REVIEW: Lay’s Classic BLT Potato Chips

Lay's Classic BLT Potato Chips

I want you to close your eyes for a moment and imagine a Classic BLT sandwich.

Picture yourself  on the patio of  a quaint small town cafe in the heat of July, your lips warmed by a cool Coke Zero and your taste buds salivating as the aroma of apple-wood smoked bacon glides into your periphery. A mural of green romaine and juicy ripe tomatoes is hardly contained  between the  toasted white bread, while plump  bacon invites your  carnivorous spirit in this delight  of its fatty yet crisp, salty but sweet, taste of hog heaven.

There’s crunch. There’s smoke. There’s a hint of creaminess and acidity, and there’s relief and sweetness.  It’s enough to make you pause to contemplate whether this is the best sandwich you’ve ever eaten or if you’ve just died and gone to Heaven, all before fulfilling a sudden emotional urge to quote the movie Babe.

That’ll do pig. That’ll do.

Got that image in your head? Good, because that’s the kind of imagination you’ll have to have to taste the Classic BLT flavors and textures  when your sitting on your couch watching reruns of old NCAA football games on ESPN Classic in the wee hours of the morning.

Don’t get me wrong, Lay’s new Classic BLT isn’t bad if you’re looking for a lighter take on sour cream and onion flavors, but when it comes to two of the three letters in the BLT acronym, the new chips miss the mark completely. Ironically, the only letter decently represented is “L,” although I don’t think it makes enough of a difference to qualify as a serving of fruit and vegetables.

Lay's Classic BLT Potato Chips Closeup

I knew my expectations were too high right off the bat when I opened the bag. The chips looked and smelled like sour cream and onion chips, and while the buttermilk tang and heavy onion flavor  weren’t  distractingly overwhelming  in the seasoning, you’d have a hard time picking out bacon and tomato if you hadn’t looked at the bag you were stuffing your face from.

There’s a slight dextrose sweetness and weak tomato powder flavor that lets you know there are hints of tomato, but when it comes to projecting meaty and smokey bacon, this comes off more in the vegan imitation variety than the  smokey-meaty-fatty  All-American hog.

Clearly a potato chip that intends to imitate a food which derives much of its flavor from from its texture is bound for failure, but I was at least expecting something to facilitate my daily helping of fake smoke flavor and salty, finger licking greasiness. Now all I have is breath that smells of sour cream and onion, and a bag of BLT chips that might — keyword, might — taste like a BLT sandwich should I find a worthy BLT sandwich to stick them in.

(Nutrition Facts – 1  ounce (About 15 chips)  –  160 calories,  90 calories from fat,  10 grams of total fat,  1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol,  150 milligrams of sodium,  320 milligrams of potassium,  15 grams of total carbohydrates,  1 grams of dietary fiber,  1 gram of sugars,  2 grams of protein, 10% vitamin C, 2% iron, 4% niacin, and 4% thiamin)

Item: Lay’s Classic BLT Potato Chips
Price:  $4.29
Size:  10 ounces
Purchased at: Weis Markets
Rating:  5 out of 10
Pros: All natural ingredients. No bacon cooking required.  Classic BLT “crunch.” An excuse to watch Babe. Resistant Starch, son.
Cons: Doesn’t taste like a BLT. Weak tomato and almost no bacon flavor. Lacks lip-smacking fattitude of freshly cooked bacon. Doesn’t count as a serving of fruit and vegetables. Sour Cream and Onion breath.

REVIEW: Popcorn, Indiana Classic Popcorn (Movie Theater Popcorn, Cinnamon Sugar Kettlecorn, and Sweet and Tangy BBQ Kettlecorn)

Popcorn, Indiana Movie Theater Popcorn

All things considered, I abhor going to the movie theatre. Chalk it up to a lifetime of being, shall we say, vertically “challenged,” or trace it back to one too many awkward 8th grade dates, but either way you slice it I’d just as soon skip the peering around tall peoples’ shoulders and not replay memories of my 14-year-old awkwardness. Besides, a steady diet of kids’ cereal and Coke Zero keeps my attention span short, so much so that I tend to lose interest in things even before the Raisinets stop dancing (wait, do they still do that?)
Needless to say, I haven’t endeared myself the American cinema. But that’s not to say I wouldn’t walk into a movie theatre. I just wouldn’t go in for the movie. No, I’d go for the popcorn.
Few things in the world are as addictive as movie theatre popcorn, and to my knowledge, almost none of those things are legal. Considering a large popcorn from AMC packs nearly 60 grams of saturated fat before a refreshing shower under the butter pump, and we might soon be seeing the end of that as well. That’s okay though, because thanks to some place called Popcorn, Indiana, I can partake in the buttery and salty crunch of popped kernels without having to change my current relationship with theaters or pump liquid heart attack into my veins.

Popcorn, Indiana Classic Popcorn New Jersey

I’m not sure where exactly Popcorn, Indiana is. Considering the bags they sent me came from New Jersey, I’m not exactly sure what to think. Typically speaking, I don’t get too caught up in snacking according to the bag’s suggestions, but in this case I took Popcorn, Indiana’s advice and decided to put on my favorite flick. Choosing to relive the carnage of the Battle of Hoth from the comfort of my own recliner, I popped in the Empire Strikes Back DVD and broke out my sample bag of their Movie Theater Butter.

Popcorn, Indiana Classic Popcorn Movie Theater Popcorn Closeup

Let’s just say that even before the ellipses following “a galaxy far, far, away” had faded, my bag was half empty. Clearly, this was the sign of an addictive snack. The crunch is lighter than those off-putting microwaved popcorns, while the flavor is simple but classic. Like sweet cream butter over corn on the cob there’s just a richly satisfying and milky sweet taste to each piece, which, thanks to a liberal application of superfine salt, commands your fingers to an almost automatic motion of stuffing your face. The taste only intensifies as you pass over the busted shards of what was once the kernel, with the golden hues bringing you closer to the quintessence of butter. Dare I say, this is more buttery than a bear hug from Paula Deen, and even before the Imperial probe droid found itself smashing into the frozen tundra housing the rebel base, I had all but finished my bag, pausing only to satiate the primal need to lick my fingers.

Popcorn, Indiana Classic Popcorn Cinnamon Sugar and Sweet and Tangy BBQ

Finding myself at an impasse in my home theatre experience, I decided to check out the other two samples Englewood, New Jersey Popcorn, Indiana sent me. I have to say, I was impressed on both accounts.

Popcorn, Indiana Classic Popcorn Cinnamon Sugar Kettlecorn Closeup

The Cinnamon Sugar Kettlecorn is a bit lighter than the Movie Theatre Butter, and lacks the richness and salty undertones of the latter. But it’s admirably sweet and bursting with crunchy cinnamon specks, far surpassing any microwaved kettlecorn I’ve ever tried. Unfortunately it lacks a real ballpark sweetness, a point which kept me from downing the entire bag.

Popcorn, Indiana Classic Popcorn Sweet and Tangy BBQ Kettlecorn Closeup

That wasn’t the case with the Sweet and Tangy BBQ Kettlecorn. I didn’t pick up so much on the tang, but a smokey flavor which hits you right off the back and a piquant backheat make a tremendous foil for the sweet tomato-based BBQ powder. Like Boba Fett keeps you off guard throughout The Empire Strikes Back, the salty-sweet-spicy-smokey taste manages to intrigue you to ponder a more unique backstory.
My only complaint is the obvious health halo surrounding a company which bills itself as being “wildly fanatical about healthier, whole grain snacking.” That’s all well and good, but after downing a 560 calorie “sample” bag of their Movie Theater Butter popcorn even before General Veers is done vaping the shield generator (not to mention polishing off the Sweet and Tangy BBQ bag) – let’s just say moving on to the “grown up” bag they sell in stores might not be such a step up nutritionally from the theatre experience. But given that it won’t come with awkward memories and a cramped neck, I’ll take it.

(Editor’s Note/Disclaimer/Reason To Use Forward Slashes – Popcorn, Indiana samples were provided by the PR firm that represents Popcorn, Indiana. We did not receive any monetary compensation for this review. Although, to be honest, I would totally sellout for $1 million, which, of course, I would totally disclose to the FTC…and the IRS.)

(Nutrition Facts – Movie Theater Butter – 2 cups – 160 calories, 12 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein. Cinnamon Sugar Kettlecorn – 2.5 cups – 130 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, 1 gram of protein. Sweet and Tangy BBQ Kettlecorn – 2.5 cups – 130 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: REVIEW: Popcorn, Indiana Classic Popcorn (Movie Theater Popcorn, Cinnamon Sugar Kettlecorn, and Sweet and Tangy BBQ Kettlecorn)
Price: FREE
Size: 3.5 ounces
Purchased at: Received from nice PR folks
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Movie Theater Butter)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Cinnamon Sugar Kettlecorn)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Sweet and Tangy BBQ Kettlecorn)
Pros: All that natural junk that won’t kill me. Movie Theatre Butter has a strong sweet cream butter taste. Licking salt from your fingers. Light crunch with no chance of burning in the microwave. BBQ is smokey and spicy, like Boba Fett. AT-AT domination #getsomeGeneralVeers.
Cons: All that natural junk which won’t kill me as fast. Hugging Paula Deen. Kettlekorn could use more sweetness. Not really getting the tang in the BBQ. Geographic confusion. Billy Dee Williams’ mustache.

REVIEW: Burger King Chicken B.L.T. Garden Fresh Salad

Burger King Chicken B.L.T. Garden Fresh Salad

All things considered, there’s really nothing stranger than walking into a Burger King and getting green ketchup. Scratch that. On second thought, walking into a vintage 1950s decorated Burger King with booths shaped like cars and getting green ketchup, while staring at an obnoxiously large LCD menu board pulled from The Jetsons, might just qualify.

These oddities notwithstanding, my purchase of a salad at Burger King clearly puts this scenario in the realm of the SyFy channel.

Burger King, as you’re probably well aware, is attempting to revamp its menu to draw closer to a certain fast food giant which boasts a smiling clown as its spokesman. Ditching its previous botox-injected spokesman of questionable royal bloodlines, Burger King has also revamped its menu to diversify its offering. How diverse are we talking? Lets just say it includes drinks that rhyme with how I’d assume the French to pronounce “crappy,” as well as lettuce. Lots and lots of lettuce.

Burger King Chicken B.L.T. Garden Fresh Salad Closeup

Seven kinds to be exact, which, along with a whole bunch of other fun vegetables, are offered in the new B.L.T. Garden Fresh Salad.

Putting on the man pants and ordering the $5.49 salad, I got the distinct impression that the staff of this particular Burger King doesn’t often prepare salads. I only say this because the girl taking my order had to check what exactly was in the salad when I asked her, and even after verification, presented me with a crouton packet, Caesar dressing, as well as a cup for soda — none of which should have been included in my order. Likewise, an essential component of the Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato acronym was missing, although five perfectly ripe and juicy grape tomatoes were delivered to me in an extra cup after half my salad was eaten and my own spelling shortcomings realized.

Burger King Chicken B.L.T. Garden Fresh Salad Chicken

You’d think that after such an auspicious start I’d be loath to partake in this feast of classical “Health Halo” consequence, but in the interest of complete objectivity, I have to say it shows promise as permanent menu item. It starts with the chicken, which — while only offered to me in the grilled variety — had a seriously and none-to-fake chargrill taste. Moderately juicy and marinated in a lip-smacking glaze, it may have qualified as salty, but it didn’t come across as saline injected or overly enhanced.

Burger King Chicken B.L.T. Garden Fresh Salad Chicken Closeup

The bacon, too, was quite good by fast food standards. Its thick and meaty with a dominant smoke flavor, although I’d prefer the pieces to have been reheated or freshly grilled, as to release some of that chewy fat into a glorious natural vinaigrette of bacon drippings. Such a scenario would have aided in the melting of these three-cheese blend, which while adding a moderate amount of flavor and salt, was otherwise just there.

Burger King Chicken B.L.T. Garden Fresh Salad Dressing

I honestly was quite surprised in how much I enjoyed the dressing. Having only known one Ken in my life (the victim of childhood G.I. Joe raids on my sister’s Barbie gatherings) I didn’t know what to expect from Ken’s Avocado Ranch, but it manages to combine a fantastic buttermilk tang with a peppery and slightly sweet kick. While the 170 calories in a single pack won’t endear it to the diet crowd, it does serve its flavor purpose as a foil to the otherwise meaty and smokey overtones of the salad, which, after applying tomatoes, also received a hint of sweet relief to go with the buttery and bitter lettuce crunch. Were all seven lettuces present and accounted for? Well, having slept through most of my Plants in Civilization class during my senior year of college, I cannot verify this with absolute certainty. But there was clearly more than just iceberg, which for a dude buying a salad at Burger King is not half bad.

Clearly, Burger King has some work to do in the execution department of this salad. And while any review of a fast food salad begs the proverbial viability question in a market which can see me blow 500 calories for something cheaper and, to some extent, much more tasty, there is also something to be said for offering items that appeal to a larger audience. For the time being though, I’d make these suggestions:

1) Lighten up the dressing
2) Include more tomato
3) Get more from the red onions

If those three issues can be corrected then this salad is worth your time even if you’re not in the salad crowd. Heck, if the bacon can be rendered a bit further and served warm and crispy with fat drippings, then this salad is worth your time even if your definition of salad hereto now includes only the pickles and onions on your burger. But before any of this happens, Burger King has got to get its crews up to speed, and teach them to associate the “sculpted Roman head guy” with croutons, and the acronym B.L.T. with, among other things, tomatoes.

As for that interior decorating, I’ve seriously got nothing.

(Nutrition Facts – One salad with Tendergrill chicken and Avocado Ranch Dressing – 510 calories, 33 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 125 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,610 milligrams of sodium, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of sugar, and 42 grams of protein.)

Item: Burger King Chicken B.L.T. Garden Fresh Salad
Price: $5.49
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Surprisingly flavorful and juicy chicken. Smokey and thick-cut, ribbony bacon. Ken’s Avocado Ranch gives all Kens a good name. Cheese is slightly melty. Tomatoes had good sweetness. Protein power.
Cons: Costs more than one of those Chefy burgers. Total assembly failage. Having to correct people at their jobs. A buttload of salt. Where the hell did that trans fat come from? Five tomatoes is too little. Curios interior decorating.

ANNOUNCEMENT: New Impulsive Buy Reviewer Adam

Hola, Impulsive Buy readers.
I’m Adam, and as the newest member of the The Impulsive Buy team, I’ll be subverting your all too worthwhile endeavor of kicking the “Latte factor” purchases in your life, further playing havoc to your personal economy and giving your mother yet another reason to say “I told you so,” at those dreaded family functions we call “dinner.”

I suppose this is the time when I say something significant about myself to distinguish me from the myriad of other product reviewers on this site and others. Well, I won’t lie — I pretty much meet your standard definition of a blogger. Six years after diving into the world of blogging under the dubious premise of adding to my “portfolio” as a sports writer, I’ve been sucked into the crazy world of link dropping and taking pictures of dollar menu purchases, all the while making every effort to reference obscure Star Wars books and World War II battles. I’ll try to keep those to a minimum here, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t shamelessly plug my own faith and breakfast cereal inspired blog, Option Pitch and Waffle Crisp.  
As for my food philosophy, you only need to know three things.

1) I have a stash of French Toast Crunch and Waffle Crisp in my basement that I’m saving for the Cerealpocalypse. 

2) I could survive on a steady diet of boiled chicken liver and frozen peas if need be.

3) The only food I’ve ever found truly repulsive is the olive.  
Needless to say, I won’t be reviewing olives here. Anything else is fair game.