REVIEW: Jack in the Box Bacon Cheddar Loaded Cheeseburger

Jack in the Box Bacon Cheddar Loaded Cheeseburger Whole

Short story: I ordered the Jack in the Box Cheddar Loaded Cheeseburger, which has a beef patty topped with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and cheddar ranch sauce on a cheddar cheese bun.

However, I received the more loaded Bacon Cheddar Loaded Cheeseburger that has everything the smaller burger does but includes hickory-smoked bacon, another beef patty, and another cheddar slice.

Fin.

So this review will be about the larger one. Thanks for the upgrade, Fast Food Gods…and the person who made my burger!

Jack in the Box Bacon Cheddar Loaded Cheeseburger Bun

Since it sticks out the most, let’s start with that cheddar bun. There’s obviously cheese baked into it, so it looks the part. But when I tried the bun on its own and as part of the sandwich, I couldn’t taste the cheese with most bites. That was also the case with the cheddar slices.

Despite three different cheddar vessels, it’s not a cheesy-tasting cheeseburger. The only times I really got any really noticeable cheesiness was whenever my mouth pulled in a decent glob of the cheddar ranch sauce, which was slathered on both buns.

Jack in the Box Bacon Cheddar Loaded Cheeseburger Split

But most of the time, it was a slightly juicy meat fest in my mouth with those two patties taking center stage and the bacon in the background as a porky hype man coming in every so often. And the lettuce and tomato weren’t any help. They’re just there to add some color to the party and distract you from the sweating cheddar slices.

Jack in the Box Bacon Cheddar Loaded Cheeseburger Tomatoes

The Bacon Cheddar Loaded Cheeseburger isn’t loaded with cheddar flavor like this review is loaded with the words “cheddar” and “cheese.” Maybe if I got what I originally ordered, the less loaded Cheddar Loaded Cheeseburger, I might’ve tasted an intense cheesiness since there’s one less patty to get in the way.

Purchased Price: $6.99*
Size: Small combo
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 910 calories, 37 grams of fat, 25 grams of saturated fat, 3 grams of trans fat, 165 milligrams of cholesterol, 1190 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 56 grams of protein.

*Price is for the regular Cheddar Loaded Cheeseburger combo, which I ordered. But as I mentioned at the beginning, I received a Bacon Cheddar Loaded Cheeseburger. Also, 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.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Cantina Crispy Melt Taco

Taco Bell Cantina Crispy Melt Taco Shell

I used to hate crunchy tacos.

My grandfather would try so hard to get me to like them when we went to Taco Bell for “39-cent crunchy taco night,” but usually ended up paying the extra 10 cents so I could get soft tacos instead. I can’t tell you why I didn’t like them, but it was a preference that followed me well into my late 20s until something clicked.

It is probably too dramatic to say I heard angels singing, but it’s the truth. Since then, they have been my preferred taco of choice, particularly Taco Bell’s crunchy beef taco (sorry, Grandpa). Its simplicity is one of the reasons why they are so satisfying. Rarely will I venture out of the standard build (shell, meat, cheese, lettuce), but every so often, Taco Bell will tempt me away with a new product, like it did with its Cantina Crispy Melt Taco.

The menu item is made with a white corn tortilla that is fried in-store daily, then layered with nacho cheese sauce, three-cheese blend, seasoned beef, tomato, lettuce, sour cream, and (yet more) shredded cheddar cheese. Two things about this item caught my attention immediately: the freshly fried in-store white corn tortilla and the sheer amount of cheese involved with it. With the white corn shell, I was curious how it would differ from the standard yellow corn shell in both structural integrity and flavor. I was a bit wary about the amount of cheese involved, particularly the nacho cheese.

Taco Bell Cantina Crispy Melt Taco

Look, I’m no stranger to cheese, but crunchy tacos can go from crunchy to soggy rather quickly, and I was worried the dairy would expedite that process. Much to my surprise, it all held up exceptionally well. The white corn offers a much more mild flavor than the yellow corn. I wouldn’t quite say it’s bland, but it’s certainly not the star flavor-wise.

Its texture, though, exceeded my expectations. It was airy and light, but managed to stay strong after the 15-minute car ride home. With my first bite, it didn’t shatter or split. In fact, it did not break apart until the end.

The nacho cheese was the strongest flavor, with the seasoned beef and sour cream coming in next. I couldn’t quite tell you if the three cheese blend added to it in any way, but it didn’t detract. I was also pleasantly surprised that the cheese didn’t cause the seam to get soggy and split apart. The rest of the toppings (lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese) felt sort of like a take-it-or-leave-it situation, but I often find those Taco Bell ingredients to be that way.

Taco Bell Cantina Crispy Melt Taco Sleeve

While I don’t find the Cantina Crispy Melt Taco too groundbreaking, it’s an interesting detour from the standard crunchy taco, and it’s worth trying once. The standout was the shell, but mostly for how well it held up and not because it added to the taste profile. But if you are a fan of the nacho cheese, I think you will very much find this to be a home run.

Purchased Price: $2.19
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 280 calories, 17 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 540 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Arby’s Real Country Style Rib Sandwich

Arby s Real Country Style Rib Sandwich

No one will ever be able to accuse Arby’s of not trying. While other fast food companies are content with slapping an extra slice of cheese on an existing product and calling it The Cheesasaurus Rex, or maybe “smoking” their bacon with some new exotic wood, Arby’s is out here swinging for the fences.

In 2016, it gave people the (extremely) limited edition venison sandwich with juniper berry sauce. The year after that, it offered an elk sandwich with blackberry port sauce. Or take, for instance, The Meat Mountain, a veritable Noah’s Ark of the drive-thru that features chicken tenders, ham, turkey, pastrami, roast beef, and bacon. (Oh, and some cheese, too.)

This brings us to the present day and Arby’s new Real Country Style Rib Sandwich. Is this offering a direct competitor to McDonald’s cult-favorite McRib, which also, incidentally, has its (mostly) annual re-release in the Fall? Did we exit the dark days of the Chicken Sandwich Wars only to find ourselves immediately entrenched in a Rib Sandwich Skirmish? A Rib Conflict? A Ribflict?

Well, not exactly.

See, Arby’s approach is a little more highbrow. Instead of processed pig parts of mysterious origin, its “real” ribs are sourced from Sadler’s, a Texas-based smokehouse. The ribs are smoked for eight hours “over real hickory wood.” The sandwich is then topped with melted Gouda, crispy onions, BBQ sauce, and mayo. Ooh-la-la, right? And so how is it?

Arby s Real Country Style Rib Sandwich  2

Well, let’s start with the ribs. Look, I live in Kansas City, so, you know, BBQ and so forth. And here’s the deal with these ribs: they are shockingly not bad. I was surprised at how tender and flavorful the meat was; they even had a distinctly authentic smoke flavor. It was a sizable serving as well. Simply put, the ribs were easily the highlight of the sandwich.

But what about the other components?

The Gouda was creamy and melty, and added its own bit of welcomed smokiness. Sadly, the rest of the sandwich fell sort of flat. The mayo was… there? For some reason? And, while the idea of fried onion pieces was a good one, the execution was lacking; drowning in a sea of BBQ sauce and mayo, they had no chance at staying crunchy. Instead, they became soft globules of chewy onion.

Arby s Real Country Style Rib Sandwich  1

And then you’ve got this BBQ sauce. Oy. This stuff.

It tasted like expired Bull’s-Eye brand sauce, or off-kilter ketchup, or maybe like aliens descended to Earth, and you explained what BBQ sauce is, and they tried to make it from scratch using ingredients foraged from a dumpster behind The Dollar Tree. It was awful, and there was a LAKE of the stuff on this sandwich, making the whole thing a gigantic, sloppy mess.

But, okay, awfulsauce aside, this thing is worth an order, at least to experience the ribs. But my suggestion would be to tell them to hold the BBQ sauce and then apply your own at home. Otherwise, you’ll be sorry.

Purchased Price: $5.99
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 500 calories, 23 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 1450 milligrams of sodium, 48 grams of carbohydrates, 3 gram of dietary fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 28 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dairy Queen Reese’s Pieces Cookie Dough Blizzard

Dairy Queen Reese s Pieces Cookie Dough Blizzard Cup

What is the Dairy Queen Reese’s Pieces Cookie Dough Blizzard?

It’s the October Blizzard of the Month, and its name pretty much describes what it contains: Reese’s Pieces candy, chocolate chip cookie dough, peanut butter topping, and pumpkin-flavored soft serve. OK, it’s regular vanilla soft serve. Just checking to make sure you are really reading this part of the review.

How is it?

It’s good, but this one goes into the category of what I’ll call the Taco Bell-style of Blizzard. While Taco Bell has introduced some new items lately that are actually new, like the Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco, most of its “new” introductions are just a slightly different combination of its core ingredients or the same combination from a few years ago that it thinks we forgot about. While Reese’s Pieces are not generally on the standard DQ menu, there have been countless Blizzards with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and/or cookie dough, so I can’t give the DQ folks many creativity points here.

I realize with the seasonal Blizzard menus, the Blizzard of the Month (which is sometimes more than one), and other new Blizzards throughout the year that every Blizzard can’t be a mind-blowing creation, and there’s nothing at all wrong with this one. It’s quite good, but I doubt my opinion is going to sway you on this one.

Dairy Queen Reese s Pieces Cookie Dough Blizzard Top

If you like Reese’s Pieces (or PB Cups) and cookie dough, then this is going to be a winner for you. If you are not on Team Reese’s, then this probably isn’t for you. I will say that the crunch of the Pieces in a Blizzard is a nice change compared to PB Cups, which have a consistency similar to the cookie dough. Even though there are chocolate chip cookie dough pieces in this, the chocolate flavor gets pushed aside by the power of peanut butter. So if the chocolate part is important to you, then maybe ask them to add in a bit of chocolate fudge topping or chocolate chunks.

Anything else you need to know?

Dairy Queen Reese s Pieces Cookie Dough Blizzard Spoon

Assuming that the nutrition info on the DQ website is correct — which is not always a safe assumption because, in the past, the chain has challenged the laws of both math and science by listing negative numbers for dietary fiber — this is the highest calorie Blizzard I can remember seeing. The small size has a whopping 900 calories, and the large has 1,710 calories, along with 81 grams of fat and 192 carbs. Wow.

Conclusion:

At the risk of hurting the feelings of this Blizzard, there’s nothing special about it. But don’t feel bad little Blizzard, you are still pretty good.

Purchased Price: $4.29
Size: Small
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (Small) 900 calories, 39 grams of fat, 20 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 490 milligrams of sodium, 108 grams of carbohydrates, 2 gram of dietary fiber, 88 grams of sugar, and 17 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dairy Queen Sea Salt Toffee Fudge Blizzard

Dairy Queen Sea Salt Toffee Fudge Blizzard Cup

What is the Sea Salt Toffee Fudge Blizzard?

It’s part of the Fall Blizzard Menu at Dairy Queen, and it features salted toffee pieces, rich fudge pieces, and caramel topping with vanilla soft serve.

How is it?

It’s the surprise hit of the fall season!

I wasn’t sure how much I would like this one because I don’t think I’ve ever bought a toffee bar in my life. Sure, I’ve had toffee plenty of times, but it’s usually been during the weeks after Halloween when I ask one of my kids for a piece of candy from their massive haul and they generously offer me a Heath bar because they don’t want to give up any of the good stuff. As a standalone candy, toffee is just OK to me. But as part of a tag team with the fudge pieces in this Blizzard, it’s really tasty.

Dairy Queen Sea Salt Toffee Fudge Blizzard Toffee

The toffee pieces in here are quite small, but they pack a solid punch with their extreme crunchiness and buttery sweet flavor. The caramel topping blends well with the not-so-different toffee flavor, and then the fudge pieces provide a vastly different chewy texture and nice chocolatey kick. It all comes together to form a complex and pleasant taste experience that sets this one apart from most other Blizzards.

Dairy Queen Sea Salt Toffee Fudge Blizzard Caramel

One caveat here -— if you are excited about the sea salt part of this Blizzard, well, calm down. As much as I tried, I couldn’t discern any salty taste at all, from the sea or anywhere else. I don’t want to call the fine people at DQ liars, especially considering I’m sure they have a whole team of lawyers that would frown upon such a statement, but I do think putting sea salt in the name of this Blizzard is a bit of a stretch.

Anything else you need to know?

I bet you can’t name three brands of toffee candy bars. In the U.S., there are basically two — Heath and Skor (and although they competed against each other at one point, both are now made by The Hershey Company). I tried, without much success, to see where those two candy bars rank in popularity compared to the likes of Snickers, Kit Kat, Milky Way, Twix, etc. The best I could do is find that the Heath bar was 56th in popularity in 1987, back when I’m not sure there were many more than 56 different candy bars being made. And maybe it’s time for someone to do a new survey.

Conclusion:

If you are like me and do not have an affinity for toffee, you should still give this Blizzard a chance because it’s unexpectedly good. And if you are one of the few people who actually goes out and buys toffee bars, then you are probably going to love this.

Purchased Price: $4.29
Size: Small
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (Small) 710 calories, 25 grams of fat, 14 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 570 milligrams of sodium, 110 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 86 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of protein.