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December, 2007:

Snickers Nut ‘n Butter Crunch

‘Nnnn bop!

“And” is perhaps one of the most complicated, diverse, mystifying, and French words in the English language. A heavy, heavy weight it bears on its shoulders, everywhere it goes, being called upon by strangers to connect words and phrases, much like the semantical volunteer fireman.

So, it should come as no surprise that when it comes to marketing to the masses, it’s used as little as humanly possible. And really, it makes perfect sense. I mean, who wants to have that responsibility? Why present the fabled “and” en masse, and waste it’s proverbial flavor, when there’s a perfectly acceptable one letter contraction available for ready use and dispersion?

Of course, I’m talking about “‘n”. Which really doesn’t look right in quotes.

‘n is the great equalizer, saving valuable packaging space, making things look cool, freshening breath, and saving you big bucks at the gas pump.
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In this case, we’re taking a look at the Snickers Nut ‘n butter Crunch candy bar.

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Once again, in the name of awesome-ifying things that were perfectly awesome before, candy bar dudes took the venerable pillar of candy-dom, the Snickers bar, removed the nougat and replaced it with peanut butter. Or, apparently, Nut n’ Butter Crunch. But really, it’s just peanut butter. Still nuts, still caramel, just… more peanut butter.

Texture: It’s still fundamentally a Snickers. Kinda. The peanut butter is definitely no nougat, so things are a bit more gooey than normal. Seems like there’s more peanuts in there too.

Taste: Honestly, for all the work they seem to have put into this, it doesn’t taste that much different than a regular old Snickers for whatever reason. A bit of peanut butter twinge to it, but not overwhelming like you’d expect after having the thing gutted and replaced with peanut butter.

JK Score: 5/10 Meh. I’d rather have a Snickers, and I’m a huge proponent of all things peanut butter, as well as the biggest single financial supporter of “‘n”, outside of General Mills.

3 Musketeers Mint with Dark Chocolate

One for all, and all for… minty versions of things we’ve already had!

Humans are awesome. We’re never happy with leaving well enough alone (I’m looking at you, George Lucas, as well as the Pop-Tart Folks). Everything can be improved upon, or at least that’s what “The Man” wants you think, so he can sell you supposedly-improved versions of things you already know and love, and tear apart childhood memories all for the sake of the almighty dollar.

And then link a buttload of phrases and stuff back to wikipedia.

… But I digress. My point was, how can you make one of the most basic and pure awesome candy bars of ever, the 3 Musketeers bar, any better? It’s chocolate. With a kinda chewy, fluffy chocolate on the inside. There’s nothing wrong with that. Not a damn thing. It’s mighty tasty.

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Apparently the answer here is to mint it all up and darken-ify it a bit. Crank up the contrast, if you will. And by damn, did they. By going to dark chocolate, and mint (white) filling, it’s just like your Grandma’s TV… black and white. Sorry, couldn’t think of a witty idiom for right there. It’s just severe.

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So, of course, the question is, how is it?

Actually, it’s pretty damn decent, for being an abomination of its former self. It’s much minty-er (mintier?) than I expected, which you’d think would be bad, but it’s pretty nice. The bar is broken up into 2 pieces so you can share the love, or eat two candy bars.

Texture: It’s a 3 Musketeers bar. They didn’t screw with the basic premise. It’s still fluffy inside, just a different fluff. Kinda like when they pull the Folger’s switch, but instead of coffee, they secretly swap your puppy with a bunny. Or something.

Taste: HOLY MOTHER OF GOD THAT’S MINTY. Really, it’s like a fluffy, giant Junior Mint. A Senior Mint, if you will. Not to be confused with Señor Mint, the Latino superhero that fights bad breath with the powers of his tasty hojas. Tastes exactly the same, just a completely different mouth feel to it. If you’re not expecting bodacious amounts of mint loving, it will definitely catch you off guard. But it’s good once you get used to it.

JK Score: 7/10 I’m a mint man myself, and while I’m not all about the re-doing of everything we’ve got, I have to admit this is a pretty tasty remix. Oh well, I’m a sucker for marketing. And Señor Mint. Ole`!

Burger King Ketchup & Fries Flavored Potato Snacks

Have It Your Way®, or the highway…

Food marketers are a weird bunch. For whatever reason, marketing folks like to try stuff out in certain regions, and screw the rest of the world over. Denver McDonald’s have Green Chile Cheeseburgers (and they f’ing rock). Down south and out west, they had the glorious Jalapeño Cheddar Cheetos eons before the rest of the country. The Doritos X13 debacle seemed to be a very spotty limited engagement as well. When my buddy from back home, James, found out about the site, he directed me to search out and report on these BK Fries & Ketchup “chips”. Myself, being one to never deny a request from a good friend, sought them out, but much failure ensued. I think someone may have inadvertently been lit on fire as a result of my futile search among the hallowed gas stations and convenience stores of the greater St. Louis Metro area.

There was much sadness.

But, like they say, miracles always happen during the holiday season. Being the holidays, we were back up to visit the family and all that good stuff. I’d stopped at a gas station to refuel the car, and ran inside to grab something to drink. The much-ballyhooed “chips” were proudly kind of on display a little bit on an antifreeze shelf endcap facing the rear of the store. Awesome.
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Filled with glee, holiday cheer, and the strength of no less than eight meerkats, I proudly marched my prize to the counter, and paid for it. My wife insisted I put them in the trunk for “protection”. I’m still not sure if she was protecting them or us, but I figure some questions are better left unasked.

After staying in the “protection” of the trunk for about 4 days, I figured it was safe to unleash the fury since no one had tried to kill us, or blow my car up at that point.

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Of course, no TJE article would be complete without me actually eating the item of interest.

Well, I guess it could still be complete, but it would be kind of a crappy article. And if I did it too much, I’d have to change the name of the site to “Things JK Buys, Rambles About, And Never Consumes.com”. And that’s just a bad domain to try and remember.

It was with much apprehension that I went into this. And I’m not sure why. I had ZERO idea what to expect. Opening the bag and cramming my nose in yielded the smell of… ketchup. Kinda like the 5-day old room temperature a-little-sour pump ketchup you’d get at a crappy fastfood joint. Didn’t help my apprehensions any, let me just say that. My dog went nuts, trying to figure out wtf I had in that bag.

I went in for the kill, just putting one on my tongue.

Weird.

It tasted pretty much like… a Burger King fry, with Ketchup on it. Remarkable.

After the flavor-shield was gone, and I was left with chip, there was a distinct potato-ish, almost Pringles flavor floating around. Not bad, just not what I started with. It should be noted, that in that flavor coating is more salt than… something made completely out of salt. I’m a salt man myself, and I can’t bring myself to even attack half the bag typing this.

Texture: I’m going to say this, and it will sound disgusting, but it kinda works: these are like a potato version of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It seriously took me about 10 minutes to figure out what the hell that texture reminded me of. It’s really awesome, kinda airy/crunchy. If I could get the base of these just plain with a little salt, I’d probably eat the shit outta them.

Flavor: It starts off as, well, flippin BK Fries with Ketchup on them. And a pound of salt. It’s one of those things that you wind up just eating handful after handful to avoid the aftertaste, because that first hit of it is kinda decent and interesting. Much like a junkie chasing that first high, that’s how “The Industry” gets ya.

JK Score: 5/10 Seriously. They’re not bad, just TOO SALTY. I’ll actually finish this bag for sure, just in small doses. The texture just rocks all sorts of ass, and that’s what’s keepin me coming back for more. In small doses.

Reese’s Peanut Butter & Banana Creme Cups

Remember Alf? He’s back! In Pog form!

Of course, by “Alf”, I mean Elvis Presley’s (fat version, natch) soul, and by “Pog” I mean money-grubbing-limited edition-peanut-butter-cup.

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So, they’re really one in the same.

Of course, it’s no coincidence that Elvis Aaron Presley is an anagram for…. Wait for it…

Reese’s Vain Payroll. (I shit you not, I took the time to actually make that work.)

It’s no secret (unless you’re a Beatles person, and hated The King so much that you denied his existance) that Mr. Presley was all about his peanut butter and banana sammaches. What in the hell prompted Reese’s to start warping that into peanut butter cup form is beyond all of my awesome thinking abilities, which are, in fact, awesome. What I do know is that the deed is done, so we must now live with, and eat the things.

First off though, I had to satisfy my inner child-who-takes-apart-everything. Just how were they going about combining the admittedly awesome flavors of peanut butter AND banana?

A little plastic-knife-based exploratory Reese’s surgery tells the tale:

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As we can see, they took the normal Reese’s peanut butter filling, and reduced it a bit to make room for the Ring of Banana (band name!). I should put banana in quotes, because according to the packaging, we’re looking at less than 2% of banana flakes up in herr. That’s whole hunka-hunka-not-a-lotta banana. *Elvis snarl*

Texture: It’s a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Feels exactly the same in the mouth, not a thing wrong with it.

Flavor: Oh, it’s gettin’ a little funky now. There’s DEFINITELY banana in here, but it’s that fake Laffy Taffy-ish super-banana flavor. Definitely throws you off at first. As long as you get a healthy chunk of the peanut butter fare in your mouth, it’s not too bad. Because I’m an idiot, I made an attempt at eating the banana part on its own, just to see. WOW. That’s some hellishly nasty banana goin on. I’d say it was clearly intended to be consumed with the PB. Duh.

JK Score: 4/10 Really, if you eat them as a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup was intended to be eaten (big ole honkin’ bites), there’s enough other stuff floating around to balance out the banana to a point that it’s decent. Otherwise, avoid.

Dwight Yoakam’s Chicken Lickin’s Chicken Rings Afire

… I really wish I could fit more words into the name of this product. I’m not sure if interjecting anything witty would really help with the comedic value of what we have here, though. So, I’m gonna leave well enough alone, and proudly present to you:

Dwight Yoakam’s Chicken Lickin’s Chicken Rings Afire


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Boom, shacka-lacka.

Seriously. These exist. At Walgreen’s. Which is handy, because you have ready access to all sorts of remedies for whatever may ail you after consuming these bad boys.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around what in the bloody hell Dwight Yoakam has to do with crappy processed chicken products. Kenny Rogers, a much better country singer, tried the whole chicken thing, and in a much better form, and failed horribly. Why Dwight can’t learn from Kenny, we’ll never know. There’s apparently a whole line of nasty chicken-type products he’s schlepping, including Chicken Fries, and other Chicken Things-that-were-never-meant-to-be-formed-from-chicken-parts available for your purchase and consumption.

My only solid theory thusfar is that Dwight Yoakam majorly pissed off Kenny Rogers at some point in the past few years. Kenny, being the cool-headed gambler he is, didn’t let it known at the time that he was pissed. He held that anger deep inside, and stayed friends with Dwight, awaiting the perfect time to exact his revenge. One day, Kenny and Dwight were hanging out at the Old Country Singers Club, and Dwight asked for investment advice. Kenny, without missing a beat, screamed that the future was in chicken, and vowed up and down that he was just too soon into the market, and what the world really needed was someone to bring frozen-chicken-in-odd-forms to market in mass quantities, and as fast as possible. Kenny is vindictive like that. He won’t throw a punch, he’ll just tell you sell chicken and bleed your accounts dry.

The moral here, of course, is that you should never listen to Kenny Rogers.

So, we pop open the box of Dwight Yoakam’s Chicken Lickin’s Chicken Rings Afire (btw, I’m never going to condense that name cuz it’s completely badass and I feel that if someone took the time to fit it all on a box, the least I can do is fully acknowledge the entire name whenever I choose to bring it up), and are presented with about 12 or so units of Dwight Yoakam’s Chicken Lickin’s Chicken Rings Afire.

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On the box, they suggest microwaving in sets of 4, for 1:30. They actually suggest using an oven as a preferred method to maintain crispness or some such nonsense. I figure that whoever is buying Dwight Yoakam’s Chicken Lickin’s Chicken Rings Afire isn’t going to be the type of person who knows how to operate an oven, much less have the time to use it. With that in mind, we’re nuking these bastards.

I’ve gotta say, they’re horrible. Just completely nasty. Not to mention, Dwight Yoakam is apparently a hot wuss, because there was absolutely nothing “afire” about these Dwight Yoakam’s Chicken Lickin’s Chicken Rings Afire. What I had in my mouth was more like Dwight Yoakam’s Chicken Flavored Crappy Mushy Batter Rings A-Bland. I even tried to drown them in my emergency chicken flavor kit: Franks’ Red Hot Sauce and Ranch. No help. Just complete shit, all around, with no hope of salvation.

Kenny Rogers – 1, Dwight Yoakam – 0. Seriously. Don’t piss off Kenny Rogers.

Texture: In nuked form, it was like chewing on a moist ring of wet meat.

Flavor: Really, nothing. Nothing at all. Except HORRIBLE WET CHICKEN IN CRAP-BATTER.

JK Score: 0/10 In all seriousness, these things are flippin’ nasty. I can’t even find a good thing to say about Dwight Yoakam’s Chicken Lickin’s Chicken Rings Afire, except that the name itself is fun to rattle off.

Go-Tarts! Frosted Chocolate Chip with Chocolatey Filling

As I was on my way out the door yesterday, I had this really cool internal dialogue with myself. The part of “Me” was played by someone doing a horribly over-the-top cockney accent, and occasionally slipping into a bad imitation of Johnny Depp’s character in Pirates of the Caribbean, and the part of “Replying-to-myself” was played by a drunk Scotsman. It went something like this.

“Caw, gub-na! Oy shoooow is ‘ungry!”
“Rrrarriken ‘ewed wanna earrt?”
“Well lub, oy’d most rilly like some of ’em American ‘op Tart lovely pastries an such, but OY! They’s just toooooo large ‘or me British ‘ands, and ever most unwieldy while trying to pilot my ever-so-large boat, savvy?”
“GO ABERDEEN!!!! ‘Ut braot these’m, ewe trot wanka?”
“Avast! Kellogg’s Popt-Tarts Go-Tarts! Frosted Chocolate Chip with Chocolatey Filling!”
“Rrraharrrgggst un ewe ROIGHT!”

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The walk to the car from the door consequently wound up taking about 5 hours, mostly because I had to drink a lot of beer to effectively play the part of the drunk Scot, then sober up enough to find my other accent, then get drunk again every time there was a character change. By that point, I was way too far gone to drive, so I gave up and went back into the house to ponder the existence of these tiny Pop-Tart variants.

Let me get to the point here. POP TARTS ARE NOT BIG. I shit you not, I just measured the true metric by which all toaster pastries should be compared. Of course I speak of the legenedary Frosted Strawberry Pop-Tart, the cornerstone of life. My measurements came out to 4.5 inches in height, and 3.125 inches across. This ultra-portable Go-Tart came in at 4.5 inches in height, and 1.5 inches across.

Meaning: it’s ONE AND A HALF INCHES MORE NARROW THAN A FLIPPING FULL-SIZE, BEEFY, AWESOME POP-TART.

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So, my question is, who really needs a more portable Pop-Tart? Who sat there and said, “Dammit, I can’t carry a Pop-Tart! That’s just too big! I need something 1.5 inches more narrow, but otherwise the same size!” Why are you destroying my childhood and all that holy?

DON’T SCREW WITH POP-TARTS.

… Anyway, let’s get to the food. I opened up the most portable pasty in the creation of ever, only to find a busted crap-mess of crumbs and stuff. See, this is what happens when you mess with the perfect design. You lose all structural stability.

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Texture: The outer crust is definitely Pop-Tart flavored, but it’s much thicker, sweeter, and more chewy than normal. Kinda weird. Definitely has more of an energy-bar feel to it than a Pop-Tart. I’m crying at this point.

Flavor: The filling is undeniably Pop-Tart chocolate/fudge family. Other than that, it’s crap.

JK Score: 1/10 I’m sorry, my score partially reflects how pissed I am at Kellogg’s. But really, these suck. They don’t taste much like a Pop-Tart, and by screwing with the ancient design, they’ve lost all structural rigidity, netting a food that’s actually less portable by it’s self-destructive and crumbly nature. For shame, Kellogg’s. For shame.

DON’T SCREW WITH POP-TARTS!!!!!

Bacana Brazil Churrascaria (aka House of Meat Death)

Let me paint a picture for ya, Bob Ross style. Let’s put a happy little cloud up here on the right. He’s happy. Now let’s put a little happy harbinger of meat-based-coma-death-glory-joy over here. Yah, that’s nice.

Let’s call that place Bacana Brazil, in Chesterfield, MO. You know, make-believe, it’s art, it’s not set in stone, be creative. In your painting, you can call yours Frederico Rojo or something. Mine is called Bacana.

Artist's rendition.  Forgot my camera.

Artist's rendition. Forgot my camera.

Now, let’s move inside.

Let’s paint a nice, semi-upscale resturaunt, with a great booze selection, and an incredible Brazilian wait staff who is the friendliest bunch of dudes and chicks this side of the Mississippi. Oh, paint some neat accents on them, too. Not really sure how you go about doing that, but it’s worth including in our work here. So do it, before I cut you.

Yah, that’s nice. They’re happy.

The name of the game here is Churrascaria. My Portuguese is horrible, but I think it roughly translates into “Feed all the over-eating Americans awesome meats and shit until they explode”.

It works like this: you walk in, get seated and order your drinks. You get pointed to a nice big salad/side buffet spread. Our waiter gave us the tip of grabbing a spare plate, you know, for meat. At your table is a magical toggle. One side being red, the other, green.

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I’m not sure what the red side that said “NO” actually looked like, as we never used it. What I do know, is that as long as that guy stays green, some dude in the back will work his butt off grilling countless cuts of meat, rotisserie style over a pit. Then he’ll send out the meat minions out with highly-sharpened big-ass knives and the aforementioned skewers of meat around to all the tables, where you’re consequently barraged with endless chunks of top sirloin, garlic steak, bacon-wrapped chicken, salmon, beef shoulder, shrimp, pork, lamb, even grilled bananas and cinnamon-pineapple.

And that’s it. You eat until your completely stuffed, and then the sadistic waiter comes back and offers you deserts, which were also awesome.

In keeping with the whole painting analogy, let’s paint a happy over-stuffed bigass dude who just ate his weight in meat for $33.

Artist's rendering, I'm much more sexy.

Artist's rendering, I'm much more sexy.

Must Try: The Spicy Beef Salad. Best stuff on earth if you’re into hot stuff. The beef shoulder. The top sirloin. The garlic steak. The roasted banana. The grilled cinnamon-crusted pineapple.

Avoid: The red side of that meat flipper thinger.

JK Score: 9/10 There’s nothing more awesome than all-you-can-eat meat, and swords.

Bacana Brasil
16123 Chesterfield Pkwy West
Chesterfield, MO 63017
636.532.6969
http://www.bacanabrasil.com