REVIEW: Jack in the Box Jack’s Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich

Written by | April 17, 2014

Topics: 7 Rating, Fast Food, Jack in the Box

Jack in the Box Jack's Blazin' Chicken Sandwich

I don’t think Jack’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich from Jack in the Box is spicy. Whenever I’ve eaten one, I’ve never felt the need to reach for whatever Coke beverage that came with my meal, or jump over the cash register counter at Jack in the Box and place my mouth under the ice cream machine’s nozzle, in order to soothe my oral cavity.

Because of my feelings towards Jack’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich, I was hesitant to believe a new Jack in the Box chicken sandwich with Ghost Pepper Ranch Sauce would satisfy masochistic desire to burn my taste buds and give me a good reason to jump over a Jack in the Box cash register counter so I can suck on an ice cream machine’s teat.

For those of you who aren’t Scoville scale scholars, Ghost Peppers, or Bhot Jolokia, were once the hottest peppers in the world. In 2012, the title of world’s hottest pepper was taken by the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, and, in 2013, both peppers were overtaken by the Carolina Reaper from the PuckerButt Pepper Company. I mention the other peppers because with the information I just gave you, I believe you can now consider yourselves Scoville scale scholars and it allows me to put “PuckerButt” into a paragraph.

Well, it turns out my feelings about the sandwich’s spiciness were right because Jack’s Blazin’ Chick’n Sandw’ch is not blazin’ and its name doesn’t contain that many apostrophes. I added a couple extra.

Jack in the Box Jack's Blazin' Chicken Sandwich Sauce

With the Ghost Pepper Ranch Sauce, I was hoping for a level of spiciness that would, um, make me tear up a little as if I was watching Toy Story 3′s ending, but that didn’t happen. It didn’t even make me sweat. While the Ghost Pepper Ranch Sauce has some heat, the sliced jalapeño are spicier, which emphasizes how tame the sauce is. The sandwich comes with the same spicy chicken patty used in Jack’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich, but as I mentioned at the beginning of this review, it’s not spicy to me. However, the chicken patty did have a little crispiness, but it was also slightly dry.

If your mouth prefers the extreme safe side of the Scoville scale, this sandwich still might be a little too much for you. To give you a reference point for how spicy this sandwich is, it’s noticeably less so than McDonald’s Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder or their Southwest Premium Chicken McWrap, both of which have made me sweat a little.

But even though it’s not blazin’ and the lettuce I received with my sandwich was the saddest looking piece of lettuce I’ve ever seen, it’s a tasty sandwich.

The flavor from the pickled jalapeño stood out, followed by the Ghost Pepper Ranch Sauce, which has a nice smokiness and pepperiness. It also kind of tastes like a milder version of McDonald’s Habanero Ranch sauce.

The sandwich is also topped with grilled onions, Swiss-style cheese, and tomatoes. I didn’t get very many grilled onions on my sandwich, and I thought it was weird to have grilled onions on a chicken sandwich, but they didn’t add anything flavor-wise because they got lost behind the jalapeño and Ghost Pepper Sauce. The Swiss-style cheese’s flavor does come through a little bit and it slightly tempers the sandwich’s spiciness.

Again, even though it’s not blazin’ to me, it’s a really good sandwich. And I guess it’s a good thing it wasn’t blazin’, because if it was overly spicy, the heat would’ve distracted my taste buds from the flavors. Jack’s Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich is a giant step up in terms of flavor and heat from Jack’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich, and, to be honest, I wish Jack in the Box would replace their Spicy Chicken Sandwich with it.

(Nutrition Facts – 665 calories, 269 calories from fat, 30 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1172 milligrams of sodium, 662 milligrams of potassium, 70 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 32 grams of protein.)

Item: Jack in the Box Jack’s Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich
Purchased Price: $4.99 (sandwich only)*
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Jack in the Box
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: A giant step up in terms of flavor and heat from Jack’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich. Ghost Pepper Ranch Sauce may not have a lot of heat, but it does have a nice flavor. Crispy jalapeño provided most of the flavor and heat. Slightly crispy chicken. Thank goodness they used Swiss-style cheese instead of American cheese. Toy Story 3.
Cons: Ghost Pepper Ranch Sauce is not blazin’. My computer’s autocorrect correcting “blazin’” with blazon. Received the saddest piece of lettuce. Grilled onions didn’t add anything. For some reason not available in Austin, Cincinnati, Denver, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Laredo, McAll/Brownsville, Palm Springs, Reno, or Tulsa. Jack’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich.

*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.

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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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QUICK REVIEW: Fiber One Caramel Sea Salt 90 Calorie Soft-Baked Bars (Target Exclusive)

Written by | April 11, 2014

Topics: 6 Rating, Fiber One, Snack Bars

Fiber One Caramel Sea Salt 90 Calorie Soft-Baked Bars

Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 6 bars
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Nice flavor, but I’m not sure it’s not what I would consider caramel. It kind of tastes Fig Newton-y. Soft, slightly chewy texture. Smells like brown sugar. Low fat. A decent tasting way to get five grams of fiber. I guess it’s easier than eating an apple. I mean, I can stuff a whole bar in my mouth, but I can’t stuff a whole apple.
Cons: Sometimes there are these bursts of saltiness, which are a bit off-putting. “Caramel bits” are really toffee bits. The bars look kind of small when unwrapped, they’re just 2-inch squares. Some people have had gas issues with the chicory root extract, which gives the bar its fiber, so don’t go through the box in one day…or even two days.

Fiber One Caramel Sea Salt 90 Calorie Soft-Baked Bars Closeup

Nutrition Facts: 90 calories, 25 calories from fat, 2.5 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.

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REVIEW: Nabisco Limited Edition Fruit Punch Oreo Cookies

Written by | April 10, 2014

Topics: 8 Rating, Cookies, Oreo

Nabisco Limited Edition Fruit Punch Oreo Cookies

Milk.

It provides our bodies with calcium. It makes our cereal soggy. It does the body good. In some people, it can cause gastrointestinal issues. It’s the co-star in way too many Gallon Milk Challenge and Gallon Smashing YouTube videos. It’s the reason why there are hundreds of “Got Milk?” rip-offs on bumper stickers and t-shirts, like “Got Muscle?”, “Got Beer?”, “Got Weed?”, and “Got Balls?”. And it’s what we’ve dunked our Oreo cookies into for decades.

But I’m not sure milk is the appropriate liquid to dunk these Limited Edition Fruit Punch Oreo Cookies in. That, obviously, would be fruit punch.

Now you might be thinking to yourself, “What weirdo would dunk Oreo cookies into fruit punch?” Well, who has two thumbs and a Pyrex measuring cup filled with fruit punch that has Golden Oreo cookie crumbs floating on top?

This guy!

Nabisco Limited Edition Fruit Punch Oreo Cookies Dunk

For some of you, the idea of just eating Limited Edition Fruit Punch Oreo Cookies sounds gross. It seems like a flavor a food scientist would come up with after drinking a few too many glasses of spiked fruit punch.

And for many of you, the thought of dunking these Limited Edition Fruit Punch Oreo Cookies into fruit punch and then eating the cookie probably sounds even worse. But having done both, I have to say they are not gross.

Nabisco Limited Edition Fruit Punch Oreo Cookies Closeup

From the moment I opened the packaging to the last bit of chewed cookie going down my gullet, I experienced fruit punch. Its smell is spot on. Its flavor is spot on. The color of its Red 40-enhanced creme is spot on. Its texture…well, it’s a cookie so it’s not going to be spot on.

Companies have different interpretations of fruit punch, but the Fruit Punch Oreo cookie’s creme tastes exactly like a product I’ve had in the past. Sadly, I can’t remember what it was (I’m thinking it could be a Popsicle), but the creme has a nice cherry, citrusy flavor, which is also very potent. So if you’re one of those people who really loves to say the word “cloyingly,” these cookies will make your linguistic side happy. I thought the crunchy Golden Oreo wafer would dampen the creme’s flavor, but it does not.

However, even though I can see the fruit punch flavor being a little strong for some, I think these Nabisco Limited Edition Fruit Punch Oreo Cookies are so wonderful that they make me want to strip off my clothes, paint my entire body red, draw a smiling face on my belly with the thickest Sharpie pen using my belly button as a nostril, and then burst through a wall yelling, “Oh yeah!”

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 15 milligrams of potassium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Nabisco Limited Edition Fruit Punch Oreo Cookies
Purchased Price: $4.99*
Size: 12.2 oz.
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Spot on fruit punch aroma, flavor, and color. Has a nice cherry, citrusy flavor. Dunking them into fruit punch is surprisingly not bad. Makes me want to get naked.
Cons: Fruit punch creme might be too potent for some. It’s limited edition and available only at Walmart. Dunking them into milk is probably not a good idea. Makes me want to get naked.

*I had to purchase these on eBay because they were hard to find in my area, but you’ll probably pay somewhere between $2.50 and $3.50, if you buy them at Walmart, where they’re an exclusive flavor.

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REVIEW: Post Limited Edition Honeycomb with Twisted Marshmallows Cereal

Written by | April 8, 2014

Topics: 5 Rating, Cereal, Post Cereals

Post Limited Edition Honeycomb with Twisted Marshmallows Cereal

Your kitchen, circa nineteen-ninety something. Your hair is shabby and your brain is in a fog after another week of grinding through pages of fractions and mitosis, but Saturday morning has finally yielded its sweet relief from the onerous oppression that is the sixth grade. You’ve been put on the spot all week long, but today, there’s no chance of giving the wrong answer. As you open the pantry and breathe in the scintillating aroma of dextrose and trisodium phosphate, you realize the correct answer is “all of the above.”

Hey look, I’m not casting judgment. We all mixed and matched our cereals in those days before chocolate combined with Cinnamon Toast Crunch and marshmallows found their way into Froot Loops. When you think about it, we had to. It was sheer evolution. How else was I suppose to recreate apple cinnamon waffles then to add Apple Cinnamon Cheerios to Waffle Crisp? But somewhere over the last fifteen years the fat cats at General Mills, Kellogg’s, and Post got wind of what we were up to. Like any good business people, they consulted the brightest minds in high-performance and highly refined grains, came up with a flowchart for these sorts of situations, and devised a plan for research and development. I imagine it went something like this:

Mr. Bob Post, CEO: What do we have on the agenda today? Ah yes, Honeycomb. Classic. Underrated. Consistent. The Andre Reed of cereals, if you will. But sales are down. How can we jazz it up?

Herbert Sherbert, Head of R&D: Chocolate!

Mr. Bob Post: Tried it. Absolutely abysmal. What else you got?

Herbert Sherbert: How about Cinnamon? I heard Apple Jacks was doing that now and the reviews have been great!

Mr. Bob Post: I like it, but we’ve tried that too. Just didn’t sell. Kids these days have no sense of nuance. Looks like we’ll have to go with Plan Ireland.

Herbert Sherbet: You mean Curtis Stone? I actually think he’s Australian…

Mr. Bob Post: No, you idiot. I mean that Irish cereal, whatyacall it, the one with marshmallows.

Herbert Sherbert: You mean Lucky Charms?

Mr. Bob Post: That’s the one! Lucky Charms! Now let’s marshmallowize this beeswax!

Post Limited Edition Honeycomb with Twisted Marshmallows Cereal Closeup

And so, through the miracles of capitalism, Post’s Limited Edition Honeycomb with Twisted Marshmallows was born. Why “Twisted”? Other than the squiggly line running down the marshmallows, I seriously have no idea. But considering hearts, stars, and horseshoes, clovers and blue moons were already taken, I guess the options were somewhat limited. In any event, it’s my experience that marshmallows can subtly, yet brilliantly, elevate what otherwise might be a plain cereal base. Lucky Charms is obviously the quintessential example, with the sturdy and crunchy oat pieces—small and not overly sweet on their own—pairing wonderfully with the bursts of sweetness provided by the ‘mallows.

Unfortunately, Honeycomb doesn’t derive such a boost from the marshmallows. The Honeycomb pieces themselves are fine; they have that just-right level of sweetness and gentle, non-toasted crunch which somehow holds its texture in milk. I’ve always kind of admired the strange savory taste of Honeycomb, which seems to blend just the right proportions of corn, oat, and honey flavor.

The thing that has always trouble me is the lack of a glaze. Other honey cereals like Honey Nut Cheerios and Honey Nut Chex have a sturdier glaze, which helps to retain the distinctive taste and crunch of the sweetened grain in milk. Honeycomb just doesn’t have it, though, and the pieces themselves become sort of bland when you let them soak.

Ideally the marshmallows would supply little bursts of twisted sweetness, but because of the bulky size of the Honeycomb pieces, the marshmallows get lost in the shuffle. When you do get the taste of the marshmallows, you get, well, the taste of a marshmallow. For some reason marshmallows work in some cereals and don’t work in others, and in this case, they don’t add anything.

In fairness, the cereal is much better as a snack, where the subtle honey flavor can shine without being slowly diffused and lost amidst the milk. The net effect of the marshmallows, though, doesn’t share in the improvement, and despite granting any given mouthful a bit more sweetness, they don’t contribute anything that makes this iteration of Honeycomb stand out from the original. It pains me to admit it, but I found the cereal to be altogether bland for something that advertising 12 grams of sugar per serving.

Where do cereal R&D people go after trying chocolate, cinnamon, and marshmallow versions of a classic, well, I just don’t have the answer. But it looks like they’ll be heading back to the drawing board soon enough, because this limited time only cereal just doesn’t deliver anything special.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 1/4 cup – 120 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of potassium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Post Limited Edition Honeycomb with Twisted Marshmallows Cereal
Purchased Price: $2.37
Size: 12.5 oz box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: If you like Honeycomb you’ll like this. Pretty good snacking cereal. Has a savory corn and oat element. Not having to pick out the marshmallows from Lucky Charms and add them to other cereals.
Cons: Marshmallows don’t add anything. Not nearly as good as Cinna-Graham Honeycomb, which was the shit before Post discontinued it. Doesn’t taste very sweet in milk. Missing the glazed crunch of other honey-flavored cereals. Hardly any fiber.

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