REVIEW: Taco Bell Triple Melt Burrito and Triple Melt Nachos

Taco Bell Triple Melt Nachos

“Caseus et magis in melius.”

Mother, if you are reading this, please have this newly-minted personal creed inscribed on my tombstone along with a picture of Taco Bell’s Triple Melt Nachos, if only for future generations to know that we are currently living in the cheesiest point of recorded history.

And while all this cheese comes at a sacrifice — Nacho Fries are gone, long live Nacho Fries — if value-based creations such as the Taco Bell Triple Melt Burrito and, even more so, the Triple Melt Nachos, are a glistening yellow beacon to what we can achieve in the realm of queso and queso-related foodstuffs, then it’s the culinary petard that I will defiantly hoist my husky frame upon.

The aforementioned dynamic duo of Triple Melt meals from Taco Bell are seemingly a long time coming and hopefully a new standard bearer on not only the value meal menu but anything in the future that they dare to proclaim as “cheese-filled.”

By combining the Bell’s patented nacho cheese goodness with a shredded three-cheese blend of mozzarella, cheddar, and pepper jack, these new mixtures and additions hit closer and closer to what we should rightfully expect from years of Tex-Mex fast food promises.

Taco Bell Triple Melt Burrito

And while not as super-gooey as you’d think — the combined cheeses settle very fast into their own blessed mass of congealment — these very different cheeses and their fully distinct flavors make the Triple Melt Burrito a definite triple-crown entry as far as taste goes in this never-ending value menu race to the top. Along with the always welcomed ground beef and perfectly blended sauce, it makes for a burrito well worth your dollar.

Taco Bell Triple Melt Burrito 2

That being said, the main drawback here is the continued unimaginative use of Taco Bell’s typically bland rice as a wholly unnecessary filler that might as well be sawdust the way it soaks up all that important cheesy flavor. (I mean, let’s be honest: is there really anyone out there who truly likes Taco Bell’s rice? A mea culpa to you and yours if so, but I doubt it.)

Taco Bell Triple Melt Nachos 2

This minor act of edible malfeasance is absolutely rectified, for the most part, by the award-worthy Triple Melt Nachos. Featuring those beloved chips and aforementioned ground beef professionally imbued with all these different cheeses, like a calcium-rich daydream of innocent fools come to fruition, it’s a hearty combination that makes this a Dollar Menu item beyond reproach.

The warm queso blankets the top while the corresponding layers underneath are shielded by the melting shredded cheese that soaks down to the bottom, making sure that every bite is loaded with some semblance of flavor like a sternly protective father, a true rarity especially when it comes to these dollar nachos and their moderately-sized portions and partitions.

And, to be fair, if you want to complain about the size of these nachos, it’s only a buck hoss…man up and order two or three or whatever it takes to satisfy those curdled urges deep inside. Lord knows I have. ¡Cómpralo ya!

(Nutrition Facts – Triple Melt Burrito – 410 calories, 16 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 1030 milligrams of sodium, 50 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, and 15 grams of protein. Triple Melt Nachos – 260 calories, 16 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 550 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, and 10 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.00
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Burrito)
Rating: 10 out of 10 (Nachos)
Pros: So very, very cheesy. The mixture of cheese flavors works. Great value even for value menu items.
Cons: Limited-time only. The rice on the burrito is total filler. Nachos congeal fast.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Strawberry Skittles Freeze

Taco Bell Strawberry Skittles Freeze

Few fast food corporations seem to truly love their customers the way that Taco Bell does.

Let’s be honest: with the kind, loving hand of a well-meaning father, everything and anything the Bell creates is done simply to make us, the fickle consumer, in the broadest of generalities, happy. Very happy. They just want to see a satisfied smile on our faces by consistently going above and beyond our culinary dreams in ways the other fast food joints either can’t or refuse to.

From their now-legendary forays into the Tex-Mex beyond with items like the long-forgotten Bell Beefer sandwich and the heat-punishing Volcano Taco, to recent developments like the blockbuster Doritos Locos Tacos and those omnipresent Nacho Fries, if you can dream it, then the kitchen witches at Taco Bell can probably make it a reality.

Case in point, their latest liquidic offering is the absolutely transcendent Strawberry Skittles Freeze, a tart and tangy frozen sojourn into absolute tooth-rotting bliss. Even more so than their Air Heads or Starburst variations, this chilly elixir perfectly captures the very essence and aura of a strawberry Skittle — everyone’s favorite flavor, right? — and pulverizes it down into a sweetly-sour near-solid that is worth the numerous brain-freezes that should occur from sip after fruity sip.

Taco Bell Strawberry Skittles Freeze 2

Available in a 16 oz. size for $2.39, you’d think that this would be a prime example of sickly-sweet overkill as many of these experiments often tend to be, but the flavor wizards at TB have managed to get the perfect balance, creating a frozen beverage that is finally without a sour, throaty aftertaste from the sweeteners or, even worse, the archetypical queasy stomach from the massive fructose overload. I ordered two —- one with my meal and one for the road and it was an oh-so-smooth ride the whole time.

This leads the door wide open, hopefully and blessedly, for the Bell to create even more candy-inspired frozen drinks; a lemon-lime Skittles frozen lemonade would be quite bomb, especially in the summertime on a rather sultry Sunday right after mowing the yard. But why stop there? How about a Sour Patch Kids Watermelon freeze to sneak into the movies or, por mi gente, a tamarindo or mango con chile concoction of some sort, maybe with a Tajin seasoning packet for the experts. The Bell’s the limit!

But, until then, I will be happily sipping and slurping the rainbow with every limited-time only moment of refreshing romance I have with the Strawberry Skittles Freeze, thanking my pals at Taco Bell from the very bottom of my enlarged heart for, once again, thinking outside the bun and making my most edible of dreams come true like an overweight (and far more watchable) version of the movie Inception. ¡Cómpralo ya!

(Nutrition Facts – 160 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 43 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.39
Size: 16 oz.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like frozen Skittle juice. No sickly-sweet stomach ache. ice cold and refreshing.
Cons: Limited-time only.

REVIEW: Sonic Signature Slingers

Sonic Signature Slingers

We, as a society, move one minute closer to the somewhat dystopic culinary midnight of a full-on meat replacement with the commercial-creation and mass-consumption of the Sonic Signature Slingers, a new limited-time cheeseburger with a “100-percent pure beef” patty that is apparently “blended with savory mushrooms and seasonings” which, according to the good folks at Sonic, is something that is “almost too good to be true.”

They said the same thing about Soylent Green.

Futuristic nutritional values and dietary requirements aside, however, Sonic’s big selling point of their Signature Slinger (a cooler way to say slider, I guess?) is that their “Classic” option is a better burger for you and your health, “starting at under 350 calories.” What you do with the rest of it is up to you and your dietician, I guess, especially when considering that a much heftier (and financially comparable) Jr. Deluxe Burger is only 380 calories.

At first glance, the Classic Slinger is a bit of a greasy mess, with the “bakery-quality” brioche bun simply glistening with grease as errant mayo and cheese glooped and glopped about with no remorse. The patty itself was yawningly flat and offered nothing noticeable to the naked eye to distinguish it from any other ol’ beef patty they serve, especially when desperately aided with pickles, onions, and tomatoes. (The promised lettuce, however, was nowhere in sight, at least not here.)

Sonic Signature Slingers 2

Taste-wise, the mushrooms and any expected earthiness thereof was just not there, not in any apparent shape or form. Not only that, but the patty was actually kind of dry and the requisite dowsing of mayo and cheese was a real Godsend in this case, adding much needed texture and flavor to the proceedings, aided with many sips of a Rt. 44 Diet Dr. Pepper, of course.

To be honest, the Classic Sonic Signature Slinger is really nothing special; it’s a fine little cheeseburger to be sure, but one that is just as comparable in most ways to any other sandwich on the value menu. This goes double for the mostly redundant Bacon Melt Signature Slingers, which is more of the same except for, you guessed it, bacon.

Sonic Signature Slingers 3

Served on the same “bakery-quality” brioche bun, those smoky strips of greasy pork add nothing but extra calories and fat to a cheeseburger whose sole purpose was to be better than that. There’s very little charm to the whole thing, the same dry patty in need of extra cheese and mayo, leaving the customer wondering what far more substantial alternatives on the menu they should’ve ordered instead.

After trying both varieties, it’s mostly left me wondering who, exactly, are these are for? They’re obviously not for vegetarians, they’re not all that better for you, health-wise, and, worst of all, they add no sort of new and spectacular flavor sensations to the palate to set them apart from the rest of the all-beef pack. I guess, out of natural curiosity, they’re worth a try or two, but, in the long run, they’re just kind of…there.

That being said, I do look forward to the next scientific development in the Sonic test kitchens, presumably that of the all-mushroom beef-flavored patty in the next few frightening years. Charlton Heston would be proud. ¡Cómpralo ya!

(Nutrition Facts – Classic – 340 calories. The other nutrition facts aren’t available on the Sonic website.)

Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: N/A
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Supposedly under 350 calories. The novelty of a mushroom beef-patty. Charlton Heston screaming in the streets.
Cons: Dry and in need of plenty of calorie-inducing condiments. No mushroom “flavor.” Kind of pointless.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Smoky Mushroom Bacon Cheeseburger

Wendy s Smoky Mushroom Bacon Cheeseburger

Oh Wendy, you flame-haired temptress of the square-shaped beef patty.

Does your daddy know how you gently lull me into your old-fashioned restaurants with a diabolical siren’s song of always-fresh, never frozen promises, only to leave me standing alone, naked and ashamed, clutching desperately to a lukewarm baked potato and a couple of double-stacks, mildly disappointed but always willing to take the blame nevertheless?

Lessons never learned, the most recent entry in the current Smokey Mountain jamboree of fast-food foodstuffs we’re seemingly in the middle of, the new Smoky Mushroom Bacon Cheeseburger, is a timely tune the beloved freckled-face spitfire is warbling to all within hungry earshot, promising the rich flavor of “smoky” portabella mushrooms, “smoky” mushroom aioli, crispy fried onions, Asiago cheese, and three strips of Applewood-smoked bacon on top of its signature beef and buns.

Which, of course, all sounds absolutely entrancing, a medley of taste sensations crafting a ballistic ballet to an overture of distinct flavors as my mouth waters while simply standing in line, the professional photography teasing me with spilling sides of dense fungi and even denser cheese product, bacon scintillatingly peeking out with onion strings mingling sensually in the glistening drippings. And so then, order up, I take a bite deep and lovingly into it. And another. And then another

Wendy s Smoky Mushroom Bacon Cheeseburger 2

As the singular sadness of dine-in disappointment starts to set in, Wendy’s has desperately made another promise they apparently couldn’t keep; while absolutely loaded with said onions, mushrooms, and aioli, they are brutally rendered mostly flavorless and obsolete thanks to a spectacularly greasy overkill from the Wendy’s beef and especially from the Applewood-smoked bacon.

Don’t get me wrong — it makes for a good bacon burger of sorts, but there might as well be no ‘shrooms at all on the thing, lest they simply need a name-brand filler to plump up this jam, unnecessarily loading it for dramatic sales effect.

Hey, it looked great in the pictures.

Wendy s Smoky Mushroom Bacon Cheeseburger 3

However, these same toppings are additionally offered on the similarly-named Smoky Mushroom Baked Potato, the must-have tuber of the year. Where they failed in burger form, Wendy’s wonderfully hits the top of the pops here, with the smoky zest of the sautéed mushrooms fully loaded and blending magically with the cheese drenching and moderate drizzle of bacon bits on top of a damp baked potato still soaking in its own sweat. It paired like a prince with my *sigh* double-stacks.

In the pantheon of Wendy’s hits or misses, the Smoky Mushroom Bacon Cheeseburger is to be considered a flawed flop, but it’s got a hell of a B-side in its Baked Potato variant that’ll go on to be a cult favorite. Regardless, I’ll always keep an ear out for whatever your next pied pipings of edible tidings will be Wendy, but only ‘cause I’m a sucker for a redhead holding square-shaped slices of beef. ¡Cómpralo ya!

(Nutrition Facts – (single) – 760 calories, 440 calories from fat, 49 grams of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 110 milligrams of cholesterol, 1310 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 36 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: N/A
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Makes for a great bacon cheeseburger. Plump with plenty of ingredients. Potato companion worth the add-on.
Cons: Can’t taste the mushrooms over the meat. Too much bacon. Almost too greasy.

REVIEW: Mix by Sprite: Tropic Berry

McDonald s Mix by Sprite Tropic Berry

Like many surly teenagers in the 90s with nothing better to do than loiter, I hung out way too many hours for my own good at the Target up the block from my house. The electronics department was a social hub for most of the boys in the neighborhood due to the fact that they had every current gaming system out in the open and set on free play. None of that demo nonsense that Sears did.

This was all well and good until the one of the managers would let us know in no uncertain terms that we had to buy something or leave. Squeezing every last minute of gameplay we could, those of us with a few spare quarters would pool together about 75 cents to buy a bottle of this new beverage that was seemingly only available at Target: Clearly Canadian.

With its sticky sweet, syrupy “clear” taste that mingled deliriously with a decidedly crisp berry sensation, we passed the bottle around like grade school hoboes warming themselves around an 8-bit barrel fire. Looking back, it was a flavor out of and ahead of it time, especially during the crystal cola wars of the 1990-somethings. Sure, after pounding three or four at a time, it gave us the worst headaches and a little bit of nausea on the way home to dinner, but for that price to stay and play, who gave a good gosh-darn.

It’s been a flavor sensation that I have been nostalgically chasing for almost 20 years and, while I always knew it would be those flavor wizards at Sprite that would probably be the ones to resuscitate that drinkable emotion, I had no idea it would be found on accident while I was looking for the Hi-C Orange Lava Burst cold filtered water button on a McDonald’s drink fountain.

McDonald s Mix by Sprite Tropic Berry 2

Going by the fake corporate DJ nom de plume of Mix by Sprite: Tropic Berry, this is most definitely the second coming of that Mountain Berry or Western Loganberry Clearly Canadian if there ever was one, right down to the high-fructose headache after excitedly slurping two large-sized cups of the carbonated beverage when, as an adult, you should really know better.

The typical lemon-lime zest of Sprite that we’ve come to expect is pushed down the taste scale pretty low to point of being barely noticeable as the artificially-flavored tropical (which tropic though?) berry (which berry though?) dominates proudly. It also comes complete with a tongue-coating aftertaste that will definitely call for at least a full cup of PowerAde Mountain Berry Blast cold filtered water to swig around as you leave the restaurant. Or Wal-Mart, if you’re in nasty and/or in Oklahoma.

McDonald s Mix by Sprite Tropic Berry 3

Mix by Sprite: Tropic Berry is definitely worth tracking down and most definitely worth the taste, if only for curiosity’s sake. While it is far too sickly sucrosed-up to be an everyday thing, it’ll make for a delightful once a week treat as you nosh on a Big Mac and fries. Just keep that bottle of aspirin on the ready. ¡Cómpralo ya!

(Nutrition Facts – (small only) – 100 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 55 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 27 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.00
Size: Large
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Great berry taste. Surprisingly crisp. Extremely refreshing.
Cons: Can be too much of a sweet thing. Bad aftertaste.

REVIEW: Carl’s Jr. Charbroiled Sliders

Carls Jr Charbroiled Sliders

Carl’s Jr. is a very fine fast-food establishment but one that very infrequently, if ever, enters into my thought processes when deciding on where to score some fast and easy burgers, mostly because the one that is closest to my house is a great place for getting accosted and stabbed in the parking lot and the inside really isn’t all that better. Let’s just say that if I was kidnapped and held hostage there, Snake Plissken would probably have to be sent in to find me.

So seeing as how I’m not ready to meet my maker as of yet, I tend to frequently miss out on their Superstar meals and All-Star deals. So when I decided to write up these new Carl’s Jr. Charbroiled Sliders, know that I not only did so taking my life (and my stomach) in my own hands, but also filled with the knowledge it could be my last meal. The things I’ll do for The Impulsive Buy.

That being said, after stuffing a few phone books down my pants, prison-style, any type of mild assault would have been absolutely worth the scars because these Charbroiled Sliders are simply to die for.

Carl s Jr Charbroiled Sliders 2

Above and beyond the culinary erectile dysfunction that is the McDonald’s tired $1 cheeseburger, Carl’s Jr’s $1 Charbroiled Slider is a true revolutionary moment in time for budgetary eaters. It featuring an overgrown slider-style burger that is practically comparable in size to anything on most value menus, but with the much-needed addition of an obviously high-quality slab of beef – charred to sweaty perfection, natch — on a thick and toasty sturdy bun, and then double-downed with pickles, onions, and American cheese.

It’s even boxed like a White Castle just to rub salt in the wound because if you’ve ever had a White Castle slider, you know it really ain’t all that. If Carl’s could appropriate a Crave Case while they’re at it, then I’d be all set for the weekend.

Carls Jr Charbroiled Sliders 3

In addition to the single Charbroiled Slider, Jr’s is also offering these minor meaty miracles in double and triple options that have to be eaten to be believed. The $1.50 Double Charbroiled Slider is more of the same, but with twice the meat and twice the cheese and twice the value of a McDouble or Double Stack, at least in girth and the self-confidence in how to use it.

Carls Jr Charbroiled Sliders 4

Finally, for a mere two bucks, we have the greasy goliath that is the Triple Charbroiled Slider, but don’t let the name fool you: this towering inferno is a home run in all respects. Tripling the meat and cheese and clogs in my arteries, you have to practically unhinge your jaw to bite into the meaty mound of vaunted value that we’ve got here.

Once again, this tempting trio is ridiculously available only for a limited time and I can see why: Carl’s has got to be taking a monetary hit on these babies, right? Either way, as long as they’re available, might as well make their financial loss your weight gain, champ, and order a bag or two. ¡Cómpralo ya!

(Nutrition Facts – (single only) – 230 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 410 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.00
Size: Single
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Insanely cheap. High-quality meat. Charbroiled flavor. Surprisingly huge.
Cons: Limited-time only. No Crave Case option.