REVIEW: Burger King Spicy Chicken Fries

I’m not sure chicken fries are a product that anyone was really asking for. No one eats chicken tenders and then says, “You know, I’d like these to be thinner. A lot thinner.” At least, I’m pretty sure no one does; you do you.

Needless to say, I was skeptical about the potential appeal here with Burger King’s new Spicy Chicken Fries. I expected them to be dry little strips of chicken fried to oblivion, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I am enough of a fried food enthusiast that sometimes, I actually like over-fried food in a masochistic sort of way. But I wasn’t expecting anything that would be good in any sort of objective sense of the word.

However, after getting these out of their paper carton, adorned with a scowling cartoon chicken (unlike the non-spicy chicken fries, which feature a happier chicken), I took my first bite. My first immediate thought was that I wished the serving size was bigger, which pretty much tells you all you need to know right there. But I am supposed to write more than a few sentences, so I guess I should carry on.

The spice level is just about perfect. These things are about as spicy as the (excellent) Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Nuggets, or perhaps just a tad spicier. It’s a zingy kind of spicy that stops just short of making your nose run. If you want something really spicy that’s going to give you a Nashville Hot Chicken kind of feeling, these are not going to do it, but let’s be realistic: nobody goes to Burger King looking for that kind of experience. That said, if you paired these with the quite good BK Mexican Chicken Sandwich I reviewed just a few months ago, it would be a lovely meal for a spice fan.

Perhaps more important than the spice level is the chicken, which is really moist and flavorful. A lot of fried chicken products are dry (like, say, oh I don’t know, DAIRY QUEEN — you know what you did, DQ. Stick to ice cream.) But these are just perfectly moist little mouthfuls that have real chicken flavor, not just that generic, salty fast-food-protein flavor.

The breading is interesting: it’s more like the breading you get on a mozzarella stick than a chicken nugget or tender, which works nicely. But to be honest, I barely noticed the outside shell when I was eating. Logically I know that the spicy flavor comes from the outside layer, but beyond contributing spice, the grainy breading stands back and lets you go to Happy Succulent Chicken Land without getting in your way.

I did not think to try the fries with any of the sauces, but honestly, I think that would be a waste. These things don’t need anything else.

Do you know what would be awesome, though? If BK made these spicy chicken fries in a larger, chicken tender format and really entered the competitive fried chicken world. Give KFC a run for its money, BK. I’ll be rooting for you.

Purchased Price: $3.69
Size: 9 pieces
Rating: 10 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 250 calories, 14 grams of fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 750 mg sodium, 17 grams carbohydrates, 40 milligrams cholesterol, 0 grams sugar, 1 gram fiber, and 14 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dairy Queen Churro Dipped Cone

Successfully purchasing Dairy Queen’s new Churro Dipped Cone involved facing my two biggest fast food fears. On my first attempt, Dairy Queen had run completely out of what I’d come all the way there to get. On my second, I endured several awkward moments of blank stares from an employee who’d never heard of what I was ordering and had to confirm its existence through a lengthy chat with his manager. Fortunately, I was ultimately able to claim my prize, a big (seriously, am I the only one who didn’t realize just HOW large Dairy Queen’s “large” size is?), beautiful, rust-colored confection.

After all that hubbub, the Churro Dipped Cone — Dairy Queen’s classically curvaceous vanilla soft serve outfitted with a new churro-flavored shell — tasted like victory. It also tasted like, well, a churro. Sort of? It was certainly sweet and cinnamon-y (an apple cider donut was actually the first baked good it reminded me of, though maybe it’s just because I’ve had one recently), with a particularly zesty aftertaste thanks to the smattering of actual cinnamon sugar that coats the coating. But since it’s just churro-inspired without featuring any actual churro pieces, the classic crunchy texture is lacking. Though that’s not to suggest that the churro coating doesn’t have a lovely texture of its own! It was so thick that each time I bit off a flake, I was rewarded with an audible THUNK, and the ensuing experience of chomping into each hefty shard and savoring the sweetness and hint of spice as it melted in my mouth was wonderful.

Aesthetics-wise, I also appreciate that my cone didn’t look too uncannily perfect. The method behind DQ’s dipping madness involves dunking a naked vanilla cone into a vat of liquid which then solidifies around it into the iconic crisp coating. That means that each Churro Dipped Cone is unique, like the snowflakes that were fittingly falling around me as I sampled my seasonally inappropriate dessert. Mine certainly didn’t have the most even application, alternating between visibly thicker layers and bald patches with no coating at all. Those had the side effect of making it particularly messy to eat since, as the ice cream melted, droplets started gushing out through the gaps and all over my hands. I’m thankful the Dairy Queen employee had way more foresight than I did and provided me with a large bundle of napkins, all of which got used!

Prying off a bit of churro shell or lapping up some stray ice cream dribbles is all well and good, but my biggest gripe is what happened when I ambitiously tried to capture both elements in the same mouthful. The coldness of the ice cream immediately overpowered the mild flavor of the coating, suddenly rendering the subtle churro notes more or less tasteless. Dairy Queen’s vanilla ice cream is top-notch – rich, sweet, and creamy. It hits all the notes you’d expect and about as well as you could expect it to, but it wasn’t what I intended or expected to be the star of the churro show.

All in all, this tasty treat is as good an excuse to make a Dairy Queen run as any, but I’m not sure it will satisfy any actual churro cravings.

Purchased Price: $4.08
Size: Large
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 630 calories, 28 grams of fat, 22 grams of saturated fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 682 grams of carbohydrates (EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the number on the DQ website, the medium has 40 grams so it’s probably 68 grams), 62 gram of sugar, and 12 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Haagen-Dazs Butter Cookie Cones

Haagen-Dazs was a staple in my household growing up, but I was always dismayed that it was Rum Raisin. But that’s what Mom liked, so that’s what we got!

Fast forward decades later, I usually have Haagen-Dazs’ Vanilla Milk Chocolate Almond Ice Cream Bars stocked in my freezer. It reminds me of a Drumstick, but fancy and without the cone. I share my journey with Haagen-Dazs as it entirely influences what I thought of its new Butter Cookie Cones.

This frozen novelty foray is commendable, especially since Haagen-Dazs launched not one, not two, but four flavors out the gate. But at $8.99 for a box of four, it won’t replace my usual bars.

Which four flavors, you ask? My 8-year-old self was very pleased that there was no Rum Raisin version. The “Butter Cookie Cone Collection” (Haagen-Dazs’ fancy website words, not mine) consists of the following:

Chocolate: Chocolate ice cream and chocolate fudge sauce, topped with chocolate curls and cookie pieces.

Strawberry: Strawberry ice cream and a tangy raspberry sauce, topped with white chocolate curls and cookie pieces.

Coffee: Coffee ice cream and espresso fudge sauce, topped with roasted almonds and cookie pieces.

Vanilla: Vanilla ice cream and a caramel sauce, topped with chocolate curls and cookie pieces.

Biting into the fancy curls and pieces actually reminded me of how much I enjoy eating Talenti Gelato Layers. Like Layers, the rich and creamy ice cream was a nice backdrop for all the pops of texture and added flavors from the toppings and cones.

Speaking of the fancy cone, it had the pasty look of an untoasted Pop-Tarts pastry than a golden butter cookie. Unlike Pop-Tarts, though, it was much thicker and didn’t have that same crumbly nature. It had more of a shortbread snap to it. I could bite into it easily, but I found it plain tasting. Most of its flavor came from the chocolate lining that went down into the bottom of the cone, probably to help prevent sogginess, like a Drumstick. Even though the cone was a bit plain, the most delightful bite of all the flavors ended up being the chocolatey tip/end of the cone.

I was also pleasantly surprised that the sauces were piped into the middle. So, halfway through the ice cream biting, I got either chocolate fudge, raspberry sauce, espresso fudge, or caramel sauce, which added another layer to the eating experience.

The vanilla flavor was like eating a Drumstick with a glow up. It was far from boring with the caramel sauce in the middle and cookie pieces! I usually order vanilla from ice cream shops because you can’t hide behind inclusions, and if a place has good vanilla ice cream, you know it’s legit! So, while I couldn’t confirm with my taste buds that this was made with Madagascar vanilla, it was smooth and luxurious, thus signaling high quality to me!

I experienced this same quality with the milk chocolate ice cream. Also, while the chocolate-lined cone had a chocolate base with chocolate fudge sauce and chocolate curls, they were varying degrees of cacao, so it didn’t taste one-note. The different depths of chocolate and the textures from the toppings kept things interesting.

My favorite was the strawberry one. The tanginess of the raspberry sauce and the sweet strawberry ice cream really mimicked a fresh red berry. With the cookie butter cone added into the mix, it was almost like eating a strawberry shortcake (with a touch of milk chocolate from the cone).

I had the coffee one last because I didn’t want it to take over my taste buds and cause the other flavors to taste muted. But it was more latte-like with cream and sugar rather than straight coffee, so my initial concern was not an issue. This was the only flavor with nuts, but while they were clearly almonds, they ate more like peanuts because they were a bit less crunchy than I expected. The espresso fudge was a lovely decadent touch and brought out more coffee flavor.

The back of their packages read, “Deliciousness unlike anything you ever tasted before.” They were indeed elevated, but worth $8.99 a box? The jury is out on that one, but it definitely piqued my interest. If Haagen-Dazs sold some single serve cones out in the wild, I’d get another, but I don’t want these boxes taking up precious ice cream bar space in my freezer!

Purchased Price: $8.99 per box
Size: 14.8 oz (four cones per box)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Vanilla), 7 out of 10 (Chocolate), 8 out of 10 (Strawberry), 7 out 10 (Coffee)
Nutrition Facts: (1 cone) Vanilla – 280 calories, 16 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 22 grams of total sugars (14 grams of added sugar), and 4 grams of protein. Chocolate – 300 calories, 17 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 100 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 22 grams of total sugars (14 grams of added sugar), and 4 grams of protein. Strawberry – 270 calories, 15 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 100 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 21 grams of total sugars (11 grams of added sugar), and 4 grams of protein. Coffee – 280 calories, 16 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 100 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 19 grams of total sugars (15 grams of added sugar), and 4 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Hershey’s Milklicious Kisses

How would you respond if I asked, “Would you like a Milklicious Kiss?”

I imagine you’d recoil in disgust and scream, “No!”

What if I told you a “Milklicious Kiss” was the newest variety of Hershey’s Kisses? Would that change your mind?

Still “no?” For real?

I’m not gonna lie; I kinda expected you all to say “yes” to that. Why not? Is it me? Did I come across too creepy or something? Was I too… ya know what, whatever, I’m gonna review them anyway.

So, what exactly is “Milklicious,” besides something Michelangelo would refer to an extra cheesy pizza as? “Milklicious” basically means these Kisses have a “creamy chocolate milk filling.” They’re Chocolate Milk flavored Kisses.

I guess “Chocolate Milk” would get confused with “Milk Chocolate,” and thus folks would think these are just standard Kisses in a new bag. They’re not though. They’re a reinvention of Hershey’s Kisses, and they’re far superior.

These are creamier, milkier, melt-in-your-mouth Kisses. And yeah, that also sounds kinda gross out of context. I realize it’s tough to write about the milkiness of something called a “kiss.” I feel like a McPoyle sibling. There’s a reference for nobody.

Anyway, I think Hershey nails the taste of smooth chocolate milk here. They’re softer and more airy than regular Kisses. How would you like an airy kiss?! Aight, enough of that.

I feel like American chocolatiers don’t really provide many smooth and airy products, so I found that to be a pleasant surprise. Actually, I think the texture and mouthfeel of these lean towards European chocolate more than anything Hershey puts out. I could have been convinced this was Milka or even a non-Hershey-owned Cadbury if not for the shape.

That being said, the brand I landed on after popping a dozen or so was Dove. Dove is an American brand, but they make a much silkier chocolate than Hershey’s.

The package makes it seem like the middle is similar to a Lindt truffle ball, but it’s just a lighter hunk of tan chocolate. It might as well be soft though, because these melt like those little Dove squares and don’t last very long in your mouth.

Look, if someone from Switzerland tried these, I’m sure they’d laugh at my review, but for a dumb American such as myself, I think this is quality chocolate. The cow on the package tells us these are “Yummm,” and who could argue with that?

Like I said, these are a complete reinvention of the Hershey Kiss. I think Milklicious should be the standard and then sell the regular ones as “Classic” or something because these are just flat-out better. I’d love to somehow try this type of Hershey’s chocolate in bar form.

These are winners. In fact, I think Milklicious Kisses should win the prestigious “Best Kiss” Moonman at the MTV Whatever They Call Them These Days Awards. Tough break, The Kissing Booth 7, but there’s a new champion in town.

Purchased Price: $4.34
Size: 9 oz
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (7 pieces) 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 45 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, <1 gram of fiber, 17 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Caramel Cold Brew M&M’s

Can you ever have too much coffee and chocolate? M&M’s doesn’t think so, and the brand rarely steers me wrong. I recently reviewed and loved Espresso M&M’s, so another coffee-flavored variety came as a welcome surprise to this candy fiend. This time, the flavor inspiration is Caramel Cold Brew, represented in the milk chocolate M&M’s through coffee flavor and a chewy caramel center.

(For coffee novices, cold brew is made by steeping coarse ground coffee beans in cool water for long periods of time. The resulting concentrate is diluted with water or milk and can be served cool or hot with various flavorings. For coffee aficionados, the ingredients list includes natural and artificial flavoring, so I can’t speak to what extent the cold brewing process was honored during the production of these M&M’s. Rage as you must.)

Even though caramel filling is not new to M&M’s, I was surprised to find the chewy center rather than a caramel-flavored chocolate core. I do not think of texture when I think of cold brew. If you are chewing your cold brew, you might want to double check the expiration date of the milk you added to it.

Luckily, chewy caramel centers are delicious, so I couldn’t hold the choice against the M&M’s. Also, the caramel appears to be doing double duty here by holding the coffee flavor. The milk chocolate tastes like the standard chocolate component of a Plain or Peanut M&M, while the caramel has a robust, bitter-edged coffee flavor. I determined this after several rounds of carefully nibbling the chocolate off one M&M, then tasting its center separately. This process made me look like a hamster cracking apart a sunflower seed with its wee teeth, but that’s showbiz, baby.

However you eat Caramel Cold Brew M&M’s, the experience is interesting. There is an initial strong burst of coffee flavor that pairs beautifully with the chocolate and caramel. As you work the caramel center, the coffee taste fades, and the buttery glory of the caramel takes over, retaining a hint of coffee flavor. If you asked me to guess, I would have wondered if the world had been granted Kettle Corn M&M’s. The hint of coffee deeply flavors the caramel and gives it a brown butter or toffee vibe that lasts for most of the eating experience. The caramel paradoxically provides and dilutes the coffee flavor, but I guess I’d rather have my coffee diluted by caramel than by an ice cube that could sink the Titanic.

That initial coffee burst, though, removes all doubt of the product’s intention. The coffee aftertaste is also really strong, as though I spent all day drowning my sorrows in my favorite cafe, which I’m not scheduled to do until later in the week.

Like Caramel M&M’s, these candies are on the larger side and come in a rainbow of colors (no coffee-colored shells here). If you love that product, the enhanced flavor of Caramel Cold Brew M&M’s will pep you up come snack time or coffee break.

Purchased Price: $4.69
Size: 9.05 oz (256.6 g) stand up pouch
Purchased at:
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 1 oz serving, or about 11 candies) 130 calories, 5 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 45 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.