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February, 2008:

McDonald’s McSkillet Burrito

Y’all can go ahead and just mark your calendars, for this is the (glorious) day that TJE (that’s this site, btw) sold out, jumped the shark, went corporate, became a shill, sold its soul, and otherwise succumbed to the shiny draw of free crap.

I received this email yesterday:

Hi JK,

I work for XXXXXXX, a public relations firm in Chicago and as a fellow fast food connoisseur, I wanted to reach out to you about a 2-day free burrito event at McDonald’s.

On February 28-29 McDonalds’ across the country will be offering a free McSkillet Burrito with the purchase of any medium or large beverage during breakfast hours. The McSkillet Burrito includes breakfast favorites such as fresh scrambled eggs, sausage and skillet potatoes with melted cheddar jack and American cheese, roasted red and green bell peppers and salsa roja wrapped in a warm tortilla.

Don’t miss your chance to enjoy a zesty, breakfast burrito
‘on the house’ early Thursday and Friday morning!

Let me know if you would have any questions. Thanks!

Best,
XXXXXX

Granted, between receiving this myself, getting the deal, and telling you about it, this leaves you East Coast-ers pretty screwed on the deal. West Coast folks have a few hours though, so get on it, because it’s a national promotion.

Regardless, the only thing better than new food items is FREE food items. Kinda free. Free with purchase, anyway. So…. Not really free. But vastly, promotionally (it’s an adverb, it’s real, I don’t care what spell check says) discounted. And really, that’s good enough for me. I normally grab a 32oz Diet Coke on my way into work a couple times a week, so to get a free (with the selling of soul and loss of journalistic integrity) burrito was just icing on the proverbial cake.

Amazingly, the line at the drive-through was incredibly short at 7:50am, and none of the cars in front of me took advantage of the deal. One lady did take about 5 minutes to order 5 custom-ordered biscuits though.

Anyway got my order, got it back to my desk, and took pictures of it. Because, that’s what normal people do. Seriously.

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This guy is a beast. Old/nasty penny for size. It’s much, much bigger than a penny.

I’m going into comparing it mainly to McDonald’s old-school, traditional Breakfast Burrito, which, quite frankly, is crap. Tiny chunks o’ sausage, little pieces of egs, and sparse veggies. Just generally dry and sucky. That said, this is like going from, well, McDonald’s, to someplace much better than McDonald’s. Like… A real diner or something. It’s weird, and unexpected.

Seriously, check it out! While it’s not very visually appealing, there’s all sorts of actual food items up in here.

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The 6 major food groups are all represented:
-Tortilla
-Sausage
-Eggs
-Cheese
-Taters
-Some veggies

It’s like a day’s worth of everything, in one package. Brilliant. Best parts – The sausage is like an actual sausage patty, with the normal McDonald’s spicing going on. The taters are old-school American skillet Potatoes. The eggs are de reguir for McD’s, but where this beast really shines is the cheese/sauce thing (salsa rojo). It’s actually pretty tasty/cheesy/rojo-y, and it really tied the room together.

Texture: It’s a breakfast burrito, it just doesn’t suck. The eggs were a good, solid fake-egg-like consistency, the sausage was all firm and sausage-y, and the potatoes really added something to it, which is really hard to describe, but overall it worked. I was shocked. I’m still not a huge fan of McD’s tortilla, because it’s a little chewy, but it’s not horrid.

Taste: Honestly, much better than I thought it would be. Free or not. Seriously. It didn’t suck. Seriously! Really, the stars here are the cheese/sauce and the sausage. They make it. Without these items, the McSkillet would be nothing. NOTHING! Well, technically, it would still be something, but not decent, or a real breakfast burrito thinger.

JK Score: 7/10 Even if it wasn’t free, I’d still order it. I’ll actually probably get this next time I hit a McD’s for breakfast. It’s pretty decent, and like an uber-deluxe, non-crappy version of the regular burrito offering.

Chocolate Mix Skittles

Hello, “Curious Bystanders Who Let JK Do Irreparable Harm to His Body By Letting Him Eat All This Crap For Your Amusement!” My name is SpaceMonkeyX and I am a special guest correspondent for this entry of “Things JK Eats.”

You’re probably wondering why I’m here instead of JK. In an attempt to entertain you, JK has eaten something the human body was never meant to ingest – tofu. Services will be held next Wednesday at Knapp-Miller Funeral Home in Paxton. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you bring cold, hard cash, preferably in small, unmarked bills.

At any rate, I’m designating myself as a special “Candy Correspondent”. I’m not nearly as brave as JK when it comes to my culinary curiosities, so I’m going to stick to the occasional daring confectionary consumption. (Come for the food, stay for the alliteration!)

My first attempt to survive the imaginations of candy manufacturers is by trying a new abomination in candy combinations – Chocolate Mix Skittles.

Somehow I don’t think the marketing department is going to be saying “Taste the Chocolate Rainbow!” for this one. It sounds a bit too much like the tagline for the new documentary, “2 Girls, 1 Cup: A True Story of Adversity and Perversity” (I hear it’s the opening film at Cannes this year). Instead they’re going to quietly slip these Chocolate Mix Skittles onto the market like they have their other lame variations of the last few years (Wild Berry, Sour, Double Sour, Smoothie Mix, Ice Cream, Carnival, and Xtreme Fruit*) in the hopes that maybe they’ll catch on. Rarely do these new flavors work and, for the most part, they’re discontinued just as quietly as they’re released. The lesson to be learned here, kids: Don’t mess with the formula that made you famous. Just ask New Coke, Crystal Pepsi, and Alanis Morrisette.

Now let’s get down to business, shall we?

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The obligatory “Before” shot.

According to the package, Chocolate Mix Skittles offer “Artificial and Natural Flavors”. This should already be considered suspect as it was proven in a 2004 study by Consumer Reports that the only thing natural about Skittles is the FDA-regulated maximum amount of insect parts that are contained in each bag**. Besides, there’s no way they were able to get “flavors” like S’mores, Vanilla, Chocolate Caramel, Chocolate Pudding, and Brownie Batter using au natural ingredients.

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Upon dumping them on my sterilized eating surface, it’s clear that you at least get what you pay for in terms of quantities of bite-sized pieces of semi-chewy material. As you can see they’re all different colors to signify the chocolatey-goodness you are about to ingest. To make identifying the various flavors a little easier I’ve put them in separate, but equal piles (Don’t worry – Jim Crow Laws won’t be in effect for very long here in The United Piles of Skittles).

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We’ll start with the Chocolate Pudding pile. At least I think its chocolate pudding. I say that because they have a slightly reddish hue, which is reflected on the image on the bag***. However, I think they mislabeled the picture because this one tastes like a Tootsie Roll. Which isn’t a bad thing because we all know Tootsie Rolls, as well as Cleveland, rock.

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Next up are S’mores. Let me preface this by saying that my wife and I are some Smurfing S’more-ing connoisseurs. We often make them in the comfort of our own home using Sterno, exotic dark chocolate bars with unpronounceable names, $400-per-box graham crackers made from only the finest organic, free-range grahams raised on a tiny island in the South Pacific, and marshmallows that are harvested from what’s left of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. We knows ourselves some S’mores. These… these are not S’mores. They’re really just sort of a generic sweet that has a hint of bitterness in the aftertaste. Generally, they’re just not good.

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Chocolate Caramel isn’t all that bad. It’s definitely more caramel than chocolate, but overall this is the best one yet. It’s like a Brach’s Caramel to the -8th power, but it still at least tastes like caramel – kind of.

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Brownie Batter tastes about as appetizing as it looks – brown, boring, tasteless, and leaves a really bad chemical-flavored aftertaste. Mmmm… chemicals.

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Finally, we have plain ol’ Vanilla. It sort of tastes like vanilla for a brief second; then the aforementioned chemical flavor aftertaste hits and what momentary joy you had is gone forever. I don’t really know why Vanilla is here in the first place other than the obvious socio-political oppression he exerts on the Candies of Color by his mere presence. I’m sure he’s in the bag pushing the other flavors around, telling them they can’t vote, only hiring candies of his own color, and calling the others derogatory names. Vanilla is such an asshole.

Have no fear, though, because Vanilla is fighting an uphill battle for candy race separation. I mean, they’re Skittles, so you can’t just eat all of one flavor and then move on to the next, right? No! We are one Candy, under Wonka, indivisible, with Liberty and High-Fructose Corn Syrup for all! Of course we have to try some combinations. Sort of like taking the Gum Drop Trail to Jungle Fever Forest in CandyLand.

Now mixing of the Skittle races here doesn’t always result in good combinations – sometimes you get Jessica Alba (A Mexican-Danish [not a real breakfast food]) and sometimes you get [insert name of “someone famous of mixed racial descent that isn’t good looking” here].

Our first taboo mix is Vanilla / Brownie. The verdict: meh.

Vanilla / Caramel – Not bad. Edible, anyway.

Pudding / Brownie – Becomes even more Tootsie Rollish, which, again, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

S’mores / Caramel – Could be worse. Nothing special at all.

Caramel / Pudding – Virtually tasteless. Sort of like Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper, the tastes sort of cancel one another out and you’re left chewing nothing.

S’Mores / Vanilla – No! No. Ugh. I wanted to spit this one out. Somehow I knew this one was going to be bad. Even still, I gulped it down and swore to myself I’d never do that again.

Vanilla / Pudding – Apparently Pudding is the great negator, because this is rather tasteless, too.

Brownie / S’mores – S’mores ruin everything.

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By this point I’m so sick of all of the “Natural and Artificial Flavors” that I can’t finish the bag. My taste buds are so coated in “Choco-like Flavoring Additive #34” that I can’t really tell the difference between any of them anymore. I tried water to cleanse the palette, but the effects were nil.

And this is where Chocolate Mix Skittles really fail. On its own – for a very brief period of time – each flavor isn’t horrible. But the artificiality gets so overpowering that it becomes Ike Turner and your taste buds are Tina. And the experience is so unpleasant that you pack up your clothes, grab the cat, slam the door in his face, move-in with your mother, and get a restraining order.

SpaceMonkeyX Score: 3 / 10
Overall, Chocolate Mix Skittles are another failure in a long run of failures by Mars, Inc. to needlessly inject new life in the perfectly-fine-just-the-way-it-is original Skittles brand. The flavors aren’t anything to write home about and then you’re overcome by chemicals faster than a death row inmate at midnight. So this one’s a real disappointment, but – let’s face it – that’s not entirely unexpected.

*Don’t you just love Wikipedia? They have everything there!
** This is total BS, so please don’t sue us.
*** If your candy requires a visual key to help you know what it tastes like, you probably shouldn’t be eating it in the first place. (Yes, Jelly Bellies are the one exception to this rule.)

Anheuser Busch Budweiser & Clamato Chelada

You got your Budweiser in my Clamato!

You got your Clamato in my Budweiser!

….really, either way, you’re both screwed.

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This beast is exactly what it says on the can; Budweiser (or Bud Light if you’re a wuss), Clamato, and “sal y limon” (because all espaƱol must be in italics).

Of course, things are never as simple as they look. Clamato is an unholy union of clam broth and tomato juice. Of course, “Budweiser, Tomato Juice, and Clam Broth con sal y limon” doesn’t read well. But, I’m all about truth in labeling/advertising.

Granted, once you hit that point, you’re really looking at a slippery slope. Where does it end?

I mean, breaking down Budweiser is just silly, and besides “Rice, Barley Malt, Water, Hops, Yeast, Tomato Juice, and Clam Broth con sal y limon” would be really hard to fit on the can.

Con sal y limon.

I went into this hoping for some sort of Bloody Mary-type concoction. I’m very pro-Bloody Mary, even if it makes me feel like a 60 year old woman whenever I order one. And I like beer. I can’t say I’ve ever had Clamato, but by association, I’m pro-tomato juice as well. So I’m in favor of like, 80% of the ingredients of this. The clam section was the wildcard, but I’m pro-clam chowder, so I thought it was safe.

Nope.

Pouring out the can into a glass, just to see what I was about to get into, I was greeted with what looked like grapefruit juice. Very little beer head, and what was there disappeared quickly, leaving a weird little Clamato con sal y limon ring around the glass. Took a sniff. All ingredients were represented. It was… weird.

Taste: I’ll just say this: it was NOT any sort of Bloody Mary-type concoction. I should’ve known better. It was, and I’m going to type this out as one hyphenated word, because that’s how it hits you:
watered-down-kinda-Bud-tasting-HOLYCRAPSALT-hey-is-that-tomato-juice-
gah-more-salt-clam?-is-that-clam?-worcestershire-sauce-poop.

Con sal y limon.

And actually, I didn’t taste a single bit of limon. It may very well have been in there, but it got lost in the hyphens if so.

Texture: It had the mouthfeel (check it out, I’m a beer taster) of watered down Budweiser with some tiny psuedo-pulp from the Clamato goin on in it. And some SUPER light carbonation. Con sal y limon. Nothing too severe either way, just kinda there.

JK Score: 0/10 I feel like I’m handing out zeroes left and right lately, but dammit all if I’m not running across some nasty shit out there in the world. Again, this may be a cultural thing like the Prepared Squid/Shrimp Chips, but being an Age 18-34 Whiteboy (official marketing demographic term, look it up), it sucks. Con sal y limon.

Jack In The Box Sirloin Steak Melt

The Day The Commercial Lied

A long, long time ago…
I can still remember
How those Superbowl ads made me smile.
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could buy those products fast
And, maybe, I’d be happy for a while.

But Superbowl Sunday made me shiver
With every commercial they’d deliver
Images on the TV set;
Making promises they’d regret

I can’t remember if I tried
To have nasty-dirty 70’s swinger sex in a hot tub after eating the Jack In The Box Sirloin Steak Melt value meal with a Diet Coke and be denied…
*breath*
But something touched me deep inside (wait… damn, that sounds dirty in this context)
The day
The commercial…
Lied.

…. Yah. I didn’t score after eating this. Granted, I’m nowhere near a hot tub, or even other people right now, but that’s irrelevant. I expect RESULTS, dammit!

Oh well. I’ll just stick to typing reviews after eating I guess. I’m at least 30% less likely to catch an STD that way. I’m not sure how many blogging-related cases there are of syphilis, but I’m willing to guess that the number is less than 100/year.

Oh, hey, food.

OK, I’ll admit I’m just generally not a huge eater of Jack In the Box. The whole fracas in the mid-90s with the food poisoning just kinda embedded itself in my head for whatever reason. I’m not sure why. I normally like their stuff, but I think the fact that there’s not many directly in my face daily just keep me out of the loop.

I digress.

It was the 4th quarter of Superbowl XLII, things were finally starting to get interesting, and the above commercial ran. And I said, damn, I wonder what that’s like. Per norm , here’s the JIB-Approved Glamour Shot:


If for some reason, you’d like to see a picture of this in 3508×2726 (I’m serious) glory, click here.

And then the actual product:
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And the gooey center:
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Texture: There is a lot of cheese on this beast. 3 kinds, according to Mr. In The Box. Definitely no shortage of cheese there. The steak itself is on the chewy side, and I hit fat a few times, which I see as a good thing almost, since it verifies that it’s an actual meat product. A little comforting. The sourdough bread had a nice crisp outside/chewy inside thing going on.

Taste: Actually, not bad. Seemed like an excessive amount of butter went into the bread-grilling process, it’s pretty damn rich. The onions were nice and mild, and looked like actual onions. The meat alone was pretty salty, but decent otherwise. Really, not too shabby. I was shocked.

JK Score: 7/10 Points deducted for the amount of fat I hit, and the fact that it was almost too rich.

I really wanna do a 7.5 on here, but I don’t feel like I’m mentally prepared to venture into assigning half-points yet. It’s really a big commitment, those fractional numbers. And I’ve been hurt by fractions before. Namely by the pointy fraction-sign part. I have to admit, decimals have never done me wrong. But after the fraction-sign incident of 1998, I’m just really reluctant to open myself up for fear of getting hurt again.

DAMN YOU, 3/8!!!

P.S. – Because I’m a sucker for promotional websites, I hit MakeAJackSandwich.com and played with their little flash app.

It’s like I’m really snuggling with a plastic-headed mascot!