McSkillet Burrito

By: McDonald’s

Suggested Retail Price: $2.49

Taste: 2stars

Marketing: 2stars

Still feeling somewhat bloated after a recent visit to Hardee’s, it was with no small amount of trepidation that I set out to try the new McDonald’s breakfast burrito.

Upon first bite, however, the McSkillet Burrito revealed itself to be both subtler and tastier than I’d expected. It was squarely dominated by scrambled eggs and patty-style sausage (not filler, such as potatoes or rice); this is a nice change from fast-food norms, which tend to overwhelm the eater with starch whenever possible. And little bits of bell pepper and salsa injected mild but palpable notes of bright, fresh heat into an otherwise easygoing protein torpedo.

The experience wasn’t merely tolerable. It was pleasurable.

And then … I hit a teeth-rattling crunch in the middle of my sausage patty. Lo and behold, I recovered a small piece of what appeared to be bone.

I faced an ethical dilemma. Should I:

A) Pretend the bone thing never took place, because seriously, how often does that happen?

B) Mention the bone thing, but play it off, suggesting that anytime you’re eating real sausage there’s a chance for this sort of thing to happen?

C) Mention the bone thing and explain that while other people might want to order the otherwise good-tasting McSkillet Burrito, I couldn’t finish mine and am totally put off by it now?

I mean, seriously, I hate to shit on the McDonald’s effort here, because it has really put together a nice new breakfast entrée that’s going to work well for the chain. But man, that was unpleasant.

The McDonald’s people, to their credit, were as apologetic as they could be without actually acknowledging any legal wrongdoing: “Please give us an opportunity to offer you another meal on us.” “Please tell us your mailing address and we’ll send you a ‘be our guest’ card for a free meal.”

Much appreciated, but the bone still costs you a star for flavor.

International Delight Coffee Creamer

By: WhiteWave Foods

Suggested Retail Price: $1.89 for a one-pint bottle

Taste: 2stars

Marketing: 1stars

It’s entirely possible that an earnest interest in being festive might lead consumers to skip classic half-and-half and purchase International Delight Pumpkin Pie Spice or Vanilla Spiced Rum artificial creamer. And as a Dairy State native, that seems tragic. But that’s the world we live in; let’s get to the particulars.

The name International Delight embodies the worst aspects of lowbrow, aspirational marketing. Pouring corn syrup, palm oil, and artificial flavors (all of which appear on the ingredient list) into one’s coffee is about as cosmopolitan as farting on a piece of Wonder Bread. And the Vanilla Spiced Rum offering is every bit as bad as one might fear. The flavor could be described charitably as bad eggnog, but that seems like an overly generous reading of the nasty faux-rum chain saw that buzzes through the cream and spice. Without having tried motor oil, it may be unfair to rename the flavor Vanilla Spiced Pennzoil, but there you go. Palm oil gives the stuff a slippery mouthfeel, noticeable even when mixed in a beverage, which doesn’t exactly redeem the package.

By contrast, the limited-edition Pumpkin Pie Spice variety is not only good in coffee, it’s even better in hot chocolate, a beverage that puts up more gracefully with this kind of tomfoolery. The first thing that hits your tongue is, well, pumpkin pie—cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, clove, that sort of thing. Followed by that slippery mouthfeel. Followed by a pleasantly mellow pumpkin pie afternote. All in all, an agreeably well-balanced flavor that kicks the ass of its “rum”-infused colleague. When you enter the sophisticated world of International Delight, after all, you never know what to expect.

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