REVIEW: Chick-fil-A Frosted Sunrise

Chick fil A Frosted Sunrise

Orange you glad Chick-fil-A parlayed their popular Frosted Coffee and Frosted Lemonade formula into orange sherbet form?

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Actually, while the concept of the new Frosted Sunrise (a combination of Chick-fil-A’s soft-serve Icedream and Simply Orange orange juice) follows the same premise of the chain’s existing drink/soft-serve mashups, the marketing plan appears totally different.

Take, for example, the listing of the Frosted Sunrise under the “drink” section of Chick-fil-A’s menu and not the “Treat” section. Even the name, Frosted Sunrise, conjures up images of a 100 percent of your daily vitamin C and lasting energy to embrace your eight hours of sedentary office work.

In a word: wholesome.

And, as it happens, the Frosted Sunrise does taste more wholesome, which is exactly the last thing I want in my orange-flavored frozen dairy drinks.

Perennial child of the 90s I am, I just can’t get Orange Flintstones Push-Up treats out of my head. Together with orange sherbet, this tag-team of artificial citrus formed approximately 71 percent of my dessert intake from the ages of 7-10.

That’s not to say I don’t love me a good Florida orange (or a clementine for that matter). But when it comes to combining oranges with cream, there’s a certain level of socially-engrained flavor balance that’s to be expected. Unfortunately, Chick-fil-A’s Frosted Sunrise skews too far toward the fresh-squeezed orange, creating a clashing matchup of full-bodied and slightly bitter orange with a weak soft-serve flavor.

Overwhelmed by this cognitive dissonance, I trudged on. As I slurped more and more sunrise (note: save that phrase for a future poem) I noticed the flavors being a bit evener. The initial strong natural orange flavor, which in this application was not exactly optimal, quickly dissipated to the point where the milky sweetness of the Icedream became the guiding flavor.

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Childhood sherbet equilibrium obtained, I was content (I also had a brain freeze, although I take full responsibility for that). Still, the fact that the flavor shifted so dramatically struck me as problematic, especially when Chick-fil-A’s Icedream lacks the rich milkfat to tame the initial heavy citrus bursts.

Overall, Chick-fil-A’s Frosted Sunrise does a lot of good things and has elements that will please both natural orange enthusiasts and artificial orange nostalgics like me. However, in doing so, it fails to leave both completely satisfied throughout, making it less enjoyable than Chick-fil-A’s Frosted Coffee and Frosted Lemonade.

(Nutrition Facts – Small – 320 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of sat fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 135 milligrams of sodium, 60 grams of carbohydrates, 47 grams of sugar, 7 grams of protein, 25% calcium, and 60% Vitamin C.)

Purchased Price: $2.89
Size: Small
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Strong orange sherbet finish. Healthier breakfast alternative to a milkshake (which technically you can get at breakfast but…) Clean, strong refreshing flavor.
Cons: Natural orange flavor clashes and overwhelms the dairy for half of the drink. Slight bitterness can be off-putting. Not enough richness in the dairy. Inconsistent flavor.

REVIEW: Arby’s Texas Brisket Sandwich

Arby s Texas Brisket Sandwich

Years of Grumpy Cat and Bad Luck Brian memes has proven that the internet is fertile ground for viral ideas. They don’t even need to be true to spread; I hear Scumbag Steve really got his life on track.

Fast food is no exception.

We’ve all heard that Taco Bell gives you diarrhea, that KFC can’t use chicken in their name because they use vat-grown chickenoids, and that Four of the Guys killed and ate the other to gain his power. We know that no one likes Arby’s.

See what I mean? The Simpsons make a joke twenty years ago, the idea goes viral, and the conventional opinion of a fast food franchise is set for decades.

I like Arby’s. It has a consistently good core menu and often has some interesting limited time items. Plus, any franchise with the guts to serve Bambi on a bun gets my support.

One of Arby’s newest offerings is the Texas Brisket Sandwich, featuring smoked brisket, crispy onion strings, dill pickles, and Texas-style barbecue sauce on Texas toast. Arby’s has had success with its brisket in the past. How does this one stand up?

Upon opening, I’m underwhelmed. I understand that “toasted” often needs to be put in quotation marks when it comes to fast food, but I was hoping that this Texas toast would live up to its name and offer a crispy counterpoint to the soft brisket. At best, this looks like it was angrily glared at by a cowboy who’s had his cattle rustled. Or maybe by a fast food patron who was expecting his Texas toast to at least be thicker than regular bread.

Arby s Texas Brisket Sandwich 2

On the inside, Arby’s is keeping things simple with just meat, sauce, onion strings, and pickles. This can work when the fundamentals are strong, and Arby’s brisket has impressed me in the past, so I was hopeful.

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The first bite is tangy. Very tangy. The sauce dominates every other flavor, and the pickles offer a very unneeded sharp bite at the end. “This is fine,” I tell myself. Any moment now that fatty, unctuous brisket will cut through the sharpness and bring everything into balance. Another bite reveals a mild smokiness, but the brisket itself remains dry and disappointing.

I remember Arby’s brisket being much better than this. Have they changed it recently? The Smokehouse Brisket sandwich was delicious when I had it. Then again, that one does feature copious amounts of cheese and mayo. As a Midwesterner, I admit it’s easy to trick me into thinking that something tastes good with the ol’ add-cheese-and-mayo trick, but I swear the brisket itself was better too.

So, it turns out that Terri and Sherri Mackleberry were right twenty years ago. Arby’s is kinda mediocre, at least with this offering.

(Nutrition Facts – 620 calories, 29 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 85 milligrams of cholesterol, 1450 milligrams of sodium, 53 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 37 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.69
Size: N/A
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Mild smokiness is pleasing when it presents itself.
Cons: Tanginess doesn’t balance with other flavors. Brisket is dry and missing the fatty element needed to balance the sauce and pickles.

REVIEW: Mix by Sprite: Tropic Berry

McDonald s Mix by Sprite Tropic Berry

Like many surly teenagers in the 90s with nothing better to do than loiter, I hung out way too many hours for my own good at the Target up the block from my house. The electronics department was a social hub for most of the boys in the neighborhood due to the fact that they had every current gaming system out in the open and set on free play. None of that demo nonsense that Sears did.

This was all well and good until the one of the managers would let us know in no uncertain terms that we had to buy something or leave. Squeezing every last minute of gameplay we could, those of us with a few spare quarters would pool together about 75 cents to buy a bottle of this new beverage that was seemingly only available at Target: Clearly Canadian.

With its sticky sweet, syrupy “clear” taste that mingled deliriously with a decidedly crisp berry sensation, we passed the bottle around like grade school hoboes warming themselves around an 8-bit barrel fire. Looking back, it was a flavor out of and ahead of it time, especially during the crystal cola wars of the 1990-somethings. Sure, after pounding three or four at a time, it gave us the worst headaches and a little bit of nausea on the way home to dinner, but for that price to stay and play, who gave a good gosh-darn.

It’s been a flavor sensation that I have been nostalgically chasing for almost 20 years and, while I always knew it would be those flavor wizards at Sprite that would probably be the ones to resuscitate that drinkable emotion, I had no idea it would be found on accident while I was looking for the Hi-C Orange Lava Burst cold filtered water button on a McDonald’s drink fountain.

McDonald s Mix by Sprite Tropic Berry 2

Going by the fake corporate DJ nom de plume of Mix by Sprite: Tropic Berry, this is most definitely the second coming of that Mountain Berry or Western Loganberry Clearly Canadian if there ever was one, right down to the high-fructose headache after excitedly slurping two large-sized cups of the carbonated beverage when, as an adult, you should really know better.

The typical lemon-lime zest of Sprite that we’ve come to expect is pushed down the taste scale pretty low to point of being barely noticeable as the artificially-flavored tropical (which tropic though?) berry (which berry though?) dominates proudly. It also comes complete with a tongue-coating aftertaste that will definitely call for at least a full cup of PowerAde Mountain Berry Blast cold filtered water to swig around as you leave the restaurant. Or Wal-Mart, if you’re in nasty and/or in Oklahoma.

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Mix by Sprite: Tropic Berry is definitely worth tracking down and most definitely worth the taste, if only for curiosity’s sake. While it is far too sickly sucrosed-up to be an everyday thing, it’ll make for a delightful once a week treat as you nosh on a Big Mac and fries. Just keep that bottle of aspirin on the ready. ¡Cómpralo ya!

(Nutrition Facts – (small only) – 100 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 55 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 27 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.00
Size: Large
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Great berry taste. Surprisingly crisp. Extremely refreshing.
Cons: Can be too much of a sweet thing. Bad aftertaste.

REVIEW: Krispy Kreme Hershey’s Gold Doughnut

Krispy Kreme Hershey s Gold Doughnut

Last year, Hershey’s made one of their strongest moves in a decade with its Gold Peanuts & Pretzels Bar, utilizing a caramelized creme “golden” base over the usual cocoa. It’s a masterpiece in the realm of mainstream sweet and salty bars and Hershey’s is wasting no time at all pumping out new ways for us to consume their latest behemoth.

After collaborating with 7-Eleven to make a drinkable cappuccino version of the bar, the chocolate company opted to make sweet, sweet food love with one of the greatest treats in the fast food universe – Krispy Kreme’s Original Glazed. The new limited-time Hershey’s Gold Doughnut takes the O.G. and tops it with pieces of Hershey’s Gold and a salted caramel icing.

Krispy Kreme Hershey s Gold Doughnut 2

The aroma is strong. The leading smell is the ample Gold bar pieces, which carry a sweet nuttiness akin to peanut brittle, accented by the extra push of salty caramel and the unmistakable golden aura of fried yeast dough. The salted caramel icing is perfectly drizzled on top of the already amazing original glaze and studded with so many candy pieces that it left a handful of bits at the bottom of the bag like coveted escaped french fries.

Biting into this golden trophy of a doughnut reveals some of the most immaculate textures the fast food world could ever provide, and boy is it SWEET. The soft and fresh bouncy glazed doughnut is taken to new heights with the added chew of the Gold bar pieces. The crunch of the pretzels and peanuts provide a stark contrast to the fluffy base.

The only flavor that doesn’t come through as strongly as I would like are the peanuts. But the creamy, fatty essence of the golden chocolate does well to bring a bit of extra depth to the overall profile. The salted caramel icing is aggressively sweet but has a legitimate salty pop and thick sticky texture that makes it stand out from the original clear glaze.

Krispy Kreme Hershey s Gold Doughnut 3

The ultimate test of this glazed greatness is to see how it holds up in the microwave – and my god does it deliver. A quick 8-second zap in the micro launches the flavors and textures into the melty, salty stratosphere for a taste that made me throw my head back in euphoria. Everything is heightened, the caramel fully activated, and the bar pieces are still firm enough to deliver a slightly melted chew atop the fried gooey decadence.

This is a wonderful doughnut, but in the grand scheme of the sweet and salty symphony it’s missing a bit of bass. While the treble is through the roof with very high highs of sweet and salty sending my upper register through the roof, I’m missing a bit of balance to weigh the flavors down and complete the movement that spawns an encore. It’s a worthy update to the very strong original, but short of the perfect score.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 doughnut – 280 calories, 15 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 135 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 20 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.89
Size: N/A
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Awesome sweet and salty flavors. KK didn’t mess with their perfect glaze. Caramel is actually salted. Microwaving it will cause euphoria.

Cons: Peanuts get lost a bit in the mix. Can be overwhelmingly sweet and salty without enough fat to balance.

REVIEW: Carl’s Jr. Charbroiled Sliders

Carls Jr Charbroiled Sliders

Carl’s Jr. is a very fine fast-food establishment but one that very infrequently, if ever, enters into my thought processes when deciding on where to score some fast and easy burgers, mostly because the one that is closest to my house is a great place for getting accosted and stabbed in the parking lot and the inside really isn’t all that better. Let’s just say that if I was kidnapped and held hostage there, Snake Plissken would probably have to be sent in to find me.

So seeing as how I’m not ready to meet my maker as of yet, I tend to frequently miss out on their Superstar meals and All-Star deals. So when I decided to write up these new Carl’s Jr. Charbroiled Sliders, know that I not only did so taking my life (and my stomach) in my own hands, but also filled with the knowledge it could be my last meal. The things I’ll do for The Impulsive Buy.

That being said, after stuffing a few phone books down my pants, prison-style, any type of mild assault would have been absolutely worth the scars because these Charbroiled Sliders are simply to die for.

Carl s Jr Charbroiled Sliders 2

Above and beyond the culinary erectile dysfunction that is the McDonald’s tired $1 cheeseburger, Carl’s Jr’s $1 Charbroiled Slider is a true revolutionary moment in time for budgetary eaters. It featuring an overgrown slider-style burger that is practically comparable in size to anything on most value menus, but with the much-needed addition of an obviously high-quality slab of beef – charred to sweaty perfection, natch — on a thick and toasty sturdy bun, and then double-downed with pickles, onions, and American cheese.

It’s even boxed like a White Castle just to rub salt in the wound because if you’ve ever had a White Castle slider, you know it really ain’t all that. If Carl’s could appropriate a Crave Case while they’re at it, then I’d be all set for the weekend.

Carls Jr Charbroiled Sliders 3

In addition to the single Charbroiled Slider, Jr’s is also offering these minor meaty miracles in double and triple options that have to be eaten to be believed. The $1.50 Double Charbroiled Slider is more of the same, but with twice the meat and twice the cheese and twice the value of a McDouble or Double Stack, at least in girth and the self-confidence in how to use it.

Carls Jr Charbroiled Sliders 4

Finally, for a mere two bucks, we have the greasy goliath that is the Triple Charbroiled Slider, but don’t let the name fool you: this towering inferno is a home run in all respects. Tripling the meat and cheese and clogs in my arteries, you have to practically unhinge your jaw to bite into the meaty mound of vaunted value that we’ve got here.

Once again, this tempting trio is ridiculously available only for a limited time and I can see why: Carl’s has got to be taking a monetary hit on these babies, right? Either way, as long as they’re available, might as well make their financial loss your weight gain, champ, and order a bag or two. ¡Cómpralo ya!

(Nutrition Facts – (single only) – 230 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 410 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.00
Size: Single
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Insanely cheap. High-quality meat. Charbroiled flavor. Surprisingly huge.
Cons: Limited-time only. No Crave Case option.