REVIEW: Taco Bell Sriracha Quesarito

Taco Bell Sriracha Quesarito

It’s hard to believe Taco Bell decided to get out of their Tex-Mex comfort zone with their new Sriracha Quesarito. But then again, I guess it was inevitable since sriracha continues to be a popular ingredient.

It’s gotten so trendy that if you went to a grocery store and threw a open bottle of sriracha at a random aisle, there’s a very good chance the mess would hit something sriracha flavored. And sriracha’s growth can also be seen in the fast food industry. Subway offered their Sriracha Chicken Melt, Jack in the Box has sriracha sandwiches and breakfast burritos, White Castle put it on their sliders, and Pizza Hut offers it as topping and crust options.

Taco Bell’s Sriracha Quesarito features a burrito stuffed with premium Latin rice, seasoned ground beef, reduced fat sour cream, and Taco Bell’s own sriracha, and a quesadilla with nacho cheese sauce and more sriracha that’s wrapped around the burrito.

Taco Bell Sriracha Quesarito 2

I haven’t had the original Quesarito, but from what I’ve read, it’s tastes and eats like a burrito. So I expected the Sriracha Quesarito to taste like a burrito with sriracha.

Let’s talk about the sriracha first.

As I ate the Sriracha Quesarito, I wasn’t sure if there was enough sauce on the one I received or if the other ingredients were muting the sauce’s flavor, because I couldn’t really taste the sauce in about half the bites. Whatever flavor I could get, I considered it to be everything I expect sriracha to be.

Garlicky? Check.

Peppery? Check.

Tangy? Check.

While I couldn’t taste the sauce too much, there was a nice amount of heat. And I imagine if the sour cream wasn’t an ingredient in the Sriracha Quesarito, it would be a bit hotter.

Taco Bell Sriracha Quesarito 3

The sauce went well with the premium Latin rice and seasoned ground beef (you can also get it with shredded chicken and steak). Actually, the cilantro, garlic, and onion in the rice paired well with the sriracha when I could taste it. The nacho cheese sauce and sriracha in the quesadilla made a nice sriracha con queso that gushed into my mouth a few times as I ate my way through the entree.

Although I didn’t get a strong punch of sriracha flavor in every bite, I did enjoy Taco Bell’s Sriracha Quesarito. I think if you’re a fan of the sauce, you should definitely give it a try. The Asian-Tex-Mex combination does work and I’d like to see sriracha in more Taco Bell items. Or I’d love to see Taco Bell’s sriracha sauce end up in packets.

(Nutrition Facts – 650 calories, 290 calories from fat, 32 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 1720 milligrams of sodium, 68 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 22 grams of protein.)

Item: Taco Bell Sriracha Quesarito
Purchased Price: $3.29*
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: It has sriracha. Asian-Tex-Mex combination works. Sauce has a nice heat. Premium Latin rice pairs well with the sriracha. Cheese from quesadilla oozing into my mouth. Addition of sriracha in the quesadilla.
Cons: Sour cream bringing down the heat. Simple combination of ingredients. Half of the time, I couldn’t really taste the sriracha.

*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: Mountain Dew Kickstart Hydrating Boost (Pineapple Orange Mango and Strawberry Kiwi)

Mountain Dew Kickstart Hydrating Boost

When I saw the bizarre, trippy commercial for Mountain Dew Kickstart Hydrating Boost energy drinks during the Super Bowl, I got pretty excited. An energy drink with some kind of hallucinogen in it? WOOHOO! Well, at least that’s what the commercial led me to believe, but I was intent on finding out for myself.

The description on the bottles are kind of interesting. Flavored sparkling juice beverage blend from concentrate with other natural flavors. I was under the impression it was a normal energy drink, but right away I noticed they weren’t as acidic and sugary as others on the market.

It has coconut water, contains 10 percent juice, and with the can being only 12 ounces and 60 calories per can, it’s definitely healthier than a lot of other energy drinks.

It comes in two flavors, Energizing Strawberry Kiwi and Energizing Pineapple Orange Mango. Did they really need to use the word “energizing?” I mean, it’s called Kickstart, and it’s sold amongst other energy drinks. And they use the same term on both flavors. They should use different ones, like, I don’t know, “Pump You Up Strawberry Kiwi.” Just my thoughts.

Mountain Dew Kickstart Hydrating Boost Orange Pineapple Mango

Pineapple Orange Mango beats out Strawberry Kiwi big time in the taste department. It has three fruit flavors, and though you might think something would get lost in the mix, all three flavors actually come through, with pineapple and orange being the most prominent. It drinks like a mix between a soda and a sparkling juice, and isn’t as carbonated as much as normal energy drinks are. It was very pleasant to drink.

The cans say, “with just the right amount of KICK” because they have 68 milligrams of caffeine.

But they don’t say anything about containing acid or some other drug that will make my cat dance or my statues come to life and have deep philosophical conversations with me, but I saw the commercial. I know what’s going on here.

Mountain Dew Kickstart Hydrating Boost Strawberry Kiwi

The Strawberry Kiwi was kind of weak. I really just tasted strawberry, and since the flavor wasn’t nearly as potent as the Pineapple Orange Mango, the carbonation is more noticeable and it just doesn’t work as well as its companion flavor.

Both contain coconut water, but it must not be much. I couldn’t taste a hint of the distinctive flavor in either. But I’m not really complaining, as coconut water doesn’t have the greatest taste.

I drank half of each so I could see what was up with the energy boost I was supposed to receive, but honestly I didn’t really get too much of the kick I was promised. Now you may drink this and get a decent kick, but it didn’t do much for me.

But despite the lack of boost, I did find the hydrating part to be true. I would normally stay away from an energy drink if I needed a thirst quencher, but these drinks were darn refreshing.

As for the hallucinating… well, it never came. That commercial was so misleading. Promising me free drugs in a can that would make me dance and hallucinate, on top of giving me an energy boost. And what do I get? Nothing. Well, I did get a tasty Pineapple Orange Mango drink that I would have again. And I gained the knowledge that Strawberry Kiwi isn’t worth my time.

But most importantly, I realized that you shouldn’t seek out hard drugs inside cans of Mountain Dew energy drinks. You should just call your shady friend Peanut and see if he’s currently in or out of jail and whether or not he can hook you up.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 ounces – 60 calories, 0 grams of fat, 130 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 14 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, 68 milligrams of caffeine, 0 grams total fat, 130 mg of sodium, 15 grams total carbohydrate, 14 grams sugars, 0 grams protein, 68 milligrams of caffeine, 75% vitamin c, 60% niacin, 60% vitamin b6, 45% pantothenic acid, 10% phosphorous. Strawberry Kiwi – )

Item: Mountain Dew Kickstart Hydrating Boost
Purchased Price: 2/$3.79
Size: 12 oz. can
Purchased at: Gulf Gas Station
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Pineapple Orange Mango)
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Strawberry Kiwi)
Pros: Pineapple Orange Mango was quite tasty. Less sugary and acidic than typical energy drinks. Only 60 calories per can. Having a shady friend named Peanut.
Cons: Strawberry Kiwi was pretty weak. Drinks did not offer much of a kick. Misleading commercials. Having a shady friend named Peanut.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core Ice Cream

I have something to confess.

After reading what I’m guilty of, many of you will shake your head in disapproval. And some of you will become angry and say in a raised tone, “But children in Africa are starving.”

Well, here it goes. 

I’m a serial cookie butter waster. 

I’ve thrown out almost a dozen unopened and half eaten jars of Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter and Biscoff Spread. All the jars were gifts and I do enjoy cookie butter, but why did I neglect them?

I don’t know, the Cookie Monster, Mrs. Fields, Famous Amos, and Keebler Elves in my head won’t tell me.

If I have not finished a jar of cookie butter, will I be able to finish a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core Ice Cream?

The frozen treat is a combination of dark caramel and vanilla ice creams with speculoos cookies and a speculoos cookie butter core. Because there’s a lot going on, you can’t blindly stab your spoon into it like you would with most ice cream. You have to have the finesse of an archeologist working his or her way around the small bones of a velociraptor’s hand, because your goal, should you buy this ice cream, is to get a bit of every ingredient onto your spoon.

Because this ice cream is a bit high maintenance, don’t bother with a bowl. Doing so will just make it harder to get the optimal spoonful. This ice cream (and I imagine every Cookie Core flavor) is best eaten straight from the container.

Ben & Jerry's Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core Ice Cream Cookies

Now don’t waste your time trying the ingredients separately. I’ve already done that for you because I’m your junk food friend. The vanilla ice cream tastes like vanilla ice cream. The dark caramel has flavor that’s milder than the vanilla ice cream I guess it should’ve been called light caramel ice cream. The cookies are balls that may or may not be crunchy when you mash them with your molars. And the speculoos cookie butter core is pleasantly gritty and surprisingly soft straight from the freezer. But you shouldn’t eat the cookie butter by itself because it’s not as sweet as the cookie butters you can buy in stores.

Ben & Jerry's Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core Ice Cream Core

However, the cookie butter flavor is magically enhanced with the dark caramel and vanilla ice creams. It’s not like eating Biscoff Spread straight from the jar, but it has those flavors and spices we all love, like cinnamon and brown sugar, that make it taste familiar. Actually, at times, its flavor also reminded me of pumpkin spice.

Sadly, the speculoos cookies don’t really intensify the cookie butter flavor. It’s the same with or without. The cookies do add texture when you’re able to get a crunchy cookie, which happens only half of the time. Another inconsistency is the flavor of the cookies. A noticeable amount had no flavor at all.

With all that said, Ben & Jerry’s Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core Ice Cream is NOT spectacular. It is very good…if you get a little bit of the cookie butter, both ice creams, and a crunchy cookie on your spoon at the same time. But that won’t be a problem, because there’s enough of each.

It’s good enough that, unlike the jars of cookie butter I once owned, I see myself finishing this pint of Ben & Jerry’s Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core Ice Cream.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 290 calories, 170 calories from fat, 19 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 21 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein, 8% vitamin A, 10% calcium, and 2% iron.)

Item: Ben & Jerry’s Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core Ice Cream
Purchased Price: $3.75
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: It’s very good if you get all the parts of the ice cream on your spoon. Pleasant cinnamon and brown sugar flavors. Some cookies are crunchy. Cookie butter is soft, even straight from the freezer.
Cons: Not spectacular. Some cookies aren’t crunchy. Cookie butter core not good by itself. Dark caramel ice cream has a very light flavor. Some cookies have no flavor. Being a serial cookie butter waster.

REVIEW: Fairlife Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk

Fairlife Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk

Fairlife Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk has 50 percent more protein, 30 percent more calcium, and 50 percent less sugar than regular reduced fat chocolate milk. It has no lactose, it’s been ultra-filtered, and comes from cows that are not treated with rBST. The cows that produce Fairlife milk listen to classical music all day, receive daily massages, go to cow hot yoga classes twice a day, are read bedtime stories, eat grass from silver troughs, and have the sound of crashing waves play while they sleep.

Actually, that last sentence I’m not sure about.

According to the bottle, the producers of Fairlife milk provide “extraordinary care for our cows.” I don’t know what that means, so I just assumed they are treated better than the wagyu cattle used to make Kobe beef.

Speaking of producers, if you think this milk comes from some farm in the middle of Indiana, you’d be wrong. It’s comes from some farm in the northwestern part of Indiana. Also, it’s distributed by some small beverage company that you’ve probably never heard of. I believe their name is Coca-Cola.

So how does this milk have more protein and calcium and less sugar than regular chocolate milk? You could watch this video that’ll explain it with cute animation. Or you could read the following boring words: ultra-filtering involves separating the different parts of the milk and then recombining them, but including more of the protein and calcium and leaving out the sugars.

Fairlife Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk smells and looks like every other chocolate milk on the market. It also has a nice thickness, thanks to the added carrageenan. Its flavor is mostly similar to other reduced fat chocolate milks, but it has a different aftertaste. It’s probably because of the added ace-K and sucralose sweeteners (sugar is also added), but I should make clear that the difference in flavor isn’t as dramatic as regular cola and diet cola. The aftertaste is not a deal breaker for me and my diet soda drinking taste buds, but I can see how it might be an issue for others.

Another issue others might have is the milk’s price. Fairlife is being marketed as a premium milk, so it has a premium price. A half-gallon…oh wait. A 52-ounce bottle retails for $3.99, which is more expensive than the average price for a gallon of whole milk, which I obtained from the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

You’re probably thinking, “Holy crap! That is some expensive milk.” And it’s probably being followed by, “Holy crap! You did actual research for this review.”

Fairlife’s Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk is pricey, contains artificial sweeteners, goes through an unfamiliar filtering process, and is distributed by one of the world’s largest beverage companies, but I really like it. I think it has a surprisingly nice flavor for something that has artificial sweeteners, I’m all for more protein and calcium, and the price doesn’t bother me too much because of what it offers over regular milk.

Dairy milk hasn’t changed much over the years. It’s the same milk that did the body good when I was growing up. That milk is still fine, but I like having the option for “super” milk that does the body better.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup – 140 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 280 milligrams of sodium, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, 13 grams of protein, 10% vitamin A, 40% calcium, and 25% vitamin D.)

Item: Fairlife Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 52 oz. bottle
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like chocolate milk. Surprisingly good flavor for something that has artificial sweeteners. 50 percent more protein, 30 percent more calcium, and 50 percent less sugar than regular reduced fat chocolate milk.
Cons: Pricey. Contains artificial sweeteners. Slightly off aftertaste. Not sure what “extraordinary care for our cows” mean.

REVIEW: Pringles Food Truck Flavors Kickin’ Chicken Taco

Pringles Kickin Chicken Taco

Unless you were living on the planet Uranus and happened to miss the Super Bowl and all of its commercials, you no doubt know that a truck can change the way people feel about a guy. But can a truck also change the way people feel about a chicken taco-flavored crisp which is approximately only 42 percent potato?

Such is the question posed by the latest Pringles innovation, Food Truck Flavors Kickin’ Chicken Taco.

To give you some perspective, I guess I should start out by saying I like, but do not love, Pringles. I’ve always found them a serviceable crisp, but let’s be honest, anything you can buy in a can for under two bucks probably isn’t going to conjure up adjectives like “artisan” and “game-changing.” The plainer flavors tend to have an off and fake potato aftertaste, while inconsistent spice coverage always seems to leave the more inventive seasoned crisps falling short.

Yes, a chicken taco from a food truck sounds great, but could chicken taco be any more ambiguous? I mean, chicken taco encompasses quite a spectrum of possibilities; anything ranging from Taco Bell’s “grilled” chicken in a hard shell with iceberg and cheap cheddar cheese to fried and crispy breast tenderloins doused in a bulgogi-style sauce from an up-and-coming fusion chef. The vagueness of it all is enough to make a guy wonder if it’s just another variation of sour cream and onion with a dash of back heat.

Julius K. Pringle clearly had other ideas in designing these crisps because they more than lived up to the unique mashup of flavors that make food trucks such a hit. The first flavor to hit my tongue is the unmistakable taste of braised and specifically dark meat chicken. Intrepid and worldly snackers have seen chicken-flavored crisps before, but unlike Lay’s somewhat recent rendition of Chicken & Waffles, the deep, unmistakably meaty taste isn’t offensive or fowl, at least not as foul as the egregious poultry-themed pun I seamlessly worked into this review.

Pringles Kickin Chicken Taco 4

After the initial blast of braised chicken, a veritable Williams-Sonoma catalog of spices hits me. At first there’s a strong taste of cumin and coriander, with a peppery, cayenne-like back heat which slowly builds. The heat reaches a crescendo, however, and gives way to a slightly floral and acidic note. I hesitate to proclaim it cilantro (or is it parsley?), but there’s definitely an element of relief from the earthy heat of the spices in the seasoning powder. That seasoning gets good coverage overall, appearing on both sides of the crisps.

Pringles Kickin Chicken Taco 2

They end on a distinctly citrusy and curiously sour note, in this case the unmistakable association of a squirt of fresh lime or lemon juice. Maybe the best part is that overly fake potato flake taste is completely absent.

Needless to say, my taste buds have been blown away. There are multiple influences of street food at play on each crisp, ranging from the aggressive spices and slow roasting of the Middle East’s shawarma, to the classic back heat and citrusy relief of your more traditional shredded chicken tacos from Latin America. If combining those two influences in a fusion-style taco was their goal (and seriously, I can pull up a Google search of dozens of food trucks around the country doing this) then Pringles has nailed the flavor with uncanny accuracy.

In 26 years of Pringles eating, this is, unequivocally, the most complex Pringle I have ever tasted, and probably the most realistic mashup of the fusion-inspired food truck flavors a snack food could ever hope to capture. It’s definitely changed the way I feel about Pringles, but is it for the better?

Truth be told my taste buds are confused, caught off guard by flavors I probably wouldn’t seek out had I known they’d be so authentic. Whether or not you find them satisfyingly addictive or unnervingly too accurate probably will depend on your attraction to the combination of assertive Latin and Middle Eastern spices, but one thing’s for sure. This ain’t a trip through the drive-thru and it will definitely leave you with a new perspective on Pringles.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz./about 15 crisps – 150 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 170 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, less than 1 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein..)

Item: Pringles Food Truck Flavors Kickin’ Chicken Taco
Purchased Price: $1.50
Size: 5.96 oz. can
Purchased at: Harris Teeter
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Multilayer seasoning shows evolution in flavors from meaty to earthy to piquant to cooling. Strong poultry taste reminds me of pulled adobo marinated chicken thighs. Uncanny resemblance to Middle Eastern and Latin fusion flavors in taco form. Everything’s better with a truck.
Cons: Not the most craveable flavor. Lacks broad appeal of “simpler” seasoning. Could probably be better as a Pringles Tortilla flavor. Tastes about 0.5 percent potato.