REVIEW: McDonald’s Jalapeño Double

McDonald's Jalapeno Double

If you’re looking for a hot, cheap date, I recommend sitting under a phoenix dactylifera during an African summer. But if you’re looking for a hot, cheap burger, I’d recommend McDonald’s Jalapeno Double.

For two dollars, you get two beef patties, a slice of white cheddar cheese, pickled jalapeno slices, jalapeno crisps, buttermilk ranch sauce, a regular bun, a paper bag, and napkins. Although, through my experience, there’s a 10 percent chance you won’t get napkins.

My McDonald’s Jalapeno Double was topped with seven pickled jalapeno slices. I took that as a sign that I was going to get lucky and taste something good or Ray Kroc was smiling down at me…hoping I burn my mouth for all the negative McDonald’s reviews I’ve written.

Fortunately for me, it was the former.

While my burger had a nacho’s worth of pickled jalapenos, I can’t say there were a lot of jalapeno crisps. What are jalapeno crisps? That’s a good question. You should be a journalist. Looking at their appearance and ingredients (jalapeno peppers, enriched flour, sunflower oil and/or safflower oil and/or canola oil, and salt), which I didn’t include to increase this review’s word count, I assume they’re jalapeno bits that have been coated with flour and then deep fried to near oblivion.

McDonald's Jalapeno Double Topless

The jalapeno crisps provide very little jalapeno flavor. I think they’re really there to give the burger a bit of crunchiness, which they also don’t go a good job of because there’s so few of them. However, the pickled jalapeno slices completely make up for jalapeño crisps’ lack of flavor and crunch.

As for the burger’s heat, the pickled peppers made my burger hole warm, but not uncomfortably so. Or, if you want to use a scale of heat that uses McDonald’s products as references, then it’s spicier than their Hot Mustard Sauce, but not as hot as their habanero sauces.

Perhaps the reason why, with seven jalapeño slices, the burger isn’t burning my mouth is the buttermilk ranch sauce. It has that familiar ranch salad dressing flavor many of us use to make vegetables tolerable, but the flavor goes in and out like a radio signal through a series of tunnels. I found that weird because there’s enough ranch sauce on the burger to make a McNugget jealous.

Speaking of the McNugget’s Creamy Ranch Sauce, it’s not the same sauce on this burger. To prove it and to definitely inflate this review’s word count, I’ve listed the ingredients below.

The McNugget’s Creamy Ranch Sauce is made up of soybean oil, water, cultured lowfat buttermilk, distilled vinegar, sugar, egg yolks, sea salt, garlic juice, xanthan gum, salt, lactic acid, spices, modified guar gum, onion powder, natural flavor, potassium sorbate, autolyzed torula yeast extract, parsley, and calcium disodium EDTA.

The burger’s buttermilk ranch sauce has soybean oil, cultured buttermilk, water, sour cream, egg yolks, distilled vinegar, maltodextrin, salt, dextrose, modified food starch, soy sauce, dried onion, garlic powder, lactic acid, natural and artificial flavors, shallots, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, calcium disodium EDTA, xanthan gum, spice, phosphoric acid, sodium acid sulfate, propylene glycol alginate, and autolyzed yeast extract.

Like the ranch sauce, the cheese shows itself every so often and seems to help temper the jalapeños. I wish McDonald’s offered a pepper jack cheese, because that would’ve been a nice addition here.

McDonald's Jalapeno Double Wrapper

The McDonald’s Jalapeno Double tastes like a McDouble with jalapenos, and that’s fine and disappointing at the same time. It’s fine because it’s a tasty combination and it’s only two bucks. It’s disappointing because they added ranch sauce and jalapeño crisps to make it more than just a McDouble with jalapeños, but those ingredients don’t do a good job at it. They seem unnecessary, like listing the ingredients for the jalapeño crisps and the two ranch sauces in this review.

(Nutrition Facts – 430 calories, 23 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 80 milligrams of cholesterol, 1030 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fiber, and 22 grams of protein.)

Item: McDonald’s Jalapeño Double
Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: N/A
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: A spicy McDouble. Worth the two dollars. Strong jalapeño flavor with a warm heat. Crunchy jalapeño slices. Cheese is a great glue that keeps the beef patties together.
Cons: Listing ingredients to add to a review’s word count. Ranch sauce doesn’t stick out. Jalapeño crisps didn’t add much flavor or crunch. Ray Kroc haunting me.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Fiesta Potatoes Grilled Breakfast Burrito

Taco Bell Fiesta Potatoes Grilled Breakfast Burrito

Taco Bell is a terrifically sad place at 7:30 in the morning. It looks depraved and miserable and…oh no, is that father buying a Taco Bell breakfast for his six-year-old? Dear God.

All around me, every patron sported the same placid expression of someone who was not only giving up on their chance for a nutritious breakfast, but also in some small way on themselves. As I waited in line, now one with the other early-morning crew, I was overcome with the unshakable feeling that this was the start of my very long, slow decline.

“Well”, I said to myself. “Burritos always make me feel better.”

Enter Taco Bell’s Grilled Breakfast Burritos, one of the latest Taco Bell breakfast offerings and the temporary antidote to my morning sadness. Available in three varieties—steak, sausage, and Fiesta Potatoes-I went for the latter. Fiesta Potatoes, for those of you who aren’t as talented with language as I, roughly translates to “party potatoes.” And I like to party, especially when there are potatoes involved.

Taco Bell Fiesta Potatoes Grilled Breakfast Burrito 1

The burrito itself has some pretty simple ingredients: eggs, nacho cheese sauce, and the Fiesta Potatoes all wrapped in a little grilled tortilla sleeping bag. The eggs, which are reheated scrambled eggs, actually have a pretty nice texture that avoids being too squishy. Although, like most hastily prepared eggs, it’s not exactly packed with intense flavor. The nacho cheese sauce, which does a great job of keeping everything from being too dry, also suffered from being pretty bland.

Taco Bell Fiesta Potatoes Grilled Breakfast Burrito 2

The real flavor in this burrito lies in the Fiesta Potatoes. A spiced out version of traditional diner home-fries, these crispy potatoes gave the burrito a little crunch, and a mild, but tasty, peppery kick.

However, because I am pretty sure I am the first person in Rhode Island to ever order the Fiesta Potatoes Grilled Breakfast Burrito, mine also included pico de gallo. Seriously, I could hear a cook in the back uneasily asking his equally uninformed manager about the ingredients, unsure of whether or not to include the condiment. It was decided to go for the middle ground, and scoop out a smidge. But I may have just gotten lucky.

Though I did really enjoy this burrito (despite how miserable it is to frequent a Taco Bell before noon), I have to say that the Grilled Breakfast Burrito may just be the least “Taco Bell” item on the Taco Bell menu. In fact, if you changed the word “burrito” to “breakfast wrap” I could easily see this being on the breakfast menu at McDonalds or Burger King-even without showcasing any southwestern flare. Either way, while it certainly isn’t the start of a Special K day, it’s a filthy cheap, quick, and damn good burrito. It’s also a great pick-me-up from the early morning Taco Bell blues.

(Nutrition Facts – 340 calories, 130 calories from fat, 15 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 85 milligrams of cholesterol, 790 milligrams of sodium, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugars, and 10 grams of protein.)

Item: Taco Bell Fiesta Potatoes Grilled Breakfast Burrito
Purchased Price: $1.69
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Pretty large and filling considering the price. Fiesta Potatoes have enough spice to give the burrito sizeable flavor. The eggs have a good scrambled consistency.
Cons: Holy hell! I do not like being in Taco Bell in the morning. Seriously, it is one of the most depressing places I have ever been. The burrito is also a little bland.

REVIEW: Lay’s Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese Potato Chips

Lay's Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese Potato Chips

To my dear Impulsive Buy readers:

I have a bit of a confession to make.

If you’re as attentive to my reviews as my ego likes to imagine you are, you may have noticed my reviews on this site focus 100 percent on sugar. I completely avoid the fast food section. Some of this has to do with the fact that the closest McDonald’s is a half hour excursion, but it also has to do with the fact that I don’t really eat meat.

I know, I am sorry.

I’m definitely not about to get all PETA on anyone, I just never really liked meat and decided the easiest way to get out of eating burnt hamburgers at cookouts was to just give it up. This has worked well, except for one exception. Bacon.

The thing is, most other meats have some form of suitable substitute out there. But bacon is irreplaceable; it’s God’s bookmark. Have you ever tried the horrendous slices of fake bacon that look like the polymer clay art projects I used to make in Girl Scouts?

So instead of giving up bacon, I have spent the last five years hosting brunches so that I can fill my apartment with the smell of bacon fat, “accidentally” eating the veggie dishes that I know have bacon bits in them, and using Bacon Salt far more liberally than I should. I am a fraud, and this is my confessional.

I had high hopes for these Lay’s Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese Potato Chips, since they had the potential to fulfill my bacon cravings without coming across as a complete hypocrite to all those who think I’m a real vegetarian. And while they weren’t as innovative as some of the other flavor submissions I saw, like “Salty Tears of Regret” and “Placenta,” bacon and mac & cheese are both pretty safe flavors in the salty snacks category.

Lay's Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese Potato Chips Bag

After opening the bag, I got a strong whiff of cheddar, and that’s about it. In my first few bites, all I could think about were the cheddar and sour cream chips I used to inhale. Thinking that maybe my palate was lacking its bacon detecting skills, I consulted my roommate in a taste test without letting her know what flavor they were. She too thought they were just cheddar and sour cream. If I really paid close attention, I could detect a slight bacon-y aftertaste. But I can also not identify a single point in my life where I have sat down and mindfully thought about each bite of a chip instead of just chomping on handfuls.

Because I was unconvinced in my first taste of these, I left about half the bag sitting in my room for a week to go back for a second test. And because I am lazy and bad at storing food, I left the bag completely open to go stale. Strangely, on this test, I could detect much more bacon flavor. It may have had something to do with the soft stale chip texture being reminiscent of bacon fat, but I may also just be crazy and searching for a satisfying meatless bacon substitute.

Lay's Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese Potato Chips Closeup

Of all the Do Us a Flavor finalists, Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese is near the top. But I would vote for the Wasabi Ginger instead just because these seem too similar to current offerings.

I dream of an America where we can have the ridiculous assortment of chip flavors that they have overseas. However, I’m not sure if the general consumer is as amped at the thought of salmon teriyaki chips as I am, so I see these easily appealing to the widest audience.

If you know you’re not an adventurous eater, these would be the chips to try. Otherwise, I’d recommend trying all the finalists. You can find them in small bags and you can force your friends to eat the ones you don’t like without telling them what they are. Although they’re pretty mainstream, they’re pretty good. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed for Lay’s Placenta Potato Chips next year.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz/about 15 chips – 160 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 320 milligrams of potassium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Lay’s Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese Potato Chips
Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 2 7/8 oz bag
Purchased at: Co-op Food Stores
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Safe flavor. Appealing combo. Finding ways to still secretly get bacon in my life. Flavor intensifies when stale. Forcing your friends to eat gross food without knowing it. Placenta chips of the future.
Cons: Predictable. Taste like cheddar and sour cream chips. Having to eat mindfully and slowly to detect the actual bacon flavor. Fakin’ Bacon.

QUICK REVIEW: Fiber One Chocolate Chunk Soft-Baked Cookies

Fiber One Chocolate Chunk Soft-Baked Cookies

Purchased Price: $3.00 (on sale)
Size: 6 cookies
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Tastes mostly like a grocery store bakery chocolate chip cookie. Not a bad way to get 20% of your daily fiber. The 3-inch cookie was soft and chewy. Turning junk food into a vessel for fiber. I could eat five Chips Ahoy cookies and get the same amount of fiber.
Cons: It has the same weird aftertaste that most Fiber One products have. No nutritional benefits beyond the fiber. Possible side effects from eating more than one in a sitting. Still waiting for Fiber One Potato Chips. I could eat five Chips Ahoy cookies and get the same amount of fiber.

Nutrition Facts: 1 cookie – 120 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Chex Mix Xtreme Habanero Lime Snack Mix

Chex Mix Xtreme Habanero Lime Snack Mix

I like to think of myself as being an extreme type of person.

For example, when I’m getting tattooed, it never hurts enough, so I pay someone to punch me in the face while the artist is making their skin doodles. I also like to skateboard… down a mountain, while simultaneously juggling a tiger and a bear, which are fighting to the death. When I go to the bar and order a beer, I take the bottle from the bartender, chug the beer, and break the bottle on the head of the guy next to me, usually resulting in a giant Roadhouse-esque bar brawl. When I put my clothes in the dryer, I don’t use dryer sheets.

Okay, so none of those are true. They are just things I say to try and impress girls on Tinder (they don’t work very well, either). I’m only extreme in what I eat. So naturally I was drawn to Chex Mix Xtreme Habanero Lime.

Why do companies always use “Xtreme” rather than just the correctly spelled “extreme”? They may as well just spell everything else wrong, too. Checks Myx Xtreme Abbaniro Lym. Ugh, I care too much sometimes.

So the mix is a pretty typical one, containing corn Chex, wheat Chex, circle and square pretzels, bagel chips (at least that’s what I believe them to be) and these god-awful, crunchy Cheetos-shaped disasters. I guess they can just be called corn puffs?

Though the mix is Habanero Lime flavored, there is actually other peppers at play here, as jalapeño and red bell pepper flavors are present along with the habanero. Then there’s a lime flavor to throw in, and the resulting taste is like Cool Ranch Doritos dipped in hot sauce. Every ingredient except the pretzels has the spice on them.

It starts off spicy, and once you bite into it you really get the lime taste, and it sort of cools things down a bit. You’ll still have a bit of spiciness lingering in your mouth after you have a few handfuls but you’ll never be left needing water or anything. And by the way, you really shouldn’t drink water if you are trying to get the spicy taste out of your mouth. Instead, go for a cucumber, or a banana.

The mix is great, but really it is great only without the corn puffs.

Chex Mix Xtreme Habanero Lime Snack Mix Closeup

The crunchy Cheetos-shaped abominations are the least spicy of everything, probably because they don’t retain much of the seasoning, and they are also the most disgusting. I cannot describe how much I hate those awful things. They are very dry and crunchy, but don’t provide much else. It’s like if you stripped the cheese off Cheetos and they were just corn puffs. But why would anybody want to do that? You get a tiny bit of flavor out of the seasoning, but it is not enough to make up for the fact that… well, to make up for the fact that they are useless and should not be in the bag in the first place.

I have eaten many varieties of Chex Mix, but these corn puffs are the single most out-of-place item I have found in any mix. I wish they had kept the mini breadsticks in the mix and not put in the corn puffs. It would have been exceptional, as opposed to just being pretty good.

If I was stranded on an island and the only thing I had to eat was the corn puffs, I would just make a swim for it. Okay, so I wouldn’t really swim for it because I’m not extreme enough and have an overwhelming fear of sharks and jellyfish, but I still would not eat them!

Looking past the annoying spelling of “extreme” and the corn puffs, this Chex Mix is a really nice addition to the ever-growing group.

(Nutrition Facts – 2/3 cup – 140 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of total fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 230 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Chex Mix Xtreme Habanero Lime Snack Mix
Purchased Price: $2.69
Size: 8 oz. bag
Purchased at: Hy-Vee
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Seasoning is just the right amount of spicy. Skateboarding down a mountain while juggling a fighting tiger and bear. Roadhouse.
Cons: Corn puffs are gross. Fear of jellyfish. Realizing that you are, in fact, not extreme at all.