REVIEW: Jamba Juice Eggnog Jubilee Smoothie

Jamba Juice Eggnog Jubilee

Egg nog, or as I like to call it, The Nectar of Fall, is one of the top three things I look forward to during every holiday season.

What are the other two?

Opening presents on Christmas Day? Nope.

Spending time with family and friends? No.

Watching videos on YouTube of Black Friday bargain hunters throwing courtesy and decency out the window as they trample each other to buy cheap crap? Close, but no.

The two other things I look forward to are bragging to people about how I got my Christmas shopping done in November and sitting on the lap of a mall Santa and whispering into his ear, “I’m being naughty right now.”

Jamba Juice has taken The Nectar of Fall and turned it into a smoothie called Eggnog Jubilee. It’s made with a frozen egg nog base, frozen yogurt, and soy milk.

Eggnog Jubilee also comes in a light version with 1/3 less calories, carbs, and sugar. But as all real egg nog lovers know, light ain’t right…and rum makes it fun. Of course, like most commercially produced egg nog, there isn’t any alcohol in Jamba’s Eggnog Jubilee.


The egg nog-ed smoothie is one of two limited time only holiday smoothies Jamba Juice is offering. It joins Pumpkin Smash, which I tried last year and (SPOILER ALERT) I thought was very, very good.

So what about Pumpkin Smash’s creamy companion?

Jamba Juice Eggnog Jubilee Closeup

Eggnog Jubilee is very good, but I’m not sure I can consider its flavor to be egg nog. If I were to ask random people on a crowded sidewalk with a crazed look on my face to sample the Eggnog Jubilee and tell me what it tastes like, almost all of them would decline my offer. But I believe many of those who would be foolish enough to do so would say it tastes like a chai smoothie.

It has the right spices, but it doesn’t taste like Jamba Juice put in the right amounts. At best, I might consider it to be light egg nog-ish, but I really don’t immediately think egg nog while sucking it through a straw. Eggnog Jubilee’s flavor could also be mistaken for a generic holiday spice flavor. My guess is that the use of soy milk could be one of the reasons why its flavor ended up the way it did.

Despite its eggnoglessness, Jamba Juice’s Eggnog Jubilee is a creamy, delicious smoothie that I don’t mind sucking on, even though its flavor isn’t exactly like egg nog and the nearly 100 grams of sugar it contains won’t help me maintain my girlish figure so that I’m light enough to sit on Santa’s lap and whisper into his ear how naughty I’ve been.

(Nutrition Facts – Original – 550 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 380 milligrams of sodium, 109 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 96 grams of sugar, 15 grams of protein, 4% vitamin A, 35% calcium, 4% vitamin C, and 8% iron.)

Item: Jamba Juice Eggnog Jubilee Smoothie
Purchased Price: $5.39
Size: Original
Purchased at: Jamba Juice
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Very good. Creamy. Jamba Juice’s Pumpkin Smash. Finishing Christmas shopping early. Messing with mall Santas. Egg nog.
Cons: It’s light egg nog-ish. Tastes more like chai than egg nog. Available for a limited time. People not being civil on Black Friday.

REVIEW: Stride iD Spearmint Gum

Stride iD Spearmint

Superego. Ego. Id.

According to the haunting wisps of memory remaining from that Psych. 101 class, a punk named Sigmund Freud proposed that these were the three basic levels of consciousness. The ego and superego were said to be little filters for our subconscious, making logical boundaries around impulses and memories, which is dandy if you want to live a safe, secure life, but, really, where’s the fun in logic?

That’s where the id comes in. The id is like the Elmo that walks around Times Square: it doesn’t make much sense, but it doesn’t have to. That’s why we love it. Theoretically, it exists solely on the drive of spontaneity, impulse, and creativity, and, now Stride’s encouraging us to dance about with that kooky subconscious through “iD,” a gum aimed to encourage folks to embrace their identity. Curious of how this might be achieved through a piece of gum, I sought it out.

First off, this packaging harkens recognition. The container itself is ever-so-slightly thinner than regular Stride gum, which gives it that “We just upgraded your iPod” feel. Despite this trim-n-slim package, you still get the same whopping 14 pieces of gum you would in regular Stride.

Stride iD Spearmint Dancers

And just look at that post-unwrapped cover. It makes me wanna embrace my identity. If a two-dimensional man with a fuzzy hat on his head can embrace his creativity, why shouldn’t I? It made me laugh, and, in a world filled with bats and taxes and canned green beans, more laughter is not only called for, but much needed. Supposedly, each package is equipped with a different little work of art, all depicting equally peculiar, quirky scenarios, so laugh on, gum-chewers.

And, just when you think they’ve thrown in every bit of packaging confetti possible, they throw in a pair of magnets.

Yes, folks, magnets.

Stride on Refrigerator!

This means you could stick your pack of gum to your refrigerator (and I know you’ve always wanted to do that…). But what these magnets do best is keep your little 14 sticks nice and snug as a bug in a rug, snapping the package shut so your gum stays buckled in for the long haul. It baffles me in both its simplicity and its brilliance. I call forth a Nobel Prize nomination for the individual responsible for this.

Stride iD Spearmint Closeup

Upon opening a piece, it seems even the gum embraces its own identity as each piece is equipped with a swirly little design to flash about in its big debut.

Having been predisposed to all of this packaging brilliance, my hopes stood on the Mount Kilimanjaro of peaks with anticipatory delight for the chewing to come, so I unwrapped my minty rectangle and gave it a try and…well…


It started off with a spearmint fling, and then traversed into a peculiar fruity realm that didn’t suit well for my taste buds. No doubt, the flavor lasted for a long time, but the tropical aftertaste didn’t sit well with me. I tried everything to like it.

Chewing it walking.

Chewing it upside-down.

Chewing it before I brushed my teeth.

Chewing it after I brushed my teeth.

I even chewed it while doing deep-breathing yoga exercises in which I visualized myself enjoying the gum, but, alas, I couldn’t get past that peculiar aftertaste.

Then, I read the ingredient list and there it was:

Partially Hydrogenated Coconut Oil.

(Cue the tuba: Bwa, bwa, bwaaaa)

They say the sound of a crumbling heart is soft and slow, and I swear I heard my own shoved into the mortar and pestle as I read that line. While I don’t see it being particularly necessary, I didn’t mind the, “partially hydrogenated,” part too much. No doubt some of my sturdy lifetime favorites involve it (Pop Tarts, Oreos, Pillsbury biscuits, etc.), but I must confess I’m not aboard the coconut-flavored train. I suspect this may be the very culprit foiling my taste buds.

While I didn’t particularly dig the taste tunes played by this Stride, I appreciate what’s going on with the gum as a whole. It’s got a soft chew, lasts for a good 10-15 minutes, and has the coolest packaging this side of Jupiter.

Plus, at the end of the day, my taste buds are driven by my impulses, which are part of my id. In this, I felt this gum accomplished what it set out to do: celebrate the creative elements of the id, and that, to me, calls forth an above-average rating for the new gum.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 piece – less than 5 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 1 gram of carbohydrates, 1 gram of sugar alcohol, and less than 0 grams of protein.)

Other Stride iD Spearmint Gum reviews:
Gum Connoisseur

Item: Stride iD Spearmint Gum
Purchased Price: $1.29
Size: 14 pieces
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Long chewing time. Strong flavor. Swirly designs. Magnets. Laughter. Mount Kilimanjaro. Elmo in Times Square. Tubas.
Cons: Not the best if you don’t like coconut. Partially hydrogenated oil. Haunting memories of Psych. 101. Canned green beans.

REVIEW: Lunchables Snackers Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets

Lunchables Snackers Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets

With recent news that the healthy school lunch initiatives undertaken by the First Lady might just be starving our kids, I can imagine quite a few in the K through 12 ranks are contemplating a switchover to the old brown bag lunch. As a former “bringer,” (every day, for 12 straight years, and DAMN PROUD) let me welcome them to the world where anything goes and what your parents pack you very rarely ends up down your gullet.

I’m talking trades, haggling, and straight up bartering for the best goods this side of a 7-Eleven snack aisle.

But before you trade away for old Howie Klinchenstien’s two bags of Cooler Ranch Doritos and Rachel Jimbobberycooters’ Dunkaroos, you’re going to have to equip yourself with some serious hardware. Forget that couscous and marinated mozzarella salad Mom made the other night, and ditch Dad’s homemade crunchy chickpeas with cumin and black pepper. These days, the freaking lunch lady’s can whip up that, and hell if I’m gonna eat something I can’t even pronounce. No, what’s really hot on the middle school lunch trade market right now is a bit more…how should I put this…elicit.

Chicken nuggets are where it’s at. And thanks to Lunchables’ new Snackers Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets, you can not only bring chicken nuggets to your no-fun lunchroom, but you can do so without even having to sneak into the teacher’s lounge to use the microwave.

Lunchables Snackers Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets Closeup

Because the 15 second heating instructions are “optional,” I decided to sample my pre-cooked nuggets both cold and warm. I highly suggest neither option.

After opening the bag, you’ll be greeted by a smell I can only describe as “soggy cafeteria chicken nugget.” Ah, the sweet smell of maltodextrin, corn meal, and reconstituted white meat chicken with rib meat. Tell me, is there anything more American?

Lunchables Snackers Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets Breading

Cold, the nugget breading rubs off on your fingers in a mealy and grainy way that gives new meaning to the time-honored grade school condition known as “you have cooties,” and tastes strongly – and only – of salt and garlic. The chicken is moist, I guess, but moist only in the sense that it came off as a circle of chewy chemicals and stuff that might have once gone “cock-a-doodle-doo.” Despite its name, I definitely didn’t taste any honey or BBQ flavor.

Lunchables Snackers Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets Breading 2

Warmed up, the nuggets are even worse. The breading becomes soggy and oily, covering your fingers in a mealy and wet substance that’ll make you drop more footballs in a recess pick-me-up game than Terrell Owens dropped in his short-lived preseason comeback bid for the Seattle Seahawks. The heated nuggets taste like, well, heated and overly salted pieces of something vaguely chickeny, with little, if any, taste of honey or BBQ. Instead, there are strong generic garlic and cornmeal flavors in the pinkish, orangeish “breading,” which can’t be overcome by ketchup or a dipping sauce alone.

Lunchables Snackers Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets Innards

On a scale on 1 to 10 in terms of the classic middle school lunch tradability matrix, Lunchables Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets score about a negative six. Meaning that if you’ve got a hankering for the lightly salted rice cakes that the girl on the “diet” has or the fishy smelly thing the kid from Thailand always brings to the table, then you’ve got the golden ticket. Otherwise, these little guys keep to the time-honored Lunchables tradition of making actual 1990s cafeteria food look halfway decent, and making us all question how we survived eating that crap.

(Nutrition Facts – 6 nuggets (85 g) – 180 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 420 milligrams of sodium, 13 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.)

Item: Lunchables Snackers Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets
Purchased Price: $3.98
Size: 9.8 ounces
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 1 out of 10
Pros: Civil disobedience in the lunchroom. No heating required. Avoiding starvation due to healthy public school lunches. Great if you like trading your lunch away for rice cakes.
Cons: Absolutely freaking disgusting. Doesn’t taste like BBQ. Or honey. Or chicken. Lacking proper lunch-table trading material. Does actual deep-fried pieces of chicken byproduct an absolute disservice.

REVIEW: Jack in the Box Sourdough Cheesesteak Melt

Jack in the Box Sourdough Cheesesteak Melt

Look at the photo above of Jack in the Box’s new Sourdough Cheesesteak Melt. It looks like I had someone sit on the sandwich before taking a picture of it, but I assure you I didn’t.

Nor did I throw it into a zoo’s elephant exhibit, nonchalantly toss it on the Talladega Superspeedway’s track during a NASCAR race, or place it in front of an Apple Store’s doors right before the launch of a new iPhone. But it sure looks like I did.

Jack’s sourdough sandwiches, like the Sourdough Jack, aren’t large, but at least they have some height to them, which the Sourdough Cheesesteak Melt obviously lacks. But with its height deficiency one doesn’t have to open their mouth very wide to stuff it in.

What the Sourdough Cheesesteak Melt doesn’t have are the typical lettuce and tomatoes, which could’ve propped up the top bun and make it appear taller, like stiletto heels on strippers. All that’s between the toasted sourdough are thinly sliced steak, grilled onions, fire-roasted red and green pepper, melted cheese, and a mayo onion sauce.

My stomach wants to let you know it wished Jack in the Box went the Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s route and placed the cheesesteak innards on top of a beef patty, or went a few steps more and added bacon, lettuce, and tomato to make it the BLT Sourdough Cheesesteak Jumbo Jack Melt.

Jack in the Box Sourdough Cheesesteak Melt Innards

The thin steak slices were chopped up into small bite-size pieces. Most of them glistened with grease, like the chests at an all-male revue, while some looked dry like beef jerky or the elderly chests of lifelong sunbathers, but all of it was, for the most part, tender. There was a good amount of onions and peppers, which were chopped into slices that made it difficult for them to fall out of the sandwich.

The Swiss-style cheese was melted to the point that it could be mistaken for the mayo onion sauce. It was also a wonderful adhesive that prevented ingredients from falling out of the sandwich. As for the Jack’s toasted sourdough bun, it was its usual greasy self.

The Sourdough Cheesesteak Melt is an homage to the Philly cheesesteak, but I’m not sure it does a great job representing the iconic sandwich. With some bites, the vegetables made the sandwich taste like a supreme pizza. The Swiss-style cheese didn’t taste like Swiss cheese, instead it had more of a nondescript cheese flavor. The sourdough bun was more greasy than sourdough-y, which has been the case with many of Jack’s sourdough sandwiches I’ve had recently. But when the sandwich didn’t taste like a supreme pizza, the meat, cheese, and vegetables created a pleasant fast food sandwich.

However, while Jack in the Box’s Sourdough Cheesesteak Melt was a decent sandwich, I’m pretty sure I won’t buy another because its flatness makes it hard to justify its price.

(Nutrition Facts – 456 calories, 220 calories from fat, 24 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 53 milligrams of cholesterol, 1385 milligrams of sodium, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 22 grams of protein.)

Item: Jack in the Box Sourdough Cheesesteak Melt
Purchased Price: $4.89 (sandwich only)*
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Jack in the Box
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Decent fast food sandwich. Cheese keep the sandwich intact. Tender pieces of steak. Melted cheese. Good amount of vegetables. Flatness makes it easier to stuff into mouth.
Cons: Flat sandwich. Size of sandwich makes it hard to justify the price. Sourdough bun is more greasy and buttery than sourdough-y. At times, it tasted like a supreme pizza.

*price might be slightly higher than what you’ll pay because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.