REVIEW: Wendy’s Spicy Jalapeno Popper Sandwich

Wendy s Spicy Jalapeno Popper Sandwich Full

It doesn’t get much better than a jalapeno popper with fried breading giving way to the heat of jalapeno and the perfect balance of cream cheese. While I’m a fan of the classic cream cheese version served with a side of ranch dressing, I also appreciate popular variations that add in cheddar cheese and bacon.

So when Wendy’s unveiled its new Jalapeno Popper Sandwich, it instantly had my attention. In addition to the choice of either grilled, classic, or spicy chicken breast, the sandwich is loaded with jalapeno cream cheese, shredded pepper jack cheese, jalapeno slices, applewood smoked bacon, and cheddar cheese sauce.

To my surprise, no actual jalapeno poppers were harmed in the making of this sandwich. While the flavors are all present, if your tongue, hand, face, and shirt are not all at risk of getting burned by spraying jalapeno juice or cream cheese napalm with each bite, does it really deserve the name “jalapeno popper”?

Wendy s Spicy Jalapeno Popper Sandwich Top

I was somewhat in disbelief when I opened my sandwich to find only three jalapeno slices, especially since Wendy’s has specifically mentioned that the sandwich comes with six jalapeno slices. Wendy’s also promised I would be exclaiming, “Oh, jal, yes!” from the first bite, but my first bite did not even contain jalapeno, so I was luckily able to remain composed and exclamation free. Its jalapeno slices are crunchier and spicier than most fast food places, so when I did reach them in the sandwich, they brought a strong burst of flavor and heat.

The cream cheese spread on the top bun contains a few small jalapeno pieces and gives a slightly sweet, slightly tangy flavor that dominates the sandwich. Wendy’s would be better served by adding more of the cream cheese spread in place of the shredded pepper jack cheese and cheddar cheese sauce which are dominated and forgotten by stronger flavors.

Wendy s Spicy Jalapeno Popper Sandwich Split

The three bacon slices were thick and crunchy while adding a slight smokiness that works beautifully with the jalapeno and cream cheese. The spicy chicken was juicy with the spices in the breading occasionally coming through in an already flavor packed sandwich.

The overall heat of the sandwich built up to a noticeable but not noteworthy amount by the end. Shredded pepper jack and cheddar cheese work only to muddle the flavors, the amount of jalapeno slices needs to live up to its promise, and the size of the sandwich seems small for the price. But the jalapeno cream cheese spread is a winner that enhanced many of the other components of the sandwich and will keep you craving that next bite.

Purchased Price: $6.49 (small combo is $8.99)
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 600 calories, 26 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 1660 milligrams of sodium, 54 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, 37 grams of protein.

Click here to read our previous fast food reviews.

REVIEW: Sonic Extra-Long Ultimate Cheesesteak

Sonic Extra Long Ultimate Cheesesteak Full

I haven’t had a cheesesteak since I made a pilgrimage to Geno’s and Pat’s in Philly almost a decade ago.

I remember nervously asking for my “whiz without” like an apprehensive George Costanza ordering soup, and enjoying both sandwiches about the same. It was a tasty little trip, but I drove home feeling like an absolute slob.

Two cheesesteaks in one sitting?! Gross, dude!

I mean, one wasn’t quite enough, but two was definitely overkill. If only someone nearby could just make one, I don’t know, extra-long cheesesteak? That… that would be the ultimate cheesesteak.

As it turns out, I’ve somehow managed to miss the cheesesteak on Sonic’s ice cream truck style menu for years now. It took them introducing the “Extra Long Ultimate Cheesesteak” for me to finally notice.

So, what exactly makes a cheesesteak, “ULTIMATE!?” You take a foot-long bun and stuff it with sirloin steak and grilled onions, then drizzle them with “melty” cheddar and a “zesty” cheese sauce! Oh, and hold the side of tots, because they’re inside the sandwich now!

I was a bit skeptical about the idea of a fast food cheesesteak, but ten years is a long time, and I was ready to dive back into the whiz.

That sounded better in my head, and to be honest, this menu item looked better in my head.

Sonic Extra Long Ultimate Cheesesteak Meat

I could tell immediately the onions weren’t grilled well, and there might not be enough cheese. Also, the steak looked like dry greyish shawarma shavings they wouldn’t even serve on a street corner. Should I have just made the two-hour drive back to Philly?

I can happily say I’m glad I didn’t because this is actually pretty damn good.

Sonic Extra Long Ultimate Cheesesteak Cross Section

That crumbly sirloin ended up being well-seasoned and moist, and there was just enough “whiz” to lubricate each bite.

The bun’s soft texture was ideal for a cheesesteak, and just long enough that it didn’t feel excessive.

Sonic Extra Long Ultimate Cheesesteak Meat Tots

Adding tots into the sandwich was a real “why didn’t I think of that” move that added a perfect amount of crunch and salty starch that tied everything together.

Despite it tasting good, I couldn’t really distinguish between the cheddar and the so-called “zesty” cheese sauce. It was just a generic Cheez Whiz flavor, which was fine, but I was hoping for maybe a little added provolone bite or something along those lines.

Sonic Extra Long Ultimate Cheesesteak Long view

The onions were basically raw as expected. I appreciated the flavor, but the texture was a minor buzzkill.

Even with those flaws, I found it to be a completely substantial and satisfying meal. It’s not Pat’s or Geno’s, or any of the other Philly spots I’m sure are better, but it’s really solid for a fast food cheesesteak.

I’d say definitely give it a try, but maybe check out the app and see if you can’t hack in some fried onions and extra cheese. There’s also a spicy version you can try, but hurry up because the Extra Long Ultimate Cheesesteaks are only available through the end of February.

Remember to tip your carhop!

Purchased Price: $4.29
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 970 calories, 63 grams of fat, 19 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 110 milligrams of cholesterol, 2240 milligrams of sodium, 62 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 40 grams of protein.

Click here to read our previous fast food reviews.

REVIEW: Dairy Queen Mint Chip Shake

Dairy Queen Mint Chip Shake Cup

What is the Dairy Queen Mint Chip Shake?

Shamrock Shake season will soon be upon us, so Dairy Queen has joined the minty menagerie. This shake has Crème de Menthe mixed with “chocolate cone coating” in vanilla soft serve.

This isn’t the first time Dairy Queen has offered a minty shake, but it is the first time I have had one. (Not to be confused with the mint Blizzard, which you can guarantee will come back in some form in time for March.)

How is it?

The best way to describe it is “delightful but safe.”

Mint is my favorite flavor, so I loved drinking it. It was cool and refreshing, like mint chocolate chip ice cream in liquid form. I had no problem consuming it through a thick metal straw. (I’m trying to reduce my plastic consumption—even though it’s served in a plastic cup.)

Dairy Queen Mint Chip Shake Closeup

The “chocolate cone coating” description is a little confusing, but I think it means it’s the same chocolate they use for dipped cones. It reminded me of the chocolate pieces in any off-brand mint chocolate chip ice cream, only thinner. The chocolate pieces are crunchy but not hard. I think it’s semisweet chocolate, but I’m no cocoa connoisseur.

I have no complaints, but even if you have never been to Dairy Queen, you have had this shake before. I really enjoyed it, but it’s no different from a mint shake or ice cream anywhere else.

Anything else you need to know?

The green coloring is more subdued than in the advertisements. Isn’t a vibrant green the whole point of mint shakes at this time of year?

Conclusion:

Dairy Queen Mint Chip Shake Top

If you want a mint shake and Dairy Queen is the closest, go for it. But any other place will do just as good a job.

Purchased Priced: $3.29
Size: Small
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 550 calories, 220 calories from fat, 24 grams of fat, 19 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fatty acid, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 70 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 61 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dairy Queen Red Velvet Cake Blizzard

Dairy Queen Red Velvet Cake Blizzard Top

What is the Dairy Queen Red Velvet Cake Blizzard?

It’s Dairy Queen’s Blizzard of the Month for February, and it features red velvet cake pieces and cream cheese icing with, as always, vanilla soft serve. This is not technically new, as DQ has offered it in February a few times in the past. But it’s been five years since the last time it was available, according to our handy-dandy Blizzard of the Month List.

How is it?

Dairy Queen Red Velvet Cake Blizzard Sign

We all know better than to expect fast food to actually look like it does in a commercial or promotional photo, but the difference here was pretty glaring. Based on the window sign at DQ (and the name of this Blizzard), I was expecting it to be, you know, red. What I got was basically white with small red freckles and a tinge of reddish-pink. I think it was partly a blending issue, as the population of cake pieces increased dramatically as I tunneled downward, but even then, the reddish color only increased modestly.

I’m also not sure enough of the cake pieces were pulverized in the blending process to spread their redness around. A better blending might have made it slightly closer to the color on the window sign but still far from the vibrant red-pink color shown on the DQ website.

Dairy Queen Red Velvet Cake Blizzard Spoon

Of course, the more important issue is how it tastes, and the flavor of this one really makes up for the underwhelming appearance. For one thing, it’s different than most Blizzards, with no chocolate overload or extreme sweetness. The red velvet cake delivers a subtle chocolatey flavor that seems a bit more complex than just “regular chocolate,” and the cream cheese brings a sweet creaminess that pairs nicely. This won’t blow away your taste buds with a powerful burst of flavor, but it should make them happy.

Anything else you need to know?

I needed to know exactly what red velvet cake is because, to be honest, I was not exactly sure. I’ve had it many times, and I liked it, because, duh, it’s cake. But I’m not sure I could really describe what it tastes like. I’m still not really sure.

Some will claim that it’s just chocolate cake with red food coloring, but “real” red velvet cake generally includes cocoa, buttermilk, and vinegar, which together provide the reddish hue through a chemical reaction. Scanning the ingredients on the DQ website, it appears this red velvet cake is closer to a red-colored chocolate cake. It does contain cocoa, but there is no mention of buttermilk or vinegar.

Dairy Queen Red Velvet Cake Blizzard Cake Closeup

As you can see from a cross-section of a piece, it’s not exactly light and fluffy like you might imagine for cake; it’s really more the consistency of a red velvet brownie. So if you are a red velvet cake purist, this might not be for you.

Conclusion:

I’m always down for a Blizzard that is not some rehashed combination of chocolate, fudge, and Oreo, and this, well, it takes the cake for being different. It’s not the best Blizzard I’ve had, but it stands out as being unique for having two flavors not found in any other versions I can recall, and together they taste excellent. So this is a perfect treat to share with your significant (or even insignificant) other on Valentine’s Day or any time before it disappears for another five years.

Purchased Price: $4.79
Size: Medium
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (Medium) 910 calories, 37 grams of fat, 19 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 500 milligrams of sodium, 128 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 90 grams of sugar, and 17 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Pizza Hut Detroit-Style Double Pepperoni Pizza

Pizza Hut Detroit Style Double Pepperoni Pizza Whole

What is the Pizza Hut Detroit-Style Double Pepperoni Pizza?

It’s a Detroit-style deep-dish pizza topped with classic pepperoni, Pizza Hut’s new crispy cupped pepperoni, a layer of cheese that goes all the way to the edge of a crispy, caramelized crust, and two streaks of the chain’s new vine-ripened tomato sauce.

How is it?

Well, it tastes like a pepperoni pizza.

Although some of its flavors are slightly different than any of The Hut’s other pepperoni-topped offerings because of the smaller pepperoni and the sauce’s position.

Pizza Hut Detroit Style Double Pepperoni Pizza Two Pepperoni

The cup pepperoni slices are noticeably spicier than the standard flat pepperoni. Those that aren’t drenched with sauce also provide some crispiness. As for the new sauce, being on top of everything makes its flavors stand out. It’s sweet, but even more acidic. Its placement can be troublesome because there isn’t any sauce under the cheese, unlike most pizzas. So there’s a good chance you might take bites that are sauce-less, which taste okay but aren’t optimal.

Pizza Hut Detroit Style Double Pepperoni Pizza Slice Edges

Just like its box says, the edges are crispy and cheesy, and the inner crust is light and airy. But the crust, when tasted on its own, is bland. Thankfully the toppings layer extends to the edges, so there’s no honkin’ huge flavorless end crust to deal with.

Anything else you need to know?

I hate it when pizza forces me to do homework.

It’s not the “you won’t get any pizza until you finish your homework” forcing. With this Detroit-style Double Pepperoni Pizza, it’s the “I have to fact check whether the pizza is supposed to look that way” forcing. Because I’ve never seen a pizza with two thick tomato sauce streaks painted on it.

After seeing that, I was off to Google to find out if Detroit-style deep-dish pizzas are really like that and because I’m using Google, to ensure I will see pizza-related advertisements on every website I visit for the next few weeks.

Well, it turns out my pizza geography knowledge is lacking.

Pizza Hut Detroit Style Double Pepperoni Pizza Box

But why is the sauce only on top? According to the box, it’s there to keep the crust light and airy. But I find that answer to be a bit strange because Pizza Hut’s Pan Pizza doesn’t need the sauce to be on top of everything to maintain its soft and fluffy crust, but I digress.

Conclusion:

This Detroit-Style Double Pepperoni Pizza is a slightly different tasting pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut. It’s not better than the standard Pizza Hut pizza. It’s also not worse. But it does look like what would happen if we told an extraterrestrial being visiting the Earth for the first time the components of a pizza and have it make one, but not tell it the order they usually go on top of each other.

Purchased Price: $13.99*
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 slice) 330 calories, 17 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 720 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 14 grams of protein.

*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.

Click here for our previous fast food reviews.

REVIEW: KFC Chicken Sandwich (2021)

KFC Chicken Sandwich 2021 Wrapper

Here in Kansas City, we don’t get many cool new things.

We got a great—like-once-in-a-lifetime-level-great—quarterback a few years ago, but that was after decades of mistakes, cast-offs, and retreads. We have a few of those places where people throw axes, all paint the same picture, or play golf in a giant net, but we only got them after they’d been elsewhere for years.

So imagine my joy when I learned Kansas City was one of the select cities receiving a sneak-peek of KFC’s new chicken sandwich. We are in, after all, the Golden Age of Chicken Sandwiches, and what better place to unveil a new version of a breaded bird on a bun than the grandfather of fast food fried chicken, KFC.

Then imagine my disappointment when I got my sandwich.

KFC Chicken Sandwich 2021 Whole

KFC describes it as “… (a) quarter-pound, all-white meat, double-breaded, Extra Crispy chicken breast filet… freshly-toasted buttery brioche bun, crispier, thicker pickles, and the perfect amount of the Colonel’s real mayo or spicy sauce.”

KFC Chicken Sandwich 2021 Top

KFC Chicken Sandwich 2021 Split

What I got was a piece of chicken only a smidge bigger than a deck of playing cards. Further disappointingly, it even seemed absent the Colonel’s traditional 11 herbs and spices. I tasted salt and dry, chewy chicken breast. The “double-breading” made no impact whatsoever, though there was plenty of it (sans chicken, mind you). Nor did the pickles, which were limp and thin, much closer to McDonald’s pickles than anything I was expecting.

The brioche bun seemed like it had the potential to be the best part of the sandwich — which, let’s just let that sink in for a moment — but half of the bottom half was stale. How do you get half of a half of a stale bun, you ask? So do I. Let me know if you have an answer. The mayo was tangy and good — quintessentially KFC mayo — but the best mayo in the world couldn’t save this wreck of a sandwich.

Look, I like KFC. I like its original chicken and the Extra Crispy variety. I love its Nashville Hot Chicken tenders. If I could only choose Popeyes or KFC for the rest of my life, I’d have a hard time deciding; it’d be a tossup, honestly. But not when it comes to their signature sandwiches, oh no.

If Popeyes’ sandwich is a Picasso, KFC’s offering is a 3rd grader writing a swear word in the dirt on the back window of his mom’s minivan. This chicken sandwich isn’t even in the same league as Church’s, frankly. It’s seriously weird that KFC is proud of this.

In 2018, KFC unveiled a new chicken sandwich called “The Crispy Colonel.” For the life of me, I cannot figure out how this sandwich differs. In fact, the couple of Crispy Colonel’s I’ve had have been considerably better than whatever this abomination was. Back to the test kitchen, KFC.

KFC Chicken Sandwich 2021 Take 2 Split

Due to the sandwich’s abysmal initial showing, my esteemed editor kindly asked that I try another, you know, to assure that the first one wasn’t an aberration. And the verdict? It wasn’t. While the chicken breast on this one was meatier than the first, it was no juicer or more flavorful. (In fact, the extra size maybe gave it more of a chance to be drier while also amplifying how bland it is.)

KFC Chicken Sandwich 2021 Take 2 PIckles

The pickles still weren’t crispy, and the bun on this one — while fresher — certainly wasn’t “buttery” as the copy proclaims. This sandwich is still a huge disappointment, and you’d do better to stick with Popeyes. Or Chick-fil-A. Or Wendy’s. Or Church’s. Or Sonic. (Hey, I think McDonald’s has a new chicken sandwich coming out soon, too!)

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: N/A
Rating: 3 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 650 calories, 35 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 1260 milligrams of sodium, 49 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 6 grams of total sugars, and 34 grams of protein.

Click here for our previous fast food reviews.