REVIEW: Twisted Lime Doritos

Twisted Lime Doritos Bag

What are Twisted Lime Doritos?

Provided you’ve had Doritos at some point in your life, you probably already get the basic premise here: America’s favorite flavored tortilla chip (according to me, but not like, science or polling or anything) gets a lime twist. Earlier this year, Doritos introduced Flamin’ Hot Limón Doritos, which makes me think that this is its version of a less violent baby-brother, you know, with no prison rap sheet and fewer face tattoos.

How is it?

I have a culinary aversion to things labeled as “EXTREME!” or “TWISTED!” (insert face-shredding guitar solo.) I do not want my snacks to be aggressive or be, in any fashion, “to the max!!!” So, I’ll admit: I wasn’t expecting to like these Twisted Lime Doritos. (And I say this as someone who would consider emblazoning my tombstone with “he liked Doritos more than an adult man should.”) But guess what? These were fantastic!

Twisted Lime Doritos Closeup

It was almost as if Doritos took a pared-down Cool Ranch base, infused it with a hint of lime, then made the resulting chip prance through a field of jalapeños. I wasn’t expecting the ranchiness and the heat, but it was all right there in the ingredients list: jalapeño powder, buttermilk, and sour cream. All of these things coalesced in just the right amounts resulting in a fine new offering to the Frito-Lay family.

Anything else you need to know?

The tanginess from the lime is perfect without being overwhelming, but also, THE HEAT! These chips pack a punch. It’s a slow-building burn that takes a few seconds to hit, but once it does, you’re gonna need a quick swig of animal milk to put out the fire. This also came as a surprise, which, well, I suppose it shouldn’t have, given that the packaging is adorned with flames.

Conclusion:

While I’m not sure this is a new Everyday Dorito (see: Nacho Cheese, Spicy Nacho Cheese, Cool Ranch), this is a great model to take out for the occasional weekend spin (Taco, Spicy Sweet Chili). You know, supposing its kept around for any length of time.

Purchased Price: $1.69
Size: 2.75 ounce bag
Purchased at: QuikTrip
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (Per Bag) 400 calories, 20 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 510 milligrams of sodium, 48 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Sonic Trick or Treat Blast

Sonic Trick or Treat Blast Cup

Never, in the history of man, has anyone ever proclaimed “Oreo” to be their favorite Halloween treat. This is because, quite obviously, Oreo cookies are not a Halloween candy. Much like a succulent ham, or a roast leg of lamb, they are an everyday indulgence that knows no seasonality. Therefore, the King of Sandwich Cookie’s inclusion in Sonic’s new Trick-or-Treat Blast is a bit confounding.

That said, it’s actually one of this treat’s few bright spots. I’ll explain in a bit.

But first, you’re probably asking, “What is this Sonic Trick-or-Treat Blast, anyway?” Well, let me tell you. This seasonal Sonic Blast comes in either vanilla or chocolate ice cream, and features Oreo cookie crumbles, mini M&M’s, and Snickers candy bar pieces.

So, you know, two perfectly fine Halloween candies and a random creme-filled cookie.

Sonic Trick or Treat Blast Top

Like I said, though, the cookie works well in the midst of all the ice cream chaos. And really, it’s because the ice cream-softened pieces give your teeth a much needed break. If you are at all familiar with ice cream “mix-ins,” you’ll know that M&M’s — particularly those of the miniature variety — are a cracked molar just lurking in a mountain of sugary goodness. Biting into the Blast for the first time, that was my initial thought: Dear God, please protect my teeth.

Sonic Trick or Treat Blast Spoon

My next thought was, hey, was that peanut butter, and if so, why? However, a nugget of nougat quickly followed and reminded me about the presence of Snickers; I’d simply encountered a rogue nut. The Snickers was a nice respite, but unfortunately, it seemed to be the least prevalent of the three inclusions.

Sonic Trick or Treat Blast Topless

By the lower 50% of the confection, in fact, it was a virtual wasteland, void of candy (and cookie) chunks; there was nothing left but plain ice cream featuring colorful streaks from the ghosts of M&M’s past.

And truly, that was the story of this Blast: bits and piece of mostly-indiscernible sweet stuff in regular vanilla ice cream. Nothing was bad (well, with the exception of the painful candy shard factor, I suppose), but nothing was really great, either. I was left thinking the whole thing felt a little one-dimensional. My 6-year-old had a bite and said, “YUMMY!” which, sure, why not. Perhaps she’s the target audience. And so, if you are a 6-year-old reading this review, this Sonic Trick or Treat Blast is a 10. But also, if you are a 6-year-old reading this review… huh? Shouldn’t you be not on the internet at all, please? I beg of you.

Anyway, what would have made this better? Well, some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, for one. Maybe some Twix? How about a Butterfinger? You know, other actual Halloween candies. In true gluttonous American fashion, why not, as they say, go “big” or go “home”? Remember going to the soda fountain at the gas station when you were a kid and making a “suicide” with 10 different kinds of soda? Do that, but make it a Blast. That would have been a winner. Maybe next October.

Purchased Price: $4.59
Size: Small
Purchased at: Sonic
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Unavailable on website.

REVIEW: Talenti Gelato Layers Pumpkin Pie

Talenti Pumpkin Pie Gelato Layers Tub

What is Talenti Gelato Layers Pumpkin Pie

A seasonal offering from the undisputed gelato king of Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Talenti’s layered pumpkin pie offering goes: pumpkin gelato, pie pieces, brown sugar sauce, pumpkin gelato again, and more pie pieces.

How is it?

Talenti Pumpkin Pie Gelato Layers Top

The first time I tried it, I wanted to call it “bland” or maybe “inoffensive.” You know, the Neil Diamond of frozen dairy-based confections. I didn’t like how I couldn’t easily get all three layers in one spoonful, or how the “brown sugar sauce” didn’t seem to have the cinnamon undercarriage brown sugar generally requires in a dessert setting. (Cinnamon is listed as an ingredient, for what it’s worth.) And while the pie pieces are, I don’t know, dough-like(?), overall, the texture is one-note and is missing a good crunch.

Talenti Pumpkin Pie Gelato Layers Closeup

But then I had some the next day, and although nothing in the gelato had technically changed — the brown sugar sauce and the pie pieces were still limply uninspired — I found myself thinking everything was SO GOOD! SO GOOD! (That’s a Neil Diamond reference for those of you who aren’t a 65-year-old aunt.) Instead of being upset with the gelato’s gentle nature, I found myself appreciating the subtlety of the pumpkin flavor. As an unabashed pumpkophile, I generally want my pumpkin to be aggressive and unapologetic; if you are not a fan this approach, however, you might enjoy this gelato.

Anything else you need to know?

Will Ferrell doing Neil Diamond doing an episode of VH1’s Storytellers on SNL in 1998 is seriously one of the greatest Ferrell moments in his tenure on the show. Drop whatever you’re doing, open another tab (don’t leave TIB, obviously), Google it and then watch the video. Tell me it’s not amazing, I dare you.

Conclusion:

If you want an in-your-face, violent pumpkin gelato, this probably isn’t it. But if you’re in the market for a smooth, reasonable dose of gourdy goodness, this is a good bet. (Mostly because I don’t think there is a ton of pumpkin gelato out there to choose from.)

Purchased Price: $4.29
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 280 calories, 13 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 grams of fiber, 29 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Domino’s Cheeseburger Pizza

Domino s Cheeseburger Pizza Whole

There is a semi-large, local to Kansas City pizza chain that makes a really fine cheeseburger pizza. I just thought I’d throw that out there to let it be known that a tasty cheeseburger pizza is within the realm of possibility.

What this local chain does right, it’s worth noting, is add pickles (you know, sliced pickle “chips”) and gobs of mustard. Now, I’m not even a mustard and pickle person on my REGULAR cheeseburger, let alone when I consume a pizza masquerading as a cheeseburger. But on this particular pie, it works.

Sadly, unless you are in the KC Metro area, you can’t have this unorthodox delight. Instead, I present to you, Domino’s depressing new cheeseburger pizza. According to the chain, their pizza is made with “a ketchup-mustard sauce, American cheese, beef, fresh onions, diced tomatoes, shredded provolone and cheddar cheese.” Opening the box, I was pleasantly surprised to see how well it had been constructed. The smell was appealing, too, but only in a generic, “yep, that smells like a pizza, alright” sort of way.

The visual and olfactory positives would be the high points of this forgettable dining experience.

Domino s Cheeseburger Pizza Plated

The first thing I noticed when taking a bite was the overpoweringly obnoxious falsity that is American cheese. I’ve unwittingly ended up with American cheese on another Domino’s pizza at some dark point in the past, and all I really want to know is why? American cheese has its place in the world, sure – on an actual cheeseburger, mixed up in some scrambled eggs, melting messily atop a McDonald’s breakfast sandwich – but the desire to include it on a pizza is peculiar, no matter what the pizza purports to be.

The next thing I noticed was that I DIDN’T notice the sauce. As previously stated, the pizza was supposed to have a ketchup-mustard sauce. There was something under the cheese, I think, but all I really detected were subtle notes of slightly tangy wet.

Onions were present, but there were few and they added little, and the beef was your standard pre-formed, pre-cooked, straight-from-a-box, hamburger pellet that seems to find its way onto any national chain pizza when “beef” is involved. (Somewhere there is a beef pellet factory churning out hundreds of thousands of pounds of this product annually, I’m sure.)

Domino s Cheeseburger Pizza Closeup

Two things surprised me in a good way: the diced tomatoes added a pleasant and necessary juiciness to the proceedings (and I say this as someone who is generally anti-hot tomatoes in most situations) and the hand-tossed crust tasted fresh and flavorful, with a buttery, crunchy exterior and a soft, pillowy interior.

Domino s Cheeseburger Pizza Floppy

In fact, the crust was so enjoyable, and the construction and freshness of the overall pizza so impressive, I found myself excited to try Domino’s again at some point in the near future. Only, you know, not this particular pizza. And okay, probably not for full price. But the next time they run one of their 50% off specials? I will definitely consider probably giving them another shot. Maybe.

Purchased Price: $11.99 (promo price)
Size: Large
Rating: 4 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 slice) 380 calories, 19 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 880 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 15 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Totino’s Supreme Stuffed Nachos (2016)

Totino's Stuffed Nachos Supreme

If ramen noodles are the Usain Bolt of cheap eats for students, drunkards and poor folks the world over, then Totino’s is surely…whoever happens to be the second fastest guy in the world.

Okay, now some of what I’m going to say will sound made up, but unless Wikipedia is riddled with errors (which has never happened), this is the God’s honest: Totino’s was founded in Minneapolis in 1951 (!) by Rose and Jim Totino (!!) as a take-out pizza joint (!!!). They eventually expanded to a full-service restaurant (!!!!) that finally shuttered its doors in 2011 (!@#$%!!).

I know, right?

Anyway, in 1993, Pillsbury-owned Jeno’s pizza rolls (first created by Jeno Paulucci in 1968 as “an egg roll filled with pizza ingredients”), were rebranded as Totino’s, and the rest is history.

If you are alive, and human, you have had a Totino’s Party Pizza (the idea of throwing a party involving Totino’s never ceases to make me laugh). You have also had Totino’s Pizza Rolls.

The “pizza” is by no means a real pizza; now, that’s not to say it’s bad. It is a small, crispy disk of bread-like material covered with an amalgamation of hydrogenated oil-based cheese substitutes, flavorless ketchup, and salt-bits masquerading as various types of meat toppings. It regularly retails for $1.39 in my area, and can often be found as a 10/$10 deal.

It has its place as a late-night regret.

It is also a wildly successful brand, producing 240 MILLION discs per year.

So it is no wonder that they would also try to corner the market on another beloved American institution, the frozen, pocket-based delicacy. Not that this is their first attempt. The ORIGINAL Stuffed Nacho from Totino’s was introduced in 1996 and then discontinued, leaving a trail of heartbroken and hungry snack aficionados in the wake.

Totino's Stuffed Nachos Supreme 2

The Totino’s Stuffed Nacho is a triangle pizza roll filled with nacho-inspired ingredients. For the sake of this review, I went with the “supreme” variation. The box promised me “taco seasoned chicken and beef pizza topping, red bell peppers, jalapeños and cheddar cheese rolls in a crispy crust.”

Totino's Stuffed Nachos Supreme 4

The first thing you should know is that you can’t taste ANY of it. There was no heat from the jalapeño, no sweet tang from a red bell pepper, no possible way a chicken ever saw the killing room floor. There may have been cheese, but only in the way that we know God loves us.

The shell was different from a standard pizza roll in that it was corn-tasting. Not in an ACTUAL corn tortilla respect — and not even in a corn chip way — but in the way that Nestle manages to conjure a vague corn-ambiance from its Beef Taco Hot Pockets effort.

The beef too was not unlike the aforementioned BTHP. It was a chewy approximation of meat, but if you received something like it anywhere other than here (Taco Bell included), you’d curse out the proprietor and demand a refund. It has that signature taco taste, though, achieved through “spice” (a real ingredient on the label), as well as onion and garlic powders.

Totino's Stuffed Nachos Supreme 3

Anyway, does this taste like an elf in the Totino’s factory magically impregnated a pizza roll with a plate of delicious nachos? Not a chance.

Would I buy them again, however? Eh, maybe. They seriously weren’t awful — in the same way that pizza rolls and Totino’s pizza discs aren’t awful. But at $4.59 (!) for a 34 count box (NOBODY NEEDS THAT MANY OF THESE THINGS!!), it’s prohibitively expensive. You know, for the target demographic: students, vagabonds, and drunks.

(Nutrition Facts – 6 rolls – 220 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 420 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.59
Size: 17.4 oz box
Purchased at: Hy-Vee
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Vague taco qualities. You don’t have to think much about it. Nice face-stuffing quotient
Cons: Pretty one-note. Idea of “nacho pocket” isn’t a bad one, but execution on this offering lacks. Per Wikipedia, Consumer Reports rated Totino’s as “only fair for nutrition.” Because, duh.

REVIEW: Arby’s Buttermilk Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich

Arby's Buttermilk Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich

Conceptually, I love the idea of a chicken cordon bleu sandwich. I love chicken breast filet, I love the hell out of some ham, and Swiss —- while not the best cheese, necessarily — is still a fine cheese in most circumstances. But the strange thing is, I’m not entirely certain I’ve ever had a chicken cordon bleu sandwich that I actually loved. I guess you could even say that I’ve never had one that chicken cordon bleu my mind. (Ugh. Trust me. I’m as disappointed in myself as you are.)

Anyway, I’d had the original Arby’s iteration more than once in the past, mostly because it’s not something you see often on fast food menus, and I’m a sucker for uncommon menu items. (This is the same reason I can’t wait for Taco Bell’s Grilled Stuft Lobster Burrito, which isn’t a thing, but should be.) Arby’s original CCB was mostly a harmless proposition, but decidedly unspectacular each time. I guess I kept hoping it would get better, which I think is the definition of insanity or something.

Really, it was the chicken’s fault. Crunchy and dull, the quality paled in comparison to the restaurant’s other meats. Large chunks of “breading” hard enough to crack a molar; stringy ropes of flavorless chicken low on flavor but rich in disappointment.

That’s why I was excited to hear that BUTTERMILK entered the equation. Because really, aren’t all the best chickens buttermilked at some point?

Well, it still didn’t work.

Arby's Buttermilk Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich 2

It’s not that it was bad, really, it was just that it wasn’t good. The filet itself was bigger, juicier, and meatier than its heavily breaded predecessor, but there was a distinct lack of flavor. It was void of almost any discernible seasoning or spice. It simply existed as a big, hot chunk of meat, content to take up space between the “star top bun” which is, you know, a bun with a star shape cut into the top.

Not that the bun was bad. It also just…existed. It tasted fresh, though, and it was warm, so that was good. (I’ve often found buns to be a problem at my nearest Arby’s.)

The closest thing to a true star on this sandwich was actually what they refer to as “thinly sliced pit-smoked ham.” It was plentiful and, when removed from the totality of the sandwich, a decent balance of smoky and sweet.

Arby's Buttermilk Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich 3

There was a nice slice of Swiss cheese — real Swiss cheese, not the White American that fast food barons typically try to sell you — but it sorta got lost in the mix. The mayonnaise was appropriately applied and provided a bit of needed tang, trying in vain to make up for the tasteless chicken breast.

Sadly, it just wasn’t enough.

Overall, it doesn’t seem that buttermilk is bringing enough to the party on Arby’s new chicken sandwiches. And that’s a shame. I was really hoping I’d found the chicken cordon bleu of my dreams, but it’s pretty clear that my quest must continue. (Or I can, you know, just go to Chick-fil-A and get a consistently tasty chicken sandwich without the bells and whistles.)

(Nutrition Facts – 690 calories, 310 calories from fat, 35 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 110 milligrams of cholesterol, 2000 milligrams of sodium, 53 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of dietary fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 41 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.69 (sandwich only)
Size: N/A
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Ham was inoffensive. It was served super-hot, but I mean, there’s no guarantee that yours will be.
Cons: Bland, flavorless buttermilk chicken. Uninspired. The whole thing felt a little like they were going through the motions. Oh, one of the least healthy options on the Arby’s menu in terms of calories from fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.