REVIEW: Little Caesars Premium Stuffed Crust DEEP! DEEP! Dish Pizza

Little Caesars Premium Stuffed Crust DEEP! DEEP! Dish Pizza

Over the years, competitors have come out swinging – stuffing crusts with hot dogs, creating delivery cars with pizza ovens, and paying Peyton Manning.

Last year, Little Caesars tried to play ball with the Bacon Wrapped Crust DEEP! DEEP! Dish Pizza. Dialing it back, Little Caesars’ latest contribution to realm of ridiculous pizza innovation is their new Premium Stuffed Crust DEEP!DEEP! Dish Pizza. I’ve learned from my day job that if you throw the adjective “premium” in front of your product or offering, it’s a sure win!

Continuing to sip on my haterade, I conclude from the rectangular box that my pizza isn’t round. What! Choquée! The box does proudly tout that Little Caesars is America’s Favorite Detroit-Style Deep Dish Pizza. Detroit is home to a lot of great things like the Detroit Lions, so what could go wrong here? Kidding.

Because Little Caesars is carry-out only, the eau d’pizza had about 20 minutes to permeate my car. I’ll give Little Caesars this – if they bottled the tantalizing pepperoni aroma, I’d buy it. When I got home, I expect it to look as glorious as it smells but the squares look really plain, small, and sad. Product description reads: “Four corners of perfection weren’t enough, so we gave you eight!” Honestly Little Caesars, I would’ve been fine with one, good round pizza.

Little Caesars Premium Stuffed Crust DEEP! DEEP! Dish Pizza 3

While I can look past size, the pepperoni pieces were clearly just haphazardly thrown on. It looks like the one time I tried to play ring toss inebriated. I do appreciate that the pepperoni wasn’t marinating in a puddle of oil like competitors’ pepperoni pizzas.

While the overall pizza is hardly as ooey-gooey as it is in the ads, two slices down and I’m heavy breathing. I find myself feeling relieved that the cheese isn’t molten lava because it’s as if an entire cheese wheel was melted down and stuffed into the contents of this square dough. It’s like the dough and cheese have fused into one; I’m not quite sure where one begins and the other ends – there’s cheese on top, cheese in the middle, cheese in the crust. Alls I know is that my stomach is stuffed like this pizza.

Little Caesars Premium Stuffed Crust DEEP! DEEP! Dish Pizza 4

I’m amazed that a single square slice somehow holds everything with such grace – no collapsing soggy crust whatsoever like other competitors’ stuffed crusts and not dry and hard like some Sicilian-style pizza I’ve had. Conclusion: Stuffed Crust DEEP!DEEP! Dish Pizza is the Spanx of pizzas. Like Spanx, it’s somehow containing and holding in all the cheese. The little muffin top forming over my jeans is a stark contrast to the pizza’s remarkable composure. Damn, I knew I should’ve worn my stretchy pants.  

This really does remind me of elementary school cafeteria pizza. But, this conjures fond memories for me like a square pizza patronus (where my Gryffindors at?!). Like all elementary school meals, it looks unappetizing and has way too much sodium; but if you count the pepperoni as your daily serving protein and tomato sauce as your daily serving of vegetables, you have a square meal. Get it? *buh dum tss*

Square pizza = square meal. Ha! No? Okay, fine. Fair.

Dad jokes aside, I will admit it’s not the best pizza I’ve ever had, but it’s definitely one of the better fast food chain pizzas. I still think that pizza shouldn’t be square but the this one can be the exception.

(Nutrition Facts – Not available on website.)

Purchased Price: $10
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Little Caesars
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Eau d’pizza could be bottled and sold. Spanx of pizzas – will induce heavy breathing. Square pizza patronus.
Cons: Deceptive – doesn’t look as good as it smells and cheese isn’t ooey-gooey as advertised. Square.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Ritz Ultimate Butter Crackers

Limited Edition Ritz Ultimate Butter Crackers

Butter.

It makes bread taste better. It makes theater popcorn less healthy. It made Paula Deen a multimillionaire. And it helps take off rings that have gotten stuck on fingers because folks have eaten either too much buttered bread, theater popcorn, or Paula Deen’s cooking.

Butteriness.

It’s one of the defining characteristics of the iconic Ritz Cracker. Crumbly is also a defining characteristic, but I’m not here to talk about the mess Ritz Crackers make. I’m here to discuss whether it’s necessary to take the already buttery Ritz Cracker and make the Limited Edition Ritz Ultimate Butter Crackers.

The cracker has a strong artificial butter flavor, which isn’t surprising since the words “artificially flavored” are printed on the front of the box in tall thin letters and they have a smell that’s similar to what you’d get with anything that’s “buttered popcorn” flavored. 

Limited Edition Ritz Ultimate Butter Crackers 2

The first cracker is a bit odd, but not odd enough to make me go “nope,” walk away, and leave the other seven Fresh Packs for birds. But if you have an aversion to Buttered Popcorn Jelly Belly Jelly Beans, I imagine you won’t enjoy these. 

However, after that initial cracker, the artificial butter flavor fades, which I guess is a good thing. But even with a muted flavor, they’re still noticeably more buttery than regular Ritz crackers. I think they’re not bad on their own and they’re as crispy as any Ritz cracker, but I definitely prefer regular Ritz Crackers over them.  

On the Limited Edition Ritz Ultimate Butter Crackers box, it suggests you create “Ritzwiches” featuring steak and potatoes, corn and bacon, and caramel corn. Seeing those suggestions got me thinking that maybe these crackers were really meant to be eaten with toppings. 

Since I lack the drive to prepare fancy toppings like steak and potatoes, I went with whatever was in my fridge — processed American cheese. I have to admit the American cheese between two crackers was surprisingly good. It tasted as if I was eating a grilled cheese sandwich.

Limited Edition Ritz Ultimate Butter Crackers 3

I also used another ingredient from my fridge to make cracker sandwiches — butter. Let’s face it, using a pat of butter as the filling for a cracker sandwich with these extra buttery crackers would truly make them the ultimate.

So how did it taste? It tastes just like a pat of butter or licking the paddle attachment of a KitchenAid Stand Mixer that was just used to soften butter.

Remind me to not eat that again.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 Fresh Stack – 200 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 370 milligrams of sodium, 40 milligrams of potassium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 11.5 oz.
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: As crispy as regular Ritz Crackers. Not bad after the first cracker. Tastes surprisingly good with American cheese. Butter.
Cons: First cracker has a heavy artificial butter flavor. If you don’t like Buttered Popcorn Jelly Belly, you’re not going to like these. Maybe not meant to be eaten without toppings. Making cracker sandwiches using pats of butter.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert

Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert

Ben & Jerry’s flavor gurus have wizarded four new Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert flavors: Chunky Monkey, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Coffee Fudge Caramel, and P.B. & Cookies. Yes, autocorrect keeps reminding me that “wizarded” is not a real verb but the flavor gurus’ work is food magic.

While my body is still processing lactose like a champ, I have many friends who can no longer enjoy lactose-filled foods – even with Lactaid! But, is Ben & Jerry’s giving my lactose-intolerant friends the real deal with this Non-Dairy innovation? I’m particularly skeptical of Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey because it’s a brazen move to try to replicate a tried & true flavor.

There’s only one way to settle it – a good ole taste-off.

As I open both pints and get ready to dig in, Rocky IV flashes before me. Regular Chunky Monkey is Rocky – now wildly successful and the crowd-pleasing favorite. It used to be the underdog because banana ice cream isn’t OG like vanilla or chocolate. Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey is Ivan Drago – designed to perform and to mirror the best of the best.

*DING DING DING*

The first round, taste, goes to regular Chunky Monkey. Unlike the full-fat Chunky Monkey, Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey doesn’t have a creamy buffer so the banana flavor is reminiscent of banana-flavored Runts. Runts were one of the worst candies in the childhood trick-o-treat plunder and of course, the banana-shaped runt was the worst flavor of them all. It’s not looking so hot for Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey.

Chunky Monkey and Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey are neck-and-neck in Round Two – texture. Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey takes the win. Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey’s overall texture is surprisingly identical to the regular Chunky Monkey. How is Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert made with almond milk?! Vegan ice creams are typically made with fattier substances like cashew milk or coconut milk. I don’t know what kind of almond milk Ben Cohen & Jerry Greenfield drink but the almond milk in my fridge is most closely related to murky water. ALMOND MILK SORCERY!!!

Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert 2
(L – Non-Dairy, R – Regular)

Round Three, mix-ins, is a swift win for regular Chunky Monkey. Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey’s packaging claims that it’s “so boldly loaded with chunks & swirls.” While I can clearly see the superior distribution of the fudge chunks and walnut pieces in Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey, the Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey fudge chunks have a sandy texture and are also less deliciously rich. It’s a rookie error of quantity over quality – tsk, tsk Non-Dairy!

Instead of ring girls holding up round cards, it’s just me holding up two spoons – alternating bites of ice cream and Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert at lightning speed. Brain freeze? Yep, numerous times.  

Now, we’re in the 15th & final round (and I’m finally almost done with both pints). Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey goes the distance; it’s not melting as quickly as regular Chunky Monkey. Regular Chunky Monkey is puddling into pools while Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey is melty but definitely looks more solid.  

Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert 3

The taste-off is over and it’s a close call. Regular Chunky Monkey edges out Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey. However, like Rocky & Drago, Chunky Monkey & Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey can co-exist! While Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey is not an exact replica of the regular Chunky Monkey, it’s pretty damn close.

As a lactose-lovin’ gal, Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey wouldn’t be my go-to because it doesn’t have the full-fat richness, fragrance. But, some Ben & Jerry’s is better than no Ben & Jerry’s; Non-Dairy is a really great option for lactose intolerant/vegan folks. Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey Frozen Dessert won’t be in the Flavor Graveyard any time soon.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 260 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 15 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 26 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.79
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Vons
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Almond Milk Sorcery!!! Superior distribution of the good stuff. Coexist with regular Chunky Monkey like Rocky & Drago! Goes the distance.
Cons: Banana-flavored runts. Sandy fudge chunks.

REVIEW: Burger King Angriest Whopper

Burger King Angriest Whopper

It was a Saturday, just like any other Saturday. I woke up, brushed my teeth, and got ready for the day. I read the newspaper and had a cup of coffee. I went for a morning run.

Eventually, I grew hungry for lunch. I got in my car, drove to the nearest restaurant, and placed my order. I paid the cashier and waited while my food was prepared. The cashier handed me a bag and I was on my way.

Once home, I sat down at my dinner table, bowed my head, and said a prayer.

“Dear almighty (Burger) King, please don’t let me end up in a Yahoo! article for whatever color this bright red bun turns my poo.”

Okay. Maybe it wasn’t just like any other Saturday.

In the Burger King family tree, the Angriest Whopper is the livid sibling of 2009’s Angry Whopper, and the extremely sunburned cousin of last year’s A.1. Halloween Whopper (which made headlines last year after customers reported that its black bun turned their poop green).

Burger King Angriest Whopper 2

As I unveiled the burger, I was greeted by an ominous proclamation: “I SURVIVED THE ANGRIEST WHOPPER.” So there’s a chance I might not survive this thing? Were my last words really going to be a prayer about the effects a fast food cheeseburger might have on my bowels? I will admit, as gimmicky as this burger seemed, I was intrigued to see whether it would live up to its spicy billing.

Burger King Angriest Whopper 3

The Angriest Whopper’s bun is very squishy. I certainly wouldn’t think of it as a “premium” bun used in similarly-priced burgers at other restaurants. The textures of the various ingredients are mostly similar, with some decent crunch from the lettuce and bacon. Having said that, the produce is what you would expect from Burger King—more functional (to provide some color and hold the components together) than attractive.

The tamer ingredients in the Angriest Whopper are decent. The bacon is crispy and provides a good meaty flavor. The patty itself has Burger King’s strong charbroiled taste, but it is relatively thin for its menu price and not at all juicy. The other two standard ingredients, the mayonnaise and American cheese, struck me as odd choices for this burger. The mayo adds little and actually seems to dull the other flavors. The American cheese is similarly underwhelming. I think Burger King missed a chance to use pepper jack cheese to add some heat.

Burger King Angriest Whopper 4

Now, the “spicy” ingredients. If this Whopper is Burger King’s definition of “Angriest,” I’d like to point them to my mother’s reaction when I stuffed a bag of Ritz Bitz in our VCR as a child. The only real heat comes from the four jalapeño slices, which are spicy and somewhat sour. I tried the bun separately, and if there is hot sauce baked in, I definitely couldn’t taste it. The angry onion petals are soggy and limp, but actually quite tasty. They reminded me of a slightly spicier version of Burger King’s onion rings. The angry sauce is undetectable for the most part. It seemed to have mixed with the mayo, and the little taste I could pick up was more sweet (almost like barbecue sauce) than spicy.

The Angriest Whopper is a decently flavorful sandwich, with a good amount of heat coming mostly from the jalapeños. But at $5.49 for just the burger, you’re basically paying for the novelty of the blindingly red bun. At a lower price and with a few recipe tweaks, however, this burger could be a heavy-hitter as one of Burger King’s regular offerings.

(Nutrition Facts – 830 calories, 51 grams of fat, 17 grams of saturated fat, 2 grams of trans fat, 115 milligrams of cholesterol, 1530 milligrams of sodium, 59 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 17 grams of sugar, 34 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $5.49
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Innovative ingredients. Onion petals and bacon provide great flavor. Decent heat from jalapeño slices. Managed to survive eating a fast food cheeseburger.
Cons: Lacks heat. Bun contains no flavor whatsoever. High price for one sandwich. Getting yelled at by your mom. Bathroom prayers.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Donuts Sausage GranDDe Burrito

Dunkin' Donuts Sausage GranDDe Burrito

Burritos have been getting some bad press recently. From E.coli to a firefighter punching a homeless guy while waiting in line for one, the burrito is suffering from a serious PR crisis.

Enter Dunkin’ Donuts to save the day.

Dunkin’ recently announced the GranDDe Burrito – a new breakfast amalgamation, offered in both sausage and veGGie varieties. Props to the Dunkin’ marketing team for the puNNy name. It sure made me giGGle when I saw the coMMercial on the bOOb tube. I knew I just had to scuRRY to my local DD right away!

Okay. I’ll stop.

The burrito features a spicy omelet, cheese, beans, rice, corn, fire-roasted peppers, and onions wrapped in a flour tortilla, a mixture that DD suggests is JAM (emphasis theirs) packed with authentic southwest flavor. Their website also suggests that the burrito is SO (emphasis mine) heavy that you might not be able to pick it up. If that’s the case, my trips to the gym are going to need to get a lot more frequent.

After ordering my sausage burrito, I watched the Dunkin’ employee unceremoniously plop the frozen wrap onto a tray and jam it in the oven. When it was finished “cooking” the burrito got swaddled in an aluminum foil blanket, which I can only imagine is Dunkin’s attempt to bump up the authenticity factor and make me feel like I’ve stepped into a New Mexican tacqueria. Albeit it’s a tacqueria that also sells frosted donuts, but I digress.

Once I sat down, I noticed the burrito wasn’t that granDDe at all. It’s definitely smaLLer than what you’d get at Chipotle or Qdoba, but thankfully it’s half the price of what you’d find there. Upon unwrapping, I noticed that the GranDDe Burrito resembled a convenience store microwave version, complete with areas of soft and hard tortilla, and grease spots where the filling had soaked through the wrap. Authenticity!

Dunkin' Donuts Sausage GranDDe Burrito 2

Since the GranDDe burrito is not a freshly made product, the contents are layered one-by-one rather than mixed together and spread throughout. With my initial bites, I could clearly identify the omelet and sausage, but by the end, all that’s left were the rice and veggies. Thankfully the pepper, onion, and cheese did a great job at amping up the flavor, but the egg lacked any punch and got lost amongst the burrito’s other ingredients.

Dunkin' Donuts Sausage GranDDe Burrito 3

Similarly, the rice was too mushy to stand out, which makes me wonder who thought it was a great idea to put rice into a frozen breakfast burrito in the first place. I feel like a salsa or picante sauce would’ve done a great job at rounding out the taste, but the only things I could find in the disorganized Dunkin’ condiment bar were ketchup and Splenda. Guess I need to pull a Beyonce next time.

All in all, you’re getting your money’s worth with the GranDDe Burrito, but don’t expect it to be a bastion of southwest flavor (which I know you weren’t even expecting anyways).

(Nutrition Facts – 1 burrito (sausage) – 710 calories, 370 calories from fat, 41 grams of fat, 17 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 225 milligrams of cholesterol, 1660 milligrams of sodium, 56 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, 30 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Dunkin’ Donuts
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Good for bicep curls. Wrapped in swaddling clothes. Double D’s. A filling meal for the price.
Cons: Burritos in the tabloids. Soft spots and hard spots. Mushy mouthfeel. Vaguely southwest.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert

Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert

As a young lad, I used to think the term “lactose intolerant” was really “lack toast and tolerant,” and I was fascinated whenever I met someone with the condition.

In my mind these people lacked sufficient amounts of toast and were extremely understanding. Not having friends who were lactose intolerant, I never heard the phrase much other than a few times growing up, so my illusion was shattered when I figured out what the term really meant in high school.

They say you don’t really know someone until you walk a mile in their shoes, then have your faces surgically switched like in the Travolta/Cage classic Face/Off, drop their kids off at school, work their job, come home, tell your new family about your day over dinner, and sleep with their spouse. Unfortunately I’ve never done this because I don’t have the patience to talk about my day with strangers, but I have, at select points in life, went a few days without having dairy. And it stunk!

I mean, could you imagine not having Ben & Jerry’s ice cream? Well, now you don’t have to. Nor should you. It’s not a fun scenario to imagine.

Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert 2

Ben & Jerry’s answered non-dairy prayers everywhere with their new line of Non-Dairy Frozen Desserts, which are made with almond milk. Now lactose intolerant peeps everywhere can be friends with two of the coolest dudes around!

But how does it compare to regular Ben & Jerry’s ice cream? Pretty darn good. There are many noticeable differences but given the aim of the product is for non-dairy folk to be able to partake, they’re easily looked over.

Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert 3

The flavors are most modeled after already existing flavors, like this one, Chocolate Fudge Brownie. I noticed right upon opening the pint there is no distinct smell to the ice cream. The moment you dig your spoon in you’ll find the consistency is very different from the dairy version. The dessert is crumbly when you bite into it. It’s not nearly as creamy as the dairy version; it’s actually kind of dry.

The chocolate flavor is not nearly as sweet as the dairy kind. It’s more of a bitter flavor, kind of like a light dark chocolate. Although not as good as the ice cream, it’s something you would be happy eating if you couldn’t have the dairy version.

I don’t know for sure if the brownies are made with almond milk, too, but if I had to guess I would say they were. They are packed with flavor like the dairy version but they are much drier. Usually Ben & Jerry’s brownies have some moistness to them but these brownies have the feel of next day brownies, when you leave the brownies out for a bit and they dry out. Still really tasty, just a tad dry.

The brownies actually come from Greyston’s, a bakery in New York, which aims to provide jobs for low-income residents, so you can feel extra good about eating them.

Overall, the non-dairy frozen dessert isn’t as good as the ice cream version but it’s still really tasty and would please lactose intolerant folks and ice cream snobs alike. The worst part is the price, which ran me $5.49 for the pint. Yikes! A bit excessive, but if you’ve never experienced Ben & Jerry’s because you’re lactose intolerant, it’s worth the plunge.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 200 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 45 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 16 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $5.49
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Wegmans
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Good flavors for not being real ice cream. Face-switching surgery. Non-dairy folks having prayers answered.
Cons: Ice cream and brownies are a tad dry. Lacking sufficient toast. Having your illusions shattered.