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.

REVIEW: Carl’s Jr. Pretzel Breakfast Sandwich

Carl's Jr. Pretzel Breakfast Sandwich

I love celebrating food holidays.

There’s Bagel Day (2/9), Potato Chip Day (3/14), Chinese Almond Cookie Day (4/9), Animal Cracker Day (4/18), Clams on the Half Shell Day (just kidding, don’t celebrate it, but it’s an actual food holiday on 3/31) and Pretzel Day (4/26)! Thanks to Carl’s Jr., I celebrated Pretzel Day first thing that morning with their new Pretzel Breakfast Sandwich.

Deviating from their breakfast biscuit ways, Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s brought in Auntie Anne’s for some pretzel expertise. Growing up, I always wished that my aunts were as cool as Anne and Jemima. The point is, I love me some Auntie Anne’s pretzels – definitely a mall staple. So naturally, I was way too excited for this collaboration.

I unfortunately set myself up for a let down because I didn’t read the product description beforehand – I just assumed “pretzel” meant something that would be like Auntie Anne’s soft pretzels, but in bun form. So, I expected coarse salt diamonds glittering on top of a dark brown carb mountain. Instead, the bun is more like a saltless, flattened poop emoji.

Carl's Jr. Pretzel Breakfast Sandwich 2

The pretzel roll just doesn’t get me going like soft pretzel does. It’s soft but too chewy. The soft part is very much like a dinner roll, but it’s a miss on the pretzel part. I get that pretzels themselves do have more of a bite to them but when I’m also trying to chew through ham, egg, and cheese, it doesn’t create a good mouthfeel.

Also, coming from a person who practically inhales her food – don’t judge me, I know there are other food inhalers out there – the extra 3-4 chews are unwelcome. Lastly, it’s completely missing that Auntie Anne’s pretzel fragrance a.k.a BUTTER (I hope you read that in Paula Deen’s voice). A pretzel is not a pretzel without the buttery fat – erm, I mean goodness?!

Carl's Jr. Pretzel Breakfast Sandwich 3

The rest of the sandwich has all the components of a hearty and satisfying breakfast sandwich. The first thing I noticed was the cheese on cheese; you can’t miss it because it’s melting everywhere onto the wrapping and bun. It’s a little messy and reminds me of Kraft Singles but it’s actually American and Swiss cheese. Taste-wise, there’s no distinction between the cheeses, but I don’t mind.

The cheese overload does get to be a bit much, but the extra sodium in the smoky ham helps to cut through the bun and cheese. If ham is not for you, the other porky options are bacon or sausage. The final component is the pillowy yellow egg. The egg actually looks like something that could come off of my pan at home.

But, what’s the point of being a Pretzel Breakfast Sandwich if the pretzel part doesn’t deliver? I’d actually prefer to eat this on a biscuit.

BRB, going to the mall for some real pretzels now.

(Nutrition Facts – 520 calories, 210 calories from fat, 23 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 210 milligrams of cholesterol, 1770 milligrams of sodium, 51 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 24 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Carl’s Jr.
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Celebrating food holidays! Components of a hearty and satisfying breakfast sandwich. Cheese on cheese.
Cons: Flattened Poop Emoji. Chewy. Lack of pretzel’s buttery goodness.

REVIEW: Burger King Whopper Dog

Burger King Whopper Dog

I’ve tried the original Burger King Grilled Dogs and I thought they were nothing to hot dog emoji, smiley face, and thumbs up about. They’re okay fast food fare, and I’d probably buy them again if I wanted to giggle internally by buying hot dogs from a fast food chain with the word “burger” in its name.

The newest Grilled Dog is the Whopper Dog, which is exactly what you’re thinking it is — a way to use ingredients restaurants already have to create a new product that doesn’t cost much to develop, is easy to make, and can be rolled out to all locations without much effort. The Whopper Dog combines the same lettuce, tomatoes, onions (although chopped), pickles, mayonnaise, and ketchup on a Whopper with a flame-grilled 100 percent beef hot dog and fluffy bun.

I’m not sure mine was made correctly. If you look at the photo above or below, the hot dog appears to be the topping for the toppings.

While trying to fit the Whopper Dog into my mouth for the first time, the fluffy hot dog bun’s seam tore, making consumption an adventure. The ketchup and mayonnaise acted as a lubricant to make the lettuce, onions, pickles, and tomatoes fall out of my Whopper Dog at a rate equal to the 30th level of Tetris.

At first I thought the Whopper Dog was topped with a weird combo on ingredients. But after thinking about it, it’s not too weird. Half of the toppings — ketchup, onions, and pickles — are things one can usually find on a hot dog (I’m counting the pickles, since they’re kind of close to relish). And the lettuce and tomato don’t really have strong flavor profiles.

Burger King Whopper Dog 2

After trying it, the only topping that made this hot dog taste different was the mayonnaise. And combined with the ketchup they created a decent creamy tomatoey sauce that I thought was a tasty condiment for the wiener (yes, I know fry sauce). The pickles added a nice relish-like sour bite; the chopped onions added a little crunch and mild onion flavor; the sad, white lettuce also provided a slight crunch; and the tomatoes didn’t really do anything. They were more of an obligation than anything else.

The flame-grilled wiener’s flavor with the Whopper toppings doesn’t stand out as much as the flame-grilled patty does with those same toppings. Its flavor would’ve stood out more if it was thicker, but it was the same size as one of those you’d get from a $2 10-pack at the store.

What I most disliked about the Whopper Dog I received was its temperature. After taking my first bite, the first thought that came to my mind was, “There are too many cold ingredients.” I know nothing about thermodynamics, but the toppings seem to transfer their coldness to the wiener. I imagine the hot dog started off hot when it was being made, but by the time I started chomping on it, it was lukewarm. It brought down the whole experience.

Despite it being four-napkin messy and having a lukewarm small wiener, I somewhat enjoyed my Whopper Dog. All the ingredients give it a familiar Whopper flavor, and maybe I’m too much of a Whopper fanboy to completely hate on it. But it’s definitely not something to hot dog emoji, smiley face, and thumbs up about.

(Nutrition Facts – 380 calories, 24 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 1040 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $6.99* (meal)
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Not horrible. Familiar Whopper flavor. An easy way for Burger King to come up with a new product.
Cons: Messy as heck. Wiener’s flavor doesn’t stand out very well among all the other ingredients. Ingredients may have brought down the temperature of my wiener. Tomatoes were useless.

*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: Hostess Brownies made with Milky Way

Hostess Brownies made with Milky Way

Do you remember the first time you had your heart broken?

I do. It all started when I found out that Ariel from The Little Mermaid wasn’t a real person that I could marry someday. I’ll admit, I was young and naive. I thought that maybe, despite her relationship with that stooge Prince Eric, if I told her how much I loved her, I might have a chance. Eventually, I realized there was a reason all of my letters to 123 Unda Da Sea Boulevard kept coming back marked “Return to Sender.”

But that was yesterday, and today is a new day. I’m ready to love again! And it’s perfect timing too, because I’ve got my eye on these gorgeous new Hostess Brownies made with Milky Way. They combine two of my favorite things — brownies and candy — so they’ve got to be the total package. I can already feel the love in the air. Or maybe that’s just my high cholesterol.

Hostess Brownies made with Milky Way 2

When I unwrapped the brownie, I couldn’t help but feel like I was on an episode of the MTV show Catfish. This brownie didn’t look anything like the perfectly lighted, Myspace-angled photo from the outer packaging. It was far less attractive, as though it had been frantically thrown together on the production line. The icing was an unsettling shade of tan, far from the rich caramel depicted in the photo on the box.

The brownie itself has a deep fudgy flavor. On its own, it’s decently moist and tastes strongly of cocoa. The problem is that those elements are only apparent when eaten separately from the icing. The icing, which is very sugary (and slightly chocolatey) but doesn’t carry any distinct caramel flavor whatsoever, dominates the brownie’s flavor and texture. Its sweetness overpowers the complexity of the fudge brownie, and the granularity of the icing results in an odd drying sensation when chewing the brownie altogether.

Hostess Brownies made with Milky Way 3

If all of that wasn’t disappointing enough, the Milky Way pieces add virtually nothing to the brownie. They don’t add the nougat-y, caramel-y flavor one usually associates with their namesake candy bars, and the pieces themselves aren’t substantial enough to be noticed against the larger brownie. The Milky Way candy pieces essentially blend in with the icing in each bite, in terms of both taste and texture.

So, consider this heartbreak number two. I was expecting a brownie doused in caramel and chunks of candy bars, but basically got a frosted chocolate cake. I enjoyed these to the extent that I enjoy chocolate cake, but I definitely wouldn’t use the word “love.”

(Nutrition Facts – 1 brownie – 170 calories, 60 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 20 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 9.1 oz box (6 brownies)
Purchased at: Hy-Vee
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Moist brownie. Rich, fudge flavor. Romantic relationships with cartoon characters and junk food. Sexy Myspace angles on snack cake packaging.
Cons: Lack of caramel flavor. Milky Way pieces are basically just there for decoration. Brownie feels dry when eaten with icing. Being told by the mailman that Unda Da Sea Boulevard is not a real place.

REVIEW: Sonic Ultimate Chicken Club Sandwich

Sonic Ultimate Chicken Club Sandwich

In olden times, Sonic was the bee’s knees.

Their cherry limeades were refreshing, you could assault your tater tots with a respectable kind of chili and a delightfully processed cheese-product, and their burgers were served both hot and fresh. (Oh, and the foot long chili-cheese coneys. Man, those things were boss.) The carhops skated their way to your door with a smile, the milkshakes were of out-of-sight, and former teen idol Frankie Avalon was all over their advertising spots imploring you to drive in and stuff your face with nostalgic abandon.

Then everything fell apart.

Frankie left to go do, I don’t know, Frankie Avalon things. The smiling carhops were replaced with an unwholesome blend of surly teens and recent parolees. The food quality —once an oasis of flavor in a sea of grey-meat, limp-French fried fast food inequity — fell off. And then, you know, those two dudes showed up blabbering inanely in their car.

But look, get ready because Sonic is changing the game, you guys. Enter The ULTIMATE CHICKEN CLUB. (All caps mine, and added for emphasis.) I mean, it’s got “ultimate” RIGHT there in the name, so you know it’s legit. In fact, why aren’t you eating one right now?

Well, I’ll tell you why you aren’t: because it’s a swing and a miss.

Now, it’s not a “swing and totally miss, spin in a cartoon circle and fall on your butt” kind of thing. Maybe it’s akin to a foul tip or perhaps a valiant effort on a devastating curveball.

If you’re familiar with the concept of a “club” sandwich, you know what’s going on here — it mostly means someone added bacon and tomatoes. Sometimes there are toothpicks and diagonal cutting involved, but generally not on fast-food chicken sandwiches.

Sonic Ultimate Chicken Club Sandwich 2

Anyway, in this case, it was cold black bacon and mealy garbage tomatoes. They rounded out this trip to Terror Town with some inoffensive, but useless, shredded lettuce, a thin, runny mayo (they claim is was black peppercorn mayo, but they’ve given me no reason to take them at their word), a sweaty slice of flavorless cheddar cheese, and a tempura-ish battered chicken breast filet that was as thick as a new package of loose-leaf notebook paper and just as delicious.

This sandwich was, in 13 words, a loose conglomeration of mediocre ingredients melded together in an orgy of disappointment. It tasted like a flavorless collection of toppings atop a bland chicken-block. Your uncle Gary does better at his Memorial Day cookouts, to be sure.

Really, the best thing this sandwich had going for it was the soft, fresh brioche bun, because it’s like that old adage goes, “everything’s better on brioche.”

Sonic Ultimate Chicken Club Sandwich 2

There wasn’t anything new or interesting here, but honestly, that’s fine and it wasn’t the problem. Not every limited time fast food offering needs to reinvent the wheel. Let’s leave the stuffing and cramming and nachofication of America to those zany R&D people at Taco Bell. But in the meantime, you can win a lot of points with a solid chicken club sandwich. If you’re gonna do it, though, do it well. And if the execution leaves so much to be desired, maybe think about canning the “Ultimate” tag.

(Nutrition Facts – 1000 calories, 580 calories from fat, 64 grams of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 gram of trans fat, 100 milligrams of cholesterol, 2070 milligrams of sodium, 65 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, 39 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $4.79 (sandwich only)
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Sonic
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Respectable brioche. Frankie Avalon. Nostalgia. It’s fairly sizable.
Cons: As tasty as notebook paper. Burnt bacon. Sweat-cheese. 1,000 calories! The two annoying dudes blabbering in the car may have killed Frankie Avalon, we don’t know that they didn’t.