REVIEW: Pizza Hut Original Pan Pizza (2019)

Pizza Hut Original Pan Pizza  2019

It was a surprise to me when I heard Pizza Hut was “repairing” its Pan Pizza recipe, changing the type of cheese and, more important, utilizing a new baking method meant to “enhance” the crust’s flavor. I really didn’t know people even had a problem with it.

Recently, I went to the neighborhood Pizza Hut down the street from my house and ordered, for myself, a Personal Pan Pizza, making sure from the pizza-barista that they utilize this new process at about a fourth the size, just like they do their full-size. Confirmed and comfortable, I ordered one with pepperoni. The smell of the baking pizza floated about the small building, enticing me in a way the Hut never had before.

Brought to my table — that was fully emblazoned with Wing Street logos, natch — I opened up the adorable miniature pizza box and, after snapping a couple of pictures, gently pulled a small slice from the somewhat larger pie, the new cheese stringing across the box like it was being filmed for a recent commercial campaign.

Pizza Hut Original Pan Pizza  2019 Slice

Full steam ahead, I bit into the pan pizza; the cheese was notably different right from the start — a bit more heavy than usual and with somewhat more of a fuller bite — it was definitely an improvement on the old recipe. Using a part-skim mozzarella cheese, there seems to be far more of it, making it a wonderfully cheesy mess. The tomato sauce, additionally, melded very well to the cheese, pairing together like some well-worn partners in pizza-esque crime.

But, and this was what made it for me, the crust tasted absolutely new and improved. The buttery richness of the baked dough made me want a loaf of this as a crispy bread, with maybe the aforementioned melted cheese as a cruel dipping sauce of sorts. Can we get on this idea, Pizza Hut?

While the calorie count, even for a Personal, is quite loaded at 610 calories, it might be worth it on a special cheat day just to desperately try these modern improvements in the pizza-making abilities of Pizza Hut, no matter how long you’ve been away from or how often you likely go to the Hut. Cómpralo ya!

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: Personal Pan Pizza
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 610 calories, 26 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1260 milligrams of sodium, 69 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 25 grams of protein.

REVIEW: McDonald’s Grand McExtreme Bacon Burger

McDonald s Grand McExtreme Bacon Burger

If you’re like me, you’ve fallen down many a rabbit hole of International McDonald’s menu items. I’ve clicked through listicle after annoying listicle just yearning for the day America embraces the weirdness that the rest of the world gets to bask in daily.

Good thing for us, McDonald’s has introduced a new “Worldwide Favorites” menu. What say we go for a little trip across the pond?

McDonald s Grand McExtreme Bacon Burger Box

The Grand McExtreme Bacon Burger comes courtesy of Spain and consists of a Quarter Pounder, Applewood Bacon, McBacon Sauce, slivered onions, and two slices of Gouda.

Quick questions – I thought Gouda was a Dutch cheese? Is it a staple of Spaniard diets? Is McDonald’s making stuff up?!

McDonald s Grand McExtreme Bacon Burger Cheese

Anyway, the Gouda and McBacon Sauce were the ingredients I was most excited about. I’ve never had either on a fast food burger. I assumed they were what made this burger so extreme. So McExtreme!

The Gouda was mild, but there was just enough of that creamy, smoky flavor you’d want. It meshed really well. There are so many overpowering cheeses that could have ruined everything, so no matter where Gouda derives from, it was the right choice for this particular burger.

McDonald s Grand McExtreme Bacon Burger Toppings

I’d take McBacon Sauce over ketchup on literally every burger going forward. It’s equal parts smoky, tangy, and well, bacon-y. It’s too bad they screwed me with only a small dollop. Every burger I buy is swimming in sauce. The one time I’d actually like that, I get a dab.

The rest of the ingredients were retreads, although I’ll say that not having a Quarter Pounder in a while really made me feel like I was eating a premium hamburger – at least by McDonald’s standards.

Applewood Bacon has become a can’t miss topping, so no complaints there.

The onions didn’t add much, so I ended up scraping most of them off. They should’ve used crispy fried onions.

I wondered why they didn’t do anything fancy with the sesame seed bun, but I got a nice fresh one at least.

McDonald s Grand McExtreme Bacon Burger Bite

The most impressive thing about this burger was how clean it somehow was. The box was initially oily and gross (I guess that was from the bacon? Maybe some Gouda run-off?), but the burger as a whole was shockingly easy to eat. That was likely exclusive to my experience, but nothing fell off the burger, and I didn’t even need a napkin, which is unheard of. I imagine that’s how Europeans like their burgers.

All in all, this was a creative, tasty burger, which is great because, besides the Stroopwafel McFlurry, the other Worldwide Favorites are boring. Cheese fries? Mozzarella chicken sandwich? Meh. What makes mozzarella Canadian? McDonald’s is just randomly assigning cheeses to countries!

Despite the mystery grease, the Grand McExtreme is one of the better fast food burgers I’ve had in ages. Is it distinctly Spanish? I couldn’t tell ya, but no matter what, Me encanta! (This is Google Spanish for “I’m Loving it,” so blame them if it’s wrong.)

Purchased Price: $6.60
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 750 calories, 47 grams of fat, 18 grams of saturated fat, 145 milligrams of cholesterol, 1310 milligrams of sodium, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 43 grams of protein.

REVIEW: McDonald’s Stroopwafel McFlurry

McDonald s Stroopwafel McFlurry

I am of the opinion that McDonald’s outside of the states is better.

One of my all-time favorite fast food sandwiches is the McSpicy in Asia. Now one of my all-time favorite treats is the Stroopwaffel McFlurry from the Netherlands! But, the best is part is that I can get the latter here (for a limited time unless you visit the Chicago HQ McDonald’s locations which carries international items regularly.)

If you’re not familiar with a stroopwafel, it’s a euro-phenom. It’s basically a genius way to eat a cookie for breakfast; they’re very thin (even thinner than Oreo Thins!) waffle wafers sandwiching caramel. The waffle itself has the cinnamon goodness of a freshly made waffle cone, but it’s much more pliable, delicate because it bends with the caramel without crumbling. I appreciate McDonald’s went with the most well-known maker Daelmans.

McDonald s Stroopwafel McFlurry Top

But, you won’t find a whole cookie! The treat itself has broken up pieces of one blended with caramel and vanilla soft serve.

Because I may have been the first person order this at the location I went to, I was able to overhear the details about making the sausage, um, soft serve treat. The snack size comes with two scoops of cookie bits and a regular comes with three. Both get one pump of caramel.

McDonald s Stroopwafel McFlurry Spoon

The cookie pieces ate like caramel bits that beautifully stuccoed the vanilla soft serve. They didn’t freeze up from the cold. Also, one scoop of bits was plenty generous as I thought there was a nice distribution throughout the treat.

The pump of caramel nicely enhanced the caramel in the stroopwafel but didn’t overtake it. However, I could tell the stuff in the cookie was better with notes of cinnamon and vanilla compared to the straight sugar of the confection that was pumped in.

Overall, if you love caramel, you’ll definitely enjoy this!

Purchased Price: $2.29
Size: Snack Size
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 480 calories, 13 grams of fat, 8 gram of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 230 milligrams of sodium, 81 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 57 grams of sugar, and 9 grams of protein.

REVIEW: McDonald’s Tomato Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich

McDonald s Tomato Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich Crispy

For many years, I thought American fast food was a shining beacon of liberty, creativity, and ingenuity —- in short, everything that won two world wars, put a man on the moon, and bequeathed the world such celebrities as the Jonas Brothers.

Reality, a hip college-aged friend of mine tells me, is often disappointing, although I think she stole that from a movie. Such is the case when you consider the rather pedestrian domestic offerings of chains like McDonald’s in relation to its overseas menus. Thankfully, we get to bask in a little international culture for the summer, as the Golden Arches have rolled out its “Worldwide Favorites” menu.

The Tomato Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich, an import from Canada, suggests an especially light and summery offering. You can get the sandwich in either a grilled or crispy version but because you only live once and can drastically reduce said life through gluttony, I got both.

McDonald s Tomato Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich Crispy Halved

Structurally, the crispy chicken sandwich holds up better than the grilled. Mine was well presented with multiple leaves of lettuce and surprisingly fresh Roma tomato slices tucked into a toasted, buttered Artisan bun. The crispy chicken was plenty juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside — everything you would want it to be, but for some reason it tasted just okay.

McDonald s Tomato Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich Toppings Crispy

The viscous tomato and herb sauce is less sweet or acidic than it probably should be, and what’s left is a garlicky sauce that doesn’t know what it wants to be. The mozzarella, warm but unmelted, cheesy but not milky, is serviceable. But like watching Canadian football, it’s not preferable.

McDonald s Tomato Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich Grilled

I found that the grilled chicken version tastes better than the crispy one if only because there is a warm succulence to the grilled poultry that melts the cheese more completely than the crispy version.

McDonald s Tomato Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich Tomatoes

The tomatoes and lettuce add a more pronounced relief to the protein and gooey cheese, but they also add structural instability. In rather cartoonish fashion, the contents of my sandwich squirted themselves almost completely free of the bun, of which the button half was basically useless. Also, there are onions on both sandwiches. They’re fine if not a little annoying.

Overall, the Tomato Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich is a little bit better than fine but not quite a solid good despite it’s obviously fresh ingredients and relatively sound engineering. If anything, the sandwich makes you appreciate the tried and true regular McDonald’s menu a bit more, while still cultivating a healthy curiosity for the warmth of drive-thrus on distant (or relatively close) foreign shores.

Purchased Price: $5.49
Size: N/A
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 700 calories (Crispy); 530 calories (Grilled) Full nutrition not available at publication time.

REVIEW: Mtn Dew Sweet Lightning

Mtn Dew Sweet Lightning  KFC Exclusive

What is Mtn Dew Sweet Lightning?

The marketing materials describe this latest Mountain Dew concoction as having a “sweet peach and smooth honey” flavor, a description which seemingly does its best to match the drink’s shockingly bright orange hue.

How is it?

Well, it definitely is sweet. It’s far more toothaching than any recent Dew flavors, at least since the holidays. As a plus, the Sweet Lightning doesn’t have the Robitussin DM-lite accents that those Christmas ones did.

Mtn Dew Sweet Lightning  KFC Exclusive Closer Up

While, admittedly, it’s a little difficult to pinpoint either the peach or honey flavors over the first couple of gulps, to be honest, at first I thought I was drinking some sort of European tangerine drink and walked over to the machine to double-check. Eventually, though, when you know what to feel around in the back of your mouth for, its shocking sweetness actually provides some much needed balm for those customers snacking on KFC’s salty poultry, or, God forbid, its moderately hot chicken items.

Is there anything else you need to know?

In case you couldn’t guess, Mtn Dew Sweet Lightning is available exclusively at Kentucky Fried Chicken and its soda fountains for — say it with me now — a limited time only. Additionally, did you know that KFC doesn’t offer a small size for its drinks? I just learned that as I forked over two bucks for a medium.

Conclusion:

Mtn Dew Sweet Lightning  KFC Exclusive Close Up

Mtn Dew is doing its very best to appeal to those with a sweet tooth in the KFC audience that aren’t digging into the new Cinnabon Dessert Biscuits — oh boy, myself included — with this fun summertime flavor that manages to combine two disparate tastes into what, at first sip, tastes like neither.

Purchased Price: $1.89
?Size: Medium
?Rating: 6 out of 10
?Nutrition Facts: Unavailable.

REVIEW: Sonic Red Bull Slush

Sonic Red Bull Slush Cup

What is the Sonic Red Bull Slush?

If you’ve ever chugged a Red Bull — America’s favorite energy drink, second only to Ol’ Glory, of course — and thought to yourself “Gee, I wonder what this would taste like moderately frozen,” here is your chance to live your frosty dreams, courtesy of the Sonic corporation.

How is it?

Sonic Red Bull Slush

I was thoroughly excited to try this recent breakthrough in energy technology, so I ordered a small original flavor from my local Sonic. At first sip, the common Red Bull flavor is wonderfully there, a sharp stab to the senses that does a great job of momentarily perking the user up.

Sadly, the comedown is almost immediate, with a distinct backwash and aftertaste of what I can only describe as frozen mouthful of used dishwater. How the taste can do a 180 degrees like that is far beyond my pay grade, but any excitement of two great products coming together is quickly done away, leaving me with a three-dollar cup that’s too pricey to dump out.

Is there anything else you need to know?

If the Sonic Red Bull Slush is still something you desperately need to down, try to do it between two to four p.m. to take advantage of the chain’s Happy Hour. I, unfortunately, was thirty minutes early and paid full price. Additionally, it’s also available in a cherry limeade slush as well.

Conclusion:

Sonic Red Bull Slush Strawless

I would send this one back to the labs, Sonic. The nonplussed aftertaste is just far too much to deal with, leaving me with a sour stomach that swirled with burning acids that couldn’t be cooled down no matter how much icy slush was involved. Guess its back to the regular small can of Sugar-Free Red Bull for me.

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: Small
Rating: 2 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (Small) 180 calories, 0 grams of fat, 50 milligrams of sodium, 48 grams of carbohydrates, 48 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.