Friday, July 31, 2015

Kotas Reviews Banana Twinkies

You know, Media Tie In foods are often kind of a crap shoot. They could be amazingly well crafted deliciousness, or they could be made of stale packing peanuts and rancid globs of high viscosity corn syrup. Sometimes, they are both! Today we will be examining one of the cuter entries into this category. Ladies, gentlemen, children of most ages, welcome to the world of Minion Themed Banana Twinkies!

I did not get to go to Paris.

I've written about Twinkies before, being one of those staples of childhood that never quite seem to go away as a cultural icon, so I won't repeat that here. What I will tell you is that this is actually a return to roots for Twinkies. You see, when it was invented, the filling was banana cream. During World War II, bananas were rationed so they made the switch to vanilla cream and it became the default. There have been other promotions that used this flavor (such as when the Peter Jackson King Kong movie came out), but this is the first time I've been able to actually taste it. Plus, you know, Minions. Adorable little things, aren't they?

Love the side eye from Stuart there, as if to say "I hate you all".
The packaging of each individual Twinkie is actually fairly clever. Those minions on the front? They are transparent, so the yellow you see is actually the color of the Twinkie inside. I didn't even notice until I was halfway through devouring poor Kevin, and I thought it was a nice bit of cleverness. These things pretty much smell like Twinkies, so there's no real surprise there. The cream is still white, with maaaaaybe a tinge of yellow, but other than a bit of artificial ba-na-na odor, these aren't particularly out of line for a standard Twinkie.

The flavor is...exactly what you'd expect. Creamy artificial banana flavored filling coupled with the tried and true sponge cake that we all know is actually made in an Erlenmeyer flask, this is totally a banana flavored Twinkie. It's a good combo, and I can see why they started with a banana flavor way back in the day. Very tasty, if you like artificial banana.

Only in America!

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 2 Smiling Minion Faces. I like Twinkies, and this is a pretty good addition to the family. I would totally eat these again. For those of you who cannot stand banana flavored sweets, I would advise staying away, but I think this one is pretty solid. Give 'em a whirl!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Kotas Reviews the Arby's Brown Sugar BLT

Bacon. The very word can inspire salivation and anticipation, or unbridled rage at the thought of how trendy it has become to throw it on everything. A fatty, greasy salt bomb of pork flavor, bacon may be one of the most symbolically American foods. As you probably figured out, I like bacon, though I feel that people can take anything too far. Still, the bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich is an American institution. So, what happens when a fast food chain tries to horn in on a craze that's on its way out by resurrecting a sandwich not seen on many menus for a generation. Today we tackle the Arby's Brown Sugar Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich. 

She don't look like much kid...
Brown Sugar Bacon is simply bacon that's been lightly candied with brown sugar. I know you are all shocked at this marvelous revelation. I first heard about it on Epic Meal Time, who tend to use candied bacon in more recipes than you'd think. I've never had it myself, but I thought, "Hey, for 'MURICA and such." So, here I am. Let's crack this puppy open and see what it done brung us.

But she's got it where it counts.
Well, it most certainly is a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. My first worry was that they would skimp on the bacon and make this sandwich kind of "meh" on that alone, but I need not have worried. Arby's, despite having some nihilistic outlooks on occasion, tends to be somewhat generous in their meat quantity, at least on their specialty sandwiches. I rather like the King's Hawaiian bun they slapped it all between too. And, it makes a pretty enough sandwich I suppose. Frankly, it SHOULD be pretty. This thing cost $5.50 for the sandwich alone, making it one of the pricier options in fast food. I've gotten value meals that cost less than this sandwich. Heck, my local McDonald's is running a special: 10 piece McNugget combo: $4.50. Is it worth it?

I tried to get its good side.
I isolated a piece of the bacon to try by itself. It's actually pretty good. It's got a sugary sweetness that melds nicely with the smoky salty porkness of the bacon, which is a lot better that I expect from fast food bacon. The sandwich itself is pretty tasty as well. The lettuce is nothing to write home about, but it does the job of providing some texture variation and some bitterness. The tomato...could be better, really. Not a lot of actual flavor there, which is par for a fast food tomato slice. Of course, it has mayonnaise, because PATRIOTISM and tradition. The mayonnaise is fine. All in all an interesting flavorful sandwich.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 1 smiley face. I am not going to order this all the time, but when I get that rare hankering for a BLT, I would totally pick this up. It's nice to have something offbeat in my fast food experiences, and this fits the bill nicely, though the price can be off putting. If you are willing to pay a premium for the sake of novelty, and/or you are a bacon lover, give this sucker a try. Because FREEDOM.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Kotas Reviews the Hot Dog Bites Pizza

Food trends have been all about the combination items as of late. Croissants and Doughnuts. Red Velvet in things that should not be Red Velvet. Chicken Fries. We Americans are constantly finding foods we like and cramming them together to see which pairings are delightful and which lead us down some dark paths. Here in 'Murica, we love shoving things into other things and seeing what happens With that in mind, let's look at today's subject. The Pizza Hut Hot Dog Bites Pizza.

Look at all that majesty! Not since the rumored cheeseburger crust pizza has the world been turned upside down in such a manner. I know of no one who said "You know, pizza is delicious, but how awesome would it be if the crust were made up of pigs in a blanket?" and yet, here we are. The Hot Dog Bites pizza comes in two varieties: Regular and Pretzel. Naturally, this being the blog that it is, I went with the pretzel option. Because 'MURICA.

Pictured here with blueberries because...freedom.
Aside from the visual glory of the hot dog segments, this pizza is your typical Pizza Hut thin crust. Greasy, chewy, and covered in meat. It's pretty good, as I've always liked their underrated thin crust offering, and what could be more "American standard" than a pepperoni pizza? NOTHING, that's what! But that's not what you are here for. You wanna know about the hot dog bites. 

Honestly? They are fairly tasty. More like a pig in a blanket than an actual hot dog, they have a nice smokiness that goes pretty well with the chewy pretzel. They are way salty though, and that does detract a bit from the experience. A little honey mustard sauce fixes that problem up right quick! What amazes me the most is how well the damn things act as a crust. You can totally eat this like a normal pizza and it will work, though the occasional Vienna Sausage-esque passenger may attempt an escape from its soft pretzely tomb. Well played, Pizza Hut. Well played!

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 1 smiley face. It is super salty in its pretzel formation, but it has novelty that actually works without detracting from the pizza itself. It's not something I'm going to want to eat all the time, but I would like to have it again so I can compare the pretzel and non-pretzel varieties. Heck, the lack of salt might even bump it up a smiley. I think it would also work well with a more vegetable laden pizza, but not too many toppings. This is a thin crust after all. If you don't like thin crust pizza though, you probably won't like this. Skip the breadsticks with this one. There's a whole meal in two slices of this beast.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Kotas Reviews the Chips Ahoy Doughnuts

'Murica week continues here at Kotas Reviews Everything with a look at something nominally a breakfast item: The Humble Doughnut. My love of doughnuts is well documented on this blog, and today will only reinforce that notion. Homer Simpson and I have a lot in common, and a love of doughnuts is no exception to that rule. Dunkin' Donuts is a thoroughly American institution at this point, though more for the coffee than the doughnuts these days. America runs on Dunkin' as the jingle goes and all that. They do try and innovate in their food options as much as their celebrated love of the caffeinated bean. With that, we have today's subjects: The Chips Ahoy doughnuts.

What a delightful topping you've discovered.
Only in America would we look at a doughnut and say "You know, what this needs is a chocolate chip cookie". Well ladies and gentlemen, welcome to our bold new reality. I admit to hoping for something a little bit more interesting than "iced doughnut dipped in cookie bits", but I suppose that is the straightforward way to handle something like this. Chips Ahoy is not the best "off the shelf" chocolate chip cookie you can buy, but it certainly isn't the worst, so there really is no need to get overly complicated so long as the ultimate product comes out good. Right? 

Never, EVER look inside a specialty doughnut.
I did not have particularly high hopes for this doughnut. Chips Ahoy, while a staple of my childhood, never really seemed to go well with anything else for reasons I still do not understand. Maybe it's the weird over crumbliness or the fact that they always seemed just a bit too small to be a real cookie, but I felt they were best when served alone. My assertions in this matter were thoroughly borne out by the failure that is the "Chips Ahoy Creme" filled doughnut.  As shown above, the creme is a very unappetizing shade of light brown. I'm sure it seemed like a good idea to grind up a cookie and mix it with some kind of creme, but the result is a gloppy, gritty overly sweet mess that tastes vaguely like crappy cookie dough. It's edible, I suppose, but it is certainly not GOOD. The crumbles on top have a weird off flavor that is kind of like Chips Ahoy, but not quite. It is what I imagine artificial Chips Ahoy Cookie flavoring would taste if you could get any more manufactured. 

The non-filled edition of this doughnut is another matter. It is lazier than the filled one, but in a way that makes it a higher quality product because it's starting from a better base. It's really hard to fuck up chocolate iced doughnut and we are. The crumbles do them no favors, as they do not taste good, but the base doughnut isn't horrible, so the whole experience is very "meh". Dunkin', I am disappoint.

On the FACE Rating System, these doughnuts get separate scores: 2 frowny faces for the filled version, and 0 faces for the non-filled version. The filled one tastes like they used a recipe made up by a 4 year old: Sounds good, but the sad reality is a gloppy mess. The other one is more a problem of the quality of the ingredients, but the base item isn't bad, so it's not terrible. I would just avoid these all together, even if you like Chips Ahoy. You will be disappointed and sad.