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.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Bacon Mozzarella Burger

Wendy’s Bacon Mozzarella Burger

Listen close, boys and girls: today’s secret word is “twang.”

Yep, “twang:” everyone’s favorite flavor descriptor that’s fun to overuse and hard to explain, but easily recognizable when you taste it. And every time I use it in my review of Wendy’s new Bacon Mozzarella Burger, I want you to scream as loud as you can like it’s Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.

My apologies to any librarians reading this.

There’s a lot going on in this sandwich, and as the kind of easily overwhelmed person who can’t even decide which grocery aisle to go down first, it helps for me to quickly break it down into parts. So after fixing my hair in the bun’s reflective gloss and becoming That Guy Publically Pointing A Camera At His Hamburger™, I started dissecting.

Wendy’s Bacon Mozzarella Burger 2

Let’s start with that Brioche bun: it has a hyper garlicky and buttery glaze on top of a fragile and well-browned shell that hides fluffy, doughy innards. It’s addictively lick-able, but make sure you don’t touch your camera lens after handling it, unless you like having your review photos look like something out of a hazy movie desert scene.

The festive leafy greens on my Bacon Mozzarella Burger ranged from “fresh, and crisp” to “dark and damp clumps that belong in an amateur production of Little Shop of Horrors.” However, every leaf does a good job of absorbing the addictive twanginess (AHHH!) of the Parmesan Garlic sauce.

And speaking of Parmesan Garlic sauce: Parmesan Garlic sauce! It’s easily the best part of this sandwich, as it combines a buttery base with a biting garlic twang and nostril-tickling notes of nutty cheese that’s been carefully aged in the remote hills of Italy by a wise hermit.

The combo of cheesy and creamy really did remind me of Italian restaurant Alfredo sauce. When doused in this sauce, the burger’s raw red onions deliver a welcome two-pronged bite effect. That’s right: this twang’s got fangs.

The beef burger itself is impressive, too. It tastes freshly browned and salted without being dry, while its core is juicy without being messy. I just wish the bacon and cheese had as much flavor. The Applewood Smoked Bacon tasted of neither apples nor fresh cedar planks, and it had little charcoal-smoked twang.

The mozzarella, meanwhile, was smooth but practically tasteless—it’s a boring cheese choice that really puts the sleepy “zz” in mozzarella.

Wendy’s Bacon Mozzarella Burger 3

It doesn’t matter too much, though. Just like in nature and in many other multi-ingredient burgers, when eaten as a whole, the Bacon Mozzarella Burger’s strongly flavored ingredients swallow many of the weaker ones. In this case, the bun, burger, and Parmesan Garlic sauce dominate with a tasty trio of buttered garlic beef.

It’s like an Olive Garden meal (with breadsticks) in squeezable sandwich form and on a drive-thru budget. Though my single burger rang up at $5.99, the suggested price is $4.69. At that dollar figure, I’d highly recommend this “Taste of Fast Food Italy Burger.”

Even though some ingredients underwhelmed, the rest were impressive enough that you’d think Wendy brought them back from a study abroad trip in Italy that she won’t shut up about for the next five years.

Now I think I need to stop licking butter off my camera and get out of this restaurant before the secret Wendy’s police hauls me off kicking, screaming, and babbling about twangy Italian cheese hermits.

(Nutrition Facts – Single burger – 620 calories, 330 calories from fat, 37 grams of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 120 milligrams of cholesterol, 1430 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 37 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: Single
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Italian-American fusion you can eat at 70mph. Buttery Brioche worth ruining technology over. Parmesan cave gurus. Everybody have fun tonight. Everybody Twang Chung tonight.
Cons: MozzZzzZZarella. Having to go to Home Depot for properly woody bacon. Burger price variability. Limp spinach swamp monsters. Eternally being “That Guy.”

REVIEW: 7-Eleven Blue Raspberry Slurpee Donut

7-Eleven’s new Blue Raspberry Slurpee Donut

Well folks, it’s that time of year again. The weather is heating up and the chum is in the water. That can only mean one thing…

*Cue a knockoff version of the theme from JAWS, because I couldn’t clear the rights to the John Williams original.*

It’s Shark Week!

Ok, ok, I jumped the flare gun a bit there, Shark Week isn’t actually until the end of June. While you can’t get your fix of ridiculous Megalodon myths and pulse-racing Surfer-Brah horror tales until next month, you can currently get a taste of Shark Week at your local 7-Eleven.

One of the big merchandising tie-ins for this year’s Shark Week is 7-Eleven’s new Blue Raspberry Slurpee Donut.

Why?

Well, it’s blue. The ocean is blue. Sharks live in the ocean. The week is named after sharks. So, there ya go.

Let’s all kick back and enjoy Shark Week with a Blue Raspberry Slurpee Donut! We’re gonna need a bigger belt!

As an unapologetic man-child, there are few things that excite me more than blue foods. I’m also a lifelong Slurpee devotee, so I naturally had to try one of these.

I’ve had some wild donut varieties in my day, but this might take the cake donut. What we have here is a plain cake with Blue Raspberry Slurpee-flavored icing and blue sugar crystals.

The sky blue icing’s texture is more cupcake than donut to me. I think I prefer a different kind of frosting on my donuts, because they tend to harden up and glaze over a bit – think of a chocolate frosted donut from Dunkin’. The icing here is very soft and mushy and it dissolved quickly in my mouth. Not a huge deal, but I think this would have benefitted from having more of a shell.

For the first few seconds, the icing made me think of sour blue raspberry candy. I wasn’t expecting that. While it was distinctly raspberry, the sour kick was shocking.

The raspberry flavor wasn’t all that appetizing until it mixed with the cake donut itself. At that point, it became harmonious. The donut helped neutralize the sourness, and made the flavor satisfying as a whole. The cake donut was fluffy and fresh, so that helped the cause.

The crystals were supposed to give the donut an “ice-like crunch.” While there was nothing “icy” about it, the sugary crunch did add a nice element to the finished product, and I appreciated their inclusion.

As powerful as the flavor was, I was surprised at how little a scent this donut gave off. It didn’t smell like raspberries. It didn’t really smell like anything.

7-Eleven’s new Blue Raspberry Slurpee Donut 2

I picked up a Blue Raspberry Slurpee just to compare flavors and I think blue raspberry makes for a better Slurpee flavor than donut icing. 7-Eleven was definitely on the right track, but the donut’s icing was a lot sourer than the drink. So again, be prepared for that.

I give 7-Eleven credit for thinking outside the tank. This is a decently fresh take on two old favorites. Would I rather have a different flavored donut and a Slurpee on the side? Sure. I’ll probably go that route when the next Shark Week rolls around in three months, but I’d say this donut’s limited run is worth dipping your toe in the water.

(Nutrition Facts – 270 calories. No other nutritional info available.)

Purchased Price: 99 cents
Size: N/A
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Tastes good once everything mixes. Fluffy cake donut. Crunchy sugar crystals. Awesome appearance. Solid effort. Slurpee drinks.
Cons: Sour icing. Blue tongue. Lazy tie-in. Shark Week every week. The spoon on Slurpee straws is super tedious.

REVIEW: Starbucks Caramel Waffle Cone Frappuccino

Starbucks Caramel Waffle Cone Frappuccino

Out of all of the different junk food options out there, I don’t think there’s a more difficult one to spell than Frappuccino. Seriously, if the Scripps National Spelling Bee folks wanted to make it hard for kids to win, Frappuccino is the word. Heck, even Starbucks baristas seem to have plenty of difficulty spelling it.

Needing a dictionary aside, the Frappuccino is an integral part of the Starbucks menu – so much so that they offer an annual happy hour in celebration of the various combinations of milk, coffee, flavorings, and “base.” Judging by my recent visit to Starbucks, the Frappuccino Happy Hour looks to be the most miserable place on Earth – high schoolers slurping syrupy drinks, whipped cream everywhere, and surly baristas getting a workout from pumping out so much “base.” Disney World this is not.

Starbucks tends to release a new Frappuccino flavor each year to kick off summer, and this year’s entry, the Caramel Waffle Cone Frappuccino, is a sugar-packed way to celebrate the solstice. Advertised as a “carnival delight, all grown up,” the blended drink is a mix of waffle cone-flavored syrup, dark caramel sauce, coffee, milk, and ice, which is then topped with whipped cream, waffle cone pieces, and more of the aforementioned caramel sauce. I guess this is what happens when an ice cream cone hits puberty.

I avoided happy hour at my local Starbucks and decided to order this Frappuccino for breakfast. Frappuccinos have a reputation amongst baristas for being horrible to prepare, so I ordered carefully and cordially. Aside from a little side-eye, my Frappuccino was good to go (except for the part where the barista spilled the waffle cone bits all over the counter while sighing heavily).

Starbucks Caramel Waffle Cone Frappuccino 2

Upon picking up my drink, I immediately noticed that my Frappuccino was a little naked – it was missing its topping of dark caramel sauce. Undeterred, I dug in, and was hit with an overwhelming blast of caramel. I welcomed the fact that the flavor was a little richer and deeper than the traditional Starbucks sauce, but it overpowered every single sip. In fact, it was hard to even taste the coffee over the cacaphony of caramel.

Other than the waffle cone bits perched on the whipped cream, the Frappuccino had no doughy notes to speak of. I’ll give Starbucks credit – the waffle cone bits stayed crunchy even after a few minutes on top of the drink – but they still lacked any flavor, and might have had more of a punch if they were blended in.

In the end, there’s nothing wrong with the Caramel Waffle Cone Frappuccino, but paying a premium for what’s essentially a caramel Frappuccino only makes sense if your name is Alanis Morissette.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 fluid ounces – 300 calories, 100 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 44 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.25
Size: 12 fl oz
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Barista upper arm workouts. Caramel. Starbucks for breakfast.
Cons: Sugared up high schoolers. No waffle cone flavor. Sauce M.I.A.

REVIEW: Cold Stone Creamery Blueberry Donut Shake

Cold Stone Creamery Blueberry Donut Shake

I’ve been living under the assumption there are approximately four Dairy Queens, two Carvels, two Baskin-Robbins, and a Häagen-Dazs between my house and the closest Cold Stone Creamery, so I never saw it necessary to trek out to one.

Well guess what, folks? You know that Blimpie a town over from me? C’mon, you know the one. No, that’s a Subway. Right. That place! Apparently, that’s a half-Blimpie, half-Cold Stone Creamery!

All this time I could’ve had my ice cream slapped and folded at a fancy “Creamery” by someone I presume is called a “Creamer.” Instead, I’ve just been opting for boring scoops elsewhere. Ridiculous.

With this newfound knowledge I immediately perused Cold Stone’s menu to see if anything struck my fancy. Something did. In fact, I can’t recall the last time my fancy was struck as hard as it was when I noticed they now serve a Blueberry Donut Shake.

A blueberry donut shake?! It’s like they made that specifically for me. I love ice cream shakes, and my go-to donut is the blueberry cake variety.

I set a course for Blimp Stone Creamery. Cold Stone Blimpery?

The “Creamer” mixed two scoops of sweet cream ice cream, a few blueberries, about 1/3 of a blueberry cake donut, and a little milk into a perfectly blended lavender shake.

Cold Stone Creamery Blueberry Donut Shake 2

Not only did the shake feature those quality ingredients, he topped it off with a dollop of whipped cream, and perhaps the greatest garnish of all time – a frozen blueberry cake donut.

*I pause this review to decree that from this point forward, all desserts must be garnished with a donut We now return to your regularly scheduled review.*

Speaking of donuts, the shake instantly reminded me of the blueberry cake donut from Dunkin’. If you’re not familiar, it’s not too far off from a blueberry muffin.

Is “Blueberry Muffin a la Mode” a thing? Try to picture that, in shake form.

The ingredients worked perfectly together. The ice cream (which honestly tasted just like vanilla) gave it a sweet base, while the donut gave it a perfect hint of cake flavor. The blueberries provided an acidic fruit kick that also emanated a pleasant blueberry scent.

It was the smoothest ice cream shake I’ve had in a while. There were no floating bits of donut or blueberry clogging the straw. I finished it off without even a hint of brain freeze, so that’s worth a point in itself.

I saved the frozen donut for last. It was still pretty firm when the shake was gone, but tasted good enough. I don’t think it would have been too far off from Dunkin’s if it were fresh from the fryer.

As great as this shake was, I had a few minor gripes.

The whipped cream was pretty bad. It reminded of Cool Whip, which I’ve always found disgusting. Whipped cream in a Starbucks drink tends to liquefy towards the bottom. In this shake it remained a firm clump the entire time. Couple that with the still frozen donut, and it ended with a bit of a whimper.

The $6.75 price tag was outrageous, but this replaced my lunch, so I guess that’s a competitive price in that sense. It’s all about perspective. I couldn’t find the nutritional “value” of the shake on Cold Stone’s website. It’s probably best not to know. But hey, I know the blueberries provide some valuable antioxidants. The milk undoubtedly had some protein too. Perspective!

I really hope Cold Stone drops more donut-based shakes, especially now that I know there’s one nearby.

(Nutrition Facts – Not available on Cold Stone Creamery website.)

Purchased Price: $6.75
Size: Love It (Medium)
Purchased at: Cold Stone Creamery
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Delicious blend of blueberries, donuts, and ice cream. A blueberry cake donut garnish. No brain freeze. Finding out there was a Cold Stone nearby.
Cons: Frozen donut. Lardy whipped cream. Crazy price. Unknown nutritional facts. Cool Whip. “Creamers.”