REVIEW: Lay’s Popcorn Caramel Potato Chips (Thailand)

Lay’s Popcorn Caramel Potato Chips (Thailand)

Even though I didn’t care for these Lay’s Popcorn Caramel Potato Chips from Thailand, I think there needs to be maw papkawn-phaabad paheyho hips.

I’m sorry. I was trying to say “more popcorn-flavored potato chips,” but I’m also trying to dig out with my fingernail a popcorn shell shard that’s stuck between my left mawlas. I mean, molars. My oral excavation is the reason why I’d like popcorn-flavored potato chips.

Maybe I should use floss. Let’s see if I have floss. I do!

Is that blood? Ugh. It’s blood. Spits. I really should floss more than the two weeks leading up to a dentist visit. Maybe four weeks?

With popcorn-flavored potato chips, I wouldn’t have to worry about popcorn shells getting stuck between my teeth and it poking my gums every time I move my jaw. I know there’s Popchips and its ilk, but they don’t have the satisfying crunch or saltiness of a potato chip. Movie theater butter popcorn-flavored potato chips would be awesome.

But these Lay’s Popcorn Caramel Potato Chips weren’t eat-the-bag-in-one-sitting good. They have a musty sweet aroma that’s inviting…me to think they won’t be good. The chips look normal, like they aren’t seasoned at all, but I got a strong hit of whatever seasoning was on the chips when I popped one into my mouth.

They did taste like caramel corn, but there were other chips that tasted like coffee, and other chips that had a nondescript sweet flavor. But all the chips had the same odd, greasy aftertaste; one that I’ve experienced in the past with seafood-flavored Lay’s potato chips from Asian countries.

Lay’s Popcorn Caramel Potato Chips (Thailand) 2

Like Lay’s Chicken & Waffles and Cappuccino flavored potato chips, these popcorn caramel-flavored chips are a nice novelty, but their flavor is not something I’d crave. To be honest, I’d rather eat actual caramel corn and deal with the papkawn sal. I mean, popcorn shell that gets stuck between my teeth.

Thanks to James from Travelling McD’s for sending these chips to me!

(Nutrition Facts – Too lazy to translate the nutrition label written Thai.)

Purchased Price: Given as gift
Size: N/A
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Not gross. Trying odd potato chip flavors from Asia. Flossing. Tricking your dentist into thinking you floss regularly.
Cons: Inconsistent flavor. Smell weird. Greasy aftertaste. Getting popcorn shells stuck between your teeth.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Frosted Caramel Apple Pop-Tarts

Limited Edition Frosted Caramel Apple Pop-Tarts

Anyone else feel like their teeth are going to fall out when they eat a caramel apple?

The hardened caramel should seriously be considered on the list of dental no-no’s right up there next to chewing ice (I’m guilty). So, for the most part, I avoid caramel apples. But, Frosted Caramel Apple Pop-Tarts bring all the joy of Caramel Apples but in toaster pastry form.

Sort of.

Out of the trusty shiny packaging, a corner of the pale toaster pastry tumbled out typical Pop-Tart crumbliness. No immediate artificial/pungent odor tumbled out with the crumble though, which is always a good sign! I took a closer nose-pection of the goods. It smelled just like Tootsie’s Caramel Apple Pops.

Luckily, I have a pretty positive association with Apple Pops but it’s a little odd that a toast pastry smells like a candy. The Pop-Tart itself looks like a regular Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tart but with a neon green squiggle down the middle and neon is never a good color for food.

For a Pop-Tart, the flavor progression is surprisingly complex. The first bite was all apple flavoring. Think Hostess Apple Fruit Pie but with a better crust to filling ratio (aka the filling isn’t gooping everywhere). The apple flavoring was followed by a warm maple, caramel sweetness. This pushed it over the edge of sweetness for me, but right at that point a sour apple tartness emerged.

Limited Edition Frosted Caramel Apple Pop-Tarts 3

After the first couple of bites, I looked more closely at the filling. It looked like half & half filling with a darker half and a lighter half so I tried each half as separately as I could. The lighter half was the apple part of the filling and tasted pretty standard. The darker half contributed the warmer maple, caramel flavor as well as the tartness. Kellogg’s R&D definitely tried to go above and beyond for this one.

Limited Edition Frosted Caramel Apple Pop-Tarts 2

Somewhat dissatisfied, I put these babies in the toaster oven for a quick toast. After warming it up, I found it odd that the edges weren’t a more golden brown color like other warmed pop-tarts. Typically, Pop-Tarts taste best warm, but not this flavor. While the apple, maple and tartness meshed a little better together, the sour apple after-taste became even more prominent and made it taste even more like the lollipop candy.

These should be renamed Caramel Apple Pops Pop-Tarts. I wouldn’t be disappointed if Kellogg’s did not bring this Limited Edition flavor back. Long live Pumpkin!

(Nutrition Facts – 1 pastry – 200 calories, 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 180 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 15 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 12 pastries/box
Purchased at: Kroger
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: R&D put in work – tried to replicate a Caramel Apple as closely as possible.
Cons: Tastes just like Caramel Apple Tootsie Pops. Too sweet. Why doesn’t it toast?!

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: Great Value Late Night Cravings Double Decker Chicken & Bacon Sandwich

Great Value Late Night Cravings Double Decker Chicken & Bacon Sandwich

Great Value’s Late Night Cravings Double Decker Chicken & Bacon Sandwich looks like it belongs under the heat lamp at a gas station convenience store. The KFC Double Down-inspired sandwich features smoke-flavored bacon and American cheese between two breaded crispy chicken breast patties.

After microwaving it, cheese oozed out from almost every angle and down onto the plate. The sandwich’s cheesiness is because there are actually three slices of American cheese stuck together to make it look like one. BONUS!

Great Value Late Night Cravings Double Decker Chicken & Bacon Sandwich 2

With every bite there’s a little bit of everything initially — some seasoning from the chicken patty’s breading, a bit of smokiness from the bacon, and a little tang from the cheese. But that gets shoved aside by a wave of saltiness.

My dogs, who like to lick my arms after a run, would say this sandwich is way too salty. One has over 2,000 milligrams of sodium. The KFC Double Down is a healthier option with 1,380 milligrams of sodium. Yes, I just typed the words “KFC Double Down is a healthier option” and you are not in a bizarro dimension.

Great Value Late Night Cravings Double Decker Chicken & Bacon Sandwich 3

With every bite, all I could think of was salt. Salt shakers. Salty sea water. A horse salt lick. The Morton’s Salt Girl. Veruca Salt. Salt from Salt-N-Pepa. I’ve had fast food burgers with more than 2,000 milligrams of sodium, but they didn’t taste as salty as this sandwich. But, let’s be honest, it shouldn’t be surprising the combination of breaded chicken, three cheese slices, and bacon would create culinary salt lick.

Great Value Late Night Cravings Double Decker Chicken & Bacon Sandwich 4

But there’s more to complain about than its saltiness. The chicken patties along their edges were as dry as stale bread; it’s pricey for just two small sandwiches; and its microwave instructions are more complex than they should be. It involves taking apart the sandwich, heating just the chicken, reassembling the sandwich, heating the whole thing, and letting it stand for a minute to cool and to allow you say “YOLO” or push aside any doubts, regrets, or doctor’s warnings.

If there’s one major plus it’s the addition of the paper sleeve with each sandwich. I thought it was for crisping the chicken in the microwave, but it’s just a plain paper one to help hold the sandwich as I ate it, since the “bread” is freshly microwaved chicken patties.

But a courteous attachment isn’t enough for me to recommend the Great Value Late Night Cravings Double Decker Chicken & Bacon Sandwich.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 sandwich – 610 calories, 380 calories from fat, 42 grams of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 11 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 13 grams of monounsaturated fat, 115 milligrams of cholesterol, 2090 milligrams of sodium, 280 milligrams of potassium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 34 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $6.44
Size: 2 sandwiches
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Paper sleeve included to prevent burnt fingers. A flash of decent flavor with every bite.
Cons: Salty. Pricey. Salty. Dry chicken patties. Salty. Its microwave instructions. Salty. Too much cheese. Salty.

REVIEW: Totino’s Supreme Stuffed Nachos (2016)

Totino's Stuffed Nachos Supreme

If ramen noodles are the Usain Bolt of cheap eats for students, drunkards and poor folks the world over, then Totino’s is surely…whoever happens to be the second fastest guy in the world.

Okay, now some of what I’m going to say will sound made up, but unless Wikipedia is riddled with errors (which has never happened), this is the God’s honest: Totino’s was founded in Minneapolis in 1951 (!) by Rose and Jim Totino (!!) as a take-out pizza joint (!!!). They eventually expanded to a full-service restaurant (!!!!) that finally shuttered its doors in 2011 (!@#$%!!).

I know, right?

Anyway, in 1993, Pillsbury-owned Jeno’s pizza rolls (first created by Jeno Paulucci in 1968 as “an egg roll filled with pizza ingredients”), were rebranded as Totino’s, and the rest is history.

If you are alive, and human, you have had a Totino’s Party Pizza (the idea of throwing a party involving Totino’s never ceases to make me laugh). You have also had Totino’s Pizza Rolls.

The “pizza” is by no means a real pizza; now, that’s not to say it’s bad. It is a small, crispy disk of bread-like material covered with an amalgamation of hydrogenated oil-based cheese substitutes, flavorless ketchup, and salt-bits masquerading as various types of meat toppings. It regularly retails for $1.39 in my area, and can often be found as a 10/$10 deal.

It has its place as a late-night regret.

It is also a wildly successful brand, producing 240 MILLION discs per year.

So it is no wonder that they would also try to corner the market on another beloved American institution, the frozen, pocket-based delicacy. Not that this is their first attempt. The ORIGINAL Stuffed Nacho from Totino’s was introduced in 1996 and then discontinued, leaving a trail of heartbroken and hungry snack aficionados in the wake.

Totino's Stuffed Nachos Supreme 2

The Totino’s Stuffed Nacho is a triangle pizza roll filled with nacho-inspired ingredients. For the sake of this review, I went with the “supreme” variation. The box promised me “taco seasoned chicken and beef pizza topping, red bell peppers, jalapeños and cheddar cheese rolls in a crispy crust.”

Totino's Stuffed Nachos Supreme 4

The first thing you should know is that you can’t taste ANY of it. There was no heat from the jalapeño, no sweet tang from a red bell pepper, no possible way a chicken ever saw the killing room floor. There may have been cheese, but only in the way that we know God loves us.

The shell was different from a standard pizza roll in that it was corn-tasting. Not in an ACTUAL corn tortilla respect — and not even in a corn chip way — but in the way that Nestle manages to conjure a vague corn-ambiance from its Beef Taco Hot Pockets effort.

The beef too was not unlike the aforementioned BTHP. It was a chewy approximation of meat, but if you received something like it anywhere other than here (Taco Bell included), you’d curse out the proprietor and demand a refund. It has that signature taco taste, though, achieved through “spice” (a real ingredient on the label), as well as onion and garlic powders.

Totino's Stuffed Nachos Supreme 3

Anyway, does this taste like an elf in the Totino’s factory magically impregnated a pizza roll with a plate of delicious nachos? Not a chance.

Would I buy them again, however? Eh, maybe. They seriously weren’t awful — in the same way that pizza rolls and Totino’s pizza discs aren’t awful. But at $4.59 (!) for a 34 count box (NOBODY NEEDS THAT MANY OF THESE THINGS!!), it’s prohibitively expensive. You know, for the target demographic: students, vagabonds, and drunks.

(Nutrition Facts – 6 rolls – 220 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 420 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.59
Size: 17.4 oz box
Purchased at: Hy-Vee
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Vague taco qualities. You don’t have to think much about it. Nice face-stuffing quotient
Cons: Pretty one-note. Idea of “nacho pocket” isn’t a bad one, but execution on this offering lacks. Per Wikipedia, Consumer Reports rated Totino’s as “only fair for nutrition.” Because, duh.