REVIEW: Burger King Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich

Burger King Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich

Burger King’s Chicken Cordon Bleu is like me realizing I’ve run out of soap while in the shower. I’ll use whatever else is available, which is shampoo.

With the sandwich, Burger King forgoes chicken cordon bleu’s traditional Swiss cheese and uses the mozzarella it has lying around because of its Chicken Parmesan and Crispy Chicken Buffalo Melt sandwiches.

The BK Chicken Cordon Bleu features a 100 percent white meat seasoned crispy chicken filet that’s topped with black forest ham, two mozzarella slices, and a tomato pepper signature sauce on a golden brown potato bun.

I picked one up at my local airport’s Burger King, so excuse the almost $14 meal price below. But, at first, I thought it was a good thing because the last time I ate at this airport Burger King, I had the best chicken sandwich I’ve ever had in my life from a BK. It was the Crispy Chicken Sandwich that came out earlier this year and it was delightful. It was crispy, juicy, and at a temperature I’ve never experienced at a Burger King in decades. So I expected my taste buds to be pleased again.

But when I bit into it, I noticed the temperature contrast between the hot chicken filet and cool-to-warm ham and cheese. I was surprising because I watched the BK employee make my sandwich and after layering on the cheese and ham and wrapping it up, I thought I saw her lift into a microwave, stand there for several seconds, and then pull it out of the microwave. But it tastes like I imagined that.

Burger King Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich 2

The lukewarm ham and cheese is an issue because they take away from the chicken’s crispy breading and slight juiciness. They also take away from the flavor of the new sauce, which is tasty. It’s like sweet and peppery Thousand Island dressing, but without the relish.

Eventually, the chicken causes the cheese to melt a little, but that happens halfway through eating the sandwich. The ham uses the mozzarella as a cheese shield, preventing any heat from affecting it. The worst part is that the ham and cheese don’t add to the flavor of the sandwich, they just subtract from the heat of the sandwich.

Overall, Burger King’s Chicken Cordon Bleu isn’t a horrible sandwich. There’s a lot of good — the sauce and crispy chicken filet. But, the lukewarm ham and cheese bring down the whole experience.

(Nutrition Facts – 730 calories, 39 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 1930 milligrams of sodium, 63 grams of carbohydrates, 16 grams of sugar, and 32 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $13.79*
Size: Small Combo
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Crispy chicken filet. Tomato pepper signature sauce has a nice flavor.
Cons: Warm-to-cool mozzarella and ham brings the sandwich’s temperature down. Ham doesn’t add to the sandwich’s flavor. Uses mozzarella instead of Swiss.

*I bought this from an airport Burger King, where things are a bit pricier.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Gingerbread belVita Breakfast Biscuits

Limited Edition Gingerbread belVita Breakfast Biscuits

Is it just me, or have the food companies gotten lazy with their limited-edition offerings?

The big holiday flavors this year appear to be hot cocoa and gingerbread. For hot cocoa, all you do is take chocolate – usually an already existing flavor – and add marshmallows. It doesn’t even have to be hot, yet it still qualifies as hot cocoa.

Gingerbread is a little more innovative, but not much. It seems like most brands that have gingerbread also have pumpkin spice. Just swap out the pumpkin for molasses (if it even had pumpkin in the first place), add some ginger (if it didn’t already have some), and boom. Gingerbread.

Limited Edition Gingerbread belVita Breakfast Biscuits 2

Unfortunately, these Limited Edition Gingerbread belVita Breakfast Biscuits are another lazy product. To me, they taste just like the pumpkin spice variety. (In fairness, I did not compare them side by side.)

They have a vague spiciness, and if I concentrate, I can taste the ginger. But I don’t taste molasses, even though it’s in the ingredients list.

Limited Edition Gingerbread belVita Breakfast Biscuits 3

Here’s the problem I see: Gingerbread is a cookie, right? And breakfast biscuits are basically cookies, right? It shouldn’t be hard to make a cookie taste like a cookie. Yet these don’t taste like gingerbread.

I understand that it might not be practical to put in too much molasses. Gram for gram, these biscuits have less sugar than a lot of cereals, and if they put in molasses, it might exceed their desired sugar count—they would switch from being breakfast biscuits to being dessert biscuits. Plus, molasses is one of those weird ingredients with a distinctive, almost pungent, odor.

But at the very least, they could have stepped up their game with the spices. Ginger is the only spice mentioned by name in the ingredients, and the biscuits would have benefitted from actual cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or clove -— not just whatever is in “natural flavor.”

If these were simply marketed as a new belVita flavor that is not gingerbread, I would give them a 7 or 8. They have a pleasant oaty flavor and a satisfying crispness. They might not be enough as a meal, but they’re fulfilling as a snack. You get that preschool nostalgia of eating graham crackers, yet feel like an adult because they’re not actually graham crackers. I like ’em.

But since they call themselves gingerbread, they set a higher standard —- a standard they fail to reach.

(Nutrition Facts – 4 biscuits (50 grams) – 230 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 2.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 95 milligrams of potassium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 11 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 8.8 oz. box (5 packs)
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Cute packaging. A tasty, satisfying biscuit. You can taste the ginger if you concentrate. Pretending cookies are breakfast.
Cons: Doesn’t taste like gingerbread. Lazy limited edition foods.

REVIEW: Spangler Oreo Candy Canes

1 Spangler Oreo Candy Canes

Christmas Creep is bad, right?

No one wants to see ornaments and stocking stuffers out on display in October. It’s a silent judgement — haven’t you thought about what you’re getting Aunt Mary yet? What’s taking you so long? All this great stuff will be gone by the time you start shopping after Thanksgiving.

But Christmas Candy Creep is A-OK by me! I love walking into a store on November 1st to find Halloween candy on clearance AND a full selection of holiday treats ripe for the picking. So after checking out the 80 percent off Halloween Pop-Tarts to my left, I was delighted to see a brandy-new tower of Oreo Candy Canes on my right. I’ve been waiting for you, my pretties. Come sit with me by the fire.

2 Spangler Oreo Candy Canes

Visually, these candy canes fit the bill. Brown and white stripes mimic the shades of Oreo cookies & filling perfectly. These would look great on a table display with muted tones, but perhaps not the best for tree decorating – stick with the white/bright colors for contrast.

3 Spangler Oreo Candy Canes

Inside the package, there was no aroma. After shedding the individual wrappings, the canes themselves sported a prominent chocolate scent. It was identifiable as “Oreo,” but not authentic Oreo. It was more like a Bonnie-Bell-Lip-Smackers version of Oreo. Not unpleasant, but you won’t forget you’re consuming an approximation of that famous cookie.

4 Spangler Oreo Candy Canes

Moving onto taste. I regret to inform you there isn’t really any. A few licks in, I suspected the taste and smell were one in the same, so I did the old “hold your nose while you eat” test. All hint of Oreo disappeared. It was just a sugary stick. Since most of us (myself included) experience food with our eyes, nose, and mouth, I didn’t consider this a deal breaker, just a bit of a bummer. If you’re smell-challenged, however, don’t bother with these. Instead of “Oreo flavored,” these should probably be called “Oreo scented.”

And, in case you’re wondering, yes, you can fashion them into the traditional holiday weapon of childhood – the candy cane shiv.

5 Spangler Oreo Candy Canes

Overall, they’re a fun change from the usual candy cane offerings – particularly for Oreo fanatics. I enjoyed them, but these were a “one-and-done” choice. I don’t think I’d get them again. 

But since I’m in holiday craft warm-up mode, I wanted to use these in a gingerbread house project. Six sheets of graham crackers (cut with a serrated knife), a cup of Oreo minis, some royal icing cement and you’ve got the basic structure. 

6 Spangler Oreo Candy Canes

One Oreo candy cane makes the door frame and roof topping. Two canes (crushed with a rolling pin) make the gravel around the house. Throw in some icing dots and hearts and voila! You’ve got yourself an Oreo holiday house!

7 Spangler Oreo Candy Canes

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cane – 45 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 10 milligrams of sodium, 12 grams of carbohydrates, 9 grams of total sugars, 9 grams of added sugars, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 5.3 oz. box (12 candy canes)
Purchased at: Tops
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Fun gift or snack for Oreo fanatics. Great addition to holiday food displays and crafts. Strong “Oreo” aroma.
Cons: Had to put quotes on “Oreo” aroma. Smell definitely came to the party, but didn’t bring its friend flavor.

QUICK REVIEW: Dairy Queen Oreo Hot Cocoa Blizzard

Dairy Queen Oreo Hot Cocoa Blizzard

Oreo is ostensibly milk’s favorite cookie, but it is an unrequited love. Especially of late, Oreo is swiping right on everything from chocolate bars to Android operating systems. Selfishly, I was happy to hear its latest dairy dalliance is with Dairy Queen as a new treat, the Oreo Hot Cocoa Blizzard. Oreo cookie pieces and cocoa fudge are blended with vanilla soft serve and topped with whipped cream.

With a classic whipped spiral atop a dark brown base, the Hot Cocoa Blizzard certainly dons the appearance of its namesake. Digging in, it definitely presents as a chocolate dessert, but I did not find it to be overwhelmingly so. It’s easy to see why the Oreo cookie chunks never spend a night alone; they add a pleasant crunch and are predictably tasty despite their flavor being a bit masked by the fudge.

Speaking of the headlining “hot cocoa” flavor, it appears to have a bit of stage fright. If I closed my eyes, I could almost convince myself I was detecting a slight cocoa powder like aftertaste, but it is very mild and instead reminds me mostly of cold, hot fudge topping.

Dairy Queen Oreo Hot Cocoa Blizzard 2

A bit of needed creaminess is added by the whipped topping, but there isn’t enough to provide a consistent or remarkable flavor combination on the whole. Perhaps I would have an easier time buying into the hot cocoa moniker if marshmallow bits or a swirl had been included; alas, no marshmallows were harmed in the making of this Blizzard.

Dairy Queen Oreo Hot Cocoa Blizzard 3

I love the idea of an Oreo fling with the oxymoronic hot chocolate flavored ice cream. Unfortunately despite being a respectable chocolate and Oreo Blizzard, I find little in the way of hot cocoa in it beyond the name.

Purchased Price: $3.59
Size: Small
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (Small) 790 calories, 34 grams of fat, 16 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 460 milligrams of sodium, 111 grams of carbohydrates, -1 gram of dietary fiber* 83 grams of sugar, and 15 grams of protein.

*Dairy Queen lists fiber incorrectly as a negative value

REVIEW: Starbucks Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Latte (Bottled)

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte  Bottled

Is there any doubt Starbucks’ proprietary Pumpkin Spice Latte isn’t the single most influential fast food/junk food item of the 21st century? One look at the seasonal goods section of any grocery store in America ought to be all the proof you need.

Pumpkin spice cookies. Pumpkin spice marshmallows. Pumpkin spice cereal. Pumpkin spice vodka. For crying out loud, there are even pumpkin spice cough drops, and I’d be shocked if we aren’t a few years away from somebody selling pumpkin spice deodorant, pumpkin spice mouthwash, or pumpkin spice family planning products. So profound the impact of that one Starbucks beverage that, 14 years after the humble PSL was first introduced, the entire Halloween season has now become hardly anything more than a three-month bombardment of all things pumpkin spicy.

Although it’s fun to trudge through/lament the avalanche of PSL-inspired snack foods, the conversation inevitably leads back to the original beverage. While the PSL has been commercially offered in bottled form as a limited-time-only Frappuccino for several years now, Starbucks hasn’t offered the PSL as a one-and-done, glass bottled solo shot until this fall. Unfortunately, the big retail debut of arguably the most imitated foodstuff of the century isn’t exactly the cafe-to-store shelves success we were hoping for.

First, the good news. The bottle itself – with that nice ocher tone and regal lettering – is downright beautiful. Secondly, the scent on this sucker is pretty much a dead ringer for the “real” PSL. And thirdly, the latte’s aftertaste – that milky goulash of nutmeg and cinnamon – is very faithful to the in-cafe drink we all know and love.

Alas, this is still far from a perfect recreation of the classic PSL. There’s too much milk and not enough coffee flavoring, making the whole beverage taste more like a weird Yoo-hoo imitator than a Starbucks drink. And while the ingredients do add up to a more robust, flavorful “pumpkin spice” taste than most PSL-inspired seasonal products, I’m afraid it doesn’t stack up to the “real” stuff.

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte  Bottled 3

The drink feels very watered down and the huge chunks of seasoning are a major turn-off (indeed, I almost choked to death on a nickel-sized wad of nutmeg at the bottom of the glass.) This is a drink designed to be ingested piping hot, with a thick layer of whipped cream atop it – and that’s something that can’t be replicated in a 14-ounce, refrigerated glass vase.

To be fair, it’s a much better grab-and-go PSL drink than most of the bottled pumpkin spice coffees out there, but it nonetheless feels like a pale imitation of, well, itself. As a glorified jug of chocolate milk with artificial pumpkin flavoring, it’s actually quite decent, but as the long, long awaited convenience-store-ready port of THE most copied seasonal beverage out there? It’s pretty hard to consider this iteration of the PSL anything but a disappointment.

(Nutrition Facts – 270 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 45 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 42 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 14 fl. oz.
Purchased at: Flash Foods
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: The container looks classy and dignified. The nutmeg and cinnamon taste is quite authentic. The scent is an almost perfect imitation of the “real” PSL. 
Cons: It tastes more like chocolate milk than coffee. The beverage doesn’t really “work” as a cold drink. Getting huge, pencil shavings-like clumps of seasoning caught in the back of your throat.