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REVIEW: Chex Chips (Caramelized Onion, Cinnamon and Sugar, Cheddar Jalapeño, and Wasabi)

Written by | January 27, 2014

Topics: 8 Rating, 9 Rating, Chex, Chips

Chex Chips

Yo, do y’all remember the story of the Three Little Pigs?

Well, here’s a recap in case you recently fell off of a train of something.

Basically, there are these three anthropomorphic pigs that get kicked out of their house by their mother because they are probably all like 22 and have degrees in Philosophy or Russian Literature and don’t have jobs. Anyway, the titular three pigs travel out in the world and decide that they each need some new digs.

Two of the pigs, who apparently have never seen an actual house, each decide to erect crude little shelters out of straw and sticks respectively. The third pig, and possibly the only one that never received a traumatic brain injury in his youth, builds his using bricks like a champ. Eventually a hungry wolf arrives whose plan of attack, loudly announcing his arrival while blowing as hard as he can on each home, easily destroys the first two lousy shelters. Not wanting to be eaten, the first two pigs run to the smarter, craftier third pig and seek shelter in his house, which, because it’s basically a brick fortress, keeps them all safe. Hooray!

The moral of this little story is clear: You can get by in a group by being completely and utterly useless as long as at least one of you has their shit together.

Chex Mix, much like the Three Little Pigs, is similarly plagued by certain members who cannot carry their own weight. While greatly enjoyable as a whole, those dry, squiggly breadsticks and boring circular pretzels are clearly the straw and stick houses in this analogy. And, even though those zesty bagel chips can usually be a crowd pleaser, I have always felt that the true beauty of Chex Mix lies in the Chex themselves, and their flawless evolution from breakfast cereal to snack food.

But dammit, it’s 2014 and it appears Chex is finally ready to make moves in the snack department sans its slightly less enticing compadres, and the beautiful result is Chex Chips.

Let’s be honest, when I first saw this new snack at my local 7-Eleven (in the following four flavors: Caramelized Onion, Cinnamon and Sugar, Cheddar Jalapeno, and Wasabi) I had a few questions. How can my familiar Chex cereal pieces be transformed into a chip? How big are we talking here? Did I really ever want my Chex to taste like wasabi?

Scouring the front packaging for details, I was provided with only the following description, beneath the large printed Chex Chips logo:

“GIANT CHIPS. NO MIX.”

Chex Chips Size

Personally, I take the purposeful capitalization of these two short, direct sentences as a sign that this text should probably be read in the brutish voice of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. And, like The Rock himself, Chex Chips similarly appear to be significantly roided-up. Upon opening the bag, the texture of Chex Chips is a wonderfully effective hybrid somewhere between the puffiness of Bugles and the crispiness of the late (and well missed) Doritos 3D. Much less flimsy than their breakfast cereal brethren, these giant Chex seemed perfect for transporting each specific delicious flavor.

Let’s break it all down.

Chex Chips in Bowls

First, I began with the Caramelized Onion flavor. Yeah that’s right, caramelized onion. Did Bobby Flay whip these gourmet creations up on Iron Chef? Probably. Can you serve these at your next fancy gala or museum opening? Probably. Does a caramelized onion simply mean a cooked, browned onion? Probably. Was the name of this flavor an attempt to hide that fact they basically taste just like a sour cream and onion flavor minus the sour cream? Probably. Were they still shamelessly delicious? … Yes.

Next, I moved onto the Cinnamon and Sugar variety because, well, I like both of those things. Ignoring the fact that the pile of sugar with accompanying tubes of cinnamon displayed on the front of this bag look suspiciously like someone is ready for an 80s cocaine binge, this may have been my favorite flavor of the bunch and I strongly recommend it. Allow me to consider the reasons: They tasted like delicious churros. I like delicious churros. I liked this flavor. If you like delicious Churros you will also like this flavor. (See… it all adds up)

Moving along, I next tried the Cheddar Jalapeño flavor. Already pleased with the previous two flavors, I was not surprised when this variety blew my idiomatic pants off. Underneath its delightfully fiery kick; there is an impressive amount of real flavor. I’m a bit tired of the recent trend of using heat as a shield to cover up lousy taste, so it’s a welcomed surprise when spicy flavors such as this benefit from a good combination of the two.

Finally, this left me with the flavor that I had largely been anticipating, Wasabi. It has always surprised me that, despite the already established and steadily growing popularity of sushi restaurants, wasabi has made very few permanent appearances in American mainstream snack foods. Sure it might pop up as limited edition flavor, like sriracha, but it seems there are very few consistent outlets for this flavor. And, truthfully, it’s a shame. Yet, the taste of these Chex Chips have captured an essential part of what makes wasabi such a popular condiment; that perfect combination of spiciness and distinct flavor. I hope these chips stick around because they are impressively good.

In fact, Chex Chips as a whole are all surprisingly the crème de la crème of the usual 7-Eleven pickins’, and my hopes for the longevity of the Wasabi flavor spreads to Chex Chips as a whole.

(Now, I just want to see those bagel chips get the right idea and go solo too).

(Nutrition Facts – 1 pouch – Caramelized Onion – 200 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 320 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of potassium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein Cinnamon and Sugar – 200 calories, 90 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 250 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of potassium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein. Cheddar Jalapeno – 200 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 380 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of potassium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein. Wasabi – 200 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 320 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of potassium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Chex Chips (Caramelized Onion, Cinnamon and Sugar, Cheddar Jalapeño, and Wasabi)
Purchased Price: $1.49 each
Size: 42 gram bag
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Caramelized Onion)
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Cinnamon and Sugar)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Cheddar Jalapeño)
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Wasabi)
Pros: The chips themselves were way tastier than I had anticipated. Large portion size. Interesting variety.
Cons: I have only seen them that one time I was at the 7-Eleven at two in the morning and I knocked over a gallon of milk and the store clerk looked at me funny and now I don’t want to go back there even during the day when he probably doesn’t even have a shift.

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REVIEW: Limited Time Only Ketchup Doritos (Canada)

Written by | January 23, 2014

Topics: 8 Rating, Chips, Doritos

Limited Time Only Ketchup Doritos (Canada)

I still remember my shock, as a kid, finding out that ketchup chips are mostly just a Canadian thing, and that they’re not readily available in the States. This information stunned me. It made me question the way I perceived the world. Ketchup chips are such a fundamental potato chip flavour; this was like being told that Americans cannot perceive the colour blue.

As far as I’m concerned, there are certain bedrock chip flavours. Salt & vinegar. Barbecue. Sour cream & onion. Ketchup. All Dressed.

Wait — you don’t have All Dressed, either?? What kind of lives have you been living? I’ll answer that one: empty lives. Empty, horrible, All-Dressed-and-ketchup-chip-less lives.

Ketchup and fries are obviously natural bedfellows. Potato chips and fries are clearly brothers in the junk food family tree (or at the very least, cousins). It follows, then, that ketchup chips are a complete no-brainer.

But ketchup Doritos? That’s different. That’s as wacky to me as it is to you. I’ve never seen anybody dip a tortilla chip into ketchup, and I hope that day never comes. It’s too horrible to fathom.

So if the ketchup/tortilla combo is gross, Ketchup Doritos must be gross too, right? Well… read on, my friend. Read on.

Before I get into this particular flavour, I will say that I think Doritos are the best store-bought tortilla chip on the market. I don’t want to get too hyperbolic, but I think they’re pretty much textural perfection; they’re the perfect combination of crispy, airy, and crunchy.

(And I really wish they’d make plain Doritos easier to find, but they’re completely unavailable in Canada, and even in the States I’m almost never able to track them down. But I digress.)

I definitely wasn’t sold on this flavour after my first bite. Doritos and ketchup is such a weird combination that it just seems wrong. At first you’re hit with that vinegary ketchup sweetness and and it seems to confirm your worst fears. It feels off-putting.

But then you have another, and another, and before you know it, you’re hooked. There’s something weirdly addictive and oddly satisfying about it. A hint can be found in the ingredients. The third ingredient of the seasoning is monosodium glutimate, a.k.a. the dreaded MSG.

I should note that the notion that MSG is more unhealthy than any other seasoning has been thoroughly debunked at this point, in case you were wondering. What MSG does do is heighten a food’s umami factor. Combined with the dehydrated tomato (another umami-packed ingredient), it gives these Doritos (and quite a few other Doritos flavours) a savoury richness that you can’t quite put your finger on, but that keeps you coming back chip after chip.

Limited Time Only Ketchup Doritos (Canada) Closeup

The seasoning isn’t quite as liberally applied as with some other flavours. This is definitely a good thing; a little bit of the puckery sweet vinegar flavouring of the ketchup goes a long way. This means that more of the chip’s corn flavour shines through, which compliments the ketchup flavour fairly well, oddly enough.

It’s not my favourite variety of Doritos ever (it still has that distinctive ketchupy taste, which is never going to be perfect on a tortilla chip), but it is way, way better than you’d think it would be. I really only needed to sample one bag for the purpose of this review, and I’m already onto my second, which tells you how much I enjoyed it (it also tells you that I’m a pig whose boundless appetite can never quite be sated… but we’ll set that aside for the moment).

(Nutrition facts – 50 grams/21 chips – 260 calories, 13 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 290 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fibre, 2 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein.)

Item: Limited Time Only Ketchup Doritos (Canada)
Purchased Price: $3.50 CAN
Size: 245 gram bag
Purchased at: Hasty Market
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Way better than you’d think it would be. Surprisingly addictive.
Cons: The very idea of it is a bit off-putting. Ketchup and tortilla chips is never not going to be a weird combination.

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REVIEW: Frito Lay Mountain Dew Corn Snack (Mountain Dew Cheetos)

Written by | January 20, 2014

Topics: 5 Rating, Cheetos, Japan

Mountain Dew Doritos 1

I like spaceships. Serenity, the Enterprise, Galactica, Bebop, the Nostromo, the Yamato, the Heart of Gold, the Protector, the Discovery, Prometheus. All of them. I even like real spaceships like the space shuttle Atlantis and the Millennium Falcon.

They represent what’s out there. The great unknown. The vast expanses of the galaxy and the universe. And it saddens me that the national space program is in such a state of decline. If we don’t continue to expand our presence into the Local Group, how are we going to colonize and terraform Mars? How are we going to make first contact? How can we even start to think about making the Kessel Run in under twelve parsecs?

The answer is that none of these things is going to be happening anytime soon unless we find a major reason to motivate us. Clearly the huddled masses aren’t interested in learning or human achievement, so I believe the motivation lies in snack food.

At some point, we’re going to run out of food ideas. Mathematically this seems inevitable. There is a finite number naturally occurring foods on our planet, so there is an equally finite number of ways to combine them. We are already there. When molecular gastronomists are forced reduce garden peas to their essence to be huffed from a balloon animal made from a section of a bison’s intestinal tract, it seems the end is almost nigh.

We’ve already started remixing with our processed foods. Bacon’s been smashed into every product in every grocery aisle. Name something you bought in October or November that didn’t have pumpkin in it. Impossible.

Even the corporations who are in charge of these things are running out of ideas. They’ve been reduced to farming out ideas to the common man through flavor contests.

The end is on its way, you guys. And that end, that day when everything has been combined with everything else, is going to be the day we head back into space. People may not be excited about studying moon rocks, but they’ll sure as hell be excited about the possibility of Limited Edition Romulan Ale Doritos and Blue Bantha Milk Oreos.

Until that day, we’ll continue dreaming and smashing together things we have. And we do that today with these Mountain Dew Cheetos from the Japanese arm of Frito-Lay.

Mountain Dew Doritos 3

As with the Pepsi-flavored Cheetos I reviewed a while back, the color of these things bothers me. Not making them bright Mountain Dew green is a wasted opportunity. This kind of product is a novelty and an attention getter, and their color should reflect that. Orange Cheetos-dusted fingers are a tradition. How great would obnoxiously green Mountain Dew Cheetos fingers be?! Pretty damn great.

The nosegrope of these Cheetos is very intensely citrus. There is a lot of lemon, and they smell sweet. There is also an underlying current of stale, flat cola. They smell very similar to the Pepsi Cheetos but with the lemon ratcheted up.

The flavor recreation they were going for falls a bit short of their goal. There is an initial blast of sour lemon flavor that is followed by some underlying sweetness. The lemon flavor tastes pretty artificial. I don’t have a problem with artificial flavors, obviously, but it tastes artificial to the point where it forces you to stop and think of the artificialness.

Mountain Dew Doritos 3

The sour blast is a bit too much here. It takes the Cheetos from the realm of “Mountain Dew” to the realm of…something with a lot of lemons. I know people who have consumed a Star Destroyer’s worth of Mountain Dew in their lives, and I’m not confident they could blind taste this and come up with anything other than a quizzical “something lemony.”

Like the Pepsi Cheetos, the aftertaste of these lingers for a very long time. I also didn’t get as much mouth-fizzing action as I hoped for. The Pepsi Cheetos are definitely the superior hybrid food, but that’s not saying a lot.

Mountain Dew Doritos 2

These are not bad. A lemon-flavored corn snack is not a terrible idea, but a lemon-flavored corn snack is really all we get here. Nothing transcendent, nothing revelatory. Just a good idea that is off the mark.

I’m already looking forward to Dr. Pepper Cheetos (and distantly to Klingon Bloodwine Kit Kats.) Until then!

(Nutrition Facts – 188 kcal, 10.3 grams of fat, 221 milligrams of sodium, 22.1 grams of carbohydrates, and 1.8 grams of protein.)

Item: Frito Lay Mountain Dew Corn Snack (Mountain Dew Cheetos)
Purchased Price: $4.50
Size: 35 grams
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Lemons. Sour blasts. Spaceships.
Cons: Wrong color. Too much lemon to be Mountain Dew. Lingering aftertaste. Lack of fizz.

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QUICK REVIEW: Tostitos Fajita Scoops Tortilla Chips

Written by | December 30, 2013

Topics: 7 Rating, Chips, Tostitos

Tostitos Fajita Scoops

Purchased Price: $2.98
Size: 9 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Nice smoky aroma. Its garlicky, oniony, and peppery flavor reminds me of a canned chili (I can’t remember what brand). Most flavorful Tostitos I’ve ever had. Shape makes them great for dips. Red peppers in the chip. Some chips have a kick (thanks jalapeño). The Asian in me is excited about the soy sauce used to make them (I can kind of taste it, but it might be my mind thinking it’s there because I know it’s there).
Cons: Not all the chips in the bag have a kick to them. The flavor noticeably diminished as I ate more in one sitting. Being too cheap to buy dip. The exclamation point after Scoops. Shape makes them look like they would make good pasties, but rough corn chip texture would be tough on nipples.

Tostitos Fajita Scoops Closeup

Nutrition Facts: 1 oz/10 chips – 130 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 130 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

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REVIEW: Pringles Tortillas (Truly Original, Nacho Cheese, and Southwestern Ranch)

Written by | December 24, 2013

Topics: 6 Rating, 7 Rating, Pringles

Pringles Tortillas (Truly Original, Nacho Cheese, and Southwestern Ranch)

I’d like to introduce you to the new Pringles Tortillas.

If you’re a junk food nerd, you’re probably pushing up your glasses with your pointer finger and saying, “TECHNICALLY, Pringles Tortillas aren’t the first tortilla Pringles…DUH!”

Yes, junk food nerd, you are correct. Torengos are the original tortilla Pringles, although they were their own brand and later brought under the Pringles label. They were triangular like most tortilla chips, concave to make them dip friendly, and had a uniform shape so they could be stacked, like Pringles.

Update: It turns out there were Pringles Tortilla Crisps before Torengos. Hat tip to commenter CulinaryZerg.

These new Pringles Tortillas aren’t triangular, but they are shaped like the potato crisps we all know and occasionally use to make it look like we have duck bills. They also come in the same cans some of us get our hands stuck in and are available in three flavors: Truly Original, Nacho Cheese, and Southwestern Ranch.

(Although, if you’re a junk food nerd, you might be saying, “TECHNICALLY, there are four, if you count the Walmart exclusive flavor, Zesty Salsa and they’re not the same cans since Pringles now come in taller cans…DUH!”)

Pringles Tortillas Truly Original

Truly Original Pringles Tortillas truly taste like triangular tortilla chips from a bag, although they’re not as crunchy and perhaps not as thick. If you truly stare at an individual crisp, you’ll see there are randomly scattered small holes. Because of them, you might be wondering if Truly Original Pringles Tortillas can truly handle something like truly chunky salsa. But don’t worry, much like my excessive use of the word “truly” in this paragraph, your concern in unnecessary because I was able to easily glide every crisp through a small bowl of salsa without any breakage.

Pringles Tortillas Truly Original Salsa

I liked Truly Original Pringles Tortillas, but I ate my way through the can slower than the other flavors. If I love a Pringles flavor, this is what happens: I’ll feel shame after realizing I ate half the can in one sitting, but then shake that off and eat more. I didn’t experience that with these plain tortilla crisps, not even when I ate them with salsa. By the way, the tortilla crisps’ shape does well as a salsa scooper.

Pringles Tortillas Nacho Cheese

As for the Nacho Cheese flavor, let me ask you the following question, “Do you love Doritos, but wish your tongue didn’t look like you’ve been licking Sesame Street’s Ernie every time you ate some?” If so, Nacho Cheese Pringles Tortillas might be perfect for you because they taste exactly like Nacho Cheese Doritos, but don’t turn any of your body parts into a different color. They have a flavor intensity that’s higher than a Taco Bell Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco shell, but noticeably lower than Nacho Cheese Doritos. This is due to the fact they’re seasoned on one side only.

Pringles Tortillas Southwestern Ranch

Since the Nacho Cheese Pringles Tortillas taste similar to Nacho Cheese Doritos, I wasn’t surprised to find out the Southwestern Ranch Pringles Tortillas taste like Cool Ranch Doritos. But just like the nacho cheese variety, they were less intense than the Doritos.

Unlike the Truly Original Pringles Tortillas, I found myself feeling shame after eating half the can of the Nacho Cheese Pringles Tortillas in one sitting and half the can of the Southwestern Ranch Pringles Tortillas in another sitting. And in both instances, I shook off the shame and ate more. So, yes, I very much enjoyed both varieties.

However, if I want a crunchy snack that tastes like Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch Doritos, I’m not going to buy these Pringles Tortillas, I’m going to purchase Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch Doritos. I like it when the seasoning accumulates on my fingertips, leaving sort of a savory digestif. Plus, the Doritos are healthier (I know. It’s weird seeing “Doritos” and “healthier” in the same sentence). They have half the saturated fat and lower sodium numbers than Pringles Tortillas.

But if you enjoy the possibility of getting your hand stuck in a Pringles can, demand snack shape uniformity, and want a nacho cheese tortilla snack that doesn’t make your tongue and fingers look like they stroked The Muppet Show’s Scooter, these Pringles Tortillas are for you.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz. – Truly Original – 150 calories, 80 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 160 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein. Nacho Cheese – 150 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 240 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein. Southwestern Ranch – 150 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 260 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Pringles Tortillas (Truly Original, Nacho Cheese, and Southwestern Ranch)
Purchased Price: $1.98
Size: 6.07 oz. (Truly Original)
Size: 6.42 oz. (Nacho Cheese & Southwestern Ranch)
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Truly Original)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Nacho Cheese)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Southwestern Ranch)
Pros: Nacho Cheese and Southwestern Ranch taste like Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch Doritos. Truly Original is tough enough to handle chunky salsa. Healthier than Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch Doritos.
Cons: Truly Original is not as addictive as the other two flavor. Nacho Cheese and Southwestern Ranch taste like Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch Doritos. I miss the buildup of seasoning on my fingertips. Licking a Muppet. The shame of eating half a can of Pringles in one sitting.

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