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November 2021

Food Review: Applebee's Original Cheetos Boneless Wings - Bachelor on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

Applebee's Cheetos Boneless Wings Marketing Pic
Marketing Image

I saw the Applebee's commercial for the Cheetos Boneless Wings and said to myself, "Self, I have to try those!"   What's not to like?  Fried chicken and Cheetos in the breading?  It sounds like another dose of YUM!

Here's the marketing write-up on the Applebee's website: The Ultimate Collision of Flavor.  SAUCY BONELESS WINGS. CHEESY CHEETOS® GOODNESS.  Taking our Boneless Wings to the next level!  Introducing Cheetos® Boneless Wings, only at Applebee's! A tasty combination of our famous Boneless Wings and cheesy Cheetos®, they're available in both Cheetos® Original and Flamin' Hot®. Get ten saucy wings for only $9.99, and don't forget to try the Cheetos® Cheese Bites — they're available now for a limited time only.

I ordered the regular Cheetos Boneless Wings, I like heat, but opted for the regular version for this review.  My thought is, if I don't like the regular Cheetos Boneless Wings, then I most likely really wouldn't like the Flamin' Hot version.

Applebee's Original Cheetos Boneless Wings
Does NOT look like the marketing pic!

My plate was delivered within about 10 minutes, fast, fresh and hot!  But in looking at the plate and remembering the visual from the commercial on TV, I was more than a bit disappointed in the presentation.  This wasn't chicken completely covered in a generous dusting of Cheetos like in the marketing images, this was some rather roughly crushed up Cheetos randomly mixed in the regular Applebee's breading, almost like an afterthought...  as in...

Cook:  "Oh Shit, I almost forgot to toss in some Cheetos!"

The real product does NOT resemble the marketing picture....  It's not even close.  That's not a dusting of Cheetos blended in with and complimenting the Applebee's breading, that's a corn in your stool presentation.  I don't think the folks at Cheetos, or the upper management at Applebee's are going to be pleased with this pic.

So now that you have a corn in your stool visual in your head, "How does it taste?" you ask?...

Yes, in the name of food science, I proceeded to taste.

Cheetos Wings
Occasional chunks of Cheetos, rather than a blended breading

Served with some Ranch dressing to dip in, these are good, but not great.  The chicken nuggets - let's be honest, that's really what they are - the chicken was juicy and tender, the breading itself was seasoned well, had an overall decent crunch and I got the Cheetos flavor in the nuggets where the Cheetos CHUNKS obviously stand out, but make no mistake, this is not at all the kind of bite the marketing hype lures in you in for.  What Applebee's served me amounts to some decent chicken nuggets with some occasional cheesy Cheetos flavor, but it comes up well short in delivering Cheetos flavor in every bite.  Another downer, look at the grease with the presentation, note the color.  That's Cheetos chunks yellow, the chunks - rather than an even breaded coating like in the marketing pic - absorbed the oil which made the Cheetos a bit heavy and soggy, rather then adding crispness to the chicken.

Cheetos Boneless Wings
'Cheetos Grease' making the Cheetos soggy

Costing me $10 for 10 'wings', er NUGGETS, I'm giving Applebee's Original Cheetos Boneless Wings just 2 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  What I was served does NOT live up to the marketing hype and for $10 I expected to be wowed a bit with what is supposed to be an elevated dish.  This is NOT a repeat buy.

2 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Food Review: Burger King Italian Original Chicken Sandwich - Bachelor on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

Burger King Italian Original Chicken Sandwich
Burger King bringing back a classic in fighting the Chicken Sandwich War

When reviewing Burger King's New Ch'King Sandwich the other day - you can read that review here - I saw that Burger King has also brought back a classic from yesteryear, The Italian Original Chicken Sandwich.  Seeing it on the drive through menu, I knew I was going to make a return trip in the name of 'food nostalgia.'

The Italian Original Chicken Sandwich first appeared on the BK menu way back in 1979.  The sandwich consists of an elongated, breaded white meat chicken patty, dressed with marinara sauce, topped with melted mozzarella cheese and served on sesame seed bun.   Burger King has rolled out this sandwich in addition to introducing their new Ch'King Sandwich in fighting the Chicken Sandwich War.

Italian Chicken Sandwich
Chicken Parmesan in a sandwich

I had a few Italian Chicken Sandwiches back in the day, it was a classic favorite from the pre-chicken-sandwich-war period, but Burger King took it off the menu in 2014.

I liked the sandwich back in the day and I still like it today.  Despite being a processed chicken patty, it is white meat, it was fried to perfection and the light breading provided a nice crunch in each bite before hitting the tender, juicy, chicken.  The marinara sauce is a good one and the mozzarella was melted nicely.  Topped with that sesame seed bun, this is Chicken Parmesan in sandwich form.

Italian Original Chicken Sandwich
The under the lid look

Part of BK's "2 for $6" lineup, which also includes the Whopper, Chicken Fries, and the Big Fish sandwich, I'm giving Burger King's Italian Original Chicken Sandwich 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It is a chicken sandwich original, it's got the Chicken Parmesan flavor working, it very reasonably priced in the 2 for $6 deal and it's a repeat buy.  It's available now nationwide but only for a limited time.  It was fun to take a trip down Chicken Sandwich Nostalgia Lane, this sandwich is still a good bite!

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...



Greene Square Tree Lighting and Holiday Activities December 4

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA – Cedar RapidsFamily activities and the Greene Square tree lighting will take place at Greene Square on Saturday, December 4. A family craft activity will be held indoors at the Cedar Rapids Public Library from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. Outdoor family activities including a scavenger hunt, "Reindeer Games," and stories near the tree, will take place at Greene Square between 4:00-5:15 p.m. The Sherry Mylhousen family, of Cedar Rapids, will assist with lighting the 35-foot Colorado blue spruce that they donated at 5:30 p.m.

The Parks and Recreation Department is accepting donations of new hats, gloves, and mittens during the event. They will be distributed to children at the Northwest Recreation Center beginning December 7, until supplies are gone.

Be Added to Coralville's Holiday Lights Map

About the Map
Coralville Christmas LightsDo you know of outdoor holiday light displays or decorations in Coralville that others might enjoy? 

As the season shines bright, we're asking for the community's help locating festive holiday displays. We'll publish your recommendations soon for all to enjoy in an online map, which will be updated as addresses are submitted. From yards with simple decorations to displays bright enough to guide Santa's sleigh, we want to hear about them all!  This listing is only possible with community participation.

Get Added to the Map
If you have—or know of—a holiday light display in Coralville, submit an address online.

Or, you can send the address, with optional description and photos, to:

View the Map
A map showcasing the holiday light displays throughout Coralville will be published right here beginning in December so you can take a self-guided tour of the decorations. Check back for updates!

Please note, this map is for "drive by" viewing. Please be considerate of homeowners, neighbors, and other vehicles on the road.

Food Review: Burger King Ch'King Sandwich - Bachelor on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

20211127_122621Back in June, I wrote about the Chicken Sandwich War going on in fast food and who makes the best chicken sandwich.

That sandwich war is still happening and Burger King has re-grouped on the battlefront with a new weapon.

Introducing the Burger King Ch'King

Burger King kicks things up a notch with a bigger chicken breast filet, better breading, bread and butter pickles, a nice mayo - a blend of mayo and honey mustard - and all served up on a potato bun.    

20211127_122636I reviewed what Burger King was serving up at the time back in June as part of the Chicken Sandwich War Challenge and I was NOT impressed.  The Burger King chicken sandwich was the second worst sandwich sampled.  But this sandwich?  MUCH IMPROVED!

Thank you for stepping up your game Burger King! 

20211127_122649The chicken was fried to perfection, it was crispy, tender, juicy and the meat to bun ratio was SO MUCH BETTER than what BK used to serve up.  It still wasn't chicken extending beyond the borders of the bun like Popeye's, but still, MUCH improved over what BK has served in the past. All the flavors on this sandwich were on point, with the breading delivering a nice crunch, the pickles providing some twang, the mayo has been elevated as well and bringing it all together is that potato bun, light and fluffy with a complimentary chew.  The only real knock I have on this sandwich was that it was a bit under seasoned.  Overall, a pleasantly robust chicken sandwich.

20211127_122653Costing me $5, I'm giving the Burger King Ch'King Sandwich 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  BK has 'upped' their game in this chicken sandwich war.  Their sandwich isn't as good as Popeye's, but it's a very respectable plan B and worthy of a repeat buy.

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Food Review: Member's Mark Deluxe Mixed Nuts with Sea Salt - Bachelor on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

Member's Mark Deluxe Mixed Nuts with Sea Salt
A handy item to have around during the holidays

In another effort to get away from eating too many chip snacks, I recently picked up a 34 ounce (that's 2 pounds, 2 ounces for those of you who live in Haysville) canister of mixed nuts while shopping at Sam's Club.  Nuts are a nice alternative to chips because not only do they deliver some nice texture and a bit of crunch, they provide some protein and don't have near the volume of carbs that chips do.

The Member's Mark (Sam's Club brand) Deluxe Mixed Nuts with Sea Salt consists of cashews, almonds, pecans, pistachios and hazelnuts.  That's a nice blend and they're lightly salted with sea salt.  Some mixes available out there can go a bit overboard with the salt, not so with these, they're pleasantly salted, allowing the flavors of the nuts to shine.  This is a great snack, all the nuts are fresh and overall the mix is balanced with exception to the pistachios.  You get plenty of cashews, almonds, pecans and hazelnuts, but not so much on the pistachios.  I'll take that though, another downside to other brands of mixed nuts is they use peanuts as a 'filler' if you will, they go heavy on the peanuts and go light on the other varieties in their 'blend'. 

Member's Mark Mixed Nuts
5 grams of protein and just 7 carbs per serving

Handy to have around during the holidays, I paid $11.98 for that jug of nuts, which is under 36 cents per serving!  I'm giving Member's Mark Deluxe Mixed Nuts with Sea Salt 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  They're tasty, wallet friendly with the only knock on the mix being a little light on the pistachios, but they're a repeat buy nonetheless!

4 stars


Twin Pines and Mini Pines Closing for the Season

CEDAR RAPIDS, IATwin Pines Golf Course and Mini Pines Miniature Golf Course will close for the season at the end of play Sunday, November 21. The Twin Pines Pro Shop will remain open through December 23 for holiday shopping. Holiday hours are Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. It will be closed November 25 and 26 for Thanksgiving.  Call 319-286-5583 or go to for more information.

Cedar Rapids Police Department’s K9 Mac to get donation of body armor

K9 Mac 2021CEDAR RAPIDS, IA – Cedar Rapids Police Department’s K9 Mac will receive a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc.  K9 Mac’s vest is sponsored by The Human Society of the United States and will be embroidered with the sentiment “Honoring those who served and sacrificed.”  Delivery is expected within eight to ten weeks.

Vested Interest in K9s, Inc., established in 2009, is a 501(c)(3) charity whose mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States. This potentially lifesaving body armor for four-legged K9 officers is U.S. made, custom fitted, and NIJ certified.  Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. has provided over 4,450 vests to K9s in all 50 states at a value of $6.9 million, made possible by both private and corporate donations. 

The program is open to U.S. dogs that are at least 20 months old and actively employed and certified with law enforcement or related agencies.  K9s with expired vests are also eligible to participate.  There are an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s throughout the United States.

Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. accepts tax-deductible contributions in any amount, while a single donation of $960 will sponsor one vest.  Each vest has a value of $1,744-$2,283, weighs an average of 4-5 lb., and comes with a five-year warranty.  For more information, or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please call 508-824-6978.  Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provides information, lists events, and accepts donations at, or you may mail your contribution to P.O. Box 9, East Taunton, MA 02718.   

Where to Recycle Holiday Lights

Recycle holiday lightsDo you have broken, burned out, or tangled strings of holiday lights to get rid of? Seasonal holiday light recycling is available at drop-off sites throughout the Coralville and Iowa City area. The holiday light recycling program is a free, environmentally-friendly alternative to sending old, unused, or non-working strings of holiday lights to the landfill.  

Holiday lights cannot be placed in your curbside recycling bin. Instead, drop off unwanted strings of holiday lights, without packaging or other materials, in a special collection bin at any of these locations between Monday, November 22, 2021, through Sunday, January 9, 2022:


For questions about Coralville locations, please contact the Coralville Streets and Solid Waste Department at 319.248.1740 or [email protected].

Iowa City:

  • East Side Recycling Center (via Oil Recycling Shed or ReStore Donations) (2401 Scott Blvd. SE, Iowa City) 
  • Iowa City Landfill and Recycling Center (3900 Hebl Ave. SW, Iowa City) 
  • South Riverside Recycling Center (1200 South Riverside Dr., Iowa City) 
    • Hours of operation: 24/7

For questions about Iowa City locations, please call the City of Iowa City Recycling Coordinator at 319.887.6110.

French Fry Battle: Wendy's new fries vs. McDonald's - Bachelor on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

French Fry Battle: Wendy's vs. McDonald's
French Fry Battle: Wendy's vs. McDonald's

When it comes to fast food, a lot of folks claim that McDonald's has the best fries.  I'm one of those people, when they're hot and salted correctly, they're tough to beat.  Coming out of the fryer, McDonald's fries are golden brown and you get the slightly crispy outside and fluffy potato inside.  When they're done right (a key phrase for McDonald's) the fast food king delivers what you're looking for in a french fry, it's a nice bite!

Well Wendy's has come out with "New" fries and in their marketing, are saying their fries are better than McDonald's fries. 

Here's the marketing hype from the Wendy's website: 

New Fries Are Here

And they're our best ever.

If you’re looking for cold and soggy French fries, you better look somewhere else. That’s because Wendy’s® new fries aren’t just hot and crispy...they’re guaranteed to be hot and crispy. Or we’ll replace them. We’re talking natural-cut, skin-on fries, sprinkled with a hint of sea salt. These fries are no afterthought. They’re ones you won’t forget.

French fry battle
Wendy's is a thicker cut fry

"Cold and soggy French Fries"...  That's a direct slam on McDonald's, notorious for filling their fry bin with staged servings of fries.

I like what Wendy's has done here, because natural-cut, skin-on fries are becoming the preferred kind of fry, the style you get in higher end burger joints, BBQ places and steak houses.  Why are they increasing in popularity?  Because this style of fry delivers better flavor and Wendy's is smart to recognize they need to up their game.

So how are the new Wendy's fries you ask?

I'm no longer saying "When McDonald's fries are fresh and hot, they're tough to beat."

In a side-by-side comparison, Wendy's has the better fry.  It's a bigger, 'meatier' fry, I got a better crisp on the outside and there's more fluffy potato inside.  They were perfectly fried and perfectly seasoned.  And it's not that the McDonald's fries were bad, I didn't get a staged serving, they were hot, but they flat out just weren't as good.  It's a thinner fry, a fry that's been the same style and fast food king for quite some time, but in my humble opinion, the skinny, not as much potato to be crispy on the outside, less potato to be fluffy on the inside has been dethroned.  Wendy's has a better product and comes with a hot and crispy guarantee.

French Fry Battle
McDonald's charges you more for an inferior fry

The Wendy's large fry cost me $3.21.  The McDonald's large fry cost me $3.54.  I did "just fries" orders for the purpose of this comparison, which is not exactly a wallet friendly thing to do.  Combo meals are they way to go if want bang for your buck.  But given the price, McDonald's charges more for an inferior fry.

5 stars I'm giving Wendy's new fries 5 out of 5 fast food Bachelor on the Cheap stars. 

4 stars McDonald's gets 4 stars and have been unseated as fast food french fry king.

$pend Wisely My Friends...