Confirmed sighting: Birdseye Chicken Chargrills Levi Roots Reggae Reggae sauce
Posted: 20:16 Sun 19-Jul-2009. Price: £1. Location: Iceland, East Kilbride. Nutritional unusualness: 170 kcal per portion.
Subway have brought back their Reggae Reggae Chicken Sub from last summer but, at this price, you could be making your own at home, with Zeddy reporting: Is it a snack? Well it is to me! 2 chicken breast meat chunks marinated in a spicy jerk glaze.
These were not too bad with a noticable after heat. I don't know if they are like the real sauce as I have never tried it! Maybe I will now.
Do Birdseye give 20% to a Dragon's Den dragon? Do I?
...In other potentially free-ranging ingenuity: Mattessons are adding a "chunkier" Mighty Bite to their
Fridge Raiders range; and McDonald's Oriental Snack Wrap is a remarkably cucumber-packed crispy-duck-style pancake, at least compared to KFC's competent (but slightly "last year") Tex Mex Wrapstar - though I haven't yet tried the Portugese/Australian Oporto chicken place that must have opened fairly recently in the food court at London Victoria station.
Confirmed sighting: Unilever Doner Kebab Pot Noodle/ Wot? Not in a Pot Noodle
Posted: 22:27 Sun 24-May-2009. Price: 38p. Location: Sainsbury's, Denton. Sub-flavours: Beef and Tomato; Chicken and Mushroom; Fried Chicken; Sweet and Sour.
They may be pushing the Doner Kebab flavour on TV, but that hasn't deterred "Dave" from seeking out the other varieties of Wot? Not in a Pot Noodle, reporting: Where to start? Pot Noodle without a pot? A sauce sachet... of powder?! A pot noodle you cook in the microwave? I tested the Beef and Tomato variant, the classic Pot Noodle flavour. Noodles were not the thick usual ones, but more like the Koka-style cheap and thin instant Asian noodle packs. In the bag, the noodles were plain, and the large sachet contained powdered Beef and Tomato flavour. There was no tomato sauce sachet. The end result was heavily beef-flavoured, not bad as far as weird Pot Noodle variations go, but probably not to be repeated. There was no gooey sauce after preparation, nor any soya beef-style chunks.
However, they are only 38p. An interesting variation which I think will be consigned to history. Having access to the raw powder-power of Pot Noodle is interesting, however, and offers a number of culinary opportunities. The powder, unprepared, is actually not so pleasant. These remove the sheen from the Pot Noodle experience, and for this reason mark a flawed direction for the range to take.
...And as for the Doner Kebab one - it's believably lamb-like in some respects, though take a taste before you add the chilli sauce, as that tends to overwhelm everything else. Similarly, it's quite fun to add extra jalapenos to the Bowl of Meatballs (£1.19) that tops Subway's new Snack Menu (from 79p), and to try and come up with more dishes they could rustle up from the ingredients they've already got hanging around their kitchens?
Confirmed sighting: Caernarfon Creameries Spreadable Welsh Rarebit/ Best of 2008
Posted: 22:40 Thu 01-Jan-2009. Price: Not known (gift). Location: Co-op, Wrexham. Nutritional unusualness: Contains 10% beer.
Happy New Year! Feel free to add your 2008 highs and lows in the comments below - but, with a sighting of something I've been hunting since last December, now it's over to "Nick T", who reports: So often in this crazy snack life you make your choice expecting one thing, and you receive quite another. Pigs in Blankets. Toad in the Hole. Duck for the Oyster... And so it is with Welsh Rabbit. Later sanitised to Rarebit to avoid insulting the land of my fathers about their past poverty, this simple, empyreal dish of melted cheese on toast also celebrates an historical Welsh capacity for cheese consumption which left the French blubbing into their girly berets, later taking revenge by barbecuing the boyos' sheep whilst still 'en Scania'.
In the long, brittle, pre-climate change Winters of my youth, my mother would often whip up a warming snack for when I got in from school. It was a random menu ranging from tomato soup to still-warm jam tarts, but the sight of a bubbling, perfectly browned rarebit was as joyous and satisfying as spotting Elvis in a room full of Cliff Richards. So a tip of the hat to Caernarfon Creameries for taking this humble Cambrian tum-filler and making it easier to enjoy and - yes! - even tastier by the gentle addition of grain mustard and an unnamed beer. There's lovely for you.
If you remember Heinz Toast Toppers, with their dubiously familiar Sunday-morning-pavement-pizza-outside-the-pub appearance, you may rest assured this moreish spreadable toast overcoat is far more enticing. A subtle sour hint of mustard makes the occasional cameo without overwhelming the pale houmous-coloured cheese, remaining just the right side of tangy courtesy of a definite sweetness from the beer. The tub includes instructions but frankly if you need those you shouldn't be left alone with a hot grill or knives anyway.
And part of the rarebit's simple beauty is that variations are so easy. Worcester sauce. Crispy bacon. Or add a good splash of tabasco and you'll have a light lunch with all the perilous yet lip-smacking promise of watching Ann Robinson absentmindedly walk into a Merthyr pub. Friends, the only downside is it's so tricky to find, but seek and ye shall discover snack heaven.
Confirmed sighting: Subway Hot Chicken Gravy and Stuffing
Posted: 22:38 Thu 04-Dec-2008. Price: about £3.69.
reports: Site regular Lee Maguire didn't rate their Mediterranean Veg "Manager's Special", but Subway are at least foraging into Fuzzy's Grub territory with this tentatively-seasonal sandwich - the filling is intriguing but, in the absence of roast potatoes or peas, it's unclear which salad options or sauces go best with it, or whether you should have it toasted with cheese?
Faced with these bewildering decisions, I'd probably plump for McDonald's Chicken Fiesta, which adventurously includes "crispy nachos topped off with a salsa sauce and a sour cream and chive sauce" in its cheese-topped Focaccia bun, and is the only real innovation on McDonald's festive menu for 2008, considering they wheeled out the Big Cheese With Bacon last year.
...Other credit-crunch-friendly possibilities for your office party include: Ginsters' Mini Festive Rolls ("fresh British pork sausagemeat with cranberries, orange zest and spices"); a couple of additions to Pret A Manger's menu; or - if you're really splashing out - Starbucks' Turkey Feast Panini, which they semi-gramatically claim "Christmas is magical... so to make it even more special we have MADE FOR YOU".
Confirmed sighting: Branston Soya Beans in a Sweet Chilli Sauce
Posted: 00:18 Fri 07-Nov-2008. Price: 56p. Location: ASDA, Fosse Park, Leicester. Sub-flavours: Soya Beans in Mediterranean Tomato, Chick Peas in Masala, Chick Peas in Mediterranean Tomato. Nutritional unusualness: "Contains Soya".
KFC are welcoming in the winter with Mexican Salsa Flavour Station Boneless Bites (£2.69/5), and a Molten Chocolate Pud (£1.49, or 99p with meal), but nothing seems to be warming "Nick T's" cockles, as he reports: Friends, let us gather now to pay homage to the sublime baked bean. Staple of every student meal, premium source of protein, and cornerstone of the entire gaseous-based comedy output of Saturday morning children's television, it might seem difficult to imagine how the mighty Branston could stuff it up.
But that's exactly what's happened with their new Soya Beans in a Sweet Chilli Sauce. Anybody who has endured a dinner party at a vegetarian's house will already know that soya-derived food has zero flavour, and things haven't improved much here either. "Why not stir into your favourite sauce or casserole...?" trumpets the can in a dizzy thrill of marketing desperation. You can feel the indifference mounting.
A valiant attempt to add interest by 'enrobing' (a descriptive verb borrowed from Branstons' Premier Foods stablemate Cadbury who, perhaps not coincidentally, also habitually use it to pimp their most insipid offerings) the beans in chilli sauce is a nice touch, but sadly it's the only one. In fact the (very) mildly spiced and pleasantly textured sauce is probably the best part of the whole package. But lurking disappointingly beneath the sauce are those bland, bullet-like beans which look like they've been squeezed out of a dangerously anaemic rabbit.
It's a nice try, Branston, but adding lipstick to a pig, or Dec to Ant, doesn't make either one more attractive. Soya beans are one of the world's cheapest pulses so maybe you could try slashing the price and targeting it at people on a tight budget but for now, Heinz Curried Beans remain supreme for a tasty toast-enhanced exotic snack, and this one should have stayed in the lab.
Confirmed sighting: McDonald's M Burger
Posted: 00:07 Fri 17-Oct-2008. Price: £3.39. Location: Bristol. Nutritional unusualness: "It's all about the beef. Succulent, juicy beef".
Lots to get through today, so it's straight over to what is presumably the same "Ross Keen-haudin", who reports: It was with great anticipation that I looked forward to sampling the new 'M Burger' from McDonald's. Hopefully they would now have a burger to the rival the mighty Whopper from Burger King. The plan is obviously to position this burger as an upper-class addition to the McDonald's menu that uses better, fresher ingredients than the regular burgers.
On paper the 'M Burger' sounds lovely with crisp Batavia lettuce, juicy tomato, and emmental cheese in a stone-baked ciabatta roll all served with 100% beef. (It is worth noting that this is very similar to the discontinued Beef McPremier.) The reality for me was unfortunately anything but. Unfortunately the servers in my local McDonald's must have been on an off day (or true to form depending on how you see it) as instead of the new much vaunted Batavia lettuce I had 2 day old soggy iceberg and instead of the emmental cheese I had a normal slice of McDonald's oh-so-salty addictive orange slab. I immediately returned the burger to the hatch to voice my complaint. I was told they had no more of these proper ingredients left. However they had still tried to palm me off with this second-rate Big M burger and I made sure they knew about it. A less vigilant snack fan would probably have let this slide but not me. I accepted my refund and kept the burger.
As far as I am aware all of Ronald's burgers are already 100% beef making this one no different and just a marketing ploy to fool the masses. Masses I am not. It is however now in a rectangular shape. Whoopee Do. It still manages to maintain that leathery bland taste that all McDonald's burgers are famed for, however. The new mayo sauce is very bland and adds nothing to the Big M. There is no tomato sauce which is definitely needed to balance the burger's flavour. The only saving grace is the stone-baked ciabatta which was very soft and tasty, this was not enough to fend off my disappointment though. Even if the burger had been constructed as pointed out on the menu it would still be a poor choice and definitely not worth the extra money this costs over more economically savvy snacks. This burger is worse than the regular 79p hamburger than McDonald's sell in my opinion and is not even in the same league as the mighty Whopper. They may call it the Big M, but in reality it is more like the Big F and bottom of its class. Overall: 2/10.
Confirmed sighting: Burger King Meat Beast Whopper/ King Ribs
Posted: 14:34 Tue 23-Sep-2008. Price: £3.49. Location: Bristol.
"Ross K" reports: I had high hopes for this burger but again my hopes were dashed. This is essentially a Whopper with cheese and bacon but with the added bonus of pepperoni! Saucing is the same as a standard Whopper with mayo and a little ketchup. The salad is also the same with lettuce, onion and sliced tomato. Unfortunately the bacon (2 mini rashers) is placed directly on the cheese and the pepperoni (3 slices not cooked) is placed on top of the bacon. This creates a meaty wedge but you cannot really taste the pepperoni whilst eating as there is so little of it and everything else drowns out the flavour.
In a blind taste test I doubt I could tell this apart from a normal bacon and cheese Whopper. I think it would work better if the salad was used as a barrier between the burger and the bacon and pepperoni giving a chance for the flavours to mingle better. It would also be improved if they crisped up the pepperoni and there was more of it. Why they didn't make a pepperoni disc the same size as the burger I do not know? Again I doubt I will be ordering this limited edition snack again. It ranks well below the Angry and Dark Whoppers. Plus the Big Tasty is back in town... Overall Score: 4/10 - based on the fact it offers little different to a regular Whopper. It is still a tasty burger though and better then most of McDonald's efforts.
...Some rigorously-detailed observations here from first-time spotter "Ross K", who - let's hope on a separate occasion - also turned his attention to BK's King Ribs (also in Bristol, £1.99 for 4), to discover: "They are deep fried and come with a large sachet of Burger King BBQ sauce. The ribs themselves measure about 2.5 inches long each so technically are half a rib each. There is not much meat on them and they are quite chewy. The ones I had were a little overcooked and singed. They don't have that fall-off-the bone quality you want with ribs and coupled with BK's horrible BBQ sauce make these not very tasty and poor value for money. They do however come with a wet wipe sachet. I love ribs but will not be ordering these again. Overall score: 3/10."
Confirmed sighting: Burger King Six Pack
Posted: 18:01 Mon 28-Jul-2008. Price: £4.49 - but I used a voucher. Location: Burger King, Islington. Nutritional unusualness: 917 calories.
"robertster" reports: Had this a while back. Bit of a weird one. The bread seems to have been imported from a Dutch baker based on the wrapper - it does seem a bit specialist. By far the nicest of the burgers were the two "normal" ones with ketchup. The cheeseburgers (with no sauce) were far too dry with this type of bread and the cheese and bacon was completely ruined by BK's horrid BBQ sauce. Mind you, perhaps I just wasn't in the mood for eating the later flavours by the time I'd waded through to them. It seemed a nice idea initially, but it's not one I'll be repeating.
...Cheers "robertster" - with just a slight digression to say that BK's new Dark Knight Dark Whopper is, as far as I remember, identical to the Spider-Man 3 one from last year (and no Web Fries this time either). And it wouldn't be a BK sighting without a verdict from regular burger-correspondent "Wes", who maintains the 6-pack is:
"Essentially 3 mini burgers stuck together (the 6-Pack comes from the fact that if you separate all the buns, you end up with six tiny burgers). It is arranged thusly:
Burger 1 - pickles and ketchup. Burger 2 - cheese only. Burger 3 - cheese, bacon and steakhouse sauce. Keep in mind that this burger is intended to share and it doesn't become quite as artery-clogging as it sounds.
This is available on its own, in a meal (with fries and a drink) or as a family bundle."
"The family bundle contains 2 6-Packs (12 burgers), 4 Drinks (or a large bottle of Coke/Diet Coke a la KFC's family buckets), 2 large and 2 small fries, Onion Rings and Chicken Strips. All in all, a hearty meal for any family. In conclusion, I would like to point out that, having never had the six-pack, I cannot comment on its taste mixtures. However, I can speculate that the plain cheese part may be a little dry, with no sauce and Irish cheddar cheese, much like the XL Bacon Double Cheeseburger has no sauce."
Confirmed sighting: Burger King Angus Mini Burgers
Posted: 20:08 Fri 11-Jul-2008. Price: From £1.49. Location: Wigan. Nutritional unusualness: "No artificial preservatives, colours or flavours", "Mature Irish Cheddar cheese".
"Wes" reports: Here we have Burger King's summer promotion. Mini Angus Burgers, to deliver the taste of Angus beef to the children. The Mini Burger is, in itself, quite small. It's about 3" long and is perfect for a snack (like McDonald's snack wraps) or in a kids' meal. You get 2 small buns stuck together, with the mini Angus beef patty (shaped like the Chicken Royale) inbetween, with 2 pieces of Irish Cheddar and ketchup. I've only ever had one, and it was filling enough, although it could have tasted less like the ordinary cheeseburger.
...Well, that (partly) clarifies what the kid's doing with these in the photo - "Wes" also provided a detailed description of the remarkable-looking Angus 6-Pack Meal ("essentially 3 mini burgers stuck together"), but hasn't tried the product yet so we'll save that for a later date. In other special sauces: if you missed the headlines, Heinz have released a range of
Deli Mayos (in Caramelised Onion, Roasted Garlic, Sundried Tomatoes, Moroccan Style, and Predictable Controversy), while Subway's new Reggae Reggae Chicken Sub is alright, but not enough to tempt me back since they axed their £1.99 "Sub Of The Day".
KFC's hash-brown-containing BBQ Bacon Boxmaster is, indeed, much heavier than you'd imagine, but McDonald's have ignored the edict that everything has to have bacon in it with their Summer Supreme ("100% beef patty, cheese, tomato ketchup, pickles, onions, tomato, crisp Batavia lettuce and mayo in a cheddar cheese topped bun"), which is - startlingly - much more like a BK Whopper than the vast majority of Burger King products nowadays.
Confirmed sighting: Burger King Luxury Summer Berry Burst Ice Cream
Posted: 17:27 Thu 19-Jun-2008. Price: £1.29. Location: Wigan. Nutritional unusualness: "Luxury berry compote drizzled on rich dairy ice cream".
"Wes Jones" reports: Burger King's new flavour "Fusion" Ice Cream. Unlike other Fusions, which include some form of cake or biscuit, this contains simply Ice Cream and Berry Burst sauce. The sauce contains real pieces of Redcurrants, Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries and Blackcurrants, with the actual sauce being a mixture of all these flavours. Be careful with this one as, although there is fruit contained within, it has a high sugar amount in there (I don't know the exact amount). Also, the sauce itself tends to go everywhere, as it is quite watery, and makes quite a sticky mess. The sauce itself tastes quite rich and fruity (evidenced by the fruit, I think), and goes well with Burger King's ice cream.
...And welcome back to our regular BK desserts commentator (though no word on their new-ish Double Chocolate Fudge Cake
Fusion, "Wes"?) In other fairly-fresh fast foods: with the possible exception of the spicy SunBlush tomato sauce on the California Classic, there wasn't much to distinguish this year's McDonald's Great Tastes Of America range from the one they trotted out last October - if you want a really meaty sandwich, it's almost worth making the pilgrimage to the numerous - but often shut - London outlets of Fuzzy's Grub. Speaking of which, I finally made it to the Marble Arch KFC before 10.30am to be greeted by this near-American array of chicken-free breakfast options - the AM Twister was great value for £1.79, though why is it that fast food breakfasts always seem much cheaper than meals sold later in the day?