REVIEW: McDonald’s Spicy Chicken McNuggets and Mighty Hot Sauce

McDonald s Spicy Chicken McNuggets Package 1

If there were a Netflix mini-series about Fast Food Fried Chicken, spicy nuggets deserve their own episode.

Obviously, spicy chicken is nothing new, but when it comes to fast food’s big players, Wendy’s was the first one out of the gate with spicy nuggets. But its on-again, off-again availability eventually opened up space for Burger King to come onto the scene in 2017. They also came with a healthy side of creative social media stunts, including giving away free nuggets to anyone named “Wendy.” Amazing!

McDonald’s has offered spicy chicken items along the way, from various sandwiches to its Spicy Chicken McBites in 2012. But these new McDonald’s Spicy Chicken McNuggets are, apparently, the first new nugget flavor (officially) since 1983. And that’s not all, folks. These are accompanied by the Mighty Hot Sauce, the first new dipping sauce since 2017 (2018’s Szechuan sauce was a return, remember?)

My first impression? The packaging is lame. But it’s what’s on the inside that counts, so who cares?

McDonald s Spicy Chicken McNuggets Orange 2

My second impression? These nuggets are gorgeous! They had more of an orangey hue (am I imagining that?) than the standard Chicken McNuggets, and the tempura coating looked extra flakey. The Mighty Hot Sauce had the crimson tincture of torturous flames and visible chili flakes. Ohboyohboyohboy!

I tried the Spicy McNuggets without the sauce first. The texture was familiar and on point, super flakey and with that sort of airy fluffiness McNuggets are known for. I’m sure that texture isn’t everyone’s preference, but these deliver if you like McNuggets.

McDonald s Spicy Chicken McNuggets Bite 3

The spice level started out mild and grew naturally, like heat from a real spice source. Mine seemed to have a “dry heat,” which you’d expect on chicken. There doesn’t appear to be any seasoning within the nugget; it’s all on the coating.

My only small complaint is that the spice level seems to vary drastically from nugget to nugget. I was concerned when the first McNugget didn’t deliver much heat, but it grew with the second. But it doesn’t get hot enough for me when eating the Spicy McNuggets without the sauce.

McDonald s Spicy Chicken McNuggets Sauced 4

But then, from a humble little black plastic cup, comes the Mighty Hot Sauce, karate-kicking the doors RIGHT off this mother with HEAT.

This sauce is fire. It coats the Spicy McNugget perfectly. In the laziest of descriptions, it’s like the sweet and sour sauce with heat. But it’s better than that. It has pepper flavor, a vinegar kick that hits you right away, a sweet *thwak* from, what is that on the label, Apricot? And then a long slow burn that leaves your tongue and lips tingling for a while after you’re done eating.

Pretty soon, I couldn’t tell whether the heat of each new bite was building from the McNuggets, or if the Mighty Hot Sauce was just blazing away. I found myself wishing I’d asked for honey or maybe ranch to balance it out. When I get these again (yep, “when”), I’ll definitely order fries and try dipping them in this spicy sauce.

Overall, I think this entry into the spicy nugget competitive landscape was well done by Mc’y D’s. It stayed true to its style of McNuggets while offering something new with a spice level you can build upon to your liking. If you want to take it to a 10, load on that Hot Mighty Sauce.

I’m glad McDonald’s didn’t try to overhaul its signature McNuggets too much, and that it launched a hot sauce that is genuinely hot. I will definitely be a repeat customer.

P.S. For what it’s worth, 50% of my McNuggets were boot shapes! Is there some kind of McNugget horoscope reading for when that happens?

Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 6 Spicy McNuggets + 1 Mighty Hot Sauce
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (6 McNuggets) 250 Calories, 16 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 540 milligrams of sodium, 12 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, 0 grams of fiber, and 14 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Quaker Chocolate Life Cereal

Quaker Chocolate Life Cereal Box

What is Quaker Chocolate Life Cereal?

It’s the newest variety in the Quaker Life Cereal line that also includes (say it with me because I know you all know it by heart), original, cinnamon, vanilla, and strawberry. It gets its chocolatiness from cocoa that’s been processed with alkali and other natural flavors.

How is it?

First off, a disclosure. I’m not a regular Life Cereal eater. Oh wait, let me rephrase that. I’m not a Life Cereal Lifer. (That’s better, maybe.) I can count on two hands the number of times I’ve consumed any Life variety, and I had to look up what they were for the list above. With that said, I did enjoy eating Chocolate Life Cereal in milk or dry.

Quaker Chocolate Life Cereal Dry

Its flavor is mild, and there’s enough of it to recognize it’s chocolate. It’s not overly sweet and doesn’t reach the same cocoa level as Cocoa Puffs, Cocoa Pebbles, or any other choco-heavy cereal with a cartoon mascot. Also, the chocolatiness tastes darker than the others. I find it tasty enough that it’s got me thinking I should try the other varieties so that it’ll take three hands to count the number of times I’ve had Life Cereal.

Quaker Chocolate Life Cereal Wet

Unfortunately, unlike many of the cereals I mentioned above, it doesn’t make excellent cereal milk. Speaking of milk, this Life variety is okay at maintaining its crunchiness while sitting in the liquid.

Anything else you need to know?

Some of you might be wondering what those white crystal thingies are in the second photo above. I want to say cereal dandruff, but I’m absolutely sure that’s wrong and that Quaker doesn’t want me to describe them that way.

Quaker Chocolate Life Cereal Crystals

There was a bunch collected at the bag’s bottom of the, so I tried them. They look like salt but taste as if they’ve absorbed the cereal’s flavor. If you know what it is, let me know in the comments. If you don’t know what it is but have an absurd and incorrect idea of what it could be, share it in the comments.

A one-cup serving has 24 grams of whole grains, is an excellent source of five B vitamins, and is a good calcium source. Wait…is the cereal dandruff the source of the good source of calcium?

Conclusion:

Quaker Chocolate Life Cereal is a tasty addition to the Life Cereal line that also includes (say it with me again), original, cinnamon, vanilla, and strawberry.

DISCLOSURE: I received a free sample of the product. Thanks, Quaker! Doing so did not influence my review.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 13 oz box
Purchased at: Received from Quaker
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 cup) 160 calories, 2 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Smartfood Caramel & Cinnamon Apple Mix Popcorn

Smartfood Caramel  Cinnamon Apple Mix

What is Smartfood Caramel & Cinnamon Apple Mix Popcorn?

It’s a new seasonal mix that combines caramel popcorn with cinnamon apple-flavored popcorn. While the cinnamon apple is a new flavor, the caramel one can be found in Smartfood’s Caramel & Cheddar Mix Popcorn. According to the folks at Frito-Lay, it’ll be available during the fall and winter months.

How is it?

Well, it depends on how you eat it. Much like Smartfood’s Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries Popcorn Mix that came out during the summer, I had to be mindful of what I pulled out of the bag.

Smartfood Caramel  Cinnamon Apple Mix Closeup

There are two types of pieces — lightly seasoned apple cinnamon kernels and heavily coated caramel kernels. Visually, the ratio looks like it’s two apple cinnamon kernels for every one caramel.

Although there are more of them, try to avoid eating only the apple cinnamon pieces because their flavor is too faint. They’re so unsatisfying that if someone gave me a bag of only those kernels, I’d hand the bag back to them, remove them from my holiday card list forever, block them on Facebook, and spurn any future greetings from them in public.

However, when eaten with the caramel-coated popcorn, the apple cinnamon flavor is exponentially better, making it hard to put down the bag. There’s some seasoning on the confection coated pieces, but they’re there because they happen to share the same bag with the other. There’s also a pleasant butteriness that makes my mind think pie crust. So, yes, this tastes like apple pie-flavored popcorn.

Anything else you need to know?

If you ever wanted to huff an apple pie, but couldn’t because of the logistics of it, this bag will help you accomplish that. It smells so wonderful that the scent should be available as a candle because strapping this bag to my face using binder clips and a rubber band is probably not safe.

Along with this seven-ounce bag with a $3.99 suggested retail price, there’s also a two-ounce bag with a $1.89 suggested retail price. But don’t mess around with the smaller one. Go for the bigger bag. Your mouth won’t regret it.

Conclusion:

I love Smartfood’s Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries Popcorn Mix, but I love this Caramel & Cinnamon Apple Mix more. I’m disappointed it’s seasonal. But since it tastes like apple pie, it could come back during the Fourth of July-apple pie season.

DISCLOSURE: I received free samples of the product. Thanks, Frito-Lay! Doing so did not influence my review.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 7 oz bag
Purchased at: Received from Frito-Lay
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 1/2 cups) 140 calories, 8 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Blue Bell Fudge Brownie Decadence Ice Cream

Blue Bell Fudge Brownie Decadence Ice Cream

What is Blue Bell Fudge Brownie Decadence?

It’s the newest and fanciest of all the Blue Bell ice cream flavors. It features chocolate French ice cream with fudge brownie chunks and whipped topping with chocolate flakes. What makes ice cream French, you might ask? It’s made with eggs, which makes it thick and custardy. Side note: custardy is fun to say, but if you keep saying it all day, people around you are likely to get annoyed.

How is it?

If you put decadence in the name, it better be something special. And this is. Before digging in, I thought maybe there would be too much chocolate going on. Instead, it was a perfect symphony of different chocolate flavors, all teaming up to make my mouth happy.

Blue Bell Fudge Brownie Decadence Ice Cream Spoon

The brownies truly are decadent. They are chewy — almost even a little gooey somehow — and taste more like homemade brownies instead of the non-descript chunks in many ice creams. These brownies have a rich flavor, and there are plenty of them.

Blue Bell Fudge Brownie Decadence Ice Cream Top

The ice cream is smooth and creamy, as it should be, with the perfect level of chocolatiness. It did remind me a little of custard, but I’m not sure if that was the power of suggestion from reading the label. Regardless, the ice cream did its part to keep the decadence rolling. The chocolate flakes are a bit overshadowed by the brilliant brownies, but they add some nice texture and taste to the mix.

Blue Bell Fudge Brownie Decadence Ice Cream Top First

The only letdown is the whipped topping. First, there is a lot of it — much more than just some swirls or ribbons like I was expecting. If it tasted great, that might be fine, but it really doesn’t. It’s like Cool Whip-flavored ice cream. In limited amounts, like as a topping, that could be a nice contrast to the chocolate, but it just seems like too much of it here. Even so, this flavor achieves its stated goal of being decadent. But despite my quibble about the whipped topping, it’s a big winner.

Anything else you need to know?

If you do not reside in the southern third of the country, you may not be familiar with Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries. You also might think it is the same company that makes Blue Bunny ice cream. It’s not; Blue Bunny is headquartered in Iowa.

This is where I must deliver a stern warning, just in case you ever happen to discuss this topic with someone from Texas. Unless you are fixin’ to start a kerfuffle, or perhaps even a brouhaha, DO NOT ask a Texan if Blue Bell and Blue Bunny are the same thing. And, even more importantly, DO NOT say that Blue Bunny is better than Blue Bell unless, of course, you are looking for an all-out donnybrook.

I’m not originally from Texas, but I have lived in the state long enough to know that many Texans will defend the honor of Blue Bell until well…wait for it…they are blue in the face. You have been warned.

If you don’t live in Blue Bell country and really want to try it, you can order four half-gallons directly from the creamery for overnight delivery, but I have another warning. It’s not cheap, and depending on where you live, it might almost be cheaper to fly to Texas and try it in person. Just for fun, guess how much it is to get four half-gallons (costing about $20 at the grocery store) overnighted to your door.

Ready?

It’s $135!

Conclusion:

Since I’m not a native Texan, I do not have an innate love of Blue Bell and feel like I can be an impartial judge here. My verdict is that this is one of my new favorite ice creams, and I’ll shed a little tear if it doesn’t become a permanent member of the Blue Bell lineup.

Is it worth $135 if you can’t get it in your area? No, of course not. But I’ve got a lot of family “up North,” as Texans refer to most other states, and I’d be happy to bring you some for the bargain price of $125 next time I’m visiting.

Purchased Price: $5.85
Size: Half-gallon
Purchased at: H-E-B
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 240 calories, 15 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 75 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 20 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.

SPOTTED – 9/11/2020

Here are some interesting new products found on store shelves by your fellow readers. If you’ve tried any of the products, share your thoughts about them in the comments.

Blue Bell Fudge Brownie Decadence Ice Cream
Blue Bell Fudge Brownie Decadence Ice Cream

(Spotted by Jim R at Kroger.)

Clancy s Fried Pickle Ranch Wavy Potato Chips
Clancy’s Fried Pickle Ranch Wavy Potato Chips
Clancy s Loaded Bacon  Cheddar Wavy Potato Chips
Clancy’s Loaded Bacon & Cheddar Wavy Potato Chips

(Spotted by James D at Aldi.)

Trader Joe s Dark Chocolate Cookie Sticks
Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Cookie Sticks

(Spotted by Robbie at Trader Joe’s.)

Trader Joe s PB J Snack Duo
Trader Joe’s PB&J Snack Duo

(Spotted by Rachel C at Trader Joe’s.)

Pepsi Limited Edition 2020 Football Can
Pepsi Limited Edition 2020 Football Can

(Spotted by Robbie at H-E-B.)

Hawaiian Punch White Water Wave and Lemon Lime 7Up On The Go Drink Mix Packets
Hawaiian Punch White Water Wave and Lemon Lime 7Up On The Go Drink Mix Packets
Cherry 7Up and Canada Dry Cranberry Ginger Ale On the Go Drink Mix Packets
Cherry 7Up and Canada Dry Cranberry Ginger Ale On the Go Drink Mix Packets

(Spotted by John W at Dollar General.)

Warheads Lil Worms and Ooze Chewz
Warheads Lil’ Worms and Ooze Chewz
Warheads Super Sour Gumballs
Warheads Super Sour Gumballs

(Spotted by John W at Dollar General.)

REVIEW: Wendy’s Spicy Pretzel Bacon Pub Chicken Sandwich

Wendy s Pretzel Bacon Pub Spicy Chicken Sandwich Top

If we can agree on anything in these divisive times, it’s that pretzel buns are one of the greatest food inventions since Jakob Gareth Food created food in 1295.

We can agree on that, right? I know you’re nodding your heads, “yes,” so I can just move on.

In 2013, Wendy’s released the Pretzel Pub Sandwich, and it instantly knocked the Bacon Mushroom Melt out of my Wendy’s gold medal spot.

The combination of that iconic chicken, two types of cheese (Muenster and cheddar), and honey mustard on a perfectly tender pretzel bun had me coming back at least once a week. I would throw those bad boys down faster than you can say, “Sir, this is a Wendy’s,” but alas, just as the employees were memorizing my name and face, it was gone.

I’m pretty sure Wendy’s dabbled with other pretzel bun fare in the years since, but nothing ever came close to that Pretzel Pub Sandwich. Well, guess what, folks? It’s a miracle. Pretzel Pub Sandwiches are back, but this time along with the cheese and honey mustard, there’s bacon, pickles, and fried onions along for the ride.

So that’s it. That’s the review. I gushed about the OG Pretzel Pub, and this is the same sandwich with three awesome additions. It’s a 10 out of 10, right?

Wendy s Pretzel Bacon Pub Spicy Chicken Sandwich Flipped Lid

No, and I’m bummed beyond belief. There is just way too much going on with this sandwich. Each ingredient is great on its own, but once plopped on top of each other, none really stood out, and it made for a buzzkill of a meal.

I remember the original sandwich being a compact, tasty, and harmonious masterpiece. Here, the two gloopy ingredients (beer cheese and honey mustard) mixed with the lightly melting muenster make a gross texture with a flavor I could only describe as…warm?

I got a spicy chicken filet, and even that familiar flavor ended up being bland and masked. Honestly, the pickles had the most dominant flavor in the sandwich and kinda didn’t belong.

Now, while I’m pretty mad, it wasn’t all bad. I didn’t hate it.

Wendy s Pretzel Bacon Pub Spicy Chicken Sandwich Middle

The pretzel bun was still God-tier. I just love a soft pretzel’s taste and texture and believe any sandwich instantly improves with them as bread. Wendy’s cooks the best bacon in the fast food game, so no complaints there. Crispy fried onions are the most underutilized burger topper in the world, and should replace every raw onion moving forward.

Wendy s Pretzel Bacon Pub Spicy Chicken Sandwich Bite

Again, these are all good ingredients on their own, but combined? What a mess. There were too many cooks in the kitchen when they came up with this updated sandwich.

You can order a Pretzel Pub Burger, and I suspect all these ingredients might work better with beef. But I think the move might be to customize your own variation in the app.

I’m not even positive that’s allowed, but I’m going back to try this with two fewer ingredients. I think I might just cut the “Pub” out entirely and lose the beer cheese. Two sauces were just too messy.

I’ve probably romanticized the 2013 Pretzel Pub too much over the years, so you may like this much more than I did. It’s worth a shot, but just make sure you’re parked or at home while you eat it, because it’s a big sloppy experience.

Purchased Price: $6.19
Size: N/A
Rating: 4 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 840 calories, 42 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 105 milligrams of cholesterol, 1780 milligrams of sodium, 71 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 42 grams of protein.