REVIEW: Little Caesars Slices-N-Stix Bacon

I am so glad the holidays are over. I enjoy all the specialness around the holidays, but the disruption to my routine year after year gets harder. If anything positive comes from the interruption, it’s that I can look at aspects of my routines and objectively decide if they are worth bringing into the new year. Our Pizza Saturdays made the cut without question. It started as an easy meal to throw in the oven after a long day of cleaning, but has become one we look forward to.

While we normally stick with frozen pizza, we decided to get Little Caesars’ Slices-N-Stix Bacon Pizza for our first Pizza Saturday in months. It isn’t an entirely new item (Slices-N-Stix has been on/off the menu since 2020), but this variation sees bacon added to the Italian Cheese Stix side. The basic idea behind the menu item is that you get the best of both worlds: half is a traditional pepperoni pizza, and the other is eight cheese sticks.

Ordering was a breeze through the app, but picking up was a bit of an ordeal. I’ll spare you the details, but I will say it’s always a good idea to check your food. Honestly, I don’t blame the employees for messing up, considering the item sounds like the pizza side should have bacon, but I am glad they fixed it quickly.

Little Caesars is at its best when it sticks with simple, and this item exemplifies that. The pepperoni pizza side is the standard Little Caesars recipe. It had been a while since I had one, and I genuinely enjoyed it. However, the star of the item was the Stix side. The bacon bits had gotten crispy during the cooking process, which added a nice textural difference to the soft cheesy Stix. The bacon also added an enjoyable smokey flavor. I think my overall favorite aspect was how it was the perfect amount for two people. We each had two slices and four Stix to enjoy.

The only criticism I have was the level of grease that seemed to come from the bacon cheese Stix side of the item. It certainly didn’t stop me from eating them, but I’m sure the addition of the bacon increased the grease levels significantly.

The Little Caesars Slices-N-Stix Bacon Pizza was a nice departure from our regular frozen pizza. I had worried that having half pizza/half stix would mean less quality with both, but it proved to be quite delicious. Honestly, I was impressed enough that we’ll make it a once-a-month treat going forward (as long as Little Caesars makes it). While I like familiarity and consistency with my foods, it is nice to shake it up every now and then.

Purchased Price: $7.99
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 slice of pizza, 2 breadsticks) 623 calories, 29 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 59 milligrams of cholesterol, 1373 milligrams of sodium, 63 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 29 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Papa Johns Papa Bites

Alas, “bite-ification” – when foodstuffs become snack/bite-size – has officially hit Papa Johns.

In December, it launched its new limited-time Oreo Cookie Papa Bites (fresh dough, topped with cheesecake filling and Oreo cookie pieces, baked and drizzled with icing).

Quickly after, it added two savory versions: Chicken Parmesan Papa Bites (fresh dough, grilled chicken, parmesan cheese, and pizza sauce that’s finished with garlic parmesan seasoning) and Jalapeno Papa Bites (fresh dough topped with its signature cheese, alfredo, jalapenos, and served with ranch dipping sauce).

They’re described as “eight savory or sweet delectable pillow pockets,” so I immediately thought of the pizza rolls found in the freezer aisle but with creative copywriting because the name “pizza rolls” is trademarked.

But I was wrong.

They’re more akin to stuffed, twisted breadsticks cut up into eight pieces and served with dipping sauces.

Before I get into a play-by-play, I will say that all varieties were flavorful on their own and didn’t really need any of the dips. I appreciate I had the option of slathering my bite in sauce, though, because I know folks love sauces, which includes myself! I always get an extra garlic dipping sauce.

Papa Johns also touts that these are all made with its fresh, never frozen dough. I’m not fancy enough to be able to tell frozen from fresh, but that Papa Johns pizza dough taste comes through despite all the mix-ins. Also, texture-wise, it’s not like the tough crust, but rather the soft, springy dough expected from its pizza.

Oreo Cookie Papa Bites

I started with the dessert collab with Oreo because I’m a dessert-first kinda gal!

Even though I could see chocolate cookie dusting, I didn’t get any Oreo chocolate cookie flavor. The icing also didn’t really taste like the creme. It tasted like dough with a plain ol’ icing. Dipping it in the side of icing also didn’t do anything but make it even more one-note tasting. I wanted to love these because they would’ve been a great add-on to my usual order, but they fell short. I had higher expectations because the Oreo name is front and center! If these were called Dessert Papa Bites, that would’ve tempered my expectations.

Jalapeno Papa Bites

After the disappointing Oreo one, I was ready for something savory, so I jumped to the Jalapeno version. The pungent, spicy, and sour aroma was calling my name because I also enjoy eating Papa John’s pepperoncini.

Despite thinking I was smelling the light-colored pepper that comes with Papa Johns’ pizzas, the bites did look like they were made with jalapenos as they were darker green pieces as opposed to bright yellow. As expected with jalapenos, there was just a kiss of heat that did not linger. The cheese was so plentiful that it was gooey, like a comforting grilled cheese. The alfredo helped to add a punch of flavor because it wasn’t seasoned on the outside like the Chicken Parmesan one. I preferred eating this flavor with the garlic dip instead of the ranch it came with, but honestly, I like garlic dip with almost everything. Again, dips and sauces are not needed, though!

Chicken Parmesan Papa Bites

The Chicken Parmesan one intrigued me the most because it looked like a stromboli or cut-up Costco chicken bake. I’m not sure if it was because they didn’t thoroughly split the bites apart, but these were wider than the other ones. It may have been a fluke, though, as all marketing materials lead me to believe it should look like the others! Visuals aside, this one was chock-full of add-ins like the Jalapeno one!

Unfortunately, all I could taste was sauce and cheese. The meat could have been a meatball, chicken, or mystery, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell you which. Don’t get me wrong – I especially love Papa Johns sauce, but it’s not chicken parm if I cannot detect chicken! But, unlike the Oreo one, I would get this one again. It was still very tasty and tasted great the next day for breakfast, but the dominant flavors were sauce, cheese, and the garlic parmesan seasoning on the crust.

Like breadsticks, Papa Bites are listed in the sides section. It’s enough food if you ate a box of eight on its own, but it doesn’t satisfy a true pizza craving as a pie does. Maybe a Papadia with a side of Papa Bites could be the winning combo! I give Papa Johns kudos for continuing to be creative with its menu, but some flavors were better than others.

Purchased Price: $4.99 each
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Oreo), 6 out of 10 (Chicken Parmesan), 7 out of 10 (Jalapeno)
Nutrition Facts: (1 Papa Bite) Oreo Cookie – 80 calories, 2 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 110 milligrams of sodium, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein. Chicken Parmesan – 110 Calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 280 milligrams of sodium, 10 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 6 grams of protein. Jalapeno – 80 Calories, 3 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 10 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Burger King Mexican Original Chicken Sandwich

I feel like there’s some really clever joke that does something with the idea, “Hey, you got your Taco Bell in my Burger King!” but I can’t actually think of the joke; I just know it’s out there, somewhere, in the ether. Maybe “My Burger King may taste like Taco Bell today, but at least my Dunkin’ doesn’t taste like Arby’s!” Nah. I’m going to need to workshop this one.

We’ve been getting some dinners from Burger King lately since the BK in the area is right on the way home from my daughter’s dance class, so it was very convenient to try out this new sandwich. Apparently, there are other special chicken sandwiches on offer right now: an Italian-style and an American-style, but the Mexican is the only new offering — others are returning fare.

I’ve always been fond of the BK long-and-thin chicken sandwich, so it was an appealing package right out of the paper sack. When I opened the sandwich up to see its beautiful innards, I saw a whole bunch of green specks that looked a bit like grains of rice. Later, I would find out these are little pieces of fried (and crunchy) jalapeno. I purposely didn’t look up the components for this item before tasting it so I would take note of what I was actually tasting and not what I was “supposed” to taste, so the little green bits were mysterious at first, although now I can’t imagine what else they could have been besides jalapeno. The other spicy component is a queso that is slathered on the buns.

For the first few bites, it was just a regular BK chicken sandwich. I asked my husband, “Are you sure you got me the Mexican one?” He gave me a “How stupid do you think I am?” look and I sheepishly returned to eating my strangely-oblong sandwich. Fortunately, it was at that point I started biting into the little jalapeno crumbs of joy and a pleasant spice began burning my mouth. This is actually pretty spicy, with the queso cheese bringing most of the heat, but as I’ve mentioned recently, I am new to spicy food so my “really spicy” might be someone else’s “meh, whatever.” That said, this sandwich was about as fiery as my food can get before it becomes a problem and I need a drink (and possibly some consoling), so it’s definitely not bland.

So, between the jalapeno and the queso, there’s definitely some spicy action going on here, but is it really “Mexican?” I can’t decide. With those two components, the sandwich definitely should taste Tex-Mex, but something about the stolid flavor of the original BK chicken sandwich seems to fight against that. I definitely want to have it again though, so it’s clear BK did something right. Even though they don’t carry the brunt of the spice quotient, those tiny little green jalapeno fried bits are addictive; as soon as I finished my sandwich, I ate all the little jalapeno pieces that had fallen onto my wrapper.

There’s something in me that doesn’t want to give this sandwich a high score because it’s not “really” Mexican, but….so what? More importantly, it was delicious, and deliciously spicy. Now I have a new dinner order for dance class nights.

Purchased Price: $5.29
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 680 calories, 31 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 1900 milligrams of sodium, 75 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 28 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Stuffed Biscuit Bites

Dunkin’ has a new bite-sized breakfast snack, so naturally I had to review it.

I’m not sure why, but this has basically become my Bat Signal. If the folks there “Munchkinify” something new, I have to try it as soon as possible and share my dopey opinion with you fine folks online.

Stuffed Bagel Balls? Check.

Mini Pancakes? Got ’em.

Snack-sized Wake-up Wraps? Reviewed ’em.

Shot glasses full of cappuccino? Actually, they haven’t done this, and rightfully so. That would be a terrible idea.

Eh, who am I kidding? I’d be there in the first week ready and willing to give my review, just like I was for Dunkin’s new Stuffed Biscuit Bites.

As much as I wanna sit here and give a glowing review of these tasty little discs, I don’t know if I should because I’ve been bamboozled!

Dunkin’s Biscuit Bites are almost identical to the Omelet Bites I reviewed last year. When I took my first bite, I immediately knew I’d had these before. They’re almost literally a repackaging of the same product in a slightly different casing. I’ll be fair, though, and actually review the Biscuit Bites because, after all, I liked the Omelet Bites.

I would say these are a slight step down, mostly due to the dry and bready shell coating. They still have a nice texture, but I was hoping there would be a buttery Southern-style biscuit base. Instead, it’s more of a soft stuffed bread with a light biscuit flavor.

If you’ve ever had one of those giant crusty knishes from a Jewish deli, the exterior really reminded me of one of those. I prefer square fried knishes myself, but I also like those, so this isn’t a knock in terms of the flavor. It was just a little too dry for such a small presentation.

If an “egg knish” was a thing, this is it. Whereas I would douse my knish in mustard, the egg, cheese, and bacon interior of the Biscuit Bites wasn’t enough to fully overcome the dryness.

Like the Omelet Bites, the stuffed portion here tasted exactly like the inside of a Pillsbury Toaster Scramble. While the bacon isn’t really noticeable by the eye, the slightly artificial flavor is there in droves, and the cheesy eggs act as a nice glue to keep everything intact. Despite harping on the dryness, I was still pleasantly surprised these weren’t in any way mushy.

So, these are new, but not really?

Ultimately, I liked them, but these are just a carbed-up repackaging of an old idea. I’m still a sucker for the small bites, and these held me over for a few hours, as I expected.

There’s an offer all month in the app where you can get these for free with a drink order, so you might as well try them out.

If you liked the Omelet Bites and think the idea of an “egg knish” sounds fun, you’ll have a good time. I’d probably ask for some syrup or, forgive me, ketchup the next time I get these to moisten them up a bit.

Purchased Price: $3.29
Size: 2 Bites
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 260 calories, 13 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 85 milligrams of cholesterol, 690 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of total sugars, and 10 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Brown Butter Toffee Latte

If there was an intersection where coffee and toffee met, you’d find me in the middle, impatiently waiting for waves of espresso and the butter/sugar confection to crash into me. Before Ben & Jerry’s ruined it, its Coffee Heath Bar Crunch was my go-to ice cream, and I make batches of my own coffee toffee several times a year. Coffee and toffee play well together beyond just rhyming, and Dunkin’ is here to take advantage of that with its new Brown Butter Toffee Latte. The winter menu drink features your milk of choice plus “bold espresso and subtle brown butter and toffee flavor notes.”

When I removed the lid on the hot version, I was briefly thrown off by a bizarre orange hue around the edges until I realized this was the result of sprinkles that had melted into the drink. It definitely captures the aroma of toffee, and the flavor is rich and buttery with the latter being almost a little startling at times. Browned butter is delicious, but here and there, I got a sip that almost seemed like I was just drinking browned butter. It isn’t necessarily off-putting, but if anyone asked, you’d certainly have no trouble identifying what that flavor is. Apparently, Dunkin’ and I don’t have the same definition of “subtle.”

We also differ on the word “bold” because I wish the coffee was more present here. While packing a fair amount of sugar, the sweetness isn’t totally overwhelming for me. But I think it could be better balanced with a stronger coffee element or maybe a bit more molasses flavor for depth and bitterness. Overall though, these are minor quibbles because the toffee flavor is well executed, and the drink has a toasty, wintery vibe that’ll help comfort you in this post-holiday time when you’re forced to throw out your Christmas tree.

The iced latte is creamier and more mild tasting which can be good or bad depending on how much you enjoy the two main flavors here. It doesn’t smack me in the face with browned butter the way the hot version sometimes did; here, it is more subtle. The toffee smell is still strong, but the taste is toned down a bit. Not sure if you love toffee, but can get on board with caramel things? I’d go the iced route.

Both hot and iced drink like dessert beverages and less like your morning coffee. Neither achieves the highest levels that a coffee/toffee pairing can, but if you’re looking for a sweet way to usher in January, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in these cozy lattes.

Purchased Price: $4.29 (hot), $4.69 (iced)
Size: Medium
Rating: 8 out of 10 (hot), 7 out of 10 (iced)
Nutrition Facts: (Medium hot with whole milk) 280 calories, 9 grams of total fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of total carbs, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 37 grams of total sugar (24 grams of added sugar), and 9 grams of protein. (Medium iced with whole milk) 280 calories, 9 grams of total fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of total carbs, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 37 grams of total sugar (24 grams of added sugar), and 9 grams of protein.