REVIEW: Taco Bell Grande Scrambler Burrito (Bacon and Sausage)

Written by | July 31, 2014

Topics: 8 Rating, 9 Rating, Fast Food, Taco Bell

Taco Bell Grande Scrambler 001

I’m a big fan of breakfast. Like most things bad for us, it has that magical power of wrapping together comfort food and guilty pleasure into an eternal dance. It’s like the edible yin and yang: bacon and eggs; pancakes and syrup; butter and toast; chicken and waffles; bourbon and Frosted Flakes. You get the point.

And with that great pleasure comes the other end of the spectrum, uncontrollable rage. There was this time when I had thick cut bacon that was overcooked to hell. I’ve seen relics that remained from the ghastly A-bomb drop in Hiroshima that were less scorched. This built up my inner rage to a maximum, ruining my day.

I also once threw a disproportionate fit at a hipster breakfast joint because the promised rye toast finally came when my wife’s southern fry plate was half done. A lot of beards, let alone my patient wife, were unhappy with me that day.

I just ask for one simple thing, please don’t fuck with breakfast.

When Taco Bell first introduced their breakfast line, particularly the breakfast burrito, I was disappointed and pissed off. How can one mess up salty, fatty, porky sausage and eggs with melted cheese wrapped in a tortilla? Taco Bell did.

In fairness, everyone deserves a second chance even if someone rendered so much fat from thick cut bacon, I’ve seen Ethiopians that were chubbier (Zing! The 80’s want their tasteless jokes back). Taco Bell updated and tweaked their brekkie line with new menu items, which is a sign of encouragement to their dedication to the breakfast menu.

The Taco Bell Grande Scrambler Burrito comes with bacon, sausage, or their questionable and dreadful steak. Simply put, this is an upgraded breakfast burrito from the original and comparing the two is like comparing a greasy road map (the ones you have to annoyingly fold back correctly) to a GPS.

Taco Bell Grande Scrambler 004

I ordered both the bacon and sausage to appease my piggy meat breakfast fervor. The first sign I knew the Taco Bell Grande Scrambler Burrito was traveling on a different path from its predecessor was how surprisingly weighty it was. There was a comfortable heft to them that whispered, “I’m the real deal jackass.” The warmth of holding it in my hand was comparable to pulling fresh boxers out of the dryer on a cold morning.

Sinking my teeth into the Grande Scrambler Burrito with bacon, I immediately noticed the eggs were fluffy and looked scrambled. They were rich and buttery, the way my Grandma never made because she made me eat ginseng root soup instead…stupid Grandma!

The warm nacho cheese sauce, which normally makes me gag because I hate that stuff, worked well with the cold sour cream. They melded in supreme fashion together and the slight acidity of the sour cream cut right through the heavy nacho cheese. There to add another layer of flavor was the pico de gallo. It had fresh chunks of tomato, which also coursed successfully through the heavy nacho cheese sauce.

Taco Bell Grande Scrambler 005

The bacon was in “Bacobits” style, but that in no way muted the salty and crispy bite we demand. I do wish the chunks were bigger to make the bacon flavor more prevalent, but it’s there. The melted shredded cheddar cheese was surprisingly not drowned out by the nacho cheese sauce and it competed well with the tanginess from the pico.

However, the true star of these burritos were their “seasoned breakfast potatoes.” They were perfectly seasoned and had a hybrid tater tot/home-fries like consistency. The only way these could be better is if they were actual tater tots. The potatoes add a satisfying texture to the delicious gloppyness of the burrito. To crank the achievements even more, the tortilla was fluffy and warm like a pillow birthed from a smiling cartoon cloud pooping a rainbow.

Taco Bell Grande Scrambler 006

With that said, the sausage one yielded even better results. The sausage’s peppery flavor imparted a nice compliment to the chunky pico de gallo and it swathed right through the nacho cheese sauce. Although the sausage was in that crappy “kibble” form, it still provided that salty and fatty mouthfeel we crave. Again, the melted cheese and potatoes nicely rounded out the burrito. This time, Taco Bell was less heavy-handed with the sour cream which was fine because it could easily wash away the spicy notes from the sausage.

The price is $2.49 for each, which seems reasonable to me considering the generous size of the burritos. I’m not one of those old timey types that cry out, “you get what you pay for.” Despite that, like scotch or dildos, you really get what you pay for in regards to a breakfast burrito.

The quality is not anywhere near you would get from a good breakfast house that seductively charms you with the aroma of bacon and fluffy pancakes. Yet, for fast food, it really puts some of those meager fast food breakfast burritos to shame. Taco Bell set the bar pretty high and I would bet, if it didn’t violate my probation, that some of the other chains may follow suit. If not, they’re stupid idiots like my grandma who fed me ginseng root soup for breakfast.

(Nutrition Facts – With Bacon – 680 calories, 320 calories from fat, 36 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 195 milligrams of cholesterol, 1570 milligrams of sodium, 68 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 5 grams of sugars, and 22 grams of protein. With Sausage – 670 calories, 330 calories from fat, 36 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 195 milligrams of cholesterol, 1410 milligrams of sodium, 67 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 5 grams of sugars, and 19 grams of protein)

Item: Taco Bell Grande Scrambler Burrito (Bacon and Sausage)
Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Bacon)
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Sausage)
Pros: The melted cheddar cheese, the warm nacho cheese sauce, the sour cream and pico de gallo all complement each other. The potatoes are texturally and flavorfully awesome. The $2.49 price tag is more than reasonable. Piggy Meat Breakfast Fervor (best name for a band that never existed). Getting angry and shouting.
Cons: The bacon could be bigger, thus the bacon flavor would be more prevalent. The sausage is in “kibble” form. When servers bring toast late, it’s like the fries come last after you have received your cheeseburger. The spouse dealing with you getting angry and shouting.

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REVIEW: Krispy Kreme Carrot Cake Doughnut

Written by | July 31, 2014

Topics: 7 Rating, Fast Food, Krispy Kreme

Krispy Kreme Carrot Cake Doughnut

Advice to my 3-year-old self from the future:

1) Don’t put Barbie in the microwave.
2) Alistair Cookie is your mentor. Watch him. Glean from him many morals.
3) Remember: Play-Doh hamburgers are not actual hamburgers, even when you dip them in Ranch dressing.

Somewhere down this list, I’d probably put, “Try, just try, to eat your carrots.” While I always liked my broccoli, it’s the carrots that gave me grief as a kid. They’re sweet, but stringy. Woodsy, but super “orange-y.” Absolutely mushy when overcooked, but slap me sideways when done right. I hate them. But I love them.

So I’m celebrating my love/hate relationship. And celebrations demand sugar and sugar demands cake and cake demands to be deep-fried. That’s the scientific chain of events, right?

Well, that’s what Krispy Kreme thinks with their newest iteration on deep-fried toroids, all gussied up to resemble carrot cake.

Krispy Kreme Carrot Cake Doughnut Deep fried cake of vegetables

Devotees of the dense cake doughnut, celebrate: this dough is a solid cake specimen, sturdy enough for the deepest dip in your tea/coffee/milkshake. While perhaps a smidge dry, it’s chock full of a cinnamon-sugar-honey sweetness accompanied by specks of raisin nibs and carrot shreds that give it a little zing. Said carrot and raisin nibbles may not be abundant in number, but are present enough to add their trademark sweetness without making the doughnut taste like Old McDonald’s Farm.

And the frosting. It’s everywhere. On the doughnut. On my fingers. On my elbows (how did it get there?). I love it. The film of cream-cheesish frosting/glaze on top is a smidge tangy, but mostly adds a sugary sweetness that rounds out the out-of-season (but still delicious) blend of fall spices. There’s even a sheen of regular sugar glaze beneath the cream cheese icing for extra sweetness. All this melted sugar leaves a slight film of oil and glaze on your hands, but, so long as you have some napkins and don’t wear neatly pressed white linen gloves all the time, this shouldn’t be a problem.*

*I just realized: Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny will both have this problem. Take off your gloves, guys!

What’s better is, as you make your way to the center, you uncover the crispy little bit in the middle of the doughnut’s ring. You know what I’m talking about. It’s that ring where the doughnut hole was carved out. It’s crunchy, sweet, gooped with frosting, just on the cusp of being burnt. My favorite. This is why I spend them dolla dolla bills.

Krispy Kreme Carrot Cake Doughnut Yes, that is a mug from the Museum of the History of Tow Trucks

In an unofficial endorsement of the food pyramid, Krispy Kreme is providing you with a prime opportunity to overachieve in your life by consuming both fruit (raisins) and vegetables (carrots) via cake.

Unless my taste buds are undergoing some sort of reverse trauma from a hyperglycemic fit, the end result was tasty: the cake was cinnamon-y, the carrots were present without being stringy or overbearingly “orange-y,” the cinnamon and nutmeg gave some subtle spice, there was deep-frying going on, a few raisins splattered here and there added chewiness, and the tangy frosting added some cheesy zing. I may have even detected a hint of citrus zest in there? Oh, Krispy, you sneaky, conniving, brilliant conglomeration. Not a perfect ‘nut, but pretty good.

(Nutrition Facts – 340 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 310 milligrams of sodium, 52 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 35 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Item: Krispy Kreme Carrot Cake Doughnut
Purchased Price: $1.10
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Krispy Kreme
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Solid cinnamon cakey goodness. Deep-fried. Cream cheese icing. Sugary glaze. Chewy raisin bits. Good for dipping. Fulfilling fruit/vegetable requirement via cake. Morals gleaned from Alistair Cookie.
Cons: Cake gets a little oily. Could maybe use more carrots/raisins. Crestfallen pineapple lovers. Reflecting on the foolishness of my three-year-old self. Consequences of putting Barbie in the microwave.

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REVIEW: Lay’s Cappuccino Potato Chips

Written by | July 30, 2014

Topics: 4 Rating, Chips, Lay's

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Cappuccino Potato Chips

There are two types of people in this world. There are those who play it safe and those who do not.

The former group slows down at yellow lights, blots the grease from their pizza, and runs the ball on third and one in Madden. The latter blows through red lights, pours grease from their buddy’s slice of pizza onto theirs, and calls an Annexation of Puerto Rico on fourth and forever.

But none of these actions match up to the ultimate litmus test in living safe or dangerous: choosing which Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Chips to buy.

Last year, I faced danger with Lay’s Chicken and Waffles Potato Chips. But, despite my awful experience, I wasn’t going to let the hacked together taste of poultry and Eggo stop me from checking out this year’s finalist out of left field. We’ve seen various salty and sweet chips before, but I’ve never seen potato chips that taste like coffee and milk. As for what Chad Scott was thinking when he submitted cappuccino to Lay’s, well, I’ll play it safe and guess he had good intentions.

After strutting through Harris Teeter with a bag in hand and dropped jaws and slow claps of less intrepid snackers around me*, I opened it, which released a mellow, but prominent coffee aroma. It was stronger than coffee ice cream and only a few notches down from a college English class at 7:30 in the morning. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it definitely was unnatural. In fact, when contacted for comment, Mr. Potato Head confirmed it was certainly the most intense out-of-body experience he’s had since Toy Story 3. Like I said, it’s about living dangerously.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Cappuccino Potato Chips Closeup

I raised a single chip and brought it closer to my nose, taking a moment to harness my senses in that cultured thing coffee people do before they take a sip. Then I remembered I was sitting in my office with a potato chip held up to my nose, and realized how freaking ridiculous I looked. I sampled the seasoning by licking the fried exterior of the spud clean.

Its flavor is maddeningly indescribable. I’m taken aback at first, completely unable to harness dozens of hours of GRE verbal practice tests in assessing what the flavor is.

It’s slightly bitter with an odd sensation from the aftermath of lactic sweetness. It leaves a light roasted coffee flavor hanging on the roof of your mouth. I taste more chips and I’m dumbfounded, searching for a salty-sweet affirmation of what I thought the chips would taste like.

Instead, I’m only left with the idea of sweetness and a memory of cream, as the way too authentic taste of light roasted coffee continues to linger even as the clashing but familiar earthiness from the potato comes around at the end. Several chips down, and I’m utterly confused.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Cappuccino Potato Chips 2

This is not exactly living dangerously through snacks. Unencumbered, and perhaps believing that stuffing multiple chips into my mouth at once will harness some undiscovered salty-sweet synergy, I find the taste more palatable. There isn’t a salty-sweet combo going on here, the salty flavor is almost nonexistent, but there is a somewhat cocoa-like effect that isn’t too bad. But it’s hardly bold and it’s not particularly addictive or snackable.

There’s just no other way to say it: Chad Scott, you got your wish. These chips taste just like a cappuccino, or at least insofar as the cappuccino flavor you’d expect from a Jelly Belly Jelly Bean. They’re not throw-out-the-bag horrible, but they’re not something I’d buy again.

The flavor is just out of place on a fried tuber and ends up splitting the difference of two different sensations which match up about as gracefully as a Mormon in a Starbucks (it’s okay, I’m from Utah). Buying them might boost your credibility as a vanguard snacker, but enjoying them probably just means you like the taste of coffee too much.

*Possibly. Or maybe not.

(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, 40 milligrams of sodium, 330 milligrams of potassium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Finalist Cappuccino Potato Chips
Purchased Price: $2.00 (on sale)
Size: 9.5 oz bag
Purchased at: Harris Teeter
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Not detestable in an OH THE HUMANITY kind of way. Classic Lay’s crispiness. Decently snackable when eaten in droves.
Cons: Cappuccino flavor is way too authentic for a potato chip. Bitterness. Out of body snacking experiences. Lacks salty-sweet synergy. Does not affirm the desire to live dangerously.

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REVIEW: Burger King Mushroom & Swiss Big King

Written by | July 29, 2014

Topics: 5 Rating, Burger King, Fast Food

Burger King Mushroom & Swiss Big King

I thought what made Burger King’s Big King special was its middle bun AND the thousand island-style dressing. It turns out I’m as wrong as the guy who bids $75,000 for a Price is Right Showcase that consists of a year’s supply of sunscreen, two jet skis, a trip to Hilo, Hawaii, and a 2014 Kia Forte.

With the release of Burger King’s Mushroom & Swiss Big King, I learned the special sauce isn’t so special. I also learned the middle bun is the crown that make a Big King a Big King.

In case you can’t see everything in that blob of fast food ingredients above, the Mushroom & Swiss Big King features two beef patties, sautéed mushrooms, a slice of Swiss cheese, mayonnaise, a sesame seed bun, and the important middle bun.

Mine also ended up with a rogue slice of American cheese, but there’s no thousand island-style dressing. Of course, I’m pretty sure adding a sweet and tangy sauce to a mushroom and Swiss burger would’ve been gross.

And now that we know it’s the boring middle bun that makes a Big King a Big King and the thousand-island dressing isn’t there to stifle creativity, I expect Burger King to create many Big King variations in the future. Perhaps the Whopper has passed the variety burger baton to the Big King, so we’ll soon be seeing a Rodeo Big King, a Texas BBQ Big King, and a Western Big King.

Burger King Mushroom & Swiss Big King Topless

As you can see above, the burger is loaded with mushrooms. Okay, maybe you can’t see them all in that overzealous application of mayonnaise. But I assure you there were a lot of them because I could feel all the mushroom rubberiness in my mouth.

When I ate the Burger King Mushroom & Swiss Grillers back in the 2011, I complained about it having too much mushroom flavor. But with the Mushroom & Swiss Big King, I’m going to complain about it having too little mushroom flavor. Yes, there was some here and there, but with that many mushrooms, I expected almost every bite to taste like I was nibbling on Papa Smurf’s house.

I’m going to blame the mayo.

While the mayonnaise does a great job at preventing mushrooms from falling out of the burger and making the Swiss cheese slice feel more melted than it really is, it also does a good job at making this burger taste more like a mayonnaise and Swiss burger than a mushroom and Swiss burger. Having less mayo might’ve helped, but those sad, rubbery mushrooms didn’t have a lot of flavor to begin with.

Overall, the Burger King Mushroom & Swiss Big King is a mediocre burger and I think someone should take away its crown. It’s not horrible because the beef patties had a pleasant meatiness to them, and even with all that mayo, the sandwich wasn’t messy. But it tastes like a simple double cheeseburger that accidentally had a few mushrooms dropped onto it during the lunch rush.

(Nutrition Facts – 560 calories, 37 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 760 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of sugar, and 20 grams of protein.)

Item: Burger King Mushroom & Swiss Big King
Purchased Price: $4.39
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Lots of mushrooms. Mayo does a great job at preventing mushrooms from falling out. Decent beef patties with good flavor. Winning a Price is Right Showcase.
Cons: Lots of mushrooms don’t have lots of flavor. Mayo does a great job at preventing mushroom flavor from standing out. The middle bun being the reason why a Big King is a Big King. Going over when bidding on a Price is Right Showcase.

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REVIEW: Nabisco Limited Edition Root Beer Float Oreo Cookies

Written by | July 25, 2014

Topics: 4 Rating, Cookies, Oreo

Nabisco Limited Edition Root Beer Float Oreo Cookies

Despite what others think, I can also be sensitive. Reminding me of the destruction of the SDF-1 in Robotech, I shed a few tears next to my wife when Crimson Typhoon and Cherno Alpha ate it big time in Pacific Rim. I admit I also cried a tiny bit when I reacquainted myself with Buckaroo Banzai’s synth engulfed end credits. I can hum that song all day.

So sue me. I am not invulnerable to the charms of nostalgia. I have a fucking soul too.

Does the salty smell of fresh popcorn not invoke memories of carefree Saturday matinees at the cinema? It’s hard to deny the sight of lightning bugs doesn’t drum up images of summery things like Italian ice cups served with wooden spoons that threatened to leave splinters in your mouth.

Root beer floats harken back to a time of childhood innocence. The memories of Daddy teaching you how to ride that bicycle without training wheels. Yelling and screaming lovingly about how stupid you are as the neighbors peer through the curtains, hoping to not get caught. Those were some damn good times.

I suppose the Oreo creates the same feelings for me. As a child, I dipped them in milk after learning another lesson (like most latchkey children do) from television. Me love you long time TV.

Oreo have released so many varieties that they are becoming the Beanie Babies of cookies. After the fruit punch ones, I kind of hit the wall real hard. As much as I love the different flavors, I began to get Oreo-fatigue and pined for a normal Oreo.

Nabisco Limited Edition Root Beer Float Oreo Cookies In Packaging

Yet, the Root Beer Float Oreo grabbed my interest as they sat there next to the lemon one and above the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup version and right beside the mint chocolate variety. After ripping open the package, a deep buttery smell emanated elegantly. A faint, but playfully “fizzy” sweet and herby scent of root beer followed.

However, the Oreo filled with the promise of creamy and frothy root beer float dreams decided to kick my balls to the tune of the Benny Hill theme song. I was at best, disappointed. At worst, I wanted to chase harmless rabbits and their cutesy little noses with the gas-powered lawn mower.

Nabisco Limited Edition Root Beer Float Oreo Cookies Creme

Tasting the cream filling alone yielded a familiar, sweet, but not strong root beer flavor. Actually on subsequent licks, the root beer taste was so light that it barely registered. It could be that each cookie I dissected apart Hannibal-style revealed an almost 80 percent cream to 20 percent root beer flavor ratio.

When I ate the cookie whole, the buttery nuttiness from the Oreo overwhelmed any root beer taste. Strangely, I did experience a ghostly menthol-like “coolness” when I swallowed. It could be from whatever flavoring effect Nabisco pumped in to replicate the carbonization of a root beer. Although, I wished they would have amped up the root beer taste instead.

Dipping them in milk doesn’t help. Dipping them in store bought chocolate milk makes it worse. In fact, dipping them in bourbon is criminal and left me sullen because I ruined a tumbler of Maker’s 46.

There are positives. They are not as sweet as some Oreo flavor (looking at you Watermelon and Berry Burst Ice Cream). Additionally, they appear to be more readily available, at least in my area, so everyone can join in and be sad chasing rabbits.

I know that root beer is one of the trickier flavors to emulate and I have to give credit to Nabisco for at least attempting this. If anything, I admire their tenacity to not back down on trying unconventional flavor choices. (Where’s my blueberry version dammit?)

I’m conflicted because Root Beer Float Oreo cookies do not taste awful. But if you’re expecting them to taste like the beloved soda float, they suck at it.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 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 dietary fiber, 12 grams of sugars, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Nabisco Limited Edition Root Beer Float Oreo Cookies
Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 12.2 oz. package
Purchased at: Publix
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: They are not overwhelmingly sweet. Typing “Crimson Typhoon” in my review. The Golden Oreo is buttery and rich. The music in Benny Hill.
Cons: The root beer flavor is very weak. Trying not to type “Root Beer Floats? More like Root Beer Flats!” in my review (GONG!) The Golden Oreo overpowers any root beer flavor. Cherno Alpha biting it so soon. The music in Benny Hinn.

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