REVIEW: Burger King Mac n’ Cheetos

Burger King Mac n' Cheetos

The more I look at Burger King’s new Mac n’ Cheetos, the more I want to call them Mac n’ Cheeturds. I assume they’re supposed to look like Cheetos Puffs, but they’re not orange enough or curved enough, which gives me the urge to rename them.

The fast food side appears to be the successor to Doritos Loaded, a fried, triangular cheese-stuffed product that debuted at 7-Eleven locations in 2014 and was available at select Burger King locations last year, which, now looking back, was probably a test to see if Burger King patrons would buy a newfangled mozzarella stick. SPOILER ALERT: It appears they would. I didn’t have the fortitude to try Doritos Loaded after reading a bunch of negative reviews, so I can’t compare it with Mac n’ Cheetos.

The product is basically deep fried mac n’ cheese, a staple at carnivals, state fairs, and the Cheesecake Factory, but with a sprinkling of Cheetos dust in the crispy coating. A serving is five golden orange pieces that come in a Chester Cheetah-less package. I guess the rights to use Chester Cheetah would’ve cost Burger King some money, but it would’ve made the packaging as fun as what the Chicken Fries come in.

Burger King Mac n' Cheetos 2

The golden orange coating has a slight crispiness to it, but Burger King’s Onion Rings have a better crunch. I nibbled on the exterior to taste whatever Cheetos seasoning may be on in it, but my taste buds didn’t register anything that made me think of the crunchy cheese snack. But the crispy coating did remind of another popular cheesy snack — Cheez-Its.

Burger King Mac n' Cheetos 3

As for the interior, it’s a combination of orange cheese goo and tiny macaroni. The macaroni were tender, although they’re small enough that your teeth might not even notice them. The cheese tastes like cheddar and has a consistency that more like toothpaste than ooey-gooey cheese, making it slightly weird. The mac and cheese is adequate, but it too doesn’t have anything that makes me think of Cheetos.

As you can probably tell, I’m not impressed with Burger King’s Mac n’ Cheetos. They somewhat look like Cheetos, but they don’t have that distinguishable Cheetos flavor, not even a hint of it. And what about Cheetos dust on my fingers! They don’t even give me that.

Look, I admire Burger King for their willingness to try something like this. Someone said you can’t be successful without failure. I’m not sure who said that, probably someone who came up with hundreds of failing sayings before coming up with that winner. It’s a great idea and I was excited about them, but the execution was poor. Maybe they do deserve the name Mac n’ Cheeturds?

(Nutrition Facts – Not available on website yet.)

Purchased Price: $3.29*
Size: 5 pieces
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: They kind of look like Cheetos. Adequate. Interesting concept and name. Breading reminds me of Cheez-Its.
Cons: Disappointing they don’t taste at all like Cheetos. Don’t give me Cheetos dust fingers. No Chester Cheetah on the packaging. Cheese doesn’t have an oozy-gooey consistency.

*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.

REVIEW: Nabisco S’mores Chips Ahoy Cookies

Nabisco S'mores Chips Ahoy Cookies

Ahoy-hoy!

It is believed s’mores were invented in 1927. Chips Ahoy (!) first hit shelves in 1963. We had to wait ’til 2016 for the first collaboration. What took so long?

Just in case you live under a rock that rests under a boulder and don’t know what’s in a s’more, please allow Hamilton “The Great Hambino” Porter from The Sandlot to explain the recipe:

“First you take the graham. You stick the chocolate on the graham. Then, you roast the mallow. Once the mallow’s flaming, you stick it on the chocolate. Then, you cover it with the other end.”

Graham. Chocolate. Marshmallow. Simple as the simplest of pies.

So, after 53 years in the making, do S’mores Chips Ahoy stack up to the classic campfire staple? The better question would be, is “s’more” the singular or is it always “s’mores”? Inquiring minds (me) would like to know.

Nabisco S'mores Chips Ahoy Cookies 2

Nabisco claims their new S’mores Chips Ahoy cookies contain choco and marshmallow flavored chips. Despite no hint on the packaging, they seem to have tweaked their classic cookie recipe to make it taste like a graham cracker. I think. I’ll get back to that.

Nabisco S'mores Chips Ahoy Cookies 3

Each cookie has standard chocolate chips and a chocolate center, which instantly put me in mind of the brownie-flavored Chips Ahoy put out recently. From memory, the taste was almost identical.

I tried my best to dissect the cookie and eat a white chip by itself. They’re supposedly “marshmallow flavored” but they just tasted like indistinguishable vanilla chips. Marshmallow flavor only goes so far, you really need the texture to go along with it. That was definitely the most disappointing part.

These cookies really just taste like a regular Chewy Chips Ahoy with extra chocolate. They are a campfire misfire! The middle should have been marshmallow. I don’t understand why they didn’t go that route. Why skimp on arguably the most important detail? You’re killing me, Smalls!

What about the graham?

Each cookie has a tinge of cinnamon, which I assume was their attempt to mock the graham flavor. I had to eat a few and really think about whether or not I tasted it before I read the ingredient list to confirm my cinnamon suspicions.

A crunchy graham cracker is the foundation of a great s’more. Sure, they’re a pain in the neck to eat, but not having one is akin to making a BLT with a pickle instead of a tomato. No one’s ever heard of a BLP!

That actually sounds kinda good. Scratch that from the record. Still, without a tasty graham, you’re only two-thirds of the way to a s’more.

You’ll never hear me say what I’m about to say again. I wish these were regular crunchy Chips Ahoy. I’m of the opinion that since the advent of the chewy variety, the blue bag has been rendered pointless, but when we’re talking s’mores, I need a crunch substitute for the graham cracker.

Nabisco S'mores Chips Ahoy Cookies 4

The package advises to pop these in the microwave for ten seconds. While they didn’t get super gooey or “s’morsey,” they did taste a bit better. But again, it was just a warm Chewy Chips Ahoy.

I don’t think you’d ever in a million years guess the flavor of this cookie without a hint. They don’t look like a s’more, they don’t smell like a s’more (but they still smell delicious), and they don’t taste like a s’more.

I’ve whined a lot, but in the end these taste like a Chewy Chips Ahoy, and I like Chewy Chips Ahoy.

They still go down easy, but if you’re expecting that classic s’mores flavor, tough break.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 Cookies – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 13 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein..)

Purchased Price: $3.00
Size: 9.6 oz.
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Chewy Chips Ahoy are a solid cookie. Chocolate center is fine. Even though they don’t smell like s’mores, they smell delicious. Cinnamon Suspicions is a good band name. The Sandlot. BLPs.
Cons: Tastes like previous flavors. Marshmallow chips don’t taste or feel like marshmallow. Needs s’more graham. In no way, shape, or form a s’more. Punctuation in product names.

REVIEW: Keebler Limited Batch Birthday Cake Fudge Stripes Cookies

Keebler Limited Batch Birthday Cake Fudge Stripes Cookies

During the 45 years or so of the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union built up massive quantities of nuclear weapons in an effort to counter each other and become the world’s leading super power.

Each had their own spheres of influence, but since separate hemispheres weren’t enough, both nations just kept building more and bigger missiles until one couldn’t keep up any longer.

A quarter century after the Berlin Wall fell, another arms race is occurring. The good news is that the entire existence of the human race is no longer at stake. The bad news is that we are all going to get massively obese.

It’s a trade I am totally cool with.

Gone are the days when Oreo was content with being the world’s leading chocolate sandwich cookie; likewise, Keebler’s elves aspire to an empire greater than just fudge covered shortbreads. The two companies have fought for cookie supremacy in recent limited time offerings of red velvet and pumpkin spice, but the latest flashpoint in the great cookie conflict is one flavor that I never get tired of celebrating: Birthday Cake.

While I give the elves credit for creating a cookie that has all three traditional elements of birthday cake (sprinkles, frosting, and uh, “cake”) I do need to point out that the box artwork features a cupcake. At first I thought this was just a celebration of portion control, but since the package also happens to be non-resalable — thus increasing my chances of inhaling all the cookies in one sitting — I realize the elves probably just suck at making distinctions.

I, however, do not. And to be sure, the distinction of Birthday Cake vs. Cupcake is one I take seriously. If you show me a cupcake, I expect the frosting to steal the show. That’s not the case with these cookies, though.

Keebler Limited Batch Birthday Cake Fudge Stripes Cookies 2

Oh, I mean the shortbread element is fine. It’s buttery with a delectably fine crumb and the non-overpowering element of sweetness I admire about the original Fudge Stripe.

But whereas the original Fudge Stripe can get away with a faux-chocolate glaze that works to balance the shortbread, the frosting glaze on the latest batch of shortbread just tastes like that generic palm oil glaze we’ve all had a million times. It’s not buttercream frosting; it’s not cream cheese frosting; it’s not even a damn Swiss meringue. It’s just way too sweet, and lacks that luscious mouthfeel of an actual frosting element. Likewise, it’s cut off from the sprinkles, which themselves lack the crunchy contrast I want buried in frosting.

Keebler Limited Batch Birthday Cake Fudge Stripes Cookies 3

Fortunately, since my pantry is always willing to celebrate an actual birthday, I had some rainbow chip frosting handy. Now, while I realize this stuff would be good on anything from pancakes to Ritz crackers, I did find it especially wonderful when stuffed between the Fudge Stripe Birthday Cake cookies.

Biting through the crunchy shortbread into actual, sprinkled-filled frosting — even in an artificial, shelf-stable form — reminded me of Oreo’s birthday cake attempt and how providing just a level of textural contrast can go a long way to really making a birthday cake-flavored product worth the purchase.

Does the fact that Oreo makes a better birthday cake cookie than Keebler mean that the Elves are destined to toil in a downtrodden economy until an ex-KGB spy who likes to take his shirt off attempts to assert them as the world’s leading cookie makers? Probably not. But in the arms race of cookie flavors, Keebler’s latest gambit just can’t keep pace.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 130 calories, 6 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: $2.99
Purchased at: Weis Markets
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Delectable shortbread crumb. Crunchy sprinkle pieces. Wonderful vehicle birthday cake frosting.
Cons: Waxy, mostly tasteless frosting element. Too much shortbread taste for a birthday cake product. Non-resalable packaging. Cookie company flavor arms races.

QUICK REVIEW: Cheesy Quesadilla Pringles

Cheesy Quesadilla Pringles

I imagine putting together a Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme is like brain surgery when compared with the effort it takes to make a cheesy quesadilla. Making one is easier than typing qasadia quasadila quesadila quesadea quesadilla for a first time speller of the word. It involves these simple steps: warm up a soft tortilla in a skillet, sprinkle on a lot of cheese, wait for cheese to melt, fold tortilla in half, and eat.

But Pringles, the Master of Potato Flake Compression, has given us a much simpler way to experience the simple dish — Cheesy Quesadilla Pringles.

It’s not a new flavor, it originally came out years ago, but it hasn’t been on shelves for a while and is currently exclusive to Walgreens. So you can pick up a can while you’re picking up your prescription for something that only you and your doctor know about. Oh, and don’t forget to take your Walgreens Balance Rewards Card. This paragraph was not brought to you by Walgreens at the corner happy & healthy.

The flavor of these crisps is not what I would consider bold or cheese quesadilla-like. There’s a light cheesiness with an equally light pepperiness. I know what these are supposed to taste like, but it doesn’t fire my neurons in a way that makes me think cheesy quesadilla. Instead, all I can think about is watered down chile con queso.

Cheesy Quesadilla Pringles 2

Maybe the flavors are mild because Pringles wanted to recreate the flavor dampening abilities of soft tortillas. Or maybe the seasoning robot in the Pringles factory was set to level 4 by accident.

Overall, Cheesy Quesadilla Pringles are adequate. I don’t think it’s one of those “accidentally eat more than half a can in one sitting” flavors, like sour cream and onion or original. I guess what I’m trying to say is if you see it while picking up your medication at Walgreens, it’s probably not worth a try.

Disclosure: I received a free sample from Pringles in return for an honest review. Receiving the sample did not influence my review.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 5.96 oz can
Purchased at: Available at Walgreens
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 ounce) 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, 170 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: 7-Eleven Blue Raspberry Slurpee Donut

7-Eleven’s new Blue Raspberry Slurpee Donut

Well folks, it’s that time of year again. The weather is heating up and the chum is in the water. That can only mean one thing…

*Cue a knockoff version of the theme from JAWS, because I couldn’t clear the rights to the John Williams original.*

It’s Shark Week!

Ok, ok, I jumped the flare gun a bit there, Shark Week isn’t actually until the end of June. While you can’t get your fix of ridiculous Megalodon myths and pulse-racing Surfer-Brah horror tales until next month, you can currently get a taste of Shark Week at your local 7-Eleven.

One of the big merchandising tie-ins for this year’s Shark Week is 7-Eleven’s new Blue Raspberry Slurpee Donut.

Why?

Well, it’s blue. The ocean is blue. Sharks live in the ocean. The week is named after sharks. So, there ya go.

Let’s all kick back and enjoy Shark Week with a Blue Raspberry Slurpee Donut! We’re gonna need a bigger belt!

As an unapologetic man-child, there are few things that excite me more than blue foods. I’m also a lifelong Slurpee devotee, so I naturally had to try one of these.

I’ve had some wild donut varieties in my day, but this might take the cake donut. What we have here is a plain cake with Blue Raspberry Slurpee-flavored icing and blue sugar crystals.

The sky blue icing’s texture is more cupcake than donut to me. I think I prefer a different kind of frosting on my donuts, because they tend to harden up and glaze over a bit – think of a chocolate frosted donut from Dunkin’. The icing here is very soft and mushy and it dissolved quickly in my mouth. Not a huge deal, but I think this would have benefitted from having more of a shell.

For the first few seconds, the icing made me think of sour blue raspberry candy. I wasn’t expecting that. While it was distinctly raspberry, the sour kick was shocking.

The raspberry flavor wasn’t all that appetizing until it mixed with the cake donut itself. At that point, it became harmonious. The donut helped neutralize the sourness, and made the flavor satisfying as a whole. The cake donut was fluffy and fresh, so that helped the cause.

The crystals were supposed to give the donut an “ice-like crunch.” While there was nothing “icy” about it, the sugary crunch did add a nice element to the finished product, and I appreciated their inclusion.

As powerful as the flavor was, I was surprised at how little a scent this donut gave off. It didn’t smell like raspberries. It didn’t really smell like anything.

7-Eleven’s new Blue Raspberry Slurpee Donut 2

I picked up a Blue Raspberry Slurpee just to compare flavors and I think blue raspberry makes for a better Slurpee flavor than donut icing. 7-Eleven was definitely on the right track, but the donut’s icing was a lot sourer than the drink. So again, be prepared for that.

I give 7-Eleven credit for thinking outside the tank. This is a decently fresh take on two old favorites. Would I rather have a different flavored donut and a Slurpee on the side? Sure. I’ll probably go that route when the next Shark Week rolls around in three months, but I’d say this donut’s limited run is worth dipping your toe in the water.

(Nutrition Facts – 270 calories. No other nutritional info available.)

Purchased Price: 99 cents
Size: N/A
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Tastes good once everything mixes. Fluffy cake donut. Crunchy sugar crystals. Awesome appearance. Solid effort. Slurpee drinks.
Cons: Sour icing. Blue tongue. Lazy tie-in. Shark Week every week. The spoon on Slurpee straws is super tedious.

REVIEW: Starbucks Caramel Waffle Cone Frappuccino

Starbucks Caramel Waffle Cone Frappuccino

Out of all of the different junk food options out there, I don’t think there’s a more difficult one to spell than Frappuccino. Seriously, if the Scripps National Spelling Bee folks wanted to make it hard for kids to win, Frappuccino is the word. Heck, even Starbucks baristas seem to have plenty of difficulty spelling it.

Needing a dictionary aside, the Frappuccino is an integral part of the Starbucks menu – so much so that they offer an annual happy hour in celebration of the various combinations of milk, coffee, flavorings, and “base.” Judging by my recent visit to Starbucks, the Frappuccino Happy Hour looks to be the most miserable place on Earth – high schoolers slurping syrupy drinks, whipped cream everywhere, and surly baristas getting a workout from pumping out so much “base.” Disney World this is not.

Starbucks tends to release a new Frappuccino flavor each year to kick off summer, and this year’s entry, the Caramel Waffle Cone Frappuccino, is a sugar-packed way to celebrate the solstice. Advertised as a “carnival delight, all grown up,” the blended drink is a mix of waffle cone-flavored syrup, dark caramel sauce, coffee, milk, and ice, which is then topped with whipped cream, waffle cone pieces, and more of the aforementioned caramel sauce. I guess this is what happens when an ice cream cone hits puberty.

I avoided happy hour at my local Starbucks and decided to order this Frappuccino for breakfast. Frappuccinos have a reputation amongst baristas for being horrible to prepare, so I ordered carefully and cordially. Aside from a little side-eye, my Frappuccino was good to go (except for the part where the barista spilled the waffle cone bits all over the counter while sighing heavily).

Starbucks Caramel Waffle Cone Frappuccino 2

Upon picking up my drink, I immediately noticed that my Frappuccino was a little naked – it was missing its topping of dark caramel sauce. Undeterred, I dug in, and was hit with an overwhelming blast of caramel. I welcomed the fact that the flavor was a little richer and deeper than the traditional Starbucks sauce, but it overpowered every single sip. In fact, it was hard to even taste the coffee over the cacaphony of caramel.

Other than the waffle cone bits perched on the whipped cream, the Frappuccino had no doughy notes to speak of. I’ll give Starbucks credit – the waffle cone bits stayed crunchy even after a few minutes on top of the drink – but they still lacked any flavor, and might have had more of a punch if they were blended in.

In the end, there’s nothing wrong with the Caramel Waffle Cone Frappuccino, but paying a premium for what’s essentially a caramel Frappuccino only makes sense if your name is Alanis Morissette.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 fluid ounces – 300 calories, 100 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 44 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.25
Size: 12 fl oz
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Barista upper arm workouts. Caramel. Starbucks for breakfast.
Cons: Sugared up high schoolers. No waffle cone flavor. Sauce M.I.A.