffee creamer, though.

All things considered, Arby’s Oreo Bites do an amazing job of enhancing the deep cocoa appeal of the Oreo wafer. That said, if texture matters at all to you or if you’re a crème kind of girl or guy, the bites are going to fall a little short of expectations. But don’t worry, it’s not quite The Last Jedi short of expectations.

(Nutrition Facts – 330 calories, 190 calories from fat, 21 grams of total fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of dietary fiber, 17 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.49
Purchased at: Arby’s
Size: 6-pieces
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Excellent chocolate flavor combines the best of an Oreo wafer and Devil’s Food cake. Larger than your standard doughnut hole. Oreo dust. Didn’t leave me as disappointed as The Last Jedi.
Cons: Crème is more melted milkshake than actual Oreo crème. Balance of chocolate and crème is out of sync. More expensive than doughnut holes. Accidentally squirting white goo all over my pants.

REVIEW: Hershey’s Triple Chocolate Cookie Layer Crunch Bars

Hershey s Triple Chocolate Cookie Layer Crunch Bars

There are certain flavor combinations that are self-explanatory.

Whether it’s in Pop-Tart or donut form, s’mores is going to have elements of graham, chocolate, and marshmallow. While something birthday cake-flavored is going to taste like frosting, vanilla cake, and seven-year-old stale sprinkles.

Triple Chocolate is a bit more ambiguous. I feel like there was a time in my life when triple chocolate meant you were getting blasts of dark, milk, and white chocolate in one bite. Those days are long gone, shattered by internet killjoys armed with an air of self-importance and a Wikipedia link explaining that white chocolate IS NOT chocolate.

Subsequent moralizing about faux white chocolate’s adverse dietary effects, not to mention the gentrification of all things cocoa-related, caused candy companies to shop the free agency market to assemble a dream team of chocolate role players.

Hershey s Triple Chocolate Cookie Layer Crunch Bars 2

Bittersweet, German, ganache, fudge, semisweet, Mexican, nibs, chocolate marshmallow, and “chocolaty” have all had their five minutes of fame in the trifecta, but for Hershey’s latest take on its Cookie Layer Crunch Bars, chocolate cookie pieces and chocolate crème join the milk chocolate rectangles.

Let’s get this out of the way: The graphic designer doing the box artwork should get a raise because the detail on the box is hardly what you see when you bite into each three-square bar.

For example, the box artwork makes the chocolate crème look like the cocoa equivalent of molten lava, but if there’s any ganache-like viscosity to the crème, Hershey’s must have left it in the factory. To be honest, it’s hard to pick out the crème as a distinct textural element at all.

Thankfully, there is some truth in advertising.

The crème, although chameleon-like in appearance, has a rich dark chocolate flavor that dissolves on your tongue and finishes each bite. It works especially well because it’s a nice contrast to the crunchy Dutch chocolate taste of the cookie pieces, which remind me of Chips Ahoy! Double Chocolate Cookie Thins.

Hershey s Triple Chocolate Cookie Layer Crunch Bars 3

As much as I like the cookie pieces and the crème, I couldn’t help but think the bar gets dragged down by the run-of-the-mill chocolate shell. There’s nothing wrong with the taste and texture of Hershey’s milk chocolate per se, but its familiarity and rather pedestrian chocolate taste frame the entire bar in an air of, well, averageness.

Average chocolate shell aside, Hershey’s Triple Cookie Layer Crunch Bars are a cool upgrade from the original bar. It also makes a strong case that triple chocolate (the flavor, that is) should keep cookie pieces and crème around for another season.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 pieces – 210 calories, 13 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 6.3 oz. package/9 pieces
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Awesome crunchy cookie taste in candy bar form. Chocolate crème gives the filling a rich dark chocolate complexity. Premium aesthetic in the packaging.
Cons: Chocolate crème is underrepresented and doesn’t have the gooey texture it does in the promo pic. Hershey’s milk chocolate feels pedestrian alongside other chocolate elements. The inability of candy and snack companies to assemble a triple chocolate dynasty.

REVIEW: Kellogg’s Donut Shop Cereals (Pink Donut and Chocolate Donut)

Kellogg s Donut Shop Cereal Pink Donut

Pink Panther. Pink Floyd. Pink Shirt. Pinky and the Brain.

What do these things have in common?

Nothing, really. Which is kind of the same relationship Kellogg’s new Donut Shop Pink Donut cereal has with the flavor pink, which, in case you weren’t exactly sure, is not a flavor.

This kind of linguistic oddity would usually bother me to no end. However, in the case of Kellogg’s newest cereal brand, I’m willing to sacrifice reason for excellent taste.

Both the Pink Donut and Chocolate Donut flavors of Donut Shop Cereal work off the same template: roughly Froot Loops-shaped rings with a smooth, slightly glazed coating. Aside from packaging that looks like it came from the Easy Bake Oven section of Toys “R” Us, the first thing I noticed about each flavor was their intense, sweet aroma.

Another blogger has compared the Pink Donut rings to frosted animal crackers, and, for as original as I’d like to be, there’s really no other comparison that captures the taste so accurately. Yet, instead of a somewhat bland wheat biscuit-like base behind it, each ring has a sweet vanilla flavor and that characteristic corn flour and oat aftertaste that makes Cap’n Crunch so iconic.

Kellogg s Donut Shop Cereal Pink Donut 2

This is where things get interesting. A slight fruity flavor on the backend is even more pronounced in milk, creating a strawberryish-flavored end milk that is one of the best I’ve ever tasted. Combined with the glazed vanilla coating, the crunchy Pink Donut tastes distinct from any cereal I’ve ever had, borrowing notes from Sprinkled Donut Cap’n Crunch, Froot Loops, and Vanilla Chex. My only complaint is the sweetness level contrasts sharply with the more savory corn flour and oat base, creating a feeling of snacking lethargy after more than a couple servings.

Kellogg s Donut Shop Cereal Chocolate Donut

Chocolate Donut is a bit more conventional in what it’s trying to match, but no less enjoyable. I hesitate to say it tasted exactly like a chocolate cake donut, but it comes pretty close, right on down to the hyper-sweet, cocoa-glazed mouthfeel. Here, the corn and oat aftertaste is a little more at home. While the chocolate flavor isn’t as distinct as Cocoa Puffs or Double Chocolate Krave, the donut glaze on each ring makes it a more enjoyable cereal to snack on.

Kellogg s Donut Shop Cereal Chocolate Donut 2

It’s rare for cereal to even remotely taste like the baked goods that inspire them. And while I’ve yet to encounter a true pink donut (as opposed to a donut with just pink icing), Kellogg’s new Donut Shop Cereals capture the essence of donuts thanks to their unique glazed coating. It’s too bad Kellogg’s couldn’t come up with a Bavarian cream filling to stick inside the rings.

(Nutrition Facts – Pink Donut – 32 grams – 140 calories, 3 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein. Chocolate Donut – 32 grams – 130 calories, 3 grams of fat, 0.5 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.98 each
Size: 16 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Pink Donut)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Chocolate Donut)
Pros: Excellent representation of donut glaze on cereal form. Pink donut flavor tastes like frosted animal crackers without the crappy cracker part. Really great end milk. Not a bad flavor to get stuck in the roof of your mouth.
Cons: Sweetness can get overwhelming when eaten dry. Chocolate flavor lacks really deep cocoa flavor. Does not include Bavarian Kreme filling.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Donuts Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut and Gingerbread Cookie Donut

Dunkin Donuts Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut and Gingerbread Cookie Donut 1

There are a few jobs I hope I never have. Aside from everything Mike Rowe has tried, Santa’s personal chef and copyeditor for his Naughty and Nice List come to mind. Also, the guy who has to develop “new” holiday-themed products for fast food chains.

Between the cookie exchanges, parties, and all those special childhood foods your mom is going to cook for you, there’s a lot of pressure to efficiently maximize your calories. If I’m going to eat a donut during December, I don’t want to waste my time on some plebeian attempt to deconstruct hot chocolate in cruller form.

So consider this an early Christmas present — taking one for the team so you don’t have to feel massive guilt (in addition to feeling massive) for scarfing down holiday flavors that may or may not fall in the “meh” spectrum of taste.

Dunkin Donuts Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut and Gingerbread Cookie Donut 2

Dunkin’ Donut’s new Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut combines sugar cookie and chocolate chip cookie flavors, which, when you think about it, is sort of like the cookie version of Chrismukkah.

Oddly enough, the combo works, even though the cookie dough-flavored filling doesn’t taste much like cookie dough. Actually, I’m not quite sure what it tastes like. Brownish sugar, maybe? Whatever it is it’s not bad, but the real star of the donut is the frosted sugar cookie crumble topping. It’s like a hybrid of vanilla Chex, puppy chow, and streusel topping.

Dunkin Donuts Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut and Gingerbread Cookie Donut 3

Overall, the cookie crumbles give the usual (if not underrated) combo of white icing and airy donut an extra level of yumminess.

Sadly, the Gingerbread Cookie Donut doesn’t have the same level of yumminess. While the gingerbread cookie topping has a strong gingerbread flavor, the pieces are stale, as if they’re from a box of ginger snap cookies that’s been open since 2012.

Dunkin Donuts Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut and Gingerbread Cookie Donut 4

I have a friend who swears by salted caramel vodka, which sounds disgusting. However, after trying the caramel frosting I’ll have to down a fifth to get the sticky cloying taste out of my mouth. It’s not the most inauthentic caramel taste in the world, but it lacks any depth and tastes of nothing but sugar.

I tend to treat donuts by the pizza maxim (even when bad, they’re good) but the Gingerbread Cookie Donut comes close to legitimately sucking, meaning it’s frankly a toss-up between it and a piece of fruitcake.

All things considered, Dunkin’s new holiday-themed donuts are a mixed bag, like your childhood stocking filled with candy but also socks. Still, for as bad as the Gingerbread Cookie Donut is, the Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut might be good enough to leave out for Santa, if you don’t eat it first.

(Nutrition Facts – Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut – 420 calories, 21 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 410 milligrams of sodium, 52 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of dietary fiber, 30 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein. Gingerbread Cookie Donut – 310 calories, 17 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 360 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of dietary fiber, 14 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.09 (each)
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut)
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Gingerbread Cookie Donut)
Pros: Sugar Cookie Donut topping is one of the better toppings I’ve had on a Dunkin’ donut. Good quality freshness in donut bases.
Cons: Gingerbread cookie topping is as stale as your great uncle’s Christmas jokes. Cookie dough filling doesn’t really taste like cookie dough. Caramel frosting is cloying and out-of-place.