REVIEW: Clancy’s Cinnamon Churro’s

When I wrote about my love for Cheetos Sweetos last month a reader of the blog from Kansas City reached out to me and told me to slow down and back up because I didn’t know a damn thing until I had Clancy’s Cinnamon Churros.  Okay…she didn’t really say it like that, but she said they were better, and a seasonal release from local grocery chain Aldi, and that if I really loved cinnamon sugar treats I needed to try them.  Out of the kindness of her heart she waited for them to pop back up on shelves and sent a bag all the way to the bay area so I could try the heralded regional brand, so today, I try and put to the test, Clancy’s Cinnamon Churros.

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Out of the bag these Cinnamon Churros look almost identical to the warm twisty braided bundles of yum from Taco Bell.  They have a huge, sharp, and defined cinnamon smell that more closely resembles sniffing a bottle of ground cinnamon than a bag of chips.  Biting in the crunch is serious.  They’re hard yet airy with a delightful flavor that, much like the smell, is more cinnamon-forward than sweet or salty.  The crunch is addictively fun, and the spice-level is spot on for someone like me that loves cinnamon.

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Unlike Sweetos, there’s no underlining butteriness and not a single sign of greasiness either.  The churros themselves are dry, but not in a bad way, more in a way that registers they were perfectly fried and dried so you get all the well-executed crunch factor without any leftover oil or undesirable texture.

The only thing I don’t like about these Churros is the fake sugar aftertaste when I finish a mouthful of cinny-delight.  I didn’t notice it immediately, but after a second handful I had a distinct Splenda zing on my tongue that was surprising and took away from the great spicy flavor.  Looking at the ingredients I wasn’t surprised at all to see sucralose listed right after cinnamon, and I find the use of the sweetener kind of puzzling.  While it does keep the sugar content low, at 3 grams per serving, these aren’t marketed as a diet food so why sacrifice the taste to shed a couple grams of sugar?  I eat plenty of products with sucralose in them, mostly protein bars and yogurt, but if I’m having a sweet and salty cinnamon snack I would prefer they just stick to their real sugar guns and give me the full cal goods.

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As far as cinnamon-factor goes, these ARE better than Cheetos Sweetos, but I’ve gotta be honest, they’re pretty different.  While these pack a huge crunch and authentic spice flavor, the Cheetos bring a softer butterier flavor that I enjoy just as much.  The saddest part in all of this for cinna-sluts like myself is that BOTH of these products are seasonal and will always be hard to come across.

Rating: 8/10
Found at: Aldi Supermarkets

REVIEW: Taco Bell Naked Chicken Chalupa

Rarely does an item get as much buzz as the latest release from Taco Bell.  Granted, I probably spend more time than most people reading about limited Oreo flavors and weird protein concoctions, but the Naked Chicken Chalupa has seemed to permeate through all of the different food and news sources I tend to look at on a daily basis.  Aside from the usual spots like Grub Grade or Brand Eating, the Naked Chicken Chalupa has seen hype from The San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, and tons of other relevant non-junk food blogs.  For those of you who haven’t heard of it, the Naked Chicken Chalupa is a deep fried piece of chicken shaped like a taco shell filled with lettuce, tomato, shredded cheese, and an avocado ranch sauce.  I don’t eat tons of fast food but I love Taco Bell and all of their zany ideas, so I have been pumped on this since it was first announced and hope it lives up to the hype.  Let’s dig in.

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My initial thought is that it is smaller than I expected it to be.  The smell immediately reminds me of a standard cafeteria chicken sandwich with a little extra spice.  The cheese has melted, which is always a good sign, and considering the decently lengthy wait time in the drive through this bad boy was made fresh.  The shell is fried chicken crispy and holds its shape perfectly.  The bite has a nice crunch and spice to it with really solid seasoning that is not too salty.  Unfortunately the chicken is of the cheaper McChicken/separated variety, but is white all the way through without any weird looking or tasting pieces; I imagine it would be hard to shape an actual chicken breast into a taco.

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The avocado ranch sauce is creamy and a touch spicy, but has pooled at the bottom and mixed with the slightly wilted lettuce a bit, leaving an undesirable texture in certain bites.  It’s less greasy than the regular Chalupa shell, which I’m happy about as that’s a potentially big issue with a fried meat vessel in place of a standard tortilla

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The Naked Chicken Chalupa is good but it feels a bit…naked.  The execution on the shell is spot on but an additional meat on the inside would really bring it home.  I would love a nacho cheese double chicken Chalupa or supreme beef version.  Deep frying the shell when it is ordered presented both negatives and positives – it helped melt the cheese but also got the lettuce to wilt and be flimsier than on most Taco Bell products. The possibilities on this new item are endless but the initial attempt falls short of being a slam dunk.

Rating: 8/10