REVIEW: Krispy Kreme Churro Doughnut

Krispy Kreme Churro Doughnut

Ah, summertime.

Nothing but pool parties and crickets and Christmas in July, and, while I know I’m supposed to celebrate the mid-summer Noel on the 25th, I am a rebel, hooligan, and all-around dastardly naysayer, so it should come as no surprise that I broke all the Christmas laws and bought my present the day after.

It involved churros. I have no regrets.

Krispy Kreme Churro Doughnut 2

Krispy Kreme’s interpretation of the churro starts by going geometrically rogue, translating the fried delight from the commonly seen line into a circumference more tightly braided than Wednesday’s pigtails sent through a Glam Twirl.

The doughnut’s hefty for its size, coming doused with so much cinnamon sugar, one could ball it up and use it as sculpting clay to recreate the Sagrada Familia in edible form. And that mahogany-tinted sugar thwacks into action with cinnamon roll-like warmth, dodging the common flaw in which a cinnamon product ends up tasting like an Atomic Fireball. Instead, bites dissipate into sugary, lightly cinnamon-spiced crumbles, leaving a trace of grease behind.

That isn’t to say the doughnuts are perfect. There’s definitely a “Manufactured cake doughnut” quality to them that makes me think they put them in some Dyson vacuum dehydrator that sucks the moisture out of all that is joy. As a result, the doughnuts taste dry and a little stale, missing out on the eggy, custardy texture of a churro and its crispy, freshly fried outside.

But perhaps that’s nitpicking. Heck, even the leftovers aren’t too shabby if you get creative. Put one in the toaster and witness how it becomes a brown sugar cinnamon Pop-Tart crossed with a giant piece of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, which means tonight’s dinner of doughnuts and ice cream is all sorted out.

Krispy Kreme Churro Doughnut 3

Some days, the world is unbearable. Today? Is not one of those days. Sure, this doughnut may not hold up to Statler and Waldorf’s orthodox standards of traditional churros, but what is a traditional churro? Is it eggy or airy? Custardy or crumbly? Dense or light? With cinnamon sugar? Without? Dipped in chocolate? Dipped in frosting? Dipped in nothing? Do I get them at a bar in Spain? A sidewalk vendor? Disneyland? A kazoo store?

Survey says: whichever version you love!

And while this interpretation may just be a dry-ish cake doughnut that’s been doused in cinnamon sugar, I enjoyed all 51 grams of it, especially when topped, toasted, or dunked in coffee or ice cream, so pull out the eggnog and let the Charlie Brown Christmas album play because Christmas in July comes but once a year. Let’s celebrate.

(Nutrition Facts – 190 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 16 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.49
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Krispy Kreme
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Cakey. Chunked with cinnamon sugar. Does not taste like Atomic Fireball. Even better when toasted. Christmas in July. Glam Twirl. Statler and Waldorf.
Cons: Cake doughnut masquerading as churro. Pretty dry. A little too crumbly. May encourage breaking Christmas laws. Non-July Christmas is still six months away.

REVIEW: Dairy Queen M&M’s Peanut Butter Monster Cookie Blizzard

Dairy Queen M&M's Peanut Butter Monster Cookie Blizzard

At first glance, it’s really easy to read Peanut Butter Monster Cookie as Peanut Butter Cookie Monster. That’s what I did, and the first thought that formed inside my Thunderdome of a mind was of Cookie Monster’s much less celebrated, but much more wholesome brother who Sesame Street forgets to talk about.

He’s a behind-the-scenes hero, taking care of Cookie Monster’s kids, consoling his distraught wife, just being the glue when his brother doesn’t come home at night because he’s fallen off the cookie wagon. Is he in jail? On the cookie version of Skid Row, snorting copious amounts of cookie crumbs? Nobody knows, but Peanut Butter Cookie Monster is there to pick up the pieces. What a stand up, made-up guy.

The Peanut Butter Monster Cookie Blizzard more than lives up to the imaginary character it isn’t named after. The word “monster” is appropriately used too since this Blizzard IS a monster…of peanut butter flavor.

Dairy Queen M&M's Peanut Butter Monster Cookie Blizzard 3

There are two peanut butter factors at play with P.B. cookie chunks and peanut butter being blended throughout the Blizzard. The sweet, nutty condiment is in every bite. It takes over the vanilla ice cream like some kind of edible symbiotic life form. You can try really hard to gather up the M&M’s and choco chunks but you’re still going to get a strong nutty presence.

I like how they put both the cookies and smooth peanut butter topping inside. It’s kind of like spreading some of the popular condiment on a P.B. cookie. You get the authentic peanut butter taste, and the more processed taste from the cookies, and the result is a heavenly combo, never an overkill.

Dairy Queen M&M's Peanut Butter Monster Cookie Blizzard 2

The M&M’s accent the P.B. The candy shells really jump out. Because of their surrounding, they basically turn into Peanut Butter M&M’s. But if the Blizzard scientists had tried to put actual Peanut Butter M&M’s inside, I think that would’ve been an overload. It would most likely result in an actual peanut butter monster being born, only it wouldn’t be friendly like P.B. Cookie Monster. Instead, it would be more like a boss from the Dark Souls game series.

I went to the drive-thru to get mine, and I have to say I really hate how they make it a point of handing you the Blizzard upside down now. The window guy looked so cocky when he did it, like he wanted to rub it in my face I wasn’t going to get a free Blizzard for giving it to me right side up.

Not that I would call them out on that anyways, but man, I wish the next Blizzard he handed out fell right out of the cup. Then he could go make himself a nice humble pie Blizzard.

(Nutrition Facts – small – 730 calories, 280 calories from fat, 31 grams of fat, 16 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 340 milligrams of sodium, 98 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 79 grams of sugar, and 16 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.79
Size: Small
Purchased at: Dairy Queen
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Two different peanut butter tastes. Chocolate and M&Ms accent peanut butter nicely. Peanut Butter Cookie Monster holding his brother’s home together.
Cons: Cocky Blizzard passer-outers.

REVIEW: Chick-fil-A Egg White Grill Breakfast Sandwich

Chick-fil-A Egg White Grill Breakfast Sandwich

Quite a bit has happened in the world since Chick-fil-A last released a new breakfast sandwich.

The Star Wars franchise has been revived, Nabisco stuck Fruity Pebbles in an Oreo, and Blake Shelton married Miranda Lambert, got divorced from Miranda Lambert, and is now shacking up with the lead singer of my favorite 1990s pop-ska-rock band.

Also, I got sort of chubby. A bit rotund. Somewhat more heavyset.

Frankly, I blame the fast food breakfast sandwiches, in particular Chick-fil-A’s ethereal chicken biscuit. I know I’m supposed to be getting down with this whole moderation thing, but that’s easier said than done. Where other chains at least offer somewhat healthy breakfast sandwiches on their menus, Chick-fil-A offers oatmeal. Oatmeal? Really? Like oatmeal stands a chance against a juicy fried chicken breast nestled between a fresh-baked biscuit slathered with butter.

The new Egg White Grill sandwich changes that, and might just slow the growth of my increasing flabby diameter. And while I’m not normally one to pass on a molten egg yolk, I’m less wedded to the superiority of cooked fast food eggs over egg whites; that is, provided the texture doesn’t remind me of that time I accidentally ate a deflated water balloon (don’t ask).

Chick-fil-A Egg White Grill Breakfast Sandwich 2

Fortunately, that’s not the case with Chick-fil-A’s egg whites. They’re really not at all chewy, and even have a bit of sweetness and a hint of buttery flavor from the grill. I thought they tasted about the same as the whites that McDonald’s uses, but had a better texture.

The grilled chicken is excellent (no surprise) and much better than the overly salty Canadian bacon you’d get on McDonald’s Egg White Delight. The chicken has a bold chargrill flavor and zesty citrusy aftertaste that’s really flavorful without being heavy, while the size is a perfect fit on the toasted English muffin.

The muffin and single slice of cheese, which was melted nicely toward the center of the sandwich, added quite a bit of flavor. If I have one complaint, it’s that there wasn’t a slice of a juicy tomato to add a little sweetness and relieve the gooey saltiness of the cheese. Also: Bacon. But this would probably detract a bit from the healthy angle.

Chick-fil-A Egg White Grill Breakfast Sandwich 3

Along with the new sandwich, Chick-fil-A has revamped some of its sauces and also added a new Sweet and Spicy Sriracha sauce. I tried it on the new sandwich, and while it has an enjoyable kick and sweetness that plays well with the naturally bland egg whites, it leans closer to a conventional sweet chili garlic sauce than a Sriracha sauce. It actually detracted from the savory and salty cheese on the sandwich, and covered up some of the buttery and toasted flavor, but I’ll definitely be grabbing a couple of packets the next time I order nuggets.

Chick-fil-A Egg White Grill Breakfast Sandwich 4

I’m not ready to give up chicken biscuits completely, but the Egg White Grill provides a nice transition for trying to live out this whole moderation thing. Of course, that moderation thing could completely go out the window should Chick-fil-A decide to introduce chicken and waffles, but at this rate, I probably have a six-year cushion before that happens.

(Nutrition Facts – 300 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 3.0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 970 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 1 grams of sugar, and 25 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $3.35
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Chick-fil-A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: A healthy breakfast sandwich that actually tastes desirable. Juicy grilled chicken breast and buttery egg whites provide plenty of protein. Melty cheese and perfectly toasted English muffin.
Cons: Not quite the life-changing experience of a chicken biscuit. Lacks a crunchy element like bacon or breaded chicken. Could use some more sweetness. Decreasing metabolism.

REVIEW: 7-Eleven Birthday Cake Slurpee

7-Eleven Birthday Cake Slurpee

It’s Slurpee’s 50th birthday, and to celebrate, 7-Eleven has released a slew of celebratory products, from the Birthday Cake Slurpee I bought to Birthday Cake Cappuccinos and Slurpee doodle Pop-Tarts.

Heck, I’m surprised they didn’t inject their hot dogs with Funfetti, since those same dogs have probably been rolling under that heat lamp for the past 50 years anyway.

Since I rode my bicycle to 7-Eleven in the summer heat, I wouldn’t make it home in time without a birthday puddle in my cup. So I was forced to photograph my Birthday Cake Slurpee in front of pedestrians who looked at me like an escaped zoo animal.

But most of them were capturing Pokémon with their phones anyway, so I like to think my weird photo-shoot was hidden behind a Snorlax.

7-Eleven Birthday Cake Slurpee 2

My first Slurpee sip was more “funeral” than “birthday.” A flowing log flume of watered-down vanilla flavor cascaded through my mouth, and it was chased by a faint lemon zest. If nothing else, I give 7-Eleven’s mad food scientists credit for including a more subtle frosting note.

All debates about icing authenticity aside, the watery vanilla made an awful first impression. Iciness in a cola or fruity Slurpee is acceptable, because soda and fruit juice are things that actually occur in real life. But runny liquid vanilla paste tastes sadly unnatural, as if someone had cried all over a cake.

Maybe 7-Eleven accidentally booked “Prenuppo the Recently Divorced Clown” for Slurpee’s birthday party.

But it wasn’t all tears and tragedy, because the Slurpee actually improved as time and the laws of physics went on. Gravity sent the sweet ribbons of syrupy vanilla extract twisting to the bottom of the cup, while thermodynamics turned the slush into crystallized batter.

The increased vanilla flavor concentration made my Birthday Cake Slurpee considerably more pleasant, so I tried greedily Slurpee-ing down the remaining purée before it could metamorphose into something even more melted and sloppy.

I didn’t make it in time, though (damn you, sun!). I was soon left with a dizzyingly sweet concoction that made me grimace like the time I sipped straight from a vanilla extract bottle (damn you, tempting smell!). But all hope was not lost, because I still had reinforcements to call in.

7-Eleven Birthday Cake Slurpee 3

Slurpee’s birthday celebration also includes a new Birthday Cake Doughnut, and for only 99 cents, I couldn’t resist garnishing my Slurpee and turning myself into a gawk-worthy street performer.

I’m surprised no one tossed a handful of change into my Slurpee cup.

The dry and crumbly doughnut sucks up the “juices,” and the lightly golden-sweet pastry lends a welcome, floury yellow cake flavor to a Slurpee that’s otherwise pure frosting. Meanwhile, the ring’s own caked on icing provides a buttery pop that complements the drink’s vanilla and lemon combo.

This birthday is an afternoon-long affair, too. Even as I tried biking my calories off, an aftertaste of tangy vanilla custard lingered. And like any post-party funk, it was simultaneously uncomfortable, bittersweet, and a little sticky.

So while I was able to derive some enjoyment from its various ups and downs, this Birthday Cake Slurpee was just too high maintenance to ever be a repeat purchase. The Slurpee is barely worth a novelty buy, and I hope 7-Eleven tries a birthday cake milkshake for Slurpee’s 100th birthday party instead. It would be less texturally off-putting, and I likely won’t have any teeth left by then anyway.

Oh, and I hope they don’t hire that darn clown again. I think I saw the poor fella sleeping in his tiny car last night.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 fl oz – 5 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.19
Size: Small
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Half-melted cake batter Slurpee abdomens. Spiraling vanilla tentacles. Using a doughnut like a paper umbrella. The sweet feeling of air conditioning on my vanilla-stained face.
Cons: “Crying Clown” cake flavoring. Custard hangovers. Shouting “I am not an animal!” to helpless passerby. Becoming a real life Snorlax after too many doughnuts. Frosting-filled frankfurters.

REVIEW: Burger King Mac n’ Cheetos

Burger King Mac n' Cheetos

The more I look at Burger King’s new Mac n’ Cheetos, the more I want to call them Mac n’ Cheeturds. I assume they’re supposed to look like Cheetos Puffs, but they’re not orange enough or curved enough, which gives me the urge to rename them.

The fast food side appears to be the successor to Doritos Loaded, a fried, triangular cheese-stuffed product that debuted at 7-Eleven locations in 2014 and was available at select Burger King locations last year, which, now looking back, was probably a test to see if Burger King patrons would buy a newfangled mozzarella stick. SPOILER ALERT: It appears they would. I didn’t have the fortitude to try Doritos Loaded after reading a bunch of negative reviews, so I can’t compare it with Mac n’ Cheetos.

The product is basically deep fried mac n’ cheese, a staple at carnivals, state fairs, and the Cheesecake Factory, but with a sprinkling of Cheetos dust in the crispy coating. A serving is five golden orange pieces that come in a Chester Cheetah-less package. I guess the rights to use Chester Cheetah would’ve cost Burger King some money, but it would’ve made the packaging as fun as what the Chicken Fries come in.

Burger King Mac n' Cheetos 2

The golden orange coating has a slight crispiness to it, but Burger King’s Onion Rings have a better crunch. I nibbled on the exterior to taste whatever Cheetos seasoning may be on in it, but my taste buds didn’t register anything that made me think of the crunchy cheese snack. But the crispy coating did remind of another popular cheesy snack — Cheez-Its.

Burger King Mac n' Cheetos 3

As for the interior, it’s a combination of orange cheese goo and tiny macaroni. The macaroni were tender, although they’re small enough that your teeth might not even notice them. The cheese tastes like cheddar and has a consistency that more like toothpaste than ooey-gooey cheese, making it slightly weird. The mac and cheese is adequate, but it too doesn’t have anything that makes me think of Cheetos.

As you can probably tell, I’m not impressed with Burger King’s Mac n’ Cheetos. They somewhat look like Cheetos, but they don’t have that distinguishable Cheetos flavor, not even a hint of it. And what about Cheetos dust on my fingers! They don’t even give me that.

Look, I admire Burger King for their willingness to try something like this. Someone said you can’t be successful without failure. I’m not sure who said that, probably someone who came up with hundreds of failing sayings before coming up with that winner. It’s a great idea and I was excited about them, but the execution was poor. Maybe they do deserve the name Mac n’ Cheeturds?

(Nutrition Facts – Not available on website yet.)

Purchased Price: $3.29*
Size: 5 pieces
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: They kind of look like Cheetos. Adequate. Interesting concept and name. Breading reminds me of Cheez-Its.
Cons: Disappointing they don’t taste at all like Cheetos. Don’t give me Cheetos dust fingers. No Chester Cheetah on the packaging. Cheese doesn’t have an oozy-gooey consistency.

*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: Papa John’s Mushroom Swiss Burger Pizza

Papa John's Mushroom Swiss Burger Pizza

Papa John’s seems hellbent on deconstructing already-existing fast food sandwiches and turning them into pizza. They are the Dr. Frankenstein of dough. And, as with the infamous doctor, things don’t always go well.

For instance, there was the time they tried to turn a Philly cheesesteak sandwich into a pizza, and they also did it to a double cheeseburger. Both of these were, in my opinion, failed attempts. Oh, sure, Papa John could shout “IT’S ALIVE!” But at what cost?

To my taste buds, I mean. The price is on their menu.

I feel like right after the God of Burgers created the cheeseburger and then added bacon to it, his next creation was the mushroom Swiss burger. I’m not sure why it was that combination that came up next, but it seems to be menu item #3 on a lot of burger restaurants’ lists.

Papa John's Mushroom Swiss Burger Pizza 2

Papa John’s says that “Our New burger pizza comes with beef, crimini mushrooms, onions, cheese made from mozzarella and Swiss cheeses, with creamy garlic sauce.”

I’m not a mushroom expert, but the mushrooms that came on my pizza looked like what I would call “pizza mushrooms”. Are criminis always used for pizzas? I don’t know, but the ones on my pizza tasted like pizza mushrooms. Which is fine, I suppose. There was also a healthy coverage of them.

What there was not a lot of was burger pieces. I feel like if you’re going to make a pizza specifically designed from a burger, you should get at least one burger piece per bite. That was not the case with my pizza. However, the umami from the mushrooms helped balance that out a little.

The onions were, of course, rather floppy, but they added a nice kick of flavor to the pizza. As for the Swiss, I feel like it added an extra dimension to the cheese profile. I also feel like that sentence smelled just a tiiiiny bit like bullshit. My mind could have been tricking me into thinking that the Swiss was there; I honestly can’t say for sure.

Papa John's Mushroom Swiss Burger Pizza 3

Call it trivial if you like, but I think the biggest victory of this pizza was Papa John’s choice to use garlic sauce. They must have tweaked the recipe since its application on the Philly Cheesesteak Pizza, because this time it did not taste like bile. It had a nice creamy texture and the taste of garlic was present but not overwhelming.

This was a critical decision, because using tomato sauce would have made the pizza impressively boring, and using the weird “zesty burger sauce” they had on their Double Cheeseburger Pizza would have been disgusting because that shit tasted like hot Thousand Island. So again, good call, Papa.

The Mushroom Swiss Burger Pizza is by far not Papa John’s worst limited time pizza, but I wasn’t exactly blown away by it. There were lots of mushrooms, but they were the same kind of mushrooms you’d get on a usual pizza as far as I could tell, and the burger – kind of an important part – was sparse. I’m not entirely sure I could taste the Swiss, but if I did, it was okay? The real saving grace here was the creamy garlic sauce, which really brought the pizza together and gave it that little something special that it otherwise definitely would have lacked.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/6 of a small pizza – 240 calories, 110 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 500 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, 9 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $12.00
Size: Small
Purchased at: Papa John’s
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Creamy garlic sauce brings it all together. The God of Burgers. Plenty of mushrooms. Garlic sauce doesn’t taste like bile this time.
Cons: Sparse burger pieces. Being the Dr. Frankenstein of pizza. My stupid brain could have tricked me into tasting Swiss. Just a bit boring.