Jack in the Box Hearty Breakfast Bowl

The new Jack in the Box Hearty Breakfast Bowl looks like it got hit repeatedly with an ugly stick, followed by a magic spell from the wand of the ugly fairy, and then given an ulgy gift by Ugly Claus. But it also is the perfect storm of breakfast, with its waves of scrambled eggs, flood of white cheddar cheese sauce, downpour of shredded cheddar cheese, hail of sausage balls, torrent of bacon pieces, and the thunder of golden hash brown sticks. It may look like something that comes out of you rather than something that goes in you, but the Jack in the Box Hearty Breakfast Bowl is one tasty mofo…as long as you close your eyes while eating it.

The combination the Jack in the Box cuisine creators constructed with their Hearty Breakfast Bowl is just about perfect. Nothing overpowers each other, although I have to admit I didn’t know it had bacon until I read that it had hours later. The cheese was nicely melted, the hash brown sticks were slightly crunchy, and the eggs were mostly fluffy. The use of small balls of sausage, bacon pieces, and long hash brown sticks helped ensure you can taste almost all of the ingredients with every bite. With all of those flavors combined it’s like I had an inexpensive Las Vegas breakfast buffet in my mouth, except without the old people holding up the line.

The somewhat small size of the bowl the Hearty Breakfast Bowl comes in, which is about five inches in diameter and 1.75 inches deep, makes it seem like it is not so hearty, but one bowl satisfied my manly, hair-chested hunger and probably raised my blood pressure and cholesterol to levels my future cardiologist would say they shouldn’t be at. I guess the Hearty Breakfast Bowl is appropriately named for something that does that to my heart. The plastic bowl also seemed to be reusable, since it states that it is microwave safe and dishwasher safe, which is good because the plastic it’s made out of is difficult to recycle (#5).

The Jack in the Box Hearty Breakfast Bowl is the breakfast I wish I could make in the morning, if I had the time, ingredients, and the kitchen full of people I could demand to make it for me. Thankfully, every Jack in the Box has all of those things and they also can make it during anytime of the day, since they serve breakfast around the clock, although it will probably be just as ugly as the one above. It’s a good thing I have paper bags to cover it while I have at it.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bowl – 780 calories, 60 grams of fat, 20 grams of saturated fat, 7 grams of trans fat, 445 milligrams of cholesterol, 1350 milligrams of sodium, 430 milligrams of potassium, 34 grams of carbs, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 1 gram of sugar, 26 grams of protein, and thanks to Ryan.)

(Editor’s Note: I originally gave this an 8 out of 10, but I didn’t know the nutrition facts, until reader Ryan pointed them out. After I found out that it has 7 grams of trans fat, I decided to knock down the score to 7 out of 10, because having 7 grams of trans fat just isn’t right.)

Item: Jack in the Box Hearty Breakfast Bowl
Price: $3.89 ($2.99 most other places)
Purchased at: Jack in the Box
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: It’sa damn good. The breakfast I wish I could make in the morning. Flavors don’t overpower each other. Use of sausage balls, bit of bacon and hash brown sticks helps ensure all the ingredients are covered in every bite. Available 24 hours a day. Container is reusable, microwave safe, and dishwasher safe.
Cons: A very unhealthy 7 grams of trans fat. Looks like it got hit with an ugly stick again and again. It’s probably bad for you. Bowl may seem small to some. Didn’t notice the bacon. Container’s plastic is hard to recycle (#5).

REVIEW: Nissin Choice Ramen Savory Herb Chicken

If you’ve ever experienced any financially lean years, you’ve most likely eaten enough ramen to have it circle the globe several times over. During this time, lunch was not a matter of what bistro to hit up, but what flavor packets to mix together. You know, for that exotic taste of the orient. You probably also never took a moment to make light of the fact that you were your heftiest during these “lean” years; your brain being too bogged down by the tremendous amount of fat in your head to appreciate concepts like irony and humor.

This is never a good time in anyone’s life, but Nissin’s new Choice brand of ramen noodles promises to help you get you through these years looking slim and feeling like a worthwhile contributor to society. At around two for a dollar, they’re still affordable, though not in that “buy ’em by the ration crate” sort of way that regular ramen can be when it’s on sale. The package boasts lower fat, less sodium, and a fancy-sounding “Savory Herb Chicken” flavor that is meant to distinguish it from lesser ramen.

The back of the package reveals that their secret is in a new air-drying technology that means that the noodles are not deep fried. From my tried and true formula of “Food + Deep Fry = Good x 2 (type of coating),” I figured that these noodles would not be as tasty. The noodles are no longer a two-layered brick, but rather a disc that conforms more easily to the perimeter of your pot. I garnished with green onions and a sprig of cilantro for a half-assed presentation that made me feel like I actually cooked something.

My first impression was that the noodles were about as good as I could expect packaged ramen to be − not gummy, not too soft, and with just the right amount of firmness. The soup, however, was a different story. With just 25% less sodium than the notoriously salty regular ramen, you would expect the flavor to be just right. The soup turned out to be bland and muted with no hint of herbs in it whatsoever.

Choice ramen could be a great product if the soup base had any flavor whatsoever. I would pair the surprisingly tasty noodles with a regular ramen packet, but that would sort of defeat the purpose of “lower sodium” and thus the appeal of “healthy” ramen. Damn you, soup packet, why must you go and embarrass my poached egg in such a way? Head back to the factory and come back with a healthy version of MSG.

(Nutritional Facts – Half package – 140 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 480mg sodium, 28 gram of carbs, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of protein, and 10% iron)

(Editor’s Note: Thanks to Amy for suggesting the Nissin Choice Ramen. Ace’s blood pressure would also like to thank Amy.)

Item: Nissin Choice Ramen Savory Herb Chicken
Price: 49 cents
Purchased at: Northgate Market
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Healthier version of one of the unhealthiest items on the open market. Affordable, though not stupidly cheap like regular ramen. Noodles maintain a nice, reasonably firm texture as you’re eating.
Cons: Not a lot of flavor in the flavor packet at all. Noodle to soup ratio is a little too high for my liking. Healthier, but not exactly health food.

Happy Fourth Birthday!!! + PRIZE DRAWING

Dear TIB,

Today, you turned four years old. Pretty soon you won’t be wetting your bed on a regular basis, your teeth will start falling out, and I’ll take you out for trick-or-treating, dressing you up in a ridiculous costume for Halloween that you’ll be embarrassed about when you’re significantly older. I’ll probably turn you into Yoda, a koala, or put you in a mini Hot Dog on a Stick uniform. Thankfully, you’re not big enough to kick my ass, because I would if our roles were reversed.

You’ve grown well over the past four years, but I wish I could say the same for myself. Raising you has been a rewarding, but demanding process that I wish didn’t involve so much consumption of fast food and energy drinks. However, it’s what you want and as your guardian I need to provide it to you because if I don’t, you’re going to whine as loud as an air raid siren. But I just want you to remember that you can’t get everything in life by just whining, because eventually the only thing that your whining will get you is a hard spank on your rear end.

So what does the future hold? Well I’m hoping to give you a brother or a sister to play with, but I’m not sure when that’s going to happen. Dealing with two of you would be a big responsibility and I don’t know if I’m ready for it yet, but when I do decide I’ll let you know.

We’re going to celebrate your birthday the same way we’ve celebrated your past birthdays by holding a prize drawing. For your fourth birthday, we’re going to give away four (4) mystery boxes, filled with items that we’ve reviewed over the past four years. The contents of each mystery box will be different.

To enter the drawing, TIB readers will have to leave a comment for this post with the words, “Happy Birthday TIB” and whatever else they would like to say. They should fill out the email field, because I’ll be emailing the winners for their mailing address.

We will start accepting entries for the drawing on Saturday, August 9, 2008 and stop accepting entries on Saturday, August 16, 2008 (11:59 Hawaii Standard Time). Only one entry allowed per person. The drawing is open to EVERYONE (Thank goodness for USPS Flat Rate boxes).

The winners will be determined in a way that has not been decided. It will probably be lame.

Fine Print: The Impulsive Buy promises your email address will not be used to send you spam about getting a free iPhone. The Impulsive Buy also promises your mailing address will not be used to send you information about how you can apply for a Disney credit card with your favorite character on it. Bribes will not be accepted. The Impulsive Buy will not be responsible for lost mail, the results of the upcoming US presidential election, or your iPhone freezing.

Anyhoo, TIB, you’re the best thing that’s happened in my life…okay, I’m lying about that, but you’re probably in the top 5…okay, definitely in the top 10.


SoBe Life Water (Goji Melon, Agave Lemonade, Yuzu Black Currant)

SoBe Life Water’s three years of existence has been much like an Elton John concert — full of flamboyant colors and lots of costume changes. The image you see above is the third packaging for the SoBe Life Water, after their first one was too similar to Vitamin Water’s and their second was distracting, like a drag queen’s make up. It was also hard to read, and when I say “hard to read,” I really mean lame. So while stores everywhere get rid of the old bottles, SoBe’s new flavors — Goji Melon, Agave Lemonade, Yuzu Black Currant — come in bottles with simple labels that won’t get it confused with Vitamin Water or rolled eyes from graphic designers.

What’s also different with these new flavors is the use of exotic fruits with funny names that sound like they were made up. If it weren’t for Wikipedia, I wouldn’t believe these fruits exist. Because Yuzu sounds like the name of a female ninja who protects a young princess from evil forces who want to take over the kingdom she is heir to in some Japanese anime. Goji seems like the name of Yuzu’s clumsy male sidekick who adds a bit of comic relief to the anime and always gets into trouble, which Yuzu has to bail him out of. Finally, Agave sounds like it’s the supernatural power that gives Yuzu her special abilities and the only way to activate it is through a quick chant in an ancient alien language.

My favorite of the three flavors was the extremely drinkable Goji Melon, which if I could buy it in a Costco-sized ten-gallon drum, I would risk a hernia to pick it up and make room for it in my refrigerator. It had a sweet, slightly flowery smell and it tasted like the Japanese berry candy that used to get me fat when I was growing up. The Goji Melon also contains the herbal ingredients, Red Clover and Hibiscus. Red Clover has been used to treat the symptoms of menopause and helps with coughs, mouth ulcers, and sore throats.

So if you’re a 50-year-old female prostitute, I would suggest drinking this.

The Agave Lemonade reminded me of strawberry lemonade, a popular beverage you can get at any apostrophed, sit-down restaurant chain, like Chili’s, Applebee’s, or TGI Friday’s. It’s not even close to being as tart as an actual strawberry lemonade, but it’s just as refreshing. This flavor also contains energy drink ingredient staple Taurine and Yerba Mate.

My least favorite of the three was the Yuzu Black Currant, which tasted somewhat like raspberries. It’s my least favorite because when it got a little warm it smelled and tasted like a buttered popcorn Jelly Belly covered in raspberry jam. The Yuzu Black Currant Life Water also consists of antioxidant-filled Acai and Juniper, which has been used as an herbal remedy for urinary tract infections and as a female contraceptive by Native Americans.

So if you’re a female prostitute younger than 45 years old, I would suggest drinking this.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bottle (may vary with flavor) – 100 calories, 0 grams fat, 55 milligrams sodium, 41-42 grams sodium, 23-24 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, 250% Vitamin C, 50% Vitamin E, 25% Niacin, 25% Vitamin B6, 25% Vitamin B12, 25% Pantothenic Acid, and 10 grams of Naomi Campbell’s anger.)

Item: SoBe Life Water (Goji Melon, Agave Lemonade, Yuzu Black Currant)
Price: $1.49 each
Size: 20 ounces
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Goji Melon)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Agave Lemonade)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Yuzu Black Currant)
Pros: Goji Melon was damn good. Agave Lemonade reminded me of strawberry lemonade. No High Fructose Corn Syrup. Good source of Vitamin C. Goji Melon and Yuzu Black Currant are good for 50-year-old prostitutes.
Cons: Yuzu Black Currant smelled and tasted like a buttered popcorn Jelly Belly when warm. Fruit names are weird. Labels don’t explain what they do, like Vitamin Water. The number of apostrophed restaurant chains. The previous packaging for SoBe Life Water. The name SoBe is lame.

REVIEW: Green Tea (Matcha) Kit Kat (Japan)

Is there anything the Japanese won’t use as a flavor for their Kit Kats? Holy cow! And just to let you know, I didn’t type “holy cow” as an exclamation, I typed that because it is probably the next Japanese Kit Kat flavor. Mmm…Beef Kit Kat. You think I’m kidding? This is the country that sells used schoolgirl panties in VENDING MACHINES! If they’re capable of that, then they’re also capable of making a carcass-flavored Kit Kat that you can break apart and share with your friends so they can gag along with you and hold back your hair if you throw up.

I could list all the Japanese Kit Kat flavors that ever existed, but that would be as exciting as watching C-SPAN tally the congressional votes for an amendment to agree to making an amendment to an amendment, but to give you an idea of how low they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel, there’s a soy sauce Kit Kat. Of course, Nestle Japan has also produced normal-sounding flavors, like banana and caramel, but usually it’s quirky shit, like this Green Tea (Matcha) Kit Kat.

The Green Tea Kit Kat comes in a color that looks like it’s been hit with a ton of gamma rays, because it’s Incredible Hulk green. Depending on whether or not you’ve had green tea or green tea flavored products before, the Green Tea Kit Kat can either be 2003-Hulk-movie-mediocre or 2008-The-Incredible-Hulk-movie-good. If you’ve never had green tea, this Kit Kat’s slightly bitter, but mostly sweet taste might be a little off-putting.

It basically consisted of white chocolate with green tea flavoring and it tastes similar to green tea ice cream. What’s on the outside and its flavor may seem unusual to most, but the wafers inside were crispy like any other Kit Kat. I personally really enjoyed the Green Tea Kit Kat and I’m hoping to get my hands on more, so it looks like I’ll be asking for partial payment in Green Tea Kit Kats whenever I offer my body company to lonely, middle-aged female Japanese tourists in Waikiki.

(Editor’s Note: Cybele at the Candy Blog reviewed these a few years ago back when fo’ shizzle was actually hip to say.)

Item: Green Tea (Matcha) Kit Kat
Price: FREE
Purchased at: Someplace in Japan
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Very enjoyable. Green tea flavor reminds me of green tea ice cream. Crispy wafers. Possibly getting paid in Green Tea Kit Kats. 2008 The Incredible Hulk movie.
Cons: If you don’t like green tea, you won’t like these. Slightly bitter taste maybe off-putting. Hard to find, unless you’re in Japan or have a kick ass Japanese market in your town. Watching C-SPAN vote tallies. 2003 Hulk movie.

Organic Batter Blaster

Depending on who you talk to, I imagine the Organic Batter Blaster instant pancake batter in a can is either awesome or horrible. Food snobs, or foobies as I like to call them, may think that the Batter Blaster is the beginning of the end of home cooked meals, others might think that it could possibly be the greatest breakfast invention ever, and finally there’s a group of teenagers out there who think it’s “the shizzy” because they believe they can get high by huffing the gas from the Batter Blaster can, which would give them another option beyond canned whipped cream, spray paint, or the sweat stained undershirt of an opium farmer.

My opinion lies somewhere near the belief that is it possibly the greatest breakfast invention ever, because I am one lazy mutha’ucka. Some of you might tell me that making my own pancake mix isn’t time consuming, but it takes me less than 30 seconds to pull the Batter Blaster can out of the refrigerator, shake it well, pop off the cap, and spray it onto a well-heated skillet. Just gathering the ingredients for the pancake mix alone would take more than 30 ticks off the clock.

(Editor’s Note: You can also make waffles with the Batter Blaster, but I do not own a waffle iron, but I do own a hair iron. Please do not ask why.)

The USDA Organic certified Batter Blaster is also a time saver in the clean up department since there’s no need to wash bowls, spoons, measuring cups, and my “Good Looking is Cooking” apron. I don’t have time for mixing and measuring, because I’ve got RSS feeds to read, episodes of MythBusters to watch, and naps to take.

Of course, the convenience of Batter Blaster would be moot if it didn’t make decent pancakes, and fortunately for lazy folks, it does make some surprisingly good flapjacks. Every pancake I made turned out soft, fluffy and tasty. If I took a blind taste test with butter and syrup smothered all over them, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell they came from a can, because butter and syrup have the gift of distraction.

According to the label, each can of Batter Blaster makes approximately 28 pancakes, four inches in diameter. I was able to produce about 24 pancakes with one can, but more importantly I didn’t have to make an entire batch like I would if I made my own pancake mix. With the Batter Blaster, I could make one or two at a time, instead of constructing a tall starchy tower of pancakes that would force me to either eat all of them in one sitting (not recommended) or freeze them (recommended), although turning them into starchy Frisbees would leave me less freezer space for convenient microwaveable frozen foods.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/4 cup – 112 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 10 milligrams cholesterol, 95 milligrams sodium, 23 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams dietary fiber, 7 grams sugar, 3 grams protein, 0% Vitamin A, 0% Calcium, 0% Vitamin C, 6% Iron, and about 10 Batter Blaster Bikinis)

(Editor’s Note: Thanks to the many people who recommended Batter Blaster. Also, here’s another review of Batter Blaster with action shots and another and another from Serious Eats.)

Item: Batter Blaster
Price: $9.99 (3-pack)
Purchased at: Costco
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Possibly the greatest breakfast invention ever. Surprisingly makes soft, fluffy, and tasty pancakes. Quick and easy to make. USDA Organic. No CFC in the can. No mixing needed. Easy clean up. My “Good Looking is Cooking” apron. Mythbusters. Butter and syrup make everything better.
Cons: Hard to find here on this rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Huffing. Foobies probably think it’s the worst thing in the world.