REVIEW: Tropical Mango Pop-Tarts

Tropical Mango Pop Tarts Box

What are Tropical Mango Pop-Tarts?

Forget the taste of charred hot dogs on a sweltering July evening, the feel of ice cold watermelon juice dripping down your chin as you stand on a gently swaying boat dock at the lake, or almost choking to death by the pool because you’re eating your Doritos too fast and your cousin shoots you in the face with his Super Soaker, the REAL taste of summer is the new summer line from Pop-Tarts. Joining Tropical Mango are Creme Pies of the banana and lemon variety, as well as Peach Cobbler.

How are they?

A little lackluster.

Tropical Mango Pop Tarts Crust

As you can see in the pictures, the jacket icing is nothing more than a drizzle. While most Pop-Tarts are fully iced, and a handful are naked, only a couple are adorned with a thin doodle like this Tropical Mango version. I can’t help but think these Tarts — which are very mildly flavored to begin with — would be better fully covered.

Tropical Mango Pop Tarts Filling

The filling itself is extremely, almost jarringly sweet, but it does bear a distinct mango flavor. Unfortunately, it’s just barely noticeable.

Anything else you need to know?

Of the four new flavors, mango is the only one with the Spanish word for new — “Nuevo” — on the box. That’s fine and all, but as we are all well aware, India actually produces and consumes more mangoes than any other nation on Earth. Therefore, I’m petitioning Kellogg’s to add “naveen va” — which is Hindi for new — to the other side of the box.

Conclusion:

Though mangoes are a perfectly delightful fruit, they don’t translate well into the realm of toasted pastries. I’d be surprised if these become anyone’s favorite. Or stick around. Even in India, where folklore says that mango trees can grant wishes. (I’m serious, they love their mangoes.)

Purchased Price: $2.29
Size: 13.5 oz box (8 count)

Purchased at: Sun Fresh
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2 pastries) 380 calories, 11 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 400 milligrams of sodium, 68 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 23 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger

Wendy s Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger Full

In general, I am fairly apathetic when it comes to food infused with booze. Would you like to whisky-up your chicken? Okay. Wanna put beer in your chili or maybe your cheese? Sure, why not. Bourbon in your BBQ sauce? Whatever boils your potato, chief. Mostly, in my experience, adding beer or bourbon to your food is fine, but tends to land on the side of “maybe not worth whatever calories it’s adding.”

Especially when it comes to fast food.

While a local gastropub might be able to make you notice the “subtle undertones of oak in a rich BBQ sauce married with a 12-year-old, single batch bourbon,” a fast food place always runs the risk of ending up with something that tastes like your buddy got drunk and accidentally knocked his Natty Light into the cheese dip.

Wendy s Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger Toppings

So imagine my surprise when I really ended up liking Wendy’s new Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger. Wendy’s describes it as “a quarter-pound of fresh, never frozen beef topped with Applewood smoked bacon, American cheese, crispy onions, and a sweet, smoky bourbon bacon sauce that is, essentially, a sauce made with real bourbon and real bacon.” That’s the actual copy.

Anyway, this isn’t a Bourbon BBQ sauce, which is what I kept thinking, but a Bourbon bacon sauce. And how is this sauce? Extremely sweet with only a very subtle tang. You’d be hard-pressed to get anything boozy from it, which, as a person who’d prefer their food to taste as little like alcohol as possible, I’m fine with.

According to Wendy’s, some of the sauce’s 30 ingredients include brown sugar, sugar, molasses, “uncured bacon base,” another kind of molasses, and, as you may have surmised, bourbon whiskey. But once again, I didn’t taste booze, or bacon, just sugar. And it’s good! It complements the salt of the bacon strips expertly. If you’ve ever had the good fortune to eat candied bacon, you will recognize this combination. It works.

Wendy s Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger Split

The “crispy” onions also managed to stay reasonably crispy, which was a welcome surprise. The bun was warm and soft and seemed fresh, and the cheese was… present. To be honest, I didn’t really notice the cheese. This thing might’ve gotten by without it.

Despite all of these positive attributes, though, there was a pretty big negative -— the meat. While I’ve traditionally championed Wendy’s patties, this particular burger was dry and under-seasoned. Maybe I’ve had too many fantastic non-chain burgers lately, or maybe Wendy’s grill-master was having an off night. Either way, the bland meat puck took this sandwich down a notch or two. Even still, it’s worth a try if you’re looking for something a little different than most fast food offerings currently in the market. (Did you see the part about “candied bacon”? I rest my case.)

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 710 calories, 41 grams of fat, 16 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 85 milligrams of cholesterol, 1400 milligrams of sodium, 51 grams of carbohydrates, 2 gram of dietary fiber, 15 grams of sugar, and 34 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Sonic Twisted Texan Cheeseburger

Sonic Twisted Texan Cheeseburger

I am always on board when an American fast food chain in a non-US location unveils its version of regional American fare.

Take, for instance, McDonald’s “Big America Burgers” in Japan. The most recent iteration of this popular offering gave Japanese consumers the Texas 2, the Idaho, the Miami, and the Manhattan burgers. Some of these have very reasonable — and dare I say interesting — inclusions. A hash brown on the Idaho burger, for example, is a particularly fetching choice. And then sometimes, something seems to get lost in translation. While I applaud the pastrami topping on the Manhattan, I’m a little perplexed by the mozzarella and “sour cream sauce.”

Ditto, McDonald’s “Great Taste of America” burgers, which have popped up multiple times in the UK, the most recent being 2019. While I am impressed that the “Alabama Chicken” has a white BBQ sauce, the “New York Stack” is all over the road by serving it on a sesame and poppy seed bagel (nice!), but topping it with “bacon, cheese, creamy coleslaw, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, and pickles.” Because nothing says “New York” like mixing up your coleslaw with ketchup, mustard, and cheese, right?

Sonic Twisted Texan Cheeseburger  1

Sonic’s “Twisted Texan” Burger (or footlong, quarter-pound hot dog, if you’d rather) doesn’t really come close to some of those weird combinations, to be sure, but it also isn’t very inspired. It is a regular quarter-pound beef patty on a regular bun, topped with its regular chili, a cheese slice, and “crispy onion strings.” Do these things work well together? Sure, I suppose so.

I’m on record as being a fan of Sonic’s patties, and I usually have good luck with its buns, too. Its chili — which is almost like a Coney-style chili-sauce, if you’ve never had it — is great on its dogs and tots, and it’s fine here. The single slice of cheese got lost in the mix, which ultimately made it inessential; a second slice might’ve added more oomph.

Sonic Twisted Texan Cheeseburger  2

Now that brings us to the onion strings.

While the first bite or two of the burger noticeably benefited from them, the “crispy” exterior of the strings quickly turned to mush, making the veggie indistinguishable in consistency and taste from the chili. I’m not sure how you combat this unless you use whole onion rings. (Which, you know, could’ve been done; I’m not sure that onion strings are any more or less “Texan” than onion rings.)

In the end, this is just an okay burger, but I’m not sure what screams “TEXAS!” about it, other than the red chili. Which, I mean, is sort of Texas-y? But it’s also something that you can get a really good bowl of just about anywhere. How could have Sonic made this more of a Texas thing? Oh, I don’t know… by putting it on Texas toast, perhaps? Or maybe adding brisket. Or a tiny little, sandwich-sized cowboy hat. Anything more than just “chili and onion strings.”

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: N/A
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 1030 calories, 68 grams of fat, 17 gram of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 110 milligrams of cholesterol, 1940 milligrams of sodium, 68 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, and 33 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Primo Burritos

Taco Bell Primo Burritos Innards

I am writing this in late April 2021. Outside, fat snowflakes are pelting my windows and coating all visible surfaces. The forecast called for at least three inches, and I suspect we’ll eclipse that. This springtime hellscape is currently testing my will to continue living in Kansas City, where snow should knock it the hell off no later than, oh, February.

I don’t like this test.

One test I do like, however, are test market items from fast food purveyors. And though we’re no Ohio, we’re currently the only spot in the nation with Taco Bell’s new Primo Burritos.

Taco Bell Primo Burritos Thick

I tried both the Loaded Taco Primo Burrito and Chicken Enchilada Primo Burrito. So, are these burritos primo? In a word, no. Not only are they both boring offerings that are short on flavor (though incredibly cheap for the size), they barely even qualify as “new.”

Taco Bell Primo Burritos Taco

The Loaded Taco Primo burrito comes with “seasoned beef, crunchy red tortilla strips, lettuce, reduced fat sour cream, and cheddar cheese.” And if that ingredient combo — and even the name — sounds familiar, it’s because, in 2017, Taco Bell offered the “Loaded Taco Burrito,” which was all of those same things PLUS avocado ranch sauce PLUS a double portion of beef. And do you know what would have made this burrito considerably better? Avocado ranch sauce and/or possibly more beef!

As presented, the burrito came up short in terms of taste. While the red tortilla strips remained crunchy, which was great for texture, they tasted indiscernible from the regular burrito shell. The seasoned beef was pretty skimpy (though, to be fair, this item was $1) and, you know, Taco Bell beef. The lettuce was warm and didn’t add anything, nor did the standard cheddar cheese. The sour cream was good, but it didn’t keep the burrito from being mostly dry.

Look, if you’ve eaten at Taco Bell, you’ve had this burrito in some form or another.

Taco Bell Primo Burritos Enchilada

This brings us to the Chicken Enchilada Primo Burrito. This new offering features white meat chicken strips, reduced fat sour cream, seasoned rice, enchilada sauce, and cheddar. And if you think THAT ingredient list sounds familiar, well… okay, so I don’t know that Taco Bell did this exact burrito before, but all the way back in olden times — from 2004-2007, then briefly resurrected in 2010 — it did a Chicken Enchilada Grilled Stuft Burrito. That was the same thing, except it had the patented three cheese blend instead of plain cheddar, and the whole thing was grilled. And you know what would have made this better? A three cheese blend and grilling!

If this all sounds like I’m simply trying to be an anti-Bell contrarian, I apologize; the fact of the matter is, this burrito, like its newborn sibling, was a boring rehash, something that, let’s face it, Taco Bell is prone to doing.

While the Enchilada burrito won’t be winning any awards, it was definitely better than the Taco version. The enchilada sauce — milder than any you’ve had before, but still decent — was mixed with the sour cream to ensure that dryness wasn’t a factor, and the seasoned rice kept everything from being too gloopy of a mess. Even still, this isn’t something I can imagine spending money on again.

In the end, neither one of these did much for me, nor can I imagine them sticking around for long. (If, in fact, they even ever get a national rollout.) Better luck next time, Taco Bell.

Purchased Price: $1.00 (Loaded Taco), $1.49 (Chicken Enchilada)
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Loaded Taco), 6 out of 10 (Chicken Enchilada)
Nutrition Facts: Unavailable

REVIEW: Strawberry Ice Cream Cone Hershey’s Kisses

Limited Edition Strawberry Ice Cream Cone Hershey s Kisses Pouch

What are Strawberry Ice Cream Cone Hershey’s Kisses?

Hershey’s newest Kiss is a straightforward take on a classic summer sweet -— a strawberry ice cream cone. The package suggests that it is “strawberry flavored creme and cookies.” See, the cookies are little crunchy bits meant to mimic “cone,” and the strawberry flavored creme… well, you get it.

How are they?

Delightful. Though the smell made me a little leery with its plastic artificialness (think “lip gloss being marketed to 6-year-old girls”), the taste was exactly what you’d expect -— a Hershey’s Kiss engineered to invoke strawberry ice cream. (In a cone, even.)

Limited Edition Strawberry Ice Cream Cone Hershey s Kisses Innards

The strawberry tastes less artificial than the smell would lead you to believe. The crunch of the cookie bits provides a nice textural contrast from the creme’s silkiness. They are sweet, but it’s subtle.

Anything else you need to know?

Limited Edition Strawberry Ice Cream Cone Hershey s Kisses Creme

These things are weirdly flesh-colored. So, yeah, sorry for pointing that out, but once I realized it, I couldn’t unsee it. Therefore, if you have an aversion to flesh-colored foods, you’ll probably want to pass. (Is that an actual thing? Probably. I feel like everything is a thing these days.)

Conclusion:

Limited Edition Strawberry Ice Cream Cone Hershey s Kisses Foil

These Kisses remind me of the Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bars we could buy at lunch during elementary, middle, and high school. If you like those — or at least want to relive the glory days that were your middle school years — you’ll likely enjoy these, too. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find my No Fear shirts.

Purchased Price: $3.69
Size: 9 oz. bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (7 Kisses) 160 calories, 8 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates,0 grams of dietary fiber, 15 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein