REVIEW: Dunkin’ Donuts Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut and Gingerbread Cookie Donut

Dunkin Donuts Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut and Gingerbread Cookie Donut 1

There are a few jobs I hope I never have. Aside from everything Mike Rowe has tried, Santa’s personal chef and copyeditor for his Naughty and Nice List come to mind. Also, the guy who has to develop “new” holiday-themed products for fast food chains.

Between the cookie exchanges, parties, and all those special childhood foods your mom is going to cook for you, there’s a lot of pressure to efficiently maximize your calories. If I’m going to eat a donut during December, I don’t want to waste my time on some plebeian attempt to deconstruct hot chocolate in cruller form.

So consider this an early Christmas present — taking one for the team so you don’t have to feel massive guilt (in addition to feeling massive) for scarfing down holiday flavors that may or may not fall in the “meh” spectrum of taste.

Dunkin Donuts Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut and Gingerbread Cookie Donut 2

Dunkin’ Donut’s new Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut combines sugar cookie and chocolate chip cookie flavors, which, when you think about it, is sort of like the cookie version of Chrismukkah.

Oddly enough, the combo works, even though the cookie dough-flavored filling doesn’t taste much like cookie dough. Actually, I’m not quite sure what it tastes like. Brownish sugar, maybe? Whatever it is it’s not bad, but the real star of the donut is the frosted sugar cookie crumble topping. It’s like a hybrid of vanilla Chex, puppy chow, and streusel topping.

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Overall, the cookie crumbles give the usual (if not underrated) combo of white icing and airy donut an extra level of yumminess.

Sadly, the Gingerbread Cookie Donut doesn’t have the same level of yumminess. While the gingerbread cookie topping has a strong gingerbread flavor, the pieces are stale, as if they’re from a box of ginger snap cookies that’s been open since 2012.

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I have a friend who swears by salted caramel vodka, which sounds disgusting. However, after trying the caramel frosting I’ll have to down a fifth to get the sticky cloying taste out of my mouth. It’s not the most inauthentic caramel taste in the world, but it lacks any depth and tastes of nothing but sugar.

I tend to treat donuts by the pizza maxim (even when bad, they’re good) but the Gingerbread Cookie Donut comes close to legitimately sucking, meaning it’s frankly a toss-up between it and a piece of fruitcake.

All things considered, Dunkin’s new holiday-themed donuts are a mixed bag, like your childhood stocking filled with candy but also socks. Still, for as bad as the Gingerbread Cookie Donut is, the Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut might be good enough to leave out for Santa, if you don’t eat it first.

(Nutrition Facts – Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut – 420 calories, 21 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 410 milligrams of sodium, 52 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of dietary fiber, 30 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein. Gingerbread Cookie Donut – 310 calories, 17 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 360 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of dietary fiber, 14 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.09 (each)
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut)
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Gingerbread Cookie Donut)
Pros: Sugar Cookie Donut topping is one of the better toppings I’ve had on a Dunkin’ donut. Good quality freshness in donut bases.
Cons: Gingerbread cookie topping is as stale as your great uncle’s Christmas jokes. Cookie dough filling doesn’t really taste like cookie dough. Caramel frosting is cloying and out-of-place.

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.

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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.

QUICK REVIEW: Baskin-Robbins Tiramisu Ice Cream

Baskin Robbins Tiramisum Ice Cream

Bucking the ho ho ho-hum trend of cramming peppermint or gingerbread into every new or limited flavor this time of year, Baskin-Robbins’ November Flavor of the Month is Tiramisu. Tiramisu-flavored ice cream is filled with pound cake pieces, a chocolate mocha ribbon, and chocolate flakes.

Coffee is unabashedly the dominant flavor in this dish, emanating a distinct smell and exercising as much subtlety as a Targaryen barbecue. The tiramisu-flavored ice cream base seems enjoyable on its own, but I had difficulty isolating it from the generous mocha ribbon.

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Unfortunately, this proves to be too much of a good thing as a coffee-flavored ribbon in a coffee-flavored base leaves a somewhat bitter aftertaste and feels as unnecessary as taking a dip in Goo Lagoon when you already live in a pineapple under the sea.

It also creates a problem for the semi-sweet chocolate flakes which add a nice snap but fail to punch up the chocolate notes enough to stand out despite decent representation. Meanwhile, the scarce pound cake pieces are relegated to merely providing a pleasant spongy texture as their flavor is completely overshadowed by the coffee.

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Perhaps the rich buttery essence of a mascarpone swirl would have resulted in a more balanced and authentic flavor than the coffee overload created by the mocha ribbon.

I like a bold coffee-flavored chocolate ice cream, and this certainly fits that bill; it just isn’t the iconic, layered taste experience you know and love in ice cream form. This rendition of tiramisu is as authentic to its Italian heritage as a Brooklyn plumber riding a dinosaur.

Baskin-Robbins says a 4 oz. scoop has 26 milligrams of caffeine.

Purchased Price: $2.79
Size: Large scoop (4 oz.)
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (Small Scoop) 260 calories, 13 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 125 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 24 grams of sugar, 1 gram of dietary fiber, and 5 grams of protein..

REVIEW: Burger King Farmhouse King

Burger King Farmhouse King
 
Usually when you order a fast food burger the product is considerably smaller than the item advertised. In the case of Burger King’s Farmhouse King, however, it’s just the opposite – as soon as the cashier handed me the bag, I thought they had accidentally dropped a napkin dispenser in there.

Be forewarned, the Farmhouse King is not for the faint of heart. Packing in a monstrous 1,220 calories, it surpasses the calorie count of Arby’s Meat Mountain sandwich. Indeed, this item could be considered the breakfast version of Arby’s aforementioned Noah’s Ark Sammich (since it pretty much contained two of each animal under its buns.)

We’ve got nearly a pound of burger going on here. That includes about half a pound of flame-kissed beef in the form of two Whopper patties, plus a heaping helping of smoked bacon, plus a double shot of melted American cheese, plus a handful of crispy onions and – the kicker – a fried egg capping the whole thing off like an angel atop a Christmas tree. And underneath the toasted sesame seed buns you’ve got a smattering of ketchup and BK’s proprietary “creamy sauce,” which to me, tastes a lot like honey BBQ sauce.

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Needless to say, this stuff is intense. All by itself it makes up more than half of one’s recommended daily allowance of calories, and with more than 2,000 milligrams of sodium, it does constitute an entire day’s worth of USDA-approved salt intake. That said, it’s undeniably a yummy novelty burger, and if absolutely nothing else, one of the most filling single-serve fast food items in recent memory.

I suppose the first question most people would ask is whether the addition of the egg improves or worsens the product. To be perfectly honest, the taste of the egg itself is pretty hard to distinguish from the goulash of meats and sauce, which ultimately coalesces into this extremely tasty medley of BBQ sauce, beef, bacon, and onion (which, for whatever reason, most fast food places describe as “Western”). I mean, if you really focus you can pick up the yolky aftermath, but it’s nowhere near as prominent as you’d imagine. I wouldn’t go as far as to say the egg is superfluous, but it’s certainly downplayed once you start chowin’ down.

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If you’re looking for a satiating sandwich, unless you’re a world class competitive eater, this sucker ought to have you down for the count. About halfway through my sandwich I was getting winded and by the time I finished the last bite, full-fledged the itis had set in. In hindsight, it wouldn’t surprise me if that BK “secret sauce” was actually Nyquil-laced Thousand Island dressing.

I wouldn’t want to down a Farmhouse King every week, but for a one-time, super-gluttonous fast food treat it’s downright marvelous. But if you’re going to eat it, be prepared; not only are you going to need a small army of napkins, you better have a pillow handy, too.

(Nutrition Facts – 1,220 calories, 720 calories from fat, 80 grams of fat, 28 grams of saturated fat, 3 grams of trans fat, 335 milligrams of cholesterol, 2050 milligrams of sodium, 62 grams of carbohydrates, 15 grams of sugar, and 63 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $6.29
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: The beef, bacon, cheese, onion and BBQ sauce medley is downright delicious. It WILL fill you up. the egg taste is subtle, yet distinct.
Cons: The price point is pretty steep. Some might find the egg flavor too downplayed. Eating the sandwich at noon and having a duel to the death with The Sandman until 5 p.m. rolls around.

REVIEW: Arby’s Deep Fried Turkey Club Sandwich

Arby s Deep Fried Turkey Club 1

Among the many achievements in mankind’s endless appetite for culinary innovation, I tend to think one of the more fun developments has been the deep-fried turkey.

Granted, it’s not an Oreo that tastes like a bowl of Fruity Pebbles, but there’s a combination of country-boy-can survive and backyard science experiment that makes me want to pump my fists, scream “’MERICA!” and make sure I have a fire extinguisher on hand.

Thankfully, I can skip the last part of that equation now that Arby’s has released a line of deep-fried turkey sandwiches, including the Deep Fried Turkey Club.

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Let’s get this out of the way: The Deep Fried Turkey Club doesn’t inspire an initial reaction of mouth-watering gawking. Among the many meat mountains that Arby’s has given us in recent years, it looks comparatively average, with noticeably less stacked meat than Arby’s Grand Turkey Club.

But it tastes better than the Grand Turkey Club, and it all starts with the deep-fried turkey.

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It’s a bit of a clumsy comparison, but the difference is similar to that of Arby’s roast beef and Angus steak. Where Arby’s roast turkey is actually pretty good, it’s still deli meat when you get down to it. The fried turkey, though, is succulent, slightly sweet, and has a wonderful seasoned crust. If someone served this to me at Thanksgiving, I would probably disavow cranberry sauce and gravy. It’s that good on its own.

The rest of the sandwich is top-notch and surprisingly well-balanced despite salt bombs of cheddar and bacon. Less divisive than Arby’s brown sugar bacon, the black pepper bacon adds great crunch and smoke, while the melted cheddar adds a mild creaminess and richness.

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And, where the bun, mayo, and toppings could have ruined the classic club taste, all three elements are executed to near perfection, creating a crisp and clean flavor to cut all the meat and salt. My only complaint was the double dose of mayo on the top and bottom buns, which makes the sandwich a bit too soggy.

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Arby’s release of brisket and pork belly were game changers as far as the fast food universe was concerned. I wouldn’t quite put the fried turkey into that category, but that’s only because a turkey sandwich is always going to be (for better or worse) tied to Thanksgiving. Truth be told, this is a great sandwich, and by far the best turkey sandwich I’ve had from Arby’s.

(Nutrition Facts – 540 calories, 250 calories from fat, 28 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 1620 milligrams of sodium, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 2 gram of dietary fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 34 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.29
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Exceptionally moist and flavorful turkey. Crispy bacon and melted cheddar cheese add quintessential supporting club flavors. Squishy, slightly sweet bun. Enjoying deep fried turkey without the hospital visit.
Cons: Double layer of mayo is excessive. Not the most filling sandwich you could get at Arby’s. Not being able to build your own Derrick

REVIEW: Wendy’s Chicken Tenders and Side of S’awesome

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Wait, chicken tenders are a thing again?

When McDonald’s killed its Chicken Selects in 2015, I could have sworn the burger-centric fast foods chains were done with premium, dippable chicken. But the resurrection of McDonald’s Chicken Selects as Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Tenders seems to have started something a trend. Case in point, Wendy’s feels the need to one-up the Golden Arches with brand new Chicken Tenders and a never-before-seen sauce – Side of S’awesome.

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I’ve eaten a couple hundred pounds of chicken tenders and I can tell you these are decent as far as the all-white meat stuff goes. They lack the kind of succulent, peanut oil-infused flavor of Chick-fil-A’s tenders, and you’re not going to mistake them for Raising Cane’s or Zaxby’s. But the breading is crisp and well seasoned, the chicken isn’t dry, and there are no textural abnormalities like slimy meat or hollow crevasses under the breading.

But the flavor is predictable: the ubiquitous garlic, onion powder, salt, and black pepper mix you’ve probably tasted in dozens of chain restaurant and food service tenders. In other words, unless you’re really into the breading, you’re gonna want something to dip these in.

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I’m assuming Wendy’s came up with the name for their S’awesome Sauce because someone thought it was cool; that or “Spread,” “Fry Sauce,” and “Ed’s Sauce” were already taken. In any case, they should have named it “It’s Alright Sauce” because it’s okay.

Advertised as “tangy, sweet, and smoky,” it has elements of the first two flavors but very little smokiness unless you count the whisper of Worcestershire on the backend. Overall, it trends neither distinctly tangy or sweet, instead finding a mild middle ground which tastes like two parts mayo, one part mustard, and one part ketchup. But it doesn’t pop; it doesn’t wow; it doesn’t make me lick my fingers and declare to my coworkers that this shit is s’awesome.

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Put another way, if dipping is your thing, then you’ll probably want to stick with your usual Wendy’s go-to sauce.

When I saw that McDonald’s brought back chicken tenders, and then Wendy’s followed suit, my first instinct was to ask myself why major fast food chains had deserted them in the first place. But now that I’ve tried Wendy’s new Chicken Tenders, I can’t help notice how ordinary they taste when lined up against the Raising Cane’s, Zaxby’s, and Chick-fil-A’s of the world. And, unfortunately, even a name like S’awesome Sauce can’t hide the fact that the entire combo is average.

(Nutrition Facts – 3 pieces – 300 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams of total fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 920 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugar, 22 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5 combo ($3.49 for order of 3)
Size: 3-piece combo
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Meatier alternative to Wendy’s nuggets. Solid crunch and well seasoned breading. Lower in calories than most chicken tenders.
Cons: S’awesome Sauce is pretty average. Tenders aren’t particularly succulent or juicy. Breading flavor is predictable. $5 combo meal isn’t as good as Dairy Queen’s $5 chicken tenders lunch.