REVIEW: Dairy Queen Guardians Awesome Mix Blizzard

Dairy Queen Guardians Awesome Mix Blizzard

With the launch of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Marvel teamed up with Frito-Lay for a Doritos bag that plays music and Dairy Queen for the Guardians Awesome Mix Blizzard Treat.

I think Frito-Lay got the better end of the integration stick, even though everything about the Guardians Blizzard sounds fantastic. I mean what’s not to love about mini brookies (brownies and cookies baked together), caramel, and choco chunks blended with creamy vanilla soft serve?

Brookies are pretty frickin’ awesome! Except when you can’t really taste them.

Dairy Queen Guardians Awesome Mix Blizzard 2

I should have suspected that it would be a hodge-podge of unidentifiable sweetness when the received treat looked nothing like hero shots featuring healthy chunks of brookies. My Blizzard looked more like chocolate chip ice cream and it tasted that way. It was good, but if I wanted plain chocolate chip ice cream, I would have just gone to the supermarket for a pint.

As I continued to eat, I would occasionally get a bite of rich, delightful fudge – guessing that was from the brookie. Unfortunately, it was a fleeting delight that quickly faded back into the sugary indistinctness. I want bigger chunks, dangit! I think a brookie sundae in DQ’s Hot Desserts section would have been much more satisfying.

Dairy Queen Guardians Awesome Mix Blizzard 3

Also, I couldn’t taste the caramel. I could see the remnants lining the cup, but no warm caramel notes at all – just cloying sweetness. As the cherry on top, said sweetness was paired with a strange artificial aftertaste. I couldn’t tell if it was coming from the soft serve, the caramel, or the brookie?!

Dairy Queen Guardians Awesome Mix Blizzard 4

Even though all the mix-ins were a bit too blended for my liking, I did enjoy the texture. The soft serve was creamy and the mix-ins broke up the monotony of vanilla soft serve. I kept thinking that Cold Stone Creamery would make a killer version of this.

Don’t get me wrong. The Guardians Awesome Mix Blizzard isn’t bad. It just isn’t awesome.

(Nutrition Facts – Mini – 380 calories, 14 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 56 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 45 grams of sugar, 8 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.09
Size: Mini
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like chocolate chip ice cream. Good texture.
Cons: Hodge-podge of unidentifiable sweetness. Cloying sweetness + artificial aftertaste = Ugh.

REVIEW: KFC Zinger

KFC Zinger

The spicy chicken sandwich market has heated up (no pun intended) lately, from Jack in the Box’s Pepper Jack Ranch Spicy Chicken Sandwich to Wendy’s Spicy Sriracha Chicken Sandwich to Burger King simply revamping their new Crispy Chicken Sandwich, and now – KFC’s new Zinger Spicy Chicken Sandwich!

Well, the Zinger is only new to the U.S. as it’s apparently already in 120 other markets. Per QSR Magazine, the Zinger was launched in 1984 and over 22 million Zingers are sold in Australia alone. ?
No offense, but our Australian friends’ taste buds must be coated from all the Vegemite they eat because the Zinger is incredibly uninspiring. Even the new Colonel’s (Rob Lowe) Parks & Rec self would lit-er-ally find this repulsive. Okay, repulsive is a harsh word – I’ll stick with uninspiring.

KFC Zinger 2

The ingredients are simple: 100 percent Chicken Breast Filet – double hand-breaded and fried – served with lettuce and Colonel’s mayonnaise on a toasted sesame seed bun. I should’ve suspected that this wouldn’t be very spicy because nothing about that description speaks to heat.

When I received the sandwich, I liked the orange-gold foil – guess it’s “zinger”-y – and that the label actually listed what the sandwich was – unlike other fast food chains.

KFC Zinger 3

KFC Zinger 4

When I opened it, I was happy to see that the chicken looked like a breast at least. Low standards, I know. Cutting it in half, it looked like a solid piece of juicy chicken breast. On the edges where the breast meat met the breading, there seemed to be some chili oil-esque looking run-off so I was thinking that maybe the Colonel would come through with the heat after all. But, nope. After taking a bite, I could only detect a little fleeting singe.

To give some context to the heat – in this same meal, I ordered KFC’s Nashville Hot Chicken just to try. The Nashville Hot is nowhere near the real heat level of Nashville Hot Chicken BUT that’s the amount of heat I expected from the Zinger. It was mainly just a salty crunch followed by an umami that I can only describe as the Colonel’s secret recipe blend of 11 herbs and spices.

KFC Zinger 5

But the “hard way,” which is hand-breading chicken daily which is supposed to make it juicier and crunchier, definitely paid off. I conducted a crunch-off between Wendy’s Spicy Chicken, Burger King’s Crispy Chicken, Chick-fil-A’s Spicy Chicken and the Zinger. The Zinger was significantly crunchier than the rest. The breading to chicken ratio was comparable to Chick-fil-A’s (and they’re the gold standard in fast food chicken sandwiches in my opinion). It’s not juicier than Chick-fil-A, but it is juicier than Burger King and on-par with Wendy’s.

As for the rest of the sandwich, I was 50/50 on the bun. On one hand, I really liked how soft the bun was. On the other hand, it flattened out really quickly which made the chicken play slip & slide with all the mayo in it. Speaking of the mayo, the Colonel’s mayonnaise just tastes like mayo. Also, they kept trying to upsell bacon & cheese but I don’t think the Zinger needs it. I think it would take away from the crunch and the subtle Colonel spices.

This uninspiring sandwich left me thinking: Where’s the zinger?! In the competitive fried chicken sandwich landscape, the Zinger sits right in the middle of mediocre land. I wouldn’t eat it over Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwiches but would absolutely eat it over all the other chicken sandwiches on the market right now.

(Nutrition Facts – Not available on U.S. website, but here’s the info from the KFC Canada website – 570 calories, 27 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 1220 milligrams of sodium, 58 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 25 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: N/A
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Deep-fried chicken breast actually looked like a piece of chicken breast. The Zinger wins the crunch off over Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s, and Burger King.
Cons: Big statements for something pretty standard. Chicken played slip & slide with the mayo and flattened bun. Colonel’s mayo just tastes like mayo. Where’s the zinger?!

REVIEW: Ritz Crisp & Thins (Salt & Vinegar and Cream Cheese & Onion)

Ritz Crisp  Thins  Salt  Vinegar and Cream Cheese  Onion

When I first heard that Nabisco’s Ritz Crackers were moving into chips, I was terrified. I have PTSD from Cheez-It’s attempt to move into chips with Grooves. Grooves didn’t do the Cheez-It cracker justice! I have almost the same love for Ritz as I do for Cheez-It; I love those damn buttery Ritz crackers. Point is, I had high expectations for Ritz’s new Crisp & Thins.

So, what are they?

It’s Ritz’s attempt to hop on the “Better For You” train – touting oven-baked, not fried, potato & wheat chips. It launched in the U.K. first and now they’re rolling out globally. There’s a lineup of four flavors on U.S. shelves: Sea Salt, Bacon, Salt & Vinegar, And Cream Cheese & Onion. I picked out Salt & Vinegar (because I like salt & vinegar chips) and Cream Cheese & Onion (because I kept thinking it was sour cream & onion and wanted to see why Ritz had to be all frou frou about it).

Ritz Crisp  Thins Cream Cheese  Onion

I first smelled the Cream Cheese & Onion ones, which didn’t really smell like much. On that basis, I vigorously inhaled the Salt & Vinegar, which was a mistake. The pungent vinegar invaded my olfactory with no mercy. 100 percent user error, not Ritz’s fault.

The chips themselves were very, for the lack of a better word, artsy but the kind of pretentious and annoying artsy. I say this because they couldn’t just choose a damn circle or square like all other crackers. Instead, they chose a puddle shape. But we all know that it probably took their manufacturing team way too long to perfect the mold for these. These puddles also had seemingly random air pockets/bubbles.

Ritz Crisp  Thins Cream Cheese  Onion Orange

In the same vein of pretentious artsy, it looked like they tried very hard to have a baked look – one side of the chip had scorch marks. They really reminded me of naan bread – oblong-ish shape, air pockets, and with the occasional imperfect scorch marks. The Cream Cheese & Onion had a slight orange tinge, while the coloring of the Salt & Vinegar was just normal, pasty cracker color.

Ritz Salt  Vinegar Crisp  Thins Salt  Vinegar

At this point, I concluded that these would probably be nothing like the buttery crackers that I know and love. But, you know what, I was okay with it – I knew I couldn’t hold Ritz back from their healthy chip dreams.

The Cream Cheese & Onion surprisingly tasted more like subtle cheddar & sour cream than sour cream & onion. Trusty ol’ cheddar & sour cream is always salty cheesy goodness, but it’s nothing mind blowing and I’m still eye rolling at the artsy fartsiness. However, I can’t believe I dismissed the air pocket/bubbles because they made the texture. Something about the crunch of the cracker with the extra oomph from the air pockets is amazing. Never judge a book by its cover, y’all!

As for the Salt & Vinegar, same textural amazingness but unlike other salt & vinegar flavored chips, there was a subtle-y sweet aftertaste. After almost an entire bag of them, I concluded that it might just be from the chip itself being wheat and potato that’s helping to balance out the vinegar tang.

After two bags of munching, I really appreciated that my fingers weren’t left with a greasy, powdery residue. There was some, but nothing like the usual chip residue mess.

Valiant “Better For You” attempt, Ritz! It might actually work; I liked the Salt & Vinegar ones so much that I’d consider replacing my usual salt & vinegar kettle chips with them.

(Nutrition Facts – 21 Pieces – 130 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 270 grams of potassium 21 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar and 2 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price:
Size: 7.1 oz. bag
Purchased at: Kroger
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Cream Cheese & Onion)
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Salt & Vinegar)
Pros: Nothing like a Ritz Cracker, but tasty AND “better for you”. Textural amazingness. No greasy, powdery residue.
Cons: Why the artsy fartsy chip shape & names? Cream Cheese & Onion is just semantics for cheddar & sour cream.

REVIEW: Chick-fil-A Frosted Strawberry Lemonade

Chick fil A Frosted Strawberry Lemonade

I’ve heard fantastic things about Chick-fil-A’s Frosted drinks, so if you haven’t heard, now you’ve heard (Notorious B.I.G. anyone?) that there’s a new limited edition strawberry lemonade flavor.

For y’all that haven’t tried the O.G. Frosted Lemonade before, here’s the breakdown: it’s like a lemonade milkshake. I know that combo sounds disgusting but it’s really a rose by any other name if you decode the marketing speak – “a hand-spun combination of Chick-fil-A Lemonade (or Diet Lemonade), freshly squeezed daily, and our famous vanilla Icedream.”

By the way, Frosted drinks are classified as a “treat,” which is likely Chick-fil-A’s way of priming you for the sugar and calories.

Like everything else Chick-fil-A does, their new Frosted Strawberry Lemonade is genius and fantastic. Genius because they simply add strawberry puree in their O.G. Frosted Lemonade and call it a day. Fantastic because even though it’s simple, they do it right.

When you have something as creamy and milkshake-like, the question is often: spoon or straw?

Chick fil A Frosted Strawberry Lemonade 2

I took the plunge and went for the straw because I trusted Chick-fil-A to get the texture right. My trust paid off as it was easily drinkable even though it looked creamy and thick. Given the pink tinge, I wasn’t surprised that it primarily tasted like strawberry with a hint of tangy lemonade. The real strawberry pieces surprised me — there were seeds and all!

I thought these nuggets were critical to the drink for a couple of reasons: less artificial and adds texture. Not that the drink tasted at all like artificial strawberry flavoring, but having real pieces of strawberry makes me feel like I could justify fitting this treat into the fruit group on the food pyramid. As for the strawberry puree adding texture, it’s nice to have fresh fruit bits break up the thick, creamy Icedream.

Chick fil A Frosted Strawberry Lemonade 3

In under five minutes, I was almost done with the Frosted treat. But, for you slow drinkers out there (yes, I’m looking at you), I left a little bit to melt for about 10 minutes. I wanted to see if it would maintain its delicious strawberry lemonade integrity. I wondered why I even doubted Chick-fil-A because, of course, it maintained its deliciousness. I wasn’t surprised that it tasted slightly sweeter and that I could smell the strawberry aroma more.

The only downsides to the Frosted Strawberry Lemonade are that it’ll give you one hell of a sugar high and it’s only available for a limited time!

(Nutrition Facts – Not available on website.)

Purchased Price: $3.19
Size: Small
Rating: 10 out of 10
Pros: Genius – because it’s just their Frosted Lemonade + strawberry puree, but it’s delicious! Drinkable yet still creamy and thick. Real pieces of strawberry – even seeds – therefore, one can justify as treating this treat as part of the fruit group on the food pyramid. Good even when slightly melted.
Cons: Sugar high is real. Available for a limited time.

REVIEW: Butterfinger Peanut Butter Crisp Bar

Nestle Butterfinger Peanut Butter Crisp Bar

If Bart Simpson were still slanging Butterfingers today, he’d most definitely say, “Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger…Peanut Butter Crisp Bar!”

C’mon, you didn’t expect a Butterfinger review without a mention of Bart Simpson, right?!

But Nestle has moved on from Bart Simpson to Backstreet Boys covers with the Peanut Butter Crisp Bar.

Speaking of throwbacks like BSB, the latest version of this Butterfinger innovation is apparently a relaunch with “even more dose of Butterfinger” – whatever that means. However, they’ve added crunchy toffee pieces with the wafer layers and Butterfinger crème.

I think it’s interesting they’re now highlighting peanut butter on-pack because all Butterfingers have peanut butter in the first place. They now also tout that there are no artificial flavors or colors and that added colors are from natural sources. Well then, I don’t want to know what was in my Crisp Bar back in the day.

Nestle Butterfinger Peanut Butter Crisp Bar 2

I bought the Fun Size pack because I was greedy and raiding the Easter chocolate section. I also thought Fun Size would be a good way to portion control. But, I ate three Fun Size Crisp Bars in record time, so I really should have just purchased one 2-ounce package because it comes with three pieces anyway. Ugh.

Nestle Butterfinger Peanut Butter Crisp Bar 4

Visually, my borderline-OCD-self appreciated the perfect machine-laid layers of the wafer and crème. You can see the toffee only sits on the top, so as expected, it doesn’t really translate like it does when eating a non-Crisp Bar. Overall, there’s less crunchety (aka no toffee bits stuck in your teeth) than a regular Butterfinger but there’s still a satisfying crispiness as you can hear loud and clear in the BSB cover video.

Nestle Butterfinger Peanut Butter Crisp Bar 3

It tastes really similar to the Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups – maintaining that trademark Butterfinger taste but with a smoother finish. The last flavor is the creamy, sweet chocolate coating. But I think it’s less sweet because of the wafer addition and the lack of crystalized toffee sugar-bomb bits. I personally don’t like my chocolate leaving a sickly sweet back-of-throat aftertaste, so I was totally into the chocolate on the bar!

I didn’t expect to, but I really enjoyed these. I even thought to myself – if I was a kid at trick-or-treating age, I’d love to have a jack-o-lantern full of these. Wrong time of year, I know, but that’s how much I enjoyed them.

My only request though: I’d love for Nestle to make a 2 lb Butterfinger Peanut Butter Crisp Bar so I can indulge in my sweet-tooth-Butterfinger dreams. Who’s with me?!

(Nutrition Facts – 2 bars – 200 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 125 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 17 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.00
Size: 11 oz. Fun Size bag
Purchased at: Kroger
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Perfect machine-laid layers of wafer and Butterfinger crème. Less crunchety but still satisfying. Less sweet than regular Butterfingers.
Cons: Where’s Bart Simpson at? Toffee doesn’t really translate.