REVIEW: Taco Bell Cap’n Crunch Delights

Taco Bell Cap’n Crunch Delights

When I sat down to write my review of the new Taco Bell Cap’n Crunch Delights, I told myself I was going to avoid doing two things.

“Self,” I began with a stern but encouraging tone. “Longtime TIB readers know you have a bad habit of falling back on overstated nautical puns and maritime references when describing Cap’n Crunch and its variants. Stop being such a lazy writer and get off your crutch.”

(Lest you forget, take a look at the gem in the tenth paragraph of this review.)

“Oh, and while you’re at it,” the voice scolded. “Do not, under any circumstance, mention your theories about judging the merits of a fried product on the aftertaste of the burp you burp up two hours after eating.”

But after thinking about the Cap’n Crunch Delights and inadvertently burping up the unmistakably heavy taste of fried dough, I’ve concluded each of these goals is impossible. So I’m sorry; the Cap’n made me do it.

Taco Bell Cap’n Crunch Delights 2

Bearing an uncanny resemblance to tiny pieces of coral growing on, say, a sunken treasure ship, the delights are far from appetizing to look at. Bristling with tiny pieces of crushed up Crunch Berries cereal, they smelled unmistakably like a donut hole and little like Cap’n Crunch, while one piece had a not-so-subtle hole leaking a loose goo from its oily hull (caused from a clumsy broadside, no doubt.)

Taco Bell describes these as “light” and “fruity” but I thought they tasted heavy, oily, and remarkably synthetic. The outside coating only tasted a little like Crunch Berries; there was a vague fruity flavor but nothing remarkable or memorable, and certainly not that coconut oil aftertaste and brown sugar sweetness of Cap’n Crunch.

By far the dominant flavor was fried dough, and not in a light and airy way like a traditional donut hole. Nope, these “delights” were saturated in more surface oil than that which was left by the Exxon Valdez. The aftertaste—including that burped up aftertaste one experiences after happy hour at the Taco Bell soda machine—is strongly of fried dough; unmistakably heavy and in no way fruity at all.

Taco Bell Cap’n Crunch Delights 3

I was really looking forward to the gooey and “creamy” milk center, mostly because all the promo shots featured this really cool image of the filling suspended in midair, making it look like some grand accomplishment of food science and engineering. In actuality the filling is loose and runny, more like a melted coating of confectioner’s sugar and milk.

Frankly the warmth of the filling is off-putting. I mean who eats cereal in warm milk? Hello McFly! And the hyper-sweet flavor tastes way too much of stabilizers and not enough like something which may have, at one point or another, come from a cow. I felt like the sweetness needed some creamy richness for balance, but all the delights offer is a heavy flavor and oily texture.

I’m all for cobranding a mashups, and I get the fact that crappy cereal sales might spur the Cap’n to sail his ship with a millennial-savvy fleet like Taco Bell, but the Cap’n Crunch Delights are neither delightful nor crunchy, nor are they milky or fruity. Mostly they’re just plain bad, even by the standards of cheap fast food.

With any luck the Cap’n will be able to right his course and try the whole donut cobranding thing again, although next time I’m going to pray he doesn’t leave the helm to a Tex-Mex fast food chain.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 delights – 170 calories, 0 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 2.5 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Taco Bell Cap’n Crunch Delights
Purchased Price: $1.09
Size: 2-pack
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: Larger than an average donut hole. Inexpensive. Huzzah for cobranding!
Cons: Oversaturated in frying oil. Not crunchy. Poor Crunch Berry coverage. Doesn’t really taste like Crunch Berries, unless you eat your Crunch Berries in frying oil. Warm milk-like substances. My complete and utter failure as a writer.

REVIEW: Hello Kitty Ice Cream Cake

Hello Kitty Ice Cream Cake

I know it’s hard to resist this Hello Kitty Ice Cream Cake.

For some of you, you’re squealing the word “kawaii” (cute) in your head or out loud and you’re halfway out the door with your Hello Kitty purse hanging from your arm and your Hello Kitty tattoo that’s in a location that only the tattoo artist who put it there and your bathroom mirror knows.

But before you rush out that door and spend your hard earned money on this ice cream cake, I want you to ask yourself — WWHKD.

What Would Hello Kitty Do?

I know what Hello Kitty would do. She would not put this ice cream cake anywhere near her mouth because…1) she doesn’t have a frickin’ mouth and 2) it’s not very kawaii.

I mean, look at it. Those dead eyes. The bow that looks like a baboon’s butt. And that colorful crap around it.

Hello Kitty Ice Cream Cake 3

The confetti sprinkles on the cake’s edges make it look like it was downwind from an office worker opening a paper hole puncher used only for colored paper in front of a fan. Not only do those colorful sprinkles make it look like Hello Kitty has a beard made from wet clown wigs, they also have a texture that I would describe as waterlogged cardboard that’s been dried out. They add a deadening texture to the exterior of the cake and they taste like the cheaper version of the sticks that come with Fun Dip. Stale store brand Fruity Pebbles would be an upgrade over these.

Hello Kitty Ice Cream Cake 4

As for the white frosting, it has an Elmer’s Glue-like consistency and a flavor that’s exactly what I imagine the color white tastes like. Behind that white frosting is vanilla ice cream mixed with more of those confetti sprinkles. It’s fetti-like.

Now you might be thinking, “Don’t you mean Funfetti-like?”

No. The word “fun” should never be used to describe this product.

The ice cream isn’t creamy, but that might be the fault of the sprinkles inside it. Its flavor will be fine for any non-discerning taste buds and the sprinkles in it don’t seem to be as cardboard-y as the ones on the outside of the cake. But even if the inside of this ice cream cake is tolerable, I have to say no to it.

How crazy is it to say “no” to an ice cream cake? No ice cream cake should make me feel that way.

Hello Kitty Ice Cream Cake 2

If you happen to be at a party and one of these are brought out, the first thing you should do is cut out Hello Kitty’s dead eyes so that your eyes don’t end up being a reflection of hers as you make your way through one slice. When you get that slice and you can’t secretly throw it into the trash, shave off those rainbow sprinkles and as much of the frosting as you can. The ice cream is tolerable, but when eaten with everything else, not so much.

Personally, I think the cake should be either melted by Bad Badtz-Maru, buried in the ground by Pochacco, drowned by Kerokerokeroppi, or violently cut into pieces by Chococat. Yes, part of my head is filled with the names of Sanrio characters. No Google or Wikipedia for me.

Speaking of Sanrio, I’m 100 percent sure Sanrio doesn’t really care this cake is bad because they probably got their licensing money. I’m also 100 percent sure they’re not celebrating the fact that they got their licensing money with a Hello Kitty Ice Cream Cake.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of money, I should mention I paid $26 for this embarrassing reason for possible tooth decay. Even if you saw it for one-third of the price, it’s not worth it.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/12 of a cake – 240 calories, 110 calories from fat, 13 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 25 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Item: Hello Kitty Ice Cream Cake
Purchased Price: $25.99
Size: 52 fl. oz.
Purchased at: Times Supermarket
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: Ice cream is tolerable. Don’t need Google or Wikipedia to list Sanrio characters. WWHKD.
Cons: Not cute. Confetti sprinkles have a texture similar to cardboard that’s been wet and then dried. Sprinkles have a bland flavor. Ice cream isn’t creamy. Frosting is as bland as the sprinkles. Not worth $26.

REVIEW: Tim Hortons Grilled Steak & Cheese Panini (Canada)

Tim Hortons Grilled Steak & Cheese Panini

Do you like salt? Do you love salt? Tim Hortons Steak & Cheese Panini will test you. Even if you think you have a high tolerance for very salty foods, this one will take you to the limit; it will stare deep into your soul and find you wanting.

Just as Pizza Hut has a Meat Lover’s Pizza, this should be called a Salt Lover’s Sandwich.

The nutritional info claims it has 1440 milligrams of sodium, and as high as that is, it’s gotta be a conservative estimate. It is aggressively, unpleasantly salty.

But then again, even if it weren’t a 40 megaton salt bomb, it still wouldn’t particularly be worth eating.

Most egregiously, the name of the sandwich is pretty misleading — the meat here bares very little resemblance to anything even close to any kind of steak that I’ve ever had. It’s roast beef. That’s a small distinction, but an important one.

But I like roast beef, so who cares what they call it, right?

Tim Hortons Grilled Steak & Cheese Panini Topless

It also tastes pretty lousy. Have you ever had any bottom of the barrel supermarket cold cuts? You know, the ones that taste more of nitrates and salt than anything you’d identify as any kind of meat? That’s this “steak” in a nutshell. It’s kind of chewy and salty and there’s not much more to it than that.

The cheese was even worse; it was quite possibly the most odiously waxy processed cheese I’ve ever had.

Look, I’m aware that I’m coming off as a complete snob here, but let me make this clear: I don’t mind processed cheese. In particular, on a griddle-cooked, fast-food-style cheeseburger, it’s the only type of cheese there is; it’s perfection.

But even if processed cheese were appropriate for this sandwich (and it’s not — Cheddar or Provolone or Swiss or pretty much anything else would have worked much better), this was a particularly shoddy variety of processed cheese, with almost zero cheesy flavour.

Tim Hortons Grilled Steak & Cheese Panini Side

It wasn’t horrible in the first half of the sandwich, when it was still hot and melty. But by the time I got to the second half, the sandwich had cooled somewhat, and the cheese rapidly congealed into a plasticky morass of saltiness and agony.

And that’s pretty much all there was to this sandwich. Just salty but otherwise tasteless “steak” atop a waxy, cheese-like substance. There are red onions, and they add a little bit of crunch and a mild oniony bite, but their flavour was almost completely unable to stand up to the barrage of sodium.

I should note that I attempted to order the chipotle version of this sandwich, which also comes with a spicy chipotle sauce. In fact, I did order that sandwich — it was on my receipt and everything — but they either forgot to include that sauce, or it was so subtle that I couldn’t taste it (and certainly, that’s not altogether implausible; the panini so incredibly salty that any other flavour attempting to make a dent will get completely annihilated).

I contemplated returning at a later date and ordering another sandwich, making sure that I got the chipotle version this time. But I couldn’t. The idea of eating this again — in any form — was more than I could bear. I’m not strong enough.

And let’s face it, a sauce would have to be mind-blowingly amazing to make this sandwich even borderline edible; I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the sauce isn’t mind-blowingly amazing.

To keep this from being a complete hate-fest, I will say this: the bread was pretty good. It was perfectly toasted, with a nicely crispy exterior and a soft, fresh interior. I liked it quite a bit. I just wish it was filled with literally anything else.

(Nutrition Facts – 460 calories, 17 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 1440 milligrams of sodium, 48 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fibre, 4 grams of sugar, and 29 grams of protein.)

Item: Tim Hortons Steak & Cheese Panini
Purchased Price: $5.49 CAN
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Tim Hortons
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: Fresh, perfectly toasted bread. Ben Affleck gives the best performance of his career in Gone Girl (that has zero to do with this sandwich or this review, but I figured I needed at least one more pro).
Cons: Salty, otherwise flavourless “steak.” Salty, waxy processed cheese. Salt, salt, salt. Salt.

REVIEW: Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt

Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt

Some memories are best left in their own time. Case in point: Third wave ska, Disney Afternoon cartoons, JNCO pants. Let them be. Revisiting these things is a risk, a danger to the fond nostalgia they might evoke at this point in time. This is because they are objectively poor (and memories are unreliable), composed of a multitude of components and emotions, including the way we picture our younger selves—hopeful, untainted, resilient. Memories are a trick. We’re all on the same page here, right? Memories are a trick. Got it? Good.

Cue the time machine. Sometimes it’s a phone booth, sometimes it’s a DeLorean, and sometimes it’s a British phone booth. In this case it’s a supermarket freezer, packed full of frozen treats, yearning to be consumed. The colorful packaging displaying giant carb pills chock full o’ meat ‘n dairy tantalize and beckon, ready to send you back ten, fifteen, twenty years. Whatever you like, master. Look, it’s even a fixed run! Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt. What a beaut.

Remember Hot Pockets?

Flaky crust injected with beef or pork — an inside-out pizza, a sandwich with no edges. An afternoon treat before soccer practice, or during a Mortal Kombat II jam sesh. Enjoyed with a cold Fruitopia. Mom, stop trying to make phone calls, I’m on AOL! Aw, man I got Hot Pocket all over my hip-hop Looney Toons t-shirt. I know, I know. We just went over this. Memories are lies, yeah yeah. … Eff it, we’re going back! It’s a time machine, bro. You can’t not go. It’s a time machine. Don’t be lame. Let’s do it. Start it up!

The Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt sucks. The box promises Angus beef, portabella mushrooms, provolone and mozzarella and “soft-baked bread.” The bread is soft, yes, sort of like a ciabatta or something. It’s also super soggy after the requisite minute and fifty seconds in the microwave. Maybe there’s a conventional oven plan we can put this on? The box has no instructions for that. All the best, we’ve seen microwavable burritos. We don’t have 40 minutes to sit around waiting for a Hot Pocket to thaw.

Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt Innards

There are a few hits of “premium meat” flavor and mushroom taste, which is somehow immediately fleeting, taken over by steaming hot filling that tastes like nothing. The photo on the box is stuffed with beef and cheese, and the bisected reality is one of a space worm from Dune that feeds on bad choices and nostalgia. The beef on the box is sliced and layered. The beef in the actual pocket is chopped into bits, resembling the leftover bits from a deli slicer. Even the box has memories that lie.

Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt Closeup

The worst part is that it’s not substantial at all. It barely registers as a snack. If you’re not gonna make it good to eat at least food coma us so we can dream about a Hot Pocket that is satisfying on some level. It was a bad omen when taking it out of the microwave, the Hot Pocket looked like a pet gerbil that had made a doodie mess out of its backside all over the plate. It looked shameful, like it had made a mistake. It’s not your fault, though. The mistake was all ours.

As the time travel effects wear off and we slingshot back to the present, we see a whirlwind of our past: First girlfriend, favorite teacher, Chuck Berry’s cousin Marvin Berry, wife of multiple time travelers Rachel McAdams. Reflecting on our trip, Prophet Gaffigan was right. We should have never gone back. Now the entire past is up for scrutiny. Maybe everything in the past sucks, except for Batman the Animated Series, Starter jackets, and the Hubble Space Telescope.

The question is: Did the Hot Pocket get worse, or was it never good in the first place? The answer doesn’t matter. In 2014, it’s garbage. We’re all about e-cigs, Teslas, and Google Glass now. Perhaps it was a fine product for children. But we’re adults. We’ve had sushi. We’ve eaten Ethiopian food. This is not for us anymore. Forget it, Jake. It’s Hot Pockets.

(Nutrition Facts – 270 calories, 90 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 490 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein.)

Item: Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt
Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 2 sandwiches/box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: Very cheap at a buck a piece. Maybe one bite of okay flavor.
Cons: Not substantial. Contents eventually taste like nothing, like a waste of product. Should be at least filling if not tasty, but is neither.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Sausage Breakfast Burrito

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.