REVIEW: Popeyes Chicken Nuggets (2021)

Popeyes Chicken Nuggets 12 Count

Popeyes has always been in a class of its own and, since the splashy debut of its chicken sandwiches in 2019, it’s been awesome to see it get the recognition it deserves. Those chicken sandwiches also got people through the door who had never tried Popeyes before. Now, hoping to continue to entice folks to its stores, the chain is taking on another fast food chicken staple: nuggets.

It’s currently offering nugget meals for one (8 or 12 count) that include a side, biscuit, and drink or à la carte nuggets (24, 36, or 48 count) that are shareable. Despite my desire to dive headfirst into 24 of them, I opted to go with 12.

Oh, I’d just like to take a moment to praise our digital overlords for giving us apps in which we can mobile order items with ease. Popeyes’ app was easy to use, and it has recently started a rewards program.

Popeyes Chicken Nuggets Coating

The average Popeyes nugget is larger than Chick-fil-A’s in both amount of meat and level of breading. The crispy, crunchy coating we’ve become accustomed to with Popeyes’ other chicken is present and delicious.

Popeyes Chicken Nuggets Meat

What immediately puts this ahead of the tenders for me was a more preferable, almost equal ratio of breading to meat. Currently only being offered in mild, the flavor is that familiar Popeyes taste that is peppery strong, but not painfully spicy. Within the breading, the white meat chicken breast is juicy and tender, which is exactly what I’ve come to expect.

I could select two dipping sauces with my order, but honestly, I found myself mostly enjoying the nuggets on their own. That said, the Blackened Ranch was better than expected, and the BoldBQ reminded me of what Wendy’s BBQ used to be like.

If I had to offer any real negatives, it was some of the inconsistency in sizing when it came to the nuggets. Out of the 12, four were comparable to Chick-fil-A nuggets in size. Chances are it might just be a kitchen crew getting used to preparing a new item, and I think it will get more even as time goes on.

Popeyes Chicken Nuggets Box

I so very much enjoyed these and hope they will be successful enough to stick around for a bit. Heck, maybe we can even get a spicy version if they prove to be popular enough. While I doubt we’ll see the same fervor surrounding these as we did in 2019 with the sandwiches, they are worth the try and a tasty addition to an already stellar lineup of offerings from Popeyes.

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: 12 count
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (12 nuggets) 450 calories, 28 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 76 milligrams of cholesterol, 690 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 22 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Chocolate Dunkaroos (2021)

Chocolate Dunkaroos 2021 Tray

Going to the grocery store has become a brightly colored nostalgia minefield. I don’t know if it’s always been this way, or I just notice stuff more now that I am in that marketing age range for nostalgic foods. It feels like every trip, I find something that makes me stare off into the distance, dramatically remembering my youth. This go around, I had my mini existential crisis at the checkout lane in my local Walmart. Tucked into the shelf amongst the other snacks sat a box of Chocolate Dunkaroos.

In a time when Healthy Choice diet foods seemed to reign supreme, Dunkaroos were the opposite. For those unfamiliar, they are individual packs of mini cookies that you dip into frosting. Yes, this was somehow an accepted snack for kids in the 90s. They first hit the shelves in 1990, but were discontinued in 2012 in the United States. They made their reappearance on shelves in May of 2020 with the original vanilla cookie and rainbow sprinkle vanilla frosting variety.

Chocolate Dunkaroos 2021 Top

Since then, a slew of Dunkaroos branded products (including cereal and cookie dough) have come on the market. It only makes sense that they’d follow up the vanilla cookie/rainbow sprinkle vanilla frosting item with a vanilla cookie/chocolate frosting version. I was honestly disappointed to see they weren’t going to produce the chocolate frosting variety with graham cracker cookies. I’m sure it’s easier to stick with one cookie variety across the different frosting flavors, but I knew this would mean that the taste I remember from childhood wouldn’t be quite the same.

Chocolate Dunkaroos 2021 Dunk

Chocolate Dunkaroos are simplicity at its finest. The little “D” branded cookies have a mild vanilla flavor that becomes immediately lost under the chocolate frosting. They do walk a fine line between soft enough to not crumble, but hard enough to stand up to being dipped in frosting. The frosting was actually better than I expected. I had assumed it would be a cloyingly sweet chocolate flavor, but it turned out to be a rich, fudgy chocolate.

Chocolate Dunkaroos 2021 Sandwich

While the flavors didn’t strike that “nostalgia” chord, the act of eating them did. I still eat my Lunchables (yes, I still eat Lunchables) the same way I did as a kid, and I fell back into my routine with Dunkaroos. I’m usually a little sparing with the frosting in the beginning. But by the end, I am glopping it all over. I even made a little cookie sandwich. It was just a fun little moment to pause and enjoy.

I think, more than anything, that’s all I want from these throwback/rereleased/nostalgic treats: a moment to pause and enjoy. Even though it won’t send you back to the 90s, the Chocolate Dunkaroos are still a fun treat. How can you go wrong with dipping cookies into frosting and calling it a snack?

Purchased Price: $1.84
Size: 1.5 oz
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 tray with frosting) 180 calories, 7 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 16 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Spicy Black Bean Burger

Wendy s Spicy Black Bean Burger Full

Being a vegetarian in the early 2000s sucked. Dining out meant either sad garden salads clearly meant to be a vehicle for grilled chicken or, worse than that, freezer burnt veggie burgers that would always be both overcooked AND still frozen. Most places just didn’t see a reason to offer meatless items, especially fast food restaurants. Fast forward to 20 years later, and the market for meatless is thriving. While I am no longer a strict vegetarian, my diet usually consists of 50%-75% meatless or “plant-based” foods, so I’m always looking for new veggie items. Enter Wendy’s.

The chain has been slow to join the plant-based trend. It tested a black bean burger (non-spicy from what I’ve seen) in late 2015 that was never heard from again. This go around it’s testing out a Spicy Black Bean Burger in Jacksonville, FL (that’s me!), Pittsburgh, PA, and Columbus, OH. We rarely get to be selected as a test market, and all the better that it’s for a meatless item.

The Spicy Black Bean Burger consists of a seasoned plant-based black bean patty, romaine lettuce, onion, tomato, pepper jack cheese, crispy chipotle jalapenos, and spicy chipotle sauce served on a premium bun. I was fascinated that Wendy’s would opt to go a more traditional route with a black bean patty instead of the popular Beyond or Impossible items. Generally speaking, people trying to swap for meatless enjoy the faux meat experience instead of the more “traditional” veggie patty.

Wendy s Spicy Black Bean Burger Jalapenos

I always like to try the special components separately before taking the “perfect” bite. The crispy chipotle jalapenos weren’t what I expected in the best way possible. I hoped they would be similar to the crispy onions one might see on a green bean casserole (dry and crispy). While they were in that same vein, they were more like pickled jalapenos breaded and fried. The spicy chipotle sauce had a deep smokiness with a sweet heat. Finally, the patty had a predominately cumin flavor with various other “Southwest” flavors (onion, paprika, garlic, cilantro). The patty was also square-shaped, continuing the Wendy’s tradition.

Wendy s Spicy Black Bean Burger Patty

Taking a bite, I was pleasantly surprised with how well the layered spicy flavors worked together. The chipotle’s warmness came through with the Southwest blend in the patty and spiciness of the fried jalapenos. The pepper jack cheese felt sort of a take-it-or-leave-it element. It didn’t take away from my enjoyment, but it didn’t really add either.

Wendy s Spicy Black Bean Burger Split

The patty itself was soft. Not soggy or mushy, just soft. The outside could have used a few moments longer on the grill to get more crust. I was taken aback by the high quality of the patty itself. Normally black bean burgers are (more or less) just a mushed blend of veggies in the form of a patty with no discernible vegetable pieces. Absolutely not the case here as whole black beans, corn kernels, brown rice, and wheat berries were easily seen and felt when biting into the patty.

Wendy s Spicy Black Bean Burger Layers

I was impressed with this sandwich. Even though I went in with a low bar, I was blown away by the freshness of the product. The spicy black bean patty was on par with the fresh, handmade ones I’ve had in sit-down restaurants. I would like to note that the item isn’t vegan/vegetarian as served, but like with the Impossible Whopper, the audience isn’t vegans/vegetarians. I think it’s interesting that Wendy’s is taking a chance with a black bean patty instead of faux meat.

The Wendy’s Spicy Black Bean Burger is a unique and flavorful item. But I wonder if the patty might end up being a skip for the more casual meatless diner or people looking for that meaty meatless experience.

Purchased Price: $4.49
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 sandwich) 580 calories, 27 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 1560 milligrams of sodium, 69 grams of carbohydrates, 9 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 17 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Burger King Ch’King Sandwich

Burger King Ch King Sandwich Whole

Burger King has a mixed record with chicken sandwiches. My previous experience was in the form of the Original Chicken Sandwich. That’s the hoagie-like version that can have some questionable quality chicken in the form of a pressed patty. I ended up throwing half of it away because it was just not good.

So naturally, when Burger King put its new Ch’King into the ever-growing field of fast food chicken sandwiches, I knew it was time to give BK an opportunity to redeem itself.

In 2019, Popeyes started a movement through the fast food industry that is still being felt two years later. It started serving a high quality, flavorful chicken sandwich that made the standard fast food fare pale in comparison. In my opinion, Popeyes’ offering has yet to be bested. However, I went into trying the Ch’King neutral and was curious how it would end up ranking.

Burger King Ch King Sandwich Wrapper Back

The options you have at the moment when ordering are either a Ch’King or Spicy Ch’King. Both come on toasted potato buns with a signature sauce and crisp pickles. The spicy variety is the same chicken as the original (no spicy seasoning in the breading), just tossed in a spicy glaze. BK also offers a “Deluxe” version of both that sees the pickles removed for lettuce and tomato. I opted for the standard Ch’King.

Burger King Ch King Sandwich Wrapper in Wrapper

It was interesting to see it packaged in a bag similar to Chick-fil-A and Popeyes. However, upon opening it, it was wrapped in the standard wrapper. I am not sure if it’s just my location that opted for this, but I have a feeling (based on some of the soggy bits) it may not be the correct way to serve it. The sandwich itself is decently sized — not quite as big as Popeyes’, but bigger than the standard Chick-fil-A.

Burger King Ch King Sandwich Top

Upon taking it apart, I notice the crispy pickles are certainly not the standard fast food pickles. I expected dill pickles, but found them to be more like bread & butter. Generally, I don’t care much for bread & butter pickles, but they worked very well with the overall flavor of the sandwich. The sauce, described as a “savory signature sauce,” was the weakest point. It was just a generic mayo-based sauce with no real strong flavors other than slightly sweet. I’d have preferred the standard mayo instead. The bread was a nice upgrade from the standard buns and helped sell the “premium” feeling of the sandwich.

Burger King Ch King Sandwich Split

It’s a good-sized chicken fillet, breaded in a crunchy coating we’ve come to expect from these new chicken sandwiches. However, by the time I got home, it had lost some crunch due to being double wrapped. This didn’t necessarily take away from my overall enjoyment, but I had looked forward to that TikTok-worthy CRUNCH and didn’t really get it. As for its taste, it was perfectly fine, but blander than Popeyes’. In fact, the closest comparison in flavor was Chick-fil-A. The meat itself was juicy and tender. It’s always nice to get a perfectly cooked chicken sandwich as I think we can all relate to that experience of biting into one, only to be greeted by dry or rubbery meat.

Burger King Ch King Sandwich Wrapper Front

Burger King is certainly coming out swinging with its new sandwich. It’s a solid attempt with a lot to like and also some opportunity for growth. While I personally don’t feel like it topples Popeyes for the top spot, it certainly has its place at the podium.

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size:N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 800 calories, 36 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 710 milligrams of sodium, 69 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 33 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Pizza Hut The Edge Pizza (2021)

PIzza Hut The Edge Pizza Box

I was, admittedly, a late bloomer when it comes to Pizza Hut. Between a VERY Italian father and great local pizza joints, Pizza Hut was reserved for classroom parties and that one friend’s house that had a thick layer of dust in their kitchen from non-use.

I liked it fine, but it was just never part of my childhood. As an adult, it’s become a fairly common staple of my diet. Between the ease of getting it and some late in life rebellion against my Dad, it has become a once a month meal for me. While I usually stay within my same order, the large banner advertising the return of The Edge Crustless Pizza caught my attention.

The Edge isn’t a new item but a rerelease of a product that debuted in 1997. Described as a “tavern style, cracker thin crust pizza,” it sees the toppings go all the way to the edge (get it, like the name?), making each slice 100% covered in toppings. It’s cut into squares, aka “party cut,” giving you 16 pieces. The tavern style was actually created in Chicago, which was news to me as I only thought of the deep dish style as the only popular pizza from Chicago.

PIzza Hut The Edge Pizza Whole

When you order, you are given an option of four recipes: Ultimate, Carnivore, Vegetarian, or Pepperoni Lover’s. For what it’s worth, it appears like you can change the toppings once you select one of the recipes, but for the sake of trying it as it’s presented, I went with the Ultimate. The Ultimate includes pepperoni, Italian sausage, green peppers, onions, and Roma tomatoes.

The first thing I noticed was the branding of The Edge on the box. Upon opening it, the consistently comforting smell of Pizza Hut pizza filled the room. However, looking at it, I noticed an issue immediately: the lack of sausage. After debating if I should get it fixed, I decided it wasn’t worth the trouble. There were more than enough toppings to judge it fairly, and (after trying it) I can say the sausage most likely wouldn’t have moved the needle much in either direction.

PIzza Hut The Edge Pizza Thinness

PIzza Hut The Edge Pizza Seasoning

Even though I knew it would be a thin crust, it was still shockingly thin. Despite its thinness, it stood up very well. There was a good balance of the sauce, cheese, and toppings that worked with the crust making each bite balanced in flavor and crispiness. The box bragged of a “garlic & herb seasoning” sprinkled on top, but was inconsistently present.

PIzza Hut The Edge Pizza Pieces Image

Beyond the missing sausage, my only other criticism was the pieces themselves. Technically, it is 16 pieces, but it’s more like “12 normal size pieces and four random bits.” Oh, and because it’s thinner, I could easily polish off a whole one which is incredibly dangerous.

Overall, it’s a nice change of pace, but nothing I’d make a regular order. It dawned on me how this will be a nice summer pizza. It’s light, so you don’t feel heavy after eating half of it, but it satisfies that pizza craving. The Edge is only around for a limited time, so I’d try it sooner than later.

Purchased Price: $12.99
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 “slice”) 180 calories, 10 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 680 milligrams of sodium, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein.