Country Breakfast Burrito

By: Hardee’s

Suggested Retail Price: $2.69

Taste: 3stars

Marketing: 1stars

CNN has slagged the latest breakfast offering from Hardee’s, observing that Americans may not need a 920-calorie burrito with 60 grams of fat for their first meal of the day. And, indeed, the Thickburger-esque marketing campaign (“really designed to fill you up”) is groan inducing.

But fill you up this burrito most certainly does. It consists of a tortilla wrapped around two omelets wrapped around a warm core of melted mystery cheese, bland gravy, sausage, and bacon bits. Oh, and diced ham. Right. And also hash browns. Basically, everything but pancakes. I’m looking forward to the inevitable 1,300-calorie Pancake-Wrapped Country Breakfast Burrito that brings a McGriddle approach to this already sprawling morning entrée.

The only thing more surprising about this burrito than its three kinds of pork products is the fact that it’s surprisingly edible, texturally smooth, and soothing in a “hot breakfast” kind of way.

The only real disappointment is that amid the crush of ingredients, many of the components go missing in action. The gravy, though a fine lubricant, has little discernable flavor, and the bacon and ham are overwhelmed by the taste of the sausage. That said, if you’re on the road and can’t grab a McGriddle, the Country Breakfast Burrito is a decent alternative. Assuming that you immediately throw half of it into the garbage. Of course, if you’re driving sans silverware or a breakfast buddy, it’s just you and the burrito and your own sense of self-restraint. Good luck.

Hot Tamales Ice

By: Just Born Inc.

Suggested Retail Price: $1 for a 9.5-ounce package (about 140 pieces)

Taste: 3stars

Marketing: 2stars

What does the culinary world cry out for? That’s a valid topic for debate, but it seems fairly likely that nobody, anywhere, would ever supply the answer “A new flavor of Hot Tamales candy.” And yet the oddly named Just Born Inc. has introduced one anyhow. The company proudly bills Hot Tamales as “America’s favorite chewy cinnamon-flavored candy,” and it seems a safe bet that Hot Tamales Ice will be “America’s favorite chewy mint-flavored candy,” unless of course you count gum.

Hot Tamales Ice have got the same pleasant gumdrop chewiness that typifies their cinnamon brethren. They’re not oversweet, delivering a modest peppermint experience that reaches its maximum strength after two or three good chews. The slightly crackly exterior is a perfect casing for the minty contents, giving an otherwise spineless treat a bit of textural interest. Overall: This isn’t a game-changing candy, but it’s a competently executed riff off a 57-year-old industry standard.

And there’s something great about the anthropomorphic candy-character-based marketing: a non-hip-hop, non-slasher-movie-tie-in, non-Internet-aware throwback. It’s not clear whether this old-school illustration will move many to buy the product, but it does have a clearheaded innocence and graphic simplicity that appeal to the irrelevant fogy demographic of candy consumers.

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