Author Archives | Steve

Steve - who has written 14 posts on The Impulsive Buy.


REVIEW: Calbee Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC Colonel Crispy Potato Chips (Japan)

Written by | February 11, 2014

Topics: 9 Rating, Chips, Japan

Calbee Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC Colonel Crispy Potato Chips

I have no relationship with KFC to speak of. I never eat there. I wasn’t wronged by them or anything. I didn’t find a pinky toe in my Famous Bowl or anything. KFC, for whatever reason, is just never on my radar.

A couple of years ago, I actually did remember it, and even convinced my wife we should get some for dinner. So I drove up the street to the closest outlet, and to my surprise, not only did KFC not operate out of that location anymore, but the building had been demolished and grass was growing on the now empty lot. So, not on my radar.

I could’ve made it a New Year’s resolution to try to rotate them into the regular monthly schedule, but that probably wouldn’t have worked. If using fried chicken as sandwich bread didn’t bring me back, I’m probably too far gone. Some day, KFC. Some day.

(I didn’t forget about you either, Hardee’s. Any time you want to bring back that peach cobbler, I’ll be there.)

Today, I’m going to bridge the gap a little with these KFC potato chips from Japan. You can’t dive back in too quickly, right? Don’t want to end up like me my friend, last time I he smoked a cigar and ended up lying on the floor nauseous and dizzy for an hour. Gotta ease back in.

I’m surprised that this sort of fast food/snack food hybridization isn’t happening more in the United States. Why is Japan at the leading edge of this food frontier? I know Burger King had some weird snacks that I still see at the dollar store, but I’m talking like McDonald’s Big Mac potato chips or Wendy’s Chocolate Frosty Cheetos. Interesting stuff. There is a market. There’s always a market.

Calbee Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC Colonel Crispy Potato Chips 3

These chips are the result of a partnership between Calbee and KFC that came about when a Calbee executive slipped on a chicken bone someone had carelessly discarded outside his Tokyo apartment. He hit his head on a parking meter, and when he awoke, he found himself looking up at a doctor wearing a white coat and black stethoscope, who he mistook to be an angelic vision of Colonel Sanders (because of the morphine administered by the hospital). That’s according to the package anyway.

Calbee Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC Colonel Crispy Potato Chips 2

Just kidding. None of that is true. I can’t read anything on this package.

The nosegrope of these chips isn’t fried chicken. It’s a bit oniony and a little bready. They sort of smell like a variation on Funyuns.

Calbee Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC Colonel Crispy Potato Chips 4

The flavor experience is interesting. There is that oniony breadedness from the nosegrope initially and then a second wave of chicken-ness. There are notes of garlic, as well. The chips aren’t overly seasoned nor are they overly powerful. I have to say the chicken flavoring is pretty accurate. It does indeed taste like fried chicken. I don’t know if all eleven herbs and spices made it through customs and with enough punch to say it tastes like KFC chicken specifically, but these do taste like some kind of chicken. And that’s good.

These are easily the best tasting of the Japanese hybrids I’ve reviewed. Why we don’t have KFC chips in the U.S. is a mystery. Kentucky Fried Chicken AND potato chips! My god, man! Do you want me to just Sharpie dollar signs all over the bag?! Seriously, these would fly off the shelves.

You could even say that these would sell…(sunglasses)…bucketloads.

Thank you.

(Nutrition Facts – 458 kcal, 28.7 grams of fat, 490 milligrams of sodium, 45.5 grams of carbohydrates, and 4.5 grams of protein.)

Item: Calbee Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC Colonel Crispy Potato Chips
Purchased Price: $4.99 (+$4.50 shipping)
Size: 83 gram bag
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Accurate chickenosity. Seasoning restraint. Hardee’s peach cobbler.
Cons: Inexplicable unavailability in the U.S.

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REVIEW: Frito Lay Mountain Dew Corn Snack (Mountain Dew Cheetos)

Written by | January 20, 2014

Topics: 5 Rating, Cheetos, Japan

Mountain Dew Doritos 1

I like spaceships. Serenity, the Enterprise, Galactica, Bebop, the Nostromo, the Yamato, the Heart of Gold, the Protector, the Discovery, Prometheus. All of them. I even like real spaceships like the space shuttle Atlantis and the Millennium Falcon.

They represent what’s out there. The great unknown. The vast expanses of the galaxy and the universe. And it saddens me that the national space program is in such a state of decline. If we don’t continue to expand our presence into the Local Group, how are we going to colonize and terraform Mars? How are we going to make first contact? How can we even start to think about making the Kessel Run in under twelve parsecs?

The answer is that none of these things is going to be happening anytime soon unless we find a major reason to motivate us. Clearly the huddled masses aren’t interested in learning or human achievement, so I believe the motivation lies in snack food.

At some point, we’re going to run out of food ideas. Mathematically this seems inevitable. There is a finite number naturally occurring foods on our planet, so there is an equally finite number of ways to combine them. We are already there. When molecular gastronomists are forced reduce garden peas to their essence to be huffed from a balloon animal made from a section of a bison’s intestinal tract, it seems the end is almost nigh.

We’ve already started remixing with our processed foods. Bacon’s been smashed into every product in every grocery aisle. Name something you bought in October or November that didn’t have pumpkin in it. Impossible.

Even the corporations who are in charge of these things are running out of ideas. They’ve been reduced to farming out ideas to the common man through flavor contests.

The end is on its way, you guys. And that end, that day when everything has been combined with everything else, is going to be the day we head back into space. People may not be excited about studying moon rocks, but they’ll sure as hell be excited about the possibility of Limited Edition Romulan Ale Doritos and Blue Bantha Milk Oreos.

Until that day, we’ll continue dreaming and smashing together things we have. And we do that today with these Mountain Dew Cheetos from the Japanese arm of Frito-Lay.

Mountain Dew Doritos 3

As with the Pepsi-flavored Cheetos I reviewed a while back, the color of these things bothers me. Not making them bright Mountain Dew green is a wasted opportunity. This kind of product is a novelty and an attention getter, and their color should reflect that. Orange Cheetos-dusted fingers are a tradition. How great would obnoxiously green Mountain Dew Cheetos fingers be?! Pretty damn great.

The nosegrope of these Cheetos is very intensely citrus. There is a lot of lemon, and they smell sweet. There is also an underlying current of stale, flat cola. They smell very similar to the Pepsi Cheetos but with the lemon ratcheted up.

The flavor recreation they were going for falls a bit short of their goal. There is an initial blast of sour lemon flavor that is followed by some underlying sweetness. The lemon flavor tastes pretty artificial. I don’t have a problem with artificial flavors, obviously, but it tastes artificial to the point where it forces you to stop and think of the artificialness.

Mountain Dew Doritos 3

The sour blast is a bit too much here. It takes the Cheetos from the realm of “Mountain Dew” to the realm of…something with a lot of lemons. I know people who have consumed a Star Destroyer’s worth of Mountain Dew in their lives, and I’m not confident they could blind taste this and come up with anything other than a quizzical “something lemony.”

Like the Pepsi Cheetos, the aftertaste of these lingers for a very long time. I also didn’t get as much mouth-fizzing action as I hoped for. The Pepsi Cheetos are definitely the superior hybrid food, but that’s not saying a lot.

Mountain Dew Doritos 2

These are not bad. A lemon-flavored corn snack is not a terrible idea, but a lemon-flavored corn snack is really all we get here. Nothing transcendent, nothing revelatory. Just a good idea that is off the mark.

I’m already looking forward to Dr. Pepper Cheetos (and distantly to Klingon Bloodwine Kit Kats.) Until then!

(Nutrition Facts – 188 kcal, 10.3 grams of fat, 221 milligrams of sodium, 22.1 grams of carbohydrates, and 1.8 grams of protein.)

Item: Frito Lay Mountain Dew Corn Snack (Mountain Dew Cheetos)
Purchased Price: $4.50
Size: 35 grams
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Lemons. Sour blasts. Spaceships.
Cons: Wrong color. Too much lemon to be Mountain Dew. Lingering aftertaste. Lack of fizz.

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REVIEW: Frito-Lay Late Night American Hot Wings Doritos (Taiwan)

Written by | August 19, 2013

Topics: 7 Rating, Chips, Doritos

Frito-Lay Late Night American Hot Wings (Taiwan)

Sometimes on the road of life we use food to mark the milestones along the way. Jolly Ranchers remind me of playing arcade games at the corner store when I was a kid. Limp, crinkle cut French fries remind me of attending my sister’s softball games in my early teens. Sour Apple Pucker reminds me of being a camp counselor in college. Swordfish reminds me of my honeymoon.

When these Doritos arrived in the mail, I had an immediate flashback to my youth and a long forgotten memory. I must have been ten or eleven. I was a big professional wrestling fan. I was watching WCW, maybe even the NWA back then, and I saw a wrestler who had a sort of zig-zaggy, lightning bolt line shaved into his head. It zig-zagged at the side of his head, then continued as a straight line around the back, and zig-zagged on the other side. Temple to temple.

I thought it was awesome. And I somehow convinced my mom to take me to the haircuttery to get something comparable. This must have set a precedent because in a related incident, during an Olympic year, I shaved a big USA into the back of my head. (Gotta support those gymnasts and divers somehow.) I guess my mom didn’t care how bizarre I wanted to look provided I did it at the beginning of the summer so it would grow out before school started.

So anyway, I went to the hairs place and asked the completely clueless older woman that worked there if she could do this for me. I remember there being a lot of back and forth and her not really understanding what I wanted. But we forged ahead anyway.

Frito-Lay Late Night American Hot Wings (Taiwan) Lightning

I did not get the cool around the head lightning line that I wanted. I got two shaved patches on either side of my head that were shaped exactly like these Doritos. They didn’t connect at all. And they were quite large. I think having to take my glasses off during said haircut contributed to my allowing the mis-shaving to take place. But it was fine. I’m sure I lost interest two seconds later. I had etched my individuality upon my skull. That’s all that mattered.

Was it like when famous drummers have pictures of themselves banging on pots and pans when they were toddlers? Did those lightning bolts presage my life as a blogger. I’m going to say yes they did. Which means this review is 23 years in the making.

These American Hot Wings Doritos are from Taiwan. While “American Hot Wings” is a very vague and ultimately meaningless term, the picture on the bag seems to suggest Buffalo wings, so that’s the flavor standard from which I’ll be working.

The nose grope of the bag is dominated by chili powder with notes of Ramen noodles.

The flavor of each chip seems to suggest that “American Hot Wings” really just means chili powder. There are hints of garlic present, but chili powder is in the driver’s seat. Chicken powder is listed last on the ingredients list, like an afterthought to uphold the flavor theme. Which makes sense because it’s nowhere to be found on the chips.

Frito-Lay Late Night American Hot Wings (Taiwan) Closeup

These are also surprisingly sweet, and the “Hot” is anything but. It’s a mild tingling at best, and then, only after several handfuls.

Doritos from Asia have a different structure than their American counterparts, and I don’t just mean the awesome and unexplainable lightning shape of these chips. I’ve always found them to be denser and more corn-dominated. The flavor powder on these chips is quickly subsumed by the corn chip itself. In the end you’re left with a tingling tongue tasting mostly of corn and chili powder. In that order.

These American Hot Wings Doritos are about as far from Buffalo wings (or any sauced wing) as you can get, but they’re still pretty good. They’re not very interesting, but the sweetness and the chili powder work well together. I happily finished the bag.

Frito-Lay Late Night American Hot Wings (Taiwan) Back

You know, I’m starting to think that prophetic haircut from twenty years ago wasn’t such a big deal after all. If it didn’t point to these Doritos, then what was it pointing to?

Geez. What a letdown.

(Nutrition Facts – 25 grams – 130 calories, 6.5 grams of fat, 3.3 grams of saturated fat, 142 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, and 1.8 grams of protein.)

Item: Frito-Lay Late Night American Hot Wings Doritos (Taiwan)
Purchased Price: ???
Size: 65 grams
Purchased at: Somewhere on Guam
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Sweet chili powder is not so bad. Lightning-shaped chips!
Cons: Lack of flavor accuracy. The bag is more interesting than the chips. Corny. Unfulfilled prophecy.

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REVIEW: Frito Lay Cheetos x Pepsi Shuwa Shuwa Cola Corn Snack (Pepsi-Flavored Cheetos)

Written by | August 7, 2013

Topics: 5 Rating, Cheetos, Japan

Pepsi-flavored Cheetos 1

In 1818, Mary Shelley publishes Frankenstein, arguably the world’s first science fiction novel. It tells the harrowing tale of Victor Frankenstein, a single-minded student of science driven to ruin by his obsession with bestowing life on inanimate matter.

In the 1990 documentary RoboCop 2, director Irvin Kershner leads us on an exploration of the science of transferring human consciousness into deadly law enforcement robots. We quickly discover the dangers of such a procedure, as multiple test subjects commit suicide after finding themselves forever trapped in their mechanical bodies.

In 1994′s Jurassic Park, noted chaotician Dr. Ian Malcolm sums up the fears of late twentieth century society when commenting on the science of an island resort filled with genetically resurrected dinosaurs, saying, “your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Time after time we are warned against charging recklessly into the untamed wilderness of science and technology, yet even in the last few years we find ourselves with peanut butter and jelly vodka, cronuts, Doritos Locos Tacos, Cherry Coke, and pizzas with hot dogs in the crust. These aren’t dinosaurs or robots. These are things we put willingly into our bodies.

So today I publish this review not so much as a review but as a mile marker for future historians to look to when our inevitable self-destruction finally occurs.

These Pepsi-flavored Cheetos are the latest food hybrid to spit in the eye of Mother Nature. They are from Japan.

Pepsi-flavored Cheetos 3

The nosegrope upon opening the bag gave me pause. I immediately identified something very close to flat cola. Flat Pepsi? I dunno. My nose palate is not so refined. Something else was there in equal measure and it took me a moment to realize that the aroma was the same given off by powdered cinnamon donuts. You know, the Entenmann’s ones in the three pack with powdered sugar and plain.

Pepsi-flavored Cheetos 4

In these snacks the cheese powder has been replaced with a cola powder that is disturbingly not brown. The first sensation, which I did not expect, was a very acidic bite. It’s very citrusy, almost sour. And it hits hard. It tries to capture the citrus notes of Pepsi, but it’s over the top. Too lemony. The sweeter cola flavor is there but it’s subtler and overpowered by the intense citrus. The flavors are very distinct and don’t really ever mesh well together. But they do linger in the mouth for quite a while to leave you with a weird, marginally accurate, if lemony, Pepsi aftertaste. The corn puff tastes like it should. It doesn’t do a lot besides acting as a vehicle, which is good because there is already a lot going on.

Pepsi-flavored Cheetos 2

Oh, did I mention these also fizz a little?! Yea! Not like crazy Pop Rocks fizzing, but there is some definite popping and crackling. It’s all about attention to detail, guys. I tip my hat to Frito-Lay for that one.

Overall, this is a pretty accurate flavor recreation. It’s an impressive effort to be sure. That said, I don’t like them. I could only get through a few of them. They’ve got a lot going on and are kind of intense. A few tweaks to the levels of citrus and cola and these could be passable.

These wouldn’t be in my top 100 dream flavor what-ifs, but I’m glad they exist. They either point to a futuristic flavor-fusion utopia in which anything is possible or an apocalyptic hell place where cyborg velociraptors chew our faces off with laser teeth.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 package – 414 kcal, 24.8 grams of fat, 614 milligrams of sodium, 44.6 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of protein.)

Item: Frito Lay Cheetos x Pepsi Shuwa Shuwa Cola Corn Snack
Purchased Price: $3.99 (plus shipping)
Size: 75 gram bag
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Pepsi-ish. A for effort. Fizzing snacks. Science.
Cons: Lingering aftertaste. Lemon. robot dinosaurs.

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REVIEW: Lester’s Fixins Ranch Dressing Soda

Written by | July 1, 2013

Topics: 0 Rating, Soda

Lester's Fixins Ranch Dressing Soda

Do you ever just sit around your house on the internet and think that you’ve seen it all? Think that there is nothing left to look up? Nothing left to read about?

You’ve read Benjamin Franklin’s “Fart Proudly” essay like three times, you know all of the inventors killed by their own inventions, and you have the formula for OpenCola committed to memory.

I think that sometimes when I’m staring at my screen trying to find how I can change the blink rate of the cursor in Microsoft Word (Accessibility options).

Then I get a bottle of Ranch Dressing Soda in the mail and am ecstatic to have a few more minutes of fresh internet excavating to keep me busy.

I have to admit I was ignorant of the history of ranch dressing. As such an American staple, you’d think it would be right there in our high school history book glossaries, wedged in between Radical Republicans and ratification. But it’s not.

Did you know that ranch dressing, which is the number one salad dressing in the U.S., didn’t exist until the 1950s? I had no idea. I thought it was like the Mississippi and had just been around since time immemorial. But it hasn’t. It was invented by a couple at the Hidden Valley Ranch in California. The Hidden Valley Ranch! It was a real place! It must’ve been magical there. I also found out that Wish-Bone was a real restaurant, and get this, Paul Newman was a real guy! Crazy!

Ok so that’s really the whole story. They made it at their ranch and people liked it and they started selling it and then Clorox bought the rights to it.

Cut to a half a century later and we have Lester’s Fixins Ranch Dressing Soda. I’m not sure if the Hensons of Hidden Valley would approve of what has become of their majestic concoction.

This is one of the latest offerings from the novelty soda company, Rocket Fizz, in their line of Lester’s Fixins sodas. Lester’s Fixins seems to be the product line where Rocket Fizz showcases their most unusual (read: grossest) flavors. Its sister soda line, Melba’s Fixins offers slightly less disturbing flavors like Apple Pie, Lemon Merengue Pie, and Sweet Tea.

I must say it’s good to see a small upstart take aim at a market dominated for too long by Jones Soda! Thinking you’re all cool with your Egg Nog and your Road Kill flavors! Take that Jones! (I have no stake in this fight.)

Lester's Fixins Ranch Dressing Soda Bottle Closeup

Right out of the box, I’m not a huge fan of the packaging. It could be punched up a bit. Seems a little too DIY. But maybe that’s what they were going for.

Also, of all the colors that a liquid can take, I argue that none is more repellant than a murkily translucent shade of white (shiver). I’ll take your foulest shades of green of brown any day.

Lester's Fixins Ranch Dressing Soda Liquid

The nosegrope is not of food or beverage. It’s a subtle blend of paint and new cardboard. Not old, ratty cardboard. New cardboard, like a box you’d buy for moving day. A nice box.

The soda is surprisingly sweet. Almost like it has a sugared up Sprite base. The sweetness hits your tongue a split second before the wave of absolute heinousness comes crashing down upon it.

Lester's Fixins Ranch Dressing Soda Ingredients

When I blog about vintage cereals, those that are decades past their expiration date, the cereals always take on a plastic chemical flavor from their containing bag. This soda tastes like that. Like it’s been sitting around in a waxy plastic bag leaching chemicals for decades. It. Is. Foul. And that foulness is sharp and coats your mouth in a repellant sticky film that refuses to go away.

I expected this to be bad, but my expectations were exceeded. This doesn’t taste like any ranch dressing I’ve ever had. And if there is a ranch dressing being made somewhere that tastes like this, the residents of that ranch need to be evacuated immediately because there has been some kind of breach at the nuclear plant upriver. The cows may already be dead.

(Editor’s Note: Thanks to Impulsive Buy reader Jonathan for sending us a bottle of Lester’s Fixins Ranch Dressing Soda.)

(Nutrition Facts – 12 ounces – 170 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 25 milligrams of sodium, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 42 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Lester’s Fixins Ranch Dressing Soda
Purchased Price: N/A
Size: 12 ounces
Purchased at: Rocket Fizz
Rating: 0 out of 10
Pros: Absolutely nothing.
Cons: Taste. Smell. Color. Bottle.

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