REVIEW: Lay’s Bacon Wrapper Jalapeno Poppers Potato Chips

Lay s Bacon Wrapper Jalapeno Poppers Potato Chips

A recent Gatorade campaign featuring the best athletes of the last three decades identifies a surprising motivator common amid these elite performers: the staggering defeats they experienced. In response to the failure, they found the secret to victory was to work harder, work smarter, and not let the next opportunity get away from them.

Lay’s Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Popper Potato Chips are hoping to demonstrate a similar resolve. For the first time since the Do Us a Flavor contests began in 2013, Lay’s released a flavor that was not a finalist.

This year, they allowed a round of online voting based on interest alone to bring the list of ten semifinalists down to three. Although the medal stand was occupied by Everything Bagel, Fried Green Tomato, and Crispy Taco, Lay’s opted to release this variety as a Walmart exclusive.

I have to wonder what a bacon-wrapped jalapeno popper is. Is this a niche appetizer? I found exactly one restaurant menu that offered this item. Recognizing I don’t get invited to many catered events (assuming birthday party pizza and Iron Man sheet cake don’t count as catering), I did find more caterers offering these. If only the bag had featured an out-of-work actor in a pink bow tie.

A smoky smell emanated from the bag, but it wasn’t very strong. My son laughed as I nearly stuck my entire head into the top, hoping to find something else, anything else.

Lay s Bacon Wrapper Jalapeno Poppers Potato Chips 2

The chips had green speckles reminiscent of sour cream and onion chips, as well as a fewer number of brick red colored bits as well. The familiar Lay’s crunch and texture were present upon first bite, but were not greasy like the Original variety.

The taste was as unremarkable as the smell. The chips generally didn’t have much of a distinct taste at all. I occasionally sensed bacon but the taste would fade. The jalapeno wasn’t notable at all. Sometimes a light tingle, indicating the spicy component, would sit on my tongue tip or palate for a short time. There could have been a hint of sour cream or cream cheese as well, but it was minor and I would have been unlikely to detect it if I wasn’t considering the art on the front of the bag.

Lay’s made the decision to produce a flavor that in concept alone failed to excite chip lovers, and it is no surprise the real life results were no more inspiring. Some of the Do Us a Flavor entrants have been truly horrifying, but never before have I been more bored with a product from the contest.

Perhaps next summer, there will be a Frito-Lay campaign with an executive, donned in a hairnet, goggles, and lab coat, walking the factory floor who leans in real tight to the camera and says, “You want to know the Secret to Victory? Release a new product people didn’t want.”

(Nutrition Facts – about 15 chips – 160 calories 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.48
Size:
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Spice level. Attractive packaging. The Vinny Vegas pizza at Skyzone trampoline park.
Cons: “Incomplete” grades for bacon, jalapeno, and cream cheese flavors. All six of the other flavors that didn’t make the finals sound more interesting. Asking Matt Ryan to recreate the midfield walk after the worst loss of his life.

REVIEW: Starbucks Teavana Shaken Iced Tea Infusions

Teavana Shaken Iced Tea Infusions

Summertime arrives each year following much anticipation of great weather, long days, and lots of opportunities for seasonal activities. By the time most of us get to August, the luster is gone. Skin in a mosaic pattern of sunburn and bug bites remain as a reminder of the overcrowded beaches, holiday weekend traffic jams, uncomfortable humidity, and unfinished must-reads that we experienced over the last six weeks.

Starbucks aims to rekindle some of that summer charm by introducing their new line of Teavana Shaken Iced Tea Infusions. Teavana, previously a member of the top five free mall samples, was an expert at pairing blends and other enhancers (fruit among them) to create samples that were steeped (pun intended) in flavor. Their iced tea offerings (often paired with lemonade) were always the most strongly flavored and had me looking forward to their presentation of how “Good Feels Good,” represented in each drink by two infusions (tea and a fruit/plant/floral infusion) shaken together.

Teavana Peach Citrus Shaken Iced Tea Infusions

The first variety, Peach Citrus White Tea, was inspired by Teavana Peach Tranquility Herbal Tea. The tea and a small amount of liquid cane sugar (just 70 calories and 19 grams of sugar in a 30 ounce Trenta), enhanced with an infusion of apples, licorice root, rose hips, hibiscus, orange peels, lemon verbena, chamomile pollen, lavender flowers, AND nondescript “natural flavors.”

It was generally light on peach flavor. This clearly wasn’t a Snapple or Nestea offering that beat you over the head with peach flavor. Peach does not show up on that lengthy infusion list in any form. But as I consumed more, the flavor evoked the scent of peach blossoms.

This drink captured the blending benefits I was familiar with from Teavana, and that’s a big win in my book. Iced tea is not complicated to make, and you don’t have to have exotic additions like rose hips or flower pollen to enjoy it. This is clearly a premium experience you’re being offered, and comparing other soft drinks puts this in a class by itself. Reviewer-speak aside, I nearly drank it too quickly to do the review justice!

White tea’s ability to be a featured and flexible background player (the Katherine Hahn of herbal beverages) was key, and I was concerned black tea might overwhelm the floral intonations and green tea might dampen their impact with a bitter counterpart.

Teavana Pineapple Black Shaken Iced Tea Infusions

My first fear was confirmed by the Pineapple Black Tea variety, inspired by Pineapple Kona Pop herbal tea, frequently used in Teavana’s iced tea samples. The strong tea choice did, in fact, overwhelm any subtler influences, and without the appropriate level of sweetness emanated a slight smoky nature in the aftertaste.

The pineapple flavor is a positive, a rare fresh pineapple taste infrequently found in beverages, particularly without coconut. This was the real deal. At least I think, despite a more tidy infusion list devoid of actual pineapple, save for the ubiquitous “Natural Flavors” catch-all.

Teavana Strawberry Green Shaken Iced Tea Infusions

The third variety was the Strawberry Green Tea, oddly inspired by the Strawberry Paraiso White Tea. How would the change to a more pungent tea change the overall complexion of the drink?

I found the strawberry green interesting, as it feels like it’s working backwards. This beverage’s initial impact is very plant-based, surely due in part to the earthy herbal quality of green tea. The strawberry hits after you swallow, and, like the pineapple, tastes pretty close to “real” strawberry flavor (once again no strawberry indicated, although spearmint and lemongrass each made an appearance). If you consume the drink faster, the delay of the fruit impact lessons, but I appreciated having two taste profiles in one beverage. This option is meant to be savored slowly, which after all, is what iced tea’s heritage is all about.

Teavana Pina Colada Shaken Iced Tea Infusions

BONUS SEGMENT! Reviewing the Starbucks website, I discovered a less-promoted option: the Pina Colada Infusion. Through the generosity of the Main Street Newark partners, I had the chance to try this version on the house. The only change was a simple addition of coconut milk to the Pineapple Black Tea Infusion, or so it appeared. This time the ingredients list revealed a potentially significant adjustment, the reversal of the black tea and the plant/fruit, indicating less of the former and more of the latter in this incarnation.

The drink now consisted of creamy, slightly sweet, and slightly floral coconut milk; a greater concentration of plant/fruit infusion; and a reduced amount of black tea. The results were a marked improvement, albeit a beverage unlike iced tea you’ve ever had. Instead, a mildly sweet, fresh-tasting, not-cliche pina colada beverage is created, one that largely hides the black tea component and could be a counterpart to the Violet Drink. It’s unique, and perhaps not as impressive as the Peach Citrus White Tea, but it’s the option I find myself hankering for.

On my summer bucket list, I’ve got a few of the usual things left to do — catch a superhero flick, ride a roller coaster, read through the last seven reasons why. Thanks to Starbucks, I can leave planting in the garden far off the list. I’ve got all the flowers and pollen I need from this delightful line of tea infusions.

(Nutrition Facts – Trenta – Peach Citrus White – 70 calories, 0 grams of fat, 20 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 19 grams of sugar, and 40-45 milligrams of caffeine. Pineapple Black and Strawberry Green – 70 calories, 0 grams of fat, 20 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 19 grams of sugar, and 50-55 milligrams of caffeine. Pina Colada – 160 calories, 5 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 26 grams of sugar, and 50 milligrams of caffeine.)

Purchased Price: $4.25 each except Pina Colada ($4.75)
Size: Trenta
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Peach Citrus White Tea)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Pineapple Black Tea)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Strawberry Green Tea)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Pina Colada Tea)
Pros: A gourmet effort at iced tea. Light balance between tea, fruit, and flower in the Peach Citrus White. Pineapple and strawberry flavors. The re-balancing act with the Pina Colada infusions ratios. The other members of the top five samples: (Auntie Anne’s, whatever places give out hibachi chicken or smoothies, and Charley’s Philly Steaks)
Cons: Overwhelming smokey black tea aftertaste. Starbucks adding another competitor’s outlets to the RIP pile (Seattle’s Best, Evaluation Fresh, La Boulange). When you’re a kid and move to a new house with a pool that your parents immediately replace with a vegetable garden.

REVIEW: Starbucks Violet Drink

Starbucks Violet Drink

My wife and stepdaughter are local thespians and recently appeared in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, surely the only Broadway musical to begin as a grade school Easter pageant. The show includes a number introducing the titular wardrobe piece, a catchy tune detailing all TWENTY-NINE colors used in the robe, including everyone’s favorites: ochre, fawn, russet, and mauve!

Maybe Starbucks should seek a partnership with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice because a Fawn Drink and Russet Drink would be awesome. But for now we have the viral Pink Drink, fashion-forward Ombre Pink Drink, and the new Violet Drink. Lady Gaga, no stranger to the charms of ALW, has teamed with the Seattle behemoth on the “Cups of Kindness” campaign, which the new beverage is a part of.

Starbucks Violet Drink 3

The drink is a simple combo of Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher, coconut milk, freeze-dried blackberries, and ice. The liquid components and ice were combined in a cocktail shaker, while I patiently tried to avoid making an obligatory Bond joke. (Special thanks go out to the People’s Plaza Starbucks staff, who took my odd questions in stride and allowed me to traverse the drive-thru without an order to snap shots of the drink signage that wasn’t inside the store).

Starbucks Violet Drink 4

The faded hue of the drink certainly fits the billing. The texture was smooth with a light mouthfeel, and the taste is sweet in the right ways — balanced and not overwhelmingly so. This is a nice upgrade on the Refresher itself, which I always found to be overly tart and a little jarring as a result.

The drink was certainly fresh-tasting, and reminded me of a melted smoothie or Orange Julius variant, but better than either one. The flavor is not complex. It’s really a one-note berry flavor, with only a vague floral indication in the background. Despite that, I never got sick or bored of the drink and finished it quicker than many other LTO Starbucks offerings.

Starbucks Violet Drink 2

I strongly suggest that you do not eat the freeze-dried blackberries on their own (while realizing that in our meta-culture you surely will do as such following my warning). They largely clumped together in a foamy portion of the beverage and only mildly defrosted, crunching like Pop Rocks in my mouth without the summer berry goodness you would desire.

I typically think of non-coffee drinks at Starbucks falling into two categories: for the non-coffee drinker who went with a friend to Starbucks, or a way to avoid caffeine in the later hours of the day. But because the drink is built using the Refreshers, which are caffeinated due to green coffee extract, that theory runs drier than Joseph’s manipulative interpretation of the Pharaoh’s dream. Is this drink for you? If you’re dreaming in violet, Donny Osmond predicts you’ll love this.

(Nutrition Facts – 16 ounces – 110 calories, 25 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 19 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, and 45 milligrams of caffeine.)

Purchased Price: $5.75
Size: Trenta
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Sippable sweetness. Higher quality than your typical smoothie. Dreaming in pastels. More refreshing than then Refreshers line. Colorful Canadian fun!
Cons: Caffeinated non-coffee beverages at SBUX. Blackberries defrosting slower than the polar ice cap. Millennials that think camo, rainbow, and plaid are colors.

REVIEW: McDonald’s Signature Crafted Recipes

McDonald s Signature Crafted Recipes

Baseball has been deemed “America’s pasttime” since these uniforms (photo attached) were en vogue, but now the typical game takes longer than an actual marathon.

MLB is engaging in steps to improve interest in their game, like the intentional walk signal. But their best move has been a change to their vaunted 7th inning anthem: “We’ll buy you nuggets in 4 or 6 packs.”

The Mid-Atlantic teams have partnered with the Golden Arches to bring free McNugget promotions on their app. The beleaguered Phillies have offered a free 4-piece whenever they score three runs. Their more successful counterparts, the Orioles and Nationals, have higher standards along with bigger rewards: four runs nets you a 4-piece, with six, ten, and twenty nuggets also attainable. (Notably, the Nats have restricted their rewards to home games, presumably due to road games in Colorado). Rest assured, if either club surpasses the 20-run plateau, I will make my way through the Chesapeake region, with a tank full of gas and a bunch of “burner phones.”

McDonald’s isn’t just trading nuggets for bloated ERA’s. They’re also giving you a chance to be a manager of the toppings on your own sandwich. The new Signature Crafted Recipes line attempts to emulate quick-service burger joints like Five Guys and SmashBurger by allowing you to customize your sandwich.

McDonald s Signature Crafted Recipes 2

Just don’t expect a plethora of choices. The options are limited to two bun choices, three protein choices, and three topping styles. That’s still enough combos to fill out a lineup card for both teams. We here at the Impulsive Buy selected the three featured options — the Mays, Mantle, and Snider of the bunch, if you Will(ie).

McDonald s Signature Crafted Recipes Pico Guacamole

Batting leadoff was the Pico Guacamole with grilled chicken on the artisan roll. Discovering the first major fast food sandwich adorned with a lime wedge was like taking a big lead off first base. However, finding out that my hands would become messier from this sandwich than holding a rosin bag was something of a detraction.

The grilled chicken patty was relatively standard, although there was some spice and it wasn’t dry, so there were positive attributes. The artisan roll was soft but not mushy. I enjoyed the guacamole -— it fell short of feeling homemade, but was far better than Subway’s recent offering. The lime gave everything a fresh feel, even after I brought the sandwich home for inspection before consuming.

This sandwich was not a five-tool player. It did have holes in its game. Namely the pico de gallo, which was not a distinguishable flavor with the much stronger flavored guac. The white cheddar cheese was also invisible, as I would soon find out it was on all three sandwiches.

McDonald s Signature Crafted Recipes Sweet BBQ Bacon

On deck was the Sweet BBQ Bacon, with Buttermilk Crispy Chicken, also on the artisan roll (why they didn’t “load the bases” with three bread options as well is perplexing). The chicken patty was somewhat like a McChicken patty, but with a little more TLC. However, the size of the patty was only marginally thicker than the bun, which pales in comparison to the also recently released KFC Zinger. Conversely, I might say this sandwich exceeds the Zinger in spiciness. The heat builds as you eat and made me enjoy this more as I dug in.

The sandwich was onion heavy, which I appreciated (I’ll often order extra on fast food). There were two types. The sautéed onions, that tasted legit, and frizzled onions, which largely just added to the overkill of breading from the patty and bun.

The bacon was the final detail. It was nice and salty on its own, but its impact was suppressed by the other ingredients when eaten together.

McDonald s Signature Crafted Recipes Maple Bacon Dijon

In the hole was the Maple Bacon Dijon, with a beef patty (perhaps “burger” is on Vince’s McMahon’s list) on a sesame seed bun. Dijon was a new, interesting taste, although it appears in some bites and vanishes in others. Otherwise, this was the most familiar flavor combination for Mickey D’s. As for the maple? None was detected. It was indicated that maple seasoning was added to the bacon, but when I tried the bacon solo it appeared to be standard.

I suppose these were the same grilled onions that appear on the BBQ version, but against the backdrop of the stronger flavor beef patty, they did not stand out nearly as much.

The bacon wasn’t that noticeable here either amidst a sea of lettuce and again the stronger tasting burger. It seemed a little wimpier this time, although before you start computing the WAR (Working As Refreshment) stat, I did order each sandwich from a different location, so maybe the differences can be attributed to that factor.

In the end, the concept of “premium crafted sandwiches” is no different than Wendy’s LTO offerings, but with three released at the same moment. If McDonald’s wants a premium line to last, they will have to consider a larger product. “Fast foodies” do exist these days, but they still want to be satiated by the food. When it came to these members of the lineup, I didn’t get a complete game out of them. I still had to trust the bullpen (value menu) to finish it out.

(Nutrition Facts – Pico Guacamole Grilled Chicken – 520 calories, 160 calories from fat, 18 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 115 milligrams of cholesterol, 1540 milligrams of sodium, 50 grams of carbohydrates, 12 grams of sugar, 4 grams of fiber, 40 grams of protein. Sweet BBQ Bacon Buttermilk Crispy Chicken – 800 calories, 320 calories from fat, 36 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 1820 milligrams of sodium, 80 grams of carbohydrates, 18 grams of sugar, 5 grams of fiber, 39 grams of protein. Maple Bacon Dijon Beef Patty – 640 calories, 330 calories from fat, 36 grams of fat, 14 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 110 milligrams of cholesterol, 1260 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, and 37 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.79 to $5.29
Size: N/A
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Pico Guacamole Grilled Chicken)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Sweet BBQ Bacon Buttermilk Crispy Chicken)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Maple Bacon Dijon Beef Patty)
Pros: Sauteed onions. Building BBQ heat. Lime wedge freshness. Hunter Greene’s potential to join the 20 HR / 20 SB / 20 win club.
Cons: None of the options are large enough. White cheddar is irrelevant. Gusto de pico es pequeno. The Twins passing on Greene with the number one pick.

REVIEW: Pepsi 1893 Citrus Cola

Pepsi 1893 Citrus Cola

When the NCAA Basketball Tournament became “March Madness,” a national spectacle filled with office pools, unexplainable sick days, and an increase in vasectomies, it wasn’t long before morning radio shows and Buzzfeed slideshows wanted to get in on the excitement.

However, basketball isn’t everyone’s cup of tea — and thus bracket-style “tournaments” began to pop up ranking candy bars, vacation activities, and comic book villains.

Much like turkey with the trimmings or costume wearing, bracket-fying should no longer be restricted to seasonal status. Welcome to TIB’s first-ever grapefruit-flavored cola bracket!

Pepsi 1893 Citrus Cola 2

#4 1893 Citrus Cola over #1 1893 Citrus Cola was upset city baby! 1893 Citrus Cola is a PTPer (Pepsi Thirst Pleaser)! Dick Vitale Impression intonation!

So 1893 Citrus Cola appears to be the first grapefruit cola. The can is small, sleek, and slender, and felt like a kid brother compared to the Mountain Dew White Label can I picked up at the same time. It does come in a burnt orange color, setting it apart from the other three 1893 variations as a brighter look.

Pepsi 1893 Citrus Cola 3

Grapefruit essence is noted on the side of the can, and although it doesn’t appear specifically on the ingredients list, “Natural Flavor” appears higher than usual, and perhaps includes for the grapefruit. When you open the can, you’re hit with a strong, refreshing grapefruit scent that shouldn’t be unexpected, but is. Perhaps years of Fresca disappointment had biased my expectations.

The soda’s taste was very effective. Cola out in front, followed by a noticeable, pleasing grapefruit taste that lingered appropriately as an aftertaste as well. The execution reminded me of Pepsi Blue, another product that overcame my cognitive dissonance of a fruit and cola flavored beverage that delivered what it intended, arguably exceeding those expectations by having the flavors occur sequentially.

In March, an unexciting team that executes well is always a pretty good bet to go on a deep run. But there’s a reason few people pick Butler, Xavier, or Wichita State to go far in their brackets. A grapefruit cola is not likely to appeal to many, and my primary reaction to the product is “who is going to buy this?”

If that “who” is you -— the kind of person that appreciates offensive efficiency ratings and senior-laden squads — then 1893 Citrus Cola will surely outplay their seed. Just know that they’ll likely be right back “on the bubble” come next March.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 ounces – 150 calories, 0 grams of fat, 55 milligrams of sodium, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 39 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: 2 for $3 (on sale)
Size: 12 oz. can
Purchased at: Country Maid Deli
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Innovative flavor combination. High marks for execution. Stands out on the shelf.
Cons: Questionable market for grapefruit cola. Pricey for a small can. Being told by the dental hygienist I should no longer sip on soda. Pat Riley will probably trademark “Greatfruitest.”