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How to Order Off-the-Menu

7 Oct

Image Courtesy of #HacktheMenu

While it’s not officially on the menu, everybody knows about In-N-Out Burger’s Animal-Style burger. The secret’s out on that, to the point that the California burger chain is using the menu as a marketing tool to responsive service. But what about Liquid Cocaine at Starbucks? Or the Burritodilla at Chipotle, the turducken of the taco world? The amazing people at #HacktheMenu have created a resource for every major fast food chain’s closely guarded menu secrets, with recipes included for decoding the nicknames. Here’s their comprehensive guide to fast food secret menus.


The Frito-Lay Finder

14 Jul

So this is kind of cool:

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 5.14.42 PM

Essentially, you pick out your most coveted Frito-Lay flavor or snack variety and enter your zip code. Using Google maps and a team of Doritos-fueled data monkeys, Frito-Lay can actually tell you where the closest place to cop some Cracker Jack’d is.

6 Alternative Uses for the KFC Double Down

11 Jun
Put A Egg On It

The Put A Egg On It badge curtain

Here’s my first blog post for Put A Egg On It, a quarterly Brooklyn ‘zine.

I’m happy to have their Bed-Stuy studio as one of my many new homes. I’ll be working for them as a researcher, weekly blogger/recipe note-taker, and occasional cat-sitter for Taco, the magazine’s mascot.

Midnight Granola

2 Mar

Come mid-terms (or rainy days), and most of  the college kids like me will be in a state of delirium. It’s a punch-drunk, confused, and vacillating feeling between self-assured and sheer depravity. This no doubt comes from sleeplessness and a constant nagging stress in the back of the mind, but some of it may come from diet. The square-meal during that time might be bagged cheese slices, with Diet Coke and canned soup. It might be that box of Goldfish from Costco that’s been sitting around for the entire semester, with the fish getting as stuck in school as we might be.

My favorite snack during exams? Granola. The program above says the simple combination of oats, fruits, and nuts was “popularized by hippies; commercialized by Kellogg’s.” It apparently inspired Grape Nuts cereal (though I can’t say I grateful for that). I make mine late at night, when working in the kitchen takes on a new magic for me. “Midnight granola” is a fantastic study break that fills up the house with smells of maple, toasted nuts, and anticipation (for snacking and for tests). I’ll make at least four batches during finals season, gifting some to friends, putting some on yogurt, or throwing chocolate (or butterscotch) chips into something that at least seemed relatively healthy. It’s open to experimentation and invention, much more than racing through flashcards or bagged cheese. It’s also something we all grew up with, and according to this New York Times piece, it’s something we’re carrying with us into the future of food.

Best hippie food around.

Now That’s The Stuff…Bankruptcy

18 Nov

Courtesy of Wafflewhiffer Flickr

The recent news about Hostess filing for bankruptcy has halted Twinkie manufacturing and Wonder Bread delivery trucks. It has allowed discounted prices at grocers. It has also made me think about what this means for snack foods and 90s kids everywhere.

Just watch this clip, and tell me you’re not feeling a little sorry when the Twinkie gets crushed. Regardless of the health-food pushes, the internet rumors about preservatives, the Twinkie is still what grew up (and rounder) with.

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Boosting the Bandwagon: Cook Out’s Pumpkin Shake

14 Nov

Pumpkin flavoring has found its way into every possible baked good, hot drink, and even burger. When the leaves come down and layers come on, I love getting pumpkin spice lattes, scones, you name it. Cinnamon’s one of my favorite flavors, so I’m all for it in many forms. There’s some serious cinnamon at play in pumpkin spices. But it’s not all sweet. If you order pumpkin spice flavoring in some cases, you might just regret it.

Chow’s Supertaster believes all pumpkin spice products are a vicious facade, a combination of “pumpkin pie vomit on a Lysol can.”

After trying gas station lattes and sugar-free coffee creamer, the Supertaster concludes most of these pumpkin-posing products are “taking something that’s not the world’s finest whatever you happen to be dealing with and calling pumpkin spice.” How about when the ante’s pretty awesome to begin with?

Cook Out, one of my favorite local late-night fast food joints, just added a new and seasonal flavor to its 30+ menu of flavors from peanut butter-fudge to eggnong. There’s not a single one I didn’t think was spectacular. It’s almost like verisimilitude, or a serious attention to milkshake goodness details. Your milkshake has the texture and “form” of whatever it’s recreating. Their cheesecake flavor is chunky with cheesecake bits, and the strawberry (you guessed it) has real strawberries. Call it crazy, but I’m awfully tempted to pull a Super Size Me and try a new flavor daily. The closest location is 15 minutes away, which makes this fast food…not so convenient. My blood sugar thanks you, long distance.

Their pumpkin pie seasonal flavor takes this trend and carries it to Platonic heights. It’s a pie in a cup. I documented my first tastes of this thick treat. Even though it’s cold outside (and milkshakes should be the last thing you want), these are pretty season-defying, for a seasonal drink.

They’re best after midnight, but I also wouldn’t be opposed to this after the biggest meal of the year.

Free Doritos! (Updated Link)

12 Nov

Maybe not entirely free. I’m currently working on a survey for my Communications Research Methods class, and it involved Doritos and media creation.We’re trying to find out what methods of humor play out in video advertising, and what methods are the most effective. Our group thought that Doritos ads in particular were a special bag.

Probably the weirdest bag of Doritos the Web turned up. I’m not sure if this is a picture of side-effects.

In the past, Frito-Lay, which produces Doritos, has a yearly contest for user-created Super Bowl ads. Fans of the orange-dusted snack chip can create their own video ad and upload online, where the internet elves (other Doritos fans) decide on what ads to pick. Doritos has often shown some pretty controversial ads, but the ones in the survey, though mildly offensive, shouldn’t start a media storm. Two of the videos we selected for our survey are user-submitted ads up for consideration.

If you have a chance, I’d love to hear some responses to this survey. All you have to do is follow this link, watch some chip commercials, and answer the surveys. Craving chips isn’t totally included.

While I can’t guarantee free Doritos, hopefully you’ll get some laughs for free out of this.