Fast food doesn't get much faster than a frozen meal, straight from your freezer. Who needs a drive-thru when you have a walk-up? On a recent stroll through the frozen-food section at the grocery store, I spotted new breakfast items from Marie Callender's -- a brand with which I was intimately acquainted in my twenties (and which helped me achieve the largest pants size I ever wore) -- that I was too tempted to resist.
As far as frozen food goes, Marie Callender's is an overall quality brand. The meals are very "home style," focusing on pot pies, "comfort bakes," and rich dinners and desserts. When perusing the brand's website, I took note that they now offer "Under 500 Calorie" entrees; you can count on a thorough review of those in the near future.
But for now, let's take a look at two of Marie Callender's three breakfast sandwiches: Cheddar Biscuit with Sausage, Egg, and Cheddar, and the Flaky Croissant with Sausage, Egg and Monterey Jack.
In addition to the sandwiches, Marie Callender's also has breakfast pies and breakfast bakes, all in some combination of egg/cheese/protein. Vegetarians, you're out of luck. I grabbed the breakfast sandwiches because they are the most convenient, on-the-go meals, the closest to what one would order when going through a drive-thru.
In theory, these sandwiches are great. They come three to a unit, and each sandwich is housed in its own individual box, which doubles as the heating container for the microwave. Open, assemble the sandwich "open face" style as depicted on the box, and nuke for about 90 seconds each. There is a lot of excessive packaging (three individual boxes, plus outer cardboard overwrap, plus plastic shrink wrap keeping it all together), which is disappointing.
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Cheddar Biscuit with Sausage, Egg, and Cheddar
As a native New Yorker, I'm not exactly an expert on the biscuit, but I think it's safe to say that this version leaves something to be desired. Technically, two somethings -- taste, and texture. It's not really horrible -- it's just as good as most biscuits you'll get at a fast food joint -- but it's really crumbly, which doesn't make it ideal for on-the-go eating. It's also lacking a certain buttery yumminess I've come to expect from a proper biscuit. If I'm going to blow 390 calories on breakfast, I'd like it to be a little tastier. The egg and sausage are standard in terms of flavor, but rather outstanding in texture; the egg isn't a rubbery wreck, and the sausage is not a sodium bomb, but rather a well-seasoned, slightly-sweet breakfast version that was quite satisfying.
Flaky Croissant with Sausage, Egg and Monterey Jack
Now we're talking. Even though this sandwich boasts the same egg and sausage as the first one, the overall effect is far superior. The croissant is light and flaky, and really buttery; color me shocked, but this sandwich has 20 fewer calories than the biscuit! It tastes better, too. The Monterey Jack was much more successful than the Cheddar was on the biscuit sandwich, which, frankly, tasted a lot more like a slice of Kraft American processed cheese. The Monterey Jack melted more smoothly, and tasted less processed. All that, and those 20 fewer calories. I'll stick with the croissant.