Jordan's Page of Useless Babble

President's Choice Smokin' Stampede Pulled Pork Quesadillas
This was what I was supposed to be tortured with.
This was what I was supposed to be tortured with.

Several months ago I had an idea.

It wasn't a great idea, but it was an idea. I thought that it would save me a lot of time and energy if I worked out in advance, which frozen dinners I was going to be reviewing for Horrors of the Ice Box. This turned out to be true. I write these things in "seasons" of six installments at a time. That way I can keep track of what I've done, and it helps keep me from doing a bunch of variations of chicken and fries in a short period of time.

Then, about 3 months ago, I had a really stupid idea.

I thought to myself: Well, it's really saved me time figuring out which reviews I'm going to do in advance. It should save me even more time if I go and buy them all at the same time too. And that's just what I did. Imagine a deep-freeze with a corner devoted entirely to the unappetizing. Yeah, it's pretty boring in real life too.

But, due to circumstances beyond my control, my schedule didn't go exactly as planned, and some meals got bumped in the order. So, when it finally came time for me to review the Hungry-Man Express Creamy Bacon Alfredo dinner, I jumped at the chance, since it had been residing in my chill-chest the longest and needed to go before I had to start charging it rent.

Well, what I extracted from the box was what appeared to be a solid block of ice. Freezer burn had taken root over the months since I had bought the meal. It wasn't pretty, but I threw the package in the microwave according to 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, one very nasty steam burn and a couple of dozen curses later, what I had was still not pretty, even by Horrors of the Ice Box standards. The freezer burn had done a number to the Alfredo sauce in the meal, turning it from creamy to water and turning the pasta into hard little rocks of semolina.

I'm not about to stack the deck in favor of something that's obviously going to do poorly because of my own damn stupidity, but that was all I still had in my freezer at the time, and I was due to post the article (what you're reading now) the next day. In short: I was boned.

But then, I saw it...

It's not exactly a golden ticket, but I'll take it!
It's not exactly a golden ticket, but I'll take it!

My Mom, who actually reads these things, and I've just realized now knows how foul-mouthed I am, had sent me some coupons a few weeks ago, each good for one (1) free box of President's Choice Quesadillas. Let me repeat that for you: free quesadillas. I'm not talking about a buy one get one free kind of deal here. I'm talking free. Those people who say that you can't get a free lunch are full of shit, because this is proof that you can indeed get something for nothing (and your chicks for free).

So I hauled ass down to the grocery store, coupon in hand, and avoiding the withering glare of the cashier, purchased a box of President's Choice Smokin' Stampede Pulled Pork Quesadillas and nothing else. If you haven't done it before, I recommend you do that sometime soon. It's very liberating to go in, get food, and not pay for it.

* Jordan's Page of Useless Babble does not condone stealing, burglary, rape, arson, shoplifting, rape or vandalism. Getting something for free is nice, but don't steal, ok people? Stealing makes kittens cry.

Heh...pulled pork.
Heh...pulled pork.

Why pulled pork? Well, it's because I'm a very immature person, and the phrase 'pulled pork' makes me giggle.

Just look at that picture to the right. You have to hand it to advertisers for making these things look so good on the box. Swansons food looks downright appetizing when you see it on the box, but look at this! Mounds of meat, peppers and corn falling out from a tortilla, in what could almost be described as an avalanche of yumminess.

Wait...this looks almost not totally unhealthy.
Wait...this looks almost not totally unhealthy.

Turning the box around, I took a look at the nutritional information. Holy shit! While this certainly doesn't look healthy, it also doesn't look nearly as bad as some of the other stuff I've done on here. I'm used to seeing 25%, 35% or even 42% of the daily dose of fat in these things. In contrast, these things look almost healthy.

Whatever it is, I'll take it.

So, instead of the normal two cooking options (oven and microwave), I was also given a third option: frying pan. This is a bit different than I'm used to. Normally the meals are pretty straight forward, and I'm honestly surprised that this option exists. Unfortunately though, the frying pan time is about 3 minutes longer than the nuke-box, so microwave wins out on the cooking method.

The box told me that I needed to wrap the quesadilla in paper towel after taking off the plastic. They weren't kidding around. When I removed the food from the microwave, there was a healthy amount of water on the bottom of the plate, and the paper towel was soaked through. Who knew that these things had so much moisture in them. I thought they were supposed to be mostly made up of cheese and tortilla, like a Mexican grilled cheese sandwich.

What we're left with is probably the least intimidating looking thing that I've ever reviewed:

Shit, if vanilla were Mexican food...
Shit, if vanilla were Mexican food...

You see that? That's nothing! The little bulge makes it look like a pregnant tortilla. There's no oozing mystery juice, there's no foul chemical odor, nothing's clawing it's way from the center in order to feast on my brains. It's almost like this is real food.

It was about this time that curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to pry open the tortilla to look inside at the filling. Pretty bad idea. It turns out that these things are filled with what appears to be shit. It's brown, it's sloppy, and there are even little pieces of corn in there. It's pretty gag inducing. The only thing worse than looking at it is knowing that you have to eat it.

Pulled Pork Quesadilla
Wow, it's like somebody took a dump in here.
Wow, it's like somebody took a dump in here.

Well, first off, let's talk about the smell. It's pretty darned good. Especially for something that looks like it belongs in a diaper. It's mostly smokey, but with a slightly spicy hint to it. I think that's what it's supposed to smell like. Unfortunately, the smell is that fake chemical smoke stuff, which after about five seconds begins to become unbearable.

When I was in college, one of the students in my dorm had gone out and bought a big bottle of liquid hickory smoke and they used it on damned near everything. One day, they drunkenly knocked the bottle over, into the carpet of the hallway, where it soaked in for a good few hours before somebody who gave a rat's ass noticed the problem and tried to clean it up. It was too late, and the stuff had soaked right through. The result was that the hallway smelled cloyingly of chemical hickory smoke for the next year. I'm convinced that the smell is still there, and that we all just got used to it after a while. In either case, the fake chemical smell in these quesadillas are a bit of a downside.

I took a bite into the quesadilla and noticed something odd...there wasn't anything there but tortilla. It turned out that the pregnant-little bubble I noticed earlier was all the meat, veggies and cheese in one small area. The tortilla was dry and sticky, alternatively getting stuck in my teeth and stabbing the inside of my mouth. The meat was overly ground, to the point of almost being slurry-like. The words 'pulled pork' (hehehe) make me think of (among other things) somebody actually pulling pork off the bone in strands. The gooey consistency of this is more like toothpaste, and about as appealing to eat.

Finally we come to the taste. It's pretty darned good actually. It's sort of spicy, and sort of smokey. You can taste the pepper and the corn, and everything's not just one homogenized mess. The downside (and there's always a downside) is that there's the distinct taste of graphite. Go and find a pencil, and stick the lead into your mouth and swirl it around your tongue for a few seconds. Taste that? Yeah, it's just like that.

The Totals:

Smell: 7.0/10
Taste: 8.0/10
Mouthfeel: 4.0/10
Total Score: (6.3/10)

Well, all in all, it's not bad. And the best news is: I still have coupons, so I can get my greedy hands on the other two varieties for free too! You know, I don't think I mind torturing myself with these as much when I don't have to pay for it.

Bottom line is this: There is such a thing as a free lunch. Sometimes it's better to shell out a couple of bucks though.

So much for the elegance I promised everyone.

Next time: I'm going to try to sucker some people into trying something out with me!

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