Friday, October 31, 2008
Back when Dave Thomas ruled over Wendy’s, the world seemed to make more sense. Well at least the fast food world that is. My childhood memories of Wendy’s were fond, for they had a salad bar, really tasty hamburgers, and the best thing of all a monthly promotional sandwich. There’s nothing that gets me into a restaurant quicker than a brand new item. I always want to try it, no matter what it is or how bad it looks. Wendy’s could have deep fried a sock, put it on a cardboard box, then drizzled it in antiseptic and put it in an uninspired commercial, and I still would have found myself eating it later that week.
But times have changed, and as the years have gone by, Dave Thomas has passed and so has his restaurants direction. Gone is the salad bar (and the most underrated breadstick this side of the Mason Dixon Line), gone is Big Bacon Classic (still available but not even mentioned on the menu), hello Frescata Sandwiches, hello Baconators, and say farewell to promotional sandwiches.
The promotional sandwich success story is that of the Spicy Chicken Sandwich. A one time promotional item that was so successful, small riots broke out at my local Wendy’s when it was taken away. (Not really, but my father got pretty upset though). Anyway, Wendy’s eventually not only brought back the sandwich, but they made it into a full time menu item. So you know that Wendy’s Headquarters paid close attention to their gimmick sandwiches.
This leads to the return of Wendy’s promotional sandwich; the Flavor-Dipped Chicken Sandwich. Available in Buffalo or BBQ, the sandwiches take Wendy’s original chicken breast fillet and dip them completely in the sauce. The Buffalo one adds in lettuce, tomato and what is advertised as a Blue Cheese sauce, while the BBQ throws in onions and pickles. The sandwiches are getting heavy ad time on TV and radio, including such claims as 360 degrees of flavor and taste explosions in every bite. All of these factors required a g&gg review.
So my colleague, Mike, and I went to the local Wendy’s and we each ordered a Flavor Dipped Combo, somewhat steeply priced at $5.99. We then went on and cut each sandwich in half so we could each experience what each flavor banger had to offer.
As you can see, the sandwiches are indeed saucy. This is definitely not one of those “eat in your car while driving through rush hour with your best white dress shirt on” sandwiches. Aside from that, the one thing that really seemed to be apparent was the girth of the chicken breasts. Most fast food places these days give you the proverbial prefab chicken breast that’s not quite flat but is no more than a b cup. The Flavor Dipped sandwiches have the look of a sandwich that could be dynamic and exciting with each order.
The Buffalo Sandwich truly is a great eat. This particular sandwich had been completely engulfed in sauce, and this buffalo sauce is just what the doctor prescribed. All too often eateries either throw out a buffalo sauce that’s been saturated in weak sauce or a sauce that’s just been harvested in the ravines of hell (yeah, Quizno’s I’m talking to you), but this sauce is just right. The lettuce in the sandwich looks like it should be wearing flood pants because it’s just a sog fest. This doesn’t really affect anything in the overall experience though. The tomato seemed to be cemented to the top bun by the secondary sauce. This sauce is quite mysterious though. While I am in fact color blind, it’s hard to not notice the tan tinge with dark spots topping the sandwich in the poster. But what I got appeared to be straight up chunky mayo. Was this a very vanilla bleu cheese? Was this a Wendy’s employee being lazy and not wanting to open up the special sauce? Whatever the case, this is what the professionals call weak dogg. Luckily the Flavor Dipped Buffalo sauce makes up for this miscue. Overall the sandwich gets a 4/5 in my eyes. This is a sandwich that you should go out and buy before it is too late. Wendy’s take on buffalo chicken is a must eat, despite the lackluster toppings.
On to the BBQ sandwich, with all of the ad posters displaying the Buffalo sandwich prominently up front, the BBQ may appear to be getting the 2nd billing. Don’t believe this because this sandwich brings the flavor train into the station as well. As noted before this breast was particularly large. I was kind of worried because the prices for these sandwiches are premium and I wanted to feel like I was getting my moneys worth. With this much chicken, it’s definitely a solid value. While not a large BBQ fan by trade, I have to admit that this a great sauce indeed. A tangy yet vibrant taste encased the whole chicken and the onions and pickles only went the extra mile to compliment this sauce. I believe that the BBQ was a lot less messy than the buffalo because you’re not dealing with the waterslide lettuce or extra sauce mayo. The BBQ gets a 4/5 from me as well. If you are a fan of BBQ chicken this is another must get for you.
While there are no indications on whether or not Wendy’s will keep these sandwiches around, I do believe that everyone should go out and give one if not both of these a sampling. I do declare that it’ll be worth your while.
Coming up, I’ll be taking on my first classic review, McDonald’s Big Mac.
Until the next sauce,
Thursday, October 30, 2008
For a long time now, Subway has changed what some call the Fast-Food Industry. This new low fat, healthy movement just doesn't fit in with greasy burgers, bacon covered meat slabs, and double battered extra crispy chicken. But Subway is very successful at what they do, and they have done so with a combination of "I'm no longer fat" ads and finding new ways to put lunchmeat on bread. While Subway does offer a lot of low fat options, they have also recently taken on the college students interests in another way: lower prices. The $5 footlong and the accompanying ad campaign (with catchy song) has gone a long way in earning purchases from my pockets. On countless occasions, I've found myself wondering what's for lunch, and that simple $5 price tag latches on to me like a hobo on a ham sandwich.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
This is the debut of a series of mini reviews. No rules set in stone yet, but these reviews will typically be reserved for items that wouldn't normally make up the meal; add-ons if you will.
So here goes our inaugural Bite Sizer:
I'm sure you have seen the ad's for this on tv. The wild claims of how taco bell has created such a spicy item that steam would be emitted from the consumer's ears. I felt as if these commercials were almost challenging me to see if I could take the heat. There are two components that are responsible for identifying this taco as a volcano taco.
1) The Red Shell
2) Cheesy "Lava" Sauce
The only purpose that the red shell serves is to potentially label which taco among your satchel of tacos is supposed to be the volcano. Other than that, it really doesn't have any distinctive taste--my color blind colleague would have trouble identifying the red shell from the standard taco bell shell. Next is the cheesy lava sauce, which i've been told is supposed to be even hotter than taco bells fire sauce. Lets just say halfway though my taco, I found myself adding taco bell's fire sauce to spicy it up more. The cheese sauce does have a good taste though, and when combined with the beef in the taco produces a delicious combination.
Because of the bold claims regarding the spiciness. I find it hard to give this taco a good review. The value added by the spicy factors doesn't make me want to get this taco over the standard taco.
Taco Bell's Volcano Taco: 2/5
note: I'd be interested in re-reviewing this if taco bell introduced a soft tortilla version, this might allow for more taste differentiation between the original and the red.
Lets just start off by saying that here at Goodies and Gimmicks Galore we are dedicated to giving you, the readers, the best possible info on possible products that just may blow away your face. While we will focus a lot on promotional foods at restaurants, we at g&gg really enjoy niche beverages as well. I am a large fan of diet soda. While the plain old, diet colas are nothing special but the pop industry has been making large strides into the wild and whacky flavored diet sodas. Today I'm gonna take a look at Diet A&W Cream Soda.
A&W pioneered the diet root beer phenomenon so when I located a 12 pack of diet cream soda at my local Wal Mart, I knew it was destiny. As a child I hated diet soda, it tasted awful in comparison to their sugary step brothers, and they reminded me of being an adult (something I just didn't want at the time). Growing older I realized that drinking open calories wasn't gonna work forever, so I decided I had to go strictly diet pop. I still didn't and currently don't really enjoy regular diet Coke or Pepsi, but I have found that there are plenty of diet sodas out there that are quite flavorful. From the Godfather Diet Dr. Pepper to Diet Mt Dew, diet sodas have made strides in flavor and customer satisfaction. I have found that anything with any kind of flavor added such as lemon, cherry, root beer, citrus, orange, or even vanilla has made diet soda a calorie free bonanza for my mouth.
On to the A&W cream soda. As a background, my first two cans from the 12 pack began with me getting sprayed with carbonation. I usually carry around cans of pop in the side mesh pocket of my backpack and have no issues, but both times I have tried this with the A&W I have been left with sticky fingers and soiled trousers. So as a warning, a little shake goes a long way with this can.
For the review, the can went directly from the fridge to the table and I opened it without any issues. I was gonna call A&W and sue for dry cleaning expenses if this one had exploded as well.
So I took some deep sips from the bubbly liquid and I found there to be great flavor. There is the typical diet soda at first, but the after taste is what truly makes this beverage special. A wave of vanilla esk cream floats through your throat like a log down a river. While you still know the drink is diet, the flavor boost when swallowed makes this drink a very well rounded calorie free treat.
So in the end I'll give the Diet A&W Cream Soda a 4.0/5. This beverage is definitely worth taking a look at. The only problems I saw were the fact that it is hard to find, I've been looking for this drink specifically for a couple of weeks and just happened to stumble into it last week, and then there's the explosion factor. Happening twice just isn't acceptable and the can shouldn't go haywire after some simple walking.
Coming soon, we'll take a look at the Wendy's Flavor Dip Sandwiches and have our first Taste Royale between the McDonald's Snack Wrap, Wendy's Chicken Go Wrap, and KFC's Toasted Wrap. So stay tuned.
Until the next sauce.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Well here it is, the inaugural review for Goodies and Gimmicks Galore. I hope that its something to behold.
Taco Bell runs an interesting kind of business. They are fast food, yet they are often held in high regard by me in this department. This is mainly for the fact that almost every single one of their menu items stems from old, failed, and misguided promotional items. Or Gimmick Food. From the crunch-wrap supreme, to the chalupa, to the grilled "stuft" burrito, Taco Bell loves combining new things, so many times that it might just seem original. They combine America's flair for fat by adding cheese, special sauces, extra breading and shells, and then deep frying the whole ordeal. Its become such a joke that even SNL parodied TB with their "Taco Town" sketch. So for these and many other reasons, I found myself walking into the University of Pittsburgh's Taco Bell Express to get my hand on Taco Bell's newest creation the Triple Steak Burrito.
While the prices at this particular Taco Bell might be inflated due to the fact that it can be added on as part of student's meal plan, I decided to attack the 5.99 combo price regardless, even though all I got extra was a medium fountain drink. The waitstaff was awkwardly accommodating and I received my order promptly, which is radical change of pace for this particular TB.
All I know is that whenever I received my to go bag, I immediately felt a strange heftiness that I have not experienced before at the Bell. Maybe the burrito was indeed Triple Steak'd. Upon further review, the foil wrapper was indeed quite large.
And the sucker looked even larger once it was released from its warming cell.
Word on the street was that the burrito contained steak and lots of it. There was supposed to be supple amounts of rice, shredded cheddar cheese, and some sour cream sauce. My first bite was a bit of a thrilling experience, I got a whole lot steak in my mouth, but little else. The problems with most burritos these days is the employees who make them. All too often you will find that your burrito is mismanaged and quite unproportioned inside. A whole mouthful of rice, loads of sour cream in the middle and nowhere else, meat only on one side, the list goes on and on. I can't complain too much, considering we're talking about a taco bell here, not even one thats free standing either. Anyway the "carne asada" inside was actually pretty tasty. It didn't just take like meat but something with a distinctive flair. Upon further review, there was a good bit of rice inside but the meat wasn't lacking either.
My accomplice (and fellow contributing writer to g&gg) Mike indicated to me that his regular bean burrito was quite puny in comparison. It does indeed seem Taco Bell is trying to make America fatter once again. This time there are no schemes or tricks such as an extra taco shell or special calorie rich sauces, its just a simple addage of meat.
So i finished the rest of burrito without too much flair. The sour cream was indeed loaded in one particular area, and the shredded cheese was sorely lacking, but in the end the burrito left me quite filled and satisfied.
As always I must let the food settle for a little and sit before I can conclude any review, because food is only as good as it digests. Taco Bell has led me astray in this department before, but I have to say I felt normal and didn't experience that lead belly feeling or the "I just ate fast food headache feeling".
So in the end I must give the Triple Steak Burrito a 3.5/5 star rating. It had a lot of tasty meat in it, but the burrito was overall rather normal. No special sauce (only sour cream) and no spicy factor (which I have come to expect from TB) led to the 1.5 star reduction.
So there it is. The first review is in the books. If you liked this, you'll be loving the continual updates as I continue to journalize my experiences with goodies and gimmicks galore.
Mike might be back a little later for a mini review on the Volcano Taco as well.
Until next sauce.