Battle of the Big, Fake Cronut: Dunkin' Donuts vs. Jack in the Box

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JK Grence

Few food trends I've seen have developed such mass appeal as the cronut. While the true Cronut is a registered trademark of Dominique Ansel Bakery, imitations with other names have sprung up around the world.

See also: Cronutâ„¢ Battle: Herb Box vs. Karl's Quality Bakery

The croissant/doughnut hybrid has managed to trickle all the way down to the mass-market drive-thru lane in record time. Not one but two different establishments now serve their own versions of the deep-fried laminated pastry. Whose is better? Let's eat.


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Online Ordering Overload, Thanks to Taco Bell

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JK Grence
Did we really need this?

The Guilty Pleasure: Ordering food via smartphone apps.
Where to Get It: Too damn many places, if you ask me.
Price: Varies, but usually under $10.
What it Really Costs: I suppose that depends on your recreational habits.

What's going on with seemingly every restaurant under the sun jumping on the online ordering bandwagon these days? It was somehow fairly natural that pizza delivery chains kicked off the trend some years ago, but recently it's gone bananas.

These days, you don't even need your computer anymore because seemingly every quick-service chain in town has an app for that. Chipotle has an especially slick one. You can get app-ordered subs from Subway and Jimmy John's. You can even order up burgers and fries from Five Guys.

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Papa John's Weird Pizza Department Unveils Fritos Chili Pizza

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JK Grence
I'm pretty sure if you order one, the pizza won't be the only thing in the house that's baked.

The Guilty Pleasure: Frito pie on a pizza.
Where to Get It: The Papa John's delivery guy.
Price: $12 for a 14-incher.
What it Really Costs: How much is a bottle of Tums?

I'm quite intrigued by Papa John's R&D department. Every now and again, they release an oddball specialty pizza in an attempt to capture the dining dollars of stereotypical red-blooded 18- to 35-year-old American males.

Some of these, such as a Buffalo chicken pizza, are rather decent, at least for mass-market delivery pizza. Others have been more dubious. The double cheeseburger pizza they released earlier this year is one I'd imagine they would rather forget.

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Hey, '90s Kids, Surge Soda Is Back!

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JK Grence
Ohmigod ohmigod YES IT'S BACK!

The Guilty Pleasure: Surge soda.
Where to Get It: For now, exclusively on Amazon.com.
Price: $14 for a 12-pack.
What it Really Costs: New bigger cans mean even more empty calories per serving!

If you are of a certain age, you may well remember Surge soda. It was Coca-Cola's attempt in the 1990s to gain market share from Pepsi's perennially popular Mountain Dew.

The soda was marketed as an extreme citrus soda. Or, more likely back in the late 1990s, as an XTREME! citrus soda, with splashy graphics and people in commercials participating in intense sporting activities.

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Battle of the 2014 Arizona State Fair Corn Dogs

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JK Grence

In my humble (but correct) opinion, the quintessential carnival food is the corn dog. I know I can get a (barely passable) corn dog from a number of outlets around town, but there's nothing like savoring a hand-dipped corn dog while basking in the lurid lights of the Arizona State Fair midway.

Some State Fair food vendors give the venerable carnival snack an over-the-top twist in an attempt to get people talking about their specific product. Two different vendors have spicy variations on the corn dog. But, only one can be this year's Arizona State Fair corn dog champion.


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Coca-Cola's Freestyle Machine Lets You Customize Your Drink in Amazing Ways

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JK Grence
Where the magic happens.

The Guilty Pleasure: A new app for Coca-Cola Freestyle soda machines
Where to Get It: A handful of Freestyle machines, at least for now.
Price: A couple of bucks, give or take. Depends on the restaurant.
What it Really Costs: A potential sharp uptake in high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweetener.

By now, you may be familiar with The Coca-Cola Company's next-generation soda machine, Coca-Cola Freestyle. If you haven't seen one yet, I think they're worth seeking out just for the gee-whiz factor.

You use a touch screen on the machine to select what kind of beverage you want (of 26 different base varieties, including Sprite, Dr Pepper, and of course several versions of Coke), then add optional flavorings (orange Sprite? Sure! Raspberry Coca-Cola Zero? It's mighty fine!). Between the 26 sodas and all of the flavor variations, there's about 150 different drinks available from one soda machine.

But for some, yours truly included, somehow even that isn't quite enough.

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8 Weird Foods We Tried at the 2014 Arizona State Fair

The Guilty Pleasure: Deep fried everything on a stick.
Where to Get It: The Arizona State Fair.
Price: $5 and up.
What it Really Costs: I'm staying the hell off my bathroom scale for at least a week.

Ladies and gentlemen, the high holy days of guilty pleasure food are upon us once more. That's right, it's time for the annual cavalcade of weird food on a stick at the Arizona State Fair, which runs every day (except Mondays and Tuesdays) through November 2.

Certain foods from previous years have quietly disappeared, sometimes to my chagrin. Pumpkin-batter corn dogs, you shall be missed. But as things go away, others rise to take their place. Some are surprising delights. Others, I wish I could forget. But one thing is for sure, there's nothing like many of these anywhere else.


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Oreo O's: Straight from South Korea

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Josh Chesler
The first bowl of Oreo O's we've had in seven years. You better believe it was amazing.

The Guilty Pleasure: Oreo O's Cereal
Where to Get It: eBay, Amazon and South Korea
Price: About $20 including shipping
What it Really Costs: An explanation to the manager of the Post Office that you really did order breakfast cereal shipped directly from Korea.

As one of the most delicious cereals in history, Oreo O's were sadly discontinued everywhere other than South Korea in 2007 due to a split between Post (who owns the cereal) and Kraft (who owns Oreos). For us, it marked the end of the simpler times of childhood, the Saturday morning cartoons and overflowing plates at family meals with our grandparents.

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Krispy Kreme Introduces Ghostbusters Doughnuts (and Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts Too, Of Course)

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JK Grence
The Guilty Pleasure: Marshmallow-filled, Ghostbusters-themed donuts.
Where to Get It: Krispy Kreme, several locations around town.
Price: About $1.20 each.
What it Really Costs: Oh, sugar!

Nostalgia for the 1980s and 1990s is in full swing these days. The latest entry is the Ghostbusters franchise celebrating its 30th anniversary. Yes folks, you read that right, as of this year it's been three decades since Bill Murray and the gang first crossed the streams.

Naturally, along with this anniversary, there's a marketing blitz to both sell more copies of the movie, and sell things that weren't related to the movie until someone put a Ghostbusters logo or the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man on it.


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Pumpkin Spice Oreo Taste Test (Caramel Apple Oreos, Too)

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JK Grence

The Guilty Pleasure: Two new flavors of Oreos.
Where to Get It: Caramel Apple flavor at Target. Pumpkin Spice flavor everywhere. Much like pumpkin spice flavor in general these days.
Price: About $3 a box.
What it Really Costs: The usual danger of a box of processed cookies suddenly disappearing in one sitting.

It's practically a tradition that this time of year, anything that can possibly be flavored with pumpkin and/or pumpkin pie spice will be flavored with them. The list gets longer with every passing autumn. The trend has become ridiculous to the point that a hoax of pumpkin-spice condoms seemed at least slightly plausible.

See Also: Four Peaks Pumpkin Porter Has Arrived. It's Officially Fall!

Given the proclivities of the people at Nabisco to churn out seemingly endless flavors of Oreos over the last few years, it's almost a wonder that it took them this long to come up with Pumpkin Spice Oreos. But, the unholy union of Pumpkin Spice Everything and Oreo Anything Flavors has finally happened.

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