Del Taco Crispy Jalapeno Rings

“Why would we fry a jalapeno?”

That was the response I got from the first Del Taco I went to. And it pretty much sums the crazy world of the fast food arms race that we live in. It took me four Del Taco’s and a gallon of gas before I finally arrived at a location that sold these mysterious treats. The Del Taco’s that don’t sell these looked at me like I was either insane or pulling a stupid prank. The Del Taco that did sell these things pimped them out like Christmas had come early. They are red and green, I suppose.

After realizing that I put far too much time and effort into finding something that most stoners have already made at home, I was finally able to try one of these crispy rings. My first mistake was popping one in my mouth while I was driving back home. Not only did the oil scorch my soft palate, but the combination of heat and fat managed to squeeze through my blood within a matter of seconds. I clutched at my heart as I felt a sharp sting run through my chest, nearly barreling off the road.

Don’t eat these while you’re driving.

I somehow made it home and opened the bag to find a meager box of deep-fried jalapeno slices that looked pretty sad and lonely in there. I looked through the rest of the bag incredulously, wondering why I paid $1.79 for what amounts to three jalapenos and a tablespoon of flour and water. I eventually got over it and ate a few more pieces before my body forced me to stop. The slices have been pickled, so you’ll get some moisture once you bite past the crispy-as-advertised outer batter. Other than that, they’re just fried jalapenos that will almost certainly give you nausea or a stomachache if you eat the whole thing.

I should note that it comes with what is advertised as a white “secret sauce” that looks and tastes just like Trader Joe’s tahini sauce. That is to say, it pretty much tastes like watered down yogurt. I would tell you what it tastes like with some ranch dipping sauce, but Del Taco doesn’t have that and basically shut me down when I asked. Bastards!

Stick with jalapeno poppers for now. They might not come in festive colors, but at least you’ll have some cream cheese to cheer your up.

Item: Del Taco Crispy Jalapeno Rings
Price: $1.79
Purchased at: Del Taco
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Batter stays extremely crispy for a while. Jalapeno slices are plenty spicy. Comes in two colors.
Cons: Pricey for the amount you get. Special sauce does not taste very special. The feeling inside of your body after consuming deep fried jalapenos.

Taco Bell Volcano Taco

Why must Taco Bell insist on painting the taco shell red for their Volcano Taco to let you know that it’s spicy? Most of us are probably functionally retarded during the times we’re eating there at two in the morning, but it doesn’t give them carte blanche to rub it in our faces. We shouldn’t take this lying down, no matter how fat and lazy their food has made us!

This is Taco Bell flipping us off with one hand and biting their thumb with the other. We already knew that their product wasn’t healthy, but now they’re basically admitting the food is by no means real or to be taken seriously. You might as well swing by the drive-thru window and ask for a cup of Play-Doh so you can make your own taco shells at home.

Aside from the food coloring, I was excited about the prospect of a new affordable taco with a “cheesy lava sauce” that would allow me to spew fire and blow smoke from my head. As I was figuring out the logistics of trying how to make a taco stand up for a picture, I had two of my buds perform an informal taste test.

The first looked rather disgusted and deadpanned that it “tastes like old mayonnaise” as he reached for a bottle of beer.

The second response started off more promising. “I like it better than a regular taco,” he nodded, before continuing, “I’d probably give it a 4 out of 10.”

Apparently, he doesn’t like Taco Bell’s regular tacos very much.

I agree with his score, but not with his original assessment. Taco Bell’s original tacos are unabashedly generic Tex-Mex tacos, but they typically hit the spot. Even doused with hot sauce, the smattering of iceberg lettuce does an admirable job of being a refreshing palate cleanser.

With the Volcano Taco, the cheese sauce overwhelms all of the other ingredients and leaves you with a rather tangy aftertaste. I wouldn’t say that it tastes like bad mayonnaise, but it does have a pretty thick and heavy mouth feel which threw me off a bit. In regards to the heat, I’d say that the red shell warning was unnecessary. It’s moderately spicy, but it’s not anything that will have you blowing fire or reaching for the nearest icy beverage.

Unless, of course, it’s to wash the taste out of your mouth.

(Nutritional Facts – 1 taco – 240 calories, 150 calories from fat, 17 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 490 milligrams sodium, 14 gram of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 8 grams of protein.)

Item: Taco Bell Volcano Taco
Price: 89 cents
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Cheaper than most of their items that come with cheese sauce. Moderately spicy. The ability to breathe fire.
Cons: Not nearly as spicy as advertised. Tangier and thicker sauce than I expected. Sauce masks the taste of lettuce, beef, and shredded cheese. Aftertaste is not pleasant.

Starbucks Vivanno Nourishing Blends

Oh yeah, Ms. Starbucks Barista. I see you flashing your smile at me, even though I’m in the back of this line that’s ten people deep and I’m partially hidden behind the rack of CDs I would never purchase for myself, but if you want, I could purchase one just for you, even though you probably have an employee discount and you don’t buy CDs anymore since you buy all your music on iTunes.

I originally came to Starbucks for one thing, the new Starbucks Vivanno Nourishing Blends…actually, I take that back, I came for two things since these new smoothies come in two flavors, Orange Mango Banana and Banana Chocolate, but now I’m here for three things, an Orange Mango Banana Vivanno, a Banana Chocolate Vivanno, and your heart.

Oooh, you’re so hot. You put the “hot” in hot chocolate. You put the “cha” in chai and mocha. I just want to take one of these Ethos Water bottles and pour it all over you to cool you down. Don’t worry, I’ll pay for it later…with some sweet lovin’. Speaking of things involving long objects, each Vivanno includes one whole banana. The Orange Mango Banana version also includes all-natural mango orange juice, whey protein, fiber powder, 2% milk, and ice, while the Banana Chocolate has bittersweet cocoa, 2% milk, whey protein, fiber powder, and ice.

Thank you for blending these Vivanno for me. You look sexy in that green apron you have on. Maybe you’ll get the opportunity to tie me up or strangle me with it. Speaking of overwhelming, the banana flavor was quite so in both Vivanno flavors.

But alas, you and I, sexy barista, weren’t meant to be. My heart skipped a beat when you called out my name because it made me feel special that you knew my name, but you only knew because it was written on the side of the cups and not because you made every effort to sneak a peek at my name on my American Express Blue card. I also knew you and I weren’t meant to be, because both the Vivanno you blended for me weren’t very good.

The Banana Chocolate Vivanno had a decent chocolate flavor, which wasn’t too sweet and reminded me of chocolate milk. The Orange Mango Banana Vivanno reminded me of an Orange Julius, except not as orangey. The Banana Chocolate one was kind of chalky due to the whey protein powder and it didn’t have the thickness of a smoothie, like those at Jamba Juice, instead it was watery and didn’t have those ice crystals which give real smoothies a satisfying crunch. The Orange Mango Banana one was bland and also watery. I wish you put more crushed ice in there, but I guess you don’t love me enough to do so.

(Nutrition Facts – 16 ounces – Orange Mango Banana – 250 calories, 2 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 32 grams of sugar, 16 grams of protein, 35% Vitamin A, 35% Vitamin C, 10% Calcium, 4% Iron, 0 milligrams of caffeine, and 10-15 minutes of waiting depending on length of line to barista. Banana Chocolate – 270 calories, 5 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 28 grams of sugar, 21 grams of protein, 10% Vitamin A, 15% Vitamin C, 20% Calcium, 15% Iron, 15 milligrams of caffeine, and 1 ounce tears of disappointment.)

Item: Starbucks Vivanno
Price: $3.75 (16 ounces – grande)
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: A serving of fruit. If you like bananas, the banana flavor was strong in both of them. Under 270 calories. Vitamins and minerals. Fiber. Protein. Hot baristas.
Cons: One size only. Watery, not smoothie-like. Banana Chocolate one had a slightly chalky texture to it. Needed more crushed ice. Orange Mango Banana was bland. Waiting in a line of Starbucks junkies to get one.

REVIEW: McCafe Tuxedo Brownie

The idea of getting a fancy pastry from McDonald’s is like getting your entertainment from MTV, it’s best to have low expectations because of its source, which should’ve stuck to their roots instead of branching out into other areas.

The Golden Arches has been trying to take advantage of Starbucks’ popularity by introducing in some of their McDonald’s restaurants the McCafe, which offers coffees, coffee drinks, fruit smoothies, and pastries, like the McCafe Tuxedo Brownie.

Just like all Mike Myers’ films after “So I Married An Axe Murderer,” I had low expectations for the McCafe Tuxedo Brownie, which consisted of a fudge top, a chewy brownie middle, and a crunchy bottom that seemed to consist of Oreo crumbs and white chocolate.

It reminded me of something I would find in Chili’s or Applebees, except without the obligatory scoop of vanilla ice cream and the boring restaurant decor. The design on top of the Tuxedo Brownie looked like cappuccino art and brought back memories from those times I spent trying to perfect my curly brackets in trigonometry class.

The box it came in was significantly bigger than the pastry itself and it also came in a fancy schmancy McCafe brown paper bag with paper handles, which will be recycled and used as a gift bag filled with dog poop, set on fire, and given to someone I don’t like.

You know who you are.

The Tuxedo Brownie was as dense as the words that come out of Spencer Pratt’s mouth whenever he opens it. As a matter of fact, it was so dense that I couldn’t eat the whole thing in one sitting, but that denseness made it chewy, which is just how I like my brownies.

Unfortunately, it didn’t really taste like a brownie because the fudge top overpowered the rest of it. Overall, it was good, which surprised the hell out of me, although I could probably do a better job with some fudge, brownie mix, chocolate chips, macadamia nuts, an Iron Chef, and a degree from a half-decent French culinary school.

(Editor’s Note: Thanks to TIB reader Kylie for recommending the McCafe pastries for review. I think I still feel it in my gut.)

Item: McCafe Tuxedo Brownie
Price: $2.75
Purchased at: McDonald’s McCafe
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Good. Chewy. Seems inexpensive. Looks fancy. Comes in a fancy schmancy brown paper bag with handles. “So I Married An Axe Murderer.” MTV when they played music videos.
Cons: Doesn’t really taste like a brownie. Denseness may turn off some. Comes in huge box. Not available at all McDonald’s. Unknown nutrition facts. Spencer Pratt. Trigonometry. MTV today.

Jamba Juice 3G Energizer

OMG! Like energy drinks are soooo like 2007. Now it’s like totally about energy-everything-else because energy drink are like so everywhere. They’re in like grocery stores, convenience stores, online stores, membership warehouse stores, restaurant stores, super stores, and like bar stores. Like I would not be caught dead drinking a canned energy drink because like aluminum is for siding and covering leftovers.

Because I don’t like want to look like a total dorkzilla, I’ve been like drinking the Jamba Juice 3G Energizer smoothie to like totally get my energy. It’s got like this 3G Charger boost thingy, which is supposed to like give me 120 milligrams of caffeine.

The boost thingy has like stuff you’d find in energy drinks, like green tea, guarananana and like ginseng, but it doesn’t come in some lamers can. Like the only things that like should be in a can are like canned food going to the food bank and like Oscar the Grouch. There’s like also an Energy boost thingy with lots of Vitamins B6 and B12. With all those vitamins it’s like they totally threw in some Flintstones vitamins.

Along with the 3G Charger and Energy boost thingies, the Jamba Juice 3G Energizer contains raspberries, strawberries, lemonade, passionfruit-mango juice, lime sherbet, and orange sherbet. When I read it had passionfruit, I like asked the Jamba Juice person if it was one of those like a-fro-dee-zee-ack thingies. The Jamba Juice blender jockey like looked at me like I was stupid or something. OMG! Whatever! Total hater!

Anyhoo, I like wanted to totally like this, because the color was cute and it was kind of yummers, but OMG, there were like seeds like everywhere and I was like totally not having any fun. Seeds were like crunchy and like getting stuck between my teeth. OMG! Hello, it’s like supposed to be a smoothie and go down smooth, not a smoothie sometimes and go down not so smooth. It was like a total bummers.

I was like trying to enjoy its strong lemonade-y taste, but like the seeds like totally got in the way. At first, I was deciding whether or not I was going to like spit them out, but it’s like totally lamers to spit, so I like swallowed all those seeds. I like totally hope a strawberry tree doesn’t like grow in me. That would be like totally gross.

OMG, while I was drinking the Jamba Juice 3G Energizer, I felt like I was that Duracell Bunny that like keeps going and going. While I was walking around the mall with it, it like gave me the energy to climb the stairs instead of climbing the escalator and like when I was pulling clothes to try on, the store worker came up to me and asked me if she could like take the clothes I had in my hands and put them in a dressing room, but because of the energy from the smoothie, I totally told her that I’d hold on to them.

OMG! I’m totally like Wonder Woman now.

(Nutrition Facts – 24-ounces – 470 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 30 milligrams of sodium, 430 milligrams of potassium, 110 grams of carbohydrates, 93 grams of sugar, 6 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of protein. 90% Vitamin C, 30% calcium, 4 fruit servings, 1 big sugar rush, and like 1 big sugar low.)

Item: Jamba Juice 3G Energizer
Price: $4.69 (24-ounces)
Purchased at: Jamba Juice
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Good. Really sweet. Lemonade is the dominant flavor. Nice boost of energy. 120 milligrams of sweet, sweet caffeine.
Cons: Too many damn seeds. Not too smooth for a smoothie. Too many damn likes in this review. Lots of sugar. Being a dorkzilla. The insane abundance of energy drinks.