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August 2019

Drink Review: Crown Royal Peach Flavored Whiskey

By Mike Thayer

Hey, it's been awhile since I've done one of these....

Blended and flavored whiskeys are red hot right now, consumer demand for brown spirits continues to rise with American Whiskey in particular seeing some phenomenal sales growth.

Regular readers know that I am a fan of flavored whiskey, I've always got a bottle of something in my freezer for a chilled shot or a flavored specialty in the liquor cabinet to enjoy on the rocks.  My favorite in all this tasting fun so far, has been Yukon Jack Jacapple.

Crown Royal Peach PackagingBack in April, there was a big buzz about Crown Royal Peach.  A limited edition, the stuff flew off the shelves, liquor stores quickly sold out and I didn't get into a store fast enough to get some to review.  Not a store in town had any by the time I went looking for it that's how popular the peach was.  Placed on back order, it's now late August and the peach is back on liquor store shelves, so I jumped on a tip (thanks Vicki S!) and I can finally see if this stuff lives up to all the hype it got this spring.

Here's the description from the box:  To create this extraordinary blend, Crown Royal whiskies are carefully selected by our master blender and infused with the juicy flavor of fresh Georgia peaches.  Our peaches are harvested to capture their ripe succulence.  Once picked, the peaches are de-stoned, pressed and strained to preserve their bright, aromatic flavor.

The harmonious notes of this summer fruit complement the richness of Crown Royal Blended Whiskey.  The result is a vibrantly delicious whisky, bursting with the luscious flavor of peach and the distinctive smoothness of Crown Royal.  Enjoy on the rocks, as a shot, or mixed with iced tea for a refreshing cocktail.

Wow, how can you NOT want to sample the stuff after reading that?  Kudos to the Crown Royal marketing team.  So yes, as suggested, but how I taste test a review anyway, I tried it on the rocks and as a shot.  Side note:  I'm not a huge iced tea fan, but that iced tea cocktail suggestion does sound pretty good!

And now for the tasting....

Crown Royal Peach on the rocksI've sampled a few other peach flavored whiskeys and I've made the remark that I don't think whiskey and peach is a good flavor pairing.......  Crown Royal has changed my mind.

You definitely get a nice peach whiff right off the bat in the nose. The swirl (nice color!) and swallow are both quite enticing, almost dangerously so.  After reviewing Crown Royal Regal Apple back in April when the peach was not available, I half-expected this to be a bit too peach forward, like the Regal Apple was a bit too fruit forward, but not so with the peach.  This is really a very well balanced flavored whiskey to include the finish, the most important part of a good whiskey.  It's warm, the peach softly fading to that classic Crown Royal smoothness, deliciously smooth.

I didn't care for peach flavored whiskey until now, but I apparently didn't try the right stuff!  Costing me $25.99 for a 750ml bottle, it's a bit pricey - it's Crown Royal after all, part of that price is the name and the packaging - but it's well worth it!  Crown Royal Peach Flavored Whiskey is a repeat buy and has cracked my top 3 of best flavored whiskeys!  I'm giving it 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars and I'm looking forward to trying that iced tea cocktail!

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

Get the peach while you can, it's another limited edition run, supplies are limited! 

Burger Challenge Taste Test: Burger King Whopper w/cheese vs. the Impossible Whopper w/cheese

By Mike Thayer

Like you, I've seen the Burger King commercials hyping up the "Impossible Whopper"....  which has a patty of imitation meat, largely based in a soy protein.  Dressed up in all the classic Whopper toppings, consumers in the Burger King commercial claim, "I can't tell the difference!"

I call bullshit.

Whopper comparison wrapped
The Impossible Whopper, in it's "green" wrapper

Yes, you CAN tell the difference between a regular Whopper and an Impossible Whopper.  Easily!

With the Burger King commercial in mind and having sampled a few fake meat burgers on occasion (and not really liking them), I traveled to my neighborhood Burger King to give the Impossible Whopper a try.  It's been awhile since I've tried a veggie burger (cough) so what the heck and maybe they're onto something, right?  I ordered a Whopper w/cheese and an Impossible Whopper w/cheese for a mano e' mano of sorts taste comparison.  I didn't do the value meal thing, just ordered the two "burgers."  I didn't special order any ingredients on or off, both burgers were prepared with the standard toppings, lettuce, tomato, mayo, pickles, onions, ketchup and cheese.

Whopper comparison outside appearance
Outward appearance the same, same burger to bun ratio...

The before taking a bite pic shows the outside appearance of both burgers to be very similar.  Not surprising, after all, all ingredients are identical except the patties.

A closer review of the patties however, well, you can clearly see the difference.  Look how hockey puck the Impossible patty is.  The perfect circular shape, the rigid, straight side, the overkill on the grill marks (plants burn a lot quicker than beef, more on that in a bit)....

I first took a bite of the regular Whopper w/cheese.  Just as it should be, juicy, the classic combination of ingredients giving you a nice burger bite.

Then I took a bite of the Impossible Whopper.  Now keep in mind, Burger King claims this is 100% Whopper and 0% beef and their commercial would have you believe there is no difference in taste.....

Whopper comparison
Can you say, "Hockey Puck?"

Oh, but there IS.

I tasted the Impossible Whopper just like I did the regular whopper, taking every ingredient in.  It just doesn't measure up to the real thing.  Not even close.  It's less juicy, less savory, less "beefy."  It's somewhat palatable, but it's the classic toppings that make it so, NOT the fake meat.  After sampling each burger, I then took a bite of just the regular Whopper beef patty.  Tasty!  You know, what meat tastes like.  Then I took a bite of just the Impossible patty.  Not so tasty!  It was dry, a bit mealy and that char doesn't compliment the soy protein, it comes off as borderline burned. 

If Burger King is banking on the Impossible Whopper to curb the rate of BK restaurant closings (more than 100 were shuttered last year), they are taking a serious gamble with this.  Can you say, "200+ additional BK restaurants to close by 2020?

Impossible Whopper Char
Char + Soy = burnt tasting

Overall, vegetarians might like this offering, but it's flat out NOT as good as a regular Whopper, in my humble opinion not even 75% as good.   Costing me $5.79 the Impossible Whopper w/cheese is also more expensive than a regular Whopper w/cheese at $5.59.....  More money, for less taste?  It is NOT a repeat buy and so much for truth in advertising huh Burger King?

$pend Wisely My Friends..... 

Pizza Challenge, who has the best pizza in Wichita? Is it Angelo's?

By Mike Thayer

Angelo's PizzaPizza is my favorite food.  Burgers, steaks, lasagna, anything grilled and an assortment of other dishes are high on the list of favorites, but there's nothing quite like a good slice of pizza pie....  That slice of pie has that perfectly baked crust that's flaky/crispy on the outside, but tender and fluffy on the inside.  Then there's the marriage of toppings, the subtle spices of pepperoni and sausage, assorted veggies that are tender-crisp like onion and bell pepper.  The sauce, it's got to be a zesty sauce, providing those notes of garlic and oregano with each bite.  And bringing everything together is a generous portion of melted cheeses, mozzarella, Parmesan, perhaps some cheddar or provolone that bubbles up in the oven to golden, brown, deliciousness!

No national chains will be included in this challenge.  Only the local, regional pizza joints qualify.  Besides, Domino's sucks, Little Caesar's really sucks (they're so bad they don't even deserve a link) and Papa John's and Pizza Hut are average tasting pizzas at best.  The fact is, the local/regional joints run circles around the national chains in dishing up high quality, great tasting pizza.

During the course of this challenge I'll consider customer service, time to order, price, appearance and of course, the most important thing, TASTE.

Tonight I ordered a pizza from Angelo's, a recommendation from a friend.  I went with their "Truly Deluxe" pizza, ordering carry-out.  The order is in line with the other orders from the various pizza places I have or will be visiting, ordering a large, supreme style of pizza - meat and veggie toppings - and ordering carry out.

Read the full review at:


Food Review: Kirkland Signature Kettle Brand Krinkle Cut Himalayan Salt Potato Chips

By Mike Thayer

Kettle ChipsChips, perhaps America's favorite snack food....  Walk into just about any grocery store and they have an isle dedicated to them, classic potato chips, flavored chips, wavy chips, corn chips, tortilla chips, other kinds of veggie chips and more.

Today, I'm sampling some kettle chips, the Kirkland Signature Kettle brand, a krinkle cut style with Himalayan salt.

If you don't know what the difference is between a classic chip and a kettle chip (besides appearance, texture and taste), classic, a.k.a. 'regular' chips are made on a conveyor belt through a process called continuous fry. In this method, potatoes move through hot oil on a conveyor belt.  The result is a thinner, more uniform looking chip.  Kettle chips are prepared with a process called batch cooking.  Potatoes are literally dumped into an oil-filled kettle and stirred until done, resulting in thicker, not-so-uniform, sometimes folded over, chip.  Kettle chips provide a more robust crunch than 'regular' chips.

Onto the tasting....

Kettle Chips 2These Kettle chips provide a good kettle chip crunch without being too greasy.  The krinkle cut style handles dip well (I did a classic sour cream and onion) without breakage.  I chose this particular bag of chips because I hadn't sampled a pink salt variety yet and I have to say that these chips come off as being a bit bland, even for a regular chip (no flavors added).  The pink salt doesn't seem to carry the same salty flavor burst as traditionally salted chips.  They were a bit on the boring side and that chip dip was needed.

The two pound bag of chips cost me $4.89 at Costco.  I'm giving the Kirkland Signature Kettle Brand Krinkle Cut Himalayan Salt chips 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  You get the kettle crunch, they're good for dipping, but on their own they're bland.  These chips are NOT a repeat buy.

3 stars


Food Review: Jimmy Dean Breakfast Bowl, Meat Lovers

By Mike Thayer

Jimmy Dean Breakfast Bowl Meat LoversBreakfast kick starts your day, providing your body the fuel it needs to drive through the day. But it's important to eat right whether you're on a diet or not.

I suggest eating at home if you can. Not only will you save a few bucks, you'll save on some calories and believe it or not, time as well.

I am a huge fan of Jimmy Dean Breakfast sandwiches, they're inexpensive, convenient and tasty!  But today I'm trying another Jimmy Dean product, a 'Breakfast Bowl.'  I'm sampling the 'Meat Lovers' variety which is a seven ounce helping of potatoes, sausage, cage free eggs, cheddar cheese and bacon.

Prepared in the microwave per the package instructions, I was ready to eat in about 4 minutes, how's that for convenience?  Faster than cooking something up on your own and no waiting in line at a fast food drive-thru.

"But how does it taste?" you ask....

Have faith, I state that based on how good Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches are.

Jimmy Dean Breakfast BowlMy first fork full was a blast of that great tasting Jimmy Dean sausage and this breakfast bowl is loaded with it.  The eggs are fluffy, the potatoes are fluffy-tender, the crumbled bacon is a nice compliment and the buttery notes of the cheddar cheese ties everything together.  All ingredients were seasoned well throughout, this is a nicely balanced breakfast blend of quality ingredients.

A new product offering at Costco, a box of eight breakfast bowls cost me just $9.49 after an instant rebate at the register.  I should have bought TWO boxes, that's a ridiculous price at just $1.19 a bowl!

Jimmy Dean Breakfast Bowls - Meat Lovers - gets 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's definitely priced right (even at the regular price of $13.99 for a box of eight it's going to be just $1.75 a bowl), it's convenient as heck and most importantly, it's tasty, tasty, tasty!

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....


Food Review: Kirkland Brats

By Mike Thayer

Kirkland BratsThe bratwurst - more affectionately known as 'brats' by those who love these sausage treats - is a popular offering at summer cookouts and at baseball stadiums, especially in the Midwest.

That's what I'm into today, some brats!  I've tried pretty much all of them, Johnsonville, local butcher, various grocery store brands and today, I'm grilling up some brats made by Kirkland, the store brand of Costco.

As tasty as these things are, I'm actually kind of surprised that brats aren't more popular in restaurants, specifically burger and hot dog joints.  I'll take a juicy brat fresh off the grill over a burger or dawg just about any day of the week.  When brats are done right, you don't even need a bun, that's how good they are!

I've grilled brats for family, friends, at parties, at company functions.  I've prepared brats with beer, wine, my own secret parboil recipe and I've smoked them over a variety of woods.

Today's preparation is putting the brats in the smoker over pecan wood.  This is my favorite preparation and there's no parboiling required, this preparation is that good.  Beer brats are good, wine brats are better, but smoked brats.....  Smoked brats my friends, is THE best way to have them and pecan wood is a perfect pairing! 

I've used this particular preparation using the various brands of brats and Kirkland comes out on top.  They're better than Johnsonville, they're better than the local butcher shop, they're better than the typical grocery store brand.  In my book, the Kirkland recipe is the best of all I've sampled.

Perfectly smoked brats...

With each bite you get the perfect snap of that casing, the juiciness, that perfect blend of spices and that hint of smoke complimenting it all.

Not only does Kirkland have the better recipe, they make bigger links.  These are quarter pounders, that's 4 ounces each in case you didn't want to do the math.  Most other brands weigh in between 3.2 and 3.8 ounces per link.  That may not sound like much of a difference but it's actually quite noticeable when you put the final product on the bun.  Lesser brands also have more shrinkage and casings that more easily split during the cooking process. 

Costing just under $17 for 14 links, or $1.21 each, Kirkland brats cost a bit more than other brands.  In comparison, a package of Johnsonville brats typically run about $4.99 for 5 links, or $1 each, but you're getting an inferior product.  The Kirkland's are worth the slightly higher price, in each and every bite. 

I'm giving Kirkland brats 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  There may be a better brat out there, but I haven't found it yet.

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

Pizza Review: Bob & Luigi's Pizza - Bel Aire

By Mike Thayer

Pizza for lunch!

Touted as the area's best kept secret and in the mood for pizza, I decided to head to Bob & Luigi's Pizza in Bel Aire today to satisfy my craving.  I've never had a pizza from this joint, so I was looking forward to seeing if this place lived up to the hype. 

Located on 45th & Woodlawn, Bob & Luigi's is a classic, family style pizza parlor with an open, casual atmosphere.    I arrived at about 11:40am so it was a bit early to get that pizza parlor whiff when you first walk in the door - who doesn't love that smell, right? - but the place was looking clean, comfortable and seeing smiles on employee faces, well, this looked like my kind of place.  There was a customer ahead of me placing his order, which gave me time to consider just what kind of pizza I was in the mood for.

I went with one of their specialty pizzas The Luigi, which is topped with beef, sausage, Italian sausage, pepperoni, ham, black olive, mushroom, bell pepper and onion.  I paid for my carry out pizza and a soda, then found a seat and started reviewing the menu in greater detail to pass the time.   In addition to pizza, Bob & Luigi's has pasta, sandwiches, appetizers and calzones, to include dessert calzones which sound FABULOUS!  I SO have to get one next time I visit.....   Yes, that's an indicator of how good the pizza is.....

A member of the staff delivered my carry out pizza to my table in about 20 minutes, the pie piping hot and smelling fantastic!  The drive home was a struggle!  I SO wanted to grab a slice and truly eat "to go"....  But I resisted.  I had to roll down the windows to dispel that fantastic aroma and reduce temptation.

Pizza bob and luigisJust look at that beautiful pizza, it's baked to perfection, golden, brown, delicious and is that a more than generous portion of cheese or what?  I can see why The Luigi is such a popular pie.  LOADED with toppings the pie is a good balance of meat, veggies and cheese bedded on an airy crust.  You get the subtle spice of the pepperoni and sausage, the tender-crisp crunch of the onion and pepper and OH that gooey goodness of the melted mozzarella cheese tied everything together.   If there's anything to knock on this pizza though, is it was bit under-sauced.  I didn't get the zesty tomato marriage with those great toppings I was looking for.  There wasn't enough sauce and the sauce itself was missing some garlic and oregano notes.

Having three slices for lunch, I've got plenty leftover for dinner and yes, in classic bachelor fashion, I'll be having pizza for breakfast too.  This was a very satisfying pizza and worth the trip to Bel Aire, even from south Wichita.

The large pie and drink costing me about $21, Bob & Luigi's Pizza gets 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's good pizza, reasonably priced and worthy of a repeat buy. 

Pizza toppings4 stars

Bob & Luigi's Pizza

4559 N Woodlawn St
Bel Aire, Kansas 67220
PH: 316-744-9510




Cereal Battle Part 3: Wheaties vs. other wheat cereals

By Mike Thayer

I always have some kind of cereal on hand.  Sometimes it's for breakfast, sometimes with a little fruit and a heavy dose of cream, it makes for an impromptu dessert.  And although Captain Crunch with Crunch Berries is my all time favorite cereal, that's not what I typically have on hand.  My pantry is routinely stocked with corn flakes, toasted oats or bran flakes. 

Do you pay the premium price for the name brand?

If you do, you might think twice about doing so after reading this article.

CerealI've done reviews on corn flakes and toasted oats cereals, today I'm doing a similar review of wheat flake cereals.  In conducting this 'Cereal Battle, Part 3', I purchased THE name brand, General Mills Wheaties; a store brand version, in this case Kroger; and a discount brand called Millville, a.k.a., Aldi.

I compared price, weight, the look, taste (both dry and w/milk) and the 'sogginess' factor.

Cereal #1, the name brand - General Mills Wheaties:

According to the General Mills website, Wheaties was created in 1922, as a result of an accidental spill of a wheat bran mixture onto a hot stove by a Minnesota clinician working for the Washburn Crosby Company (later General Mills).  It's an iconic cereal, a box of Wheaties has been a staple in millions of American homes - especially the homes of young, sports minded kids - for decades.   Sometimes the allure of what mega-star sports figure adorned the box was enough to buy it.  I know I did when Walter Payton was featured and those empty boxes are worth something nowadays.  If you look on ebay, Walter Payton Wheaties boxes are selling for up to $35 each!  It's a better seller than Olympic star Mary Lou Retton.  And of course, who isn't familiar with one of the greatest food taglines of all time:  "The breakfast of Champions"   

Cereal 2Price:  $4.47 for 15.6 ounces of cereal

That price for a box of Wheaties is on the high end of pretty much every other kind of cereal on the grocery store shelf, it's not THE highest, but it's up there.  If you read the first cereal battle, Kellogg's Corn Flakes came in at $3.39 and in the second battle, Cheerios was priced at $2.79, on the low end of the spectrum in comparison of name brands.   Also noted in that first battle, was how much taller the Kellogg's Corn Flakes box was even though the weight of the cereal was the same as for the store and discount brands.   In a side-by-side-by side comparison, all three boxes of wheat bran cereal are approximately the same.  It's an old school marketing gimmick and General Mills doesn't seem to be playing it with box size.   General Mills, using the same size box as Kroger, just flat out puts a lower amount of flakes in their box.  Priced at $4.47 for the box, that comes out to 28.6¢ per ounce.

For the look, taste (both dry and w/milk) and the sogginess factor, I'll summarize all three cereals in a bit.

Cereal #2, store brand - Kroger:

Price:  $2.29 for 18 ounces of cereal

Look how much cheaper the store brand is, a savings of $2.18.  That's 12.7 cents an ounce for the store brand vs. 28.6 cents per ounce for the name brand.    A box of Wheaties is more than twice the price for a box of Kroger Bran Flakes AND you get more cereal in the same sized box.

Cereal #3, discount brand - Millville, a.k.a., Aldi:

Price:  $2.29 for 18 ounces of cereal

Cereal 3This is priced the same as for Kroger's knock off of Wheaties and it's the same volume of cereal.   To note, Millville put their 18 ounces of cereal in a bigger box.  Why, I can't say, because the Millville brand is pretty much the only brand of cereal Aldi carries.   Maybe they think you'll compare box sizes at home?  The important question is, how does Millville compare to the other two cereals in this battle?

When it came to the look, there are a few notable differences.  Wheaties appears to be the most "golden brown" in color, perhaps a bit more eye appealing than the two knock off brands.  The Millville flakes mimic Wheaties better than the Kroger brand, which looks to be quite a bit drier if that's possible in a wheat bran flake and with that, the flakes themselves are less uniform and some quite a bit larger in size.  In the taste test, they all tasted virtually the same, sampled dry and with milk, none more sweeter or less robust in wheat flavor than the other.  But the crucial part of the test, the sogginess factor......  Wheaties comes out on top on this one, I got through most of the bowl before sogginess set in.   Aldi's discount brand Millville came in second in this factor and the store brand, Kroger came in last - I hit sogginess about 3/4 through the bowl.  It might have something to do with that drier looking flake, it just absorbed the milk.  Wheaties also has the better crunch of the three, a more satisfying crispy/crunch flake going on.....

Wheaties gets top nod when it comes to crunch and the sogginess factor, but is that worth paying the premium price?  No!  For my money, I'll take the Millville version of Wheaties.  Although the price for the two knock offs is the same and for the same amount of cereal, the Millville flakes are slightly better than the Kroger flakes, it came down to the sogginess factor. 

So if you have been a buyer of the name brand, there's really no reason to continue doing so.  Save yourself some money with the discount brand from Aldi.   It really doesn't matter what sports star graces the front of the box.

And if anybody out there reading this is making the argument that this wasn't a fair comparison, because Wheaties are "Wheat flakes and not bran flakes, those are two different things.".....  Think again.   The first and main ingredient on all three box labels is:  Whole Grain Wheat.

Wheaties:  Whole grain wheat, sugar, salt, corn syrup, Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) added to preserve freshness.

Kroger Bran Flakes:  Whole grain wheat, wheat bran, sugar, wheat flour, malted barley, flour, salt

Millville Bran Flakes:  Whole grain wheat, wheat bran, sugar, brown sugar syrup, salt, barley malt extract.

$pend Wisely My Friends.....