REVIEW: Calbee Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC Colonel Crispy Potato Chips (Japan)

Calbee Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC Colonel Crispy Potato Chips

I have no relationship with KFC to speak of. I never eat there. I wasn’t wronged by them or anything. I didn’t find a pinky toe in my Famous Bowl or anything. KFC, for whatever reason, is just never on my radar.

A couple of years ago, I actually did remember it, and even convinced my wife we should get some for dinner. So I drove up the street to the closest outlet, and to my surprise, not only did KFC not operate out of that location anymore, but the building had been demolished and grass was growing on the now empty lot. So, not on my radar.

I could’ve made it a New Year’s resolution to try to rotate them into the regular monthly schedule, but that probably wouldn’t have worked. If using fried chicken as sandwich bread didn’t bring me back, I’m probably too far gone. Some day, KFC. Some day.

(I didn’t forget about you either, Hardee’s. Any time you want to bring back that peach cobbler, I’ll be there.)

Today, I’m going to bridge the gap a little with these KFC potato chips from Japan. You can’t dive back in too quickly, right? Don’t want to end up like me my friend, last time I he smoked a cigar and ended up lying on the floor nauseous and dizzy for an hour. Gotta ease back in.

I’m surprised that this sort of fast food/snack food hybridization isn’t happening more in the United States. Why is Japan at the leading edge of this food frontier? I know Burger King had some weird snacks that I still see at the dollar store, but I’m talking like McDonald’s Big Mac potato chips or Wendy’s Chocolate Frosty Cheetos. Interesting stuff. There is a market. There’s always a market.

Calbee Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC Colonel Crispy Potato Chips 3

These chips are the result of a partnership between Calbee and KFC that came about when a Calbee executive slipped on a chicken bone someone had carelessly discarded outside his Tokyo apartment. He hit his head on a parking meter, and when he awoke, he found himself looking up at a doctor wearing a white coat and black stethoscope, who he mistook to be an angelic vision of Colonel Sanders (because of the morphine administered by the hospital). That’s according to the package anyway.

Calbee Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC Colonel Crispy Potato Chips 2

Just kidding. None of that is true. I can’t read anything on this package.

The nosegrope of these chips isn’t fried chicken. It’s a bit oniony and a little bready. They sort of smell like a variation on Funyuns.

Calbee Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC Colonel Crispy Potato Chips 4

The flavor experience is interesting. There is that oniony breadedness from the nosegrope initially and then a second wave of chicken-ness. There are notes of garlic, as well. The chips aren’t overly seasoned nor are they overly powerful. I have to say the chicken flavoring is pretty accurate. It does indeed taste like fried chicken. I don’t know if all eleven herbs and spices made it through customs and with enough punch to say it tastes like KFC chicken specifically, but these do taste like some kind of chicken. And that’s good.

These are easily the best tasting of the Japanese hybrids I’ve reviewed. Why we don’t have KFC chips in the U.S. is a mystery. Kentucky Fried Chicken AND potato chips! My god, man! Do you want me to just Sharpie dollar signs all over the bag?! Seriously, these would fly off the shelves.

You could even say that these would sell…(sunglasses)…bucketloads.

Thank you.

(Nutrition Facts – 458 kcal, 28.7 grams of fat, 490 milligrams of sodium, 45.5 grams of carbohydrates, and 4.5 grams of protein.)

Item: Calbee Kentucky Fried Chicken KFC Colonel Crispy Potato Chips
Purchased Price: $4.99 (+$4.50 shipping)
Size: 83 gram bag
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Accurate chickenosity. Seasoning restraint. Hardee’s peach cobbler.
Cons: Inexplicable unavailability in the U.S.

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

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.

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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.

REVIEW: Frito Lay Cheetos x Pepsi Shuwa Shuwa Cola Corn Snack (Pepsi-Flavored Cheetos)

Pepsi-flavored Cheetos 1

In 1818, Mary Shelley publishes Frankenstein, arguably the world’s first science fiction novel. It tells the harrowing tale of Victor Frankenstein, a single-minded student of science driven to ruin by his obsession with bestowing life on inanimate matter.

In the 1990 documentary RoboCop 2, director Irvin Kershner leads us on an exploration of the science of transferring human consciousness into deadly law enforcement robots. We quickly discover the dangers of such a procedure, as multiple test subjects commit suicide after finding themselves forever trapped in their mechanical bodies.

In 1994′s Jurassic Park, noted chaotician Dr. Ian Malcolm sums up the fears of late twentieth century society when commenting on the science of an island resort filled with genetically resurrected dinosaurs, saying, “your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Time after time we are warned against charging recklessly into the untamed wilderness of science and technology, yet even in the last few years we find ourselves with peanut butter and jelly vodka, cronuts, Doritos Locos Tacos, Cherry Coke, and pizzas with hot dogs in the crust. These aren’t dinosaurs or robots. These are things we put willingly into our bodies.

So today I publish this review not so much as a review but as a mile marker for future historians to look to when our inevitable self-destruction finally occurs.

These Pepsi-flavored Cheetos are the latest food hybrid to spit in the eye of Mother Nature. They are from Japan.

Pepsi-flavored Cheetos 3

The nosegrope upon opening the bag gave me pause. I immediately identified something very close to flat cola. Flat Pepsi? I dunno. My nose palate is not so refined. Something else was there in equal measure and it took me a moment to realize that the aroma was the same given off by powdered cinnamon donuts. You know, the Entenmann’s ones in the three pack with powdered sugar and plain.

Pepsi-flavored Cheetos 4

In these snacks the cheese powder has been replaced with a cola powder that is disturbingly not brown. The first sensation, which I did not expect, was a very acidic bite. It’s very citrusy, almost sour. And it hits hard. It tries to capture the citrus notes of Pepsi, but it’s over the top. Too lemony. The sweeter cola flavor is there but it’s subtler and overpowered by the intense citrus. The flavors are very distinct and don’t really ever mesh well together. But they do linger in the mouth for quite a while to leave you with a weird, marginally accurate, if lemony, Pepsi aftertaste. The corn puff tastes like it should. It doesn’t do a lot besides acting as a vehicle, which is good because there is already a lot going on.

Pepsi-flavored Cheetos 2

Oh, did I mention these also fizz a little?! Yea! Not like crazy Pop Rocks fizzing, but there is some definite popping and crackling. It’s all about attention to detail, guys. I tip my hat to Frito-Lay for that one.

Overall, this is a pretty accurate flavor recreation. It’s an impressive effort to be sure. That said, I don’t like them. I could only get through a few of them. They’ve got a lot going on and are kind of intense. A few tweaks to the levels of citrus and cola and these could be passable.

These wouldn’t be in my top 100 dream flavor what-ifs, but I’m glad they exist. They either point to a futuristic flavor-fusion utopia in which anything is possible or an apocalyptic hell place where cyborg velociraptors chew our faces off with laser teeth.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 package – 414 kcal, 24.8 grams of fat, 614 milligrams of sodium, 44.6 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of protein.)

Item: Frito Lay Cheetos x Pepsi Shuwa Shuwa Cola Corn Snack
Purchased Price: $3.99 (plus shipping)
Size: 75 gram bag
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Pepsi-ish. A for effort. Fizzing snacks. Science.
Cons: Lingering aftertaste. Lemon. robot dinosaurs.

REVIEW: Cheeseburger Cheetos (Japan)

Cheeseburger Cheetos (Japan)

I’ll tell you what I like about living in the 21st century. I mean besides the whole finding cures for terrible diseases and having a lot of great shows on Netflix.

What I like are the rabbit holes.

Just recently I fell down a rabbit hole when I watched the episode of Family Matters where Urkelbot first appeared. I wanted to know who was playing the robot. Who wouldn’t? It was Michael “Boogaloo Shrimp” Chambers from the 1984 movie Breakin’. From there I stumbled into Electric Boogaloo, then Cannon Films, then New Line Cinema, then the House Party Trilogy. Needless to say I watched all those movies and now own the discographies of both Kid ‘n Play and Tony! Toni! Toné!.

The internet is great.

This review led me down the path of food mascots, and eventually to food mascots that had their own video games. The 80s and early 90s were a magical time, you guys. I feel like branding and marketing was in its golden age then. It was the perfect nexus of junk food, fast food, video games and the cartoon arts.

How else can you explain the fact that Chester Cheetah had not one, but two video games? I knew he had one, but was surprised to find that 1992’s seminal Too Cool to Fool spawned a sequel called Wild Wild Quest. I want to live in the time when that was possible.

Not to be outdone, Ronald McDonald and the Noid both had a pair of digital adventures, and who could forget Kool-Aid Man’s eponymous Atari 2600 classic.

Not impressed? The 7-Up Spot had three games! Three! He was huge in the 90s! Wonder what he’s doing now. Probably directing.

But my favorite of all food mascot video games, and sneaking in just before the dawn of the millennium, was the Japanese release of Pepsiman for the original Playstation, starring none other than Pepsi Japan’s thirst-quenching superhero, Pepsiman. I had no idea that Pepsiman existed, and I feel like I missed out. He looks awesome! Equal parts Silver Surfer and Generation Next, if he commanded me to drink Pepsi, you bet your sweet sugar syrup I would. Needless to say, I’m marginally obsessed and want to eBay everything I can get my hands on. Sidebar: I love the bottle caps Japan does with the little figures on top? Why don’t we do that in the states?

Anyway, until my Pepsiman collection is complete, Chester Cheetah and this bag of Cheeseburger Cheetos will have to do.

Cheeseburger Cheetos (Japan) 3

This variety is the newest limited edition from Frito-Lay Japan. I find it exciting, as I’ve never tried a Cheetos variant that wasn’t just a new level of spice with a new corresponding color of red.

Realistically, cheeseburger flavor is always a problematic endeavor. What does “cheeseburger” mean? Does it mean beef and cheese? Beef, cheese, and bun? Beef, cheese, bun, lettuce, tomato, onion, and relish as the photo on the bag suggests? You get the idea. It’s downright philosophical really.

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And speaking of the bag, I’m saddened Chester has been relegated to the back. He needs to get in touch with Spot’s representation.

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The nosegrope is unusual. It’s a weird blend of pickles, mustard, and, of all things, rye bread.

The flavor is an equally unusual blend of rye bread, cheese, pickles, mustard, and onion.

If that’s not helpful, I can pinpoint the flavor exactly. You know how you buy a McDonalds cheeseburger and it’s all delicious and wonderful? Have you ever purchased too many and put one in the fridge? These Cheetos taste like a day old, refrigerated then microwaved McDonalds cheeseburger. I don’t know if that’s what they were going for, but they nailed it. Seriously, it’s uncanny.

Cheeseburger Cheetos (Japan) 4

The flavor is bizarre but it sort of works. These are maybe the most interesting Japanese snack I’ve had. I don’t know if I love them, but I am definitely intrigued by them. I always recommend picking up Japanese snacks for fun, but you really do have to try these.

Besides Chester could use the scratch. He’s on the back of the bag, and he’s not getting a third game any time soon.

(Nutrition Facts – 448 calories, 25.7 grams of fat, 579 milligrams of sodium, 49.6 grams of carbohydrates, 4.6 grams of protein.)

Other Cheeseburger Cheetos reviews:
Grocery Gems

Item: Cheeseburger Cheetos (Japan)
Purchased Price: $3.29
Size: 83 grams
Purchased at: NapaJapan
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Scarily accurate and possibly unintentional flavor recreation. Pepsiman. Cheeseburger philosophy. Non-spicy Cheetos variants.
Cons: Lingering aftertaste.

REVIEW: Pepsi Special (Japan)

Pepsi Special (Japan)

Look at Japan’s Pepsi Special.

Having the word “special” on its label makes it soooo special.

Well, do you know who else was labeled “special”?

Me.

Oh sure, Japanese scientists did research on dextrin, which is in Pepsi Special, and learned that it prevented rats from absorbing the fat they ate and because of that the cola has been designated as a “Food for Specified Health Uses” by the Japanese government.

Well, I aced several tests in the first grade that involved reading at a higher level than all my other classmates, being able to put the square block into the square hole, and drawing trees that looked like trees, all of which designated me for a gifted and talented class.

But look at me now. I could’ve been a doctor, lawyer, pharmaceutical salesperson, or an actor who plays a doctor, lawyer or pharmaceutical salesperson, but the only real accomplishments I’ve had are barely graduating from college, not getting arrested for anything, eating an entire large Pizza Hut pepperoni pizza in one sitting, and not having watched a minute of James Cameron’s Titanic.

I don’t know if the pressure of being labeled as “special” got to me or the years of praise caused my ego to become so large that my arrogance destroyed almost every meaningful relationship I’ve had, leaving me as an empty shell of my former self, but whatever happened I’ve learned that being labeled “special” doesn’t guarantee success.

Pepsi Special should look at my paunch and unshaven face and realize that it could be me in the future. I don’t know what the beverage equivalent of being overweight, unshaven, and sitting in your underwear writing junk food reviews is, but whatever it is, Pepsi Special won’t feel special.

Besides the dextrin and the fancy stamp of approval from Japan’s National Institute of Health and Nutrition, which looks like someone at the front of a boat yelling “I’m the king of the world,” was there anything else special about Pepsi Special?

Yes, Pepsi Special smelled like Pepsi Next and, this is probably a bit blasphemous, it tasted like Coke Zero.

I enjoyed its cola flavor. It didn’t have a strong artificial sweetener flavor like Diet Pepsi and it was nowhere close to being as syrupy sweet as regular Pepsi, but it definitely tasted more like a diet cola. The dextrin didn’t affect the cola’s viscosity in any way and it just blended in with the flavor of the cola.

As for the claims that Pepsi Special will prevent the absorption of the fat in the foods we eat, it’s hard for me to determine if it’s doing anything because I only purchased two bottles. Heck, it’s also hard for me to tell if there are any benefits because I’m not a scientist. I could’ve been one, just like I could’ve been a doctor, lawyer, pharmaceutical salesperson, or an actor who plays a doctor, lawyer or pharmaceutical salesperson, but instead I have to settle for a clean driving abstract.

Stuffing five grams of fiber into a cola that doesn’t taste like it has five grams of fiber is impressive. Although, I wouldn’t recommend drinking a lot of Pepsi Special in one day because the combination of carbonation and fiber can’t be good for both end of the digestive system.

(Nutrition Facts – 11 kcal, 0.4~2.0 grams of fat, 25~46 milligrams of sodium, 5.4 grams of fiber, 0 grams of protein.)

Other Pepsi Special reviews:
Kotaku

Item: Pepsi Special (Japan)
Purchased Price: $4.95
Size: 490 ml
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Pleasant cola flavor, if you enjoy low- or zero-calorie Pepsi colas. A bottle has more than 5 grams of fiber. Making diet cola healthy. Being one the of few people on Earth who hasn’t seen Titanic.
Cons: Only available in Japan and on eBay. Hard to determine if the dextrin is doing its job. If you don’t enjoy low- or zero-calorie colas, you won’t like it. Drinking too much of it might turn you into a burp and fart machine.