Author Archives | Jeff

Jeff - who has written 56 posts on The Impulsive Buy.


REVIEW: Tropical 7UP

Written by | June 27, 2014

Topics: 6 Rating, Soda

Tropical 7Up

To most of the world, the word “tropical” bring to mind images of sandy beaches, colorful umbrellas blocking the sun gently, coconut drinks, a dramatic bead of sweat seductively rolling down near cleavage, and skies so deep blue they belong in a Michael Mann film.

To those who grew up in a tropical climate, it means butt-crack sweat, hair destroying humidity, stifling heat when the sea breezes refuse to come, body odor, regretful exposed tattoos on leathery old people, and weird fucking bugs with lots of legs and antennas.

Sorry to ruin it, but the tropics ain’t the shit you’re led to believe in those Royal Caribbean cruise line commercials. Hell no a coconut rum drink served by some vague Jamaican tinged Islanderish accent isn’t going to wash the memory of that flying cockroach flying in my mouth when I was walking my dog outside near some palm trees.

But I’m not an idiot. Like parents…sometimes the ideal is more important than reality.

Now I’m a 7UP guy. Nothing quenches the thirsties after mowing the lawn on a disgustingly hot day like a fresh out of the fridge 7UP. And if you have a Cherry 7UP, well now we’re talking. But now Tropical 7UP has made a quiet introduction. However, the can will definitely catch your eye because it’s a nice bright orange with the iconic 7UP logo emblazoned in large print.

At Epcot, Coca-Cola has this place where you can try all these international varieties for free called Club Cool. Trust me when I say this, I will drink the bitch out of some Beverly, a bitter soda from Italy. Everyone else makes faces like they are either in mid-orgasm or suffering from pain when they drink it.

The reason I bring this up is because I assumed Tropical 7UP was going to taste like those strange Fanta sodas from Latin countries or China that all the kids pine for inside Club Cool. Those Fantas just suck as they are full of depressing, indistinguishable melon flavors and are heavy handed with the sugar.

Tropical 7Up Closeup

Upon pouring Tropical 7UP in a glass, imposing but vague melon tones erupted out, which was followed by a sickly sweet smell. I was turned off by it and wasn’t encouraged. A second pour released a faint pineapple scent I did not initially notice. I poured more and the smell of the orange zest peeked through.

I took a sip and was surprised. The taste was a refreshing balance of light melon and citrus, but the type of melon and citrus were indistinguishable. However, these flavors and scents, when combined, created images of a sunny beach with breezes lightly kissing your skin. I swear I could hear the steel drums playing in the distance. The crispness of the first cold sip was welcoming and the second washed away thoughts of unwillingly fellating a flying cockroach.

The citrus flavors complement the melon and only add to the refreshment. I have to give a nod to 7UP for not going too hard on the sweetness, but like one who argues but knows they are wrong, I spoke too soon. It makes me a bit sad to acknowledge that there is a lingering sweetness that ruins it after a while because each sip intensifies this to the point where your tongue is covered in syrupy sweetness.

Like a shandy, the key is you need to drink this thing ice cold or else the cloying sweetness will overpower the beverage. Also like a shandy, a few sips are really enough because I can’t imagine anybody wanting to drink the entire sixteen ounce can.

Also, as soon as it warms up slightly, the soda is ruined for me. The sweet finish overpowers the taste and you’re left with a three parts powdered fruit punch to one part water type of drink. I cannot stress enough how the sweetness just strangles you. In fact, I’m not sure if children could down the entire can unless they were the offspring of the Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

(Nutrition Facts – 16 ounces – 190 calories, 0 grams of fat, 50 milligrams of sodium, 51 grams of carbohydrates, 50 sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Tropical 7UP
Purchased Price: 99 cents
Size: 16 oz can
Purchased at: Publix
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: When very cold, this drink is crisp and refreshing. Killer Klowns. The melon flavors are light. The citrus tones compliment the melon flavor. The idea of tropical.
Cons: When getting less cold, the drink is sluggish and too sweet. John Wayne Gacy and clowns in general. The heaviness of the sugar kills the drink. One cannot finish a whole can unless one wants to get diabetic neuropathy and blindness. The reality of tropical.

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REVIEW: Doritos Jacked Test Flavor 404

Written by | May 19, 2014

Topics: 9 Rating, Chips, Doritos

Doritos Jacked Test Flavor 404

I’ve always been a huge fan of Doritos’ test flavor gimmicks. From the cheeseburgery reveal of Doritos X-13D to Doritos The Quest, which turned out to be Mountain Dew and was surprisingly good. I’m glad Doritos brought back this stunt, even if it’s for their stubborn sibling, the Jacked line.

I have to say the packaging really piques my excitement. I’m not sure if it’s the silver faux-futuristic bags that echo Fritz Lang’s Metropolis or maybe it is the words “TEST FLAVOR” themselves. Either way, the people that designed this get my high fives.

When they were first announced, it was 2007 all over for me again where losers were wearing blinged out pseudo ripped jeans, had fauxhawks, put on aggro printed t-shirts and topped off their ensemble with Von Dutch caps. And the damned music…Daughtry and Paramore were overplayed (why they were played at all, I am unsure), while all of us geeks swooned over Morgan Webb and discovered the Midnight Juggernauts.

Feverishly, I went to various Walmarts, Targets and Publixes to no avail. After a couple of weeks of looking, I gave up and decided to do something more productive and level up my monk in Diablo III: Reaper of Souls.

One afternoon at lunch, I needed to buy some three ring trading card nine-pocket plastic sheets for my Wacky Packages (another reason why the ladies love me). Ironically, the Target I found them in was the one I’ve avoided because it’s near a huge university and seriously…I don’t have time for that bullshit.

There they were in neatly stacked piles. The last time I gawked stupidly at foil packaging was when a past girlfriend asked me, annoyed, what’s taking me so long to get a rubber. They were all the 404 version and although I was sad that the other two test flavors were not there, I grabbed two packages and gleefully ran out.

Upon ripping open the bag, I buried my nose into it like it was the 80’s, Miami Vice-style, and inhaled. There was a deep and earthy molasses/brown sugar scent that is immediate. It then faded into cumin-like tones with a light fake-citrus smell. I can compare the earthy wafts to a fresh out of the oven baked sweet potato if you squeezed a lemon on it.

Doritos Jacked Test Flavor 404 Closeup

The chips themselves had a burnt orange “spray tan look” that were a few shades darker enough to let you know that it meant fucking business. You could see the seasoning flecks as if your eyes had microscopic vision and the chips felt heavier.

I know it sounds crazy but I like the lighter feel of normal Doritos chips and think the more rigid Jacked chips take away from the crunch experience. However, those powdery flavor dustballs have enough heft that they shake off your hands easily.

Eating one, the smoky tortilla corn chip was the most prevalent flavor at first. Then a rich sweetness with garlicky notes washed my tongue as I chewed. There was an unidentifiable complexity in the chip that almost tasted like five spice powder. Last, a citrusy tart zing that tasted of key limes and kumquats grabbed my taste buds and doggy styled it into submission. There was also a faint tinge of heat, which was nice.

I couldn’t really say what the flavor was except that it definitely had this Asian Thai sweet chili sauce thing going on. Looking at the ingredients, I saw lime juice solids and orange juice solids, which may explain the slight tartness that sort of made my cheeks tickle.

The bold flavors joined in a symphony that demanded you pay some friggin’ attention. These chips were the aces! I was impressed and surprised that Doritos was able to bring a flavor that I had not really tasted yet or could truly compare to another flavor. In fact, my only gripe is that the chips seemed too heavy and stiff (thanks Jacked) but who cares once you get to that flavor.

If Frito-Lay wants to make any one of the three a regular flavor, they will probably pick the safest route and these will go the way G4TV did (damn you Esquire channel). If you can find Doritos Jacked Test Flavor 404, I highly recommend picking these up because I doubt they will be made again.

I have to commend Frito-Lay for really pushing the envelope on its Doritos flavors, even if it’s a limited time thing. Sure I may never get a second round of Doritos Mr. Dragon’s Fire Chips but these 404, if they become a regular offering, will satiate my wants.

(Nutrition Facts – 6 chips – 140 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Doritos Jacked Test Flavor 404
Purchased Price: $4.29
Size: 10 ounce bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: The Asian-like complex flavors that are earthy, tart and sweet. The flavor dust easily shakes off your hand. The Doritos line has brought back the test flavors gimmick. G4’s Attack of the Show!
Cons: The heavy stiff chip is not the best. It’s hard to find these in my area. Blinged out faux ripped jeans. Esquire Network’s Lucky Bastards.

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REVIEW: McDonald’s Peaches & Crème Pie

Written by | April 30, 2014

Topics: 9 Rating, Fast Food, McDonald's

McDonald’s Peaches & Cre?me Pie

Is it wrong to like McDonald’s pies over the traditional circular homey baked kind? Not any more wrong than laughing out loud in the theater during a sad scene. I apologized profusely to my wife when I erupted with guttural laughter as Christoph Waltz maniacally beat that elephant off-screen in “Water for Elephants.”

I don’t think animal abuse is funny at all but the scene was so corny, I had to laugh. Worse, I said sorry as I chuckled. Apologizing while snickering appears just as sincere as when your girlfriend who is about to dump you says, “We need to talk.”

What I will not apologize for is having a penchant for McDonald’s pies, which maybe even a bit borderline obsessive.

Famished after running mundane errands, the mind was elsewhere as my eyes were glazed staring at the drive-thru menu at McDonald’s. I knew my wife would get the Quarter Pounder with Cheese and no bun due to her gluten allergen. I was ready to follow suit until my eyes fixed on the pie offering… Peaches & Crème.

Images of fireworks, the mention of “Stephen Strange” in Captain America 2, and former WWE wrestler Chyna getting boogety-humped by X-Pac in the “leaked” sex video flashed in my mind.

I’ve eaten a variety of McDonald’s pies and while they don’t blow me away, they mostly always satisfy. It’s like a color by the numbers action film where everybody plays a familiar archetype. You know, the-sensitive-but-tough guy, the-jokey-but-tough-guy-when-it-counts, and the-misunderstood-jerk-who’s-actually-a-good-guy, blah blah blah. That’s how McDonald’s pies are to me, I love them but they aren’t exactly paradigm shifting.

Sometimes, however, there’s a detour in those films and you’re fully invested only hoping they can deliver.

McDonald’s Peaches & Cre?me Pie Closeup

That is the McDonald’s Peaches & Crème pie.

I’m serious and the bad news is, not only is it a limited offering but from my unscientific research, I don’t think they are widely available. It is not even listed in McDonald’s own website, which make me feel like I found the “secret” negative worlds in Super Mario Brothers.

I spent more time looking for the existence of this pie online than I did watching YouTube clips of unofficial appearances by Superman and Spiderman in Bollywood films.

The crust, as always, was golden brown. This crust was flecked with sugar crystals which welcomed you to take a big friggin’ bite into it. The crust was buttery and crispy with a perfect “Goldilocks zone” thickness that broke away in your mouth pleasantly the way Filo dough does.

The filling in the pie needs to taste good, but I think the texture is just as important as the filling. Maybe that’s why I like the clown’s pies so much, that mass produced crust is what I imagine what perfect pie crust is.

McDonald’s Peaches & Cre?me Pie Innards

As for the fillings themselves, they are mundane and ordinary alone. The crème part tastes a little bit like cheap cream cheese frosting. The peach filling taste of reduced syrupy canned peaches has a slightly distant herby flavor, which is interesting in a very good way. The chunks of peaches are a nice touch to add another element of the mouthfeel equation, if there is such an equation.

However, when the peaches, crème, and crust are combined, it’s like alchemy. The pie is a cheap section of heaven, where the inventors of pogs and die cut comic book covers go (if you believe in heaven). And if they are there, I have a closet full of apologies they need to give me.

The crème really tones down the syrupy sweetness and adds that tiny addition of savory. It’s akin to something acidic to cut through something rich. And I cannot begin to truly explain the essential crust, which just brings it all together.

In all seriousness, if you can find it, it is worth a try. I know the strawberries and crème pies are still regularly sold and if you can’t find the limited peaches one, the strawberry version will give you a good idea of what this is all about. I sincerely hope this pie makes it to the regular line-up.

(Nutrition Facts – Not available on website.)

Item: McDonald’s Peaches & Crème Pie
Purchased Price: 89 cents
Size: N/A
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: The crust, the filling and the crème all play an equal role of deliciousness. Sugar crystals on the crust. Chunks of peaches. Inappropriate laughing.
Cons: It’s a limited offering. If you eat the crème and the peaches alone (but who does that? And if you do, you need help). Inappropriate laughing.

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REVIEW: Taco Bell Sausage Breakfast Burrito

Written by | April 18, 2014

Topics: 2 Rating, Fast Food, Taco Bell

Taco Bell Sausage Breakfast Burrito Outside

The breakfast burrito encompasses everything that is a guilty pleasure. Eggy richness covered with melty cheese and salty bits of luscious fatty meat, all wrapped in a convenient flour tortilla. Like a grilled cheese sandwich, it echoes comfort and its simple ingredients combine together to create a complex equation of deliciousness.

Long story short, a breakfast burrito (like a grilled cheese) balances on a thin line between awesome and Shitsville.

Taco Bell has toyed with the idea of a breakfast menu longer than Dan Aykroyd has tinkered with endless versions of Ghostbusters III. I remember when I was an undergrad, the Taco Bell in the student union had makeshift breakfast burritos with tater tots, eggs, and cheese in them. I have no idea if these were sanctioned or official but I knew I ate those bastards without consideration to anything, including my girlfriend’s stupid vegan rule.

Every time I heard Taco Bell was testing its breakfast menu, I would pray to the Bell loudly that Orlando would be chosen, but to no avail. And now a few years or so, everyone gets their chance to partake in this once mythical menu.

We all know by 2032, as Demolition Man taught us, that Taco Bell wins the fast food wars; sex involves no touching and sleek headgear; and Wesley Snipes did more than skipping out on taxes. I’m going to make an educated guess that the breakfast burrito was not one of the contributions that led Taco Bell to win that war.

Taco Bell Sausage Breakfast Burrito Inside

As soon as I bit into the burrito, I knew I made a mistake larger than the last woman who dated Chris Brown. Cheap shot aside, the eggs were chalky and powdery tasting. Normally in a breakfast burrito, the eggs are the binding ingredient that amplifies the other flavors. However, this egg was gritty, bland and just sat there like it gave up on doing much.

Taco Bell states you get a “double portion of fluffy scrambled eggs.” They couldn’t even get that right because my portion was more like Keira Knightly-sized, let alone fluffy.

Collapsing even further was the dreadful, droopy and less than present flavor of the cheddar cheese. There is more cheese flavor to be found if you sucked your cousin’s fingers after they ate a bag of cheese puffs. The cheddar cheese was mostly crusted up which only served to emphasize the boring and apathetic eggs.

You do get a choice of bacon or sausage for your breakfast burrito. I decided on sausage to avoid the old trap that bacon makes everything taste better. It does not…but in any case, I just wanted to stay away from the sweet crispy lull of bacon.

The sausage was as depressing as the rest of the other elements. It was like Ron Jeremy. Greasy, hard in some parts, and unpleasantly fatty. The sausage was also dull and devoid of the punch of spices we are accustomed to in fast food sausage.

To call this a letdown is as much as an understatement as if I said, “I’m sad” after catching my wife getting jackhammered by the mailman. I was in disbelief that a chain that can make fast food burritos well, screwed up this badly. I think if I chewed on my Fleshlight, there would be more flavor.

What about the positives? Frankly, the only one I can think of is that it’s served until 11:00am, or at least the one in my area. The flour tortilla kept everything warm, so I suppose that’s a mediocre plus.

I have a rule that has guided me very well in general regarding going out to eat. If a restaurant can’t make a staple dish well, most likely the rest of their menu is going to suck. For example, if you go to a Chinese restaurant and the egg rolls or fried rice are damn awful, you can bet the Peking duck is going to flatline harder than M. Night Shyamalan’s most recent movie. I mean if you go to your neighborhood Italian restaurant and the eggplant parmesan tastes like crap, do you really think the kitchen can handle the acqua pazza? Hell no!

Taco Bell Sausage Breakfast Burrito

Bottom line, Taco Bell couldn’t make their breakfast burrito rise like a morning woodster, which stinks because I am less enthused about trying their other breakfast offerings. This review made me realize two things. One, I think I’ll stick to what Taco Bell knows best, the “fourth” meal that comes after a night of hard drinking involving lots of scotches and martinis. Two, movies based on the future are stupid lies.

(Nutrition Facts – 470 calories, 250 calories from fat, 28 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 210 milligrams of cholesterol, 930 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, and 14 grams of protein.)

Item: Taco Bell Sausage Breakfast Burrito
Purchased Price: $1.69
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: It’s served until 11:00 a.m. The flour tortilla keeps everything nice and warm. The girlfriend who is now my wife. Makes you appreciate the regular menu. Wesley Snipes in Expendables III (it’s not out but who cares, that movie looks awesome!!!)
Cons: That they serve this at all. The gritty eggs. The flavorless cheddar cheese. The girlfriend who made me eat vegan foods. The grizzle of the sausage. Wesley Snipes in Blade III.

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REVIEW: McDonald’s Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frappe

Written by | February 17, 2014

Topics: 4 Rating, Fast Food, McDonald's

McDonald’s Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frappe

I believe you hit a certain age when you want a milkshake but you’re an adult now and unless it’s swilling an espresso with milk, that’s not going to go well with the senior partners. Hiding behind that tattered copy of the WSJ or the Financial Times is not an option either. I mean, look at yourself:

You have a dark blazer from Brooks Brothers that screams prep school chic but conservative enough for a Southern highball soiree.

A messenger bag/briefcase from Jack Spade.

That J. Crew navy blue and red striped banker’s tie.

Cashmere red socks from Banana Republic (Heritage edition, of course).

You also use words like “furthermore” or “paradigm” and “synergy” in normal conversations.

Furthermore, a milkshake could rupture that carefully put together image and how is Muffy going to react with you being caught slurping a milkshake and reading (gasp)The Atlantic? (Don’t worry I ain’t going to tell nobody.)

Enter the frappe, which according to Wikipedia (but old sport, you better not admit to looking up anything on there, lest you’ll be laughed off at your next squash match), is a foamed covered iced coffee drink that hails from the land of money strapped Greece.

Like Americans, we soar in taking something from elsewhere and make it, if not always better, patently ours. Just take a look at all the mango sauce/Sriracha reduction/flecks of truffles/sushi rolls that are made to have us believe that’s what the Japanese eat over in Tokyo. Canadians aren’t even safe with the eye-rolling varieties of poutine being ferreted by so called “hot” chefs. Anybody want to argue the merits of the Americanized Let Me In? Poor Swedes, we should have stopped at Ikea and that Swedish Chef from the Muppets.

Yet, the Mcdonald’s Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frappe here serves its purpose as a coffee drink and a “sorta” milkshake. Of course old boy, a coffee drink sounds much more sophisticated than a milkshake wouldn’t you say?

Normally I’m not a fan of foods that are literally named what they are. I mean would you eat a “hind leg of the pig that has been cured and topped with cheese” sandwich? Not me. A hind leg sounds too close to the butt and with the word cheese…it just creates an illustration best left in the dark recesses of your mind where forgotten embarrassments live.

However, this works here because McDonald’s is not only telling you that “hey, you can drink the luscious headiness of chocolate covered strawberries,” but they are making it sound way more ravishing than it is. And you will be tricked like me.

Besides, at $3.19 for a medium, that’s a bit way too pricey when you have to walk around with a plastic cup that has a McCafe logo seared on it. Remember image is everything sport. The point is, regarding the high price, you’re better off going to a Starbucks who do Frappucinos way better.

McDonald’s Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frappe  Topping

At first sight, there is the standard and inviting whipped cream on top and if you dislike whipped cream, you’re an evil person who probably breaks fertilized chicken eggs. The whipped cream is lovingly glazed with streams of strawberry syrup and it tastes like the strawberry sundae topping with hints of some kind of delightful berries. It’s actually not as sweet as I was expecting and that is a good thing.

This is where everything goes pear-shaped. First, the chocolate flavor is muddled and bland which is not helped by the even blander coffee taste. The chocolate chips residing in the drink are nice and bittersweet but do little, except to convince you that maybe you should have ordered a coffee flavored milkshake.

Although the strawberry syrup was slightly intense in the berry flavor, when drank with the chocolate coffee, it just fades away like internet sensations (anybody remember Little Superstar?). Even worse, the ice bits mixed in the chocolate chips create something that made me want to turn to the camera and have a tear roll down my cheek 1970’s public service announcement Native American style.

The McDonald’s Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frappe tasted like a watery cement mix of sadness and despair. The tiny ice crystals did nothing but dilute an already boring coffee drink. The concoction was so soupy and awful, I threw it out with the other incriminating documents.

To hell with wondering if you’re going to be invited to the annual partners’ dinner or if that preppy cowlick on the back of your head is just right. If you want a coffee, order a coffee. If you a want a milkshake, order a milkshake. If you want a combination, go elsewhere (like maybe Starbucks) and avoid this dreadful offering that will only confirm that all of us are going to hell in a spiffy bow-tie.

(Nutrition Facts – Medium – 630 calories, 240 calories from fat, 30 grams of fat, 17 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 107 grams of carbohydrates, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 98 grams of sugar, 10 grams of protein.)

Item: McDonald’s Chocolate Covered Strawberry Frappe
Purchased Price: $3.19
Size: Medium/16 oz.
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: The strawberry syrup has hints of berries and is not as sweet as one would think. American Psycho. Who doesn’t love whipped cream? When a senior partner tells you a joke and you laugh. The chocolate chips are bittersweet. Wearing one of those suits from The Great Gatsby.
Cons: Bland coffee flavor. Psycho IV: The Beginning. Too many ice crystals mixed in that diluted an already bland coffee. When a senior partner tells you a joke and you have to laugh. Watery and sad. Speaking like you’re from The Great Gatsby.

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