17 September, 2014

Garlic Parmesan & Spicy Buffalo & Zesty Ranch Seasoning - USA - Summer 2014

Purchased - Unknown Location, USA
Consumed on - 12 July 2014, 28 July 2014 & 13 August 2014, in Singapore
Calories - 10-20kcal

Front of the Shaker Bags

Reverse of the Shaker Bags

I remember waking up back in May and checking my Twitter feed.  I follow a number of other food bloggers, and I woke up to a frenzy of tweets mentioning that McDonald's USA was running 3 different Shaker Fry flavours in select cities around the US.  Since Shaker packers are one of the few McDonald's items that would survive a trip through the post, I started my search in finding someone that might be able to send me these to review.  I had a couple failed attempts at acquiring them, until I contacted Marvo at The Impulsive Buy and offered up a trade.  He would send me the USA flavours, and I sent him the Chargrill, Citrus, Tomato Basil and Peri Peri Shakers in return. Anyone that sees this and can get shakers, sauces, or anything else from your local McD's, I'm always up for a trade, just email me, or message me on Twitter.  We completed the trade in late June, and it took me over a month before I ended up trying them all.  The first flavour I tried was the Zesty Ranch Seasoning here in Singapore during the Satay Burger Launch Party, way back in July.

I chose the Zesty Ranch to try first, as it was the furthest away from any flavour I've had in Asia, and it was also a flavour that I was unlikely to ever get here, ranch dressing just isn't that popular, and unlike the US, ranch flavoured snacks are simply unheard of.  When I opened up the packet, I quickly noticed that these US shakers were a much finer, powdery grind of seasoning rather than some of the chunky and flaky shakers you can get in Asia. It also didn't have much of a smell, there was a slight unplaceable smell, but not any noticeable Ranch scent.  After my first bite, I quickly realised why even through I grew up in Canada, I never ate any ranch flavoured snacks, as these were absolutely disgusting!  Unlike a creamy ranch salad dressing, these had a VERY zesty hit which got you right at the back of your throat...I'll give them the "Zesty" in the name, but not much else.  Since these US sized shakers were double the size you get in Asia (to account for the massive large size fries), we only used a sprinkling on the 1/2 a medium fry we seasoned.  I couldn't imagine someone actually using the entire packet and enjoying it.  My wife, who never had a ranch dressing snack in her life, thought they were hands down, the worst shaker flavour we've had.  We couldn't have eaten more than a couple fries each.  

The 2nd flavour we tried was the Garlic Parmesan seasoning.  We tried this immediately after we returned from Sri Lanka, because my vegetarian sister was staying in our apartment whilst we were away, and she wanted something to eat at almost midnight and we were too tired to cook.  We had flavour at the same time we had the Pepper Sauce, and Spicy Thai Sauce.  Although I've had Cheese McShakers before, this was the first time I've had any Garlic, or Parmesan in a Shaker, it sounded like a good combination which would probably work well on fries, but a it might have been a little bit too safe of a flavour.  When I tore it open, I gave it a good sniff, and it smelt exactly like what pre-dried, store bought parmesan cheese should smell like.  The lack of any garlic smell was a bit disappointing though.  After taking my first taste, I was immediately surprised by any lack of flavour that came from the seasoning.  Both garlic and parmesan are strong and easily noticeable flavours, but neither were very strong at all in this seasoning.  I wasn't being shy with the coating either, I added a the rest of the packet more, and although the parmesan ended up being noticeable, the garlic power was still nowhere to be found.  My wife, who after being disgusted by the Zesty Ranch, was very hesitant to give these a try.  After convincing her to try it, she ended up being indifferent about this flavour, and my unbelievably picky eater of a sister even tried a couple and didn't instantly reject them for being "gross", which if you knew her, that's a very good indication of how flavourless these were.

Last, but certainly not least was the Spicy Buffalo seasoning.  My wife and I tried this alongside the Grand Twilight Burger in August, and I had probably left them a bit too long in the Singapore humidity by this point, as the powder inside had started to get a bit chunky.  Fortunately they didn't end up totally solidifying like the Nacho Cheese Shakers we had from Dubai (those were on my shelf for just as long).  My wife said I was only 'allowed' to coat half of our single fry with this seasoning, and I had unfortunately poured a little bit too much seasoning inside the shaking bag for what few fries I intended to coat.  They ended up being the most heavily coated shaker fries I've ever had.   My wife took one look at them and said "no way", so she didn't even bother giving them a try.  The Spicy Buffalo flavour itself was actually pretty nice, after I tried to scrape, shake and tap as much of the extra seasoning off each fry that I could, but in the end there was still too much.  Since we had carried these fries home for 20 minutes (because of the limited 'Twilight' locations), they were ice cold, which didn't help add anything to the already strong flavour.  I'll admit, there was a decent kick to them, and the 'buffalo' flavour that you might get in a chicken wing was there.  These was also the closest flavour to ones that you would get here in Asia.  The "Buffalo" flavour, isn't popular here, but I could see this combination being popular, even if they had to use a different name.  Adding the right amount to the right amount of (hot) fries, and these would have been really good!

Zesty Ranch - 0/5
Garlic Parmesan - 2/5
Spicy Buffalo - 3.5/5

It looks like McDonald's is trying these out again in additional markets - but this time as nugget shakers!