REVIEW: KFC Sauce

KFC Sauce Container

What is KFC Sauce

It’s KFC’s new and improved special sauce.

How is it?

KFC Sauce Closeup

Apparently, chicken places are becoming my schtick. Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate a crispy chicken tender, so it’s all good. As I mentioned in my last review, there just so happens to be a KFC along my normal route home. When I heard about the new sauce, I was definitely interested, as sauces really make the meal when it comes to chicken-based finger foods.

KFC Sauce on Chicken

Traditionally, I’m a honey mustard type of girl. Something about that perfect balance of sweet, tangy, and subtly spicy just makes me happy. I’ve been known to slather it on everything from burgers to salads. I even got some as back up just in case I wasn’t a fan of the new KFC Signature Sauce and was left with an abundance of tenders to finish unadorned. I am still somewhat surprised to report that it went entirely untouched. The new KFC Sauce is so good that it made me forsake my beloved honey mustard without even realizing it. Yep.

In terms of flavor, it’s reminiscent of barbecue sauce. A little sweet, a little tangy, a little sharp. But it differs distinctly from your standard barbecue sauce in that it’s also creamy.

I think I’ve finally figured out why I love dipping my fries and onion rings in Thousand Island dressing. That creaminess factor just rounds out the flavor profile and adds that subtle silky mouthfeel that you didn’t know what you were missing.

KFC Sauce on Fries

The generous employees at KFC gifted me with two little sauce cups, so I used the other one to test out how well various things went with it. Pretzels, potato chips, and corn chips are all a resounding thumbs up.

In comparison to the previous incarnation of the sauce, it’s literally as if they turned the flavor dial up juuuuust enough. It’s sweeter, it’s tangier, it’s all around kicked up a solid notch.

Anything else you need to know?

The new KFC Signature Sauce replaces KFC’s Finger Lickin’ Good Sauce.

Conclusion:

The new sauce is a total upgrade.

Purchased Price: Included with my chicken tenders combo meal
Size: 1 cup (28g)
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (28g) 130 calories, 12 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 180 milligrams of sodium, 5 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut

Dunkin Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut Closeup

Mmmm, forbidden donut. *Homer drooling sound*

Are you tired of Dunkin’s normal fare? Then, may I interest you in Dunkin’s new PARAnormal fare?!

*Lights flicker! A wolf howls! An additional cliché scary thing happens!*

Dunkin Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut Screenshot

This All Hallow’s Eve, Dunkin’s breaking the rules,
With a fiery delight fit for goblins and ghouls.
A ghost pepper donut?! How can it be true?!
This treat is no trick…
On to the review!

*Shrill scream, maniacal laugh, yadda yadda, and so on*

Now that I’ve set the mood…

According to the press release, the new Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut is a “classic yeast donut ring, topped with a strawberry flavored icing that features a bold blend of cayenne and ghost pepper, finished with red sanding sugar.”

If that sounds spooky and strange to you, I’m right there with you. I had no clue what to expect. “Ghost Pepper” gives the impression this donut tastes like the 4th layer of hell. But then again, would Dunkin’ really put something on the menu that would force you to chug a gallon of milk at 7 am?

Dunkin Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut Red Closeup

I won’t drag it out to calm your fear – this donut isn’t extremely spicy. I mean, it’s spicy for a donut, but you won’t have to plan your day around it.

Have you ever spritzed cologne or perfume and then walked through the mist to catch some of the droplets? This is like if a Strawberry Donut did that with pepper spray.

I’ve never eaten a straight ghost pepper because I’m not a psycho, so I can’t really vouch for the exact authenticity of the pepper flavor. I did, however, taste a crisp red pepper vegetable essence, if that makes sense.

It’s “ghost” in the sense it tastes like the ghost of pepper past. I’d put the heat level on par with a standard spicy chicken nugget. But the strawberry icing and little sugar crystals neutralize it down another Scoville notch lower.

Imagine the aftertaste of having a spicy Mexican or Indian dinner, then chasing it with a strawberry donut for dessert.

Dunkin Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut Bite

The heat did grow with each bite, leaving my lips a little numb, but it wasn’t something that stuck around. A few sips of coffee should just about wipe the ghost from your palate completely.

So, did I like it? Ehhhh. Definitely not a top tier donut, but a weird novelty worth trying if only to get into the Halloween spirit. I respect the seasonally appropriate marketing, but wish Dunkin’ went with a cinnamon-based “Red Hot” heat instead of “ghost” pepper.

I think this exists just to be a fun “Bertie Botts Beans”-type prank donut to toss into a dozen. It’d be funny to watch an unsuspecting friend eat it and wonder where the spice is coming from.

I say try it if only to say you’ve had it. It’s basically a dollar. Why not?

To quote Ray Parker Jr, “don’t be scared of no ghost… pepper donut.” That’s the remix. Check his Soundcloud if you don’t believe me.

Happy Halloween!

Purchased Price: $1.19
Size: n/a
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 260 calories, 11 grams of fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 300 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 16 gram of total sugars, 1 gram of fiber, and 4 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Jack in the Box Chili Cheeseburger

Jack in the Box Chili Cheeseburger Wrapper

A few thoughts popped into my head right before I was about to order Jack in the Box’s Chili Cheeseburger.

  1. Is the chili just the seasoned meat in Jack’s tacos?
  2. Does the chili have beans?
  3. Will there be a Twitter war between Jack in the Box and Wendy’s because Wendy’s tweeted Jack’s chili must not be good since it isn’t offered in a bowl, and then Jack retorted by tweeting Wendy’s chili is made from old beef patties?
  4. I should start going to sleep earlier.
  5. Can I use Apple Pay in the drive-thru?
  6. Should I get onion rings?
  7. Is the drive-thru cashier upset because I’ve been sitting here in front of the speaker without saying a word for about a minute? What about the four cars behind me?

Jack’s Chili Cheeseburger features a beef patty, two slices of cheese, a layer of beef chili, and onions on a bun. If you want something even beefier, there’s a double version with two patties.

While it’s being advertised as new, the internet tells me this is not the first time Jack has offered a chili-topped cheeseburger. So maybe the recipe was pulled out of the Jack in the Box vault, which I imagine is shaped like Jack’s head and the combination dial is Jack’s hat, while the lever to open it is Jack’s nose.

Jack in the Box Chili Cheeseburger Top

The chili is bean-free, in case you were wondering, and, even though they look somewhat alike, I’m pretty sure it’s not the seasoned ground beef in Jack’s tacos. What’s on this burger is redder and they don’t taste the same.

While it’s never going to win a chili cook-off, the marquee ingredient in the burger tastes fine on its own and is even meatier thanks to the beef patty. But the elements that make this limited time menu item delectable are the chopped onions and cheese. The American cheese complements the chili’s spices, while the onions not only enhance the chili with their pungent flavor, but also add some crunch to the mush-fest.

Jack in the Box Chili Cheeseburger Split

Oddly, even though the idea of topping a burger with chili sounds like a mess-fest, all of it stayed between the buns. Also, something to note, I ordered one for my wife and hers had noticeably less of the topping than mine.

While I’m not sure I’d order Jack’s chili a la carte, if it was available that way, it does makes this cheeseburger surprisingly tasty.

Purchased Price: $7.49*
Size: Small combo
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Not available on the website.

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

REVIEW: Monster Energy Ultra Watermelon

Monster Energy Ultra Watermelon Can

Monster Energy Ultra Watermelon confuses me.

With fireworks on the can and it being watermelon flavored, which is known as a summer flavor, it’s odd to be drinking this in mid-October instead of on the fourth day of July. It’s like eating pumpkin spice products in June.

Some of you might be thinking this was released in the summer, but it wasn’t. It’s showing up now, in October.

Although, maybe Monster is trying to be sly here. The fireworks aren’t for Independence Day. Instead, they’re for New Year’s Eve. And watermelon was chosen because of the fruit’s colors, not because of its flavor. Because red and green, which are prominent on the can, are two of the primary Christmas colors.

Or maybe Monster Energy is trying once again to outdo its competitor, Red Bull, by releasing its watermelon flavor earlier than Red Bull did. You see, this year, Red Bull’s Summer Edition Watermelon rolled into stores in February, which, according to a calendar, was still winter. Which means there was still spring to go through before summer rolled around. By releasing this in October, it means we have to go through THREE seasons before we get to next summer.

Or maybe Monster was supposed to release it during summer but decided not to for some reason.

Anyhoo, Monster Energy Ultra Watermelon is the next Ultra flavor in the Ultra line, which is getting ultra long.

Monster Energy Ultra Watermelon Closeup

When I sniff the beverage, it smells like I’ve just added hot water to strawberry Jell-O gelatin mix. Its flavor, well, I really hate to use this comparison because it’s the most commonly used one when describing artificially flavored watermelon beverages, reminds me of a Jolly Rancher Watermelon hard candy. But, I also occasionally notice a bit of artificial strawberry in the aftertaste.

I haven’t tried the Red Bull I mentioned earlier, so I can’t compare it. But this energy drink is super tasty and has a pleasant level of sourness. Although, I wish it was a bit more unique than something I’ve experienced with many other watermelon products. I’m no food scientist, but maybe it’s hard to deviate from the ingredients used to create the fruity flavor.

Like the entire Ultra line, it’s a zero sugar energy drink. Also, the artificial sweeteners aren’t really noticeable to my taste buds when it’s chilled.

Overall, Monster Energy Ultra Watermelon with its 150 milligrams of caffeine is another excellent variety in the Ultra line. And I can totally see myself drinking another on a warm fall, winter, spring, or summer day.

Purchased Price: More than anyone should pay
Size: 16 fl oz can
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 can) 10 calories, 0 grams of fat, 180 milligrams of sodium, 6 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, 2 grams of erythritol, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Tostitos Hint of Guacamole Tortilla Chips

Tostitos Hint of Guacamole Tortilla Chips Bag

What are Tostitos Hint of Guacamole Tortilla Chips?

The next evolution of Frito-Lay’s “Hint of” Tostitos is good ol’ guac.

How are they?

Tostitos Hint of Guacamole pack a big flavor for a chip that only promises a little. They’re essentially “Hint of Doritos,” and for that reason, I loved them.

There’s a fresh avocado taste despite no avocado in the ingredient list, which was a bit weird. I guess that’s an expense thing? Either way, the taste came through.

Tostitos Hint of Guacamole Tortilla Chips Bowl

There’s a nice “hint of” heat that I was able to decipher, and then confirm, as jalapeno. The flavor reminded me a bit of Jalapeno Fritos, which I can absolutely demolish in one or two sittings.

I also noticed a – I guess the name really fits – a “hint of” cheese, which the ingredients confirmed as cheddar and Swiss. I wasn’t expecting that, but it definitely enhanced the overall flavor.

These have all the elements of a great guacamole. Except for peas, which everyone knows is the key ingredient to a great guacamole dip. (Relax internet, I’m just kidding… although I would try that with zero remorse.)

Anything else you need to know?

Tostitos Hint of Guacamole Tortilla Chips Closeup

Tostitos Hint of Lime might be my favorite tortilla chip, but the size and shape are annoying. You can easily break them into pieces, but let’s be real, we all try to shove the entire massive triangle into our mouths in one bite.

Hint of Guac are the ideal size. I don’t dip flavored chips, so I want them to be snackable, and I gotta give Frito-Lay credit for opting to make these “bite sized rounds.”

As I mentioned above, some chips are so caked in flavor, they might as well be guacamole-flavored Doritos – a variety I know exists, but has somehow eluded me my entire life. Maybe if enough people like these, Frito-Lay will take the hint and make those a year-round release.

Conclusion:

Tostitos Hint of Guacamole Tortilla Chips Bag Bowl

Despite the mild spice and an overload of sodium, I found these deliciously snackable.

I think I’ve had most of the “Hint of” line, and would probably slot these just under Lime. I’d actually really like to try mixing these, Queso, and Lime together for a big “Hint of” Mexican dinner flavored mix. Someone test that out and get back to me.

Purchased Price: $4.29
Size: 12 oz
Purchased at: Acme
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (20 Chips) 150 calories, 8 grams of fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 150 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of total sugars, 1 gram of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Marie Callender’s Confetti Birthday Cake Cream Pie and Chocolate Brownie Cream Pie

Marie Callender s Confetti Birthday Cake and Chocolate Brownie Cream Pies Boxes

What are Marie Callender’s Confetti Birthday Cake and Chocolate Brownie Cream Pies?

Birthday cake and brownies take new forms in these thaw-and-eat frozen cream pies from Marie Callender’s.  

How are they?

For someone who writes for a junk food blog, I have tendencies toward dessert snobbery. I recoil at the sight of canned pie filling. If grocery store sheet cake is my only option, I’d rather have none. While watching cooking shows, I cry out to the contestants “The rose water essence will overwhelm your pate e choux filling!” as my microwave dings to announce my Lean Cuisine is ready.

There are two wolves inside of me: one that yearns for authentic French patisserie, and one that can’t resist an oatmeal cream pie peddled by a certain curly-haired lass. I am at peace with the contradiction, but when presented with the opportunity to try Marie Callender’s two newest products, I wondered how my snobbish preferences would influence my opinion. As it turns out, my two inner wolves, bonded by their love of sugar, have more in common than I thought. I was pleasantly surprised by both desserts, although each possessed imperfect features.

Confetti Birthday Cake

Marie Callender s Confetti Birthday Cake Cream Pie Full

The star of the Confetti Birthday Cake Cream Pie is its crust, a soft sugar cookie base that tastes homemade. The pie’s exterior is inviting — topped with confetti cake pieces, rainbow chips, and a halo of piped whipped topping. The cake pieces are cookie-crispy, and, along with the chips, provide nice taste and a textural contrast, even if it is not particularly cake-like.

Marie Callender s Confetti Birthday Cake Cream Pie Slice

The sticky whipped topping is a bit too heavy and coats the mouth with the slickness of hydrogenated oils. It tastes like the coating often found on ice cream cakes – that not-quite-frosting, but not-quite-whipped cream decorative sugar fluff – and ultimately doesn’t add much to the pie.

This leaves the thick, smooth filling to tie the pieces together. A pleasant (although very sweet) vanilla flavor, the filling would have benefitted from more vanilla or butter notes and less sweetness. In a bite, all elements evoke the concentrated sweetness of a sugar cookie more so than a sprinkle cake.

Chocolate Brownie

Marie Callender s Chocolate Brownie Cream Pie Full

The Chocolate Brownie Cream Pie filling has the same thickness, texture, and sweetness as the Confetti Birthday Cake’s, but its flavor – this time, a rich chocolate – is much stronger. Sprinkled with chocolate chips and sizable chewy brownie cubes, this pie delivers an extra chocolate burst that’s clearly inspired by a brownie. Only a small slice will satisfy even the most ravenous sweet tooth.

Marie Callender s Chocolate Brownie Cream Pie Full Slice

While a little oily, the whipped topping here is light and smooth, effectively complementing the rich chocolate components of the pie. Again, the pie’s crust – a dark chocolate cookie crust – is impressive.

Anything else you need to know?

The package directions recommend thawing the pies for at least 1.5 hours before eating. My descriptions above reflect the results of the minimum thaw time, because the apocalypse could occur at any second and I don’t want to experience it on an empty stomach.

Within a day or two, the pies’ textures evolved slightly: the toppings softened, and the filling had a looser texture, similar to oil-based whipped topping. While the softer filling was more characteristic of a cream pie, I overall preferred the first-day textures. The package also recommends that consumers eat the products within three days of thawing and do not refreeze them.

Conclusion:

Both varieties are intense sugar bombs with enough components to find satisfaction among the highs and lows. The Chocolate Brownie Cream Pie is a more successful homage to its inspiration dessert.

Disclosure: I received free samples of this product. Doing so did not influence my review.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 25 oz.
Purchased at: Received from Marie Callender’s
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Confetti Birthday Cake), 7 out of 10 (Chocolate Brownie)
Nutrition Facts: (per 1/6 pie) Confetti Birthday Cake – 530 calories, 34 grams of fat, 19 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 350 milligrams of sodium, 50 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 36 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein. Chocolate Brownie – 530 calories, 34 grams of fat, 19 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 270 milligrams of sodium, 49 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 35 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein.