Author Archives | Kelley

Kelley - who has written 71 posts on The Impulsive Buy.


REVIEW: Pizza Hut Blake’s Smokehouse BBQ Pizza

Written by | June 16, 2014

Topics: 6 Rating, Fast Food, Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut Blake's Smokehouse BBQ Pizza

Blake Shelton. A name that only vaguely registered in my mind before this review. Some sort of pop country superstar? I was out of my wheelhouse.

Until I saw this.

Now I know exactly who Blake Shelton is. Blake Shelton is an insane person.

You see, Blake Shelton has apparently inspired or contributed to or somehow been involved in the line of Pizza Hut’s new BBQ pizzas, most specifically Blake’s Smokehouse BBQ.

Thank god for Pizza Hut that he’s not actually part of their marketing process, or else this rather pedestrian moniker (and the other two, Honey BBQ Chicken and Hawaiian BBQ) could have gone rather differently. Here are some of Blake’s suggestions:

Chicky Chicky Boom Boom
Cutie Fruity
The Shellshocked
The Aloha-Broha
Dorky Porky
Cluckadoodle-DOOOOO
Hawaiian Piiiiie-ian
P.S…It’s B.S.
The Oklahoma Stuffer
Super Pork Fucker 3000
Barba-who? Barbecue
Meat Sphere
Grab a Fork! It’s Time for Pork!

Only one of the above is fake. Can you guess which one? I’d be hard pressed to.

Pizza Hut describes Blake’s Smokehouse BBQ as “A toasted Cheddar crust topped with sweet Honey BBQ sauce, hardwood smoked bacon, smoked ham flavored with a hint of sugar, and juicy pork.”

In case you’re keeping track, that’s three porks. I’m perfectly okay with this amount of pork. Ignore the quiet screams emanating from my heart at the amount of sodium this potentially presents.

I think the most important player here is the Honey BBQ sauce, and who am I to bury the lead, so let’s start with that.

I have to say that I was quite impressed with this sauce. I was expecting a sweet mess; there was a fair amount of it on each slice, but it added subtle BBQ undertones that didn’t overwhelm the other toppings but instead added a nice smoky flavor. The sauce was also thick, so it stuck to the pizza without creating stickyhands.

Pizza Hut Blake's Smokehouse BBQ Pizza Slice

As you can see, Pizza Hut wasn’t skimpy with the toppings. Beyond the Honey BBQ sauce, the flavor profile went in this order: sausage, then ham, and then…well, it seemed like they just nodded at the bacon from across the room. I mean, I could see bits of “hardwood smoked” bacon, but they added none of the crunch or smoky flavor I want out of bacon on my pizza.

Oh, did I say “sausage” earlier? What I meant to say was “juicy pork”. Which is, apparently, Pizza Hut code for crumbled sausage pizza topping. There was a lot of it, and it was, indeed, juicy and flavorful, but it wasn’t exactly anything new or special.

The same seemed to go for the smoked ham that Pizza Hut claims to have a hint of sugar. Maybe it was the bit of sugar in the Honey BBQ sauce that masked it, but again, it just seemed like good ol’ ham pizza topping. Again, nothing wrong with that, but nothing special, either.

I was surprised at what a difference the toasted cheddar on the crust made. I haven’t had Pizza Hut in ages, but apparently they changed their hand-tossed formula earlier this year and I have to say, it was much better than I remember. I’ve found in the past that baked-in cheese crusts lack flavor, but the cheddar was really noticeable here.

While I cannot legally stab Blake Shelton, I’m glad I took a stab at Pizza Hut’s Blake’s Smokehouse BBQ Pizza, even if it came with mixed results. That was a forced joke and I’m sorry. While the juicy pork (sausage bits) and ham seemed to be regular pizza toppings, they certainly were plentiful; however, I had to wonder where the bacon went and lamented its absence.

On the plus side, the Honey BBQ sauce wasn’t nearly as cloyingly sweet as I thought it was going to be, and it added a little smokiness that complimented the pork toppings. The toasted cheddar crust was surprisingly flavorful, which beats a regular crust any day. When you add it all up, Blake’s Smokehouse BBQ won’t blow your mind, but it’s a decent pork pizza with a bbq twist. Dorky Porky.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 slice – 370 calories, 150 calories from fat, 16 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 790 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 15 grams of protein.)

Item: Pizza Hut Blake’s Smokehouse BBQ Pizza
Purchased Price: $11.00
Size: Large pizza
Purchased at: Pizza Hut
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Honey BBQ sauce wasn’t too sweet and adds some smoky flavor. I didn’t have to drink a gallon of water because of excess salt like I thought I would. Lots of sausage and ham toppings. No stickyhands. Cheddar crust was surprisingly flavorful. Fine, I kind of like “Dorky Porky”.
Cons: Bacon crunch and smokiness were conspicuously absent. Blake Shelton’s pizza names. “Juicy pork” and ham tasted like regular pizza toppings. It’s illegal to stab pop country singers (or anyone else, I guess).

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REVIEW: Sonic Jalapeño Chocolate Shake

Written by | May 9, 2014

Topics: 0 Rating, Fast Food, Sonic

Sonic Jalapen?o Chocolate Shake Cup

Waaay back on April 1st, Sonic Drive-In announced their newest shake – the Kale Cream Pie Shake.

Sound horrifyingly disgusting? That’s because it was an April Fool’s joke. It was a promotional gag for their Summer of Shakes, which includes Oreo Peanut Butter, Salted Caramel, and Chocolate Covered Jalapeño.

Does that last one sound horrifyingly disgusting? That’s because it was an Apri- oh, shit. It wasn’t a joke. The Sonic Chocolate Covered Jalapeño Shake is real.

When I got my shake, I was disappointed it came in a pedestrian Styrofoam cup. The promo pictures had a clear cup that showed little pepper pieces in the shake, as well as jalapeño pieces on the whipped cream. Presumably, this is why it was initially called the Chocolate Covered Jalapeño Shake, but is now called the Jalapeño Chocolate Shake.

It looked so innocent at first. Just a chocolate shake. I dipped a spoon into the cup, expecting to come up with some little pieces, but instead I found…

Sonic Jalapen?o Chocolate Shake Jalapen?o Slice

Yeah. Whole sliced jalapeños, right in the shake. What the fuck.

Sonic Jalapen?o Chocolate Shake Glass

Wanting a better look, I unceremoniously dumped the shake into a glass, and the results gave me no encouragement.

Using a straw with my shake, as God intended, it initially tasted like a chocolate shake that was somehow…off. If I didn’t know there were peppers in it, I would have tasted it and thought, huh, they did something weird to this. There wasn’t any real spiciness to it, just an offness, like maybe the chocolate syrup had gone bad. I’ve never had the experience of tasting that, but that’s the closest I could come to a comparison.

And then I sucked in my first piece of jalapeño.

You know how sometimes you’ll get a chunky shake and accidentally suck a piece straight to the back of your throat? That’s exactly what happened to me. But, instead of a delicious piece of Oreo cookie, it was a motherfucking jalapeño.

And not just some pedestrian pickled jalapeño, either. A fresh jalapeño.

I did that thing where you use your tongue to move the piece back to the front of your mouth and started chewing it, but the damage had already been done. Jalapeño juice burned the back of my throat, causing me to choke and gag a little.

After getting over that, I chewed the jalapeño piece. My poor mouth was so confused. “I love jalapenos!” Some of my taste buds said. “I love chocolate shake!” others joined in enthusiastically. But then the two clashed, and both sides screamed.

“AAAAHHHHHHH THIS IS SO WRONG WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO US!”

“WE LOVE JALAPENOS WHY IS THERE CHOCOLATE SHAKE IN HERE!”

“WE LOVE CHOCOLATE SHAKE WHY ARE THERE JALAPENOS IN HERE!”

At this point, I was chatting with a friend, who kindly informed me, “I heard you don’t get the full effect unless you muddle it first.”

I hated this idea with a passion. But I had to admit he was probably right.

So I smashed my straw down into the glass, hearing the sickening squish of peppers releasing their capsaicin like a hundred villagers being reduced to a slick yet chunky mash of viscera under the foot of a vengeful giant.

Did I mention that I hate this friend?

What was once an off-tasting chocolate shake with the occasional nasty jalapeño surprise turned into a creamy drink of unending horror. The peppers had now blended efficiently with the chocolate shake, resulting in a taste that, and I’m not over-exaggerating for effect here, made me think I might vomit.

All that pepper taste that had been released and was now free to mix with the chocolate and ice cream, and it’s hard to even describe the outcome. It wasn’t just spicy chocolate. It was jalapeño peppers a la mode with some chocolate. It was bitter and sickly sweet and spicy and sad and I honestly made that face you’d make if a hippo flung poo into your open mouth.

After a few sips, I could take no more. What the hell was I going to do with this thing? I was afraid if I tossed it down the kitchen sink, I might actually toss my cookies along with it.

So I did the only thing I could – I chucked it into the dumpster outside. I should have covered it with cow excrement to make a more pleasant smell or burned that dumpster down and buried the ashes. But that’s probably a felony, so I just threw it in there and hoped no dumpster divers had the misfortune of finding it before it went to the landfill.

I’ve eaten a lot of terrible things in my journey as a food reviewer, but there are a few that really stand out. The #1 on my list has always been Jones Bacon Flavored Soda, and I was reminded of it often as I tried to down the Sonic Jalapeño Chocolate Shake.

With both I experienced a grey, mushy feeling of wrongness deep inside my soul; a knowledge that this is an experience that will stay with me forever; nausea; and the idea that a company had taken a flavor I loved and ruined it forever. Two flavors, in this case.

I really thought I would hate the Sonic Jalapeño Chocolate Shake before I tried it, but thought it wouldn’t be as bad as I’d anticipated. I was wrong. It is so, so much worse.

(Nutrition Facts – Small size — 670 calories, 280 calories from fat, 31 grams of total fat, 23 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 100 milligrams of cholesterol, 480 milligrams of sodium, 89 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 56 grams of sugar, 8 grams of protein, 20% vitamin A, 1% vitamin C, 26% calcium, and 5% iron..)

Item: Sonic Jalapeño Chocolate Shake
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: Small
Purchased at: Sonic
Rating: 0 out of 10
Pros: The chocolate shake only tasted “off” before I muddled it. I guess using fresh jalapeño peppers deserves a mention? The cherry on top hadn’t touched the shake, so it was okay.
Cons: Muddling the jalapeños was the worst idea in the world. Um, everything about this shake is a terrible idea. Sonic had the audacity to charge me an extra $0.60 for the jalapeños, for some reason. Burning public dumpsters is probably illegal. Fuck you for scarring my soul, Sonic.

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REVIEW: Whataburger Jalapeño Cheddar Biscuit

Written by | May 5, 2014

Topics: 7 Rating, Fast Food, Whataburger

Whataburger Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuit Sausage Cheese Sandwich

I’m not that big on biscuits. I owned a Limp Bizkit CD in my late teens, but I’m not proud of that fact, and I think we can all look back and realize we made some stupid mistakes at that age.

I feel bad for the biscuits that come with my KFC meals, because they always wind up neglected in favor of stuffing my face with fried chicken. Priorities, you know? They then go stale after one day and wind up in the trash.

I wish I could just tell the cashier to hold the biscuits and throw in an extra leg or something, but I’m pretty sure there’s no button for that on the cash register, and I try to avoid confusing fast food workers as much as possible. Understanding the talky-box at the drive-thru is difficult enough as it is.

Even when I order a breakfast sandwich, I’ll generally opt for English muffin over biscuit. They just seem to work better as breakfast buns, a phrase I’d like to make a dirty joke out of but can’t quite develop. Biscuits just tend to be more crumbly, which isn’t the most convenient for breakfast on-the-go, especially if you don’t want to show up at work with crumbs all over your slacks.

Before you label me a biscuit-hater, however, I will say that I’m way into biscuits and gravy. It’s one of my favorite breakfast foods, as long as I can afford the luxury of utensils. Whataburger is one of the few fast food locations that offers biscuits and gravy, and their sausage gravy is impressively delicious.

That said, I decided to branch out while on my mission to try Whataburger’s new Jalapeño Cheddar Biscuit. I could have just gotten the biscuit, but that seemed a little sad. Whataburger’s website encouraged me to substitute it for any of the other biscuit options on their menu, which immediately led me down the road of biscuits and gravy (oh, if I should ever find such an actual road flowing with sausage gravy), but I figured the spicy/cheesy combo would work better in sandwich form. Short story long, I decided to get a Jalapeño Cheddar Sausage and Cheese Biscuit Sandwich.

Whataburger Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuit

Right away, I could see the pepper bits in the biscuit, which is always encouraging. It had a nice, spicy scent to it, which mixed with the savory odor of the sausage patty very well. Furthermore, the jalapeño pieces were plentiful and looked as though they were fresh (as opposed to pickled) when they were baked into the biscuit, which generally indicates a spicier pepper experience.

I tore off some bites before I ate the sandwich as a whole so that I could isolate the taste of the biscuit itself. It was somewhat dry on the edges – a common problem with fast food biscuits, I’ve noticed – but the inner parts were fluffy and moist.

There was a nice kick of heat and the delicious flavor of fresh jalapeños right away, mixed in with the more subtle but welcome taste of cheese. When eaten as a sandwich, the cheddar in the biscuit was overwhelmed by the more aggressive cheese slice, but the jalapeños remained, giving my breakfast sandwich a little heat to compliment the sausage patty’s spices.

Whataburger set out to make a Jalapeño Cheddar Biscuit, and they succeeded. The peppers give it a little kick, but not so much that you’re questioning why you decided to set your mouth on fire at 8 a.m. While the cheddar flavor disappears in sandwich form, it’s still notable in the biscuit itself.

However, if you’re more into something a little sweet for your morning commute, this biscuit probably isn’t for you. Maybe it’s just me, but it doesn’t seem like maple syrup and jalapeños would play together very well.

Whataburger Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuit Sausage Cheese Sandwich Inside

As for the contents of my sandwich, the sausage patty wasn’t really anything spectacular – average thickness; tender and juicy with the standard breakfast sausage seasonings. That said, it’d be fairly difficult to make a ground pork sausage patty that wasn’t tender. The cheese was just a regular slice of American. A teensy bit disappointing, since Whataburger tends to be a cut above your average fast food when it comes to their burger offerings.

So, if you’re already a fan of biscuit sandwiches, I’d definitely recommend you substitute your regular ol’ biscuit with a Whataburger Jalapeño Cheddar Biscuit. It’s a savory, slightly spicy change of pace, and it’s only available for a limited time served between 11 p.m. – 11 a.m., so why not give it a go. If this were a commercial, I’d end this review with a sentence like, “Spice up your morning routine!”

But this isn’t a commercial, so just, you know, try the damn biscuit.

(Nutrition Facts [Biscuit only] — 1 biscuit — 350 calories, 200 calories from fat, 22 grams of total fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 730 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, and 8 grams of protein.)

Item: Whataburger Jalapeño Cheddar Biscuit
Purchased Price: $2.64
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Whataburger
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Jalapeño peppers were plentiful and offered a nice kick. Dreaming of a sausage gravy road. Most of the biscuit was fluffy and moist. Finding a biscuit I wouldn’t throw in the trash. Cheddar in biscuit added a nice touch. Definite flavor upgrade from a regular biscuit.
Cons: Biscuit edges are dry. Owning a Limp Bizkit CD. Cheddar in biscuit disappears when paired with cheese slice. Sounding like a commercial. Breakfast not offered all day at Whataburger. Wow, that’s a lot of fat for one biscuit!

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QUICK REVIEW: Herdez Cocina Mexicana Chicken Mole Bowl

Written by | March 24, 2014

Topics: 7 Rating, Frozen Food

Herdez Chicken Mole Bowl

Purchased Price: $3.50 (on sale)
Size: 10 oz.
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Mole sauce had a pretty accurate flavor and a little spicy kick. Great size for a work lunch. Can be microwaved thawed (so you can keep it at your desk and prevent food theft!) Most of the chicken was tender. Rice had a good, sticky texture and real cilantro taste with a hint of lime. Kudos for at least trying to make authentic-tasting frozen Mexican food.
Cons: Some of the chicken was dry. Expensive for the amount of food you get. Mole sauce could have had a stronger presence. There were bland spots in the rice. Don’t pronounce mole like the animal (it’s moe-LAY).

Herdez Chicken Mole Bowl Closeup

Nutrition Facts: 390 calories, 120 calories from fat, 13 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,290 milligrams of sodium, 49 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, 19 grams of protein, 10% vitamin A, 10% vitamin C, 4% calcium, and 15% iron.

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REVIEW: Papa John’s Double Cheeseburger Pizza

Written by | March 11, 2014

Topics: 2 Rating, Fast Food, Papa John's

Papa John's Double Cheeseburger Pizza

Being fortunate enough to live in an area with a large number of mom ‘n’ pop pizza shops, I’ve seen the cheeseburger pizza road before. (But not an actual Cheeseburger Pizza Road – if I saw that, I would move there immediately.)

I’ve found that small pizza joints tend to have a wider variety of toppings and, thus, a wider variety of specialty pizzas, ranging from cheeseburger to taco to gyro to something with pine nuts and Hoisin sauce. Okay, I made up the last one, but it’s not out of the question.

Comparatively, most chain specialty pizzas and toppings in general are pretty pedestrian. I consider myself lucky if I can even get white sauce as an option. If they do decide to branch out, it tends to be towards Crazy Town, like shoving hot dogs or seven different cheeses into their crusts. In fact, a lot of the insanity in chain specialty pizzas involves shoving shit into the crust. I’m looking at you, Pizza Hut.

Papa John’s went a different direction with their Double Cheeseburger Pizza, however. They put the crazy on top, not in the crust.

Papa John's Double Cheeseburger Pizza Slice

Here’s what Papa John’s has to say about the Double Cheeseburger Pizza: “Featuring a zesty burger sauce covered with a double layer of 100% real beef, dill pickle slices, fresh cut roma tomatoes and 100% real cheese made from mozzarella.”

I have several points of contention with this description. Let’s start with the burger sauce.

Papa John's Double Cheeseburger Pizza Burger Sauce

First off, the words “zesty burger sauce” are both generic and sound like they should be about five miles away from my pizza. Upon tasting, I uphold this idea. On its own, the flavor of the sauce was distinctly mayo mixed with ketchup, aka the poor man’s Thousand Island dressing. Call me crazy, but fresh-from-the-oven hot mayonnaise is not appealing.

Next we have the double layer of real beef. “Double layer” is a questionable quantity, and that really showed here, as I found the beef pieces to be rather sparse. Furthermore, the pieces of beef were small and remarkably flavorless, which is a bad trait for a pizza that’s supposed to taste like a burger.

Papa John's Double Cheeseburger Pizza Pickles

The tomatoes and cheese were just fine, but the real issue was the pickles. While the beef had a weak showing, the pickles certainly made up for it in spades. It appeared that Papa John’s used the same pickles you’d find on a regular fast-food burger, which sounds promising on paper but did not translate at all to a burger party in my mouth.

I could not escape the pickles. There was a slice in every bite. After I’d done my duty for the purposes of this review and eaten the pizza as-is, I tried removing the pickles in an attempt to have a slice of pizza that did not taste like a jar of brine. It was impossible. Even with the pickles themselves gone, the juice had been absorbed deep into the crust.

I would like to officially rename Papa John’s Double Cheeseburger Pizza to Papa John’s Precariously Plentiful Pickle Pizza. With sad beef, warm mayo sauce, and so many brined cucumbers that it made me want to make about 15 Pickles the Drummer jokes throughout this review, I cannot in good conscience call this a cheeseburger pizza.

To use a forced basketball analogy, Papa John’s Double Cheeseburger Pizza needs to work on its fundamentals. For right now, I’m benching it.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/6 of a small pizza – 260 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 600 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, 8 grams of protein.)

Item: Papa John’s Double Cheeseburger Pizza
Purchased Price: $6.00 (on sale: regular price $12)
Size: Small
Purchased at: Papa John’s
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: I got it for 50 percent off. The tomatoes and cheese were fine. Metalocalypse. I only ordered a small. If you put pickles on everything you eat, this is your dream come true.
Cons: Pickles overtook everything. A chain restaurant that left the crust alone but still made an awful specialty pizza. Warm mayo/ketchup sauce. I wish I was actually good at basketball. The double serving of burger was a double serving of sadness.

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