REVIEW: Arby’s Jalapeño Hushpuppies

Arby's Jalapeno Hushpuppies

Deep inside an underground bunker somewhere near Pocatello, Idaho, the nation’s preeminent potato growers and their army of lobbyists recently gathered. The following is an unconfirmed transcript of the meeting that followed. Names have been modified to protect the innocent.

Derek J. Russet, Chairman of the Confederacy of Potato Advocates: Ladies and gentlemen. We gather today amidst news that threatens the very existence of our industry. Reports indicate one of our longtime allies in the fast food world has threatened to disown the humble spud as a side item.

Silence

Russet: Yes, it’s true, and I’m afraid it’s not the usual challenge from the Onion Ring Hegemony again. Thankfully Burger King continues to showcase the alliance of alliums in an objectionable light, but this new threat is much greater.

Timothy L. Fingerling, CFO: Sir, surely our market share can withstand a minor blip. Our research has long indicated customers sometimes go for so-called ‘healthier options,’ but once the New Year’s Resolution high subsides, they’ll return to their french fries and chips with renewed vigor.

Russet: I do not know, Fingerling. Reports are still vague, but apparently Arby’s has introduced Jalapeño Hushpuppies as part of their limited time only, pre-Lent menu. Hushpuppies…with fish! The nerve of these people. What would our English brethren and their fish and chips say? In any event, knowing how trendy Southern food is and how customers are always begging for something to set their mouth on fire, this is a threat we cannot overlook. Dare I say it, if these are successful, we could see multiple fast food companies ditching fries for balls of fried cornmeal in no time.

Gasps!

Amanda W. Yukon, Director of Nefarious Tuber Operations: Not so fast, sir. I have firsthand reports on the quality of these hushpuppies, straight from one of my freelance field operatives. In my hands is an intelligence estimate courtesy of Lawrence Sweet, who has just eaten at Arby’s.

Fingerling: By all means, Ms. Yukon. Major Sweet is one of most trusted and objective operatives. If it weren’t for his work on those Arby’s Cheddar Pretzel Nuggets during the spring, we would have never been able to sabotage them with laxative inducing cheese sauce. Please, read the report.

Yukon: He begins as follows: “I entered Arby’s with an open mind. My love of potatoes aside, I’ve traveled to the Gulf Coast in the past and have frequently eaten, and enjoyed, hushpuppies. There’s just something so perfect about them, so distinctly Southern in their crispy outside texture, moist interior, and tangy sweetness. Given how well Arby’s has done some other regional specialties like brisket, I expected these to be a worthy rendition.”

Silence permeates the room, broken only by a few nervous clicks of someone’s pen.

Arby's Jalapeno Hushpuppies 2

Yukon: He continues: “I was pleased to find the hushpuppies crisp and non-too greasy, but an almost blackened color was cause for concern. A cornbread batter can be unforgiving for a fry cook, and the blistered craters, while perhaps making a fine 1:100,000,000 scale model for an asteroid, revealed they might’ve spent too much time in the fryer. Not surprisingly a burnt flavor was impossible to overcome on first bite, although a mild and moist cornbread filling did dissipate the burnt exterior somewhat.

Arby's Jalapeno Hushpuppies 3

Still, there was something off about the flavor. The jalapeños were immediately noticeable, but instead of a spicy bite, the small chunks carried a bitter and vegetal flavor. They tasted old and canned, while the chunks of corn also had a dulled, diluted flavor which wouldn’t win a taste test with Del Monte.”

Russet: Interesting. So they’ve not only botched the execution, but used sub-par ingredients. But everyone knows even a limp French fry can be resuscitated with Heinz or Fry Sauce. I’m still unconvinced these aren’t a threat.

Yukon:/b> I think we’re safe on that front too, sir. Sweet reports there’s no natural pairing for hushpuppies. They should have enough balance in the buttermilk tang, the corn sweetness, and the heat of the seasoning to be eaten on their own. Even ketchup can’t save them, and Sweet thinks ketchup is good on everything. Besides, he claims they’re too small to leave customers happy. And obviously, they lack the appeal of a curly fry.

Fingerling: Dare I say we’ve dodged a bullet! Once again, fast food has outthought itself.

Russet: Indeed. Send our thanks to Sweet, Yukon. Arby’s Jalapeño Hushpuppies won’t satisfy those longing for a homemade taste of the Gulf Coast, and pose little long-term threat to the supremacy of the spud.

(Nutrition Facts – 5 hushpuppies – 290 calories, 110 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 790 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 2 gram of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Item: Arby’s Jalapeno Hushpuppies
Purchased Price: $1.79
Size: 5 pieces
Purchased at: Arby’s
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Mainstream fast food embracing a taste of the south. Crunchy exterior and moist cornbread-like interior. Real whole kernel corn and jalapeños in batter. Moderate and building back-heat. The survival of the potato industry.
Cons: Tiny and hard as a rock. Burnt flavor overpowers the cornmeal. Bitter, vegetal-like quality to the jalapeños. Corn kernels taste dull and canned. Lacks obvious condiment pairing. Freelance work for world potato cabals.

REVIEW: Burger King Four Cheese Whopper

Burger King Four Cheese Whopper

The Burger King Four Cheese Whopper could have been great. In fact, it should have been great.

Everybody knows that four is the best number. There are four blind mice, four good Indiana Jones movies and four continents on the planet. So when Burger King unveiled a Four Cheese Whopper, everybody in the country yelled “Four!” at the same time like we were playing golf for the fourth time that day. We needed this, BK. Imagine it: Buzzfeed lists of “Which of the Four Cheeses are you?” or umm, “Buzzfeed ranks the Four Cheese Whopper cheeses in order,” or “Buzzfeed remembers 2014, the year of the Four Cheese Whopper.” Buzzfeed is pretty 2013, but the Four Cheese Whopper could have swung this year for it.

However. You dropped the ball, Mr. King. You dropped the ball so hard. You dropped the ball harder than the Burger King Kid’s Club playing a game of pickup. Because at some point you’re going to have to pass the basketball to the nerd or the shaggy dog. Oh yeah, and there was that dude with a Virtual Boy strapped onto his face with a rubber band. What a dummy. Did Kid Vid invent Google Glass? Now I hate him even more.

Burger King, you dropped the ball harder than I wish I could drop Google Glass onto the ground. Let’s quote your own description of the Four Cheese Whopper. It says it has “melted American cheese, a creamy three cheese blend, cheddar sauce.” That sounds like five cheeses. And any idiot knows that five is better than four. Five is the best number, duh. There are five Golden Girls, five signs on the zodiac, and five sodas in a six-pack. You could have named it the Five Cheese Whopper and you completely missed the boat.

To be honest, though, you could have named it the One Cheese Whopper. Here’s the deal with this thing. There’s cheese on it. A lot of it. And it all tastes the same. It’s one note, and processed to hell. I could see the lady making it for me at the restaurant, and she stacked a few slices, then sprinkled some shavings, and then squirted a glop from a bottle. So much work, so many delivery systems, but it all ends up tasting exactly the same.

Burger King Four Cheese Whopper Side

It pretty much tastes like half a stack of Kraft Singles on top of a Whopper. And, yes, I know, that sounds awesome. But that’s because I’m a fatty obsessed with comic excess. It’s actually not awesome. To top it off, it’s that congealed cheese that’s barely melted so it has the texture of a frozen cheeseburger heated for 3/4 of the thawing time.

Burger King Four Cheese Whopper Topless

The cheese mutes any acidity in the burger toppings and also overthrows the charbroiled taste in the patty. King Burger also removed the pickles and the ketchup, which tips the entire fromage-agaggedon into cheese overdrive. There are onions, tomatoes and pieces of lettuce in there, but they resemble those people who die climbing Mount Everest and then freeze there like statues for future climbers to see, if instead of snow, cheese fell from the sky.

Burger King Four Cheese Whopper with Regular Whopper with Cheese

Regular Whopper with Cheese (left) Four Cheese Whopper (right)

The bun is a Whopper bun. It’s got sesame seeds. It also gets a little lost in the cheese mix. By comparison, the Whopper with cheese costs a few cents less and the ingredients all manage to find themselves onto the consumer’s palate, which, considering this is Your Majesty’s Burger Joint, may be considered a worse thing. Seems like this item would be labeled “for cheese-connoisseurs only,” but if this is the quality of cheese you like, you’re probably the kind of person who eats string cheese without stringing it: Do what you want, but that ain’t my style.

This burger appeals to about zero people. But you know what the silver lining is? Zero is by far the best number. Zero days of Christmas, the concept of pi starts with a zero, and there is a zero chance of this bit getting old.

(Nutrition Facts – 850 calories, 57 grams of fat, 21 grams of saturated fat, 2 grams of trans fat, 115 milligrams of cholesterol, 1160 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of carbohydrates, 9 grams of sugar, and 32 grams of protein.)

Item: Burger King Four Cheese Whopper
Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Basically a Whopper with more cheese. Still contains some Whopper qualities, if that’s your speed.
Cons: Cheese is overbearing, also not of greater quality, or even of differing quality than usual.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Holiday Sprinkles Cookie Crisp Cereal

Limited Edition Holiday Sprinkles Cookie Crisp

As a child, I was restricted from the consumption of two things: Mountain Dew and sugary cereal. I was always incredibly jealous of the other kids that were tearing the shit out of their mouths with Cap’n Crunch. Because, you know, it’s delicious and life is unfair. Fortunately for me, my childhood deprivation transcended into my adulthood in the form of me reaching for Oat Bran instead of sugar coma inducing cereals.

Thanks, Mom. 

On the occasion, albeit rare, that I would be able to enjoy anything other than regular Cheerios, Cookie Crisp was a favorite of mine. There was something so perfectly harmonious about being able to have cookies and milk for breakfast. That, my friends, is living the dream as a 7-year-old. Not only did you feel like you were pulling a fast one over your parents by having a traditional after-dinner snack before 10AM, but you always had the urge to say the iconic commercial slogan, “Cooookkiiiieee Crisp.”

If you didn’t just say it out loud, you know you said it in your head. No judgements.

Limited Edition Holiday Sprinkles Cookie Crisp Dry

Limited Edition Holiday Sprinkles Cookie Crisp should really just be called Sugar Cookie Crisp because that is the overwhelming flavor coming from this product. Unfortunately, it lacks any multi-level flavor composition other than a slight fruity undertone which reminds me of the milk left behind in a bowl of Trix.

Limited Edition Holiday Sprinkles Cookie Crisp In Milk

Limited Edition Holiday Sprinkles Cookie Crisp Milk

The “Holiday Sprinkles” hold absolutely no purpose other than creating an aesthetically pleasing bowl of leftover 2% milk. Another positive is that the cereal is made with mostly corn-based products allowing the cereal to maintain its crunchy texture, even after taking a milk bath. Because who really enjoys soggy cereal?

Crazy people, that’s who.

All in all, if you’re craving cookies and milk for breakfast (assuming you over indulged in your favorite alcoholic beverage the night before, because I have never met an adult that actually wants cookies for breakfast that wasn’t hung over), do yourself a favor and walk straight past the cereal aisle. Go buy a gallon of milk and some Betty Crocker Sugar Cookies and write me a thank you letter telling me how much better of an idea that is than cereal.

Be right back. I’m going to go get some Mountain Dew and Betty Crocker Sugar Cookies because I am 25 now and can do what I want.

Sorry, Mom.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup (without milk) – 100 calories (without milk) 140 calories (with 1/2 cup skim milk), 1 gram of fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, 1 gram of protein..)

Item: Limited Edition Holiday Sprinkles Cookie Crisp
Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 11.25 oz. box
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like sugar cookies. Living the dream as a 7-year-old. Holds texture in milk. Milk looks fancy once cereal is gone. Being an “adult” and doing what I want. “Cooookkiiiieee Crisp” slogan will live on forever. Being hung over and eating cookies for breakfast.
Cons: Eating healthy cereal instead of sugary cereal. Lacks multi-level flavor composition. Boring. Cap’n Crunch ruins mouths. Being hung over and eating cookies for breakfast.

REVIEW: Limited Time Only Milk Chocolate Pringles

Limited Time Only Milk Chocolate Pringles

It’s that time of year again!

It’s that time when 90 percent of the children who ask for a pony for Christmas don’t get one, the Today Show has segments about the most popular and the most dangerous toys this holiday season, and when Pringles comes out with a new limited edition sweet Pringles flavor.

This year, Julius Pringles is pushing Limited Time Only Milk Chocolate Pringles.

For those of you who have been living a sheltered life for the past few years, this whole sweet Pringles thing started back in 2012 when Pumpkin Pie Spice, White Chocolate Peppermint, and Cinnamon & Sugar Pringles were released.

Last year, White Chocolate and Pecan Pie Pringles popped up on store shelves here in the U.S. and Mint Choc Pringles in the U.K. With Milk Chocolate Pringles now available, I predict we’ll see Sea Salt Caramel Pringles in 2015.

After peeling back the foil top of the Pringles can, I took a whiff. It smells like I was a mile downwind from a Color Run that used only brown Nesquik and the course went around a potato chip factory.

Limited Time Only Milk Chocolate Pringles Closeup

The sweet seasoning, which is brown in color and made with cocoa, makes each crisp look like it was used as a Swiffer cloth. But I don’t believe there’s enough flavoring on each potato crisp, because it doesn’t equate to a noticeable milk chocolate flavor. I had to French kiss several Limited Time Only Milk Chocolate Pringles at one time to get a decent milk chocolate flavor. Actually, I wouldn’t even call it “milk chocolate.” If they called this flavor Hot Cocoa, that would be more believable.

Also, whatever chocolate flavor there is doesn’t last very long. And once it’s gone, all that’s left is the underlying dry potato crisp. You might think, “Hey, if it’s a dry potato crisp, then it must taste like a regular Pringle.” Oh no, my soon to be disappointed friend, the flavor that remains is not like regular Pringles. There’s not much salt to hide the potato crisp’s naked flavor. It’s not gross, but I imagine it’s what a very low sodium Diet Pringles would taste like.

Overall, Milk Chocolate Pringles is my least favorite of all the sweet Pringles flavors I’ve tried. Instead of milk chocolate-flavored Pringles, I wish the Kellogg Company used all the processed food technology they have at their disposal to make milk chocolate-covered Pringles.

Of course, there might be problems, like potato crisps sticking together because of melted chocolate or me reaching 300 percent of my daily saturated fat in one day because I might eat the entire can in a 30 minute session. But I say it’s worth the risk.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz. – 150 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 95 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Limited Time Only Milk Chocolate Pringles
Purchased Price: $3.99*
Size: 5.96 oz.
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Tolerable. Learning the mustached one is Julius Pringles. Getting a pony.
Cons: More hot cocoa than milk chocolate. Faint cocoa aroma. Chocolate flavor disappears quickly. Cocoa powder looks like dirt on a Pringle. Not chocolate-covered Pringles.

* I had to buy this off of eBay because it hasn’t show up here on this rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. If you find them in stores, you’ll probably pay $1-$2.

REVIEW: Burger King YUMBO Hot Ham & Cheese Sandwich

Burger King YUMBO Hot Ham & Cheese Sandwich

I don’t have a kid, but I’ve put some thought into his or her name. I’ve been thinking of names that are hard to make fun of, but that has been a difficult task.

Brandon…Brandumb.

Evelyn…Neverlyn.

Reginald…Reginard.

Catherine…Casserine.

Dick…Dick.

Geez, I’m a natural at this. I should’ve been a bully instead of being the target of bullies.

Burger King’s YUMBO Hot Ham & Cheese Sandwich has a name that’s extremely easy to make fun of. YUCKBO. This sandwich is DUMBO. YUMNOOOO. And those names do a wonderful job of describing how I feel about the YUMBO.

The YUMBO is constructed using slices of black forest ham, two slices of American cheese, Burger King’s sad lettuce, and mayonnaise on the hoagie bun used with BK’s Original Chicken Sandwich. Before I tell you how mediocre this sandwich is, let’s take a quick trip back into time.

The YUMBO is not a new sandwich. It was originally introduced in 1968 and taken off the menu six years later. The original didn’t include lettuce, mayonnaise, or a hoagie bun. You can see what it looked like in this vintage Hungry Jack’s commercial. (Hungry Jack’s is what Burger King is called in Australia.)

Being that I wasn’t born when the original YUMBO was around, I have no idea what it tasted like. But I do know the present version is disappointing. First off, the ham in my sandwich was not hot. Well, to be exact, my entire sandwich was lukewarm, including the toasted bun. Because the cheese was slightly melted, it might’ve had a little warmth during the 30 second walk from Burger King to my car and the 60 seconds I took to take photos, but it had none when I put it into my mouth. Gooey melted cheese is one thing that makes a hot ham and cheese sandwich awesome, but mine was just room temperature.

I will admit my YUMBO appears somewhat appetizing with the salty ham looking like it was placed lovingly onto the bun, but it tastes like a ham sandwich I could make at home with some cheap Land O’Frost meat, half-eaten lettuce stolen from a bunny cage, a free Best Foods/Hellmann’s mayo packet from 7-Eleven, a hoagie bun, and not giving a damn.

Burger King YUMBO Hot Ham & Cheese Sandwich Topless

After taking a few bites, I decided I wasn’t going to settle for a lukewarm sandwich and ended up microwaving it for 20 seconds when I got home. When the ham is hot and the cheesy is gooey and warm, it’s a noticeably better sandwich. Although if you decide to nuke it, get rid of the lettuce before you do so because heat makes BK lettuce worse than it already is. Actually, why is there lettuce? To be honest, I don’t even think lettuce wants to be in the sandwich because it kept falling out as I ate mine.

Burger King YUMBO Hot Ham & Cheese Sandwich Top

The YUMBO Hot Ham & Cheese Sandwich is part of the 2 for $5 menu, so if you don’t want to heed my warnings and try the ham sandwich, you can do so knowing you have a back up sandwich. It’s not YUCKBO when it’s warm, but I shouldn’t have to microwave my sandwich to make it decent. With the YUMBO being a limited time only product, it’ll eventually be taken off the menu again. And if it doesn’t show up again for decades, I won’t mind.

(Nutrition Facts – 490 calories, 24 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 1770 milligrams of sodium, 49 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of sugar, and 23 grams of protein.)

Item: Burger King YUMBO Hot Ham & Cheese Sandwich
Purchased Price: $4.59*
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: A better sandwich when ham is hot and cheese is gooey and warm. Microwave ovens. Backup sandwiches.
Cons: Ham was not hot. Entire sandwich was lukewarm. Subway makes a better ham sandwich. Look at what you made me type, Burger King! Not the sandwich from the bell-bottoms generation. BK’s bad lettuce. Stealing from bunny cages. Bullies.

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did.