A Short Break

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans

Folks, as I’m sure you’ve noticed (well, hopefully noticed), I’ve been a little absent from the internet lately. Not many posts or tweets or videos or anything. As much as I’d love to say it was because I was working on some important project or I have an entirely new identity now or that I decided to prioritize my health and backpacking through Europe, the reality is I was just kind of being lazy. I was working on my book, sure, but not in a “this-thing’s-almost-done-and-I’ve-got-publishers-beating-down-my-door” kind of way. Started thinking about a vacation next year. Got really into oatmeal raisin cookies (so underrated). Played an obscene amount of Fire Emblem Three Houses (switch over to my gaming site ledbacklitmonsterenergyrefrigeratorinthecorner.com for my 50,000 word breakdown about why Sylvain is actually the best character in the game). A lot of stuff going on in my life. Listen, it was summer and there wasn’t much interesting news I cared about and I couldn’t watch a lot of baseball until recently and it was just kind of like I didn’t have any time to come up with the level of posts I’m happy with. Or, more likely, I chose not to make time. But, if you really concentrate, you can start smelling football in the air again. Hell, college has been going for a couple weeks now. So, at the very least, I’ll go back to picking games. I like it too much and I’m too good at it to give it up, even if I know no one’s reading. Anything more than that? We’ll see. Unplugged life was good, and I’ll leave it at that. briansden69.com may start to operate on a per diem basis.

But, naturally, there were two stories that nearly dragged me back to the site. The first, of course, was the great Chicken Sandwich War of 2019. Popeyes introduced a new chicken sandwich. It was very good and sold out everywhere instantly. It’s still not as good as Chick-fil-A’s. That’s the take.

The second was the Andrew Luck shock retirement. And I don’t really have a take about Luck, more about the discussion about Luck, which I fully admit is just feeding directly into the cycle of event-backlash-backlashtothebacklash-outrage-forgetiteverhappened that dominates social media, more specifically Twitter, which is easily the worst website in the world but I can’t stop myself from spending all day on it. Anyway, yeah, Luck retired. Crazy. Who knows what he’s going through, so if his body’s saying no, it’s time to get out. Football’s not a game you can be kind of committed to. If you don’t want to take the pain anymore, no shame in walking away. I’m sad to see him go, if only because he was 0-6 against the Pats and always lost by 10,000. But when the Indy fans booed as he left the field (the story leaking mid-game is one of the weirdest things about it), predictably, it quickly became a 2019 sports story. You had to either become “shut up and play, think about the coal miners” guy or one of the nameless, faceless members of the Twitter mob that think if you’re nice to the athletes they’ll become friends with you or something. Like if hell exists, Andrew Luck’s not gonna wind up there because he retired earlier than you wanted him to. But he’s also not a conquering hero, either. It’s his life and he should do with it what he pleases, but let’s not act like it’s out of line for Colts fans to be upset. Their star QB retired two seconds before the season! They can’t be pissed about that? Not even a little? I understand they shouldn’t have booed. I wouldn’t have, were I in the same position (I would never be in that position, though, because that would involve attending a preseason NFL game). But he really screwed the Colts over with this. Unless you want to get woke and say Jim Irsay knew Luck was on the way out but told him to keep it quiet so they could sell season tickets, but even then the fans are really getting the shaft. But hey, it’s 2019 and the fans don’t matter because a couple lunatics were mean to some athletes on Twitter and now if you even insinuate that a player isn’t the best all-time in their sport you’re a reckless hater and deserve to be canceled. This story is why I liked being offline. You check back in briefly and it’s just as bad and eye-roll-inducing as it was when you left. Luck’s not a spoiled millennial who doesn’t care about the little guy and he’s not a brave trailblazer who should be endlessly praised for accomplishing nothing in the league and walking away under his own power. He’s just a really talented guy who’s body said enough, that’s it. But we can’t do “that’s it” in 2019, can we?

Football’s back, hooray.

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The McDonald’s Worldwide Menu Might Cause World War III

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Our American customers will have their pick of four craveable and delicious menu items from several of our international menus including:

Stroopwafel McFlurry (The Netherlands): Our creamy vanilla soft serve, mixed with a rich caramel swirl, featuring authentic chopped Dutch Daelmans Stroopwafel caramel waffle cookie pieces. Cookies and soft serve? Yes please.

Grand McExtreme Bacon Burger (Spain): A quarter pound* of 100 percent fresh beef** topped with thick cut Applewood smoked bacon, smoky McBacon Sauce, real Gouda cheese and slivered onions served on a freshly toasted sesame seed bun.

Tomato Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich (Canada): Made with a grilled or crispy all white meat, juicy and tender chicken, the Tomato Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich is topped with tomato & herb sauce, creamy mozzarella cheese, slivered onions, fresh lettuce and sliced Roma tomatoes served on a freshly toasted artisan roll.

Cheesy Bacon Fries (Australia): Look familiar? That’s right, Cheesy Bacon Fries are back! After such a positive customer reaction to Australia’s Cheesy Bacon Fries in the U.S., they’re taking a victory lap. Don’t miss our World Famous Fries topped with real cheddar cheese sauce and chopped Applewood Smoked bacon.

Folks, you all know I’m not one for hyperbole. I keep things “one-hundred,” as the kids like to say. So when I make big proclamations, they come from a level-headed, rational place. McDonald’s just doomed us all by introducing this new Worldwide Favorites menu.

It’s not the menu itself I’m worried about; it’s innocuous enough. A burger with a preposterous name, a pretty standard chicken sandwich, and a new McFlurry aren’t cause for concern (how about McDonald’s trying to pass off cheesy bacon fries as a new international item when they were on the mainline menu like two months ago? Come on, guys). Its what the menu represents. This is likely the end of international trade as we know it.

Let me ask you a question: why do you travel? To experience other cultures, see the sights, escape your current crappy life/weather, yadda yadda. But the real reason is food. You want to go somewhere that has food you can’t get at home. You want new dining experiences that make you rethink how you viewed the world around you. You want to taste the weird menu items McDonald’s has in different countries. You want to go to Spain and get a Grand McExtreme Bacon Burger. You want to go to the Netherlands and get a Stroopwafel McFlurry. But now that McDonald’s has foolishly decided to bring these foreign agents to our shores? Why leave the house again?

The negative effects of this are far-reaching. First, it’s going to murder international McDonald’s sales. Without looking at the actual data, I’d wager that 95% of McDonald’s international profit comes from American tourists. Why would any of them go now that they can get the funky signature item at home? Soon the margins will get so tight that non-American locations will start closing left and right. And once the McDonald’s start closing, the tourism dries up. Why go anywhere without a McDonald’s? There’s no reason to, really. And once the tourism dries up, the other countries get mad that they don’t have any money anymore. What happens then? They band together and create a league of evil bent on getting revenge on the entity that precipitated their downfall: McDonald’s. They start attacking the only locations left standing, all of which are now in America. And, due to the influx of tourists coming to get their erstwhile comfort food, the domestic McDonald’s will have only grown more powerful and expanded to even more locations than there already were. So now there’s a massive army invading America and attacking every town in every state, most of which completely revolve around the local McDonald’s. Our very way of life will cease to exist, all because McDonald’s decided to put a limited time novelty item on the menu. And when the dust settles and only the strong are left in the new apocalypse state? Well, that’s the plot of John Wick 5, friends.

So, in short, McDonald’s has made another shortsighted decision that torpedoes their own exclusivity to appeal to a market that won’t appreciate it. And we’re gonna be the ones paying the bill. A real shame, if you ask me.

Crullers Are So Underrated

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This is kind of random but I was thinking about this all weekend and I needed to post it here. We, as a society, don’t give crullers enough respect. There are a million different varieties, but I’m not talking about the fancy French twists or the ones that are just sticks. I’m talking about the twisted ones that are essentially just long donuts. Nice and doughy and covered in cinnamon sugar. I think they’re more of a New England thing than anything else, but, as with most things, New England is at the top of the mountain when it comes to breakfast foods. It’s time they go more mainstream.

Honestly, they’re more practical than traditional donuts. If you’re a donut dunker, the rod is much easier to dip than the circle. The stick fits any cup opening, the wheel leaves you to the whims of fate. What if the cup isn’t big enough to accommodate a fresh, unbitten donut? If you’re a dunker (I’m not because, as always, I’m mentally strong enough to eat foods without dipping them in anything), this has to be an issue. You’ve already committed to eating the donut slathered in coffee au jus, but the first bite, the most important bite, might wind up either dry or inadequately covered. That’s devastating. Crullers eliminate this. They have yet to develop a non-novelty cup that a cruller can’t fit into. Crullers were made for dipping. That’s why they’re on this planet. To be dipped in your morning coffee (or, in my case, to be eaten in under ten seconds sans joe).

They’re also easier to eat. You know what’s an annoying micro-decision? After you take the first bite of donut you have to pick which direction you’re going to eat in. Crullers you take the first bite and then the second bite is in the exact same place as the first one. Life is hard enough without your food making you think twice about where to bite next. Because there is a wrong answer, and you usually can tell right away. It differs from donut to donut, but if you go left when the universe intended for you to go right, it’s gonna ruin your eating experience. The only choice you need to make with crullers is how many to eat.

Crullers also taste better. When you get those bits of twist where the cinnamon sugar penetrated real deep, it’s like seeing the Gates of Heaven. Saint Peter has multiple baskets of crullers under his desk at all times, they’re the only things that keep him going. Regular cinnamon sugar donuts are obviously Hall of Fame level, but Tom Brady and Eli Manning are both Hall of Famers, too. Doesn’t mean they’re in the same class. Crullers take everything that make donuts good and improves on it. Better with coffee, better on the go, better period. It’s time for the cruller boom.

I swear this isn’t just an ad for McDonald’s new Donut Sticks.

The Best Active Fast Food Item

For those of you that don’t follow me on Instagram, my life is dedicated to trying the newest fast food and junk food items and reviewing them. It’s my raison d’être if you will. It keeps me going. Well, today I dragged myself to Burger King to try the “new” Big King XL, the second iteration of BK’s shameless, disgusting knockoff of the fast food godfather the Big Mac. My thoughts:


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#fastfoodreview for the Burger King big king xl. Sry I’m loyal to the 🐐 Big Mac #food #foodreview #burgerking #fraud

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A bald, cowardly imposter coming for the crown. While mentally comparing the two sandwiches, I knew the Big Mac was a 10 and the Big King would have to be judged accordingly. That got the old gears turning, so I decided to compile a list of current fast food items that get a 10 on the Brian’s Den scoring meter. This is fast food only, so no fast casual. Five Guys’ fries are a clear 10, but Five Guys is fast casual. Sorry. Also, this only includes national chains. So while I’m sure Double-Doubles and Honey Butter Chicken Biscuits are legitimate 10s, I don’t like being punished for being born in the wrong place. If you have any problems with this list, just know that I’m the one with the food reviews, not you and my palate is much, much more refined than yours.

Active Fast Food 10s

McDonald’s

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Big Mac– The burger that launched a thousand imitators. Hopefully this is self-explanatory, but when the greatest fast food empire in history is built on the back of a single menu item, you’d better believe it’s a 10.

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Fries– The GOAT of GOATs.

Honorable Mention (a.k.a. 9s)- McNuggets, Sweet & Sour Sauce, McFlurry, McDouble (the best McDoubles are 10s but you can get some bad ones if you go at the wrong time), Apple Pie

Taco Bell

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Cheesy Gordita Crunch– Taco Bell’s strength is its deep roster of 8s and 9s, but the CGC is the superstar leading the team and taking the shots in crunch time (pun not intended but intended). The CGC is arguably the greatest fast food innovation of the 21st century.

Honorable Mention– Baja Blast (like the McDouble, can be a 10 but can also be way lower if the fountain is off. Also lost serious points when it started showing up in stores), Beefy Fritos Burrito, Doritos Locos Taco (all flavors), Crunchwrap (regular and breakfast), Shredded Chicken Burrito, Beefy Nacho Loaded Griller, all iterations of Quesadilla

Burger King

None

Honorable Mention– Bring back the $1 Rodeo Cheeseburger you idiots

Wendy’s

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Baconator– Improbably on of the more influential burgers of the last decade or so, the Baconator birthed numerous copycats, including, you’ll never believe this, one from Burger King. I like bacon, wouldn’t call myself a true bacon guy or anything, but the Baconator is just great. Maybe it’s just Wendy’s beef.

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Double Stack– Wendy’s is the only fast food place to have consistently mastered the art of the value menu burger. The Double Stack is like the McDouble’s rich brother that is also really philanthropic.

Honorable Mention– Fries, Chicken Nuggets, Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Chick-fil-A

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Original Chicken Sandwich– If there was an 11, this would be it.

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Spicy Chicken Sandwich– If there was an 11, this would be it.

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Chicken Nuggets– If there was an 11, this would be it.

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Chick-fil-A Sauce– The GOAT dipping sauce. If I could shower in CFAS, I would.

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Polynesian Sauce– I think Chick-fil-A has this industry figured out.

Honorable Mention– Fries, Chicken Biscuit, Spicy Chicken Biscuit

Popeye’s

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Biscuits– I will neither confirm nor deny reports that I get at least two extra biscuits every time I go to Popeye’s. Better than KFC’s biscuits, if only slightly, and there’s only room for one 10 biscuit.

Honorable Mention– Spicy Chicken, Mashed Potatoes

KFC

None

Honorable Mention– Biscuits, Extra Crispy Chicken, Popcorn Chicken, Potato Wedges, Mashed Potatoes

Dairy Queen

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Chocolate Dipped Cone– People forget Dairy Queen is technically a fast food place. People also forget the regular cholate dipped cone is the best fast food desert in the game.

Honorable Mention– Most Blizzards, none of the actual food because I’m not a crazy person

Checkers

None

Honorable Mention– Fries, Fry Lover’s Burger, Cheese Double

White Castle

None normally

Honorable Mention– Literally everything if you really, really want it

Dunkin’ Donuts

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Strawberry Frosted Donut– I lost track of how many of these I’ve eaten about 15 years ago. Sure, you can go to “fancy” donut places and get similar or “superior” versions of this, but this man will never say there’s a better donut to be had.

Honorable Mention– Blueberry Cake Donut

Krispy Kreme

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Original Glazed– When they’re hot they’re the best thing you’ve ever eaten.

Honorable Mention– Why would you get anything else?

Sonic

None

Honorable Mention– Tots, Chili Cheese Coney, Breakfast Toaster, French Toast Sticks, Asian Sweet Chili Boneless Wings, Shakes, Sonic Blasts

Arby’s

None

Honorable Mention– None

Countdown to 2019

2019

Can’t believe 2018 is over already. I feel like Velma, but instead of looking for her glasses I’m looking for all the years of my life that have passed by. That sounded kind of depressing, sorry. But that’s just how time works, man. Just keeps moving forward. If you even believe in time, at all. But this isn’t a Burning Questions, this is the Countdown of Countdowns. Third year we’ve done this, which is crazy to think about. I also realize I forgot to mention my two-year anniversary when it came and went December 26th. I apologize not only to you, my loyal readers, but to George Michael, the patron saint of the Brian’s Den whose death sparked the creation of this beloved site. It won’t happen again. But for the true fans, the Brian’s Den’s greatest hits always live on deep in their hearts, so was a clip show really necessary? I’ll let you decide. Anyhow, the Countdown. We’re saying goodbye to 2018 with eighteen, yes, eighteen countdowns. It could get ugly after about ten, but we’re powering through; I’ve decided to start working a little harder in 2019. Just part of the #newyearnewme lifestyle.

Top Five Movies from 2018 Based on Brian’s Den Scoring

  1. Mission: Impossible Fallout– One of the five best action movies ever made
  2. Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse– Cried like four times
  3. The Commuter– This was like when Greg Maddux would throw an 80-pitch shutout late in his career just to show that he could still do it
  4. Skyscraper– Might be in the pantheon of random Rock action movies
  5. A Star is Born– Couldn’t leave out my boy B-Coop

Top Five Movies I Didn’t See But Will Say I Saw Come Awards Season to Sound Smarter

  1. The Favourite– Just waiting for the Americanized The Favorite to come out
  2. BlacKkKlansman– I watched the first three seasons of Ballers, does that count?
  3. Leave No Trace– Didn’t Viggo do this exact movie a year ago?
  4. If Beale Street Could Talk– Think I’m gonna feel bad about not seeing this one
  5. Bird Box– I will not let the memes win

Top Five Video Games I Played in 2018

  1. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild– Getting myself a Switch for my birthday was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made
  2. God of War– Remember when I tried streaming? That was fun
  3. Fire Emblem Awakening– Yes, I know it’s old. No, I don’t care. I played four Fire Emblem games in a row and it was one of the most legitimately fun eras of my life and may or may not have indirectly lead to my move to New York City
  4. Spider-Man– Big year for Spidey
  5. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate– Smash will always make the cut

Top Five Games I’m Looking Forward to in 2019

  1. Kingdom Hearts III– I’ll be fine if I die after I finish this
  2. Untitled Pokémon Switch Game– We all know this is going to be a banger
  3. Fire Emblem: Three Houses– See above section
  4. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice– I’m going to get this and I’m going to hate myself for committing to what is surely an absolutely impossible game
  5. Final Fantasy VII– Just kidding. This is never coming out

Top Five Songs of 2018

  1. “I Like It” by Cardi B, Bad Bunny, & J Balvin- It’s just a fire song
  2. “Finesse” by Bruno Mars & Cardi B- Cardi B only puts out heat and that’s an undeniable fact
  3. “New Light” by John Mayer- I like that the stigma against liking John Mayer is gone
  4. “Sicko Mode” by Travis Scott- I’ll always remember Travis Scott for his Ballers cameos the most. That might be the last Ballers reference this year
  5. “Party for One” by Carly Rae Jepsen- Leave your CRJ hate at the door, please

Top Five TV Shows I Watched in 2018

  1. Good Place– It’s good. Get it?
  2. All or Nothing: Manchester City– So, umm, yeah, I didn’t really watch any shows this year and I don’t really know why
  3. Westworld– There is no way Westworld season 2 should be number three on anyone’s list but here we are
  4. I don’t know, man. New Black Mirror came out that I haven’t watched yet so I’ll say that
  5. Spongebob seasons 1-3- RIP Stephen Hillenburg

Top Five Athletes of 2018

  1. Luka Doncic- I never overreact, I swear
  2. Mookie Betts- Red Sox won the World Series, in case you forgot
  3. Nick Foles- What a large penis this man has
  4. Aaron Donald- Feel like this is what it was like for my dad when he watched Bill Russell
  5. Every Olympian- Remeber the Olympics? They were this year! Crazy

Top Five New Year’s Eve Concerts

  1. Phish- MSG
  2. Bruno Mars- T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
  3. Lady Gaga- Park Theater at Park MGM, Las Vegas
  4. Lynyrd Skynyrd- WinStar World Casino, Thackerville, Oklahoma
  5. Billy Joel- Nassau Coliseum, Long Island

Top Five New Fast Food Items

  1. Double Cheesy Gordita Crunch- Taco Bell
  2. Triple Melt Burrito- Taco Bell
  3. Nightmare King- Burger King
  4. Wild Naked Chicken Chalupa- Taco Bell
  5. Nacho Fries- Taco Bell

Top Five Best Things That Happened to Me in 2018

  1. Moved to New York City
  2. I just got this new deodorant (it’s men’s, FYI. It’s almost 2019) that has lavender in it and it smells very nice
  3. Any of the times I missed a subway train or bus by a matter of milliseconds
  4. My sister got me this notebook for Christmas that makes me feel like Aragorn since it looks straight out of Middle Earth
  5. Actually made some new friends. Rare!

Top Five Worst Smells

  1. Whatever’s been brewing in my fridge for the last month or two that I keep waiting for someone else to take care of but it never happens
  2. General garbage
  3. Someone else’s puke
  4. Rotting flesh
  5. Subway when you don’t want it

Top Five Acting Performances Ever by Men

  1. Samuel L. Jackson- Pulp Fiction
  2. Christoph Waltz- Inglorious Basterds
  3. Chappie- Chappie
  4. Daniel Day-Lewis- There Will Be Blood
  5. Nicolas Cage- The Wicker Man

Top Five Acting Performances Ever by Women

  1. Lady Gaga- A Star is Born
  2. Melissa McCarthy- The Heat
  3. Viola Davis- Fences
  4. Ellen Burstyn- The Wicker Man
  5. Jodie Foster- Silence of the Lambs

Top Five Book(s) Ever

  1. If I Did It: Confessions of a Killer by Pablo Fenjves and O.J. Simpson
  2. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
  4. Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R.R. Martin
  5. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

Top Five Vegetables

  1. Potato
  2. Carrot
  3. Red onion
  4. Non-infected lettuce
  5. Spinach

Top Five Places to Go Swimming

  1. Private pool- No rules whatsoever after a certain age=fun
  2. Health club pool- Usually the highest quality pool and water
  3. Lake- Beach is generally more fun, but lakes are far superior for swimming
  4. Public pool- Especially hotel pools where you can smell the chlorine three blocks away
  5. Beach- Swimming in the ocean is almost always a better idea in theory than in practice

Top Five Italian Renaissance Artists

  1. Michelangelo- The G.O.A.T. and I don’t know who’s really that close to him. Master of every medium. Only thing going against him is that every portrait of him looks like Willem Defoe if he got lost in the woods for a month and the only food he had was heroin
  2. Sandro Botticelli- Most underrated painter ever. Yeah, I said it
  3. Leonardo da Vinci- He’s honestly such an overrated artist but I don’t want to draw the ire of the people who put the emphasis on the “ai” in Renaissance
  4. Raphael- Raphael, of course, was known for his works’ clarity of form, ease of composition, and visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur
  5. Donatello- I swear I didn’t envision this happening but I have no choice now

Top Five Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2019

  1. More calm, peaceful discourse in all areas of the Internet
  2. A McDonald’s resurgence. It’s coming, and you don’t want to be on the wrong side of history
  3. The Patriots winning a sixth Super Bowl
  4. Getting a pet flamingo
  5. Spending more time in the Brian’s Den- 2019 is gonna be huge. Believe it

Official Halloween Candy Power Ranking

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(Note: I published this last year, but, as usual, Halloween is prime #badopinionSZN. I’ve updated this slightly, but it still stands as the definitive guide to Halloween candy.)

In case you didn’t know, today is Halloween. Or Hallowe’en if you’re pretentious enough. We all know the person that loves Halloween way too much and considers it their favorite holiday, and while I’m not here to rain on their parade, saying Halloween is your favorite holiday is an incorrect opinion. However, I do enjoy Halloween, myself. Love fall, love dressing up, love carving pumpkins, love spooky stories, the whole deal. Unfortunately, I’m in the gray area when it comes to dressing up. Due to cultural stigmas, it’s considered odd for guys to really go all out from ages like 24-32 if you’re single. If you can do couples costumes or have kids, it’s all good, but, sadly, I’m single, childless, and 26. Alas. Even though I’m not even considering leaving my house, there’s one thing I’ll always be able to enjoy about Halloween: the candy.

Now that I’m older, I just buy my own bags of Halloween candy (for the Trick-or-Treaters, you see). While it’s less rewarding than going to strangers’ houses and taking candy from them and it removes the thrill of the candy roulette, I also only get things I like, which is better than forcing the seventh sleeve of Smarties down my throat. Still, I’m not so far removed from the Trick-or-Treat game that I don’t know what candy is good anymore. In fact, it may be the opposite. Since I have full control over what candy I get, I have more freedom to experiment and try new things. I know more about candy than anyone I know. As a candy expert on Halloween, it seemed only natural to share my knowledge with everyone knocking on my door looking for goodies. I knew I had to present the Official Brian’s Den Halloween Candy Power Ranking. Now, there may be many takes upcoming that some would consider “hot,” and this is the first one: I love fun size candy bars. Sometimes the ratios can suffer in the more complex bars, and we’ll get into that at an appropriate time, but the fact remains fun size candy gets the most unfair rap of all time. Eat some when you wake up, eat a few in between breakfast and lunch, eat some after lunch, eat some between lunch and dinner, and then eat a bunch for dessert. You can eat more than you usually would and it feels like you’re eating less! What’s not to like? You get good taste and a little confidence boost. Just because it’s bulking season doesn’t mean you have to eat like a slob, right? That’s what I tell myself as I’m scarfing my twentieth fun size Snickers in the last ten minutes. So that’s one thing established: fun size=fun. I wanted to keep this reasonable, so I decided to go top twenty (UPDATE: top twenty-one). That means there’s going to be some cuts. Some were agonizingly tough and I’ll think about them when I go to bed tonight. Others weren’t. Might as well start with those: Whoppers might be the worst candy of all time. Malt STINKS and malted milk balls are somehow even worse. Actually, I lied. Good & Plenty or anything licorice is the worst candy of all time, but usually people don’t give them out on Halloween (if you or your child has ever been given licorice on Halloween, please alert the correct authorities immediately). Now that licorice is on my mind, I’m just gonna say it- Twizzlers suck. I hate the texture and their flavor doesn’t make up for the dryness. Butterfingers have a pretty solid taste to them, but I don’t like scheduling a dentist appointment every time I eat a candy bar. Ditto for Milk Duds, except they taste bad, too. Sour Patch Kids, I’m sorry, but Halloween is a sweet holiday, not a sour one. If you give me anything with wax in the name I’m legally allowed to slap you in the face. If I wanted to eat chalk, I’d rather it be the sidewalk variety than Smarties/SweetTarts/Necco Wafers. I like Tootsie Rolls and flavored Tootsie Rolls, I really do, but I live just above the poverty line so I can’t include them. Straight Hershey’s and the other blocks of pure chocolate are perfectly fine, but perfectly fine doesn’t make the list. All of the things that come in the Hershey Variety Pack (Hershey Dark, Mr. Goodbar, Krackle) top out at okay. No one’s been given an Oh Henry! in 30 years, but they’re actually pretty good (be honest, you don’t know what an Oh Henry! is. But that’s why I’m writing this and you aren’t). Peanut m&m’s are one of the few casualties of fun size, since you only get like five in a bag. Crunch is fine and Buncha Crunch is an elite movie theater candy, but it’s so boring comparatively when you look at some of the heavyweights on the list. Lastly, it’s not really a Trick-or-Treat candy, but it’s so closely associated with Halloween and fall holidays that it needs a mention- I don’t care for candy corn. It’s bad and I enjoy every moment of my life that isn’t spent eating it. Anything I didn’t mention is probably just irrelevant and shouldn’t be included in any power ranking. Without further ado, let’s get into the Top 21.

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21. Mounds

Mounds probably deserves to be a little higher on the list (I’m a big coconut guy. I live my life on Island Time, brah), but I wanted to put it at 21 to show the razor thin margin between Mounds and its sister candy Almond Joy. Yes, Almond Joy fans, your beloved bar didn’t make the list. I’m sorry. Ask me tomorrow and I’ll have a different answer. But really, it comes down to the fact that, even though I like almonds, I don’t like them enough to eat them all the time. Also, and this may or may not be your second hot take alert depending on your personal (probably wrong) preferences, dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate.

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20. 100 Grand

Honestly these might rank higher if they were more mainstream, but they’re a little too underground at the moment. God, this is a tough list. 100 Grand are awesome and are stuck at number 20! How am I going to rank the rest of these powerhouses?

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19. Reese’s Pieces

I have to come clean: I don’t really like Reese’s Pieces that much. Love peanut butter, but I’m not an “eat straight peanut butter” guy. Still, you have to respect the legends of the candy world.

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18. m&m’s

m&m’s are like candy comfort food. You always know what you’re going to get, and they’re always there when you need them. Very simple, a little boring, but I’m not going to be the one to mock one of the O.G.’s.

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17. Pretzel m&m’s

Pretzel m&m’s are legitimately some of the greatest candies ever invented. You get three in a fun size package. No bueno.

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16. Cauldron Skittles

They’re like Skittles, only Halloween flavored! If you take anything I like and put it in fancy different colored packaging and give it a festive name, I’m in 100% of the time. Only problem is that they’re only available in wholesale funsize packs. Give me a regular bag!

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15. Snickers

Love me some Snickers, but the ratio always seems a little off in the fun size version. There’s always too few peanuts, or too much caramel, or not enough nougat. It’s just not the true Snickers experience. And, yes, I’m sure everyone has the story about that one guy who was trying way too hard to be the cool dad who gave away full size candy bars and the Snickers you got from him were amazing, but we’re not talking about exceptions, here. We’re talking about reality.

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14. Fast Break

I honestly don’t know if they even still make these in fun size, anymore, it’s been so long since I’ve seen them. Regardless, Fast Breaks were awesome. The combo of peanut butter and nougat was a little much at times, but when you got a good Fast Break, oh man. It was good. Believe me.

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13. Snicker Peanut Butter

The candy game is definitely built on legacy and reputation, so when relative newcomers show up on the list, you know they’re big time. I remember these coming out, and I remember wondering why they didn’t try this earlier. They don’t suffer like their father bar does in fun size, mostly because the peanut butter is really overpowering. Whatever, still tastes awesome.

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12. Skittles

The Roger Clemens of candy, Skittles threw away a Hall of Fame career and a guaranteed spot in the top 5 chasing innovation. I don’t use hyperbole, so when I say the decision to change from lime to green apple was the worst decision of all time, I’m being genuine. The fact that it still ranks so high is just a testament to its otherworldly natural talent.

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11. 3 Musketeers

I feel like there’s a lot of hate floating around the Interwebs directed at 3 Musketeers, at I’m here to tell you it’s all dribble. 3 Musketeers is a prime time candy any way you slice it. Prime time name, prime time concept, prime time taste. Yeah, it’s simple, but it’s done right. It works any size, and you can eat about a billion of them and not feel full. I’m a fan of that.

511acooi5ul10. Milky Way

A veritable brother-in-arms with 3 Musketeers, Milky Way can pretty much always be found in the same bag. And they’re pretty much the same thing, only Milky Way has caramel. That’s why it’s one spot higher (a good time to review my rant on the word milk).

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9. Nerds

I’d say it kind of depends on the flavor, but all the flavors are pretty much the same. The closest thing to a true sour candy on this man’s list. The small rocks are great, but when you get a big chuck of crystalized sugar covered in artificial flavoring, well that’s a special kind of bliss, friend.

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8. Baby Ruth

Kind of a weird thing to say out loud, but I went through a pretty big Baby Ruth phase when I was a kid, so this might be nostalgia driven, but Baby Ruth’s are still great. They’re pretty much Snickers that figured out how to be good regardless of the size. They can be peanut heavy every now and then, but usually they’ve got a strong ratio. They aren’t the most widely distributed Halloween candy, so they’re kind of like found money if you have good taste. Please spare me your Sandlot jokes, I don’t want them.

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7. Starburst

I’ve got another hot take, and I think this one is probably the least popular, but I’m fine standing alone. All true visionaries were ridiculed in their time, and I imagine I’m no different. Yellow is the best flavor. That’s right, I said it. Everyone’s favorite whipping boy, yellow Starburst, just left with the Prom Queen (me). Orange is the worst by a pretty wide margin. Starburst on the whole are among the greatest of all time.

6. Peanut Butter m&m’s

Somehow, some way, I hadn’t had peanut butter m&m’s until this year. This was a mistake, because they’re amazing. They’re what Reese’s Pieces should be. m&m’s are the Kennedys of the candy world. The most powerful family, whether you like it or not.

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5. Midnight Milky Way

This might be the most controversial pick, but I’m more than willing to go out on a limb. As previously established, I prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate and I have regular Milky Way at number 9. Ipso facto, Midnight Milky Way gets a boost. It certainly helps that there are so few viable dark chocolate options on Halloween, but the flavor is still out of this world. Get it?

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4. Twix

Now we’re into rarified air. The previous 16 are sort of interchangeable for the most part. All that matters in making the list. But the top 4? They’re pretty unassailable in my mind. Twix is a behemoth. One of the greatest candies ever. I feel like I’ve probably eaten more Twix than any other chocolate candy on this list. But it’s just not quite good enough.

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3. Reese’s Cups

This is probably number one on a lot of people’s lists, and I’m okay with that. They’re just not my fave. Legendary combination of flavors, obviously, and one of the true innovators of the candy world. You can’t tell the story of candy without mentioning Reese’s pretty early on. But they’re just so rich. When I get my Halloween candy, I want to gorge myself. I want to eat and keep eating and keep eating. But after a Reese’s or two, I have to slow down a little bit. Halloween is about excess, not pausing to digest.

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2. Kit Kat

Of all the candy that’s been around forever (or at least as long as I’ve been alive), Kit Kat is easily the best. Plain and simple. It’s a perfect candy that can’t be improved in any way, taste test results from all the weird Japanese flavors notwithstanding. An added bonus of fun size Kit Kats is that, since you only get one, you avoid the awkward social booby trap that comes with eating a full size one (for those wondering, I’ve got no problem just chomping down and eating them all at once if I’m at my house, but if I’m eating a Kit Kat in public you better believe I’m breaking the pieces off individually. Don’t need to be judged while I’m eating candy).

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1. Take 5

Take 5 is the greatest candy of all time don’t @ me. When I was at the store buying some candy, the only bag I found that included Take 5s also had Whoppers and Dots. It was the most insulting thing I’ve ever seen. Take 5 should never be included with those abominations. Matter of fact, any bag that isn’t strictly Take 5 is an inferior bag. I could eat these non-stop for the rest of my life. Sure, I probably wouldn’t live very long, but I’d be happy doing it.

That’s it. The ultimate list of candy. If you disagree, you’re wrong. If I didn’t mention your favorite, maybe it’s time to take a look in the mirror and address some things. Still, most candy is still good, so I suppose I won’t look down on you too much if you prefer something else. But this Halloween, consider dressing up as someone with good taste.

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What’s the Best Fast Casual Tex-Mex Chain?

For far too long, I considered it one of the biggest black marks on my “Restaurant Chain Expert” resume that I had yet to try the popular Tex-Mex fast casual chain Qdoba. As luck would have it, a Qdoba location opened in my neighborhood recently, and, naturally, I took that as a sign to finally try it for the first time. This, also naturally, caused an internal debate to flare up in my mind: what’s the best of the fast casual Tex-Mex big three (Qdoba, Chipotle, and Moe’s)? It was clearly too important to keep to myself, so I knew I had to take it to the blog. Much like I did with pizza chains waaaaaaaaaaaaay back in the day, I’ll break it down by categories and determine a winner. Also, spare me your Baja Fresh or Rubio’s Coastal Grill or any of the million chains that are only in Texas, thus making it impossible for someone who doesn’t live in Texas to actually try them and you only threw the name out there to make yourself seem smart and cultured, because I don’t care about them. I’m only talking nationwide (again: NATIONWIDE) chains that actually matter. That leaves only the holy triumvirate of MCQ (it’s like the MCU, but for fast casual Tex-Mex chains).

Taste

Let’s get the most boring one out of the way first- how good is the core food? Really, what I’m asking is how good is the meat? I think it’s a two horse race between Chipotle and Moe’s, because let me tell you, Qdoba is lagging behind. It wasn’t bad, per se. Just a little bland. Moe’s is solid, but if you gave me some Moe’s and told me it was from some random place I don’t think I’d be able to tell you it was actually Moe’s. I know when I’m eating Chipotle. That chicken’s got a certain addictive flavor to it. It’s like the perfect amount of char combined with the perfect amount of E. coli and norovirus. Round one goes to Chipotle.

Winner: Chipotle

Variety

As good as Chipotle’s food is, they’re far behind in the topping variety category. And while part of me respects them saying “we’ve only got a few things, but they’re all good,” this isn’t a Michelin star restaurant. I want my fast casual chains to overwhelm me with options. Qdoba has, by far, the widest spread. A ton of toppings, a million sauces, two types of lettuce, fajita veggies? Qdoba understands the the fast casual game better than the other two.

Pick: Qdoba

Chips

In my opinion, this is the most important category. The chips are the foundation to any enjoyable Mexican/Tex-Mex eating experience. Anyone can put some chicken, rice, beans, and cheese in a tortilla and I’ll eat it. But the chips? You notice when they’re bad and it ruins the meal. Like the meat, Qdoba is bringing up the rear, here. The chips are alright, but they’re seriously propped up by their salsa (more on that in a bit). Chipotle and Moe’s are miles better. The best part of Chipotle’s chips are that some bites are saltier than others and the salty ones really hit the spot. But, and this is huge, Moe’s chips are also great but free. $0.00. That’s enough for me. A delicious side at no extra cost? Yes, please.

Winner: Moe’s

Salsa/Queso/Guacamole

I must confess, I don’t like guacamole and I think queso can be way too heavy and gross sometimes, but this is still an important category. Take guac out of the equation since I haven’t eaten any of them. Qdoba wins for queso since they’ve got multiple varieties and pretty much forced Chipotle to add a half-assed queso to their menu. Salsa is where it gets heated. Chipotle only has a few varieties, but they’re all good. Moe’s has multiple varieties, and some are good. Qdoba has even more varieties, and, though I only tried a couple, they were pretty solid. I think it’s either Chipotle or Qdoba, and with their win in queso, Qdoba gets another win. Unexpected, to be honest.

Winner: Qdoba

Branding

The fact that the only time anyone talks about Chipotle is when there’s another disease outbreak and they have by far the best branding is a bad sign for the other two. The best logo by a mile (and, by default, the best signs) and they’re firmly intrenched as the more normie option. Qdoba scrapping the cactus logo is such a spectacularly terrible move I can’t wrap my mind around it. What is their identity now? Marigold lettering? Sweet. Moe’s giving FULLY CUSTOMIZABLE AND NON-REPEATABLE MENU ITEMS stupid names makes me absolutely furious every single time. Don’t make me call my burrito a homewrecker. I refuse to do it.

Winner: Chipotle

Dining Experience

Qdoba is a pretty standard fast casual experience. You go in, you get your food, you leave. Chipotle is much the same, but the added threat of possibly catching some kind of disease added a thrill that Qdoba can’t help to match. But having the entire staff yell “Welcome to Moe’s!” when you walk in AND add in a salsa bar instead of having it all behind the counter? Dumb names aside, it’s Moe’s in a landslide.

Winner: Moe’s

Aftermath

They final category represents the final stage in the fast casual Tex-Mex experience. We know how it is going in, but what about going out? Chipotle’s aftermath is so legendary, South Park lampooned it in an episode. I’ve spent many an hour on the toilet after eating some delicious Chipotle. We had a Moe’s on campus in college, and, as such, I’ve spent many an hour on the toilet after eating some delicious Moe’s. Let me tell you: the Moe’s is much, much easier to deal with. I was waiting on the Qdoba I ate last night to complete it’s course before writing this, and I can confirm it was unpleasant. Moe’s takes a much lighter toll on the body (and toilet) than the other two.

Winner: Moe’s

There you have it. Not exactly what I was expecting, but, when taking everything into account, it’s clear that Moe’s comes out on top. Chipotle has the best food, but the rest of it just doesn’t add up. Qdoba made a valiant effort, but to no avail. There’s a new king in town, and his name is Moe.

Overall Winner: Moe’s

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