REVIEW: Pepperidge Farm Limited Edition Chocolate Chili Milano Cookies

Pepperidge Farm Limited Edition Chocolate Chili Milano Cookies

During June and July of last year, Pepperidge Farm allowed Milano fans to vote for a future flavor. The candidates were mango ginger, green tea, and chocolate chili. As you’ve probably figured out from reading the title of this review, chocolate chili won and it probably did so with promises of chocolate with a spicy kick.

But after tasting it, I’m not sure it should’ve been victorious.

On the back of its package it describes the cookie as, “The perfect contrast of rich luxurious chocolate and spicy chili flavor.”

Yeah…about the “spicy chili flavor.”

If you’re a heat head, let me disappoint you by saying your internal Scoville scale won’t register anything while eating these cookies. Not even eating several of them one after another will build up a satisfying heat. There is a tickle of something that lingers, especially at the back of my throat, but I’m not sure most would consider it spicy.

Looking at the ingredients list helps explain the lack of heat. There’s no mention of any kind of chili pepper. Not even the vague “spices” is listed. But there is the even more vague “natural flavors.”

The cookies smell like chocolate cake with a hint of chili pepper. Each cookie has two thin layers of chocolate. After nibbling the chocolate at the edges, it tastes like both layers have chili pepper flavor, but it’s very faint. It becomes more so when the cookie is eaten whole. The light, crispy cookie dampens the flavor.

Pepperidge Farm Limited Edition Chocolate Chili Milano Cookies Closeup

I’m torn about these cookies.

Even with a hint of chili pepper flavor, these cookies still gave me some delight. They had a spicy cinnamon or Mexican hot chocolate vibe to them. And, they’re frickin’ Milano cookies, for goodness sake!

But, I can’t help but be disappointed with them. Seeing the words “chili” on the front and “spicy” on the back gave me expectations of the cookie reaching a level of heat that gave them a pleasant warmth.

Or, perhaps, I have it wrong about its spiciness.

The Milano is a classy cookie with a European name that’s presented in white paper baking cups. Having a cookie with an almost uncomfortable amount of heat is something the crazy food scientists at Nabisco would probably do with an Oreo cookie.

If the Milano is a reserved white ballgown and the Oreo is a sexy tight black mini dress that’s up for anything, then perhaps a Milano that burns one’s mouth would be unsophisticated.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 130 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Pepperidge Farm Limited Edition Chocolate Chili Milano Cookies
Purchased Price:
Size: 7 oz.
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: They had a faint spicy cinnamon or Mexican hot chocolate vibe to them. They’re frickin’ Milano cookies! No worries for those who are afraid of burning their mouths.
Cons: A bit disappointed they aren’t spicy spicy. Chili pepper flavor could’ve been stronger. Target exclusive.

REVIEW: Rah-Rah Raisin Girl Scout Cookies

Rah Rah Raisin box

First, I decided: these are not “raisin cookies.” They are galletas de pasas.

A “raisin cookie” sounds like something your grandmother forced you to eat because you had already eaten too much chocolate that day. “Galletas de pasas” sound like an exotic biscuit blended found at a market where they sell Art Deco and hand-woven rugs and play Johnny Cash in the background. Something obscure and enigmatic, yet also specific.

Despite all that self-imposed delusion, all I could read was, “raisin,” and my head—my very stubborn head—kept shouting, “Wrinkly, dry nubs! Stay away!”

My head is no longer allowed to make decisions. These cookies? Put it down. As the perfect entry-level raisin cookie, the small, mini-chocolate-chip-sized fruit bits dot their way along the crispy surface, providing a slight chew and grapey tang that’s effective without being intrusive. The yogurty chips are sparse but wonderful: sweet with a hint of tang at the very end, contrasting and complementing the chewy raisin.

And let’s not forget about the cookie foundation. The cookie is sandy and crumbly, far more so than the Trader Joe’s shortbread I enjoyed earlier this month. While this dough lacks any hint of butter, it dissolves into a fizzle of sweet, sugar-cookie-like dough with the barest bit of molasses at the end, which serves to amp up those the raisins and yogurt chips.

Rah-Rah Raisin Girl Scout Cookies are crumbly

Of course, this crumbled texture brings a hazard for the cookies. Without any protective plastic tray, the biscuits have trouble maintaining their shape. In my box of 14, three cookies came fully intact. I also realize this could’ve resulted from a bum sample or a transit flub. New York roads are bumpy.

But let’s be real: Girl Scout Cookies aren’t about the looks. While the cookie’s sturdiness might be a tragedy for its aesthetics, it’s all the better for you as you are left with a big pile of crumblies at the end of your cookie-eating experience.

Instructions for dealing with crumblies include:

  • Tilt head back.
  • Pour contents of cookie bag into mouth.

Rah Rahs just before they crumbled

So, yes, the cookies and their crumblies are good (so good!). But I am filled! With! Hyperbolic! Agony! At $3.50 per 6-cookie box, my hope to also purchase 18 bajillion boxes of Tagalongs and Thin Mints and Samoas dwindles at the edges. I want to buy more cookies, Girl Scouts, but my bank account suggests otherwise. Oh, catch me! I’m fainting in despair…

And yet that $3.50 is going toward instilling kids with self-esteem and business skills and Girl Scout trips involving s’mores, and what kind of miserable, lonely person discourages putting more self-efficacy and s’mores in the world?! I’d dip into my 401k before I deprive anyone of that.

Leadership Skills, Rah-Rah Raisin Girl Scout Cookies, and you

Overall, these are a pretty swell addition to the Girl Scout line-up. While they may not muscle out my Girl Scout favorites, I’ve only had this one box, which is unfair given that I have over 20 years experience with the traditional cookies. If given time, maybe a sturdier cookie base, and more yogurt chips, I could foresee these, too, heaving themselves up the line of Greats. Not only did they convert the wrinkly raisin-hater inside my heart, but I’m looking for a reason to buy them again. “It’s Thursday!” may have to suffice.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 120 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 135 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, Less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Rah-Rah Raisin Girl Scout Cookies
Purchased Price: $3.50
Size: 6 oz. box
Purchased at: A sidewalk from a small child
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Crunchy. Sweet, melty yogurt chips. Small, chewy raisins. Crumblies. Converted raisin-opposed brains. Galletas de Pasas. Johnny Cash.
Cons: Not as good as Tagalongs. Small raisins may not appeal to raisin fanatics. Pricey for 6 oz. box. More yogurt chips would be nice. May induce stressful situations in which you debate your 401k.

REVIEW: Trader Joe’s Sweet Sriracha Uncured Bacon Jerky

Trader Joe’s Sweet Sriracha Uncured Bacon Jerky

Trader Joe’s Sweet Sriracha Uncured Bacon Jerky may be a bit of a misnomer.

I’m not completely sure it should be labeled as a jerky. Maybe it falls under the technical definition of “jerky”? Let’s look it up and see. Okay. Jerky. “Characterized by abrupt starts and stops.” Hmmm. I guess so? I guess my jaw was abruptly starting and stopping in a chomping motion. Is that just considered “chewing”?

Anyway, I wanted to point out off the bat that the jerky is wet. It’s probably the “sweet sriracha” glaze or whatever but it’s certainly a surprise when you reach into a factory sealed plastic bag and come out of it with a fistful of wet meat.

Also, I wanted to point out the fact that this jerky is “uncured.” It’s unclear what that officially means but probably something like it wasn’t brined or preserved in a certain way, like most jerkies are. Like if Han Solo in carbonite is “cured” then Tom Hanks sitting in the sun talking to a volleyball for four years is “uncured.” Soylent Green is people. And honestly it would probably be sold at Trader Joe’s.

Why the word police? Well, it’s just that this is basically cooked bacon in a bag. Like, bacon you would take out of the oven at home. Imagine you are a food corporation. Now imagine you try to sell “bacon in a bag.” Forget the internet trend and imagine all the moms and dads in the supermarket scrunching up their faces like, “Bacon is for breakfast and Wendy’s Quadruple Baconators only.” But designate bacon a jerky, and poof, there’s a familiar snack that is entirely meat and everyone eats. So familiar it’s, like, the oldest food ever. Yes, even older than Crystal Pepsi. So, in the name of tradition, go ahead and shove that bacon in your maw.

Trader Joe’s Sweet Sriracha Uncured Bacon Jerky 2

All this being said, it’s not an unpleasant product. It is wet and sticky at first, but biting into the jerky is fine. It has the texture of some well-cooked bacon on the chewier side. The crisp factor seems to be turned down a bit and there are some pockets of fat. There is a wave of sweetness that dovetails into a bit of heat, and if more than a few pieces are consumed, the spiciness elevates to a nice sharp numbing.

Here’s a riddle: What starts off wet and sticky and ends up meaty and numb? Answer: Trader Joe’s Sweet Sriracha Uncured Bacon Jerky! That’s what this review is about. Nothing else.

Trader Joe’s Sweet Sriracha Uncured Bacon Jerky 3

While I’m unclear about the jerkization process used here, I can tell you for sure this thing is being sold at jerky prices. It’s almost six bucks for two ounces, whereas the regular beef jerkies cost about five bucks for four ounces. That’s a lot more for a lot less, and knowing that is pretty much the only reason why we all take 12 years of math. Well, at least I took 12 years of Jerky Pricing. I majored in Jerky Pricing! I’m in data entry right now, but I still do Jerky Pricing in the evenings and the weekends.

I think I read the wrong definition of “jerky” in the intro. Here, it’s actually: “foolish, stupid or rude.” Look it up. Here’s a new riddle: What begins with abrupt starts and stops and ends foolish, stupid and rude? It’s this review! Good night, Pigs.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz. – 140 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 600 milligrams of sodium, 6 grams of sugar, 6 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein.)

Item: Trader Joe’s Sweet Sriracha Uncured Bacon Jerky
Purchased Price: $5.49
Size: 2 oz.
Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Good texture. Nice elevating spice kick after a base of sweetness.
Cons: Sticky. Seems like just bacon you can make at home. Fairly expensive.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Bacon & Blue on Brioche

Wendy's Bacon & Blue on Brioche

Wendy’s Bacon & Blue on Brioche boasts big B-word buzz by bundling bankable blends between boring bread and beef.

You know what? Forget this.

Wendy’s used up all the B-related alliteration I can handle. No more B-words for the rest of the review. They are henceforth banished. Oops. Bungled it. Argh, bollocks! How do the Crips do it? They avoid saying words that start with B … Hmm, do Bloods favor Red Robin?

Gang-related fast food questions aside, Wendy’s trotted out the Bacon & Blue on Brioche for us. Knowing Wendy’s history with blue offerings, this seemed like it would be a treat. (I, however, never tried the old Bacon & Blue Burger from five years ago). How did it fare? It’s unique and bold, if not a little bit unbalanced, like a celebrity.

The first B is for bacon, and the strips in this burger definitely delivered on the crispy texture and smoky flavor. The bacon seems to be a popular item here. The person ahead of me in line and the person behind me both ordered Baconators. They then both high-fived over my head and stared me down while shaking their heads slowly.

Wendy's Bacon & Blue on Brioche 2

Which brings me to the second B, the blue cheese flavors. The item sports both blue cheese crumbles and blue cheese aioli, and that might have been too much. The blue cheese combo has a back-of-the-throat coating quality that is interesting and hits immediately upon first bite. While the aioli does a good job of melding the flavors together, the combo also displays a minor, pungent blue cheese stink. This proves to be particularly powerful and overwhelms the flashes of bacon taste. It spins the entire thing a little out of whack, although the occasional balanced bites were pretty decent. The spring mix is slightly bitter and does a very good job of breaking up the monotony.

Wendy's Bacon & Blue on Brioche 3

The beef in my burger was the weak point. Next to the great, pretty flavors of the eponymous “B & B,” the ground beef was mostly flavorless, which is sad because I think the blue cheese’s smooth flavor would’ve shined if consumed with better tasting beef.

Again, there were a few bites that seemed to balance everything well, including the beef, but the planets did not align as much as I would have liked. The third B in the name, brioche, is fine. It’s shiny and has a slight crisp on the outside, which adds a nice textural flair to the entire meal.

This item is definitely not going to have universal appeal and for that fast food version of bravery, Wendy’s gets a high five from me. High five, guys.

Oh, everybody leaving me hanging?

What, nobody else in this Wendy’s is ordering the same thing as me?

I’m not putting it down until someone slaps five with me. I refuse to use a word that starts with B until someone high fives me. See? It’s easy. I could be a Crip. Unless that means I can never go to Red Robin again.

In that case, bye bye, bros.

(Nutrition Facts – 650 calories, 39 grams of fat, 16 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 125 milligrams of cholesterol, 1290 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fiber, and 34 grams of protein.)

Item: Wendy’s Bacon & Blue on Brioche
Purchased Price: $5.49
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Good flavors in some bites. Unique flavors.
Cons: Blue cheese is a little overwhelming. Bacon gets lost. Burger meat flavorless.

REVIEW: McDonald’s CBO (Canada)

McDonalds CBO (Canada)

McDonald’s Canada is pushing the CBO pretty hard. Where I live, at least, there are billboards all over town proudly proclaiming this sandwich to be “the next legend.” Obviously, McDonald’s has high hopes.

I should probably note that the Canadian CBO is, oddly enough, different than the CBO introduced in the States a couple of years ago. This one is a chicken sandwich, topped with CBO sauce, lettuce, bacon, and crispy onions, served on an onion bun.

The most noteworthy thing about this sandwich is probably the weirdly hard time I had ordering one.

At the first McDonald’s I visited (yes, there was more than one), I ordered it, sat down, opened the box, and found that a few of the crispy onions had fallen out of the sandwich. They were green, which I found odd; even odder was how spicy they were. Clearly, these were not crispy onions at all, but crispy jalapeños.

I brought this to the attention of the confused-looking girl behind the register. A manager emerged from the back. Eventually, he told me that they ran out of crispy onions and decided to sub in the jalapeños instead.

That strikes me as an odd decision, since crispy onions and jalapeños taste completely different, but hey, I don’t run a McDonald’s. What do I know?

He offered to make me another sandwich without the jalapeños. I told him no, I needed to try the sandwich as it’s supposed to be. He stared at me plaintively. “Man, I’m going to have to throw it out!” Though I was tempted to ask him how, exactly, that was my problem, I instead politely apologized and eventually wound up with some cash in my pocket, on my way to a second McDonald’s.

McDonalds CBO (Canada) 2

Thankfully, there were no jalapeño shenanigans to be found at the second location, so I was able to try the real, non-adulterated CBO. The End.

Oh wait, I guess not The End, this is a review, isn’t it? I still have to tell you about the actual sandwich.

It’s fine, if a bit boring. Honestly, my jalapeño-related mishaps were probably more interesting than the sandwich itself.

I’m not sure if the chicken patty is the same one they use in the McChicken; I suspect that it isn’t (it looks a little different, at least), but it tastes very similar. As far as reconstituted chicken sandwiches go, I’ve certainly had worse, but there really isn’t much that pops out about it. It’s pretty bland.

I will say, however, that chicken in my sandwich was piping hot, and clearly freshly cooked. That’s basically the McDonald’s equivalent of finding a four-leaf clover, so that was fun.

McDonalds CBO (Canada) 3

McDonald’s describes the CBO sauce as a “creamy pepper sauce,” and it basically just tastes like regular mayo with flecks of pepper in it. If you told me it was McChicken sauce, I’d have no reason not to believe you.

As for the bacon, it’s actually bacon pieces instead of actual slices of bacon, which was probably not a great idea — the soft little bits get lost among the other elements of the CBO, and add almost nothing to the sandwich, other than a vague saltiness.

Happily, the crispy onions that I worked so hard to try suited the sandwich pretty well, and were probably the CBO’s most assertive flavour. Between that and the onion bun, this sandwich definitely earns the O in CBO.

McDonalds CBO (Canada) 4

That pretty much sums this sandwich up, in fact — it tastes like an oniony McChicken. But I guess Oniony McChicken doesn’t quite have the same ring as CBO, so here we are.

I’m honestly a little bit baffled that McDonald’s is giving a sandwich as boring as the CBO such a strong marketing push. It isn’t bad, but there’s just nothing about it that’s particularly memorable.

(Nutrition Facts – 680 calories, 36 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0.4 grams of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 1160 milligrams of sodium, 62 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fibre, 10 grams of sugar, and 27 grams of protein.)

Item: McDonald’s CBO (Canada)
Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: N/A
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Tasty crispy onions. Decent quality chicken.
Cons: Boring sandwich. Soft, pointless bacon bits. Plain sauce. McDonald’s running out of ingredients and making random substitutions.