REVIEW: Burger King Frozen Surge

Burger King Frozen Surge

Aaaand…now the ‘90s are back. Yeah, the house became full again and a different gender already met world, and the clever girls switched sides.

But it’s only now, when Coca-Cola decided to excavate a forgotten, bootleg Mountain Dew by way of a second-place fast food try-hard that the nostalgia train is perhaps learning it’s running out of track. Surge is back, baby! But at Burger King only! And it’s not really a liquid anymore! And what is Surge again?

Surge was Coca-Cola’s answer to Mountain Dew and launched in the mid ‘90s, but dwindling sales pretty much had it out of stores before Facebook existed. (A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? Not drinking Surge.) Successors include Vault — which had more caffeine — and Red Bull chased with green Gatorade left overnight in a hot car. It’s questionable whether the world was thirsting for a rebirth of Surge. But here we are.

Like an imposter, something is different, as much as Coke wants us to believe the vintage drink is being reinstated. It’s in a Slurpee, ICEE form, and it’s being featured exclusively at your local, grungy Burger King. Other things exclusive to Burger King include Chicken Fries and the thought “I wish I was at McDonald’s.”

Burger King Frozen Surge 2

Frozen Surge is serviceable. The Surge flavoring seems more muted than the original drink, which I remember having maybe a handful of times. The ice freezes up the taste buds all nice so practically the entire flavor profile is on the back end of the drink experience, which features an artificial lemon-lime tinge that definitely tastes “green.”

It’s slightly sweet and has a citrus bent that is somewhere between a lemon-steeped carafe of table water and a green Brach’s candy bean. The semi-carbonated, energy drink-soda hybrids have become plentiful in the past decade during Surge’s absence, and this drink feels like a frozen version of all of those put together. There is a light, fizzy tickling of the back of the throat that is more apparent as the frozen parts of the drink become less so. Overall the taste is a neutral proposition — it’s like a watered down Mountain Dew Slurpee.

The biggest problems are the sticky fingers, which made me feel like a dirty ass toddler, and the speed at which I had to consume it. It’s called “Surge,” like some sort of extreme boost, but since it’s so cold I had to drink it super slowly because every other sip would trigger brain freeze. The flavors had me wanting to pound it like a Swedish hacker at 3 a.m., not like a Swedish hacker at 3 p.m. (They’re asleep so they would drink slowly, right?).

The best consistency is probably ten to fifteen minutes after purchasing the drink, when it’s warming up so the flavors surface a bit more. Unfortunately, the drink very quickly begins to melt from the bottom up soon after and leaves a puddle of syrup below a glacier of frozen green stuff. This makes for a delicate balance unsuited to the brutality of stuffing a Western Whopper and onion rings into your maw.

It’s hard to imagine anyone going out of their way to grab this, especially since it’s only available at Burger Kings, but along with a meal it’s a decent accompaniment that delivers light citrus flavors and a little bit of an energy drink kick. I’d say it makes you feel like you’re traveling through time to the ‘90s, but only because it constantly hurt my brain, like reruns of Full House that feature the Beach Boys. Cut it out.

(Nutrition Facts – Medium – 100 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of cholesterol, 5 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 24 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Burger King Frozen Surge
Purchased Price: $1.39
Size: Medium
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Would go well with a meal. Not unpleasant.
Cons: Flavors are slight. Sipping it so slowly because it’s too cold for brain, and then melting too fast.

REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition Peppermint Ho Hos

Hostess Limited Edition Peppermint Ho Hos

How the Grinch Stole Hostess

The Grinch plotted again how to ruin the holidays.
Though it was only November and they were still far away!
He planned to steal all the cheer from every household and home.
Not a holiday was safe: no Christmas, Kwanzaa, or “shalom.”

He slunk down each chimney, having his treacherous fun.
Only once did a fire scorch his furry green buns.
But in the last house, whilst piling gifts in his sack,
He smelled something sweet that took him aback.

Hostess Limited Edition Peppermint Ho Hos 2

Sneering at what the foolish kids had left out for Santa Claus,
He grabbed the strange brown cylinders with his foul, dirty paws.
“These aren’t cookies,” he said. “They’re Peppermint Ho Hos from Hostess!”
“When it came to minty pink cream, these are said to have the most-est!”

Hostess Limited Edition Peppermint Ho Hos 3

“These snacks are so cheery,” said The Grinch. “I’ll gobble them down!”
“Without their merry Devil’s food cake, all the people will frown!”
But the Grinch gasped at the serving: “380 calories? Who eats three?”
“Meh, I deserve it. Being evil makes a Grinch hungry!”

His yellow teeth broke the chocolate coating; it shattered into bits.
“A wonderful mess,” he spewed. “The maid will throw fits!”
But he found the Ho Ho’s exterior to be much too waxy and bland.
“I’d get more chocolate flavor from a brown RoseArt crayon!”

Hostess Limited Edition Peppermint Ho Hos 4

The sponge cake beneath was also merely so-so.
It was airy and quite chewy, with only traces of cocoa.
The Grinch wondered how it could be so un-sweet with 14 grams of sugar.
Some Hostess cakes were moist; this was as dry as his plucked boogers!

But then he reached the cream, and his opinion did sway.
“This novel pink goo could make anyone’s day!”
“It’s more thick than a Twinkie’s; that whipped crap’s just exhausting.”
“This is pleasantly gritty, rich and dense like buttercream frosting!”

As for mint flavor, it was there: but not burning or biting.
Balanced by vanilla, it was refreshing and exciting!
Yet, he’d be hard pressed to call it distinctly peppermint cuisine.
With his crusty eyes closed, it tasted just like spearmint or wintergreen.

Hostess Limited Edition Peppermint Ho Hos 5

He scarfed down another Ho Ho whole, whilst trashing the family’s wreath.
“The soft choco-mint together’s like a Thin Mint…made for those without teeth!”
The Grinch thought they’d make great party favors: a fine novelty treat.
The cream was memorable, but the purchase wouldn’t be a repeat.

The Grinch cackled and left, ready to watch all the fuss.
“Little Cindy will learn new words when she hears Daddy cuss!”
The next morning he peered down from his horrible hill,
But saw nothing but cheer, A Christmas Story marathons, and goodwill!

“Christmas came without Ho Hos,” he murmured. “It came without Cupcakes!”
“It came without Little Debbie, Entenmann’s, or Drake’s!”
“Maybe holidays,” he thought slowly, “don’t come from processed food.”
“Maybe holidays are about who you’re with, not just what is chewed.”

So the Grinch went back into town, and returned what he stole.
Perhaps this year Santa wouldn’t gift him a metric s*** ton of coal.
Legends say the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes that day!
Though that was probably the 6 grams of fat per Ho Ho, his doctor would say.

(Nutrition Facts – 3 cakes – 380 calories, 17 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 180 milligrams of sodium, 55 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 43 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Hostess Limited Edition Peppermint Ho Hos
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 10 pack
Purchased at: Meijer
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Inventive and thick cream. Squishy, tubular Thin Mint understudies. Avoiding the obvious “Ho Ho Hos” joke. Learning life lessons through snack cake fan fiction. The delightful irony of “Christmas Devil’s food cake.”
Cons: The Ho Hos’ so-so cocoa. Coating shatters faster than a leg lamp. Santa-sized serving sizes. An inevitable law-Seuss from Dr. Seuss’ attorneys.

REVIEW: Burger King Buffalo Chicken Fries

Burger King Buffalo Chicken Fries

Which would you rather fight in a duel to the death?

A) 1 buffalo-sized chicken
B) 100 chicken-sized buffaloes

Across the span of history, this question has troubled every great thinker, from Plato to Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and even the wisest philosopher of our time: Waldo of Where’s Waldo? fame. We thought we were searching for him in those colorful pages, but he was really teaching us how to find ourselves.

And while I doubt this age-old enigma will ever have a solution, I think it makes for good food for thought while eating Burger King’s new Buffalo Chicken Fries, which combine everyone’s favorite earthworm French fry shaped chicken morsels with fried breading that’s spiced like a buffalo chicken wing.

I want to take a second to applaud the adorable packaging on these Buffalo Chicken Fries. Though PETA may object to the implied idea of a manmade chicken-buffalo hybrid, I prefer to imagine it as the Burger King’s festive doorknocker.

Burger King Buffalo Chicken Fries 2

My 9 breaded pool noodles Chicken Fries varied in length from “extended middle finger” to “Dixon Ticonderoga #2,” but they all shared a greasy, semi-soggy texture and wiggly flimsiness. As a result, there’s no crisp bite like you’d find in a McNugget. Instead, the sketchy, spongy mouthfeel is closer to that of an over-microwaved Tyson dinosaur nugget.

Or maybe SpongeBob just fell into BK’s deep fryer.

The tastiness of the breading makes up for this, though. True to Burger King’s online description, the buffalo trinity of pepper, butter, and vinegar are all here. The standard floury and oily taste of the breading has a garlic buttery fattiness that’s spiced up by a modest kick of pepper.

Flavor wise, this kick is one part Cayenne, one part black pepper, and one part “generic red pepper from a Looney Tunes cartoon that made Foghorn Leghorn blow steam out of his ears.”

The mild heat wasn’t strong enough to trample my taste buds, but it still left my tongue feeling as pleasantly tickled as the Elmo dolls people got trampled over on Black Friday. And while the tangy acridness of the vinegar didn’t show up until after my meal, for hours afterwards, my mouth was filled with the flavorful ghosts of dyed Easter eggs and pickle jars.

Burger King Buffalo Chicken Fries 3

Unfortunately, this authentic buffalo experience comes at the cost of the actual meat. There was a skinny layer of chewy and bizarrely mealy chicken at the center of each fry, but any poultry flavor is largely stomped out by the brazen hoof of the buffalo breading.

So if you’re like me and are looking for a reliably chicken-y Chicken Fry experience, you’ll need to employ some careful tongue archaeology to extract the flavor of these chickens from their spicy prisons.

But if you’re the kind of buffalo flavor fanatic who rents Mark Ruffalo movies just on the off-chance that the DVD case made a typo, these peppery, buttery Slenderman appendages Chicken Fries might just make you fall in buffa-love.

Either way, I recommend pairing the fragile Fries with a thick dipping sauce to mask the iffy texture. Ranch is a good choice for contrasting the spice with cool creaminess. Plus you get to make everyone around you groan and boo by exclaiming, “Look, I’m a buffalo rancher!”

Burger King Buffalo Chicken Fries 4

But buffalo sauce works, too, half because of the added heat and nearly cheesy viscosity, and half because I like pretending that the Buffalo Chicken Fries are vengeful ghouls spewing forth their own fiery, ethereal ectoplasm.

Hey, Halloween might be over for you

(Nutrition Facts – 9 fries – 270 calories, 140 calories from fat, 16 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 850 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 14 grams of protein.)

Item: Burger King Buffalo Chicken Fries
Purchased Price: $3.19
Size: 9 fries
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Accurate buffalo chicken flavor. Elmo-levels of tickling spiciness. Pairs well with fiery, ethereal ectoplasm. Changing my college major to “tongue archaeology.” An inevitable SpongeBob/Burger King crossover episode.
Cons: Mushy mouthfeel. Asking, “Where’s the chicken?” in my Wendy’s old lady voice. Licking Mark Ruffalo DVDs. Extinction of the dinosaurs via microwave.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Boss Wraps (Fully Loaded Steak and Steak & Potato)

Taco Bell Boss Wraps


It’s what can make Taco Bell, which is usually coins under your car’s floor mats cheap, expensive. But if you want to splurge at the fast food chain because you have $6 in bills instead of $2.26 in loose change, might I suggest Taco Bell’s Boss Wraps.

The new menu item is available in two varieties: Fully Loaded Steak and Steak & Potato.

The Fully Loaded Steak comes with a double portion of steak, reduced fat sour cream, avocado ranch sauce, lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole, a crunchy tostada shell, and a 3-cheese blend wrapped up in a tortilla. The Steak & Potato Boss Wrap features a double portion of steak, chopped bacon, chipotle sauce, a 3-cheese blend, reduced fat sour cream, a crunchy tostada shell, and crispy potatoes in a tortilla.

Taco Bell Boss Wraps 2

Because of its name, I felt as if it was necessary to start my order with either a “hey man,” “yo,” or a “whaddup” and then emphasize the word “boss.” My cashier didn’t care.

Taco Bell Steak & Potato Boss Wrap

If you have to choose one of the two varieties, go with the Steak & Potato. The potatoes weren’t crunchy when I bit into mine, but, to be fair, they were sitting in the tortilla while I took too many photos. But their flavor made up for their lack of crispiness. Their seasoning reminds me of curly fries and they go well with the chipotle sauce. If Taco Bell ever offers their crispy potatoes with a side of chipotle dipping sauce on their value menu, I’d buy that.

The bacon bits add a smokiness and saltiness, but when eaten alone, I didn’t immediately think of bacon. Instead, I thought of how Taco Bell’s sad bacon bits depress me. While the potatoes didn’t have any crispiness, the tostada shell still had a nice crunch, giving the menu item a different texture.

The double portion of steak, which seemed more like a single portion, was easy to bite through and lightly seasoned. But the steak’s flavor does take a back seat to the chipotle sauce and potatoes. I wish it stood out a bit more.

Taco Bell Fully Loaded Steak Boss Wrap

As for the Fully Loaded Steak Boss Wrap, I liked the avocado ranch sauce, there was a good amount of guacamole, the steak’s flavor was more noticeable, the pico de gallo wasn’t, and the tostada shell still had its crunch. It’s got a lot of nice flavors, but while eating it, I couldn’t help but think I was experiencing Taco Bell deja vu.

If you’re a fan of Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap Supreme, think of these Boss Wraps as upscaled versions with prices to match. The national advertised price is $4.99 and I paid $6.19 each for mine. The Fully Loaded Steak version tasted like something I’ve had before from Taco Bell, but I just can’t put my sour cream, avocado ranch sauce, and guacamole stained finger on it. But, yo, I think the Steak & Potato Boss Wrap is definitely boss.

Am I writing that right?

(Nutrition Facts – Fully Loaded Steak – 760 calories, 39 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 1610 milligrams of sodium, 69 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 32 grams of protein. Steak & Potato – 870 calories, 46 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 100 milligrams of cholesterol, 1960 milligrams of sodium, 78 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 37 grams of protein.)

Item: Taco Bell Boss Wraps (Fully Loaded Steak and Steak & Potato)
Purchased Price: $6.19*
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Fully Loaded Steak)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Steak & Potato)
Pros: Both taste fine, but the Steak & Potato tastes better. The chipotle sauce and potatoes in the Steak & Potato Boss Wrap. Tostada shell still crunchy.
Cons: Fully Loaded Steak tasted like something else on Taco Bell’s menu. Pricey. Double portion of steak seemed like a single portion. Steak’s flavor doesn’t really stand out. Taco Bell’s bacon needs an upgrade.

*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: International Delight Dark Chocolate Hot Chocolate

International Delight Dark Chocolate Hot Chocolate

I was a dumb kid.

Growing up, I never understood society’s romanticized view of hot chocolate. I wondered why people applauded its chocolaty taste, when every time I made hot chocolate it tasted bland and runny.

And why did they so happily warm their hands with the stuff on winter days, when mine got lukewarm and nasty halfway through?

Oh, that’s right. Because up until I turned [EMBARRASINGLY HIGH NUMBER REMOVED] years old, I thought hot chocolate was made by simply microwaving chocolate milk.

I was a dumb, dumb kid.

Perhaps by reviewing International Delight Hot Chocolate, I can atone for my choco-sins. This new refrigerated hot chocolate dairy beverage (“Hello, is this the Oxymoron Police? Yeah, it’s me again.”) comes in dark and milk chocolate varieties. I chose the former, figuring it was less likely to just be classier chocolate milk.

The drink claims to contain all the goodness of hot cocoa* after only 45 seconds in the microwave.

*In the unending civil war between people who say “hot cocoa” and people who say “hot chocolate,” I’m choosing to remain as neutral as a mug of Swiss Miss.

International Delight Dark Chocolate Hot Chocolate 2

Pouring out the viscous liquid, I curiously wondered what “Cold Chocolate” would taste like. I also wondered whether “Cold Chocolate” would be a better name for an Android operating system or an Icelandic techno-pop supergroup. But that’s beside the point.

And unlike an actual feline, who would find chocolate quite toxic, curiosity didn’t kill this cat. Rather, I found the syrupy, chilled drink to have a dense, tasty mix of sweet, fatty milk and rich, creamy cocoa. There was no dark chocolate bitterness, though, so I can only imagine how cloying the milk chocolate flavor would be.

I suddenly realized that it tastes exactly like a slightly melted chocolate Snack Pack! I never knew that “pudding milk” was something I needed so badly in my life, but now that I’ve acquired a taste for it, I don’t think I can ever go back. This must be how Count Chocula got his start.

International Delight Dark Chocolate Hot Chocolate 3

Returning from pudding nirvana, I actually followed the instructions and microwaved my 8 fluid ounces of Hot Chocolate. After a brief stir, I sipped the steaming, frothy liquid, and the first taste set off sad Price is Right trombones in my head. The heating process made the previously lovely goo much thinner and considerably less potent from a chocolate standpoint.

What was once whole-ier than whole milk was now more like hot 2% and Hershey’s syrup. The thin cream taste had processed cocoa notes that required frequent stirring to save from sinking into the brown abyss.

I’m no food scientist, so I don’t know what about microwaving makes this taste so diluted, flat, and even kinda slimy. Do microwaves burn off fat? If they do, those “One Weird Trick To Cut Off Belly Fat” banner ads are about to get a whole lot weirder.

International Delight Dark Chocolate Hot Chocolate 4

But even a food scientologist can tell this isn’t quite real hot cocoa. Even adding marshmallows didn’t help; it was just putting sugary white lipstick on a pig.

I recommend buying this drink, but only if you immediately cross out the word “Hot” with Sharpie. Like that shameful misunderstanding from my past, it’s best if we all just pretend it didn’t happen and instead happily chug International Delight Chocolate straight out of the refrigerator.

Oh, and if you do, you might want to cross out that whole “200 calories per serving” part, too.

See no evil, no evil goes straight to my thighs, right?

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup – 200 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 320 milligrams of sodium, 38 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 31 grams of sugar, and 8 grams of protein.)

Item: International Delight Dark Chocolate Hot Chocolate
Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 1 quart
Purchased at: Meijer
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Whole-y cold pudding milk, Batman! Becoming a chocolate vampire. Munching many mini marshmallows. Escaping childhood shame.
Cons: Completely fails at its intended purpose. Pretty much “Microwaved Chocolate Milk 2.0.” Wasting 45 seconds I could’ve spent microwaving Pizza Rolls. Taking the phrase “brown abyss” out of context. Still only owning one glass cup.