REVIEW: McDonald’s Mac Jr.

McDonald's Mac Jr.

When I was sharing the news that McDonald’s now has a Mac Jr. with a co-worker (side note: we’re marketers, so creativity is always on the brain), we both deemed it a lack of innovation on Mickey D’s part for calling it Jr. since so many other chains Jr.-ize their burgers.

Personally, I think it should be called the Baby Mac. So much so, in fact, that I’ve had to stop myself from writing Baby instead of Jr. several times already.

McDonald's Mac Jr. 3

But lack of creativity in the name is not what I’m here to judge, so let me tell you about the size and the flavor. While the good old Big Mac has two meat patties, you’ll find just one on the limited time only Mac Jr. From bottom to top, the burger was built as so: Bun, cheese, meat, pickle, onion (very little onion on mine), lettuce, Big Mac sauce and bun.

I’m going to have to agree with Leonard here, I wish the meat was more prevalent in size. Because the patty was so thin, it left me wanting more. (Thank goodness I also picked up an Oreo McFlurry. Purchase price? $1.99 for a snack size.) I easily polished off the burger without feeling completely satisfied.

McDonald's Mac Jr. 4

But that being said, the taste was on point. There was a great ratio of cheese to meat, and the pickles were fresh and crunchy. And the sauce? Oh, the Big Mac sauce. My only gripe is that my friendly McDonald’s Mac Jr. assembler was a little heavy-handed on the sauce. As soon as I unwrapped the paper, it was oozing out of the sides. Delicious and warm, but slightly too much. I think this is the case where it’s just a tad too much of a good thing.

McDonald's Mac Jr. 5

If you’re in the mood for the Baby Mac, err… Mac Jr., you won’t be disappointed in flavor. McDonald’s definitely gets that right. However, I caution to you add some fries or that beautiful, sweet McFlurry if you’re looking for a complete meal but don’t want the extra meat and bun of a Big Mac or Grand Mac.

(Nutrition Facts – 460 calories, 240 calories from fat, 27 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 830 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 21 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Cost is less than my morning coffee order. It’s the adorable little sibling of the Mac family.
Cons: Pretty thin meat patty, a bit too much sauce (but is that really a problem?)

REVIEW: McDonald’s Chocolate Shamrock Shake

McDonald's Chocolate Shamrock Shake

It’s that time of the year again, lads and lasses. St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner.

You know what that means. It’s time to drink! Drink like you’ve never drank before. Drunk like you’ve never dronk before! Just dance a lil’ jig and drink!

Drink what? Jameson? Guinness? Come on, guys! This is a family site. Drink McDonald’s Shamrock Shakes!

Unless you got beat with the stupid shillelagh, or have been living under the Blarney Stone, a Shamrock Shake is a mixture of reduced fat (lol) vanilla ice cream, mint flavored “Shamrock” syrup and green sugar crystals. The result is a light green minty spin on a standard McDonald’s vanilla shake, and like the weed it borrows its name from, we’re lucky to have it.

From this point forward, I’ll try to keep this review short of stereotypical Irish things. Leprechaun. The Boston Celtics. Corn beef. Sully. Murph. Go Sox! Ok, starting now.

This year marks the expansion of the famous Shamrock Shake line. Not only is the original back, but McDonald’s has released four new drinks under their McCafe label. With shakes, fraps and hot cocoa choices to choose from, I opted for the Chocolate Shamrock Shake.

I can’t remember the last time I had a chocolate shake. It’s been ages. I guess I’ve just been subconsciously holding out for McDonalds to get frisky and cross pollinate their chocolate shake with my all time favorite item they offer, the Shamrock Shake. Seriously, I’m a Shamrock Shake junkie. If a group of nutjobs traveled the country for this like they did for the McRib, I’d consider abandoning my life and hitching a ride.

McDonald's Chocolate Shamrock Shake 2

Like I mentioned above, the shake had the familiar green pastel like color, with a couple of brown blotches. It looked nothing like the press release photo that had the two colors perfectly halved in a cup, but what fast food ever looks like the press release photo?

Chocolate and mint were noticeable on the nose, even though the shake itself was buried under a mountain of “whipped topping.” I always forget to ask for no “whipped topping.” Don’t get me wrong, I like phony whipped cream, but sometimes it’s completely unnecessary. I don’t need a maraschino cherry either. I always let it sink, and forcefully suck it into my straw when I somehow forget it’s there. I’d suggest just skipping the toppings and letting the mint and chocolate shine.

Speaking of mint and chocolate, whenever something has those flavor profiles, reviewers seem to default to, “Ummm, It tasted like Andes Mints.” Well, in this case, I’m gonna default as well. This shake instantly put me in mind of those after dinner mints. The familiar – in no way overpowering – cool mintiness of the Shamrock was the more powerful of the two flavors, but the chocolate definitely added a perfect new element.

McDonald's Chocolate Shamrock Shake 3

As I chugged on, the colors melted together into a delicious camouflage. Well, they would have if I gave them much of a chance to melt. I drank it so quick, I considered calling Guinness, not Guinness as in “Irish stout,” but Guinness as in “Book of World Records.” Ripley’s won’t return my phone calls. Long story.

The last few sips actually flip-flopped and were stronger on the chocolate, but I’m not complaining. When, and it’s only a question of when, I get this again, I’ll opt out of the whipped topping, and give it a few spoon swirls just to make sure the flavors are distributed properly.

You have until March 24th to give this a try. Get shakin’.

(Nutrition Facts – 16 ounces – 610 calories, 150 calories from fat, 17 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 78 grams of carbohydrates, 84 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: Medium (15 oz.)
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Delicious harmony of mint and chocolate. February and March are the best McDonald’s months of the year. No brain freeze. McRib disciples. A happy and healthy St. Patrick’s Day.
Cons: Whipped Topping and plastic cherry are unnecessary. Could’ve probably been blended a bit better. Limited availability. McDonald’s suddenly giving all new drinks the fancy “McCafe” moniker. Sat fats. 84 grams of sugar!

REVIEW: McDonald’s Grand Mac

McDonald's Grand Mac

Do you see that party over there? It’s an LTO (limited time offer) party and I see the King from Burger King and the chihuahua from Taco Bell absolutely going crazy and for what seems like forever. Oh, and who’s that I see over there making a fashionably late entrance? WHY IT’S RONALD MCDONALD WITH TWO NEW BURGERS!

Welcome to the party, McDonald’s! Glad to see you here even if it is for just two size variations of your top performer.

McDonald's Grand Mac 6

The burgers are siblings to McDonald’s signature item the Big Mac, one of which is called the Grand Mac. Thinking about the name, though, a Grande at Starbucks is a medium and if you translate grand from French it means “big,” so jeez McDonald’s this is confusing.

McDonald's Grand Mac 3

I got a regular Big Mac too just so I could see the difference. And if the package wasn’t warning enough (you’re gonna need two hands), you truly see the magnitude when you open the box. This thing is big! Actually, scratch that since it’s confusing. It’s huge!

McDonald's Grand Mac 4

It’s definitely larger than its star sibling but not so much in height. However, getting a bird’s eye view is simply breathtaking as you compare the diameters of the two sesame seed buns.

McDonald's Grand Mac 5

The taste is right on point with the Big Mac as the usual components are there in all their glory. The lettuce, onions, and pickles add some really nice crunch while the cheese is a sort of middle ground in texture to marry up all the different components, which it does so beautifully. However, the star here is the Big Mac sauce, which is as it should be. It’s the flavor you know and love, both creamy and delicious in full force. If you absolutely love the Big Mac but usually finish it without feeling as full as you’d like then the Grand Mac is for you.

The one disappointment I had were with the meat patties. The taste was fine but they were a bit too thin for me considering everything else that was going on. So, here’s to hoping McDonald’s has another option in the works. I even mocked one up using the gloriously sized patties from a Double Quarter Pounder. Drive-thru patrons of America? The Hamburglar? The enormous gigantic Jumbo Mac has arrived…

McDonald's Grand Mac 2

(Nutrition Facts – 860 calories, 470 calories from fat, 52 grams of fat, 18 grams of saturated fat, 2 grams of trans fat, 140 milligrams of cholesterol, 1470 milligrams of sodium, 62 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and 41 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.00
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: A truly super-sized Big Mac experience. Ronald McDonald partying with the King and a chihuahua. Packaging warnings that actually hold true.
Cons: Meat patties that are underwhelming. The French translation of Grand Mac is Big Mac.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Naked Chicken Chalupa

Taco Bell Naked Chicken Chalupa

Well, it was only a matter of time, I suppose: Taco Bell has finally taken it’s Naked Chicken Chalupa national.

For those of you not in the know, the product’s first trial run was in Bakersfield, California, in 2015, with a second go-at-it in Kansas City, Missouri, last year. And while Taco Bell has hit us with a LOT of unusual menu offerings over the years (three words, folks: Cap’n Crunch Delights) a lot of people on social media thought T.B. was hoaxing ‘em this time around – I mean, really, a chicken chalupa?

No, it’s not a chalupa with chicken in it. The chicken itself is the chalupa. And if the same mad geniuses who brought us the Beefy Fritos Crunch Burritos and Waffle Tacos decided it was nigh time for Americans to eat a giant rolled up chicken patty with lettuce and avocado ranch dressing inside it, then by golly, it’s probably time to for us to eat some giant rolled up chicken patties with lettuce and avocado ranch dressing inside it.

Taco Bell Naked Chicken Chalupa 2

Like the Doritos Locos Tacos, each Naked Chicken Chalupa comes with its own snazzy (and sturdy) paper holder. The chicken shell/patty itself is pretty darn big – about four ounces of rolled up breaded white meat, speckled with some traditional Mexican herbs and spices. There’s definitely some heat to it, but for those of you with tamer tastebuds, it probably won’t torch your tongue that much.

Taco Bell Naked Chicken Chalupa 3

On the inside, we’ve got your usual Taco Bell stuffings – chopped lettuce, some diced tomatoes, a sprinkling of shredded cheddar cheese, and a hearty dollop of avocado ranch dressing holding everything together (sorry, those of you who expected a scoop of seasoned ground beef to be in there, too.)

All in all, it’s a pretty satisfying product that doesn’t taste anywhere near as weird as you’d imagine. In fact, you really don’t even feel the missing tortilla or hard shell after a couple of bites, and thankfully, the chicken patty isn’t oily or greasy so you don’t have to worry about poultry juice staining your khakis.

While Taco Bell’s breaded chicken can’t compete with the grand lions of fast food chicken sandwiches (Chick-fil-A, you have nothing to worry about here), the shell does have a very robust flavor and is surprisingly juicy. Nor does it taste terribly salty, which has always been my biggest complaint with the lower-tier fast food chicken patties out there.

Your mileage may vary on the avocado ranch dressing – I would’ve preferred a spicier chipotle sauce – but believe it or not, this thing doesn’t taste all that much different from your standard chicken taco.

Huh. Who would’ve thought the absolute strangest thing about quite possibly the strangest Taco Bell L-T-O offering ever would be just how peculiarly normal it actually is?

(Nutrition Facts – 440 calories, 270 calories from fat, 30 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,090 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar and 20 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: The chicken shell is big, juicy and flavorful. You can eat it without getting grease on everything within a one-mile radius. The avocado ranch dressing adds a nice little zing.
Cons: It really doesn’t taste that much different from a regular chicken taco. A couple of other in-house dressings probably would’ve been better choices. Staying up all night wondering what would’ve happened if I had asked the manager to put grilled chicken inside my chicken chalupa.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Double Stacked Tacos

Taco Bell Double Stacked Tacos

For being their titular item, I rarely find myself craving Taco Bell’s tacos. While I’m a lover of their items, the standard crunchy taco has always felt skimpy. A paltry line of beef, a cascade of limp lettuce, and a sprinkling of unmelted cheese – it’s forgettable.

So thankfully, the Bell has pumped them up for their latest iteration. Taco Bell’s Double Stack Tacos bulk up their classic standard tacos by wrapping the corn exterior with a flour tortilla, slathered in sauce and cheese. With an extra layer, each one is hefty – especially for a $1 item. Two of these could make a comfortable meal, something that can’t be said for the Bell’s un-enhanced tacos.

Taco Bell Cool Habanero Double Stacked Taco

First up is Cool Habanero. The taco is the same as you’d expect, but with a generous hit of sour cream. Around it is wrapped a flour tortilla with a spray of habanero sauce, alongside melted cheese. The intention is for the sour cream to counteract the spice, though the balance isn’t quite there. There’s more sour cream than habanero by a healthy margin, and the sauce isn’t all that potent. As a full bite, it came off blander than most Taco Bell items.

Taco Bell Nacho Crunch Double Stacked Taco

The Nacho Crunch Double Stack adds a layer of red tortilla strips to the basic taco, then surrounds it with a duet of nacho and shredded cheese. If you’ve lost count, that gives this one item three different forms of tortilla – and three total servings of cheese. Predictably, it tastes like tortilla and cheese.

The meat and lettuce are lost in this fatty carb bomb, smothered in gooey yellow. It’s puzzling why this option dodges the habanero sauce of the other two tacos, which would’ve given this a needed a kick of flavor.

Taco Bell Spicy Sweet Double Stacked Tacos

Most interesting of the trio is Spicy Sweet, featuring a sweet chili sauce unique to the item. The red sauce has a loose texture, saturated with chili flakes. It’s very sweet, but was applied conservatively across the meat. While the first bite was initially heavy on sugar, it was countered by the savory beef.

Once the habanero sauce broke through, all three flavors really clicked. The sweet chili sauce has a light heat of its own, and a bit of a fruit jam flavor. This tasty blend is spread a bit thin, though. Between the lettuce, corn tortilla, flour tortilla, and double helping of cheese – the serving of meat and sauces feels underwhelming.

Taco Bell Double Stacked Tacos

Overall, the Double Stacked Tacos are mostly notable for their price. The Nacho Crunch and Cool Habanero tacos are cheaper and bulkier than their counterparts – making them a solid pickup. Spicy Sweet is the real highlight though, and is definitely worth a try.

(Nutrition Facts – Cool Habanero – 350 calories, 180 calories from fat, 20 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 630 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of protein. Nacho Crunch – 380 calories, 170 calories from fat, 19 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 650 milligrams of sodium, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of protein. Spicy Sweet – 340 calories, 160 calories from fat, 18 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 640 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.00 each
Size: N/A
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Cool Habanero)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Nacho Crunch)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Spicy Sweet)
Pros: Very hearty for the price, while delivering classic Taco Bell flavor. Spicy Sweet variety is unique, and nails the sweet/savory/hot mix. Spices up otherwise boring tacos.
Cons: Cool Habanero needs more heat. Nacho Crunch should be Haberno Crunch. All three could use more meat.