Thursday, June 30, 2016

Got a big ass hunger? Then you need a Big Az Burger!

There are times where you are on the go and find yourself hungry but with minimal options at hand. It happens to the best of us. You're cruising home, late night, after seeing your favorite band and partying all night and your stomach starts growling. You see those familiar fast food places blinking their neon light death rays into your brain and just the thought of it turns your stomach. Perhaps you stop at a convenience store to pump some gas and perhaps grab a snack there. You look at the candy, chips, and pastries and wish for something with a little more substance. Your eyes dare dart over to the frozen sandwich display and your brain tells you to stay away, because you've been burned before. But there, amidst all the unappetizing bland looking crap, you see something that stands out. What appears to be a giant hamburger that doesn't look fact, it looks...pretty damn good. Another step forward and the bold logo declares that this isn't any regular burger...this is a Big Az Burger! 

Suddenly, your night starts looking up. 

So when Big Az Burgers told us they were going to send us some burgers to try in the mail, we were pumped to try them out. So let's do it! Today we're tackling not only the Big Az Cheeseburger, but also the Kickin'Jalapeno Cheeseburger, and the Country Fried Chicken Sandwich! 

The Big Az Triple Threat!

First up, the Big Az Cheeseburger! This is how it will look on the shelf in your local convenience store. Actually, these guys boast that you can find Big Az Burgers now in almost every convenience store in America! Impressive!

So I unwrapped this beast and it's surprisingly hefty. Popped it in my microwave and a mere ninety seconds later I'm faced with a piping hot cheeseburger. That's not just a colorful turn of phrase, my friends, this burger was so hot, if I had taken a bite right then, I have no doubt that my face would have melted away like that one bad guy in the first Robocop movie.  Most of you probably won't have a problem with this, because being an even moderately smart person, you know to let your food cool before you try to take a bite. This is a skill I have never possessed. But somehow this time I managed to hold back, and it's a good thing! 

When I finally picked it up to take a bite, I realized fully that this is one BIG AZ BURGER. It's not one of those shriveled up monstrosities I've had before when stopping at a convenience store at 2am on the way back from a night out at the bar. This thing was serious.

So. Much. Cheese.

They come without any condiments so that's how I decided I was going to try them. I have to say, right off this burger has a lot of flavor. There's a generous amount of cheese on it too. This was something I was worried about, because usually frozen burgers that come with cheese have a piece on them that looks like it might be as big as a postage stamp and you can't even taste it. The Big Az Cheeseburger had so much cheese that I had to stop and marvel at it a few times.

My neighbors probably make fun of me so bad...

The bun was nice and chewy and held up quite well. The burger as a whole was soft and tasty and I quickly found myself finished with it and quite satisfied. It was this good on it's own, so I figure if I threw my favorite condiments on top, this would be a home run. We're off to a good start here!

Next up is the Kickin' Jalapeno Big Az Burger! If you're a regular reader of our fine site, you might know by now that I usually talk about fearing spicy foods, but then go on to tell you how much I liked the spicy items I review. It seems like I'm lying, but I swear, I'm not. Perhaps I'm simply becoming a fan of spicy foods and my brain doesn't know how to interpret it. Either way, I'll start by telling you I was a little worried that this burger would be too spicy for me! That looked like a lot of jalapeno pepper slices! 

There was a distinct difference in smell when I took this one out of the microwave. The jalapeno pepper aroma was quite strong, which made me slightly more worried about it being too spicy. But after checking out the amount of cheese on it, I was willing to take my chances. The Kickin' Jalapeno Big Az Burger has a slice of cheese above and below the patty. How awesome is that? Why don't we do that on every burger, ever, from now on?

Jalapeno overload!

Decided to flip up the hood and let you all see just how many jalapenos we're talking here. Quite a few! But after diving in, I can say, it wasn't too spicy. Don't get me wrong, by the time I finished this beast, I had a steady burn going, but it wasn't so much that it overtook the flavor at all. The jalapenos added an interesting texture to the burger and all the extra cheese really stood out.

Once again we find that my fear of spiciness ends up being false. I ended up enjoying the amount of heat this burger gave off and the general flavor that the peppers added to it all around. Again, this is a serious burger. I would say both of these burgers were easily twice the size of something you're getting off of a dollar menu from one of the big chain fast food joints. 

Now comes the wild card! The Big Az Country Fried Chicken Sandwich! This definitely had me intrigued after the two burgers. A quick stop in the microwave and suddenly I'm met with a huge chicken sandwich dripping with melted cheese!

It had the same chewy bun as the burgers, and my main concern when looking at this was that the breading on the chicken would be soggy, because, let's face it, that's the worst. But when I reached a trembling finger towards the breading, I found it crispy. All around. It wasn't just a fluke. The chicken patty was also so big that it protrudes from the bun on multiple sides. A hearty sandwich indeed.

A lot of these frozen chicken sandwiches can be a bit dry inside. But the Big Az Country Fried Chicken Sandwich ended up being pretty moist, which was a great combination with how crispy the outer breading was. Cheese? No need to worry. These guys are all about giving you a serious cheese slab every time!

Again, the Big Az name lives up to it's boasts. This chicken sandwich left me quite full and happy. I imagined that it would be great with a little bit of lettuce, and maybe some buffalo sauce. Or maybe bbq, ranch and crispy onions. The sky is the limit. The Big Az Country Fried Chicken Sandwich is excellent on it's own, but if you're a fan of cool sauce combinations or other condiments, they give you a great starting point to build from.

After having tried the Big Az Cheeseburger, the Big Az Kickin' Jalapeno Cheeseburger, and the Big Az Country Fried Chicken Sandwich, I have to say, I was impressed by them all. Folks, I've eaten some pretty questionable things in truck stops and stores on my various trips across the good ol' US of A, and I'll tell you, the Big Az Burgers make them all look like they aren't fit for human consumption. Am I going to tell you that they are better than a burger you're going to get at some high end restaurant that you'll pay $15 for? Nah, but that's not what these are about! There's a reason they have won the Convenience Store Consumers Choice Award multiple years. These burgers and sandwiches are there when you need them, and they are leaps and bounds above their competition.  Next time you're on the go and need a massive burger to quench your big ass hunger, remember this review and scoop up a Big Az Burger! Not only is it a hearty, tasty treat, but with a fun name like that, you can annoy your friends with endless "Big Az" puns. Who doesn't love that?!

Hold up.

One last thing before we go, since I had a few extra sandwiches to play with, I decided to create a monster of my own. Behold, the Mega Big Az Burger! That's right, I melded together not only the Cheeseburger, and Kickin' Jalapeno Cheeseburger, but also the Country Fried Chicken Sandwich! 

This thing felt like it weighed five pounds. It was so thick that there was no way I could possibly take a bite out of it. I began to think I may have met my match. 

A man faced with the impossible. 

But in the end, my jaw unhinged like a python and I was able to taste the Mega Big Az Burger in all it's glory. I'd like to tell you that I dug down deep and somehow found it in me to finish this thing...

Look at that intensity!

But that was not the case. I had to tap out barely a quarter of the way into it. It was a cheesy, meaty monster that felt so dense that I think if I pitched it at someone and it hit them in the head, they might be knocked unconscious. Bad ass. I failed the Mega Big Az Burger challenge, but if any of you readers out there think you can take one down, send us pictures or a video of you doing it and we just might send you some FGFB swag!

 For more information on Big Az Burgers visit their website: 

For where to find Big Az Burgers, check out their Facebook Page: BIGAZ Facebook Page

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Review by Rich Brunelle, who currently lives in Seattle, but is known to many as New Hampshires favorite son.

*This is a sponsored blog; while the views expressed here were genuinely mine, consideration was paid to me by BIGAZ Burgers to review this product!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Hostess Milky Way Brownies!

Folks, I'm going to be honest with you. I don't really care about Hostess stuff. Remember a few years back when they were going out of business and everyone threw a fit? Eventually, against all odds, Hostess came back from the brink, like Rocky Balboa turning it all around in the final moments of a title fight.  People's fears of a Twinkie-less world were put to rest. Well I'm going to throw it out there, I felt no sadness at the death of the Twinkie. They aren't good! I don't think I've ever spent money on one. I've definitely eaten them when given them, and it helps remind me of why I don't ever buy them. Tastes vary from one fatguyfoodblogger to another, so I'm sure my peers will have an ear full to send my way. But that's just me. I don't really like much of what they have to offer. Those little cupcakes? 

Uhhh...what about the fruit pies?

Ho Hos? Zingers?

But I have to be honest, Ding Dongs are great (Insert penis joke here). Despite being half the size they used to be.  Chocolate Zingers are decent too. Those fruit ones? Nasty. But in the end it kind of just feels like Hostess likes to do what's comfortable and what people expect from them. The problem there is that people feel nostalgic when it's going to go away, but they rarely purchase the items because they are old hat. Things they have had a million times before, but that are nothing new. You gotta give them points for trying to put different filling in the Twinkies over the past couple years, but come on, gang, you gotta do better than that.  I have heard that their Salted Caramel Cupcakes are pretty good, but haven't run into them to try them yet. 
Perhaps someone at Hostess finally knows what's up. When I saw the new Milky Way Hostess Brownies in my local grocery store I was like...

So I bought a box! Let's check them out! 

The Hostess Milky Way Brownies come in a box of six. Makes sense. I guess a half dozen is a solid number when you're talking about brownies. Of course, I ripped the box open and just dumped them all out on the table at once. Just in case they are so good that I decide I need to eat all of them right there at that moment, like Cookie Monster...but with brownies. 

You always have to brace yourself when un-boxing a pastry item like this because it's never going to look like it does on the box. Let's be realistic. They are tumbling around inside of that box like a bunch of astronauts training in zero g. But these don't look too bad! Lots of chocolate and nougat chunks stuck in the caramel! My first thought is that they smell like Cosmic Brownies. You know, those awesome little brownies with the multi-colored candies on top that are put out by Little Debbie, aka the Queen of Pastries. Mother of snack cakes. Breaker of diets.

The Hostess Milky Way Brownies themselves do kind of taste like Cosmic Brownies, but not as moist. The caramel on top is more like caramel flavored frosting. I was hoping it would be as gooey as the caramel on the box and the caramel you find inside a Milky Way Bar. But...this is okay too. 

The Milky Way pieces on top are kind of disappointing. It's really sort of just dry pieces of chocolate and nougat with the occasional melty piece. It really all just combines in your mouth into a strange sweet paste. Not bad, but also it doesn't really get me too excited. Also it really doesn't taste that much like a Milky Way.  I think they missed the boat with the nougat. Imagine the brownie having a gooey nougat center? Perhaps with caramel frosting and chocolate pieces on top? Seems like they took the lazy way out. 

When a world famous snack cake company teams up with one of the greatest candy bars of all time, you expect to see sparks flying. You want to bite into it and see a fireworks display like they have at Disney World every night. But the Hostess Milky Way Brownies are more like a sparkler.  Hissing away in your hand for a moment. It's cool, and it's better than not having fireworks. But is it the sky lighting up and filling your brain with wonder? Nope. Same here. I think Hostess needs to hire someone to mix things up. Baseball themed cupcakes? That's what you're doing? Really? In 2016? Really? Sigh. If you're curious and want to try these out, go for it, but be prepared for mediocrity.  Are they better than not having a brownie at all? Sure. But if you need me, I'll be eating this here Cosmic Brownie. My allegiance lies with my Queen.

I give Hostess Milky Way Brownies a C. Such potential, but in the end, just an average sweet pastry snack that won't get you that excited at all. 

Review by Rich Brunelle, who can be found walking all around Seattle to find items to review on this very website.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Come take a ride on the Deep River! It's the five chip mega-review! Ninja Ginger, Zesty Jalapeno & more!

Whenever I'd sitting around with fellow food bloggers, talking shop, and the conversation steers itself towards chips, I never fail to bring up one of my favorites of all time. Aged Cheddar Horseradish kettle chips from Deep River Snacks. When I bring them up I'm often met with blank stares or some nonsense about how they don't like horseradish. Doesn't matter. I'm already wishing I had a bag of them. They are so damn good! The most intense horseradish chips around, with a great sharp cheddar added taste. So let me tell you, when I got a box in the mail from the folks at Deep River, I was pumped to see what they were rolling out as some new offerings. 

So let's jump right in. First up? Three flavors of HONCHOS! 

One thing you gotta know about Deep River Snacks is their tag line, "because we give a chip!" They really do! It shows when you take a look at the bag and see these chips are made with 99% Organic ingredients, are gluten free, and contain no GMOs. All good stuff. But let's face it, we're here to talk about taste! We've all had the nacho cheese tortilla chip. Doritos are the king of that realm and it seems every chip company at one point or another tries to crack the code of what makes them so damn delicious. Nacho Cheese Honchos will not knock Doritos from that throne, but they are a decent healthier option.

The chip definitely has a bit of a crunchier feel to it and the flavor itself it good, I just felt like they needed maybe twice as much flavor dust. Maybe three times. It definitely feels like they didn't try to mimic the Dorito flavor, they just made their own version of a classic. Similar, but different. 


The bag of Ranch Honchos has a picture of a hand holding up one of the chips. When you look at it, it appears to be blasted with flavor dust. So I had high hopes that perhaps Ranch Honchos wouldn't fall victim to the same issues as Nacho Cheese Honchos. Sadly, my friends, this is not the case.

Ranch Honchos taste good, but there's just not enough flavor on them. Look at those chips there. They look like someone licked all the flavor off of them and put them back in the bag. That's not how you want your chips to look, even when you are opting for the healthier option. Sadly, Ranch Honchos aren't anything special. 

Next up is the flavor I was dreading the most. Peach Habanero Honchos. I'm a wimp about hot stuff. Habanero is usually something I steer clear of. I like a little burn, but I don't like it to stick around. I prefer flavor over heat and so I was not pumped about trying these, but my duty is to the readers! 

I bet you're reading this thinking, "Man, Rich starts out by telling us that these guys have one of his favorite chips and then he just starts crapping all over Honchos." You're just expecting me to dislike these too, right? Well you are wrong as hell! Peach Habanero Honchos are fantastic. From the pictures they look like they suffer from not enough flavor, but I will tell you that is not the case. These burst with sweet peach flavor at first, and the quick blast of salt from the big chunks on the chips. But then a burn begins to build. Being a wimp about hot stuff, I have to say, after eating a bunch I had to take a break to let my mouth cool down. But then I went back for more. 

This is one example where the flavor is not diminished at all by the heat. You get a sweet and salty flavor blast followed by the heat. These chips take you on a flavor ride through so many different areas that your brain won't know what to do. But take that ride, and ride it to the very end. You won't regret it. If you're more of a wimp to spicy things than I am, you might want to steer clear. Peach Habanero Honchos don't mess around when it comes to big flavor and a steady burn! 

Next up, a bag of chips that won me over with it's name before I even took a bite, limited edition Ninja Ginger! 

Yes, it's true. Before I tasted one of these chips I was already imagining how I could spin this review to talk about ninjas. Why? Well, because, if you were like me, a guy growing up in the 80's and 90's ninjas have not only always been a part of your life, but they were always cool. You grew up pretending to be a ninja on the playground. Then, as you start to gobble up cartoons and movies, you realize that ninjas are usually the faceless bad guys that they feed to the hero in great numbers to help him kick serious ass. But they are STILL cool and mysterious and if you name a snack food after a silent assassin who can wield any number of martial arts weapons, I'll buy it every time.

These have a flavor EXPLOSION! Also...the movie Ninja Assassin rules.

But could any chip live up to a name that cool? Let me tell you, if someone came up to me and said, "hey, want to try these ginger flavored potato chips?" I would instantly say no. It's just not a flavor I would imagine wanting on a chip. But when presented as Ninja Ginger, I wanted to try them so bad I nearly tore the bag in half. The verdict? They are awesome.

Right off the bat they are on the winning side by being on the ever fantastic Deep River Kettle Cooked chips. Crunchy and thick, I'm not sure any chip does the kettle chip as good as Deep River. The Ginger flavor is wonderful. It's not overpowering, but there's a lot of great flavor going on here. They are sweet, but also there's a great mixture of spices going on. Then, after all that, your taste buds get assaulted with a slow burn. The more you eat, they more that burn intensifies.

The bottom line here is that this is one ninja you DO want to scuffle with. They are limited edition so who knows when they will stop making them! Scoop up a bag the next time you see them and you won't be sorry!

Last but not least... Zesty Jalapeno!

This is another time I was dreading a chip and found myself pleasantly surprised. I think I have to change my old song and dance about spicy things. These were excellent. Thick, salty kettle chips that have a great jalapeno pepper flavor before the heat ever hits. I was surprised to find that they only have four ingredients!  Potatoes, Sunflower oil, Jalapeno chili pepper and salt. That's it!

I'll warn you though, these are definitely spicy right out the gate. But these more than any of the others got hotter as you went. There were a few times I had to put the bag down and walk around sucking cold air in through my pursed lips. Exclaiming to whoever would listen that my mouth was on fire. With most chips that would be the end of it for me. But with these, once the burn calmed, I found myself going back for more. Compared to the greasiness of some chips, I felt like these were a whole different animal. You could taste that they aren't loaded with gross random chemicals.

Zesty Jalapeno aren't a flavor I thought I would be into in a million years, but I was. Great flavor, minimal ingredients, thick kettle cut chips, and a serious burn, make these chips all around fantastic.

Let's review:
Nacho Cheese Honchos: Add three times as much flavor dust and we'll talk. D
Ranch Honchos: These might need four times as much flavor dust. D
Peach Habanero Honchos: Flavorful and hot! Damn good! B+
Ninja Ginger: Bad ass name and an even more bad ass flavored chip? A
Zesty Jalapeno: Surprisingly delicious with a steady burn! A-

In closing, I'm excited I got to try these flavors from Deep River Snacks. These guys take some chances on crazy flavors and have been putting out great chips for a long time. Their Aged Cheddar Horseradish and Sweet Maui Onion are some of the best chips on the shelves. Give them a try!

Check out their website for more info!

Review by Rich Brunelle, who currently resides in Seattle, where he tries his damnedest to leave the city whenever humanly possible to escape into the wilderness.

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Mango Salsa Madness! NEW Mango Salsa at Q'Doba

Fresh off the heels of Rich's Q'Doba Grand Event, the up and coming kings of fast food burritos added a little something extra to their menu.  I headed to my local Q'Doba and decided to see what this Mango Salsa uproar was all about.

Since it's Mango Everything Season, I decided to go big with a steak burrito with, no beans, fajitas, white rice, cheese, guac, sour cream (well kinda, Q'doba likes to play coy with it's sour cream portions), tomato salsa, and the reason for my visit, the new Mango Salsa.

True to form, these burritos are massive, and exactly the right amount of food you want to stuff yourself with. I didn't get any of their world famous queso, which is a usual staple of a Q'Doba burrito, but today, we were here to let the mango do what it do!

When the burrito artist (can we call them that?) was putting together the tortilla rolled masterpiece, I noticed a shockingly small amount of mango salsa was added to the roll. I get it, I'm sure the flavor is intense, you want to add, not overpower, and preserve that delicate balance of percieved freshness and flavor. In my mind, the mango salsa must be pretty strong. The worlds strongest? Lets find out.

Biting into this thing, it hits all the notes, nothing incredible, nothing bad, but where in the hell was this mango salsa? I kept biting into the burrito, looking for that flavor. My suspicions of a weak mango portion must have been correct, I couldn't taste anything mango related in this thing. As a diligent food blogger, I went to the counter and asked for a side of mango salsa, determined to taste what was left out surely on accident.

dumped onto my already existing burrito
With this new salsa piled high on top of my burrito, I was surely about to be brought to a tropical sweet paradise, filled with steel drum music and the sound of crashing waves. Instead? Nothing.

 My head spinning swirling around wondering, where the hell was the mango? A full cup filled with what was supposed to be this crazy new thing, the centerpiece of an ad campaign, the reason you pull off the exit with your children and say "you know what kids? you've all been good, let's head to Q'Doba" and the kids are supposed to cheer and praise your name. 30 years later when they're grown, they tell their kids that one time dad took them all out, and they look into your eyes and their eyes start to well up with happiness from a fond memory. Instead? What'd we get? A whisper of mango flavor with just a bunch of random salsa ingredients. Kids screaming in your ears, pissed, wishing you just went to Chipotle, disappointed for generations.

wheres the mango?
So, instead of tossing the burrito in the trash, and giving the manager double middle fingers as I walked out the door, I tried to add some semblance of flavor to this tasteless behemoth of a burrito.

Franks Red Hot

In the end, the Mango Salsa wasn't bad, but it wasn't good, it just wasn't there. It had a small semblance of sweetness to it, which might be better served with a side of chips, but even then, why order mango when there is no mango to be found? I'd say it might have been an off day, the salsa wasn't prepped properly, but I went for a second visit and felt the exact same way. If you're making a specialized flavor of something, and put all your cash behind promoting it, I say how bout we make it taste like what we're saying. Or taste like anything at all. I was highly disappointed with what I recieved, and hope Q'Doba reads this, panics, and starts pulling the mango levers at the salsa plant, casing mass blackouts from a flavor overload.

I give the new Q'Doba Mango Salsa a D. As a flavorless salsa filler, sure, why not.
As something mango flavored? No thanks. 

Review by Josh

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