REVIEW: Burger King Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Burger King Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich

At this point, the only way fast food chains can be “innovative” when it comes to chicken sandwiches is if they radically change the stuff around the chicken – i.e., all of the other ingredients underneath the bread – or find an entirely different kind of bird to deep fry (I’m anticipating a breaded pheasant Arby’s entree by 2020, for sure.)

Needless to say, Burger King’s all-too-generically titled Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich isn’t the revolutionary L-T-O the fast food industry’s looking for. That’s not to say it’s bad or anything like that, just that it’s, well, pretty much exactly what you would expect. As soon as you eye the sandwich, you know precisely what to anticipate, and as soon as you take your first bite all of your prejudices are validated. Sorry BK – this is one book we can all safely judge by its wrapper.

First things first, my sandwich didn’t look anything like the sandwich on the advertisement posters. Sure, they never do, but in this case it was egregiously underwhelming. The whole sandwich was flatter than a pancake, to the point I couldn’t even see the interior chicken gawping at the sandwich sideways. And I assure you, what was lurking underneath the hood was even more disappointing.

Yeah, that’s a pretty small chicken patty, isn’t it? Hell, that thing is so small, it might be better described as a morbidly obese chicken nugget. Still, it did have a nice, healthy orange sheen to it, so I’ll at least give the King props for aesthetics.

Burger King Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich 2

Maybe it’s just my local BK crew not giving a hoot, but it seems like there was a surplus of mayonnaise on my sandwich and a deficit of tomato and lettuce. Ultimately, this thing had more “dead space” on it than any fast food burger I’ve chewed in a long time. Indeed, my first couple of bites, I was literally gnashing bread on bread. I’ve gotten to the center of a Tootsie Roll lollipop faster than it took me to hit something other than bun on this sucker.

Burger King Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich 3

The white meat patty – once you get to it – though, is pretty good, but the “spiciness” is another letdown. Pretty much all this thing does is give you a nasty case of Doritos breath, and maybe a little bit of “Texas Pete tongue” for half a minute.

Again, it’s not horrible tasting, it’s just so woefully predictable. Even if you haven’t tried BK’s latest, I promise you that you’ve had at least one other sandwich that tasted like it. Had Burger King at least tried to up the ante with a spicier dressing, hotter cheese, or even some spicy onion rings, they would have given this thing some kind of identity.

But as is, this thing is painfully bland. And if there’s one thing worse than being a bad fast food sandwich, surely, it’s being one that’s just OK.

(Nutrition Facts – 700 calories, 42 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,140 milligrams of sodium, 57 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, 25 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.49
Size: N/A
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: The chicken patty has a nice apricot glow. The ample “white space” allows for plenty of creative uses of condiments. The white meat, admittedly, is pretty chewy.
Cons: It’s not spicy – at all. It really could benefit from some extra ingredients. The feeling that you’ve already eaten this thing before…and at a lower price point, too.

REVIEW: Arby’s Miami Cuban Sandwich

Arby s Miami Cuban Sandwich

Your fondness/abhorrence of mustard is going to dictate your overall thoughts on Arby’s new Miami Cuban. If you really like mustard, you’ll definitely get a kick out of the limited-time-only offering — especially if you order one at the same suburban Atlanta franchise I got mine from.

Arby s Miami Cuban Sandwich 2

As the photographic evidence clearly demonstrates, apparently the chefs at my neighborhood eatery decided it wouldn’t really be an authentic Miami Cuban unless they squeezed an entire bottle of French’s on the sandwich before sending it down the burger chute. It has since been brought to my attention that, no, this is not the standard assemblage process for Arby’s franchises, so odds are your sandwich will contain significantly less of the yellow stuff.

Beyond that condiment deluge, though, we’re working with some pretty standard stuff here. Despite the name, the sandwich isn’t served on Cuban bread, or even a ciabatta roll. Instead, the whole shebang is served on a rather humdrum, ordinary, everyday sub roll. As for the protein, you do get a nice mixture of pit smoked ham and shredded pork loin. If you’ve never had the latter before, it has a nice, semi-bacon flavor to it, all while having the same consistency of the regular shredded ham we’re used to from the franchise.

Rounding out the Cuban sub (shh, don’t tell JFK!) is a hearty helping of melted Swiss cheese and a couple of slices of dill pickle.

Arby s Miami Cuban Sandwich 3

Obviously, the high mustard quotient is the only thing keeping this from being a fairly uninspired limited-time-only offering. Overall it is pretty yummy, and I personally dig the sorta-but-not-really-spicy taste and mouthfeel of all that mustard, but it’s not exactly a revolutionary fast food offering. Hmm, considering this is a Cuban we’re talking about, maybe “revolutionary” isn’t the best-fitting term to use. But…still.

On the positive side of things, it is a rather filling sandwich, and at 510 calories, it’s a surprisingly light fast food item for its size. As far as negatives go, the thing is ridiculously salty, and, if you get one like mine, good luck eating it without getting mustard on literally every article of clothing you own, and probably the apparel of the people sitting beside you, too.

Really, the problem here isn’t that the sandwich tastes bad, because it certainly doesn’t. It’s more the fact that it simply takes the basic ingredients of the traditional Cuban sandwich and sucks all the soul out of it. Take a look at this authentic Cuban sandwich from the Miami-area restaurant Alberto Cabrera’s. Sorry, Arby’s but you just can’t replicate that with the material you’re used to working with.

That said, it is pretty fun mixing and matching the sandwich with Arby’s impressive gauntlet of in-house sauces (you’d be amazed how well the mustard gels with the Horsey sauce) and, of course, if you don’t try the sucker with a couple of curly fries added into the mix, you have no (Havana?) idea what you’re missing.

(Nutrition Facts – 510 calories, 180 calories from fat, 20 grams of total fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 96 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,520 milligrams of sodium, 45 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of sugar, 38 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.49
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: The shredded pork loin is great. The sandwich as a whole is pretty appetite-satiating. Mixing the mustard with honey mustard and feeling like a mad scientist.
Cons: Goodness, is this thing messy. It’s absurdly salty. Not being able to find a place to wedge in a Scarface or Don Johnson reference.

REVIEW: Kellogg’s Super Mario Cereal

Kellogg s Super Mario Cereal

Released last December, finding Kellogg’s newfangled Super Mario Cereal hasn’t been easy. Long story short, each package has some sort of QR-Code type thingy on it, and if you scan it with your Nintendo controller it unlocks some kind of new in-game content. Naturally, this has led to collectors/hoarders snatching up the product in droves, with online merchants reselling the cereal on eBay at triple, quintuple, and even 100 times the MRSP.

While strolling through the aisles of Walmart on a recent mechanical pencil and instant coffee run, I stumbled across a freshly stocked pyramid of the ultra-rare breakfast foodstuff. And while I was tempted to buy about 20 of them, hold on to them for 25 years and resell them at $200 a pop, I decided to be a good little consumer and only scoop up one. Hopefully, the karma will lead to the re-release of Dunkaroos, or mayhap even the resurrection of the Bell Beefer, in due time.

Kellogg s Super Mario Cereal 2

Aesthetically, the packaging is pretty pleasing. There are a lot of Easter eggs and in-jokes on the front box, so hardcore Nintendo fans will get a kick out of that. The activity panel on the back, though, is way too rudimentary. Even for a children’s breakfast item, the trivia questions on this one are far too easy. And of course, you have that little QR-Code scanny thing. I’m not sure what it does, precisely, but I’m sure your eight-year-old nephew can fill you in on the details.

Kellogg s Super Mario Cereal 3

As for the cereal itself, well, it’s pretty mundane. It’s marketed as having a berry flavor, but it doesn’t explicitly tell you what kind of berry. So as soon as you crack open the box, you’re greeted by this weird, artificially fruity scent that’s one part strawberry, one part blueberry, and one part scented unicorn sticker.

Kellogg s Super Mario Cereal 5

The puffy rice stars are decent looking, but the taste is quite bland – they absorb all of that pseudo-berry chemical flavoring and wind up tasting like Franken Berry and Boo Berry’s illegitimate love child. And maybe it’s just me, but I SWORE there was a mild (yet strangely convincing) bacon-ish undercurrent to each piece. Please, somebody out there back me up on this, for my own sanity.

Kellogg s Super Mario Cereal 4

The marshmallows, though, are the most disappointing thing about the cereal. Not only do they taste alike (which are like the regular cereal bits, except slightly chewier), they don’t even remotely resemble the classical Super Mario insignia they’re supposed to represent. The 1-up mushrooms are kinda decent, but the mystery blocks and Super Mario hats are just abominations.

Outside of the Mario branding, this is a really generic cereal that reminded me a lot of the Avengers: Age of Ultron cereal Kellogg’s released three years ago. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the exact same formula, albeit with slightly tweaked marshmallow shapes.

Sorry, Mario. You might still be super, but your tie-in cereal here is merely average.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup – 120 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 grams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 55 milligrams of potassium, 27 grams of total carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 8.4 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: The packaging has a lot of neat nods and winks to the video games. The 1-up mushrooms are pretty nice. The cereal itself may or may not be secretly bacon-flavored.
Cons: The artificial berry flavoring is ho-hum. The puffed rice pieces are uninspired. A disappointing lack of marshmallow pieces shaped like Tanooki suits, King Boos, or Thwomps

REVIEW: Mtn Dew Ice

Mtn Dew Ice

The whole “translucent soda” thing isn’t exactly the freshest idea. Nor is it exactly a novel turn for the Mountain Dew brand, which already went clear in 2015 with the limited time only DEWShine. Which, by the way, is still being sold in convenience stores down here in Atlanta, despite the product allegedly being discontinued over a year ago.

Alas, this newfangled Mtn Dew Ice isn’t exactly the same old same old. It’s an all-new Mountain Dew variation that boasts of a lemon-lime flavor and (direct quote, right off the label) “a splash of real juice.” Or, as the ingredients list puts it, “clarified lemon juice concentrate,” which I suppose is accurate enough to keep the F.D.A. off their heels.

So obviously, Mtn Dew Ice is an attempt to cut into Sprite’s customer base (apparently, Mist Twist hasn’t been up to the task). And at first taste, I’m not sure how to describe the product. After a couple of preliminary swigs, I reckoned the stuff tasted like regular Dew, albeit a little thinner and slightly less sugary. By the time I got halfway through the bottle, though, I started to pick up that advertised “lemon-lime flavor” – which, yes, is pretty much a dead ringer for the aforementioned Mist Twist.

Mtn Dew Ice 2

What we’ve ended up with is a beverage with a serious identity crisis. It’s probably a bit of a stretch to say Mtn Dew Ice is basically the merger of Mountain Dew with Mist Twist, but it’s still close enough to get the gustatory point across. Instead of giving us a more Sprite-like Mountain Dew variation, Pepsi has bestowed upon us a beverage that tastes like it’s a 50/50 split between the two.

Even weirder, it’s like the two dueling tastes refuse to gel with one another. Sometimes when I take a sip, there’s a more pronounced Mountain Dew vibe and with others I swear I took a gulp of Sprite.

There’s been some caustic feedback about the product’s artificial sweeteners, but to be honest I didn’t notice anything out of the norm. While, again, it does taste slightly less sweet than normal Mountain Dew, it’s significantly sweeter than Sprite. So if that’s a turnoff for you, don’t say you weren’t warned.

Mtn Dew Ice 3

Aesthetically, there isn’t much to look at – you know, because the soda itself is the same color as Crystal Pepsi, Tab Clear, and any of the Zevia cola offerings. The packaging isn’t all that impressive either – a light green palette with a few swatches of black and yellow here and there. But the canned iteration of the drink looks a bit snazzier.

While fairly predictable (if not flat-out boring) in taste and presentation, Mtn Dew Ice is a good (but not great) soft drink. Outside of the whole “it’s a caffeinated version of Sprite” hook, I’m afraid there isn’t much worth going out of your way to experience here.

(Nutrition Facts – 20 ounces – 160 calories, 0 grams of total fat, 90 milligrams of sodium, 41 grams of total carbohydrates, 41 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.49
Size: 20 oz. bottle
Purchased at: Kroger
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: It’s a decent citrus-flavored cola with an all right caffeine kick. The hybrid Mountain Dew/Mist Twist taste is definitely intriguing. I guess it won’t stain the carpet as badly if you spill it?
Cons: The competing flavors never really come together all that harmoniously. The packaging is lame. Wondering if Pepsi meant for it to subconsciously remind consumers of Smirnoff Ice or if it’s just me?

QUICK REVIEW: Burger King Rodeo Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Burger King Rodeo Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. After a year and some change of photographing the gooiest, greasiest, and goopiest fast food known to man, I finally managed to drop my camera, lens first, into a review item.

And, of course, it just had to be Burger King’s new Rodeo Crispy Chicken Sandwich. Twenty-four hours later, and my camera STILL smells like barbecue sauce and mayonnaise.

Outside of making my Canon smell like an explosion at the condiment aisle, I can’t think of too many negatives about BK’s newfangled burger. The ginormous offering includes a thick, crispy chicken patty coated in melted American cheese, topped with a handful of fried onion rings and three half-strips of bacon, with the whole shebang topped off with a smattering of BBQ sauce and mayo.

Burger King Rodeo Crispy Chicken Sandwich 2

The BBQ sauce/mayo combo gives the sandwich an extra kick. It’s subtle, but it adds a layer of gustatory intrigue to what otherwise would be a predictable “Western” style burger variation. The chicken fillet is also surprisingly juicy, with the carapace of melted cheese definitely giving the patty an extra level of zest.

Burger King Rodeo Crispy Chicken Sandwich 3

The bacon is crispy and flavorful and the onion rings (while inconsistently shaped and sized) never got too mushy for my liking. And – not that you need me to tell you this – the humongous, almost softball-sized sandwich is undeniably filling.

Of course, it’s also an extremely salty sammich, and one of the sloppiest you’ll eat in this or any other year. Seriously – we’re talking Arby’s Meat Mountain levels of splashback here, so definitely keep the napkin dispenser nearby for this one.

There’s nothing too creative about the burger, but considering its robust flavor and ultra-filling nature, it’s hard to shower this unoriginal but satisfying L-T-O with anything but praise.

Purchased Price: $5.29
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 960 calories, 60 grams of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 105 milligrams of cholesterol, 2230 milligrams of sodium, 72 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 14 grams of sugar, 33 grams of protein.