Jordan's Page of Useless Babble

Swanson Hungry-Man Sports Grill Beer Battered Chicken & Cheese Fries
1 lb. of artery clogging anger.
1 lb. of artery clogging anger.

I was inspired to begin these reviews after reading some material written about the Hungry-Man All Day Breakfast and trying it out for myself. Up until that point, I had been pretty sheltered, and beyond a couple of frozen pasta dinners, I hadn't really had any exposure to TV dinners. That opened my eyes, and I found myself in a living hell. The All Day Breakfast will likely haunt me until I die (and I thank my lucky stars that I haven't been able to find one since beginning these articles).

A little while back, I was relating this story while explaining what I was doing looking for TV dinners. The next thing I knew, I had the Hungry-Man Sports Grill Beer Battered Chicken & Cheese Fries meal in my shopping cart. This was actually one of the first meals I found, but to be honest, it scared me. Looking back on the experience, I'm still frightened about it, and not just because of the freakishly long name. Without any further adieu, let's look at the rules.

  • Rule #1:
    I must follow cooking procedures exactly as they're shown on the container. I will not deviate from those instructions in any way, and I must prepare food in the fastest manner presented to me.
  • Rule #2:
    I must consume everything that comes with the meal. No hiding of disgusting parts will be tolerated. (In the unlikely event of bones or other inedibles, allowances will be made).
  • Rule #3:
    To make sure my palate is completely free of obstructions, I may only be allowed either water or alcohol. Alcohol does not include fancy-pants fruity girly drinks.
  • Rule #4:
    All food will be graded by smell, taste and mouthfeel, with less offensive qualities receiving higher marks. At the end, each part is receives an average score. The full meal is graded by the average score of each component. Appearance of the food is not graded because, let's face it, they all look pretty bad.

Well, at least I won't get scurvy.
Well, at least I won't get scurvy.
Ok, with the formalities out of the way, let's look at the nutritional info. Now I'm used to seeing some pretty bad shit on these boxes, but this one takes the cake. It contains 86% of my fat intake and 72% of my sodium. 1/8th of this meal is pure fat. That's twice as much as the Swanson Stuffing Baked Turkey and just a touch more than the Michelina's Taco Bites. One interesting note is that this stuff has 60% of my Vitamin A intake. Now, Vitamin A has a number of uses, one of which is to aid in the maintenance of good eyesight. I suppose that this meal has been loaded with it, so nobody can possibly make the same mistake twice and eat a second portion.

So, I pull the package out of the box, and I'm greeted with a smell. Well, smell is maybe a bit too light of a term. It's really a stench. Have you ever had a skunky beer? Well, it's kind of like that. And yes, it is worse when it's on food than in a bottle. Also, you can't tell from the picture but the cheese isn't spread evenly over the fries. And it's not really cheese. It looks like frozen cheese spread, like Velveeta, and it's in a puck shape. So, if you haven't already ascertained, this meal consists of chicken and fries covered with a processed cheese product. It's not really fancy, but this kind of thing doesn't have to be.

I for one would rather resort to cannibalism than eat this as a snack.
I for one would rather resort to cannibalism than eat this as a snack.
Cooking instructions for this one were a bit strange. I had to remove the chicken and cook the fries for a couple of minutes, then return the chicken and cook the whole thing for longer. This is where my salmonella detector went off. Chicken ought to be thoroughly cooked before eating. The idea of cooking potatoes for longer than chicken puts my teeth on edge, but rules are rules. I follow cooking directions to the letter.

Remember how I said earlier that the chicken smelled bad? That was with the plastic film still attached. After opening up the package and chiseling out the chicken, my kitchen filled with the smell of bad beer. In sub-zero temperatures, I opened up the windows and let the arctic breezes gently waft the odor least temporarily.

Finally, the cooking was done, and it was time to consume.

Beer-Battered Chicken
This single bite has enough grease to fully lubricate a small truck engine.
This single bite has enough grease to fully lubricate a small truck engine.

Cooking has only slightly lessened the stench of bad beer from the chicken. The taste however is very neutral. I could be eating foam rubber for all I know. The batter itself tastes slightly like beer, but it's gritty in places and slimy in others. The whole package is one big bunch of greasy pieces of chicken, or pressed chicken-sweepings. The jury is still out. At the risk of sounding like a more interesting friend of mine: it's like somebody squeezed a fat guy all over the food.

Smell: 4/10
Taste: 4/10
Mouthfeel: 2/10
Total Score: (3.3/10)

It tastes worse than it looks.
It tastes worse than it looks.
Cheese Fries

The smell coming off the fries makes the stale-beer smell of the chicken seem tame in comparison. My stomach turned almost immediately after getting close to them, yet like the chicken, it's strangely devoid of taste. Usually I give a score of '5' for neutrality, but the cheese that covers the fries is plastic and tasteless as well. For not having taste in cheese, something that is generally very flavorful, I'm deducting extra points.

In addition, several fries in the box were actually uncooked. Now I'm not talking about them still being frozen in the middle. When foods like these are boxed up, they're actually cooked first. That's why I can get away with cooking chicken for 4-1/2 minutes in a microwave. Some of these fries were actually uncooked slabs of raw potato. That's just fucking wrong and there's no excuse for that.

Smell: 3/10
Taste: 3/10
Mouthfeel: 1/10
Total Score: (2.3/10)

Kill it with fire.
Kill it with fire.
Now before I go into the totals, I think I should describe the consumption of this meal. I was only about two or three bites in and I wanted to throw up. It's bad. It's bad on a level that I can't begin to describe. The All-Day Breakfast doesn't even begin to cover it. I ate undercooked chicken that gave me food poisoning and it was easily a better experience during the actual eating part.

About a third of the way through the meal, I decided that this wasn't fun anymore. I was going to give up the website, and convert it to gardening website. Vegetable gardening. I didn't want to ever eat anything that I didn't explicitly follow from genesis to my plate again.

Two-thirds of the way through, I began getting stomach cramps. These weren't "hurr hurr I'm being funny" cramps. I was actually doubled-over in pain. My system wasn't ready to handle such a massive influx of grease in one go. Throwing up no longer became a possibility, it had become an inevitability as my body continued to reject what I was forcing into it.

Finally, I finished the meal. My eyes were watering and I was gagging the last few bites, washing them down with entire glasses of water. I kept it down too. To this day, I don't know how I didn't throw up, but I'm certain beyond any shade of a doubt that whoever gave the go-ahead to put this meal into production should be imprisoned for crimes against humanity.

The Totals:

Smell: 3.5/10
Taste: 3.5/10
Mouthfeel: 1.5/10
Total Score: (2.8/10)

Bottom line is this: Friedrich Nietzshe once said "God is dead". This is proof of two things: the existence of time travel and the fact that he also ate the Hungry-Man Beer Battered Chicken & Cheese Fries meal.

Next time we'll be trying out an experiment. Can bread toast in the microwave? Stouffer's says yes. We'll see if they're full of shit when I review Stouffer's Barbecue Chicken & Bacon Bistro Panini.


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