REVIEW: Brach’s Brunch Favorites Candy Corn

Brach's Brunch Favorites Candy Corn

Who’s up for some sugar wax?

Brach’s is back once again with a new concoction – Brunch Favorites Candy Corns.

I can’t tell you the last time I had “brunch.” I had a Taco Bell Lupper yesterday, but brunch? It’s been a while. I don’t even really know which foods I associate with brunch. I just think all you can eat buffet or Eggs Benedict, which I’ve somehow never had in my sheltered life.

Because of my lack of brunch sophistication, I “blind” bought these like they were a mystery bag. I paid the flavors no mind because I wanted to try and guess which each was simply by taste. I caught one had pancakes, but I honestly didn’t even absorb what the others were. I tried to look away as to not have the flavors in my subconscious, even as I took pictures.

You don’t believe me, do you?

Humor me.

When I tore ope the Ziploc style bag that I can NEVER reseal, I was hit with a blast of maple. It was pleasant, but also had a “stale” air to it, if that makes sense.

Brach's Brunch Favorites Candy Corn 2

These were my guesses prior to confirming the flavors.

1. Brown, Pink, and White – This was strawberry for sure. There was also a touch of maple. I guessed these were the pancakes with strawberry syrup?

2. Yellow, Tan, and Yellow – These were buttery and had the same maple notes, but reminded me of marshmallow. My guess was “who the heck knows. Canadian Marshmallow treats or something.”

3. Brown, Yellow, and Light Brown – These tasted like a chocolate cookie/brownie batter prior to cooking, but had a bready taste as well. I pegged them as a dessert. Honestly, they tasted like every chocolate candy corn I’d ever had.

Here’s a very specific flavor I tasted as I munched all at once. Have you ever ordered a diner stack of pancakes that took too long to eat? I kept thinking of that – a cold, syrup soaked pancake with a clump of butter.

After all that, I checked the bag. Ok, so I was kinda on the right track.

Humor me.

Number 1 was Waffles and Strawberry. Number 2 was French Toast and Maple Syrup, and number 3 was Chocolate Chip and Pancakes. Oh.

Brach's Brunch Favorites Candy Corn 3

That’s it? Are these exclusively “brunch” flavors? To me that “unch” is really stretching it. It seems like they just started with the same base flavor and added strawberry, chocolate, and maple to each separately.

I realize there aren’t many “brunch” foods that can made into a candy corn flavor. Unless Brach’s wants to go Jelly Belly on us and make Shrimp Cocktail and Mimosas, I guess this is pretty much the best they could do. The problem is waffles, pancakes, and French toast taste similar. When you try to mimic those flavors in this form they’re all pretty indistinguishable. Maybe “Brunch Favorites” wasn’t the best idea.

My biggest problem is that no matter what flavor candy corn is, it always just ends up tasting like regular candy corn in the end. I think it has to do with the fact candy corn has such a unique and distinct texture. By the time I chew up the waxy cones it just elicits thoughts of every other candy corn I’ve ever had. Is it just me? While eating all three at once, strawberry shined through, but it still just ended up tasting like candy corn. Like wax that turns into a clump of wet granulated sugar.

These are decent at best. I wouldn’t skip brunch for them.

(Nutrition Facts – 19 pieces* – 140 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 28 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 15 oz. bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Standard fare candy corn. Brach’s trying to branch out more. The strawberry corns had “natural” flavors if you’re into that. These are still a solid candy bowl filler.
Cons: A stretch of the word “brunch.” There was considerably more French Toast than the other 2 flavors. Cold Pancakes. Leave the butter to real corn. These damn Ziploc packages. Only at Target. *The fact they couldn’t just calculate 20 pieces bothers me to no end

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 Whopperrito

Burger King Whopperrito

When I first heard about Burger King’s Whopperrito, I asked myself, “Whypperrito?”

I know the Whopper hasn’t gotten much love over the past few years when it comes to new varieties, but I’m not sure the Whopperrito is the best way to make up for lost time.

The new menu item features flame-grilled 100 percent beef seasoned with a special blend of Tex-Mex spices, a creamy queso sauce, diced onions, tomatoes, pickles, and lettuce in a warm flour tortilla.

This not the first time an iconic fast food chain burger found itself wrapped in a flour tortilla. Remember the Big Mac Snack Wrap? Although, that wasn’t trying to be an actual burrito. It was just the ingredients of a Big Mac in a tortilla to give it the flavor of a Big Mac without all the calories and fat of a Big Mac. But that’s not the case with the Whopperrito. With the addition of seasoned beef and a queso sauce, it’s trying to be an actual burrito.

Burger King Whopperrito 2

If Taco Bell ads have taught me anything, it’s that burritos are thicker on ads than in real life. But the Whopperrito’s heft and thickness surprised me. It’s as thick as a 12-ounce can. Heck, it’s thicker than my forearms. Yes, the Whopperrito and all of you will beat me at arm wrestling.

After taking the first bite, I instantly thought of the Whopper. Although not flavor-wise, more temperature-wise. The inside of the Whopperrito was lukewarm. As you can see in the photo, the vegetables take up most of the space and seem to be cooling down the seasoned beef. This fast food thermodynamics is like what I’ve experienced with a lot of Whoppers I’ve had. The veggies also give the menu item a bit of a crunch, which is odd for a burrito.

Burger King Whopperrito 3

If you’re wondering if it tastes like a Whopper or a burrito, it tastes like both. The pickles determined how it tasted to me. Those bites sans pickles tasted more like a burrito, thanks to the seasoned beef and queso sauce. While bites with pickles tasted like those last few bites of a Whopper where there’s more vegetables than beef. I guess the saltiness and sourness from the pickles overwhelmed the Tex-Mex seasonings. By themselves, the beef crumbles taste like they were tossed with some McCormick taco powder.

After taking a few bites, I wondered where the queso sauce was. If you look at the photo above, you won’t see it. But after peeling back the tortilla, I saw the orange sauce clinging to the flour wrapper. I think if there was more of the cheesy sauce, then every bite could’ve tasted like a burrito and perhaps more Taco Bell-ish.

I’ll be honest. There’s a part of me that likes the Whopperrito’s outlandishness. But there’s another part of me that thinks it’s stupid because it’s a mediocre burrito and an unremarkable Whopper.

(Nutrition Facts – 570 calories, 26 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 1110 milligrams of sodium, 59 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of sugar, and 29 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.49*
Size: N/A
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Outlandish. Surprisingly thick. Made with 100 percent beef.
Cons: Mediocre burrito. Unremarkable Whopper. Veggies lower the temperature inside the burrito, making it lukewarm. Mine didn’t come with a lot of quest sauce.

*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: Taco Bell Cheesy Core Burritos (Crunchy and Spicy)

Taco Bell Cheese Core Burritos

Without the Earth’s core, the Earth would die. Without an ooey gooey cheesy core, Taco Bell’s Cheesy Core Burrito would be lame.

Is it lame?

Well, all I can tell you is that it’s not as lame as making you read several paragraphs to find out if it’s lame.

The Cheesy Core Burrito is available in two varieties — Crunchy and Spicy.

The Crunchy one is a burrito with seasoned beef, premium Latin rice, red sauce, and reduced-fat sour cream with a cheesy core that features a melted 3-cheese blend, nacho cheese sauce, and red tortilla strips. The Spicy version has almost the same ingredients as the Crunchy one, but instead of red tortilla strips, there are jalapeños. I decided to try both.

The burritos are two inches wide and 6.5 inches long. To be honest, it’s neat how it’s put together. It’s basically a tiny cheese burrito in the middle of another burrito. When I took it apart, it was like finding a fish in the stomach of another fish or seeing a Luke Wilson cameo in an Owen Wilson movie. It’s also…BURRITOCEPTION! Sorry. I’m sure someone would’ve written that in the comments if I didn’t mention it first.

Taco Bell Spicy Cheesy Core Burritos
Taco Bell Spicy Cheesy Core Burrito

Mine were made by two different workers. The spicy one was made with care and the crunchy one was made with I don’t care. My Spicy Cheesy Core Burrito had a centered distinguishable core, while the crunchy one looked like it was rejecting its core. I thought cutting them in half would cause cheese to ooze out from the center, turning the cross-section burrito photos I took into explicit food porn that may need some parts pixelated.

Taco Bell Crunchy Cheesy Core Burritos
Taco Bell Crunchy Cheesy Core Burrito

Unfortunately, the cheese didn’t bleed out, but there’s a reason for that. There’s not a lot of cheese and there’s a lot more red tortilla strips/jalapenos than you’d expect. With both my burritos, they looked and tasted as if they had a normal amount of cheese. The cores weren’t even close to being as cheesy as the ads show them.

Look, I understand the rules of fast food — always know where the restrooms are whenever you eat it and it never looks the way it does on the poster. But when I bite into these burritos I want it to feel like I’m a cheese vampire and I’ve just punctured the jugular vein of cheese.

Texture-wise the tortilla strips were mostly soggy by the time I got to bite into them. So if you want to experience a crunch, might I suggest chomping on it the second you get them or get the Spicy one because the jalapeños have a nice crunch.

The best way I can describe the flavor of these burritos is to say they taste like Taco Bell. Because if you eat either one, I’m sure you’ll think to yourself, “I’ve had this before.” With both burritos the dominate flavors are the seasoned beef, sour cream, and the nacho cheese sauce. I can probably count on both hands the number of times I’ve tasted this combination from Taco Bell. The number of times I’ve experienced those flavors with jalapeños probably takes up one hand. It’s just the same flavors but in a different, albeit cool, package.

If I had to suggest a variety to try, I’d recommend going with the Spicy one because you’ll get spicy and crunchy in one. But overall, these burritos are lame because they lack a really cheesy core.

(Nutrition Facts – Crunchy – 630 calories, 26 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 1530 milligrams of sodium, 76 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 22 grams of protein. Spicy – 570 calories, 23 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 1760 milligrams of sodium, 68 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 22 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.39*
Size: N/A
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Crunchy)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Spicy)
Pros: Jalapeños have a little heat and are crunchier than the red tortilla strips. It’s cute how it’s a tiny burrito in another burrito. Earth’s core.
Cons: Tastes like Taco Bell. Cheesy core not very cheesy. Crunchy one needs to be eaten quickly to experience crunch. Making you read a bunch of paragraphs to find out if it’s lame.

*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: Jack in the Box Garlic Herb Fries

Jack in the Box Garlic Herb Fries

My hope, when it comes to garlic fries, is that it has enough garlic to prevent any vampire or human being from wanting to invade my neck or personal space.

Unfortunately, the only way Jack in the Box’s Garlic Herb Fries can keep anyone away from my neck or personal space is if I use them to pelt those who want to get up on me.

I’m not Jack. I don’t have a giant head I can swing around to get people away from me. I’m also not a hoatzin. I can’t just eat whatever and then make myself smell like cow manure. I need help and Jack in the Box is preventing me from getting stinky.

The herbs and the way the fries glisten from the butter make them look so inviting. But when I compare them to the pictures I’ve seen of ballpark garlic fries or McDonald’s Gilroy Garlic Fries the chain is testing in California, with their generous amounts of garlic, I can’t help but think I’m getting gypped.

With Jack’s version the butter is infused with garlic. I’m not sure if it’s the exact same stuff on the chain’s line of Buttery Jack burgers, but I assume it is because it would complicate things in the kitchen if there were two garlic herb butter ingredients.

Having had several Buttery Jack burgers over the past few years, I’ve experienced the garlic herb butter and it has a light garlic flavor in the burger. Without having the ingredients of a burger in the way, I thought the garlic would be a bit more pungent, but it’s just as light as it is with the Buttery Jack. Also, oddly, there was a slight cheesy flavor.

That’s not what I want.

I want that garlic herb butter to affect those within a two foot radius around me when I say, “Whaaaat doooo yoooou meeeeean myyyy brrrreeeeath smeeeells?” The only thing the butter did a great job at was laying a greasy coating on and around my lips that gave them a glossy look that I only like when I’m dolled up. Thankfully, a fork came with the fries so I couldn’t build a layer of butter on my fingers.

Jack in the Box Garlic Herb Fries 2

The garlic herb butter was dumped in the middle of the fries and a lot of it ended up on the bottom of the container it came in. So the fries that didn’t get any butter love could get some by mopping up whatever greasy liquid remained. The herbs added a nice flavor to the melted dairy. Surprisingly, even with all that butter, the fries maintained a decent level of crispiness.

Jack in the Box’s Garlic Herb Fries were disappointing. I don’t think they’re worth picking up if you’re a fan of garlic fries. They look good and smell good, but they need a stronger garlic punch.

(Nutrition Facts – 459 calories, 244 calories from fat, 27 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 29 milligrams of cholesterol, 819 milligrams of sodium, 487 milligrams of potassium, 49 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.29*
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Jack in the Box
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Comes with a fork. Looks good. Smells good.
Cons: Needs a stronger garlic punch. Garlic-infused butter instead of having chopped garlic. Makes it easy for others to invade my personal space.

*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: Lay’s Chinese Szechuan Chicken Potato Chips

Lay's Chinese Szechuan Chicken Potato Chips

I’ve had a number of Lay’s potato chip flavors from China, like Sweet Barbecue Pork, Fresh Shrimp, Fun Wasabi Shrimp, Spicy Green Peppercorn Fish, and Numb & Spicy Hot Pot. They all had the same vibe to them. They were spicy, sweet, and unusual to the point where I’m not sure if I liked them.

I can say the same about Lay’s Chinese Szechuan Chicken Potato Chips.

I imagine there are some of you who aren’t familiar with Szechuan Chicken because it’s not a dish that’s ever been available at Panda Express (the chain did have a Szechuan fish dish). According to the internet, Szechuan cooking involves heavy use of garlic and Szechuan pepper.

To get the flavor and spice of the regional Chinese dish, Lay’s could’ve gone with some generic pepper mixed with other ingredients, but they went with the real deal — roasted Szechuan pepper. They also went with an ingredient called “Natural Szechuan Wok Type Flavor.” Yes! I’ve always wanted to know what wok tastes like!

Lay's Chinese Szechuan Chicken Potato Chips 2

The chips look darker than your standard Lay’s, and some areas are even darker, making them look like they’re slightly burnt. Maybe that’s from the soy sauce that’s listed in the ingredients, or maybe it’s the wok type flavor. They’re both dark. Every chip also has specks of parsley.

They have an unusual sweet soy aroma that’s will turn off unadventurous snackers. As for the chip’s flavor, it come in waves. First, there’s a strong dose of soy sauce and garlic. Then there’s a slight sweetness that’s followed by pepper. As I ate the chips, there were moments when its flavor reminded me of wasabi. There’s also an underlying greasy flavor that I can only assume is the “chicken.” Thanks to the pepper, the chips have some spiciness to them, but it tingles more than burns. But I think if you have an aversion to spicy foods you won’t like these in your mouth.

To be honest, Lay’s Chinese Szechuan Chicken Potato Chips are not a flavor I’d buy again. It’s not gross, but unlike most other potato chip flavors, I won’t mindlessly eat them. I’ll have a few and then say, “I’m good.” Out of all four Passport to Flavor varieties, this is my least favorite.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz – 150 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 330 milligrams of potassium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.00
Size: 7 3/4 oz bag
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Edible. Adventurous taste buds.
Cons: Least favorite of the Lay’s Passport to Flavor varieties. Flavor not good enough for me to mindlessly eat. Those who don’t like spicy food might not like them. What’s wok flavor?