REVIEW: McDonald’s McCafe Oreo Frappe

McDonald's McCafe Oreo Frappe

It took 27 years but I’ve finally learned you can’t always have your cake and eat it too. Sometimes you just get to have the cake, and you can’t eat it, you just get to possess it. We all have to settle at times.

Like how the escaped prisoners in New York had to settle for eating Pop-Tarts without a toaster. Cold Pop-Tarts?! Bleh! You’d have to be pretty desperate to eat those. Oh…yeah…escaped prisoners on the run. Ahem.

Or how in a fantasy draft you have to settle because the jerk picking before you takes the player you had your hopes and dreams set on, and you have to instead draft your fallback option. I cringe just thinking about the time Buster Posey was picked right before I could get him, and I panicked and blurted out John Axford. Please don’t laugh at me too hard, baseball fans.

My most recent case of settling came when I tried to save a few extra bucks by opting to go to McDonald’s for a tasty frozen beverage instead of Starbucks. I know what you’re thinking…life can be a real bitch! Yeah, I’m thinking the same thing!

But McDonald’s Oreo Frappe ended up being so good that I didn’t have to settle for anything. And being cheaper than a Starbucks drink it’s a win in both taste and price. Of course it’s also a win in the sense that I get to say “small” like a normal person, instead of “tall” at Starbucks, which sounds like it’s a large drink, but as most of us know it’s the smallest size.

McDonald's McCafe Oreo Frappe 2

At first glance it’s clear there are Oreo cookies blended throughout the drink. It also has Oreo chunks on top of the whipped cream. I suggest stuffing the whipped cream and cookie chunks into the drink and then mixing it, but that’s just my style. You do you, faithful TIB reader.

The cookie taste is strong with this one. Right away you’ll get a heavy chocolate cookie flavor. Along with frappe, I also noticed notes of vanilla. The drink is made with a cookies & crème syrup, and the crème flavor is definitely noticeable. To put it into fractions, it’s 3/5 Oreo cookie flavor, 1/5 frappe flavor, and 1/5 Oreo cream flavor.

I got a small since I was headed for a Dibella’s sub right afterward, and though my intentions were to sip on it so there would be some left to have with the sub, the Oreo Frappe was so good that it lasted only about a minute and thirty seconds.

There were a couple of issues with the drink. It has a thinner consistency compared with other Frappe flavors. It also has a higher calorie count and much higher fat count than my normal Starbucks choice, the always trusty Green Tea Frappuccino. Normally this would be a huge turnoff for me and I wouldn’t get the drink again but the taste is such a win that it easily negates these issues.

We all do have to settle at times, but when it comes to the Oreo Frappe, there isn’t any settling involved.

(Nutrition Facts – Small – 540 calories, 180 calories from fat, 20 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 82 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 68 grams of sugars, and 7 grams of protein.)

Item: McDonald’s McCafe Oreo Frappe
Purchased Price: $3.01
Size: Small
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Great Oreo flavor. Can taste both cookie and crème flavors. Cheaper than Starbucks. Possessing cake. Not having to say “tall” when asking for a small drink.
Cons: Thinner consistency than other Frappes. Not the healthiest drink. Panic picking John Axford.

REVIEW: Sonic Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog

Sonic Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog

Sonic loves screwing around with their hot dog menu. That may sound like an insult, but it’s not; it’s a compliment. Keeping a fast food menu fresh and rotating earns you high marks in my book. That is, unless you discontinue something I love; then I hate you.

To give you an idea of Sonic’s wiener range, they’ve played with such toppings as blue cheese dressing, Fritos, guacamole, garlic parmesan sauce and crispy onions. They’ve also played with their buns, introducing pretzel, cheesy bread, and now croissant varieties.

The new croissant bun hot dogs come in two varieties: the Original, which comes topped with mustard, and the Bacon Double Cheddar, which I chose because it sounded infinitely more interesting. Here’s how Sonic describes it:

“SONIC’s Croissant Dogs take a new, gourmet twist on a Sonic classic hot dog. We start by baking a soft roll, with all of the flakey goodness and buttery taste of a delicious croissant. Then, we nestle the juicy premium beef hot dog in the croissant and top it off with cheddar cheese and bacon.”

Sonic Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog Bun

Of all the different types of breads out there, I wouldn’t have even thought of turning a croissant into a hot dog bun. Croissants are for breakfast. Although, now that I think about it, how long has Pillsbury been telling you two wrap tiny hot dogs in their croissant dough? Well-played, Sonic.

Since the crux of this new menu item is the bun, I immediately tried it on its own once it had been procured. I found it to be flaky like a croissant, but quite a bit denser than the dainty bakery product you would consume with an espresso. It also had a tiny bit of buttery flavor, but there was no buttery sheen or greasiness to the bun itself.

Sonic Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog Innards

When I bit into the dog, I could see the layers that are one of the signatures of the croissant. However, in addition to being more dense than a traditional croissant, the bun was also quite thick. As I worked my way through the hot dog, the bun didn’t compress like some cheap buns – it retained it’s fluffiness throughout.

And it’s a good thing, too, because the Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog is loaded with toppings. I couldn’t even see the hot dog under all that cheese and bacon.

While the subtle buttery taste of the bun immediately disappeared due to the toppings, the texture still worked and the bun managed to both not sog and actually contain the toppings, which I figured would be all over my hands by the end of my meal. Unexpectedly, it was the bun that wound up making the most mess – it flaked off all over the place, which would leave you with a lap full of crumbs if you were to eat this on-the-go.

As for the toppings, as I mentioned, they were ample. However, they diverged rather mysteriously from both the description on the website and the picture. First of all, it’s called “Double Cheddar”, and the picture on their online menu clearly shows both cheese sauce and melted shredded cheese. However, mine only came with cheese sauce.

If there was anything “double” about it, it was the amount, which was a heaping ladle full. Again, I was impressed that the croissant bun was able to contain that much oozing cheese.

The cheese sauce was incredibly artificial-tasting, but what do you expect from a fast food joint? It’s one of those situations where you either like or you hate that kind of unnatural orange goo. I personally enjoy it.

Another deviation from the menu description is the addition of brown mustard. While not mentioned or pictured on their website, my Croissant Dog came with a little squiggle of brown mustard on top of the cheese sauce. It added a nice little twang and a bit of a kick to the hot dog.

Speaking of the dog itself, I wasn’t going to say much, because I’ve been through the Sonic hot dog experience several times and found them downright unremarkable. This time, however, I was struck at how juicy the dog was. I’ve never had a Sonic dog this good. I don’t think they changed their dogs, so maybe I just hit them on a good day, but either way – good job, Sonic!

The real star of the Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog was the bacon. Thick, crispy and wonderfully flavorful, it tasted just like it had come straight from the cast iron skillet on my stove at home. And there were a lot of the pieces, too. This has to be some of the best fast food bacon I’ve ever had. I don’t think I’ve ever had this much praise for Sonic before!

Overall, Sonic’s Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog was one of the most satisfying fast food hot dogs I’ve ever had. I prefer natural casing hot dogs, but this dog was juicy and satisfying. The toppings were more than generous, which is a minus if you hate processed cheese sauce, but the bacon was fantastic.

Of course, the whole point of this new dog is the croissant bun, which I declare a fine substitute to regular buns that can easily fall apart. While the buttery qualities got masked by the toppings, you can see the layers when you bite into the dog, and it is both fluffy but sturdy at the same time. While your toppings won’t land in your lap, watch out, because flakes from the bun certainly will. Just use a napkin, you savage, and enjoy your dog!

(Nutrition Facts – 510 calories, 310 calories from fat, 34 grams total of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 1670 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 4 grams of sugars, 18 grams of protein, 15% calcium, 30% iron, 6% vitamin A, and 2% vitamin C.)

Item: Sonic Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog
Purchased Price: $3.87
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Sonic Drive-In
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Bun was fluffy but sturdy. Making weiner and buns jokes. Bacon was both plentiful and excellent quality. Hot dog was juicy and flavorful. Lots of cheese sauce.
Cons: Cheese sauce was very artificial. I congratulated Sonic way to many times in this review. Croissant bun flakes will get everywhere. Whoah, that’s a lot of fat for one hot dog! Mysterious deviations from the menu description – where’s my double cheddar?

REVIEW: Burger King Doritos Loaded

Burger King Doritos Loaded

Burger King might be in trouble.

They seem like they’re pulling out all the stops lately, bringing back the King (great move), Chicken Fries (decent move, absolutely terrible marketing) and now trying to branch off into that weird menu item market Taco Bell lives in. I’m not sure what they’re hoping to gain by offering a product that has been sold at 7-Eleven locations for some time, but I’m definitely sensing an air of desperation.

This may be a controversial statement, but I don’t really like Doritos Locos Tacos. Don’t get me wrong, I was first in line to order them and I thought the idea was brilliant, but the execution? Ehhhhhh. After the first bite, I barely even noticed any Doritos flavor. The new Burger King Doritos Loaded are no different.

Doritos Loaded – which is a really stupid name – smelled awesome. The drive home was tense, because their aroma filled my car almost instantly. I was pretty hungry and toyed with the idea of just busting them out right there, but chose to avoid Doritos fingers for a couple more minutes. Still, I was pumped to throw these babies down by the time I got home. Oh what a naïve fool I was.

Burger King Doritos Loaded 2

Doritos Loaded look cool and have a little heft to them, about the same weight as a chicken nugget. They have a nice salty, crispy outer shell, but it’s also a bit dry. If I stopped eating them after one bite, my review score would have been a lot higher.

They make a really good first impression. I could taste the nacho cheese Doritos flavor, but it’s immediately masked by the cheese filling. After that, I never really tasted nacho cheese Doritos again.

Burger King Doritos Loaded 3

The cheese inside is gross! I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what kind of cheese. I naturally thought nacho at first, then maybe American? After some Googling that took way too much time, I learned it has a combination of American, cheddar and Romano. I never would have been able to tell you that myself. The cheese was just indiscriminate, bland, and gooey. The decision to use that mix was my biggest problem with the Doritos Loaded.

They would have been so much better if the center was a bit solidified with a cheese like mozzarella. I considered letting them sit around and cool off a little before eating more, but agita was kicking in. And, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t want to eat more.

I absolutely hate wasting food, but I threw away two of the four Doritos Loaded. I would have given them away, but I was alone. I didn’t even have someone to make hand uprights for me so I could attempt to flick one of these across the room paper football-style.

I’m so lonely. All I want is for someone to finish my gross food and make finger field goals for me. Is that too much to ask?

But I digress.

I think the idea of crusting snacks in Doritos crumbs is a great one. I’ve often said Frito-Lay could make a killing selling Doritos dust in the spice aisle. I’d definitely put that on a chicken breast. In fact, Burger King should strike while the iron is hot, and offer chicken nuggets crusted in Doritos crumbs. There’s zero chance that wouldn’t be a hit. It would certainly crush the Doritos Loaded.

Can someone pass this along to the King? Doritos crusted nuggets! And get Darius Rucker to sing in the commercial like the good old days. And no more unlawful marriages between chickens and French fries.

Doritos Loaded were a novel idea, but the execution was awful. Not to mention, for $2.99 there are about 100 better fast food values out there.

I don’t know, I guess this is worth a shot for Burger King. I don’t necessarily think these will pair well with a burger, so 7-Eleven seems like a better place to buy them. With all that said, I hope they release a Cool Ranch version. But if they do, they better make them with mozzarella.

(Nutrition Facts – 360 calories, 24 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,080 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 4 gram of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of protein..)

Item: Burger King Doritos Loaded
Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 4 bites
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Smelled great. Nice crispy exterior. Cool packaging/shape. Hootie’s “Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch” jingle. The King is back!
Cons: Dry. Almost no Doritos flavor. Terrible cheese filling. Chicken Fries commercials. No one to play paper football with.

REVIEW: Little Caesars Cheese-N-Pretzel Dippers

Little Caesars Cheese-N-Pretzel Dippers

It’s baaaaack!

Like Pennywise the Clown in Stephen King’s “It” or the McDonald’s McRib (which one is truly scarier?), Little Caesar Soft Pretzel Crust Pizza made a big scene last year before stealthily going into hibernation shortly after. But now it’s back. And unlike the periodic resurrections of King’s killer clown and McD’s mysterious meat, the cult-favorite pizza’s return is much more “glory” than it is “gory.”

But it didn’t come alone. Looking like the illegitimate child from a Pretzel Crust Pizza/Crazy Bread love affair, Lil C’s also debuted their new Cheese-N-Pretzel Dippers, which come with a cute little tub of “Aged Cheddar Cheese” (oh jeez, I just described a cheese tub as cute; are you proud of me now, Mom?).

Little Caesars Cheese-N-Pretzel Dippers 2

I opened my bag and marveled at the doughy chaos within. Unlike the neat rows of Crazy Bread, the 16 or so Dippers are unceremoniously dumped into a pile. They say the pretzel was invented by a monk who shaped dough into the shape of children’s crossed arms during prayer. If that’s true, then he must have shaped these after Sister Agnes was finished “disciplining” the children’s arms with a yardstick.

Other than that, they do look like Crazy Bread, just firmer, browner, and dotted with translucent salt granules rather than parmesan. And the buttery-ness of my pretzels made the bag as translucent as the salt: even before opening it, the Dippers were tunneling through the paper like Andy Dufresne behind a poster of Rita Hayworth.

Little Caesars Cheese-N-Pretzel Dippers 3

Evaluating these Dippers is tricky, because their quality is very much dependent on their temperature. Eaten hot, the experience is largely pleasant. The rich, golden-baked pretzel shell has enough structural integrity to resist tearing (it’s denser than the pizza’s pretzel crust), but the uneven butter coating makes it lighter, softer, and more oily-tasting in select clusters. Biting through gives way to the same fluffy, aerated center in Crazy Bread.

It’s a recognizable “pretzel flavor” that is reminiscent of those microwaveable Super Pretzels, just with a more hearty chew. This is because the thin Dippers have a “crust to bread” ratio that highly favors the former.

Unfortunately, the haphazard salt sprinkling dampens the experience, as some bites are purely bland butter-dough, while others are overwhelmingly salty enough that’ll you’ll be channeling your inner George Costanza: “These pretzels are making me thirsty!” The few bites that are well balanced, though, make me smile contently and whisper, “That’ll do, Dipper. That’ll do.”

Little Caesars Cheese-N-Pretzel Dippers 4

And the cheese. Oh, the cheese. The only thing aged about this cheddar is how it tastes like the orange goo on boardwalk nachos that a carny left out too long. Overwhelmingly oily and slightly too coagulated, it takes away from the pretzel goodness by plastering a tangy, slightly zippy taste in the back of your mouth.

But that’s when it’s all hot. If left too long (and it reached this point even after my short ride home from Little Caesars), room temperature or cold Dippers turn into insanely chewy lengths of flavorless rope as the salt begins to fall off. Biting into any remaining salt clusters tastes like you’re munching on a pirate’s doormat. And room temperature cheese? Like a repulsive cube of Cheez Whiz someone tried passing off as post-modern art.

Little Caesars’ new Cheese-N-Pretzel Dippers are certainly an enjoyable alternative pizza side dish, but only under two stipulations: eat them immediately (or keep a microwave on hand), and send the cheese dip directly to Hell, where it belongs the trash.

(Nutrition Facts – Not available.)

Item: Little Caesars Cheese-N-Pretzel Dippers
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 16 pieces
Purchased at: Little Caesars
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Dippers)
Rating: 2 out of 10 (Cheese)
Pros: Authentic pretzel taste when salt and butter are balanced. Charming patchwork of crispy and light sections. Adorable cheese receptacles. Seinfeld reruns.
Cons: Rare balanced sections. Temperature-based devolution into cardboard. Semisolid satanic cheese. Sister Agnes’ painful wrath.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Baconator Fries

Wendy’s Baconator Fries

“How are the Baconator Fries?”

“They are banging. You need to get them.”

That’s how my recent Wendy’s transaction started – word for word. I obviously ordered them. Who could argue with that assessment? I hope she was instantly promoted to management, because she knows how to sell a French fry.

I recently returned home from the West Coast, where I made the obligatory stop at In-N-Out. As I sat there eating my Animal Style fries, I wondered why more fast food places didn’t have more menu items featuring the fry as the star. It’s pretty damn hard to mess up a French fry, so why not mess around and provide more toppings than just standard salt? Enter Wendy’s with their new Baconator Fries.

Like the delicious burger of the same name, Baconator Fries are… well, they’re fries covered in cheese and bacon. Wendy’s website claims the ingredients are as follows – natural cut fries, cheese sauce, shredded cheddar cheese, and Applewood smoked bacon. I don’t believe my order had the shredded cheddar though, which is fine, because I believe that would have been overkill.

Baconator Fries aren’t the most attractive looking dish, but at this point we all know the pictures in the commercials aren’t remotely true to life. This was kind of a mess. You won’t be enjoying these with your fingers. There’s something inherently depressing about eating a non-salad fast food product with a fork. I’m not sure why I feel that way, but it just seems to amplify the fact you’re eating greasy fast food.

Wendy’s Baconator Fries 3

To Wendy’s credit, they don’t skimp on the bacon. There was plenty, and despite what I’m going to say next, the bacon held up well and kept a nice crisp – something that I’m frankly not used to when it comes to fast food bacon. I usually pick at least one grisly strip out and toss it.

Wendy’s Baconator Fries 2

The fries themselves were limp and soggy, but to be fair, that should be expected due to the excessive amount of cheese sauce. I also think the plastic casing it came in was a major culprit. I’m never a fan of food served in plastic containers like this. No matter how fast you open it, the contents are still sweating worse than Shaq at the free throw line. Really, the only purpose the plastic container has is to expedite the sog progress, or “sogress”™ of the food inside.

Like I said earlier, it’s hard to mess up a French fry. I like Wendy’s fries a lot actually. They made the change to the natural cut, sea salt version years back and it was definitely for the better. Even without a crispiness, they’re tasty. The cheese sauce is the same from the Baconator. It’s not bad, but I couldn’t help but think a different cheese would have suited this a bit better. Still, coupled with the fries and the crispy bacon, you get at least a few really good bites of food here.

It’s fun to say “Baconator,” isn’t it? That’s a winning name, Wendy’s. Nice job. It doesn’t quite make up for the “Dave’s Hot and Juicy,” but you can’t win em all. I hope they continue messing around with fry-based menu items, but also hoping they leave the “Dave’s Hot and Juicy Fries” on the cutting room floor. Nobody wants to actually say that out loud. The Baconator is also just a really solid hamburger. In fact, that’s one thing that was constantly on my mind while eating these fries – how much I wanted an actual Baconator burger. These fries are kind of a tease in that sense.

Here’s the thing though, this portion is more than a side dish. The size is problematic because I don’t believe it’s enough to pass off as a meal, but it’s also too big to pair with a good sized burger. You’re either gonna be hungry again in an hour, or miserably full for the next few depending on what you order.

I’d say either pair these fries with a 4 piece nuggets, or a Jr. sized burger, or just enjoy them as a Taco Bell-style “FourthMeal.” According to the website, you can also customize your order, so who knows, you might even be able to add hamburger meat and make a Top Chef style “deconstructed Baconator.” Fancy.

So yeah, this is standard Wendy’s fare. They’re often on the mark with their new exclusives. Baconator fries are not something I’m gonna flock out and eat weekly like I did with the Pretzel Pub Chicken Sandwich, but I definitely recommend giving them a try. For only two bucks, you can’t go wrong.

In conclusion… bring back the Pretzel Pub Chicken Sandwich!

(Nutrition Facts – 490 calories, 250 calories from fat, 28 grams of fat, 9 grams of sat fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 550 milligrams of sodium, 45 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, and 14 grams of protein.)

Item: Wendy’s Baconator Fries
Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Price. Crispy bacon. Good flavor pairing. The name “Baconator.” The cute actress in the Wendy’s commercials. Enthusiastic employee. Wendy’s in general.
Cons: “Limited” time only item. Sogress™. Too much cheese. Dave’s Hot and Juicy. In-between portion size.