July 27, 2008

Chicken going South

McDonald's has a pretty good chicken thing going -- The McChicken. It isn't the tastiest bird meat you can get in a fast food joint, but it's the best feathered food you'll get for $1.

Too bad the Southern Style Chicken Sandwich doesn't stick to the formula that makes the McChicken so good. In other words, too bad it isn't cheap.

McDonald's took a slightly larger, higher quality piece of white meat and gave it some extra-fatty breading. As a result, biting into the Southern Style Chicken Sandwich is more like sinking your teeth into deep fried butter than eating any meat. It's just plain yummy.

Pickle lovers won't agree. A good Southern Style Chicken Sandwich should have some perfect pickles, and McDonald's doesn't oblige. There are two floppy thin wafers posing as pickles, and they aren't even crinkle cuts.

Even so it's a pretty good eat until you look at the receipt and go into sticker shock. Just buying the sandwich takes up the better part of three bucks! That's not counting any drink or fries.

You can buy three whole McChickens for that many greenbacks. Sure, a McChicken is a glorified chicken patty with more fat and some limpid shreds of lettuce. But it's cheap food, which is what McDonald's does best. Paying more than a buck for chicken at the golden arches ... it's just foul.

July 14, 2008

Pitting up with Cherry M&M's

I think the people at M&M's got their letters flipped with the new "Wild Cherry M&M's."

No, I'm not going to claim that some of my candies said "W" instead of "M" on them. For some reason that always happens, whether or not they're the new cherry variety.

But they shouldn't be "Wild Cherry" -- they should be "Mild Cherry."

Aside from their dark red wrapper, Wild Cherry M&M's are different from their original brethren in several ways. They're larger, they only come in two colors -- red and maroon -- and they smell like cherry candy.

Occasionally they also taste like cherry candy, too. But most of the time they just taste like bigger M&M's stuffed with creamier chocolate. There is no actual cherry at the center of Wild Cherry M&M's, and for the most part there's no actually cherry flavor, either.

Yet in every bag, a few M&M's do taste like cherries. Here's what it's like to eat them:

You tear open the packet and a strong, obviously fake cherry scent fills the room. Then you start eating, and five pieces in you don't taste any cherry. You just smell it. Suddenly you pop one piece into your mouth and it almost tastes like you bit into a chocolate-covered cherry. And then the next six or seven M&M's won't have any of the flavor.

I got several packs to confirm the phenomenon. Either the batch of M&M's in the vending machine was defective, my tongue is damaged, or these M&M's are only intermittently cherryish.

Perhaps the fact that there are only two or three highly cherry M&M's in the pack is what makes them wild. Or maybe my tongue really is broken. Neither would surprise me, but it isn't a bad eating experience. The mild candies have a very tasty, creamier chocolate than regular M&M's.

But they're still a bit more mild than wild. And no matter how good something is, if it's misnamed, it can't get a great score. Three sporks out of five.

July 6, 2008

Special spuds

It's the end of a holiday weekend, so let's make this quick. Everyone's been out stuffing themselves with hot dogs, hamburgers and apple pie for the last three days and can't think about food for too long.

My favorite French fry vendor was touting their taters Saturday at the Carlisle Summerfair craft show in my hometown. Bricker's Famous French Fries sells the best sticks of fried potatoes I've had in any of my moderate travels.

If you don't happen to live in Pennsylvania, fear not. You can usually get a similarly good fry from other food vendors at fairs. Here's what you should look for: A light golden color, a little bit of skin on each end and piping hot innards.

I don't know whether they use fresh potatoes or a special oil, but something about the booths that peddle their fries at festivals gives them the capability to make one amazing snack food. We'll leave the ratings on vacation -- just buy some fresh french fries whenever you're at a fair. You'll be glad you did.