REVIEW: Sonic Big Dill Cheeseburger and Pickle Fries

Sonic Big Dill Cheeseburger and Pickle Fries

I have no shame in admitting that I am what is known as a “pickle girlie.” There is always a minimum of two open jars in my fridge at any given moment, and I will always argue why we should get the fried pickle chip appetizer anytime we go out.

Pickles have popped up in many different forms over the years, although they never seemed to get the same trend saturation as sriracha or bacon. While they have been a common component in fast food sandwiches, they never seem to be the focus. But now, Sonic Drive-In is giving us our first pickle-centric burger this summer, the Big Dill Cheeseburger, as well as the new Pickle Fries.

Sonic Big Dill Cheeseburger Bun

The Big Dill Cheeseburger consists of a beef patty, American cheese, lettuce, crinkle-cut pickle slices, crispy pickle fries, and a dilly ranch on a brioche bun. The crispy pickle fries included in the burger are also available as a stand-alone side. I got both, but let’s start with the burger as it didn’t shine as much as the Pickle Fries.

Sonic Big Dill Cheeseburger Top

The dill pickle smell is unmistakable and loud. My poor husband’s car smelled of them for a solid day after bringing home the items. Trying the burger first, I was fairly impressed by the higher quality brioche bun. Soft and hearty, it was a nice upgrade from the standard fast food bun. The burger patty and cheese are what I’ve come to expect from Sonic. As odd as it might sound, the meat and cheese not standing out works well for this item as it allows the pickle flavors to shine. The description said the spread was a “dilly ranch,” but I’m certain it was just mayo.

Sonic Big Dill Cheeseburger Split

The regular pickles you get on other items were very present and overshadowed the pickle fries the more I tasted the sandwich. The fries didn’t add much texture. I thought they would be the star, but they were just sort of there. The more I ate it, the more I thought I should just order a cheeseburger with extra pickles the next time I want to satisfy my pickle desire. With my expectations low, I took a swig of my cranberry limeade slush to cleanse my palate before trying the stand-alone pickle fries.

Sonic Pickle Fries Closeup

I was impressed with how well Sonic had nailed the fry shape in how the pickles were cut. So often, we get alternative “fries” that don’t eat like fries, especially when it comes to the dipping part. Trying one sans the ranch they gave as a dip, I was very impressed by them. The batter was like mozzarella stick breading and tempura melded together: light and crispy, but also hearty and bready. The pickle inside managed to stay firm and not get overcooked. Dipped in ranch, they held up well and were delicious. The dill flavor was strong but not overpowering, which probably explains how they got lost in the burger.

Despite being disappointed by the Big Dill Cheeseburger, the Pickle Fries are an absolute home run for me. I do think I’d prefer to try them with a different dip next time (Sonic Signature Sauce?), but they nail that hard-to-walk line between keeping the pickle’s firm texture and crispy outside coat. Both are available for a limited time, so if you’re also a self-identified pickle person, I highly recommend trying the fries as soon as possible.

Purchased Price: $5.19 (Burger), $3.29 (Fries)
Size: Medium (Fries)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Burger), 8 out of 10 (Fries)
Nutrition Facts: Burger – 780 calories, 51 grams of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 1860 milligrams of sodium, 52 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 28 grams of protein. Fries – 420 calories, 31 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 1660 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 1 grams of sugar, 1 and grams of protein.

REVIEW: Papa John’s Epic Pepperoni-Stuffed Crust Pizza

Papa John s Epic Pepperoni Stuffed Crust Pizza Whole

I imagine that Papa John’s Epic Pepperoni-Stuffed Crust Pizza might have made Little Caesars — who released a similar product not quite a year ago — cry, “Et tu, Papa?” But I won’t subtract points for lack of originality. This combo feels quintessential; pepperoni and stuffed crust go together like pepperoni and pizza!

Before we get into the real meat of this review (ha, ha), I should point out that this crust is not just stuffed, but per Papa John’s website, also “seasoned.” This was a relief to read, as at first glance, the generous smattering of unexpected black flecks had me sort of concerned. The seasoning was zesty — hard to pinpoint one taste exactly, but it was simultaneously garlicky, salty, and a bit cheesy — and while I think the stuffed crust could have stood on its own, the addition wasn’t unwelcome.

Papa John s Epic Pepperoni Stuffed Crust Pizza Slice Side

Biting into the puffy, pillowy crust, I was pleased to notice that the taste of the pepperoni came through nicely but didn’t entirely steal the cheese’s thunder. It felt like a lovely complement, both in terms of the salty, meaty flavor popping against the mellower, creamy taste of the cheese, and the pop of slim, crisp texture contrasting the cheese’s silky thickness. But, while tasting this marriage of cheese and pepperoni satisfied my appetite, it couldn’t satisfy my curiosity; to do that, I had to peel back the crusty curtain.

Tearing open and rolling back the crust to reveal the cheesy, pepperoni-y secrets folded within had two effects. The first is that dissecting my pizza so thoughtfully made me feel kind of like a serial killer, or at least a very obscure sort of surgeon. The second, more pertinent point is that I could see exactly how many pieces of pepperoni went into the crust on each slice: two to three.

Papa John s Epic Pepperoni Stuffed Crust Pizza Slice Top

Honestly, that doesn’t exactly sound substantial enough to base a whole product around. Imagine how disappointed you would be if you ordered a pepperoni pizza and only got two to three pieces on each slice as a topping! You could argue that a little of this particular food item goes a long way, but I’m not sure the kind of person who orders their disc of meat and cheese with extra meat and cheese crammed inside is the kind of person who worries about oversaturation. It seems that at least three more pepperoni pieces could have been curled around the cheese stuffing without overlapping, and if you’re going to release something as all-out as pepperoni stuffed crust in the first place, why not fill every last gap you can?

Papa John s Epic Pepperoni Stuffed Crust Pizza Innards

Though maybe I’m just jealous because the site mentions that the pizza is “topped off with more pepperoni,” but mine didn’t come with any outside of what was in the crust. Maybe that’s on me for missing some step in online ordering, but I assumed a pizza with pepperoni in the name would include it as a topping by default!

I must disclose that I’m a stuffed crust fanatic, which might suggest that my bar for this offering would be quite high. But ultimately, I think it just means that I’m more willing to accept it for giving me the luscious cheese filling I crave even though its pepperoni potential underwhelms.

Purchased Price: $13.99
Size: Large
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Information not available on website.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Steak White Hot Ranch Fries

Taco Bell Steak White Hot Ranch Fries Box

Taco Bell’s latest offering features Nacho Fries topped with steak, nacho cheese sauce, tomatoes, reduced-fat sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and the new White Hot Ranch Sauce.

Yes, that combination of ingredients, minus the White Hot Ranch, seems familiar. I’m probably going to have to look through our entire review archive to find out what it is. Give me an hour or so.

(Seconds later)

Oh, they were in last month’s Steak Nacho Fries Burrito. So this new menu item, which is also available in burrito form, is basically last month’s menu item, except the chipotle sauce is swapped for the White Hot Ranch Sauce. I expect this reusing of ingredient combos from Taco Bell, but not with back-to-back products.

Taco Bell Steak White Hot Ranch Fries Fork

Since I imagine many of you have an idea of how most of this menu item tastes, let’s focus on the White Hot Ranch Sauce. The best way I can describe it is to say its flavor and heat remind me of Flamin’ Hot Cool Ranch Doritos, but I’m not saying they taste alike. With the chips, they were basically spicy Cool Ranch Doritos where the Flamin’ Hot’s flavors didn’t come into play. And with this sauce, it’s pretty much a spicy ranch. It has a noticeable tanginess with some heat, but there’s no flavor from that kick. With that said, it’s a tasty addition to the vast Taco Bell sauce lineup, and I enjoyed it enough that I found myself trying to scrape up as much as I could from the bottom of the container.

Taco Bell Steak White Hot Ranch Fries Mixed

As for its spiciness, I’d put it at a lower mid-level heat. But I wonder if it might’ve been higher if the somewhat soothing sauces of nacho cheese and sour cream weren’t there.

When I first read about these topped Nacho Fries, I thought, “Did Taco Bell get rid of its Spicy Ranch and replace it with this new spicy ranch? Or is this Spicy Ranch, but with a longer name?”

No and no. Taco Bell now has two spicy ranch sauces available.

Taco Bell Steak White Hot Ranch Fries Sauce

What’s the difference? The older one has habanero peppers, while the newer one has ghost chile powder, which makes it slightly spicier. Ohhhh, now I get it, “white hot” = “ghost chile.” I should’ve put dos and dos together.

I noticed a few other things about the menu item as a whole. While as tender as it always is, the steak tasted different to me. It was low…okay, it’s always been somewhat low quality to begin with, but it had a slightly less meaty flavor. Also, I will repeat what I wrote in my Steak Nacho Fries Burrito review. I really liked the tomato’s acidic bursts, which bring fresh, tasty moments that cut through all the savoriness and spiciness.

Overall, the combination of most of the ingredients in Taco Bell’s Steak White Hot Ranch Fries isn’t new, but the addition of the White Hot Ranch Sauce makes it worth a try.

Purchased Price: $5.79*
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 510 calories, 33 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 1040 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 14 grams of protein.

*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: Dairy Queen Oreo Dirt Pie Blizzard

Dairy Queen Oreo Dirt Pie Blizzard Cup

What is the Dairy Queen Oreo Dirt Pie Blizzard?

It’s one of the new flavors on the Dairy Queen Summer Blizzard menu, and it mixes two old favorites – Oreo cookie pieces and fudge crumble – with gummy worms, which, as far as I can tell, is a first-time-ever DQ ingredient. They create the treat that seems to be served at every 5-year-old’s birthday party.

How is it?

Dairy Queen Oreo Dirt Pie Blizzard Top

The DQ website claimed that I will “delight at the fun surprise of finding gummy worms sprinkled throughout.” I was skeptical. I do indeed like Blizzards, but getting delight, fun, and surprise from one seemed a little much. Except that it wasn’t. I did not expect the gummy worms to be distributed throughout, but they were. And I expected some of them to be decapitated and mutilated by the Blizzard machine’s whirring steel thingy (that’s probably not the official name). And yet all the gummy worms were fully intact. I was a bit surprised by the size of the worms, though, as they were rather small and perhaps more accurately could be described as gummy grubs.

Dairy Queen Oreo Dirt Pie Blizzard Worm

As for the taste, it was about as close to delight-fun-surprise as you can get from a Blizzard. Oreo cookies have long been one of the most popular Blizzard ingredients, so I’m assuming you know what Oreo and DQ soft serve taste like. Oreo is good, of course, but it’s the other two parts that make this one sparkle. The fudge crumble did its job to amp up the chocolatey taste of the cookies, and the gummy worms were a perfect addition. If you’ve mixed gummy bears, worms, or any gummy animal of your choice into ice cream, you know that the cold can rob the gummies of their gumminess and make them unpleasantly hard. That didn’t happen here, and the gummy worms were plentiful, chewy, and had distinctly different flavors. I can’t really tell you precisely what those distinct flavors were because gummy flavors are hard to describe, other than fruity-berryish. Can anyone really say what flavor a red gummy is compared to a green one? I think not.

Anything else you need to know?

Dairy Queen Oreo Dirt Pie Blizzard Mix

This might be a record-breaking Blizzard in the calorie department. According to the DQ website, a large version of this clocks in at 1,520 calories. That tops all other Blizzards currently on the menu and is more than 50 percent higher than the large Butterfinger Blizzard at 970 calories. I guess that is to be expected when you take a standard Oreo Blizzard (1,140 calories for a large) and then add in fudge crumble and a bunch of gummy worms. But this one is worth the extra calories.

Conclusion:

I’m hoping that DQ tries more gummy items in its Blizzards, as I also liked the Sour Patch Kids Blizzard from a few years back. Just disregard my comment about this one containing gummy grubs and not gummy worms, and I bet you will like it.

Purchased Price: $4.49
Size: Small
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (Small) 810 calories, 33 grams of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 410 milligrams of sodium, 116 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 86 grams of sugar, and 15 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Jack in the Box Pineapple Express Shake

Jack in the Box Pineapple Express Shake Cup

If you’re wondering if Jack in the Box’s new Pineapple Express Shake has anything to do with the movie that has the same name, from what I can tell, it does not. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying this pineapple-flavored shake with whipped topping and a cherry.

I guess if you want, you can enjoy one while watching the movie. Or you could stick it in the freezer and consume it next year when the film celebrates its 15th anniversary.

Also, if you’re wondering if the shake has anything to do with the meteorological phenomenon that occurs along the Pacific coast of North America with the same name, it does not.

As a lover of many things pineapple-flavored, I approve of this shake. The pineapple syrup added to mine wasn’t wholly mixed in by the person who made my shake, but that didn’t stop the fruit flavor from coming through during my first few sips. Mixing it didn’t make the taste stronger.

Jack in the Box Pineapple Express Shake Spoon

The fruitiness isn’t overly sweet or artificial. There’s also an ever so slight citrusy sourness. But, for the most part, it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a pineapple-flavored shake. If you’re familiar with a Dole Whip, this tastes similar. However, I sometimes noticed something that made it taste like it had cake frosting. I don’t know if that was the whipped topping or when I sucked in a pocket of the plain vanilla base, but, again, it happened a few times. Maybe I need to mix better.

Overall, Jack in the Box’s Pineapple Express Shake is a delicious way to satisfy your sweet tooth and is an appropriate flavor now that the days are getting warmer. It may not have anything to do with the movie or a weather event. But if you want something sweet and tasty to enjoy while watching Pineapple Express, experiencing a Pineapple Express, or listening to the Bangalore-based progressive fusion band Pineapple Express, this will satisfy you.

Purchased Price: $5.39*
Size: Regular
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Not available on Jack in the Box’s website. Also, what’s up with Jack’s website. It hasn’t been updated in months.

*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.