REVIEW: Popeyes Chicken Sandwich

Popeyes Chicken Sandwich

I haven’t set foot in a Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen for around, sadly, a decade, since stopping at a Denver location that was a few blocks from my former favorite record store (Twist and Shout, if you’re interested). Even back then, however, I always thought that, when it comes to fried chicken, with its Louisiana-inspired seasonings and spices, Popeyes was the best in the biz.

When I received word that Popeyes was taking on Chick-fil-A with its own version of the heralded chicken sandwich that has made the Chick-fil-A so popular for so long, I knew it was finally time to rekindle my passionate taste for Popeyes once again.

Popeyes Chicken Sandwich 3

The sandwich is pretty basic, especially when you read about it in print: a large chunk of boneless fried chicken, placed on a “buttered bun” with a few pickles and (spicy) mayo. Of course, it comes in two variations, classic and spicy. I undoubtedly went the latter, as it was originally Popeyes spicy fried chicken that I had always devoured.

Popeyes Chicken Sandwich 2

Delivered to me in a foil-like silver bag, the first thing I noticed was how gratuitous this sandwich truly is. Popeyes already beats the chicken skin off of not only Chick-fil-A but just about every fast food chicken sandwich on the market with the sheer largesse of this New Orleans-style beast. I mean, it’s shocking how heavy the thing is. For only $3.99, even if the sandwich is just okay, you’re still getting your money’s worth.

But, you know, the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich is not okay… it’s mother-clucking fantastic!

It’s probably the best (non-gimmicky) chicken sandwich I’ve had in a long time. Every blessed bite is a mouthful of crispy fried skin and tender white meat, all coated with that special Popeyes seasoning that I have missed for so long. Every juicy sliver of meat is spiced with enough heat to not overdo it, but without that overly “greased” feeling that seems to buckle down a lot of fast food chicken.

(If I’m being honest though, I did squeeze a couple of packages of Louisiana Hot Sauce on top for a little additional down-home warmth.)

Popeyes Chicken Sandwich 4

With a couple of mild pickles and a small dab of spicy mayo for taste — not to mention the very firm, very plump, and very rich buttered buns — it doesn’t need all the unnecessary hoopla so many other sandwiches do and, maybe, that’s the thing I love so much about Popeyes Chicken Sandwich.

With basically a strongly empowered piece of fried chicken and very little else, Popeyes may have crafted the chicken sandwich of the year — and if you don’t believe me, well, then it’s your loss, champ. Cómpralo ya!

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: N/A
Rating: 10 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Not available on the Popeyes website that keeps crashing my browser.

REVIEW: Burger King Impossible Whopper

Burger King Impossible Whopper

I was a vegetarian in college.

I didn’t have any moral reasons for it, I just figured it was an easier way to lose weight and keep my vitals on the up and up. Plus, there was a vegetarian in my psychology class I was smitten with, and I reckoned that had to score me a couple of extra points.

Well, as was my torrid collegiate romance with Becky Schopenhauer, my dietary dalliance with vegetarianism was short-lived. One of the things people don’t tell you about going full veggie is just how expensive it is, and when a four-pack of MorningStar Farms veggie patties costs twice as much as two eight packs of Earl Campbell Hot Link sausages — and you’re a broke communications major — the economics become pretty obvious.

Yet all these years later, every now and then I still get a hankering for a good black bean burger. And while a lot of the more upscale burger joints have their own default veggie alternatives, finding soy patties at the larger fast food chains — your McDonald’s, your Wendy’s, your Steak n’ Shakes, etc. — is usually a lost cause.

Burger King Impossible Whopper 2

Sure, a few chains have experimented with meatless options a la Beyond Meat, but nothing on the scale of Burger King with its newfangled Impossible Whopper, which, as the name suggests, is the fast food leviathan’s signature item, albeit with the all-beef patty eschewed for an Impossible Foods-branded faux burger.

Without getting too scientific here, the secret ingredient in the Impossible Whopper patty is this stuff called leghemoglobin, which is a genetically-modified soy derivative that supposedly provides consumers the most meat-like meatless taste on the market.

Sure, sure, all of this pre-publicity puffery is fine and dandy, but I’m here to give it to you straight. So, is the Burger King Impossible Whopper truly the revolutionary product it claims to be?

Well, not really, but that’s not to say it isn’t a decent fast food burger.

Burger King Impossible Whopper Toppings

First things first, the patty itself is just too small. It’s maybe half the girth of the standard Whopper patty, and instead of being plump and juicy, this newfangled Impossible Whopper tastes more charred and salty. The patty itself, though, does have a pretty solid smoky flavor to it, and the mouthfeel of the product isn’t as chewy as you may expect. It doesn’t quite capture the “real” beef Whopper taste, but it gets closer to it than you’d think.

Burger King Impossible Whopper Tomato

And that’s thanks, in no small part, to the rest of the sandwich. It’s pretty amazing how all of the accoutrements — the lettuce, mayonnaise, and tomatoes — gel together to provide an idiosyncratic Whopper taste, despite the lack of a “true” Whopper patty whatsoever. You might have some reservations about the Impossible Whopper, but holistically, it tastes remarkably like its object of emulation.

Despite all of the hoopla over this meatless menu item, it seems a little odd to me that so few have noted that, for years, Burger King has already been serving what is effectively a “veggie Whopper.”

The weird thing is, the overall product reminds me of Burger King’s previous meatless burger, which utilized a MorningStar Farms Garden Veggie patty. Whatever gustatory quirks may be there, it appears are sizzled out in BK’s grilling process — so ultimately, you wind up with an Impossible patty that tastes just a tad too crispy, and a little too generic, for its own good.

Still, it’s an altogether pleasing product that ought to make vegetarians on the prowl for something a tad more filling than a garden salad pretty happy, although I just can’t see it turning long-time, omnivorous Whopper-fanatics into staunch vegans anytime soon.

Regardless, I’m pulling for the Impossible Whopper to be successful, if only to inspire competing burger chains to try their hands at the pseudo-burger fad. I mean, let’s face it — who doesn’t want to live in a world where Arby’s releases its own vegan-friendly Meat Mountain Sandwich a couple of years down the road?

Purchased Price: $5.29
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 630 calories; 34 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,080 milligrams of sodium, 58 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar and 25 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Krispy Kreme Reese’s Lovers Original Filled Doughnuts

Krispy Kreme Reese s Lovers Original Filled Doughnuts

What are Krispy Kreme Reese’s Lovers Original Filled Doughnuts?

Filled Doughnuts are the new wave for Krispy Kreme. As soon as it rolled out the technology, it simply couldn’t stop, and I gotta say I’m hella here for it.

For its newest iteration of the doughnut, the chain has taken the flavors of Reese’s re-released Peanut Butter Lover’s and Chocolate Lover’s Cups and put its own Original Filled spin on them.

The Chocolate Lover’s version is a chocolate Original Glazed doughnut filled with Reese’s Peanut Butter Kreme, dipped in chocolate fudge icing and decorated with a Reese’s peanut butter icing drizzle. The Peanut Butter Lover’s is a chocolate Original Glazed doughnut filled with Chocolate Peanut Butter Kreme, dipped in Reese’s peanut butter icing and decorated with a chocolate icing drizzle.

How are they?

Krispy Kreme Reese s Peanut Butter Lovers Original Filled Doughnuts

Krispy Kreme Reese s Chocolate Lovers Original Filled Doughnuts

It should come as no surprise as someone who loves all things Reese’s and has an affinity for Krispy Kreme that I absolutely adore these.

KK has a good track record with its Peanut Butter Kreme, and the execution here is flawless. The chocolate base provides a solid foundation that, when combined with the peanut butter overtones, it keeps the doughnut from becoming too sweet. Don’t get it twisted, these are doughnuts dipped in glaze, so they’re sweet. But the fatty saltiness from the PB provides a great balance that’s addictive perfection.

Is there anything else you need to know?

There’s an interesting turn to all of this, and I think the names of the doughnuts should be reversed. The Peanut Butter Lover’s tastes less peanut buttery than the Chocolate Lover’s.

The PB Lover’s is filled with a Chocolate Peanut Butter Kreme, which is delicious and new for KK, but has a more cocoa-forward flavor than the straight PB Kreme, with a rich frosting texture. Even with the PB icing on top the chocolate takes over and really leads the flavor much more so than it does in the PB Lover’s which is iced with chocolate. If the Kreme were swapped, then we would have a TRULY indulgent PB experience in one, and a more muted but still peanut buttery flavored one with the Chocolate Lover’s.

Conclusion:

Krispy Kreme Reese s Lovers Original Filled Doughnuts Box

The names of the doughnuts are confusing, but all you need to know is they are insanely smash worthy and provide different flavor profiles despite their similar ingredients. Plus, this is the first time I can remember that Krispy Kreme made new and unique packaging just for a doughnut release. So you know they’re special, and you know you need them both.

Purchased Price: $1.89
Size: N/A
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Reese’s Original Filled Chocolate Lovers Doughnut – 330 calories, 17 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 27 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein. Reese’s Original Filled Peanut Butter Lovers Doughnut – 340 calories, 18 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 180 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 27 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dairy Queen Snickers Peanut Butter Pie Blizzard

Dairy Queen Snickers Peanut Butter Pie Blizzard

What is the Snickers Peanut Butter Pie Blizzard?

It’s Dairy Queen’s co-Blizzard of the Month for August with its less fancy cousin Snickers Blizzard, which is a returning flavor. In addition to the titular candy, the Snickers Peanut Butter Pie Blizzard includes peanut butter and graham blended with vanilla soft serve.

How is it?

Straightforwardly solid. There’s not a whole lot of surprise in this Blizzard. If you like Snickers and peanut butter, then you are going to love this. As one who falls into that category, I figured this would be pretty good, and it was. The graham adds a nice layer of flavor, and all three elements blend together without any of them overpowering each other.

Dairy Queen Snickers Peanut Butter Pie Blizzard Closeup

With the peanuts in the Snickers and peanut butter, I thought there might be a little peanut overload, but I didn’t find that to be the case. This Blizzard is the opposite of Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates — you pretty much know what you are going to get…a pretty tasty treat. Nothing more, nothing less.

Is there anything else you need to know?

You are supposed to learn something new every day. I don’t know who made up that rule, and I’ve lived my life choosing to mostly ignore that advice. My brain can only hold so much information. But during this review, I learned Dairy Queen has coffee, or at least I’m pretty sure they do since my Blizzard was served in a generic coffee cup, presumably because my local DQ ran out of mini Blizzard cups.

Dairy Queen Snickers Peanut Butter Pie Blizzard Snickers Bar

OK, the fact that DQ serves hot brown caffeinated water is not an earth-shaking revelation, and perhaps you already knew that. But not being a coffee drinker, I had no idea. I also learned that using an actual Snickers bar as a spoon is a great idea, despite the weird looks I got. So I learned two things today, freeing up my schedule to learn absolutely nothing tomorrow.

Conclusion:

With so many Blizzard combinations over the years, it’s hard for any mixture to rise above the rest without throwing in a truly unique ingredient or flavor. Of course, neither Snickers nor peanut butter qualifies as such. But even so, this is a good addition to the Blizzard lineup and a tasty, if unspectacular, way to wind down summer.

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: Mini
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (Mini) 450 calories, 21 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 230 milligrams of sodium, 57 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 45 grams of sugar, and 9 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Panda Express Sichuan Hot Chicken

Panda Express Sichuan Hot Chicken

Panda Express’ Sichuan Hot Chicken is its take on crispy chicken strips, which seem to be all the rage with fast food chains nowadays. The entree is breaded all-white meat chicken tossed in a spicy Sichuan peppercorn sauce and dusted with a secret spice blend.

It’s easily the crunchiest chicken item on the menu, although that texture is on the edges of the pieces where the coating is a bit thicker. The chicken within the breading of the strips I received was juicy. Of course, your results may vary because of someone who was overzealous with the wok tossing.

The sauce isn’t sticky like Orange Chicken or gloopy like what’s on mushroom chicken. Instead, it’s an oil-based sauce with the spices swimming in it. Panda’s Sichuan peppercorn sauce with the secret spice blend is savory, peppery, spicy, a smidge citrusy, and pretty darn good.

Panda Express Sichuan Hot Chicken Make it Spicy

But it’s even better when you “Make it Spicy,” which is an option you have while ordering. If you do, your chicken will get sprinkled with an extra dose of the secret spice blend, which gives the breading an ominous look and amps up the heat AND flavor. To me, the added seasoning makes the standard Sichuan Hot Chicken pieces seem kind of bland. When I order this again, I’ll definitely “Make it Spicy.”

While the word “hot” is in its name, the regular Sichuan Hot Chicken isn’t what I would call “hot.” There’s a burn that slowly builds up to a mild level, but it doesn’t have me reaching for a soothing beverage. The “Make it Spicy” pieces are noticeably hotter, but it’s still not enough to make me want to shovel Panda’s fried rice into my mouth to relieve the burning. Also, whatever heat there is doesn’t linger for long.

Panda Express Sichuan Hot Chicken Side by Side

My biggest issue with this entree deals with size. The pieces aren’t uniform. As you can see in the photo above, the ones on the left, which is a three-piece order of the standard Sichuan Hot Chicken, are dramatically smaller than the ones on the right, which is a three-piece order of the ones made spicy. Looking at those three small pieces on my styrofoam plate, I can’t help but think I’m getting ripped off a little. But if I got three of the ones on the right or more of the smaller pieces, I’d feel a bit better.

Panda Express Sichuan Hot Chicken Innard

Sichuan Hot Chicken is another yummy sauced chicken selection from Panda Express. The Sichuan peppercorn sauce and secret spice blend are tasty, but they’re not quite good enough to make this limited-time menu item Orange Chicken-tastic or Beijing Beef-abulous.

Purchased Price: $9.20 (2-entree plate)
Size: 3-piece serving
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (3 pieces) 400 calories 26 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 910 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 19 grams of protein.

Click here for our previous reviews

REVIEW: Krispy Kreme Original Filled Birthday Batter Doughnut

Krispy Kreme Original Filled Birthday Batter Doughnut

What is the Krispy Kreme Original Filled Birthday Batter Doughnut?

Building off of the success of the Original Filled Doughnuts, Krispy Kreme quickly introduced a vibrantly colored twist to celebrate its 82nd birthday — an Original Glazed filled with birthday cake batter, topped with strawberry icing, and garnished with psychedelic sprinkles. Party hat not included.

How is it?

Krispy Kreme Original Filled Birthday Batter Doughnut 2

Krispy Kreme’s birthday cake batter is second only to its Original Kreme filling, and quite frankly it might be tied for first. I was elated when I heard it was filling its OG with this beautiful concoction, and as usual with KK there’s plenty of it stuffed inside the humbly-sized doughnut. Unfortunately, the strawberry icing is so overpowering that I can hardly taste the filling, and it’s only distinguishable by its slight custard-y texture among the various layers of sweetness.

Speaking of sweetness, this doughnut is absurdly sweet. If you’re familiar with the Original Glazed you know it’s sugary, but the gentle yeast flavor still manages to poke its way through the layers of sweetness. That’s not the case here with the aggressive flavor of artificial strawberry taking over everything in sight. Glaze + batter + strawberry = too much.

Is there anything else you need to know?

I guess it should come as no surprise that a single doughnut clocks in at 39 grams of sugar because that’s damn near all I can taste. With the Original Filled Doughnuts, I had feared that they might be too sweet, but they didn’t go overboard. However, with the Birthday Batter version, KK tried to “have its cake and eat it too” and created a bit of misguided monster in the process.

Conclusion:

This doughnut looks incredible. The two-toned sprinkle explosion with pink-on-tan contrast and squiggle drizzle is stunning, but this birthday treat is all looks and no balance, with the end result being a rush for some water and a pending tummy-ache.

Purchased Price: $1.89
Size: N/A
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts:: 350 calories, 15 grams of total fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 54 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 39 grams of sugars, and 3 grams of protein.