REVIEW: Wendy’s Jalapeño Fresco Chicken Sandwich

Wendy's Jalapeno Fresco Chicken Sandwich

My first experience with a Wendy’s was, surprisingly, only a few years ago.

I would have tried it earlier – hell, I would have been inhaling Dave’s delicious cheeseburgers through a straw, if the laws of physics allowed – if not for my mother’s utter disdain of the establishment.

Whenever I asked if we could eat there, she never failed to go off on the familiar rant – flashback to her adolescent years. A new Wendy’s was opening up within bus distance of her house, and she was ecstatic to finally try their fabled burgers. She walked in and out within a minute, food in hand.

Immediately she knew that something was up – if it wasn’t her burger’s pungent smell, it was perhaps the meat, with its usual square shape, as well as a not-as-usual green hue, that threw her off. Regardless, she plunged in for a bite, curiosity getting the best of her.

This is where she likes to conclude her story, glossing over the (presumably) nauseating aftermath of her outing. Needless to say, she wasn’t exactly keen on ever going back to a Wendy‘s again, and she simply refused to subject me to their inherent misdoings as a company. For years, I was physically barred from ever trying Wendy’s.

Thankfully, since I no longer need my mom to take me to places, I was able to try out Wendy’s new Jalapeño Fresco Chicken Sandwich!

Look, I love Wendy’s – their aforementioned cheeseburgers, their Frostys (or Frosties? Both spellings look weird to my eyes. Let‘s just go with Frostteez), and everything in between. Few nationwide fast food joints have earned my undying admiration and respect (Shoutout to Carl’s Jr./Hardee‘s, despite their goofy mascot) and Wendy’s is definitely at the top of the heap.

And I love a good, hot kick to my foods, so I was more than happy to tackle this unholy chicken sandwich.

Wendy's Jalapeno Fresco Chicken Sandwich 2

When I opened up the little cardboard box, the first thing I noticed was an angry, saucy smell – reminiscent of nacho cheese, but not as artificial. This, it turned out, was the bright-orange ghost pepper sauce, which drowned the chicken breast with its oozing essence.

That’s good news for me, because the sauce was delicious and one of the most interesting additions to a fast food sandwich I’ve ever had.

It was fascinating because it seemed to both heat, then immediately cool down my mouth. I don’t know what the flavor scientists at Wendy’s were doing when they stumbled upon this one, but their creation is one that complements the surrounding ingredients.

Wendy's Jalapeno Fresco Chicken Sandwich 3

And speaking of those surrounding ingredients, the diced jalapeños were another standout. They added a nice textural contrast, while providing a different sort of flavor and heat in comparison to the ghost pepper sauce.

The sliced onions were firm and crisp. And of course, there’s the breaded chicken breast, which was huge, crispy, juicy, spicy in its own right (comparatively spicier than most “spicy” chicken fillets I’ve had at other fast food places), and gets no complaints from this guy.

According to the Wendy’s website, this sandwich also contains “Colby pepper jack cheese”, which…really? I’m normally a pretty avid cheese aficionado, but there was absolutely no need for it here. It added nothing to this sandwich. What a waste of cheese!

Wendy's Jalapeno Fresco Chicken Sandwich 4

Lastly, there’s the red jalapeño bun. I took a nibble of it and it definitely had a light kick, but when eaten with the rest of the sandwich, its flavor got lost among the other spicy parts of the sandwich. I understand Wendy’s intentions – when they say spicy, they MEAN spicy – but the bun was a bit of a disappointment.

Nitpicking aside, this was perhaps my favorite Wendy’s sandwich since their pretzel bun stuff a while back. God, I miss those pretzel buns. I’m so impressed with it that I’ll definitely be going back for seconds.

Take that, Mom!

(Nutrition Facts – 580 calories, 29 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 1390 milligrams of sodium, 51 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, and 32 grams of protein..)

Item: Wendy’s Jalapeño Fresco Chicken Sandwich
Purchased Price: $5.49
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Ghost pepper sauce is the delicious star of this thing. Balance of different flavors and textures. Carl’s Jr.
Cons: I’m still pissed about the uselessness of the cheese. Mothers banning their children from eating tasty hamburgers. Seriously, what kind of mascot is a star with sunglasses?!

REVIEW: Taco Bell Double Crispy Chicken Quesadilla

Taco Bell Double Crispy Chicken Quesadilla

When I first heard that Taco bell was adding Crispy Chicken to their list of ingredients, my first thought was, “Why didn’t they do this sooner?” Then, “Well, that’s not exactly a staple of Mexican cuisine. And then, “Yeah, but neither are Cinnabon bites,” which ultimately led me back to my first thought.

In line with Taco Bell’s style, they didn’t just introduce Crispy Chicken, they sprayed it all over their menu like a frat boy hovering over a toilet after too much Pinnacle Cinnabon Vodka. You’d think this review was about Cinnabon, but it’s not.

The Bell has done everything from the simplicity of wrapping chicken in a tortilla and calling it a Griller, wrapping it in a biscuit and calling it a Biscuit Taco, and throwing it in a Crunchwrap and calling it a Chickstar.

And, not to leave any corner of the menu untouched, we come upon the subject of this review: the Double Crispy Chicken Quesadilla. Why is this one Double? I wondered that myself, until I noticed the tiny, tiny asterisk on Taco Bell’s website that explains “*as compared to the 1.5 oz. Chicken Quesadilla.”

Oh, okay.

Taco Bell Double Crispy Chicken Quesadilla Inside

Taco Bell says the Double Crispy Chicken Quesadilla “features new premium all-white-meat crispy chicken that’s marinated in bold Mexican spices, rolled in a crunchy corn tortilla coating, and crisped to perfection combined with a three cheese blend and a creamy jalapeño sauce all folded in a freshly grilled tortilla.”

True to the name of this site, I impulsively bought two of them. I don’t usually do this with new items, but…well, I was hungry. And I like quesadillas. And I live on the edge. The edge of not knowing if this quesadilla would suck.

The first quesadilla I tried (which is the one pictured) was quite disappointing. Almost completely lacking in both cheese and sauce, it just tasted like chicken and tortilla, which was dry and sad.

Fortunately, my second quesadilla, despite being purchased in the same order, was much better! There was a decent amount of cheese and creamy jalapeño sauce, which to me tasted more like The Bell’s already-existing Fire sauce in a cream base (probably the sour cream that I’m pretty sure they squirt out of pastry bags). It was still quite tasty, and added both spice and moisture.

As for the Crispy Chicken, whatever “bold” Mexican spices they use as a marinade, they don’t shine through at all in the finished product. The tortilla coating, however, added a nice crunch that didn’t get soggy even when exposed to sauce, and it added a flavor that differs just enough from other fried chicken to make it notable.

Taco Bell Double Crispy Chicken Quesadilla Half

Even though the chicken inside the quesadilla amounts to nothing more than chicken strips in regards to structure, I feel that Taco Bell lived up to their “double” promise. There was a hearty amount of chicken in almost every bite (I don’t count the ends because the ends of fast food quesadillas are always a wasteland), and the meat was moist and tender.

All things considered, Taco Bell’s Double Crispy Chicken Quesadilla is a pretty middle-of-the-road offering. I like the new crispy coating and was impressed by its ability to stay crunchy, but the sauce didn’t taste very unique (although it did add some heat). The overall product was somewhat boring.

Plus, my first quesadilla was really disappointing, and when you’ve only got three ingredients to showcase inside your tortilla, I think you should make sure they’re all up to par. If you’re a big fan of the new Crispy Chicken and like quesadillas, it’s worth a try, but maybe more as a side item to the rest of your order.

(Nutrition Facts – 720 calories, 380 calories from fat, 42 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 80 milligrams of cholesterol, 1660 milligrams of sodium, 53 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 33 grams of protein.)

Item: Taco Bell Double Crispy Chicken Quesadilla
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Tortilla coating was a little different and stayed crispy. Impulsively buying two paid off. Lots of chicken that was moist. Sauce had a bit of kick.
Cons: Sauce wasn’t unique. Spewing cinnamon bun vodka. One of my quesadillas lacked cheese and sauce. Are sour cream pastry bags a pro or a con? A somewhat boring menu item. Holy crap, that’s a lot of fat in one quesadilla.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco

Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco with Jalapeño Honey

I’m no Spock, but the price for Taco Bell’s new Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco is highly illogical.

Taco Bell is known for having cheap food. Breakfast menu items at restaurants are usually cheaper than what’s offered for lunch and dinner. So why is Taco Bell’s Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco on the breakfast menu so damn expensive? It’s a piece of breaded chicken in a flat biscuit with a sauce. That’s it.

I paid $3.79 for mine. Granted, as I’ve mentioned before, I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean where most things are subjected to something called the “Paradise Tax.” But my fellow fast food bloggers paid prices that I would consider high for a taco. Ryan at Grub Grade paid $2.79 and Q at Brand Eating paid $2.69. If you’re a morning grump, I imagine the price of a Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco and seeing what you get for that price will make your disposition worse.

The flat biscuit is as pliable as a pancake and has a little buttery flavor, but its less sturdy than its predecessor, the Waffle Taco. After the first bite, the biscuit split at the fold due to the biscuit’s dryness. If there were smaller ingredients, like Taco Bell’s bacon bits, I imagine the biscuit falling apart would cause a mess. But since there just a chicken finger and sauce, there’s no worries about the taco’s contents falling out.

Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco Closeup

The lightly seasoned Crispy Chicken has a breading that has crushed tortilla chips. It’s surprisingly crispy, even after a car trip ride home, but the pressed chicken was as thin as the biscuit.

When you order the Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco, you have the option of getting it with either Jalapeño Honey or Country Gravy. I tried both. They came in small take out sauce containers that had enough sauce for two Biscuit Tacos. It’s different than the syrup that came with Taco Bell’s Waffle Taco, which was in a McNugget sauce-like container.

Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco with Sausage Gravy

If I were to order these Biscuit Tacos again, I would definitely get the Jalapeño Honey over the Country Gravy because the white peppery gravy is bland. I think it would go well with Taco Bell’s sausage, because they would enhance each other. But I can’t say it does the same with the Crispy Chicken.

But I can say the Jalapeño Honey and the lightly seasoned Crispy Chicken do enhance each other. The Jalapeño Honey is sweet, thick, sweet, tangy, sweet, and has a slight kick. The two go together well enough that they almost make me forget about the biscuit falling apart, the thinness of the chicken, and the Biscuit Taco’s price.

Instead of special Biscuit Taco-labeled sleeves, my Taco Bell Biscuit Tacos rocked Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Taco sleeves. I don’t know if it was a mistake caused by the fast pace in a fast food kitchen or if they ran out of the Biscuit Taco sleeves. But after eating these Crispy Chicken Biscuit Tacos, I feel they were appropriate because I wish I ate a Doritos Locos Tacos instead of the one with Country Gravy and I wish the Jalapeño Honey one, while tasty and definitely better than any Waffle Taco, was the same price as a Doritos Locos Taco.

(Nutrition Facts – Jalapeño Honey – 470 calories, 170 calories from fat, 19 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 1030 milligrams of sodium, 63 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 25 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of protein. Country Gravy – 390 calories, 170 calories from fat, 19 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 960 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of protein.)

Item: Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco
Purchased Price: $3.79 each*
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Jalapeño Honey)
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Country Gravy)
Pros: Jalapeño Honey. Chicken has breading with frickin’ crushed tortilla chips. Crispy chicken remained crispy even after a car ride home. Amount of sauce given was more than enough.
Cons: Country Gravy. Pricey for what you get. Thin biscuit was a bit dry and easily cracks at the fold. Chicken was as thin as the biscuit.

*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: Nabisco Limited Edition Cotton Candy Oreo Cookies

Nabisco Limited Edition Cotton Candy Oreo

Before triple Krispy Kreme Cheeseburgers, bacon wrapped churros, deep fried butter, chocolate and bacon covered corn dogs, deep fried beer, and deep fried watermelon slices were foods folks would find at fairs and carnivals and/or read about on a Huffington Post or Buzzfeed list, there was cotton candy.

Cotton candy has been offered at fairs for a lot longer than any deep fried and/or bacon wrapped dish and it’s a lot more fun. With cotton candy, you can walk around the fair and imagine you’re eating clouds. And when all the cotton candy is gone, you can use the stick it came with to make the pony at the fair’s petting zoo look like a unicorn.

While Nabisco’s Limited Edition Cotton Candy Oreo Cookies aren’t as fun as cotton candy, the flavor each one offers is just as pleasurable as actual cotton candy.

They smell like regular Golden Oreo cookies, but there’s a little something different if you take a deep sniff. But if you were to open the package in front of a blindfolded person, he or she would think it’s regular Golden Oreo cookies. The cotton candy-flavored creme is part pink and part baby blue. So if you just so happen to be having opposite sex twins, these would be cooler to pass out as a baby shower favor than whatever you saw on Pinterest.

Nabisco Limited Edition Cotton Candy Oreo Closeup

“Holy crap!” were the first words that came out of my mouth, along with several chewed up chunks of Limited Edition Cotton Candy Oreo Cookies, after eating my very first one. It’s not the “holy crap” one would say when walking into their bedroom and seeing a camel standing in the middle of it. It’s more like the “holy crap” one would say in disbelief after listening to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” for the first time, expecting it to be another lame ex-boyfriend song, but by the end they’re singing along with the final chorus. These cookies are surprisingly delicious.

I expected them to have an overly sweet, extremely artificial cotton candy flavor, but Nabisco did a great job at accurately getting cotton candy’s flavor in the creme. And it isn’t too mild or crazy sweet, it’s just right. Some issues I’ve had with previous limited edition Oreo cookies is that the wafers somewhat mute the creme’s flavor. But with this creme I could still get a noticeable cotton candy flavor when eaten whole.

While the creme’s flavor is wonderful, it also provides an interesting texture that makes these cookies extra special. It has the same grittiness as all other Oreo cremes, but while eating this particular cookie, that grittiness can feel like those compressed bits of sugar one experiences while eating cotton candy. It kind of messed with my head, but in a good way.

Out of all the limited edition Oreo flavors I’ve tried, I would put these Limited Edition Cotton Candy Oreo Cookies at the top, if I was a list writer for Huffington Post or Buzzfeed. I’m a bit sad these come in the new standard 10.7-ounce packages for limited edition flavors, instead of the previous standard of 12.2-ounces, and it doesn’t feel like I’m eating clouds. But when I do eat them, I’m on cloud nine.

(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 Cotton Candy Oreo Cookies
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 10.7 oz.
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 10 out of 10
Pros: Creme’s flavor is spot on. Creme’s grittiness adds an unexpected dimension to these cookies. Would make a great opposite sex twins baby shower favor.
Cons: Comes in 10.7-ounce packages, instead of the previously standard 12.2-ounce packages for limited edition Oreo cookies. No cotton candy stick to make ponies look like unicorns. Can’t imagine I’m eating clouds with them.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Donuts Oreo Cheesecake Square Donut

Dunkin’ Donuts Oreo Cheesecake Square Donut

When it comes to cheese and desserts, I have mixed feelings.

Cheese and pie? No thanks. The last time I tried a slice of apple pie topped with cheddar cheese, I began gagging like my neighbor’s cat when it swallowed a whole hot dog. (Come to think of it, we never did figure out how poor ol’ Sassy Boots fit that 6-inch frankfurter down his esophagus, but damn, that’s one talented cat.)

Cheese and cake? Cheesecake!? Yes, please! I love cheesecake, so when I heard about the new Oreo Cheesecake Square at Dunkin’ Donuts, I began drooling more than my neighbor’s cat does whenever someone starts grilling a pack of Oscar Mayer Wieners. (Sassy Boots really, really likes hot dogs. Don’t judge.)

Available through April, the Oreo Cheesecake Square donut is frosted with white icing, topped with Oreo cookie crumbles, and filled with a creamy cheesecake filling. To be clear, Dunkin’ Donuts products and Oreos have mingled in the past, and Dunkin’ certainly isn’t doing anything radical or original here. Both Oreo and cheesecake flavors are hard to dislike, making the Oreo Cheesecake Square an easy shot at a crowd-pleaser.

Like most filled donuts sold at Dunkin’ Donuts, the Oreo Cheesecake Square suffers from PCD: poor cream distribution. With the filling concentrated entirely in the middle of the donut, all four corners of my Oreo Cheesecake Square were as empty as a mosh pit at a Bee Gees concert. (Ever try thrashing to “How Deep Is Your Love?” Yeah, not possible.) These first few creamless bites melded the sugary white frosting with the chocolate Oreo crumbles into a traditional cookies ‘n cream flavor.

Frankly, I’m surprised a cookies ‘n cream donut has yet to join the regular menu at Dunkin’, and this donut presents a glimpse of what we’ve been missing. The duo of white frosting and Oreo crumbles seems a perfect fit for the fluffy yeast donut base.

Dunkin’ Donuts Oreo Cheesecake Square Donut 2

As I reached the center of the donut, I encountered the cheesecake cream. The filling’s most apparent trait is its cream cheese-like tang, which pushes to the forefront of each bite. The creamy, dairy flavor is more mild than in an actual cheesecake — this could be why the filling also feels less dense than an actual cheesecake. At times, the cream’s lukewarm temperature made me uncomfortable; I’m used to eating my cheesecake chilled, and I can’t help but feel this donut would be better after an hour in the refrigerator.

Though the filling inside of the Dunkin’ Donuts Oreo Cheesecake Square isn’t a perfect replication of cheesecake flavor, I enjoyed the creamy, chocolatey, and tangy characteristics of this donut. It’s just as tasty as the other donuts on the Dunkin’ menu, but because there’s nothing groundbreaking here, I can’t call it spectacular. In other words, it’s not worth a special trip to your local Dunkin’, but it certainly deserves a spot in your next dozen.

Ya know, maybe a little cheese in desserts isn’t so bad after all.

But definitely not with my Grandma Nadezhda’s Chocolate Head Cheese Surprise. Blech.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 Donut – 370 calories, 160 calories from fat, 18 grams of total fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 400 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 22 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.)

Item: Dunkin’ Donuts Oreo Cheesecake Square Donut
Purchased Price: $1.04
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Dunkin’ Donuts
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Frosting and Oreo crumbles blend into Cookies ‘n Cream flavor. Tangy cheesecake filling. Feels less dense than actual cheesecake. Thrashing at Bee Gees concerts.
Cons: Lukewarm cream makes me uncomfortable. Not tastier than other Dunkin’ donuts. Cats obsessed with hot dogs.