REVIEW: Lunchables Crispy Grilled Cheesies

As a former child and current adult who requires a snack plate to feel truly at peace, I know a thing or two about Lunchables. In fact, most of my culinary preferences revolve around variety, portability, and the ability to arrange different foods in a cute little segmented container.

Now the Lunchables brand has extended its offerings well past cheese and crackers — and, for the first time, into the frozen food aisle. Lunchables Crispy Grilled Cheesies delivers frozen, microwavable grilled cheese sandwiches in two varieties: Original and Pepperoni Pizza.

I tested the Pepperoni Pizza flavor because why wouldn’t I? The package contained two full sandwiches, individually nestled in microwavable crisping sleeves and wrapped in plastic. The preparation was easy: remove the plastic, nuke the sandwich in its crisping sleeve for one minute, and then let it cool for another minute. The hardest part of the process was using the word “cheesie” as a noun.

The result smelled and tasted deliciously buttery, as though the cheesie (no, still weird) had just emerged from a sizzling pan. The crisping sleeve clearly did its job to encourage toasty texture on every surface of the bread, while still retaining some absorbed butter. Although crispy, the bread seemed to get chewier as time elapsed. The crusts were just plain tough.

The filling consisted of a slice of creamy, well-melted processed cheese, one to two tablespoons of marinara sauce, and three slices of pepperoni. Everything together made for a warm and comforting bite, and the pepperoni and marinara were just enough to ensure that the flavor wasn’t boring. The cheese would appeal to kid and adult tastes alike, but another slice — preferably added to the plain slice of bread — would have amped up the cheese flavor and helped the sandwich to adhere together as a whole.

Depending on one’s appetite, Lunchables Crispy Grilled Cheesies would make a fast, convenient (although hard to chew) snack or meal component at a low price point. Older kids could easily prepare a cheesie independently at home, but keep in mind that sending frozen foods to school can be tricky. If your child is prepared to negotiate a lunch box filled with ice packs and locate a kindly lunch-lady or lunch-lord to help them use the school microwave, then they have more fortitude than I do and deserve all the grilled cheesies in the world.

If that is too many cheesies (okay, I’m getting used to it), start with two for the Lunchables fan in your life. Although the product isn’t perfect, it delivers the comfort and convenience that so many have come to love from the brand.

Purchased Price: $4.79
Size: 6.2 oz box (2 pack)
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per sandwich): 300 calories, 18 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 660 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Lunchables Snackers Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets

Lunchables Snackers Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets

With recent news that the healthy school lunch initiatives undertaken by the First Lady might just be starving our kids, I can imagine quite a few in the K through 12 ranks are contemplating a switchover to the old brown bag lunch. As a former “bringer,” (every day, for 12 straight years, and DAMN PROUD) let me welcome them to the world where anything goes and what your parents pack you very rarely ends up down your gullet.

I’m talking trades, haggling, and straight up bartering for the best goods this side of a 7-Eleven snack aisle.

But before you trade away for old Howie Klinchenstien’s two bags of Cooler Ranch Doritos and Rachel Jimbobberycooters’ Dunkaroos, you’re going to have to equip yourself with some serious hardware. Forget that couscous and marinated mozzarella salad Mom made the other night, and ditch Dad’s homemade crunchy chickpeas with cumin and black pepper. These days, the freaking lunch lady’s can whip up that, and hell if I’m gonna eat something I can’t even pronounce. No, what’s really hot on the middle school lunch trade market right now is a bit more…how should I put this…elicit.

Chicken nuggets are where it’s at. And thanks to Lunchables’ new Snackers Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets, you can not only bring chicken nuggets to your no-fun lunchroom, but you can do so without even having to sneak into the teacher’s lounge to use the microwave.

Lunchables Snackers Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets Closeup

Because the 15 second heating instructions are “optional,” I decided to sample my pre-cooked nuggets both cold and warm. I highly suggest neither option.

After opening the bag, you’ll be greeted by a smell I can only describe as “soggy cafeteria chicken nugget.” Ah, the sweet smell of maltodextrin, corn meal, and reconstituted white meat chicken with rib meat. Tell me, is there anything more American?

Lunchables Snackers Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets Breading

Cold, the nugget breading rubs off on your fingers in a mealy and grainy way that gives new meaning to the time-honored grade school condition known as “you have cooties,” and tastes strongly – and only – of salt and garlic. The chicken is moist, I guess, but moist only in the sense that it came off as a circle of chewy chemicals and stuff that might have once gone “cock-a-doodle-doo.” Despite its name, I definitely didn’t taste any honey or BBQ flavor.

Lunchables Snackers Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets Breading 2

Warmed up, the nuggets are even worse. The breading becomes soggy and oily, covering your fingers in a mealy and wet substance that’ll make you drop more footballs in a recess pick-me-up game than Terrell Owens dropped in his short-lived preseason comeback bid for the Seattle Seahawks. The heated nuggets taste like, well, heated and overly salted pieces of something vaguely chickeny, with little, if any, taste of honey or BBQ. Instead, there are strong generic garlic and cornmeal flavors in the pinkish, orangeish “breading,” which can’t be overcome by ketchup or a dipping sauce alone.

Lunchables Snackers Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets Innards

On a scale on 1 to 10 in terms of the classic middle school lunch tradability matrix, Lunchables Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets score about a negative six. Meaning that if you’ve got a hankering for the lightly salted rice cakes that the girl on the “diet” has or the fishy smelly thing the kid from Thailand always brings to the table, then you’ve got the golden ticket. Otherwise, these little guys keep to the time-honored Lunchables tradition of making actual 1990s cafeteria food look halfway decent, and making us all question how we survived eating that crap.

(Nutrition Facts – 6 nuggets (85 g) – 180 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 420 milligrams of sodium, 13 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.)

Item: Lunchables Snackers Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets
Purchased Price: $3.98
Size: 9.8 ounces
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 1 out of 10
Pros: Civil disobedience in the lunchroom. No heating required. Avoiding starvation due to healthy public school lunches. Great if you like trading your lunch away for rice cakes.
Cons: Absolutely freaking disgusting. Doesn’t taste like BBQ. Or honey. Or chicken. Lacking proper lunch-table trading material. Does actual deep-fried pieces of chicken byproduct an absolute disservice.

REVIEW: Oscar Mayer Turkey + Cheddar Sub Sandwich Lunchables

“Green, green gasoline. You forgot your ding-a-ling,” was what some my elementary school classmates would yell to me if I ended up with the green lunch tray in the cafeteria. To this day, I still have no idea what it means, but I do know I got the green lunch tray quite often. In order to help me cope with the constant reminder that I forgot my ding-a-ling, I once yelled the rhyme to a boy one grade below me to try to show that I could be an asshole too, but he ended up crying on the spot. I felt bad, so I gave him the cookie that came with my lunch to make him stop crying and I never did it again.

If only Oscar Mayer had Lunchables back when I still occasionally wet my bed. I wouldn’t have gotten the green tray and I wouldn’t have cupped my balls so much in elementary school to make sure I didn’t forget my ding-a-ling anywhere. Also, I wish hip-hop was mainstream in the early 1980s, then my groin cupping wouldn’t have made me look like a kid who enjoyed touching himself, instead I would’ve been a poser.

I’m trying to imagine what my elementary school life would’ve been like if I had the new Oscar Mayer Turkey + Cheddar Sub Sandwich Lunchables. I’d probably living large and in charge with all the honeys in Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears t-shirts around me wanting a little taste of either the mini turkey and cheddar sub sandwich, mini Nilla Wafers, Tree Top Applesauce, Tropical Punch Kool-Aid or the packet of Kraft Fat Free Mayo.

The mini turkey and cheddar sub measured in at four inches long and two inches wide. The turkey had a smokey flavor, the cheese looked like it was government-issued and the bun, which was made with whole grain, was soft and little chewy, but not stale; the mini Nilla Wafers were as tasty as regular Nilla Wafers; the sweet Tree Top Applesauce gave me something to flick with the included red spoon; the packet of Tropical Punch Kool-Aid added to the 6.5 ounce bottle of water had a slight artificial sweetener taste; and the packet of Kraft Fat Free Mayo was frickin’ huge and way more than enough for the tiny sub sandwich.

The Oscar Mayer Turkey + Cheddar Sub Sandwich Lunchables is a beast of a feast for those who have just reached puberty and below. The flavor of the sandwich was decent, even with the fat free mayo, and the addition of the applesauce helped make it a decent rounded meal, but its price seems a bit high and I probably wouldn’t buy it for my child, if I had one. Although it would prevent my kids from getting the green tray and because it has so much food, they could tease another kid for having the green tray and easily give them the Nilla Wafers when they start crying.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 package – 360 calories, 8 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 600 milligrams of sodium, 62 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 32 grams of sugar, 11 grams of protein, 2% vitamin A, 100% vitamin C, 20% calcium and 10% iron.)

Item: Oscar Mayer Turkey + Cheddar Sub Sandwich Lunchables
Price: $4.69
Size: Big enough for a growing child
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Hearty meal for a kid. Decently rounded meal. Sub sandwich was not bad. Bread wasn’t stale. Applesauce represents fruit group. 100% vitamin C. Comes with a drink. Comes with a red spoon. Prevents kids from getting the green tray.
Cons: Pricey. Fat free mayo packet was frickin’ huge. Cheese looked like it was government issued. Have to keep refrigerated. Making a kid cry. Being a poser. Having to cup my groin to ensure I didn’t lose my ding-a-ling.

Oscar Mayer Lunchables Grilled Chicken Wrapz

There’s a nine-year-old out there who thinks the Oscar Mayer Lunchables Grilled Chicken Wrapz is the greatest muthafucking thing ever. Okay, if that nine-year-old was a drunken sailor, then they would probably think that, but I don’t totally agree with that rum-filled, foul-mouthed kid.

This kid-sized meal consisted of wheat tortillas, grilled chicken breasts, ranch sauce, and mild taco sauce for two wrapz. It also included a fun-sized Nestle Crunch bar and the greatness beverage in pouch form EVER, a fruit punch Capri Sun. Out of all the things that were included, I was the most excited about the Capri Sun, because I enjoy products from the 1980s, I get to stab something with a plastic straw and not get arrested for it, and there’s only one Capri Sun. It’s great tasting fun when you punch open one.

The Capri Sun was the most exciting thing about this Lunchables, but the grilled chicken wrapz were the main entree. With most Lunchables that contain chicken, it isn’t required to heat the chicken before eating since it is already pre-cooked. If I were a parent feeding it to my child, the cold chicken would probably bother me, but as a thirtysomething-year-old male without children who is hungry, it doesn’t really bother me at all. A degree from the Universidad de Taco Bell isn’t necessary to put a wrap together. All you do is lay out the tortilla, spread out some chicken, squirt some ranch sauce, drizzle some taco sauce, roll it up, and then hope some schoolyard bully doesn’t threaten you for it before you eat it.

The tortilla was a little tough since it’s been refrigerated, and again, it was a little weird eating cold chicken, but overall the chicken wrap was decent because who knew that ranch sauce combined with taco sauce would taste surprisingly good. It’s definitely better than most FDA regulated school lunches and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich your mom made with love and kindness.

Since it is a meal made for kids you might be wondering whether or not it could fill up an adult who doesn’t mind the shame of eating a Lunchables. If you’re on the smaller side, this Lunchables might be filling, but if you’re Michael Phelps, you’re probably going to need to eat ten of them.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 package – 390 calories, 10 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 50 milligrams cholesterol, 750 milligrams sodium, 56 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram dietary fiber, 25 grams sugar, 19 grams protein, 0% vitamin A, 50% calcium, 4% vitamin C, and 15% iron.)

Item: Oscar Mayer Lunchables Grilled Chicken Wrapz
Price: $3.49
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Better than most FDA regulated school lunches. Good source of protein. Fruit punch Capri Sun. Easy to put together. Combination of ranch sauce and taco sauce was surprisingly good. Fun-sized Nestle Crunch Bar. Products from the 1980s that are still here today.
Cons: Good source of sodium. Tortillas were a little tough. It’s weird eating cold chicken. Not filling for Michael Phelps. Drunk nine-year-olds. Stabbing people with plastic straws and getting arrested for it. Replacing plural S’s with Z’s.

REVIEW: Lunchables Maxed Out Pepperoni Pizza

Lunchables Maxed Out Pepperoni Pizza

The Lunchables people are here to kick you in the balls and there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s right, they are the latest brand to join in on the craze of “extremification” in the world of product marketing. Lunchables are now “Maxed Out” and presumably ready to proverbially rock out with their cocks out.

I was curious to see if this new product had anything to do with the recent film Maxxxed Out, a fine film starring Jenna Haze, Sunny Lane, and other girls whose names sound like weather descriptions. However, it appears as though Lunchables is not yet extreme enough for hardcore porn.

I was intrigued by this new spin-off because I actually like the original Lunchables. Sure, the meat is slimy and the cheese resembles candle wax, but it is a consistent and comfortable reminder of my salad days as a fledgling youth. Plus, it tastes just like a turkey sandwich, but with 0% of the dignity.

The changes with the Maxed Out variety seem to be minimal. You get more food, but the quality is generally the same and the origin of the meat is just as ambiguous. I got the Deep Dish Pepperoni one, which is actually neither deep or made with pepperoni. It boasts “pepperoni flavored sausage,” which struck me as odd because real pepperoni is about as cheap as sausage gets. There is about half a centimeter for you to fill your crust with, so it’s not very deep unless you’re some type of amoeba.

It came with two crusts and enough sauce, cheese, and pepperoni flavored sausage to make decent sized mini-pizzas, so I can’t really complain about the quantity. It’s just too bad that the sauce tastes like strawberry marmalade and that the faux pepperoni tastes like nothing. I finished one and imagine that a child might be able to enjoy it, but it wasn’t a very pleasant experience.

To wash it down, you get a mini bottle of water. A bottle of water with my Lunchables? Lame. Even though they include a Kool-Aid pouch to turn it into a soft drink, it doesn’t change the fact that a perfectly healthy bottle of spring water was included with my junk food. Plus, it gives choosy moms a chance to rummage through the box and steal the precious packet of sugar and food coloring. The old school Lunchables had a badass pouch of Capri Sun with a graphic of a guy skating on the beach on it. Nothing got me more pumped up for tripping over soccer balls during recess.

A cherry-flavored Airhead is included for dessert. Airheads always confused me because they aren’t aerated and aren’t shaped like balloons. Maybe they are just made for stupid children, hence their blunt and inauspicious name. If this is true, then they are really rubbing it in.

All in all, Lunchables Maxed Out is a disappointing romp through our collective childhood memories. This saddens me, because it had so much going for it: my love of pizza, the promise of free video game rentals, and the logo, which looks like something that Wolverine from X-Men would have carved into someone’s chest. Alas, even the most extreme of superheroes couldn’t salvage this mediocre meal.

(Nutritional Facts – 1 box – 510 calories, 13 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 mg of cholesterol, 850mg sodium, 77 grams of carbs, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 35 grams of sugar, 24 grams of protein, 25% Vitamin A, 20% Vitamin C, 50% Calcium, and 4% Iron)

Item: Lunchables Maxed Out Pepperoni Pizza
Price: $2.99
Purchased at: Albertsons
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Comes with ingredients to make two decent sized pizzas, big enough to fill a kid’s stomach. Fun to put together for children who may otherwise not receive enough arts and crafts in school. Wolverine fucking people up.
Cons: Sauce is way too sweet and fake pepperoni doesn’t taste very good. Loosest use of the term “deep dish” ever. Comes with bottled water instead of the awesome pouches of Capri Sun. Generic new name doesn’t really make any changes to the original brand. Does not tie in with Maxxxed Out.