REVIEW: Starbucks Chile Mocha

Starbucks Chile Mocha

Some like it HOT and I am one of those humans.

No, I’m not talking about the 1950’s movie starring Marilyn Monroe, but the Scoville scale. Just in case you have no idea what the heck I’m talking about: the Scoville scale measures the heat of a pepper from 0 units (bell peppers) to 16MM units (pure capsaicin). I can realistically only handle up to a habanero (350K units) so I’ve been on a mission to increase my capsaicin tolerance.

Along comes Starbucks’ latest drink innovation, the Chile Mocha. I drink Starbucks religiously (who else spent way too much money on Starbucks for Life) and I like heat. Advertised with “ancho and chile spices” and “for those mornings that need an extra kick,” I expected the Chile Mocha to dazzle my taste buds.

In true Goldilocks-fashion, I had to try all three: the Frappuccino, the hot mocha, and the iced mocha. Unfortunately, the only thing consistent about the three was that they all came with too much whipped cream.

I started with the Frappuccino. Nothing about the Frappuccino tasted like chile or even mocha for that matter. It was so sickeningly sweet that it tasted toffee-like; maybe the barista used the toffee nut syrup instead of Chile Mocha powder. So, heat was nonexistent. I even tried the Spiced Mocha topping on top which looked like straight cayenne/paprika but actually also had sugar crystals mixed in.

Starbucks Chile Mocha 2

The powder fondly reminded me of a less concentrated version of Lucas Mexican Candy. However, cayenne is only 50,000 Scoville and paprika is, if you’re lucky, maybe 100 Scoville units. Instead of ordering the Chile Mocha Frappuccino, I might as well have just ordered a plain ol’ coffee frap for $1 less and 90 less calories.

Starbucks Chile Mocha 3

I moved onto the iced mocha next. I was immediately a little off-put by the powder sitting at the bottom of the drink. I tried mixing it but the powder at the bottom was just out of straw reach. After my first couple of sips, I felt a very slight warming/heat sensation in the back of my throat. FINALLY!

However, it was short-lived as it quickly neutralized. While the iced mocha was a little more coffee-forward, it still erred on the too-sweet side. Disappointed, I proceeded to eat the whipped cream with tasty wannabe Lucas Mexican Candy power and left the rest of the drink.

Starbucks Chile Mocha 4

Lastly, the hot mocha. At this point, my high expectations were demolished. But, the fact that my first sip actually tasted like a mocha was a great start. Unlike the iced mocha, the heat actually built up. At first, I thought it was way too subtle but as I drank more, I concluded that this level of heat probably works for people not trying to burn off their taste buds (unlike me). If it were any spicier, it would likely be too spicy for some folks. I also really enjoyed the temperature contrast of the cold whipped cream with the hot mocha.

Net-net, stick with the hot mocha. I know it’s still 90 degrees in certain parts of the country, but fall is right around the corner! For my fellow capsaicin enthusiasts, I’m dropping a Ghost Pepper Mocha suggestion in Starbucks’ inbox.

(Nutrition Facts – Tall 12 oz (Hot Chile Mocha with whipped cream) – 270 Calories, 110 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 29 grams total sugars, 10 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: Varies
Size: Tall
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Chile Mocha)
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Iced Chile Mocha)
Rating: 3 out of 10 (Chile Mocha Frappuccino)
Pros: Fondly reminiscent of Lucas Mexican Candy Power. Hot Chile Mocha.
Cons: Too much whipped cream. Frappuccino and Iced Mocha are sugar bombs. Minimal heat.

REVIEW: Burger King Cheetos Chicken Fries

Burger King Cheetos Chicken Fries

Eating Burger King’s new Cheetos Chicken Fries (CCFs) is very similar to going on a Tinder date. You see pictures and read a description of somebody, use a cheesy pick-up line, chat them up for a bit, and then you agree to meet at a bar.

Only when you get there, you find out the person looks nothing like their picture or they just aren’t the person they represented themselves to be online. I mean, you write that you like sailing in your profile but then you tell me you can’t even tie an anchor hitch!?

Cue dramatic piano music.

This was how I felt after eating the newest in the Chicken Fries line. Sure, the box had art similar to a bag of Cheetos. Sure, it says the word “Cheetos” on the box. Sure, they’re covered in a Cheetos breading. Sounds pretty great, right?

Well, the CCFs have one whale of a problem. No, that’s not enough. They have one MOBY DICK of a problem, and it is the fact there is barely any Cheetos flavor on them.

I do not know if it’s because I went on the initial release day and the BK workers hadn’t quite perfected their technique, but the final product tasted like somebody dropped Chicken Fries onto a pile of Cheetos crumbs and a minuscule amount of the flavor rubbed off on them.

Burger King Cheetos Chicken Fries 2

I was expecting them to be bright orange, just like actual Cheetos. Instead, they just look like darker Chicken Fries with some orange specks sprinkled on them. The lady who took my order asked if I wanted a dipping sauce, so I ordered a side of ranch thinking I would not need it. But after eating the third one plain I started dipping so they would have some kind of actual, noticeable flavor.

Burger King Cheetos Chicken Fries 3

I did get a tiny hint of Cheetos flavor but it was all in the aftertaste and I didn’t even notice it until after I ate several of them, and I really had to concentrate and use my imagination. They just didn’t have the cheesy kick many others and I were probably expecting.

I thought maybe my sense of taste had temporarily gone on vacation, but I got an order for my co-worker and he said the same thing, barely any Cheetos flavor.

The best part about the CCFs was, in all honesty, the box art. Woof.

I imagine somewhere Chester Cheetah is blowing lines of Cheetos cheese dust whilst crying, listening to Joe Satriani and uttering words of contempt about Burger King’s hack job of a recipe using his moneymaker.

(Nutrition Facts – 280 Calories, 18 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 890 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams total sugars, 14 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 9 pieces
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Cool box art. Cheesy pick-up lines on Tinder.
Cons: Hardly recognizable Cheetos flavor. Chester Cheetah having his good name tainted.

REVIEW: Domino’s Chicken Apple Pecan Salad

Domino's Chicken Apple Pecan Salad

A short list of things I never imagined I would do in my lifetime:

  1. Meet Hulk Hogan at a rave
  2. Go nude skydiving
  3. Date a vegan
  4. Help an Eskimo run the Iditarod
  5. Get a salad from Domino’s

So full disclosure, numbers one through four have not happened…yet. Number five, unfortunately, did happen.

Usually the single man’s trip to Domino’s ends with a medium pizza that will get finished in one night. It usually has ham and pineapple on it and it is usually eaten in the company of Wes Montgomery albums and good vodka. Sometimes, though, you have to switch things up.

The Domino’s salads come prepackaged, and when I say prepackaged, I mean factory sealed and then shipped to Domino’s stores. At least that’s what I read.

Factory fresh salad…YUM!

Domino's Chicken Apple Pecan Salad 2

Besides being factory sealed, it is also a salad you have to put it together yourself. How dare they make us do work!

This isn’t the worst tasting salad, but for the price, it didn’t seem worth it in the end.

The main culprits are the spring mix and the chicken. I know greens aren’t supposed to be flashy but the greens in this salad, even with the Ken’s Lite Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing, just weren’t good. I think the factory seal takes some of the freshness away.

The chicken didn’t seem to lose freshness but it didn’t matter, it was like that semi-grizzle-y chicken Subway had years ago. Tastes like nothing and you get those pieces you can’t chew cleanly through, and nobody likes those.

Nothing was really wrong with the cheddar cheese and apples. Those probably had the freshest taste to them, and if those are your freshest ingredients, your salad is in trouble. The cranberries were few in quantity and you won’t complain about it. The salad didn’t need them.

Domino's Chicken Apple Pecan Salad 3

Cover all this with Ken’s Lite Balsamic Vinaigrette and the result is just so underwhelming. The dressing doesn’t have a strong enough sweet-tart taste that a normal balsamic would, and in the case of this salad, more flavor was needed to cloak its shortcomings.

The only part of the salad that stood out was the pecans. I would buy the salad again just for those, no joke. They were so sweet; I think they may have been candied. They reminded me of pralines you find in ice cream.

If I were you, I’d fork over the extra two bucks and get a salad from Panera that you will actually enjoy.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 serving (2 per salad) – 190 Calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 350 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 14 grams total sugars, 13 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $6.49
Size: N/A
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Pecans are otherworldly good. Crazy low in calories.
Cons: Spring mix and chicken leave much to be desired. Dressing isn’t flavorful enough. Not meeting Hulk Hogan at a rave.

REVIEW: Quaker Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Life Cereal

Quaker Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Life Cereal

Let me be honest with you all – I think I’m basic.

Each year I eagerly anticipate the arrival of the cool autumn air and the changing of the leaves. Fall brings with it an excuse to wear my large collection of flannel shirts, strap on my boots (they’re not Uggs….yet), and head out to the countryside to pay extra money to pick my own apples that end up being smaller than anything I could buy at the grocery store.

And while some folks may believe that apple cinnamon is the quintessential fall flavor of choice, I am here to proclaim my love for anything and everything that is pumpkin spice. Sure, the latte has run through my veins from September through November in the past, but the grocery aisles have been my go-to for orangey and spicey products in recent years. 2015 brought us pumpkin spice kale chips (for basic vegans), pumpkin spice eggnog (for basic holiday combiners), and even pumpkin spice vodka (for basic drunks), and if you’ve read TIB in the past few weeks, you know that 2016 is shaping up to offer even more nutmeggy goodness.

As such, I jumped at the opportunity to review Pumpkin Spice Life Cereal. To be honest, I found it hard to believe that such a classic cereal would get on the pumpkin spice train, but the more the merrier. Next stop, my mouth. CHOO CHOO!

Life was never my first choice of cereal as a kid. I mean, when you’re competing with Cap’n Crunch and Count Chocula, a picture of wheat squares on the box wasn’t really appealing. As I grew older and wiser, my palette learned to appreciate Life and its cooler younger brother, Cinnamon Life. I eagerly dove into Pumpkin Spice Life, hoping that I’d be able to welcome it to the family with open arms.

Quaker Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Life Cereal 2

Upon opening the box, I was concerned that I’d mistakenly grabbed a box of traditional Life in error. Pumpkin Spice Life is relatively dull in the package, even though the box screams OMG THERE’S FALL IN HERE. The cereal offers nothing that will remind you of a pumpkin pie baking in the oven or the colors of the changing leaves. In fact, I was only able to discern any sort of cinnamon or nutmeg scent when I brought a spoonful of cereal right under my nose, and it was a very weak smell at that.

My bites of the cereal were similarly bland. The flavor of Pumpkin Spice Life, like regular Life, is very grain heavy, with notes of oats and wheat at the forefront. The tastes of cinnamon and nutmeg are only faintly evident, but become amped up with the inclusion of milk. A word to the wise though – once you add milk, you’ll need to finish your bowl quickly, lest you enjoy cereal that is the consistency of mashed potatoes.

Quaker Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Life Cereal 3

The best part about pumpkin spice flavored products is that they typically bring a strong punch of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice right from the beginning. You want to feel like you’ve been slapped in the face with your Thanksgiving dessert spread, and Pumpkin Spice Life isn’t going to give you any of that. Unless you’re a fan of muted fall flavors, I don’t suggest you play the game of Pumpkin Spice Life.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup – 120 calories, 15 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 13 oz box
Purchased at: Star Market
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Witty board game references. Good for fans of regular Life. Flannel shirts worn unironically.
Cons: Hey Mikey, he hates it! Barely discernible pumpkin spice flavor. Mushy in milk.

REVIEW: Great Value Late Night Cravings Donut Cheeseburger

Great Value Late Night Cravings Donut Cheeseburger

I’ve never wondered what a sponge that’s been used to clean a frying pan tastes like. But thanks to the grease-soaked donut used as a bun for Great Value’s Late Night Cravings Donut Cheeseburger, now I know.

You may think the paragraph above is hyperbole, but the translucent paper towels in my kitchen’s trash think otherwise. Every time I picked up the burger and put it down, the soggy cake donut made my fingers look and feel like they’re combatants in a baby oil wrestling battle royale.

If that’s not enough to encourage you to avoid this microwaveable burger, then maybe the amount of saturated fat it has will cause you to think twice. ONE burger has 90 PERCENT of your daily recommended intake of saturated fat. Not even eating one-fourth of a stick of butter will get you to 90 percent.

Now if that’s not enough to make you say “whoa” to buying this donut cheeseburger, then maybe the way it made my kitchen smell like grease and burnt meat as it was being heated up in the microwave will.

And, if not that, maybe saying the donut hole looks like a butt hole will.

Do you still want to buy it?

Great Value Late Night Cravings Donut Cheeseburger 2

I’ve made a few donut cheeseburgers over the years when the food stars align because someone happened to bring donuts to a cookout. I’ve also eaten a few microwaveable cheeseburgers because if you run a blog about processed food for over a decade, you’re bound to eat a few. Both are serviceable, but this microwaveable donut cheeseburger is not.

Besides the grease-soaked cake donut, the cheeseburger comes with a slice of American cheese, hot pepper berry bacon jam, and chopped beef steak. Yes, “chopped beef steak” appears to be a fancy name for beef patty because it tastes like a beef patty, albeit a thin, dry beef patty.

The cheese doesn’t do anything flavor-wise, but its color prevents the burger from looking even more depressing. It adds a little contrast. Without the cheese, looking at this burger’s doom and gloom colors of brown, black, purple, and grey would’ve brought me down to a level of depression that makes me wonder if I should ask a psychiatrist if Zoloft Is right for me.

Great Value Late Night Cravings Donut Cheeseburger 3

The one ingredient that gave me the most worry before putting the burger into my mouth was the hot pepper berry bacon jam. But it ended up being the least scariest ingredient of the whole burger. The topping tasted more like a sweet barbecue sauce and it, along with some sweetness from the cake donut, helped make the sandwich taste like a BBQ burger and somewhat tolerable. But it’s not enough to overcome the soggy, greasy cake donut.

As much as I didn’t enjoy Great Value’s Donut Cheeseburger, I applaud the smart, and I assume munchies-driven, folks who developed it. Creative. Yes. Will I eat the second one that came in the box? No.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 sandwich – 610 calories, 350 calories from fat, 38 grams of fat, 18 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 85 milligrams of cholesterol, 1040 milligrams of sodium, 270 milligrams of potassium, 47 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 20 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $6.44
Size: 2 sandwiches
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Hot pepper berry bacon jam tastes like barbecue sauce. Creative.
Cons: Greasy, soggy cake donut. One has 90 percent of your daily saturated fat. Donut hole looks like a butt hole. Makes my kitchen smell like grease and burnt meat.