REVIEW: Wendy’s Strawberry Mango Chicken Salad

Wendy s Strawberry Mango Chicken Salad

Remember when putting an apple slice in a salad was considered avant-garde for fast food? We’ve come a long way since the Caesar and House salads of a decade ago, with chains like Chick-fil-A and Wendy’s giving us all kinds of fruit, nuts, and cheese combinations to serve over something green and, presumably, healthy. That said, most of these salads have been established flavor combos —- berries and blue cheese, apples and almonds, stuff like that.

But strawberries and mango? Can’t say that’s something I’ve ever heard of before.

I’m not sure how Wendy’s came up with their new Strawberry Mango Chicken Salad other than to suggest someone spilled their smoothie on top of their Greek chicken salad, and decided it was the best thing in the world. Spoiler alert: It’s not.

That’s not to say this salad isn’t close to being really, really good. But being close to really, really good doesn’t count, otherwise we’d be comparing the current Patriots dynasty to the early 1990s Buffalo Bills dynasty.

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Surprisingly, the mango is a hit. It’s one of those fruits that absolutely sucks when it’s overripe, but thankfully the mango in the salad is slime and sinew free. Its firm bite and tropical flavor match nicely with the familiar taste of the strawberries, with each providing a nice contrast to the greens.

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Wendy’s grilled chicken, which got a facelift last year, is solid, with a juicy texture and robust flavor that outmatches anything I can do on the backyard Weber. Meanwhile, the mild and salty feta cheese is not that bad until you add the honey citrus vinaigrette and the honey roasted sunflower seeds.

How do I explain this?

Imagine taking a bite of something and tasting nothing but pineapple. Now, imagine adding a crunchy, slightly burnt honey-glazed sweetness to the end of that taste. Yeah, that’s what happens once the salad dressing and roasted seeds go on.

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Overall, the tastes just don’t play nicely together. Think a kazoo and a saxophone dueling for time in a pop song. What’s more, they overpower every other taste with the exception of the chicken, which suddenly finds itself the reluctant centerpiece of a tropical salsa.

I love Wendy’s commitment to salad — their Mediterranean Power Salad might just be the best fast food salad around -— but the Strawberry Mango Chicken Salad is less than the sum of its parts. That said, if you prefer your smoothies in salad form, and don’t mind overly tart citrus notes, you’ve got a total winner.

(Nutrition Facts – Full size – 470 calories, 170 calories from fat, 19 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0.0 grams of trans fat, 105 milligrams of cholesterol, 1140 milligrams of sodium, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 31 grams of sugar, 39 grams of protein, 100% vitamin A, 80% vitamin C, 20% calcium, and 15% iron..)

Purchased Price: $6.59
Size: Full size
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: xcellent grilled chicken breast. Fruits are firm, fresh, and full of flavor. Feta cheese works surprisingly well with the mango and strawberry. The evolution of fast food salads.
Cons: Dressing puts the citrus notes way off the chart and makes the whole salad taste like pineapple. Deep flavor the honey roasted sunflower seeds is too strong a contrast for the light flavors of the fruit. The salad equivalent of a kazoo and saxophone duet.

REVIEW: Little Debbie Red, White and Blueberry Creme Rolls

Little Debbie Red White and Blueberry Creme Rolls

Do you remember that lyric from “Sam’s Town” by the Killers? “Red, white, and blue upon a birthday cake; my brother, he was born on the Fourth of July.” Well, these Little Debbie Red, White and Blueberry Creme Rolls are nothing like that.

First of all, my brother was born closer to Halloween.

Second, if you tried to use these for the cake at a birthday party, well, you would cry too if it happened to you.

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And third, there’s no blue on them. Little Debbie’s other patriotic goodies this year have blue star sprinkles on the white icing and red stripes, but these blueberry rolls have no such sprinkles, and the blueberry filling is purple. Now, we all know that blueberries become purple when you put them in things, but these have artificial colors and no blueberries.

Why didn’t they keep their patriotic theme by just making it blue instead of purple? Or at least put some stars on top like they did the others? The red and white outside looks as much like a candy cane as it does the waving stripes of the American flag.

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When I ate the roll, I was surprised to find the blueberry flavor to be faint. The last Little Debbie cakes I had were the St. Patrick’s Day Creme Rolls, which were very minty, so I expected the berry flavor to stand out more.

Instead, it hides behind the generic white “icing” and yellow cake. If you’ve had Little Debbie cakes, you know what I’m talking about —- that super sweet coating and that dry-ish cake that always sounds better than it is.

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I had another roll the next day to make sure I still thought the berry flavor was lacking. And then I figured it out. I can taste and even smell the blueberry, but the level of berry-ness is more along the lines of a blueberry bagel than a blueberry pie.

I think this works to the cake’s advantage; fake blueberry flavor often goes wrong. Oddly enough, I could taste the blueberry more when I ate the cake as a whole than when I licked the creme by itself. The creme alone reminds me of the excessive frosting on cheap grocery store cupcakes.

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I had to buy some blueberries, bananas, and asparagus along with my snack cakes to make me feel better about myself, so I decided to put some blueberries on the last bit of the cake. And I really liked it better that way; it provided a nice contrast to the overly sweet pastry. Plus, I got to pretend to be healthy.

At thirty-something cents a cake, these are passable. You get what you pay for. I would have liked a stronger blueberry flavor, but the faintness is better than too much.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 roll – 280 calories, 120 calories from fat, 13 grams total fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 3.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 130 milligrams of sodium, 20 milligrams of potassium, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 29 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 13.1 oz. package (6 rolls)
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Blueberry flavor is light, which is better than too much. Creativity behind a new flavor instead of just seasonal colors. Tastes better with real blueberries. You get what you pay for.
Cons: Looks like Christmas on the outside and Easter on the inside. Super sweet “icing” and cake that sounds better than it is.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Cheesecake Cool Whip

Limited Edition Cheesecake Cool Whip

Despite Reddi-wip’s furious smear advertising campaign touting the advantages of real cream, Cool Whip remains untouchable, eaten by 66 million more Americans than its canned counterpart.

The reasons are pretty simple: You can freeze Cool Whip and eat it like ice cream, you can blend it into no-bake desserts easier than Reddi-wip, and you can leave it on your angel food cake outside during a hurricane and it’ll stay put.

Despite that indestructible texture reputation, the new Cheesecake Cool Whip isn’t any thicker or creamier than the original version. While the packaging art would have us skip June, July, and August to pumpkin season, the allusion to cream cheese frosting is a poor one, mostly because trying to use Cool Whip as frosting is like trying to use tomato juice for pizza sauce —- it’s just not thick enough.

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Eaten directly out of the tub (which is completely acceptable if you ask me) the Cheesecake Cool Whip has a distinct taste from the original variety. There’s a cheesecake vibe upon first lick, but it’s faint, giving way to a French Vanilla-type sweetness. The deeper, nuanced cream taste of actual whipped cream is obviously absent, but what’s really missing is the richness of a real cream element, which would otherwise bring out the cheesecake flavor.

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It also tastes less like cheesecake when eaten with common whipped cream accouterments. The ever reliable blueberry —- plump, sweet, slightly tart -— all but mutes the cheesecake flavor.

Even trying to cheesecake-ify yogurt is somewhat hit or miss. I tried it with strawberry yogurt, and while I did notice a cheesecake flavor, I had to add a lot of it — like 50 or 75 calories worth — to get a consistent tang. It would’ve been easier to just buy a container of Dannon Strawberry Cheesecake Greek Yogurt

Seeing that it’s 2017 and we still haven’t gotten a cheesecake Oreo or cheesecake Pop-Tart, I appreciate Kraft’s effort. That said, Cool Whip, which is mostly just water and hydrogenated oil, might not be the best medium for the flavor.

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(Nutrition Facts – 2 Tbsp – 25 calories, 15 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 0 gram of dietary fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $1.78
Size: 8 oz. tub
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Recognizable cheesecake flavor when eaten alone. Adds a slight cheesecake taste when mixed with yogurt. Eating Cool Whip like ice cream.
Cons: Cheesecake flavor isn’t strong enough to stand out with other ingredients. Not thick or sweet enough to use as frosting. Lacks cheesecake richness. Eating soggy angel food cake.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Cocoa Puffs Ice Cream Scoops Cereal

Limited Edition Cocoa Puffs Ice Cream Scoops Cereal

I look forward to the day 10 years from now when a young underpaid staff writer for Buzzfeed, HuffPost, Delish, Refinery 29, Epicurious, Thrillist, or some not yet created online publication posts “23 Cereals You Didn’t Know Existed from the 2010s” or “14 Cereals From the 2010s You Might’ve Missed in the Glut Known as the Cereal Aisle.”

On that day I will most likely see one of the photos in this review and read 75-125 words about Limited Edition Cocoa Puffs Ice Cream Scoops Cereal.

For those of you who have read articles on Buzzfeed or HuffPost titled something click baity like “17 Breakfast Cereals From the 1980s We’d Kill To Try Again” or “42 Cereals We’d Go Back in Time For If Time Travel Existed,” you might’ve seen another ice cream-flavored General Mills cereal — Ice Cream Cones. I’d like to think this new variety of Cocoa Puffs is the reincarnation of that cereal I’d kill to try again.

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The part of a complete breakfast features strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate flavored corn puffs. So it’s a Neapolitan ice cream-flavored cereal. It’s also a 100 percent strawberrier version of Cocoa Puffs Combos that was on shelves years ago. While Cocoa Puffs is in its name, the chocolate pieces are not actual Cocoa Puffs. They’re smaller and not as spherical. All three corn puffs have dull colors. Thanks no colors from artificial sources!

The aroma that comes out of the bag is all strawberry. All day. All night. 24/7. Actually, its smell reminds me of Cap’n Crunch’s Crunchberries, which is not a bad thing. With a strong berry scent, I thought it would have an overall strawberry flavor. And after eating a bowl, dry and with milk, I was right.

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Through, I imagine, cereal osmosis, the strawberry attached its flavor to the other cereal pieces. I tried them individually. I ate them mixed with each other. I had them mixed with each other in milk. I tasted them from a box. I consumed them with a fox. I tasted them in a house. I gobbled them with a mouse. But no matter how I ate them, strawberry was the dominant flavor and I detected only a little chocolate and even less vanilla. It’s decent tasting, even though it’s mostly berry flavored and doesn’t remind me of ice cream. But I wouldn’t buy it again.

So if you’re one of those folks who eats all the strawberry from a Neapolitan ice cream container or enjoys berry-flavored cereals, you’ll like this. But if you’re one of those who avoids the strawberry in Neapolitan, you’ll dislike this as much as those who dislike you for eating just the chocolate and vanilla from a Neapolitan ice cream carton.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup cereal only – 100 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 50 milligrams of potassium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, 14 grams of other carbohydrates, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: Bought on eBay, so significantly more than you should pay
Size: 10.8 oz. box
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Not horrible. If you love the strawberry part of Neapolitan ice cream or berry-flavored cereal, you’ll like this.
Cons: If you avoid the strawberry part of Neapolitan ice cream, you might not like this. Weak chocolate flavor. Weaker vanilla flavor. Doesn’t remind me of ice cream.

REVIEW: McDonald’s Signature Crafted Recipes

McDonald s Signature Crafted Recipes

Baseball has been deemed “America’s pasttime” since these uniforms (photo attached) were en vogue, but now the typical game takes longer than an actual marathon.

MLB is engaging in steps to improve interest in their game, like the intentional walk signal. But their best move has been a change to their vaunted 7th inning anthem: “We’ll buy you nuggets in 4 or 6 packs.”

The Mid-Atlantic teams have partnered with the Golden Arches to bring free McNugget promotions on their app. The beleaguered Phillies have offered a free 4-piece whenever they score three runs. Their more successful counterparts, the Orioles and Nationals, have higher standards along with bigger rewards: four runs nets you a 4-piece, with six, ten, and twenty nuggets also attainable. (Notably, the Nats have restricted their rewards to home games, presumably due to road games in Colorado). Rest assured, if either club surpasses the 20-run plateau, I will make my way through the Chesapeake region, with a tank full of gas and a bunch of “burner phones.”

McDonald’s isn’t just trading nuggets for bloated ERA’s. They’re also giving you a chance to be a manager of the toppings on your own sandwich. The new Signature Crafted Recipes line attempts to emulate quick-service burger joints like Five Guys and SmashBurger by allowing you to customize your sandwich.

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Just don’t expect a plethora of choices. The options are limited to two bun choices, three protein choices, and three topping styles. That’s still enough combos to fill out a lineup card for both teams. We here at the Impulsive Buy selected the three featured options — the Mays, Mantle, and Snider of the bunch, if you Will(ie).

McDonald s Signature Crafted Recipes Pico Guacamole

Batting leadoff was the Pico Guacamole with grilled chicken on the artisan roll. Discovering the first major fast food sandwich adorned with a lime wedge was like taking a big lead off first base. However, finding out that my hands would become messier from this sandwich than holding a rosin bag was something of a detraction.

The grilled chicken patty was relatively standard, although there was some spice and it wasn’t dry, so there were positive attributes. The artisan roll was soft but not mushy. I enjoyed the guacamole -— it fell short of feeling homemade, but was far better than Subway’s recent offering. The lime gave everything a fresh feel, even after I brought the sandwich home for inspection before consuming.

This sandwich was not a five-tool player. It did have holes in its game. Namely the pico de gallo, which was not a distinguishable flavor with the much stronger flavored guac. The white cheddar cheese was also invisible, as I would soon find out it was on all three sandwiches.

McDonald s Signature Crafted Recipes Sweet BBQ Bacon

On deck was the Sweet BBQ Bacon, with Buttermilk Crispy Chicken, also on the artisan roll (why they didn’t “load the bases” with three bread options as well is perplexing). The chicken patty was somewhat like a McChicken patty, but with a little more TLC. However, the size of the patty was only marginally thicker than the bun, which pales in comparison to the also recently released KFC Zinger. Conversely, I might say this sandwich exceeds the Zinger in spiciness. The heat builds as you eat and made me enjoy this more as I dug in.

The sandwich was onion heavy, which I appreciated (I’ll often order extra on fast food). There were two types. The sautéed onions, that tasted legit, and frizzled onions, which largely just added to the overkill of breading from the patty and bun.

The bacon was the final detail. It was nice and salty on its own, but its impact was suppressed by the other ingredients when eaten together.

McDonald s Signature Crafted Recipes Maple Bacon Dijon

In the hole was the Maple Bacon Dijon, with a beef patty (perhaps “burger” is on Vince’s McMahon’s list) on a sesame seed bun. Dijon was a new, interesting taste, although it appears in some bites and vanishes in others. Otherwise, this was the most familiar flavor combination for Mickey D’s. As for the maple? None was detected. It was indicated that maple seasoning was added to the bacon, but when I tried the bacon solo it appeared to be standard.

I suppose these were the same grilled onions that appear on the BBQ version, but against the backdrop of the stronger flavor beef patty, they did not stand out nearly as much.

The bacon wasn’t that noticeable here either amidst a sea of lettuce and again the stronger tasting burger. It seemed a little wimpier this time, although before you start computing the WAR (Working As Refreshment) stat, I did order each sandwich from a different location, so maybe the differences can be attributed to that factor.

In the end, the concept of “premium crafted sandwiches” is no different than Wendy’s LTO offerings, but with three released at the same moment. If McDonald’s wants a premium line to last, they will have to consider a larger product. “Fast foodies” do exist these days, but they still want to be satiated by the food. When it came to these members of the lineup, I didn’t get a complete game out of them. I still had to trust the bullpen (value menu) to finish it out.

(Nutrition Facts – Pico Guacamole Grilled Chicken – 520 calories, 160 calories from fat, 18 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 115 milligrams of cholesterol, 1540 milligrams of sodium, 50 grams of carbohydrates, 12 grams of sugar, 4 grams of fiber, 40 grams of protein. Sweet BBQ Bacon Buttermilk Crispy Chicken – 800 calories, 320 calories from fat, 36 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 1820 milligrams of sodium, 80 grams of carbohydrates, 18 grams of sugar, 5 grams of fiber, 39 grams of protein. Maple Bacon Dijon Beef Patty – 640 calories, 330 calories from fat, 36 grams of fat, 14 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 110 milligrams of cholesterol, 1260 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, and 37 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.79 to $5.29
Size: N/A
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Pico Guacamole Grilled Chicken)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Sweet BBQ Bacon Buttermilk Crispy Chicken)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Maple Bacon Dijon Beef Patty)
Pros: Sauteed onions. Building BBQ heat. Lime wedge freshness. Hunter Greene’s potential to join the 20 HR / 20 SB / 20 win club.
Cons: None of the options are large enough. White cheddar is irrelevant. Gusto de pico es pequeno. The Twins passing on Greene with the number one pick.