REVIEW: KFC Big Boss (Canada)

KFC The BIg Boss 2

When it comes to fast food gimmicks, few items can claim to be quite as successful as KFC’s Double Down, the cheese and bacon sandwich with two pieces of fried chicken as a bun. That thing hit the cultural zeitgeist like nobody’s business, and for a while there it seemed like everyone was talking about it.

It was with that in mind, I’m sure, that KFC Canada introduced the Big Boss, which is essentially a Big Mac, but with fried chicken patties instead of beef. It’s a tantalizing proposition that sounds just crazy enough to be delicious.

If you’ve had a Big Mac, then you know exactly what to expect: the shredded lettuce, pickles, onions, Thousand Island-esque special sauce, the three layers of bun, and the single slice of cheese. It’s literally a Big Mac with fried chicken instead of beef; KFC has done nothing to shake up the flavours to make it more chicken-appropriate.

I was actually pretty excited to try the Big Boss. I like excessive novelty sandwiches more than I should probably admit. You wanna replace the bun in a hamburger with grilled cheese sandwiches? Yeah, I’ll eat that! Wanna add more patties than any reasonable burger should contain? Sure, I’ll try it. Replace the bun with fried chicken? I’m all over that.

So it is with no small amount of sadness that I must report that the Big Boss is not particularly good.

KFC The Big Boss

The first thing I noticed was that this was maybe the most haphazardly-assembled sandwich I’ve ever been served at a fast food joint. I was planning on cutting it in half so I could get a picture of the midsection, but the whole thing was so precarious that I was honestly afraid that it would crumble into pieces if I messed with it too much. But of course, you can’t expect anything too pristine from a place like KFC; what really matters is the taste.

The patties are similar to what you’d find in a Big Crunch, but thinner. The breading is standard KFC fare, and it’s expectedly tasty. But man, the chicken itself is absurdly dry. It is surprisingly, unpleasantly dry. I’m not sure if it’s the thinness of the chicken or what, but it is considerably more dry than a standard KFC Big Crunch patty.

Compounding the dryness issue was the surfeit of bread which, like the chicken, was weirdly dry. I think it might have been a little bit stale, or maybe it was microwaved? I have a hard time accounting for how it got so dry. The lack of moisture from the sandwich itself certainly didn’t help matters.

My first few bites were just a punishing mass of dry chicken, bread, and unmelted cheese, not dissimilar in texture to trying to eat a handful of saltines. Things improved somewhat once I hit a pocket of sauce, onions, and pickles around the centre of the sandwich. Even then, this just made me long for the comparative magnificence of a Big Mac, as the sauce tasted almost identical to Mac sauce. I like Big Macs well enough, but it’s pretty much the greatest thing I’ve ever eaten compared to this ill-advised monstrosity of a sandwich.

I got unlucky, with a sandwich that appeared as though it had been assembled by an arthritic chimp. But even if it had been picture perfect, I still don’t think it would have been particularly good. The flavours just never cohere in any meaningful way. Beef and chicken are two very different things; just because something works with one, doesn’t mean it’s going to work with the other.

Sadly, the Big Boss is more conversation piece than viable sandwich. I’m sure a lot of people will try it, just out of sheer curiosity (the “LOLWTF a Big Mac with fried chicken patties!” factor), but I can’t imagine many will order it a second time. It’s pretty bad.

(Nutrition Facts – 600 calories, 30 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 900 grams of sodium, 53 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fibre, 7 grams of sugar, 29 grams of protein.)

Item: KFC Big Boss (Canada)
Purchased Price: $4.99 CAN
Size: N/A
Purchased at: KFC
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Tasty breading on the chicken patties. Sauce tastes a lot like a Big Mac’s.
Cons: Dry chicken. Dry bread. Dry overload. Unmelted cheese. Big Mac flavours taste incongruous with chicken. Messy if not assembled properly. Makes the ghost of Colonel Sanders cry.

QUICK REVIEW: Lean Cuisine Morning Collection Wild Blueberry & Pomegranate Oatmeal

Lean Cuisine Morning Collection Wild Blueberry & Pomegranate Oatmeal

Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 2 pack
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Filling. Great…if you’re desperate. Makes a decent hand warmer. Warms my innards. Low fat. Contains ingredients I can easily pronounce.
Cons: Provides just 2 grams of fiber (competing products offer 5 grams and fast food oatmeal offers at least 5 grams). Blueberry flavor is too mild. Pomegranate flavor is non-existent. End result after following microwaving instructions looks like I melted Grimace. Not a very good way to start one’s morning.

Lean Cuisine Morning Collection Wild Blueberry & Pomegranate Oatmeal Closeup

Nutrition Facts: 160 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 2.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 220 milligrams of potassium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Nabisco Wasabi & Soy Sauce Brown Rice Triscuit Thin Crisps

Nabisco Wasabi & Soy Sauce Brown Rice Triscuit Thin Crisps

Once upon a time there was a cracker called Triscuit. It was wheat, oil, and salt. And for 50 years people liked it…allegedly.

Look, I’m not hear to disparage the tastes of those from the Greatest Generation. As far as I’m concerned, if you kick the Nazis asses and rise out of the Great Depression, you’ve more than earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to what you consider good eats. These days though, I’m glad we have more than a few Triscuit flavors and other crackers to crunch. Rosemary and olive oil, caraway and dill, sundried tomato and basil—seriously, just give me some aged cheese and I’m ready to go to town.

Or not.

Triscuit’s latest crackers, the Wasabi & Soy Sauce Thin Crisps made with brown rice, don’t exactly lend themselves to cheese pairings. But one would think the pungent and salty double-whammy of wasabi and soy sauce would provide more than enough flavor to render toppings unnecessary. Good thing? The jury was out as I stared down the cracker box in my local grocery store with echoes of bygone Super Bowl beer commercials reverberating through my noggin. But clearly this cracker dared to go where few mainstream crackers have gone before, and I knew I had to try it.

Nabisco Wasabi & Soy Sauce Brown Rice Triscuit Thin Crisps 3

I’ve previously been intrigued by the crunch of the newer versions of Brown Rice Triscuits, but this is the first time the company has offered it in a Thin Crisps variety. The box claims the wasabi and soy sauce combination will deliver a “deeply intense flavor experience.”

It doesn’t.

I know this because I could stuff a handful of the crisps in my mouth and not make that face Steve Spurrier makes when his team fails to convert on third down. Also known as my Wasabi Face, it typically involves a momentary cessation of all vital breathing functions, an inward suction of the cheeks and lips, and, most importantly, a slight head shake in acknowledgement of the sinus-clearing capacity of wasabi paste.

Nabisco Wasabi & Soy Sauce Brown Rice Triscuit Thin Crisps 5

Because I go balls to the walls when I eat crackers, I made sure to measure the relative intensity of a handful of crisp against a single crisp topped with a dollop of actual Wasabi paste and a drizzle of soy sauce. Long story short, I instantly cleared up any nasal congestion by eating the latter crisp. I couldn’t say that about the former, although I did save my face from quite a bit of contorting.

Truth be told, I could appreciate having the flavor of wasabi in a cracker without having to subject myself to the physical effects of actual wasabi. Making a constipated face isn’t exactly how one envisions his or herself during the social occasions that oftentimes feature crackers, and in the modest flavor of the wasabi, in tandem with a subtle toasted brown rice sweetness, I found a happy snacking medium. Nevertheless, I do wish the soy sauce flavor had more pop, both in terms of its saltiness and that umami savoriness which makes it such a natural compliment to rice. It’s just not there, and if anything, I found the crackers to be slightly sweet instead of moderately, but pleasantly, salty.

Speaking of rice, while I appreciate the crunch on each crisp, the decibel level created within your noggin from each bite is incredibly distracting. Those who struggle with multitasking may wish to use caution, as chewing the Thin Crisps is not advised while listening to significant others speaking and/or operating heavy machinery. On second thought, these might actually come in handy…

Triscuit’s Wasabi & Soy Sauce Thin Crisps are a daring flavor for a mainstream cracker brand that has almost become synonymous as nothing more than a vehicle for cheese. But like most steps out of the familiar confines of our snacking comfort zone, the new crisps play it safe enough not to blow anyone’s head off with the intensity of their flavor.

(Nutrition Facts – 10 crackers or 30g – 130 calories, 25 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams polyunsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 180 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Nabisco Wasabi & Soy Sauce Brown Rice Triscuit Thin Crisps
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 7.6 oz. box
Purchased at: Weis Markets
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Good change of pace from regular old boring Triscuit flavor. Brown rice has subtle toasted sweetness. Wasabi flavor without causing looks of constipation and third down futility. Whole grains.
Cons: Soy sauce flavor is weak. Wasabi flavor lacks nasal-clearing pungency of actual wasabi paste. Asian flavor profile kills the usual the cheese and cracker vibe with Triscuit. Makes a loud ass noise inside your head when you chew.

REVIEW: Tim Hortons Pretzel Bagel

Tim Hortons Pretzel Bagel 1

I think I’ve mentioned before that, despite being a Canadian and thus being obligated to love Tim Hortons, I’m just not a big fan. That’s not to say that I hate the place, but I don’t drink coffee, and there are only a handful of their doughnuts that I actually enjoy (including the tragically departed Walnut Crunch — good night sweet prince; you were too beautiful for this world).

I won’t even go into their savoury foods, which I will charitably describe as hit-and-miss.

So it was with some trepidation that I tried their pretzel bagel. It seems like an odd idea, though soft pretzels are already somewhat bagel-like, so it’s actually not such a weird amalgamation. Pretzels and bagels are even prepared in a similar way; in each case, the dough is boiled before baking.

I tried it a couple of ways. The signage for the bagel says to try it with their new mustard spread (described on the bill, oddly, as “Mustard Butter”). So I ate the first one in the store, toasted and spread with the mustard.

Tim Hortons Pretzel Bagel 2

I also took a couple home to try plain; this is where the bagel really shined. Fresh, with a lightly crisp exterior and a chewy interior, it is addictive. I tore off a piece of one in the car just to see what it tasted like plain, and it was so good that I wound up eating the entire thing right there and then. It basically tastes like a really good soft pretzel, but with a bit more heft.

The toasted bagel didn’t fare quite as well. The toasting turns the lightly crisp exterior full-out crunchy, and makes the bagel’s interior less chewy and more fluffy. It becomes a different beast altogether, and one I didn’t enjoy nearly as much. I also think all the rock salt fell off in the toaster; the untoasted ones had quite a bit on top (which added a welcome punch of flavour), but the toasted one was pretty much naked.

As for the mustard spread, it had a buttery, weakly mustardy flavour that was far too mild to make much of an impact. Maybe it would have worked if there had been about double the amount, but as it was it was pretty useless.

If you’re a fan of soft pretzels, this is a complete no-brainer. I can pretty much guarantee you’ll like it. Skip the mustard and skip the toasting; just order the bagel as-is and take a bite. You’ll thank me later. It’s basically like a pretzel and a bagel had a baby in the best way possible, and it’s quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever had from Tim Hortons.

(Nutrition Facts – Bagel – 310 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 780 milligrams of sodium, 61 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fibre, 4 grams of sugar, 10 grams of protein. Mustard Spread (12 grams) – 60 calories, 6 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 85 milligrams of sodium, and 0.2 grams of protein,.)

Item: Tim Hortons Pretzel Bagel
Purchased Price: $1.19 CAN
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Tim Hortons
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Lightly crisp exterior. Delightfully chewy, flavourful interior. Tastes like a really good soft pretzel.
Cons: Toasting kind of ruins it. Mustard spread has a weak flavour and is completely superfluous. The Walnut Crunch is gone (this has nothing to do with this bagel, it’s more of a general life con).

QUICK REVIEW: Taco Bell XXL Steak Crispy Taco

Taco Bell XXL Crispy Steak Taco

Purchased Price: $3.89*
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Holy cow there’s a lot of steak in this taco. Steak is easy to chew; no tough parts. Taco shell seemed sturdier than Taco Bell’s regular taco shell. It’s noticeably larger than a regular Taco Bell Crunchy Taco. Surprisingly filling. To be honest, it kind of makes me wish there was a XXL Doritos Locos Taco.
Cons: Reduced fat sour cream dampens the avocado ranch sauce’s flavor, making the whole taco taste a bit boring. Steak itself didn’t have much flavor. Because of its size, it needed two Taco Bell sauce packets to give it better flavor. Like with the Taco Supreme, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese fall out too easily.

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did.

Taco Bell XXL Crispy Steak Taco Closeup

Nutrition Facts: 430 calories, 220 calories from fat, 25 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 680 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 24 grams of protein.