REVIEW: Jack in the Box Wakey Bakey Hash Munchie Mash-Up

Jack in the Box Wakey Bakey Hash Munchie Mash Up

There’s something about intoxication that draws people back to the basics. Whether it’s been a long night at the bar or a lost weekend at Bonnaroo. By the end, everyone’s palate reverts to an almost childlike state. Cravings for the greasiest, saltiest, and cheesiest delicacies emerge.

No franchise is wiser to this trend than Jack in the Box, whose Munchie Meals have made a fortune out of serving the midnight masses. For their latest trend, Jack has brought a diner favorite – stuffed hash browns – into the fast food field.

Munchie Mash-Ups top the chain’s classic hash brown patties with an assortment of fix-ins smothered in a white cheese sauce. The Wakey Bakey Hash features a whole fried egg, bacon bits, cheddar cheese, and garlic butter, creating a sloppy sheet of breakfast standards.

Jack in the Box Wakey Bakey Hash Munchie Mash Up 2

As I was handed the hash in the drive through, I already had a sign of the meal to follow. The grease was visibly staining the brown paper bag. Opening the box revealed the culprit – the garlic butter had all pooled to a single corner. A yellow lake of greasy, salty delight. If the visuals of this box are off-putting, the taste won’t win you over.

Despite being smothered in egg, bacon, cheese, and butter – the hash brown patties were satisfyingly crisp down to the last forkful. Alone, these patties are rich and salty – dense with fryer oil. The egg, cheese, bacon, and butter weigh them down even further. Every bite is rich and fatty, full of similar flavors fighting to come out on top.

It’s the cheese sauce that typically proves victorious. When combined with the garlic butter, it creates an alfredo-esque flavor that saturates the palate like grease on a brown paper bag. Hearty and not half bad, but an odd pairing for a bacon and egg.

The egg is the same overcooked fried egg that ends up on most breakfast sandwiches, and the bacon bits are disappointingly small. They get lost in the trough of hash, which is a shame. A more pronounced protein may have been a better pick here, offering more contrast with the rich cheese and garlic.

In total, the Wakey Bakey Hash will satisfy those looking for something standard. It’s salty, cheesy, and has enough carbs to soak up the worst of hangovers. At $3, it’s also a satisfying value. But in the daylight, this hash doesn’t have the same appeal. Better versions of this same combination are available elsewhere, and won’t require you to say the words “Wakey Bakey Hash” out loud to another adult.

(Nutrition Facts – 790 calories, 570 calories from fat, 63 grams of fat, 17 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 285 milligrams of cholesterol, 1400 milligrams of sodium, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 19 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.00
Size: N/A
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Crispy potatoes. Good size for the price. Viable hangover cure.
Cons: Cheese sauce is overpowering and clashes with rest of dish. Extremely greasy. Garlic butter is unneeded.

REVIEW: Brach’s Cookie Candy Corn

Brach s Cookie Candy Corn

I really enjoy candy corn, despite it being a major sugar bomb. (Seriously – have you checked out those nutrition facts below? Basically, ONLY sugar. I think in this case ignorance is bliss… Don’t even get me started on calorie counts on certain restaurant menus. IHOP is NOT the place I want to know how many calories I’m ingesting. Let me eat my stack of pancakes in peace.) But I do love me some candy corn when fall/Halloween comes around.

I had two thoughts when I saw the Brach’s Cookie Candy Corn in the store.

  1. What could this possibly taste like?
  2. Why are the Fall items out when schools haven’t even started yet? I’m a firm believer in Fall/Halloween AFTER back-to-school, Christmas music the day AFTER Thanksgiving and Easter goods AFTER Valentine’s Day.

The flavors intrigued me: The bag contained four different flavors of the candy corn, all beloved cookies. You’ll find Chocolate Chip (top left in the photo below), Oatmeal (top right), Butter Cookie (bottom right), and Cookies n’ Cream (bottom left).

Brach s Cookie Candy Corn 3

I was excited to try, but I couldn’t help but wonder: Would someone pick these over Aunt Alice’s cookie tray at Thanksgiving? Read on, my friends…

I started out by determining which flavor was which – surprisingly easy based on the color combinations – and compiled notes on each. Let’s start with Chocolate Chip. Definitely one of the more basic flavors. It had a strong chocolate taste up front with a subtle finish. Tasted more like a chocolate cookie with chocolate chips than just a chocolate chip cookie.

Next up was Oatmeal, which was by far my favorite of the group. It’s a warm-up for the taste of fall and the candy corn to come. There was a hint of cinnamon aftertaste, and it was the one that tasted the least like candy corn.

Brach s Cookie Candy Corn 4

For Cookies n’ Cream, vanilla is definitely the dominant flavor. It was good, leaving a sweet aftertaste. Alas, I’d still rather have an Oreo. And finally, Butter Cookie. Although the most even-flavored, it was the sweetest by far and the flavor that tasted the most artificial. There was no aftertaste with this one.

My expert analysis is this: The Brach’s Candy Corn is good, not great. Take my advice – if you want candy corn, eat candy corn. If you want a cookie, eat an actual cookie. The mixing of the two isn’t quite up to par. But if they do decide to bag up just the Oatmeal flavor, I may be OK with that.

(Nutrition Facts – 15 pieces – 110 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 22 grams of sugar; includes 22 grams added sugars, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 9 oz. bag
Purchased at: Giant Eagle
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Fun flavors, unique spin on candy corn. Good, not great.
Cons: Just not as good as a cookie. Stick to Aunt Alice’s Thanksgiving cookie tray.

REVIEW: Mac n’ Cheetos Mac & Cheese Snacks (Creamy Cheddar & Flamin’ Hot)

Mac n Cheetos Mac  Cheese Snacks  Creamy Cheddar  Flamin Hot

The Cheetos brand has been on fire recently (pun intended, of course.) Its Mac & Cheese snacks have been rolled out at Burger King twice. There have been bizarre genius marketing tactics, like Cheetos-branded toilet paper and most recently a pop-up restaurant in New York. Since the restaurant is only a three-day event and I live hours away, though, I have to settle for the next best thing, Mac n’ Cheetos Mac & Cheese Snacks from the freezer aisle!

I tried them when they first launched at BK so I was excited to indulge again, especially with a new flavor. The shape is still a chunkily shaped cylinder with a slight curve and when preparing these snacks Frito-Lay really wants you to work for them as there are no microwave instructions. This does mean, though, that the outsides continue to be crispy and crunchy without being too greasy, which I was expecting.

Mac n Cheetos Mac  Cheese Snacks  Creamy Cheddar  Flamin Hot 2

The insides are full of mac and cheese creamy goodness and I mean that in every sense of the word. It’s an intense cheddar cheese flavor, very rich actually, and with the pasta it does somewhat reach into being quite heavy for a small bite.

However, when it’s bordering on too much, the outside breading always counteracts to save it. They work together really well and I always got a little jolt of excitement when seeing the round end of a macaroni piece unearth itself. The Flamin’ Hot ones have the same cheesy flavor on the inside but with a nice, albeit small, kick of heat from the outside breading.

Now, you’re probably thinking, ”Wow, Leonard is really digging these. I need to stop everything and run out to find these immediately!!!!” There’s no bones about it, these are great mac and cheese snacks and if that’s all they were I would be a very satisfied repeat customer.

Mac n Cheetos Mac  Cheese Snacks  Creamy Cheddar  Flamin Hot 3

However, Chester Cheetah is on the packaging and that’s when everything starts to crumble. The shape and even coloration are very uniform, which is a stark contrast from the original Cheetos snacks. The Flamin’ Hot do get some points for being closer, though, in appearance, with an almost glowing red hue. However, they also get points docked for the spice level. They should almost be called simmering ember instead as the heat is nowhere near the level of their bagged counterpart.

Sure, these are “dangerously cheesy” on the inside but not on the outside where I really wanted them to be. In fact, I couldn’t even find any Cheetle dust on my hands after eating these, which is a signature trait of the Cheetos eating experience. Instead there were just breading particles.

On a scale of 1 to 10 for how dirty my hands were with 1 being I just laid out china for a dinner on a yacht and 10 being I just finished finger painting with a toddler, my hands were maybe only a 5. I even tried licking the breading and got no cheese flavor. I was dangerously disappointed and sad. I don’t even have orange paw-printed toilet paper to wipe away my tears.

(Nutrition Facts – About 3 pieces – Creamy Cheddar – 260 calories, 13 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 520 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein. Flamin’ Hot – 240 calories, 11 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 650 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.98 each
Size: 14.4 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Creamy Cheddar)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Flamin’ Hot)
Pros: Great generic mac & cheese snacks. Crispy outsides and creamy insides really working together. Macaroni noodles occasionally making an appearance.
Cons: No Cheetle Dust. Dangerously small resemblance to actual Cheetos snacks. NO CHEETLE DUST. Temporary pop-up restaurants that aren’t local.

REVIEW: Post Shredded Wheat Frosted Cinnamon Roll Cereal

Post Shredded Wheat Frosted Cinnamon Roll Cereal

I can’t help but stare at the Post Shredded Wheat Frosted Cinnamon Roll Cereal box for two reasons.

  1. From afar the cereal pieces look as if they’re the children of a block of dried packaged ramen noodles and a Twinkie.
  2. The white creamy centers in those cereal pieces on the box do not show up in the actual cereal pieces. In tiny print, it says, “enlarged to show detail.” Unfortunately, a detail is wrong.

What’s not wrong is the aroma that comes out after opening the package. It’s a nice sweet cinnamon smell that I’d love to wake up to every morning. However, the cereal itself is not one I’m sure I’d wake up for.

As you can read on the box, the part of a complete breakfast has whole grain wheat, no synthetic colors, and is “bursting with vanilla flavored chips.” It’s frosted on one side and cinnamon is an ingredient. Now, this sounds like this could be a decent cereal, and, I’ll be honest, it is when eaten dry.

The cinnamon flavor isn’t as pronounced as its aroma, but the frosting, vanilla-flavored chips, and cinnamon do a great job at acting as the Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac to deal with the depressing blandness of the shredded wheat.

Post Shredded Wheat Frosted Cinnamon Roll Cereal 3

But I do wish Post upped the cinnamon dosage. It’s not Cinnabon level of cinnamon, it’s more like licking the bottom of the box a Cinnabon came in after someone else licked it. The frosting and vanilla chips add a generic sweetness and artificial vanilla-ness that help the insoluble fiber go down. The chips aren’t like what’s shown on the box, they’re more like white blobs with a texture that’s more crunchy than creamy.

Post Shredded Wheat Frosted Cinnamon Roll Cereal 2

While fine when eaten dry, a problem arises when it sits in milk for a few moments, which is a situation cereal finds itself in 9 out of 10 times. The dairy bath causes the pieces lose ALL THEIR FLAVOR and turn a decent cereal into a depressing one. Now you’d think those vanilla chips might save it, but even their flavor disappeared. Actually, my mouth couldn’t even feel those chips in the soggy pieces. It’s as if they dissolved in milk.

If you’re going to eat these as a dry snack, you’ll enjoy them. They have a hearty crunch and a decent, sweet flavor. But, while milk helps strengthen bones, it hurts this cereal by washing those good things away.

(Nutrition Facts – 22 biscuits – 220 calories, 2 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 10 milligrams of sodium, 49 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 16 grams of sugar, 5 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.98
Size: 15.5 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Tastes good dry. Uses actual cinnamon.
Cons: Flavor washes off when sittin in milk for a few moments. Could use more cinnamon flavor. Deceptive image of cereal pieces on box. Looks like a dried ramen block and a Twinkie had a child.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Bacon Queso Fries

Wendy s Bacon Queso Fries

Bacon. Cheese. Potatoes.

As far as I’m concerned those are three of the major food groups. Toss some nuggets and a Chocolate Frosty in there and you’ve covered them all –- the Wendy’s Food Pyramid.

Make no mistake; Wendy’s ever evolving innovative menu makes her The Queen of Fast Food. I’m never disappointed in their releases. So when I heard about this new queso line of products, I was all in.

The ad claims queso “makes everything better.” Far be it from me to call out the validity of Wendy’s crack marketing team, but I’m not sure it’s true.

Case in point – Wendy’s Bacon Queso Fries.

I love Wendy’s fries. I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I eat them monthly, but let’s just say it’s quite often. Too often.

The large order of Bacon Queso Fries come drenched in “spicy” poblano queso, with generous helpings of shredded cheddar and strips of Applewood smoked bacon.

Okay, so, as you can see, this isn’t exactly the prettiest dish. Obnoxious people like to tell us that “we eat with our eyes first,” so these fries were already off to a rough start.

The queso was warm and immediately made me feel like I was trying Wendy’s take on nachos.

Wendy s Bacon Queso Fries 3

The little green poblano peppers added a nice heat kick, but you won’t be running for a large Frosty to offset the burn. These are probably right on par with Wendy’s Spicy Chicken products at the very bottom of the Scoville Scale.

Wendy s Bacon Queso Fries 2

The shredded cheese wasn’t necessary, but I guess it added a mild flavor balance and another textural element. Speaking of, the bacon was firm and stayed a bit crispy, so that was good. Wendy’s usually comes through with the bacon.

The first few bites were satisfying, but after a while the spice mixed with the fry and bacon saltiness got overbearing. I can’t believe I’m whining that something was too salty, but, man, were these salty. The queso spice dried out my mouth, so it intensified the salt tenfold. I definitely recommend having a drink nearby when you’re eating these, if only to re-moisten your mouth.

Wendy s Bacon Queso Fries 4

Another knock is these got unappetizing as they lost temperature. By the time I was halfway done, they were cold and clumpy, so I lost interest in shoving the rest down. I hate wasting food, but I couldn’t finish.

I appreciate Wendy’s continuing to put out fry variations, but these didn’t hold up to the previous few concoctions I tried. I’d definitely prefer a smaller portion. Maybe if I had a friend to share with, I would have given these a higher score. Plus, I’d have a friend, and I desperately need those.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 Serving – 510 calories, 30 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 630 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and less than 15 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: N/A
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Wendy’s has great fries. Bacon was on point. Queso was tasty when hot. Not too spicy. The Wendy’s Food Pyramid. The price was right for the size.
Cons: Way too salty. Got cold quickly. Clumps of plasticky cheese after a couple minutes. Pretty huge serving size. Forever alone 🙁