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January, 2008:

Taco Bell Cheesy Gordita Crunch

There’s something especially awesome about Taco Bell. I’ll never put my finger on it completely, but I know it involves magical dwarfs. And not like Snow White cutesy-named dwarfs, either. I’m talking about magical dwarf-tossee dwarfs with tattoos and mohawks. Magical dwarfs who haven’t shaved in a couple weeks and have noserings.

I’m talking about the real dwarfs. Out there, on the street, keeping it real. Real freaking magical at Taco Bell, that is.

Why are they magical, you ask?

Easy. They have the power to take the 5 hallowed ingredients (mas o menos) and constantly turn out creations that, no matter how dumb and repetitive they may seem, are consistently awesome and cool.

That, my friend, takes a special kind of magical tattooed dwarf touch. You ain’t getting this mojo out of a Keebler tree. Those guys are way too clean cut. Too afraid to tell The Man to screw off, and/or show up to work drunk. Too afraid to LIVE.

What about dwarfs on a farm with a lot of random money for cool tractors and Volkswagens? You gotta be kidding me. They don’t know a Gordita from a… something that rhymes with Gordita and exists on a farm, or reality television.

Leprechauns? Nope, sadly, they’re generally too drunk. There’s a fine line where magical “take a swig from your tiny flask on break” drunk crosses over into “peeing on every rainbow-chaser looking for gold” drunk. Once this line is crossed, all Tex-Mex fast food touched by said magical dwarf instantly catches on fire. Which, while awesome in its own right, does not a tasty Meximelt make.

So, that leaves us with the heroes of the everyman, the rough-and-tumble magical 5-ingredient-combining tattooed, vodka-swilling, pierced, rude, and unkempt dwarves that are known to inhabit the corners of every Taco Bell on the planet.

May God Bless their tiny, awesome hearts, for they bring us such enlightening goods as:

The Cheesy Gordita Crunch
20080110-Cheesy Gordita-734175
Now, on the surface, and based on the description, there’s nothing great here. You’re looking at your standard flatbreadish Gordita shell, some melted cheese, a hard taco shell, some meat, a little more cheese, taco meat, lettuce, and ranch mexisauce… stuff.

Glamour shots:

The Unveiling-


The Reveal-


The Ties That Bind-


Texture: Heading in for the first bite, it’s a little awkward. The Gordita shell really takes the spotlight here, and is prevalent through every bite. Makes things very soft and interesting. The hard shell, pretty much like every other hard-shell-inside-stuff item isn’t all that hard, so there’s not a huge contrast, just a bit o’ difference.

Taste: Really, and I wasn’t expecting this, the ranchy-spicy sauce really makes this thing work. The mythical “3 cheese blend” holding everything together just tasted off, thankfully there wasn’t a whole lot of it, and it really didn’t stand out once everything else got going.

JK Score: 7/10 While it’s no Bacon Cheeseburger Burrito (for the love of all that is holy, please bring this back!!), I’d definitely get the CGC (we’re tight like that, I can abbreviate) again. Add in some Fire Sauce (a must), and it’s game on. I just had the CGC, and a Meximelt, and I’m pleasantly full. Thank you, Magical Taco Bell Dwarfs!

Calbee Shrimp Flavored Chips / Saki Ika Prepared Squid HOT

Get ready for some hard hitting journalism from the road, Jack Kerouac style. I’m in the Bay Area for a little vacation. Our trip took us into Chinatown, where I figured I was sure to find something… interesting to take a look at. In the basement of some shop, I ran across a mini-grocery, and found these gems. Since I’m really tired and recovering from a nice massive New Years hangover (Happy New Year, btw), I’m offering a 2008 seafood-related 2-for-1 review special.

First up: Calbee Shrimp Flavored Chips


Upon seeing these, I thought to myself, “Self, these are going to suck. But you owe it to your readers to try this.” Of course, I did.

The product description on the bag quite innocently stated: “A toasted light snack, with a touch of shrimp.”

Awesome. I’m all for light snacks, and I like shrimp. Granted, I generally like my shrimp in, well… shrimp form. I’ve never in my life considered using shrimp as a flavoring. Obviously, this is why I don’t create awesome Chinese snacks.

Opening the bag, I took a wiff, as I usually do when encountering something as potentially screwed up as shrimp-flavored-anything. I was greeted with the wonderful odors of ass, butt, and hiney. Actually, it instantly reminded me of my aquarium-keeping days, when I used to get my fish dried krill as a treat. Just a very strong, very nasty old fishy smell.


The “Chips” themselves were obviously more fry-like, with a nice little spiral pattern to them.

Texture: Not bad, pretty standard puffed potato-type snack. Light, and crunchy.

Flavor: One of those things that are just completely impossible to describe. Horrible. Immediately nasty. I don’t even see how this could be an acquired taste. It tasted exactly like it smelled, and since I can’t completely describe the smell, it’s pretty hard to describe the taste with today’s technology. Seriously, just take my word for it, they be nasty.

JK Score: 0/10 Yeah, they’re flipping bad. They make me want to re-scale my whole scoring system, because I need to figure out a way to effectively convey that I’d rather eat Dwight Yokam’s Chicken Lickin’s Chicken Rings Afire for every meal than ever put these in my mouth again.

Next!! Saki Ika Prepared Squid: HOT


These bad boys were on the rack right next to the Shrimp Chips. Figured it’d make for a nice themed entry. This is a little bit more out there and straightforward with what you’re getting. It’s squid, it’s prepared, and it’s hot. Hell, there’s even a picture of a creepy, happy squid on the bag, and a see-through portion so you can revel in the quality of your snack.

Speaking of the bag, there’s a great little blurb on the back:


“Enjoy Wel-Pac Prepared Squid at anytime and any place. Just open the bag and serve at parties. Make sure you have enough! It’s also a convenient snack to take on picnics.”

Oh hell yes. It’s the great portable party snack, Prepared Squid! And, apparently, it’s good for picnics. And parties. That’s it, though. Don’t even think about serving Wel-Pac Prepared Squid at your next business meeting. So, my final conclusion is that China rocks because it’s always a squid party/picnic.

Ain’t no party like a prepped-squid party, cuz a prepped-squid party won’t stop…

…stop vomiting, that is. Somehow, pulling the bag open and sticking my nose in yielded the exact same smell as the Shrimp Chips. And that scares me. It was seriously exactly the same.

Dumping out a bit, and you’ll see… well… prepared squid. Not a lot to look at. Looks and feels a bit like stringy beef jerky.


Texture: Starts off with a weird beef jerky-like texture that dissolves into a almost-familiar calamari chewiness as you get into it.

Flavor: Same as the shrimp chips. Again, I don’t know how two things are this nasty in the same store, much less the same country. Combine that with the fact that despite being based on two different animals, they taste exactly the same… And, yah. Holycrap. Oh, there’s no hotness to speak of, either. Just a lot of salt.

JK Score 0/10: See above. Seriously. It’s just the chewy-nasty-non-chip version of the Shrimp Chips. Either that, or the Shrimp Chips are the airy, crunchy version of the Prepared Squid. It should be worth noting that about 2 hours later I still have the taste of both of these evil snacks in my mouth. I’ll probably have nightmares about John Tesh tonight too. Not because of the squid, but just because John Tesh scares me.

Of course, this leads to the obvious question:
Which came first, the Prepared Squid or the Shrimp Chip?