May 21, 2013

Doritos Locos Tacos chips

Here's the second of my two promised posts on freebies I received at the grocery store last week. It's not going to be too long, though, because typing the name of today's food is absolutely exhausting.

It's Doritos Locos Tacos Nacho Cheese and Crunchy Taco Flavored Corn Chips, according to the official Frito-Lay website. What a mouthful.

The name is enough to drive you loco.
I do understand why the chips have such a massive name. For starters, they're piggybacking off of the Taco Bell Doritos Locos Tacos. They're chips inspired by tacos inspired by chips. How meta. It's as if reality is pretzeling around these things.

Second, each bag contains two different types of chips. And those two types each need to be spelled out in the name -- because there are two distinct pairings of Locos Tacos chips. Nacho Cheese and taco is one. Cool Ranch and taco is the other.

I received Nacho Cheese and taco for free, so those were the ones I tried. As for my verdict ... they're Doritos. They all kind of taste the same.

Technically there was a slight difference between the cheese-flavored and taco-flavored chips. If we're splitting hairs, I liked the taco ones better, as they had a somewhat savory undertone.

But realistically, you have to work extremely hard to tell the difference between two different types of Doritos. It's even harder to discern them when they're in the same bag, allowing the flavors to meld in their glue-and-foil-sealed confines.

If you're trying to tell the difference, you're missing the point of Doritos, anyway. They're meant to be shoveled in by the mouthful.

Mouthful. Just like the name Doritos Locos Tacos Nacho Cheese and Crunchy Taco Flavored Corn Chips. Three sporks out of five and we'll leave it at that. My fingers are exhausted.

May 18, 2013

Pepsi Next: Good for the right price

I know Saturday evening isn't the most conventional time to post a new food review -- or the most convenient one.

Most of you readers normally on the other side of the vast network of tubes known as the Internet are probably off doing your weekend things like movies, barbecues, baseball games or shopping. Some of you have already made your run to the grocery store for the week. That would make a late-breaking food review especially heartbreaking, as you won't be able to use it to decide whether to buy today's featured item.

Before you lash out at your computers in rage, remember one thing: This blog is free. And free makes everything better.

Next they should work on the taste.
Coincidentally, the merits of free wrap nicely into today's review. I'm writing about Pepsi Next, a bubbly cola drink I guzzled only because it was on offer for free.

That's right. Free. My grocery trip to Kroger yesterday ended with a surprise announcement that the powers that be in food distribution were giving customers free cans of Pepsi Next and bags of Doritos Locos Tacos chips. Which, to your cash-strapped critiquer, sounds like two separate food reviews for the price of none!

Yes, I'll have a review of the chips up shortly. Stay tuned. Today you'll just have to sip on the Pepsi.

Sip on it or chug it, for all I care. Get it down the hatch. It's not the worst thing I've ever tasted, but it's definitely not what I'd call an ideal soda experience.

See, Pepsi Next is supposed to be "a true cola experience with 60% less sugar," according to Pepsi's website. The missing sugar has been replaced by -- you guessed it -- fake sweeteners.

Sucralose is the sweetener of choice in this case. And mark my words, that's the last time I'll ever use "sucralose" and "of choice" in the same sentence. Sucralose flat out doesn't taste good.

It's OK at the beginning of a swallow but quickly leaves a nasty imitation aftertaste. Said aftertaste forces you to take another drink to cover it up, starting a cycle that's likely to have you consuming 60 percent more soda by the end of the day.

The aftertaste gets covered slightly in Pepsi Next, which still has a decent dose of real sugar. It doesn't get covered all the way, though. So here we have a drink that tastes bad and still has a fair number of calories. It's the worst of both worlds, if you will.

I'd rather have the full sugar content. Unless you're giving me a Pepsi Next for free, in which case I'll manage to drink one and enjoy it.

This beverage would be two sporks out of five if I had paid anything for it. It's lowest-possible cost gives it a little bump to three sporks, however.

So grab a can, as long as the price is right.

May 11, 2013

Live-blogging Liberte yogurt!

It's nearly 10:30 a.m. and I haven't eaten breakfast yet. Worse, the reason is sloth.

Yep. I just woke up.

In my juvenile years, this wouldn't have been uncommon. Such a wake-up time would have been both a badge of honor and a weekly occurrence.  Today, though, it's a source of embarrassment and shame. I've been edging my rising time earlier and earlier as I age, a testament to both better bedtimes and my drive to get more done before noon so I can start winding down after lunch.

That won't be happening today, apparently because my body decided it was time to sleep in. I want to make the best of things, though, so lets try something different.

I'll write my review as I eat. Today we'll have none of my patented days and weeks to reflect. It will just be pure, unadulterated stream of consciousness. Since my blog doesn't usually have enough of that.

The shape of that cup makes Liberte worth it. It's circular AND squared!

At 10:29 a.m. I'm pulling breakfast out of the fridge. No time for cooking today, folks. It's a new type of Greek yogurt I have yet to try, Liberte, with a little accent mark over the last "e" that I won't bother to duplicate here (I'm live-blogging, people). The flavor is peach and passion fruit, because it sounded interesting and I haven't seen it in any of the other dozens of Greek yogurt brands that have been multiplying on shelves like Hellenistic bunnies since Chobani had its breakthrough in the U.S. market.

The top comes off at 10:31, and the scent of peach washes over me. It's a good thing we have positives in the smell department, because the looks aint so good. There's a little separation between moisture and solids going on here, a classic yogurt problem that's bothered me since the beginning of civilization. My favorite Greek yogurts, Muller and Fage (Muller has its own umlauts over the "u" that I'm not transcribing in my rush), don't do this. They have a much drier, almost spongy consistency. Oh well.

All this typing means I'm eating slowly. At 10:34 I've finished stirring and I take my first bite. Things are a little lighter and sweeter here than on some other Greek Yogurts. The pear and passion fruit chunks are impossible to tell apart, if they're different at all. It all reminds me of another Greek yogurt I ate at some point ... perhaps Chobani mango. It's hard to run down your roster of Greek yogurts eaten when adding to it. Sensory memory doesn't function well when the senses are being used for more important things like eating.

By 10:37, I've reached the bottom of the cup, which is giving me a little trouble. It's not the same shape as the top of the container. The top is round, then tapers gradually into a square base. It makes for a visually interesting shape on the shelf, and a spoonfully interesting one when eating. You have to change the trajectory of your scoops to get all of the food.

With 10:39 rolling around, I've finished eating and decided I liked the shape of the cup. At first, revising my spoon sweeps was a source of frustration. In the end, though, I did it, I did it well, and it gave me a sense of accomplishment -- kind of like figuring out a puzzle while chowing down.

Now that things have wrapped up, I can tell you Liberte makes a good Greek yogurt that's nothing particularly special when you compare it against its brethren. Which is OK, because Greek yogurt is absolutely delicious. Throw in the special cup and I'm willing to give it a four sporks out of five rating.

May 3, 2013

Lay's Chicken and Waffles Potato Chips

Ever wonder how Lay's decided to pluralize things and call these chips "Chicken and Waffles" instead of "Chicken and Waffle?"
There's really only one thing to say about Lay's Chicken and Waffle Potato Chips. One word, actually.

We won't get to it just yet, though. It's important to set the tone before revealing this one word to rule them all. Otherwise it won't have as much impact. Plus, the analytics sites would massacre me for a mono-term post pushing readers away after mere seconds

Look, I know I'm late to the game writing about these chips. They've been around for a while, part of one of those obnoxious "vote for the flavor you like" competitions that food producers keep propping up on the Internet. This one pits Chicken and Waffle Potato Chips against Sriracha and Cheesy Garlic Bread under the clever headline of "Do Us A Flavor."

You can only vote on Facebook or by texting, even though the competition is the headline at the URL Something's wrong with the Internet or your marketing when you're shoving people from your brand's home page to Facebook, but I digress.

The whole "vote for your favorite option" trend in food was fun a few years ago. Really, it was. Now, though, I'm just ready to know that the snacks I see on the shelves will be around for more than a month or two. Otherwise, I'm loathe to try them. It's too hard to fall in love only to see something delicious washed away on a wave of popular opinion.

In some sort of meaningless protest, I stayed away from the chicken and waffles chips' competitors, sampling my target in a vacuum. Several vacuums, actually -- because I tried them, bought them again, and continued to try them.

Through it all, I weighed flavor against my predisposition to smile upon audacious takes on potato chips. I considered the balance of chicken against waffles, the strange looks I received while carrying the bag and the fact that I couldn't put them down. All to reach one word.


Yes, the word for these potato chips is "finally." Finally we in America have a potato chip flavor as outrageous as everything else we do. We're the country that put a Hummer in front of every McMansion, only to scrap the Hummers and replace them with Toyota Priuses (Priui?) in order to be less wasteful. We're the people who fell in love with Mr. T, saw Arnold Schwarzenegger become a governor and who currently wear sunglasses six sizes too big for our faces. We're the nation that produced the KFC Double Down, for goodness sake!

And now, we've finally caught up with outlandish potato chip flavors in the rest of the world. In Britain, you can get prawn-flavored potato chips. So it was a travesty when choices here were limited to such mundanity as "barbecue" and "sea salt."

None of this is to say Lay's Chicken and Waffles Potato Chips are a spitting flavor image of real chicken and waffles. They emulate a version of chicken and waffles using syrup, rather than the far-superior one that employs gravy. And that syrup largely overpowers any semblance of poultry on the potatoes.

Still, they're nothing to spit out, either. In fact, I quite like them. The syrup flavor makes for a nice sweet-and-salty chip with just enough of a chicken-fried hint to keep it interesting. I couldn't put the things down on a recent car trip, finishing a whole bag in two days.

Therefore, when it comes to our five-spork scale, there's really only one number to assign. Four.