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REVIEW: Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich with Chick-fil-A’s New Grilled Chicken

Written by | April 15, 2014

Topics: 9 Rating, Fast Food

Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich

The way I see it we can start this one of two ways. The first is periphrastic, if not predictable. I tell you some sad story about how urban life deprived me of backyard cookouts as a child (a lie), or maybe I opine with a completely unnecessary (but eloquently articulated) treatise on how grilled chicken is the bastard stepchild of the fast food community and should never be ordered when a deep fried and crispy counterpart is available.

Or I could just cut the bullshit and tell you that Chick-fil-A’s new Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich is one of the best grilled chicken sandwiches I’ve ever had.

Yes, ever, and certainly the best rendition from a fast food or quick service restaurant. And no, that’s not an indictment of my own grilling ability, nor should it be confused with a history of rarely ordering grilled chicken sandwiches. Simply put, the new and improved marinade, combined with the preparation on what’s being labeled a “proprietary grill,” yields a flavor and texture that’s unlike the boring and prefabricated “grilled” chicken breasts served half-assed by other fast food restaurants.

Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich Sauces

I was skeptical at first. Opportunity cost and its ever-present threat of regret make ordering anything but the classic Chick-fil-A sandwich virtually impossible for me, while a natural prejudice against fast food items above the five dollar mark made me initially question my decision. Still, with a full court press campaign touting what a game-changing sandwich this is, I figured it couldn’t hurt to go grilled over crispy at least once. If nothing else, it would give me an excuse to replenish my precariously low stash of Chick-fil-A sauces.

Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich Grill Marks

Let’s just say I was more than pleasantly surprised. Actually, I was blown away, and plan to come back for more. The chicken breast itself is head and shoulders above what most fast food restaurants dole out. Unlike the “chicken breast filet with rib meat” patties at places like McDonald’s, the Chick-fil-A breast retains its natural shape, and doesn’t have any off flavors from injected sodium filler used to plump it up. Instead, the marinade and the grill contribute the main flavors. It’s got a nice apple cider vinegar tang and lemon zing while still having a really herby element and a touch of sweetness. The grill flavor is pronounced and authentic—I kid you not, had you blindfolded me and thrown a Frisbee at my head, I would have sworn I was at a backyard cookout (I would have also chucked the Frisbee back at your head, sicko.) Finally, it’s beyond juicy. Succulent sounds about right to me.

Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich Bacon

The rest of the fixings really push the sandwich over the top and help validate the $5.36 price tag. Unlike most club sandwiches, it divorces the usual swiss cheese in favor of Colby-Jack. I think it’s a good move because it has a richer, more milky-sweet taste than domestic slices of “swiss cheese,” although for the full flavor to come into effect, it’s best to let the cheese steam while in the container. The bacon has an enjoyable smoke flavor that really helps bolster the taste of the cheese and chicken, but it’s middle of pack texturally speaking now that McDonald’s has upgraded to thicker slices. Still, the produce is fresh if not a bit excessive, while the bun, which might just boast every whole grain on the planet, has a pleasant give and complex flavor. It’s not cloying like all these newfangled “brioche” style buns or dense like the old Chick-fil-A wheat buns, and instead tastes solidly of toasted grains without tasting too healthy.

Finally, the removal of pickles (which appeared on the old Grilled Chicken sandwich) does wonders, getting rid of any last vestment of “canned” flavor and producing something unabashedly fresh in every sense of the word. It was so enjoyable that, after taking several bites and being greeted by the symphonic flavors and textures, I completely forgot about the seven separate sauces I was provided with for, uh, “testing” purposes.

Look, I get it. It’s a grilled chicken sandwich, and not something 90 percent of us who eat fast food regularly are going to get excited about. Having subjected myself to grilled chicken sandwiches from the likes of McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s in semi-regular spats of misguided healthy-eating, I really can’t fault you for having low expectations. But this sandwich is different. It really is a game-changer, and looks and feels every part of a perfectly cooked grilled chicken sandwich you’d expect to pay at least eight or nine bucks for at a full service restaurant. I’m no branding expert, and I definitely don’t plan on getting into bovine linguistics, but with a club sandwich this good, the cows might want to change their slogan to “eat more grilled chicken*.

*translated, roughly, from “moooo.”

(Nutrition Facts – 440 calories, 14 grams of fat, 7 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 1090 milligrams of sodium, 41 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, 38 grams of protein, 25% DV calcium.).)

Item: Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich
Purchased Price: $5.36
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Chick-fil-A
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Unbelievably succulent chicken breast with amazing chargrilled flavor. Lemon, herb, and garlic marinade completely permeates the meat. No rib meat slime or “butter oil” flavor. Colby-Jack cheese has milky-sweet notes. Bacon has good smoke flavor, produce is fresh and clean, and bun is exceptional. No extra charge for ridiculous sauce requests.
Cons: Cheese flavor is better once warmed and slightly melted, so better to get to-go. Bacon could be thicker and more assertive. Size of the lettuce leaf makes it awkward to eat.

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REVIEW: McDonald’s Premium Crispy Chicken Bacon Clubhouse Sandwich

Written by | March 27, 2014

Topics: 9 Rating, Fast Food, McDonald's

McDonald's Premium Crispy Chicken Bacon Clubhouse Sandwich

For years, I believed the “special sauce” on the McDonald’s Big Mac deserved better.

It deserved a better name because “special sauce” doesn’t sound so…um, special. Let’s be honest, Grimace Snot Sauce would’ve been a better name. I also believed the tangy sauce deserved to be sauce-gunned on sandwiches other than the Big Mac.

Well, almost 50 years since the introduction of the Big Mac, we’re finally get Grimace Snot Sauce on sandwiches that aren’t a Big Mac and don’t have beef. (Although, hardcore fast food aficionados would wipe the Grimace Snot Sauce from their mouths and then point out that there’s been Chicken Big Macs in other countries.) Why hasn’t it happened sooner? Fear of a special sauce shortage, cannibalization of Big Mac sales, or will Ray Kroc’s ghost appear and warn us that the end of the world is nigh? I dunno.

What I do know is that I’m glad it happened, even though it could mean the end of the world, because McDonald’s new line of Bacon Clubhouse sandwiches are damn tasty, especially the Premium Crispy Chicken Bacon Clubhouse Sandwich.

As you can see in the pictures above, there’s a lot going on with this sandwich. Along with the secret sauce, the sandwich is also made up of lettuce, tomatoes, a crispy chicken breast filet, a slice of white cheddar, Applewood smoked bacon, and caramelized onion on an artisan bun.

McDonald's Premium Crispy Chicken Bacon Clubhouse Sandwich Bun

Let’s start off with that bun. The first thing I noticed about it was how shiny it was. The top glistens like the skin of a liar on the witness stand, but it isn’t greasy. The two halves are toasted, which help prevent the bun from falling apart. While eating the sandwich, I could’ve sworn the bun had a slight sweet bread vibe to it, but whatever the bun has, it’s good, I want it available with every McDonald’s sandwich, and it makes the other McDonald’s buns taste like what they give with water to prisoners.

McDonald's Premium Crispy Chicken Bacon Clubhouse Sandwich Top

Let’s move on to the bacon. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, McDonald’s Applewood smoked bacon is quite good for fast food bacon. It’s thick, has a wonderful salty porky flavor, and there’s a crispiness to them along the edges, which was absent in the previous pork strips McDonald’s called “bacon.” My sandwich came with four strips, which, after reading other reviews, seems to be an anomaly. (Also, an anomaly, the two tomato slices that came with my sandwich.)

The special sauce’s sweet and tangy flavor goes extremely well with the somewhat thick crispy chicken breast filet, which is the same chicken in McDonald’s other premium chicken sandwiches. So well that I still can’t believe McDonald’s didn’t go sauce gun trigger happy on their other sandwiches sooner. The crispy chicken breast filet was for the most part crispy on the edges and wasn’t dried out. The slice of white cheddar didn’t make an impact with this sandwich. Its flavor got lost among the sauce and caramelized grilled onions.

Speaking of the caramelized grilled onions, a part of me wishes they weren’t included because they took away some of the secret sauce’s flavor. But that can easily be fixed by asking for extra sauce or holding the onions. I mean, the sandwich has so much going on that I don’t think the onions would be missed.

The McDonald’s Premium Crispy Chicken Bacon Clubhouse Sandwich is the best tasting chicken sandwich on the McDonald’s menu. Some of you may scoff at its premium price, which is in the $4.50-$6 range, but I think it’s worth the price and possible special sauce shortage, cannibalization of Big Mac sales, or the end of the world.

(Nutrition Facts – 750 calories, 340 calories from fat, 38 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 1750 milligrams of sodium, 65 grams of carbohydrates, 16 grams of sugar, 4 grams of fiber, 36 grams of protein.)

Item: McDonald’s Premium Crispy Chicken Bacon Clubhouse Sandwich
Purchased Price: $5.89*
Size: N/A
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Best tasting McDonald’s chicken sandwich. The artisan bun is better than any other bun McDonald’s offers. Meaty, thick, and slightly crispy Applewood smoked bacon strips. Secret sauce goes wonderfully with the crispy chicken filet. Green lettuce.
Cons: Caramelized grilled onions seem unnecessary and they take away some of the secret sauce’s flavor. McDonald’s not sauce-gunning their secret sauce on other sandwiches sooner. Will be pricey to some.

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did.

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REVIEW: Nabisco Chewy Chips Ahoy! Root Beer Float Ice Cream Creations

Written by | February 26, 2014

Topics: 9 Rating, Chips Ahoy!, Cookies

Nabisco Chewy Chips Ahoy Root Beer Float Ice Cream Creations

Dear Nabisco and Parent Company Mondelez International,

We here at the Mayo Clinic have been furthering medical science and treating patients for the past 150 years. Our progress through research and education are unparalleled, and our hospital and medical specialties have been consistently lauded and ranked amongst the best healthcare organizations by third party publications. Which is why we are proposing a residency for the scientist who came up with the “Chewy Chips Ahoy! Ice Cream Creations Root Beer Float.” Now, this is a strange request, you may be saying to yourself. Please, first let us tell you what we think of the cookie.

We think it’s wonderful. When the seal is torn off the light blue packaging, a root beer breeze wafts from the tray. It serves as a time machine to the first time in our childhood we had a root beer (or at least the first time we had a root beer-flavored Jelly Belly). The nostalgia extends to the actual taste too, as it resembles something that of a softer, sweeter root beer, such as Mug. There is even a little tingle in the throat as you have obviously harnessed some sort of earthy extract to poke at our uvulas.

The star is the root beer flavor, but the white-colored, vanilla-tasting chips do a great job of being cool and mild, balancing the overall flavor out as well as completing the experience that is “root beer float.” And what look like regular chocolate chips are actually root beer-flavored chips. They add a nice dimension to the texture and burst of root beer taste when each fake chocolate chip pocket is breached. The flavors and texture are probably more balanced and consistent than an actual root beer float, which can be just mouthfuls of either only ice cream or only soda and overall a wet affair.

Nabisco Chewy Chips Ahoy Root Beer Float Ice Cream Creations Closeup

The cookie texture you have down—you guys are obviously pros and have been perfecting the chewiness for going on thirty years now since the introduction of Chewy Chips Ahoy! cookies. We know it’s a trick, but they’re as soft as warm cookies straight out of the oven. It’s insane. There are a few qualms we have, such as testing our resolve with making such an easy-to-eat cookie. (Question: Why was the doctor jittery and restless? Answer: She didn’t have any patience/patients!). But also, while the root beer flavor is exquisite, it doesn’t come with the carbonation or the mouth feel of a real root beer, and our brains keep telling us this is not real. It makes the experience a bit chemically, but we think that is out of your hands, Nabisco.

Nabisco Chewy Chips Ahoy Root Beer Float Ice Cream Creations Cookie

The distribution of chips is also a bit uneven. While no cookie in the bag was bad (yes we ate the whole bag—with some tea in the break room), some cookies are chock full of the sweet morsels and the experience between an average one and an above average one is discernible. Lastly, get rid of the packaging. The bright, electric blue doesn’t make us hungry for cookies. Stick with earth tones please. (Question: Why was the doctor jittery and restless? Answer: She just worked a double shift and a guy died!)

Whoever came up with this idea and executed it was an outside thinker. He or she looked to the future while being informed by the past and that kind of thing is exactly what we want on Team Healthcare, so we would love to offer him or her a position on our team.

“But cookies aren’t saving lives,” you say. Well to that we respond, did you think a ragtag team of oil drillers couldn’t save our planet from an oncoming asteroid? Stop being so closed-minded, because I don’t want to miss a thang. “It wasn’t even one person,” you say, “It was a team of marketing people and a food scientist.” Nabisco, we are the Mayo Clinic. We can do things. Have you ever seen that movie the Fly? We can smush your team of marketers and one food scientist into a single mutant monstrosity that collects one paycheck from us. Don’t worry about it.

Just send everyone involved with this project over. And while you’re at it, send over a box of Triscuits. Send ten. Or we’ll release the airborne genital warts. “Airborne genital warts?” you ask. You know what? You’re going down, Nabisco. Consider this a warning shot. The Mayo Clinic now officially backs cookie mogul the Girl Scouts. (Question: Why was the doctor jittery and restless? Answer: She just stole some Ritalin to self-medicate but hasn’t taken it yet.)

Cordially yours,

The Mayo Clinic

Rochester, Minnesota

(Nutrition Facts – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 95 milligrams of sodium, 20 milligrams of potassium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Nabisco Chewy Chips Ahoy! Root Beer Float Ice Cream Creations
Purchased Price: $2.99 (on sale)
Size: 9.5 oz.
Purchased at: D’Agostinos
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Chewy. Root beer-y. Easy to eat—less wet, sticky than actual root beer float. Chips give good balance to cookie. Goes wonderfully with tea or coffee.
Cons: Ate a whole bag in two sittings. (Liar) One sitting. Some cookies are better than others. Could be chemically off putting to some. /p>

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REVIEW: Calbee Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC Colonel Crispy Potato Chips (Japan)

Written by | February 11, 2014

Topics: 9 Rating, Chips, Japan

Calbee Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC Colonel Crispy Potato Chips

I have no relationship with KFC to speak of. I never eat there. I wasn’t wronged by them or anything. I didn’t find a pinky toe in my Famous Bowl or anything. KFC, for whatever reason, is just never on my radar.

A couple of years ago, I actually did remember it, and even convinced my wife we should get some for dinner. So I drove up the street to the closest outlet, and to my surprise, not only did KFC not operate out of that location anymore, but the building had been demolished and grass was growing on the now empty lot. So, not on my radar.

I could’ve made it a New Year’s resolution to try to rotate them into the regular monthly schedule, but that probably wouldn’t have worked. If using fried chicken as sandwich bread didn’t bring me back, I’m probably too far gone. Some day, KFC. Some day.

(I didn’t forget about you either, Hardee’s. Any time you want to bring back that peach cobbler, I’ll be there.)

Today, I’m going to bridge the gap a little with these KFC potato chips from Japan. You can’t dive back in too quickly, right? Don’t want to end up like me my friend, last time I he smoked a cigar and ended up lying on the floor nauseous and dizzy for an hour. Gotta ease back in.

I’m surprised that this sort of fast food/snack food hybridization isn’t happening more in the United States. Why is Japan at the leading edge of this food frontier? I know Burger King had some weird snacks that I still see at the dollar store, but I’m talking like McDonald’s Big Mac potato chips or Wendy’s Chocolate Frosty Cheetos. Interesting stuff. There is a market. There’s always a market.

Calbee Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC Colonel Crispy Potato Chips 3

These chips are the result of a partnership between Calbee and KFC that came about when a Calbee executive slipped on a chicken bone someone had carelessly discarded outside his Tokyo apartment. He hit his head on a parking meter, and when he awoke, he found himself looking up at a doctor wearing a white coat and black stethoscope, who he mistook to be an angelic vision of Colonel Sanders (because of the morphine administered by the hospital). That’s according to the package anyway.

Calbee Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC Colonel Crispy Potato Chips 2

Just kidding. None of that is true. I can’t read anything on this package.

The nosegrope of these chips isn’t fried chicken. It’s a bit oniony and a little bready. They sort of smell like a variation on Funyuns.

Calbee Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC Colonel Crispy Potato Chips 4

The flavor experience is interesting. There is that oniony breadedness from the nosegrope initially and then a second wave of chicken-ness. There are notes of garlic, as well. The chips aren’t overly seasoned nor are they overly powerful. I have to say the chicken flavoring is pretty accurate. It does indeed taste like fried chicken. I don’t know if all eleven herbs and spices made it through customs and with enough punch to say it tastes like KFC chicken specifically, but these do taste like some kind of chicken. And that’s good.

These are easily the best tasting of the Japanese hybrids I’ve reviewed. Why we don’t have KFC chips in the U.S. is a mystery. Kentucky Fried Chicken AND potato chips! My god, man! Do you want me to just Sharpie dollar signs all over the bag?! Seriously, these would fly off the shelves.

You could even say that these would sell…(sunglasses)…bucketloads.

Thank you.

(Nutrition Facts – 458 kcal, 28.7 grams of fat, 490 milligrams of sodium, 45.5 grams of carbohydrates, and 4.5 grams of protein.)

Item: Calbee Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC Colonel Crispy Potato Chips
Purchased Price: $4.99 (+$4.50 shipping)
Size: 83 gram bag
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Accurate chickenosity. Seasoning restraint. Hardee’s peach cobbler.
Cons: Inexplicable unavailability in the U.S.

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REVIEW: Cap’n Crunch’s Sprinkled Donut Crunch Cereal

Written by | February 3, 2014

Topics: 9 Rating, Cap'n Crunch, Cereal

Cap'n Crunch's Sprinkled Donut Crunch Cereal

I’ve never been one for conspiracy theories. But in the case of the abrupt discontinuation of one of cerealdom’s most flawlessly engineered constructs of sugar and corn, I’ve never been able to accept the company line anymore than most Americans buy that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in 1963.

I speak, of course, of Sprinkle Spangles. Officially, any General Mills exec worth his 10 essential vitamins and minerals will dismiss the cereal’s dismissal to it having just run its course at the breakfast table. But, unofficially, whispers persist as to the real reasons why a cereal so great, so unquestionably yummy, was abruptly yanked off shelves.

Some say General Mills was threatened by government health officials who feared an escalation of childhood obesity; others claim wheat farmers cut off shipments to General Mills’ factories over fears the corn-based cereal sales would render their crops obsolete. Still other experts, namely me, have advanced that it was Dom DeLuise who sabotaged the cereal’s continuance.

Acting out because of selfish demands for more money as the cereal’s spokesman, DeLuise’s refusal to make more commercials left General Mills with no choice but to discontinue the cereal or risk the ire of the Hollywood backlash.

Whatever the real reason, we all suffered, and have never quite found a replacement.

Until now. Cap’n Crunch’s Sprinkled Donut Crunch is the proud successor to Sprinkle Spangles we have all waited for.

The aroma alone is almost ethereal, insofar as you might assign such a joyful and otherworldly adjective to a sprinkle coated oat and corn flour ring. More intense in confectionary goodness than even Post’s recent Sugar Cookie Pebbles, this smell makes me want to plunge my nostrils into the plastic sleeve and risk asphyxiation in the name of breakfast. Cooler minds prevailed, but just barely.

Cap'n Crunch's Sprinkled Donut Crunch Cereal Dry

Holding a single donut cereal piece in my finger and examining it with the kind of scrutiny usually reserved for rare diamonds, I’m impressed with the size of the donut rounds. These aren’t Cheerios; fatter, larger, and with that slightly fried texture that makes Waffle Crisp so addictive, the donuts have a heft and body to them usually not seen in ringed cereals. They’re also sprouting more sprinkles than a cupcake designed by an overzealous three-year-old baking prodigy.

Popping one of the pieces into my mouth, I allow the sweet taste to dissolve slowly. There’s definitely a strong note of Funfetti mixed with Birthday Cake Goldfish in each ring, but the flavor is aided by a none-too-cloying aftertaste of baked corn, oats and coconut oil that is unmistakably the taste of Cap’n Crunch. Crunching down, you’re met with the familiar shredding sensation that marks the original Cap’n Crunch, expect in this case, you’re also greeted by tiny explosive shards of pure confectionary firepower. Dare I use a nautical analogy in complete deference to ongoing controversy about the Cap’n’s actual naval accomplishments, but these sprinkles deliver a veritable broadside.

Cap'n Crunch's Sprinkled Donut Crunch Cereal Wet

Normally I would not advocate breeching the hull of the Cap’n’s vessel, but in this instance, taking on water milk only improves the cereal. Having misplaced the keys to my time machine I can’t compare the taste exactly to Sprinkle Spangles, but milk turns the sprinkles into a kind of donut glaze with just enough richness to make each spoonful seem downright dessertish. An especially telling byproduct of this glazed effect is that the milk slowly takes on multicolored form, with pools of red and green developing on the side of the bowl. Restraint isn’t easy, but should you find yourself willing to marinate the still crunchy donut rings in the milk for an extended period of time, you’ll find yourself rewarded with a flavor that echoes a barrage of donuts, snickerdoodles, and yes, our long lost Sprinkle Spangles.

Cap’n Crunch’s Sprinkled Donut Crunch is not, by any means, an accurate representation of a glazed and sprinkled donut. But you know what? Go grab a sprinkled donut from most stores and tell me it’s not better than just “pretty good.” The truth is this latest galleon in the Cap’n’s arsenal is so much more than its name alludes to, capturing the flavor of a bygone cereal and even improving on it. Whether you’ve been circumnavigating in vain for a replacement for Sprinkle Spangles, or charting a course towards a Cap’n Crunch flavor that does the classic taste justice, you’ll want to make Cap’n Crunch’s Sprinkled Donut Crunch the flagship cereal in your pantry.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup – 110 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 200 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 25 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 13 grams of sugars, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Cap’n Crunch’s Sprinkled Donut Crunch Cereal
Purchased Price: $3.00
Size: 17 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Tastes just like Sprinkle Spangles, except better. Strong notes of Funfetti, snickerdoodle, and glazed donut with all the brown sugar corn and oat crunch of classic Cap’n Crunch. Leaves one of the most amazing end-milk experiences in cerealdom.
Cons: Not the strongest donut flavor. Cereal conspiracy theories. Overreliance on nautical and naval puns to stretch out a narrative that could be summed up as, “this is really freaking yummy.” Doesn’t contain Bavarian crème in the center.

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