Author Archives | Jeff

Jeff - who has written 58 posts on The Impulsive Buy.


REVIEW: Taco Bell Grande Scrambler Burrito (Bacon and Sausage)

Written by | July 31, 2014

Topics: 8 Rating, 9 Rating, Fast Food, Taco Bell

Taco Bell Grande Scrambler 001

I’m a big fan of breakfast. Like most things bad for us, it has that magical power of wrapping together comfort food and guilty pleasure into an eternal dance. It’s like the edible yin and yang: bacon and eggs; pancakes and syrup; butter and toast; chicken and waffles; bourbon and Frosted Flakes. You get the point.

And with that great pleasure comes the other end of the spectrum, uncontrollable rage. There was this time when I had thick cut bacon that was overcooked to hell. I’ve seen relics that remained from the ghastly A-bomb drop in Hiroshima that were less scorched. This built up my inner rage to a maximum, ruining my day.

I also once threw a disproportionate fit at a hipster breakfast joint because the promised rye toast finally came when my wife’s southern fry plate was half done. A lot of beards, let alone my patient wife, were unhappy with me that day.

I just ask for one simple thing, please don’t fuck with breakfast.

When Taco Bell first introduced their breakfast line, particularly the breakfast burrito, I was disappointed and pissed off. How can one mess up salty, fatty, porky sausage and eggs with melted cheese wrapped in a tortilla? Taco Bell did.

In fairness, everyone deserves a second chance even if someone rendered so much fat from thick cut bacon, I’ve seen Ethiopians that were chubbier (Zing! The 80’s want their tasteless jokes back). Taco Bell updated and tweaked their brekkie line with new menu items, which is a sign of encouragement to their dedication to the breakfast menu.

The Taco Bell Grande Scrambler Burrito comes with bacon, sausage, or their questionable and dreadful steak. Simply put, this is an upgraded breakfast burrito from the original and comparing the two is like comparing a greasy road map (the ones you have to annoyingly fold back correctly) to a GPS.

Taco Bell Grande Scrambler 004

I ordered both the bacon and sausage to appease my piggy meat breakfast fervor. The first sign I knew the Taco Bell Grande Scrambler Burrito was traveling on a different path from its predecessor was how surprisingly weighty it was. There was a comfortable heft to them that whispered, “I’m the real deal jackass.” The warmth of holding it in my hand was comparable to pulling fresh boxers out of the dryer on a cold morning.

Sinking my teeth into the Grande Scrambler Burrito with bacon, I immediately noticed the eggs were fluffy and looked scrambled. They were rich and buttery, the way my Grandma never made because she made me eat ginseng root soup instead…stupid Grandma!

The warm nacho cheese sauce, which normally makes me gag because I hate that stuff, worked well with the cold sour cream. They melded in supreme fashion together and the slight acidity of the sour cream cut right through the heavy nacho cheese. There to add another layer of flavor was the pico de gallo. It had fresh chunks of tomato, which also coursed successfully through the heavy nacho cheese sauce.

Taco Bell Grande Scrambler 005

The bacon was in “Bacobits” style, but that in no way muted the salty and crispy bite we demand. I do wish the chunks were bigger to make the bacon flavor more prevalent, but it’s there. The melted shredded cheddar cheese was surprisingly not drowned out by the nacho cheese sauce and it competed well with the tanginess from the pico.

However, the true star of these burritos were their “seasoned breakfast potatoes.” They were perfectly seasoned and had a hybrid tater tot/home-fries like consistency. The only way these could be better is if they were actual tater tots. The potatoes add a satisfying texture to the delicious gloppyness of the burrito. To crank the achievements even more, the tortilla was fluffy and warm like a pillow birthed from a smiling cartoon cloud pooping a rainbow.

Taco Bell Grande Scrambler 006

With that said, the sausage one yielded even better results. The sausage’s peppery flavor imparted a nice compliment to the chunky pico de gallo and it swathed right through the nacho cheese sauce. Although the sausage was in that crappy “kibble” form, it still provided that salty and fatty mouthfeel we crave. Again, the melted cheese and potatoes nicely rounded out the burrito. This time, Taco Bell was less heavy-handed with the sour cream which was fine because it could easily wash away the spicy notes from the sausage.

The price is $2.49 for each, which seems reasonable to me considering the generous size of the burritos. I’m not one of those old timey types that cry out, “you get what you pay for.” Despite that, like scotch or dildos, you really get what you pay for in regards to a breakfast burrito.

The quality is not anywhere near you would get from a good breakfast house that seductively charms you with the aroma of bacon and fluffy pancakes. Yet, for fast food, it really puts some of those meager fast food breakfast burritos to shame. Taco Bell set the bar pretty high and I would bet, if it didn’t violate my probation, that some of the other chains may follow suit. If not, they’re stupid idiots like my grandma who fed me ginseng root soup for breakfast.

(Nutrition Facts – With Bacon – 680 calories, 320 calories from fat, 36 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 195 milligrams of cholesterol, 1570 milligrams of sodium, 68 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 5 grams of sugars, and 22 grams of protein. With Sausage – 670 calories, 330 calories from fat, 36 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 195 milligrams of cholesterol, 1410 milligrams of sodium, 67 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 5 grams of sugars, and 19 grams of protein)

Item: Taco Bell Grande Scrambler Burrito (Bacon and Sausage)
Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Bacon)
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Sausage)
Pros: The melted cheddar cheese, the warm nacho cheese sauce, the sour cream and pico de gallo all complement each other. The potatoes are texturally and flavorfully awesome. The $2.49 price tag is more than reasonable. Piggy Meat Breakfast Fervor (best name for a band that never existed). Getting angry and shouting.
Cons: The bacon could be bigger, thus the bacon flavor would be more prevalent. The sausage is in “kibble” form. When servers bring toast late, it’s like the fries come last after you have received your cheeseburger. The spouse dealing with you getting angry and shouting.

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REVIEW: Nabisco Limited Edition Root Beer Float Oreo Cookies

Written by | July 25, 2014

Topics: 4 Rating, Cookies, Oreo

Nabisco Limited Edition Root Beer Float Oreo Cookies

Despite what others think, I can also be sensitive. Reminding me of the destruction of the SDF-1 in Robotech, I shed a few tears next to my wife when Crimson Typhoon and Cherno Alpha ate it big time in Pacific Rim. I admit I also cried a tiny bit when I reacquainted myself with Buckaroo Banzai’s synth engulfed end credits. I can hum that song all day.

So sue me. I am not invulnerable to the charms of nostalgia. I have a fucking soul too.

Does the salty smell of fresh popcorn not invoke memories of carefree Saturday matinees at the cinema? It’s hard to deny the sight of lightning bugs doesn’t drum up images of summery things like Italian ice cups served with wooden spoons that threatened to leave splinters in your mouth.

Root beer floats harken back to a time of childhood innocence. The memories of Daddy teaching you how to ride that bicycle without training wheels. Yelling and screaming lovingly about how stupid you are as the neighbors peer through the curtains, hoping to not get caught. Those were some damn good times.

I suppose the Oreo creates the same feelings for me. As a child, I dipped them in milk after learning another lesson (like most latchkey children do) from television. Me love you long time TV.

Oreo have released so many varieties that they are becoming the Beanie Babies of cookies. After the fruit punch ones, I kind of hit the wall real hard. As much as I love the different flavors, I began to get Oreo-fatigue and pined for a normal Oreo.

Nabisco Limited Edition Root Beer Float Oreo Cookies In Packaging

Yet, the Root Beer Float Oreo grabbed my interest as they sat there next to the lemon one and above the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup version and right beside the mint chocolate variety. After ripping open the package, a deep buttery smell emanated elegantly. A faint, but playfully “fizzy” sweet and herby scent of root beer followed.

However, the Oreo filled with the promise of creamy and frothy root beer float dreams decided to kick my balls to the tune of the Benny Hill theme song. I was at best, disappointed. At worst, I wanted to chase harmless rabbits and their cutesy little noses with the gas-powered lawn mower.

Nabisco Limited Edition Root Beer Float Oreo Cookies Creme

Tasting the cream filling alone yielded a familiar, sweet, but not strong root beer flavor. Actually on subsequent licks, the root beer taste was so light that it barely registered. It could be that each cookie I dissected apart Hannibal-style revealed an almost 80 percent cream to 20 percent root beer flavor ratio.

When I ate the cookie whole, the buttery nuttiness from the Oreo overwhelmed any root beer taste. Strangely, I did experience a ghostly menthol-like “coolness” when I swallowed. It could be from whatever flavoring effect Nabisco pumped in to replicate the carbonization of a root beer. Although, I wished they would have amped up the root beer taste instead.

Dipping them in milk doesn’t help. Dipping them in store bought chocolate milk makes it worse. In fact, dipping them in bourbon is criminal and left me sullen because I ruined a tumbler of Maker’s 46.

There are positives. They are not as sweet as some Oreo flavor (looking at you Watermelon and Berry Burst Ice Cream). Additionally, they appear to be more readily available, at least in my area, so everyone can join in and be sad chasing rabbits.

I know that root beer is one of the trickier flavors to emulate and I have to give credit to Nabisco for at least attempting this. If anything, I admire their tenacity to not back down on trying unconventional flavor choices. (Where’s my blueberry version dammit?)

I’m conflicted because Root Beer Float Oreo cookies do not taste awful. But if you’re expecting them to taste like the beloved soda float, they suck at it.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 15 milligrams of potassium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 12 grams of sugars, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Nabisco Limited Edition Root Beer Float Oreo Cookies
Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 12.2 oz. package
Purchased at: Publix
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: They are not overwhelmingly sweet. Typing “Crimson Typhoon” in my review. The Golden Oreo is buttery and rich. The music in Benny Hill.
Cons: The root beer flavor is very weak. Trying not to type “Root Beer Floats? More like Root Beer Flats!” in my review (GONG!) The Golden Oreo overpowers any root beer flavor. Cherno Alpha biting it so soon. The music in Benny Hinn.

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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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