Review: Jelly Belly Bubbly Champagne Jelly Beans & SORRY: I Don’t Like Competitive Cooking Shows

Hey there Junk Food Nation. It’s Monday, and my throat is still a little hoarse from cheering on the ol sweepy sweep of the Toronto Raptors by the Washington Wizards. Still, I have enough voice to discuss a serious issue to me: the over-proliferation of competitive cooking shows. You know the ones I’m talking about: Chopped. Top Chef. Next Iron Chef. Food Truck Race. The Taste. The Baste. The Flavor Carnival Playoffs. Ok, I made those last two up…but I know that half of you weren’t sure.

I feel a bit of a hypocrite because, despite some lumps, I am a huge fan of Top Chef, the ultimate foodie nerd competition cooking show. Say names like Mike Isabella and Bryan Voltaggio and you’ll see cartoon hearts in my eyes. I’m not sure if I can explain why I like Top Chef any better than other shows. Maybe it’s because I get invested in the characters and look forward to eating in their restaurants? I’m sure that’s part of it – before Top Chef, I had no idea what a James Beard Award was. Now? I see the name “James Beard” and I start to pee myself a little bit.

But these other cooking shows??? I’ve tried. I really have – but I just don’t care. Food Network is just a pit of despair when it comes to food shows; it’s so clear they are just trying to come up with ANYTHING to fill the 24 hours of network programming a day to avoid those classic color bars that signaled when the day was over. All-Star Academy? I fell asleep through episode 2. Worst Cooks in America? I mean, it’s sort of cool to learn some tricks of the trade for myself, but if I wanted to watch bad cooks attempt to cook, I could head to my local diner. Despite Guy Fieri being a maniac, Diners Drive-Ins and Dives is still a show that I could have on the background for hours because who doesn’t love to see how the little joint in Iowa makes its seafood meatloaf? And Food Network knows it – that’s why on a Friday night DDD runs from 7pm to 3am. I’m not joking about this. EIGHT HOURS STRAIGHT OF GUY, COMIN’ AT YA.

But back to my original beef: competitive cooking shows. My friend Rob put it best once: the problem is I, as the viewer, can’t taste the food myself. And there’s some merit to this – with American Idol, America’s Got Talent, The Voice, So You Think You Can Dance, at least YOU can see the talent and enjoy the performances. But on cooking shows, you’re left to making comments like, “OMG THAT LOOKS JUICY” or “OOOO DID YOU SEE HOW HE THREW THAT SALT??? BAM, MF-ers.” So. Lame.

Here are some of the shows I REALLY just do not enjoy:

Chopped: Ok, I know some of you want to fight me on this. Get in line, please. Chopped stinks. Yeah I know – how is this any different than Top Chef? Because the concept of limited ingredients isn’t beaten to death on the show. Originally, the idea of Chopped was interesting, but eventually, I fell into the same feeling as I did with Iron Chef – I CAN’T get excited about ingredients. I just can’t. Especially because on Chopped, the ingredients aren’t even that wacky! At least once in a while on the old Japanese Iron Chef you get, like, a bull penis or something to cook with. On Chopped? Often times the “crazy” ingredient is “gummy bears” or “soda!” I watched some random episode where the cooks were *SHOCKED* they had to used canned tomato sauce for a dish. OH NO, NOT CANNED TOMATO SAUCE!!! HOW WILL YOU EVER COPE WITH LIFE? It’s forced drama with a stupid clock, and I don’t ever want to eat what has been made. Pass.

Cutthroat Kitchen: UGH. And here’s the thing – I actually REALLY LIKE Alton Brown. Good Eats, his show where he teaches the science behind how to cook things – brilliant. Highly educational. INFORMATIVE. But him hosting a game show where competitors have to cook with one hand or can only cut their vegetables with a used heroin syringe? How is this good television? This falls into the same range as watching the Skills Competition during NBA All-Star Weekend. (Translation: This is not good television).

Guys Grocery Games: OH GOD MAKE IT STOP. Food Network exec: “I have an idea…let’s put a cooking show INSIDE a grocery store! And have Guy host it, calling it ‘Triple-G!’” Other exec: “GREENLIGHT THAT SH*T.” Awful. The worst. Who are these contestants???? Isn’t that the guy who burnt my waffle at the hotel the other day? STEVE??? IS THAT YOU?

Awkward Cupcake Battle: I don’t know the name of the show I’m talking about, but I keep seeing commercials about teams making cupcakes in some sort of face off. Seriously? Baking drama? I saw one promo where a woman was panicking, “I don’t know if I can whisk the eggs fast enough!!!!” WHOA! I’m going to write you a prescription for: wine. Lots of it. It’s cupcakes, not a detonator.

Kids Making Desserts TO THE DEATH: Another show I have no idea what the name of it is; all I know if that this cooking competition involves little kids making cupcakes and other baked goods head to head. Why?? “I don’t know if I can whisk the eggs fast enough AND I HAVE ACNE.” Don’t these kids have school? What is happening here.

Anyways, cooking show competitions are not going away, but I’m here to say that they are, for the most part, awful. Of course, I am the same person who watched some random video game competition until 12:15am last night, so what do I know?

Tell me your thoughts on cooking competitions below, please. Let’s fight about this.

Today’s junk food: Jelly Belly Bubbly Champagne Jelly Beans!!

Jelly Belly Bubbly Champagne Jelly Beans

Jelly Belly Bubbly Champagne Jelly Beans: The Money Shot

We discussed these Jelly Belly Bubbly Champagne Jelly Beans over on the Nosh Show, and I finally found them at my local TJ Maxx. I reviewed Jelly Belly’s Beer Jelly Beans here…and gave them a so-so review. They tasted like sweet yeast. Champagne is sweet to begin with, so I’m hoping for a better result. Pretty bag – I like the attempt at a champagne bottle aesthetic.

Jelly Belly Bubbly Champagne Jelly Beans

Champagne is one of those things that gives me a headache RIGHT AWAY. I could down a bottle of brown liquor and not feel as bad as I do after a couple of glasses of champagne. Who knows why – maybe I’m just drinking cheap champagne.

Jelly Belly Bubbly Champagne Jelly Beans

Jelly Belly Bubbly Champagne Jelly Beans are alcohol free. Well that’s no fun.

Jelly Belly Bubbly Champagne Jelly Beans

When I smelled these Jelly Belly Bubbly Champagne Jelly Beans, I smelled a lot of the plastic of the bag, but also caught a tiny faint hint of grape. Sort of like smelling flat old champagne. The beans looked cool though – like the beer one, they were shiny and had the right look: light yellow/white, glass-like, lots of cool pearl-like texturing inside. These were definitely pretty, as jelly beans go.


Jelly Belly Bubbly Champagne Jelly Beans

Popping them into my mouth, I chewed… and I thought these Jelly Belly Bubbly Champagne Jelly Beans were pretty good!  The Junk Food Gal didn’t like them, but if I thought they were decent. The flavor I got was definitely of a light grape flavor, mixed with the distinct flavor of a stale wine…like a champagne that had gone flat. The Junk food Gal agreed and that’s why she didn’t like them. For me, however, I look at it like Jelly Belly came as close to champagne flavor as they could. I.e., if the flavor I was tasting was fizzy, then I think it might taste like a dry champagne. Without the fizz, the flavor I was expecting was there – flat, slightly grape-y champagne wine taste.

Were they my favorite Jelly Belly flavor in the world? No. But as alcohol-flavor-attempts go, I think Jelly Belly did pretty well with this. I found myself eating them absent-mindedly, so clearly there was something I enjoyed! The novelty is the bigger part of this candy, clearly, but I also give JB’s execution a thumbs up. If anyone else out there has had them, I’d love to know what you thought.

PURCHASED AT: TJ Maxx, Germantown, MD

COST: $4.76

Thoughts? Please comment below or hit me up on Twitter @junkfoodguy or LIKE my Facebook Page and message me there. I also have Google+!! Let’s hang out.


Junk Food Guy

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Discuss - 40 Comments

  1. Alek says:

    Food network needs go back to the roots. Get actual cooking!

    • Alek says:

      They need go back to the basics. Stop coming up with the game shows. Focus more of the cooking portion since Food network originally had so many cooking shows. I remember in 4th grade when my teacher was asking why I was not doing the assignment and I told her I was watching TV. She asked me which program? I told “Food 911” <— REMEMBER THAT?! With Tyler. She burst in laughter and I didn't get why she found that funny. Then later over the time I realize that I was very young to actually watch cooking shows. I still miss the cooking shows. Give recipes and learn something to cook.

      The next food network star I noticed the latest winners haven't appeared on the network. Except for Guy (which I don't like his annoying tone)

    • junkfoodguy says:

      @Alek: Absolutely – where the heck are these Next Food Network stars? Answer: NO WHERE

  2. Jessica says:

    The show is Cupcake Wars. Yeah, after Iron Chef they got pretty stupid. Most of the cooking shows aren’t worth it anymore either. They’ve already rebooted Unwrapped (although it’s on the Cooking Channel that this poor girl with basic cable doesn’t get), now they need to reboot Good Eats.

  3. Jeni says:

    Okay, I’ll concede that the proliferation of competitive cooking shows has reached a ridiculous point. But no Cutthroat Kitchen??

    We can no longer be friends. There, let THAT keep you awake at night.

    P.S. If you ever get a chance to see Alton Brown’s live show, The Edible Inevitable, GO. It is a live-action hyper version of Good Eats.

  4. Kaitlyn says:

    i’ll let chopped play in the background when nothing is on, but i don’t really like it, haha. as for the other shows which keep the same contestants the whole time and knock them off one by one, i’ll usually watch the first couple episodes of the season.

    now, when it comes to baking competition shows – i love those. but only the ones with one set of contestants. i don’t like cupcake wars at all. there was a new show that started last night “spring bakeoff competition” or something and it’s the same judges from the holiday themed bakeoff (duff and some other two women i don’t really know, lol) and i really like that.

    you know what else i look forward to every halloween? the pumpkin carving competition that food network airs. so cool, imo.

    • junkfoodguy says:

      @Kaitlyn: OK, I will admit – those pumpkin carving ones are pretty cool. So you’re into the baking competitions, huh? I saw the commercials for that spring bakeoff – you’ll have to keep me updated whether its any good

  5. marianne says:

    I laughed so much reading your post today, I just had to let you know how much I enjoy your site. I never comment, so you never know I like it. Thats just wrong, and today Im fixing it. I may never comment again, but now you know!

    As for cooking competitions….I hit my saturation point of those a couple of years ago. My BIGGEST gripe is with Restaurant Impossible. Robert Irvine goes in and “saves” a restaurant and its owners who totally dont deserve it because they are slobs that have never cleaned anything *ever*!!!!

  6. Sophia says:

    I love Top Chef, and wish they would bring back the desserts version of Top Chef. Top Chef Duals last summer was good too, you got to catch up with some old favs.
    I can’t watch anything on the Food Network anymore, the risk of seeing an ad featuring Guy Fiery is too high (shuddering at the thought).

    Cutthroat Kitchen is ok, but only because of Alton Brown.

    If you didn’t catch it a few months ago, find the Great British Baking Show on YouTube. Normal British people cooking baked good, they are polite to one another, none of the judges is a condescending d-bag. Not saying they won’t spit something out if it is terrible (like the guy who used salt instead of sugar) but they will still be kind about. I liked the show so much I went back and watched all of the seasons on YouTube.

    As for the Jelly Beans, no comment because I don’t really care for jelly beans.

    • junkfoodguy says:

      @Sophia: Remember when Guy was doing some game show on NBC where contestants would have to like flip cups and stuff? AWFUL

    • Alek says:

      @Junkfoodguy. It was called “Minute To Win It”. That show did give me some ideas for a after-school activity program. Everybody had fun.

  7. MP says:

    I don’t have cable so I don’t watch the Food Network, but when I did, I was against it. I love cooking shows – but real cooking shows from boring chefs like on PBS, not celebrity phonies like Rachael Ray/Deen/Flay/Fieri/Brown/Dee/Brown/Batali. As for cooking competitive shows,I used to watch Hell’s Kitchen & MasterChef, until it got to the point that it was so rigged & only for higher ratings instead of the best contestant winning. Or how they would edit a show so a team looked really bad, yet someone from the other team gets booted. Or celebrity chefs like Ramsay/Elliot/Bastianich fed us b.s. like a $8 Walmart steak is as good as a $40 steak & a blind person winning a grueling cooking competition. I saw one episode of The Taste & it was just more rigged b.s.
    As for American Idol/The Voice, I never cared for karaoke. I’ll take scripted shows over reality shows any day.

  8. Mike N. says:

    Does that Jelly Belly package say “Contains No Alcohol”?

    I like Master Chef (senior) but that’s the only one I’ve ever regularly watched.

  9. Kahnfucius says:

    Your friend Rob sounds like a smart guy. At least you can go to restaurants by Isabella or Voltaggio (at least in DC). But why are we supposed to trust Salman Rushdie’s ex?

  10. Sarah says:

    Ten years ago I could have watched food network for hours. Now if I even catch a glimpse of “horse face” or hear “loud scratchy voice” I want to throw away the TV. Don’t even get me started on Cuomo’s girlfriend and her…”it’s cocktail time…”….There was never a better season of Top Chef than the Mike Isabella season….

  11. Heather H. says:

    I used to be all about Food Network, but I hardly ever watch it now. Chopped was pretty good at first, but now it seems like it’s the same episode every time. A bizarre cut of meat?! An arrogant contestant?! Someone didn’t get everything on the plate in time?! Am I supposed to be shocked? Clearly, I’m not. 😉 I kind of like Cutthroat Kitchen, but it’s just Chopped on steroids and it will get old soon enough. I still watch Food Network Star though. I have no idea why. It’s a terrible show, but I just can’t help myself.

  12. Sasha says:

    Yeah, Unwrapped was rebooted as “Unwrapped 2.0” and hosted by Alfonso Ribero.

    I really enjoy Cutthroat Kitchen, but there’s no way that show works without Alton Brown for me.

    • Alek says:

      Cutthroat Kitchen is sorta enjoyable. I like the “puns” that they put in the sabotages.

  13. MKC says:

    I admit I like Chopped. It’s not so much the 4th “weird” ingredient that’s weird – a lot of times it’s one of the other three that I’ve never heard of. I’ve googled some of the ingredients to find out what they are! Then I entertain myself by wondering: why would people eat that, what would I do if I were stuck with it and why do the judges always know what it is????

  14. Marc P says:

    First and foremost, let me state: I AM A TOOL.
    This is such a guilty pleasure.

    I freaking love some of these shows:
    – Chopped is an addiction (if my DVR fails me, I have a panic attack)
    – Iron Chef (the real one with subtitles)
    – Top Chef (if traveling internationally, I go through depression)
    – Donut Showdown (yes, I am embarrased)

    Ones that give these a bad name and lead to jumping the proverbial shark:
    – Next FN star
    – Cupcake Wars
    – Anything with Fieri or Ramsey
    – Cutthroat Kitchen (just can’t stomach AB – and he is the one that got me into food networks)

  15. Icedus says:

    As someone with a copy of Iron Chef: The Official Book on my bookshelf a few feet away, I don’t mind saying that I bailed out on the competitive cooking scene before… well, it was really the scene Food Network turned it into. The very announcement of Iron Chef America was enough to make me fold my arms and go “Oh, no. Uh-uh. No thanks,” and it looks like I haven’t missed much, from what I’ve glimpsed of it and the genre it’s helped spawn. Give me Chairman Kaga or give me death. Or, y’know, neither. I think that’s a reasonable compromise.

    (My everlasting man-crush on Hiroyuki Sakai, the greatest Iron Chef French, definitely has no bearing on my stance in any way.)

  16. ruckus says:

    @Icedus – YES Hiroyuki Sakai was my all time favorite chef on that show – that man was a genius of a competition chef!!

  17. Radium says:

    Ah, finally someone else who hates those competitive cooking shows. They’re just cringe from start to finish.

    Reality TV in general is bad and overplayed, especially when they start prodding people to be more dramatic. They ruined ‘Storm Chasers’ that way.

  18. Champagne in ATX says:

    I just found these after Valentine’s day in little plastic Champagne bottles on clearance for 69¢. As a Champagne drinker, I thought I would try them. They were not bad, and they definitely lean more on a sweeter side that actual Champagne or even Prosecco, but they nailed the essence of the champagne flavor. I ate the whole 1.5 oz bottle 😉

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