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Hit-Or-Miss Packaged Food

Cinnabon Launches Frozen Breakfast Line Including Chicken Biscuit

Photo courtesy of Cinnabon

When I think of Cinnabon, I think of those mall food stalls that deliver a euphoric dose of cinnamon butter smell particles as I walk past on my way to the movies. While movies aren’t happening any time soon, Cinnabon is hard at work expanding their offerings past concession stands and straight onto your breakfast table. 

The brand just announced its first-ever line of frozen breakfast items that cover both the sweet and savory sides of everyone’s favorite meal. 

Photo courtesy of Cinnabon

Six new items are set to drop simultaneously, each with Cinnabon’s own signature style of flavor: Caramel Pecan Ooey-Gooey Rolls, Frosting Filled CinnaPastry, Frosted CinnaSweet Swirls, CinnaBiscuit Chicken Sandwich, Jalapeno Cheddar Sausage Bites, and CheddarRoll Sausage & Egg Sandwich.

The new breakfast line is now available nationwide in the breakfast aisle of your local grocer’s frozen food section. I wonder if I can piece them all together and form some kind of Cinnabon breakfast Megazord. 

Probably shouldn’t. 

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Hit-Or-Miss

Happy Ice’s Philly-Style Water Ice is the Perfect Summer Treat

Summer is here and no ‘rona is gonna stop hot days from heating up. I can’t say whether our collective desire to socialize publicly despite the apparent health risks is a testament to our indifference or our endurance. Nevertheless, it’s important to find ways of maintaining some sense of normalcy, albeit with a level of responsibility and respect to the times. 

In the spirit of maintaining that, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lemeir Mitchell, brainchild of popular Melrose Ave. chillzone Happy Ice. Following a wildly successful opening of his first brick & mortar location, during a maelstrom of social unrest and the corona-demic, Lemeir and I talked about his humble beginnings.

Originally from Philadelphia, the imprisonment of his Father sent Mitchell into a phase of youthful recklessness. One which led his concerned uncle Joey to step in as a support system to help him build self confidence. Looking for a fresh start, Mitchell moved to Los Angeles following the passing of his brother. One of 13 siblings, he is no stranger to hard work, as he spent many nights sleeping at his then job at the time, a tattoo parlor.  

One day, he saw an ice cream truck driving around Melrose and was impressed by the visual aesthetic. It was an inspiring and fresh way to approach the traditional ice cream truck. Noticing an opportunity to bring a bit of his hometown to Los Angeles, Mitchell, along with the help of his wife, mother, and many restless nights, created Happy Ice.

Mitchell wanted to introduce Angelinos to one of his hometown’s most popular staples, Philadelphia water ice, one that he says is just as important there as the world famous Philly Cheesesteak. Curiously discovering a way to achieve the same scoop each time, Lemeir credits his “perfect scoop” technique as a main factor to Happy Ice’s instagram following. A visit to their Instagram page is akin to feeling like a kid again, with the colorful allure perfectly suited to social virality.

As for the treat itself, Philadelphia water ice is definitely unique. It blends the creaminess of ice cream with the refreshing ease of shaved ice combined with sorbet-esque flavors. Happy Ice has no dairy, nut products, and uses natural flavors. In other words, it’s everybody-friendly. This inclusive treat stands juxtaposed to the protests which raged around Melrose Avenue, threatening to interfere with the grand opening of Happy Ice’s brick and mortar. A moment after which, the settled dust revealed a landscape of destroyed business fronts and property.

Miraculously, Happy Ice made it through unscathed. As a business owner, Mitchell’s plea to the frustrated masses marching through Melrose was punctuated by a photo of him with the words “Black Owned.” His commitment to the community is rooted in wanting to inspire not only Black business owners but anyone who has a dream. During the recent protests, the Happy Ice squad gave out free cups, hoping to offer a momentary respite from the harrowing moment. This community involvement has been a pillar of Happy Ice’s mission from its inception and continues today.

As the tug of war between the pre-corona and post-corona world persists, Happy Ice continues to serve the community, standing as an example of small-business perseverance. This is the spirit with which every cup of Happy Ice is infused and one Mitchell hopes to pass on in every scoop.

To get your hands on a cup of happiness, stop by Happy Ice on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles or follow their Instagram page to find out where their roving trucks will be pulling up next.

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Hit-Or-Miss

Artificial Intelligence Is Helping Restaurants Stay Afloat

For restaurants, survival during a global pandemic has depended on razor thin margins that determine whether they succumb to the circumstances and shut down or are able to keep their collective heads above water to make it through another day. Being able to make rent, labor, and food costs while dealing with drastic changes to their business models and slashed income from prohibited dine-in measures have been harrowing times for restaurant owners. 

Such circumstances have forced them to explore different solutions to help them stay afloat, which have come in the form of adapting to technology that addresses potential holes, mitigates cost, and keeps revenue streams steady. 

The latest episode of Foodbeast’s The Katchup podcast delves into the benefits of alternative technology for restaurants, giving them more options beyond the feeling of being forced to depend on third-party delivery apps just to make it by. One of which is Numa, a ground-breaking service that acts as a concierge for the restaurant, whether it be answering phone calls, messages, or streamlining operations.

I spoke with with Tasso Roumeliotis, co-founder and CEO of Numa, and Lex Gopnik-Lewinsky, owner & founder of Augie’s Montreal Deli in Berkeley, CA to talk about the benefits of alternative technology beyond third-party delivery apps and how they could be the next wave in restaurants taking advantage of different solutions to serve their customers.

However, there are other forms of technology that restaurants are implementing to help them get through the precarious situation of restaurant ownership during quarantine. Here are four that can help disrupt businesses’ reliance on third-party delivery apps.

4. Numa

Imagine your restaurant having a built-in concierge service. With Numa, this is a reality. The service connects to an existing business phone and answers incoming calls, texts customers and answers their questions, and provides team coordination tools which help streamline operations, amongst a host of other features.

3. Belly Melly

Recently there have been an ease of dine-in restrictions in parts of the country, which has led to some solutions needed for as much of a touch-less experience as possible. A company like Belly Melly is now available to offer a touch-free tech-enabled dining experience. The tech was specifically created for restaurateurs by restaurateurs as a free tool. Its technology allows for a zero-contact dining experience in which customers can pull up the restaurant’s menu, order their food, and pay all from the safety and convenience of their smartphones.

2. ChowNow

Founded in 2011 by Christopher Webb and Eric Jaffe, ChowNow is a unique tool for restaurateurs in that it lets their business individually build out and customize its own fully branded app. What’s more, ChowNow has advantageous features that let consumers order from restaurants directly from Google search results and even from businesses’ Instagram profiles.

1. Touchless Dining

As restaurants throughout America continue to ease restrictions on dining in, a new trend of a touch-free and tech-enabled experience has taken shape. Such tech, specifically created for restaurateurs, is available through new tools like BellyMelly and Order For Me. The advantage here is that both allow diners to view menus, order, and pay for their meals all via their smart phones.


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Matthew McConaughey Just Won A Celebrity Burger Showdown, Here’s What He Made

May 28 was a big day for burger lovers.

In celebration of National Burger Day, Off the Menu, the LA-based food discovery app, teamed up with Uber Eats to host The Burger Showdown. The challenge paired more than 60 celebrities including Matthew McConaughey, Paris Hilton, and Dwyane Wade with restaurants in 10 cities to create their ultimate burger, available exclusively on Uber Eats. Even better, the Showdown supported Frontline Foods, a grassroots organization that supports local restaurants while feeding frontline workers and impacted communities..

Each pairing created a video sharing their burger inspiration and recipe, which lived on theburgershowdown.com for fans and burger lovers to watch and vote on their favorite before ordering on Uber Eats from May 28-31. 

And, the winners are in: 

Best Burger (US):

The Best Burger in the US was awarded to The Jacobite, made by Scottish actor Sam Heughan and Boston’s The Haven. It’s made with a chuck beef patty smothered in bacon-infused marmalade, pickle sauce, arugula, tomatoes, Huntsman cheese, deep fried onions, and a hand-cut french fry wedge served on a milk bun to create a deviously rich burger. 

Best Burger (Canada):

Photo Courtesy of Off The Menu

The Best Canadian Burger was won by the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Mitch Marner and The Burger’s Priest. The Mitch One-Six Burger kept it simple, with a smashed patty, cheddar cheese, thick cuts of bacon, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, the famed High Priest Sauce, and a classic, soft house bun. Simple, to the point, and dependable. 

Most Creative Collaboration:

Photo Courtesy of Off The Menu

The winners of the Most Creative Collaboration, Shay Mitchell and NYC’s Flip Sigi, created the Filipino-inspired Shay Sigi Burger, which featured a three-meat burger that bonded longanisa, ground beef, and bacon. Seared on a hot pan, the amalgamation of a patty was topped with pickled onions, tomato, lettuce, a homemade banana ketchup, and a pan de sal bun.

Best Plant-Based Burger:

Photo Courtesy of Off The Menu

Max Greenfield and Chicago’s Busy Burger’s collab, the Busy Max Veggie Delight, won the Best Plant-Based Burger presented by Lightlife. Here’s the juicy deets: Two Lightlife Plant-Based Burgers topped with pepper jack cheese and cut with guacamole and sauteed veggies, were topped with butter leaf lettuce, tomato, pickles, and Busy Burger’s signature Busy Sauce. 

The Burger Showdown Hall of Fame:

Photo Courtesy of Off The Menu

Rounding out the awards by being inducted into The Burger Showdown Hall of Fame is Matthew McConaughey and Aaron Franklin of Austin’s Loro, who created a burger for those who hate when their patty slides out the back (or “slidie-out-backie,” as deemed by Mr. McConaughey) when bitten. Dubbed the “And…” burger, it is made with a brisket and chuck patty and brioche buns, then stacked with double-cut smoked bacon, American cheese, pickled jalapeños, butter leaf lettuce, thin-sliced tomato, mustard, and a jalapeño aioli.

The Burger Showdown was truly something to behold this year. Make sure to peep the builds of all the burgers mentioned, and more here.

Keep an eye on @offthemenu and @ubereats to see what they’re cooking up for their next tasty event, The Wing Showdown.

Created in partnership with Off The Menu.

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Hit-Or-Miss

Street Dog Taquitos Exist and Here’s How to Make Them

It’s happened.

We have, unfortunately, come to the final installment in our series of recipes inspired by the recent release of Hidden Valley Ranch’s Secret Sauces and their pursuit in bringing restaurant-style meals to your home.

This one is a love letter to a Los Angeles staple: the street dog. The bun has been ditched though, and replaced with a tortilla, to create the HVR Street Dog Taquitos.

This is a one pan recipe, but requires the cooking of a couple different things on said pan, so find a decently large one. Then preheat your oven to 425 degrees, and gather your ingredients.

While the oven is warming up, cover both sides of a tortilla with non-stick spray, or some kind of oil. Wrap it around a hot dog, and lay the wrapped dog on the pan, seam side down. Repeat for as many hot dogs as needed. Make sure to leave some room on your pan, as some space will be needed for the onion and pepper mix.

Prepare this mixture by cutting some onions and bell peppers into strips, both at about a cup each. You could use a frozen mix as well or whatever you have at hand. Spread them out over the remaining empty pan space, and toss them in non-stick spray, or some kind of oil.

Throw the pan into the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until everything has achieved preferred doneness.

Make sure to prepare some garnishes as well, such as sliced jalapenos, bacon bits, or anything else that sparks your imagination.

Once the taquitos are done, top with the onion and pepper mixture, whatever garnishes you selected, and, most importantly, a strong helping of HVR’s Spicy Secret Sauce for some much-needed heat.

The best part of this recipe, besides how easy it is to make, is its versatility. Perfect for an appetizer, a party favor, or a late night snack– it’s hard to imagine a situation where these wouldn’t hit.

See the full recipe below, and check out our previous installments of HVR’s Pub to Plate recipes to see some other unmissable dishes.

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Hit-Or-Miss

Disneyland Foodies Take Note, The Parks Reopen In July

If you’re a Disneyphile like myself, your Disneyland annual pass has been burning a hole in your wallet. Both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure park have been closed for over three months since their initial shutter back on March 14th, 2020.

In Disneyland’s 65+ year history, the COVID-19-induced closures mark one of only six times the park has ever had an unscheduled close time, the last of which being in 2001 following the September 11th terrorist attacks.

Today, a glimmer of hope shown through — Disney has announced their proposed reopening plans for the Southern California-based parks.

As a Disneyland fan, I been longing for lazy days at the park, pummeling through food, getting drunk around California Adventure and falling asleep on the Pirate’s of the Caribbean. With no immediate end to “COVID-19” in sight, it seems Disneyland has found what they believe the minimum viable product in a reopen would look like. Here’s a recap of what we know:

  • Theme park capacity will be significantly limited to comply with governmental requirements
  • Attendance will be managed through a new theme park reservation system (even Annual Passholders must reserve their spot to enter the park)
  • There will be a temporary pause on new ticket sales and Annual Passport sales/renewals
  • Parades and nighttime spectaculars will not be available on reopen — they will return at a later date not yet announced
  • Character meet-and-greets won’t be happening, but Characters will be roaming the park in unexplained “new ways to entertain and delight guests”

All other information is still under wraps and has yet to be announced, including details surrounding the enhanced cleaning, health and safety measures throughout the park.

No word on how the food courts will look like either — but assuming if they’re open at all, they’ll likely take pre-packaged measures akin to how Wholefoods’ hot and cold bars currently look like (pre-portioned instead of scoop-and-serve).

My Disney foodie family — does this news excite you? What are your concerns? Let me know how you feel and what questions Foodbeast can work on answering for you by interacting with us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!

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The Meal Prep Service Behind Zac Efron’s Fit Physique

Meal prepping always seems like such a good idea, since eating healthy and saving time is invaluable to most. Putting the plan into action, however, is where the wheels fall off. Besides the challenge that is cooking healthy en masse, the idea of eating the same meal everyday is quite a dreary prospect. However, a Los Angeles company, Z.E.N. Foods, is looking to solve this issue for people, with their personalized, fresh meal plans.

Z.E.N., which stands for Zero Effort Nutrition, provides their customers with a healthy meal plan of three meals a day. What separates them from the pack of diet planning companies, though, is that these meals aren’t some pre-packaged, TV dinner-style meals that coagulate and become homogeneous once microwaved.

What Z.E.N. Foods provides are restaurant quality meals which are sourced from local food vendors, crafted by hand in their LA-based commercial kitchen, dropped off at their customer’s door every morning, and tailor made for each customer’s dietary needs. The budding company offers five different genres of meal plans, each of which can be further customized.

“From the very beginning, those with health problems, such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease, were very grateful to have an effortless way to change their lives through healthy, nutritious meals. We can customize just about everything. With nutritionists on staff and R&D chefs creating new products every day, the variety is amazing and it’s impossible to get bored,” says CEO and founder Mariana Rossano.

They currently do this for over 2000 people, including A-listers like Zac Efron and Chris Bauer, who have turned to the service to get their bodies in shape for various roles.

This budding success is leading to projected growth this year for the brand.

“We have expanded on the existing program from Z.E.N. Foods… It has just started in May and it’s called “Z.E.N. Classics.” The Classics is basically pure convenience, offering everything in an al a carte fashion from breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, healthy desserts, kid’s meals, to protein shakes and cold pressed juices. The menu will be constantly expanding and we will be adding meals from all cultures,” detailed Rossano of this expansion.

Z.E.N. Foods has also partnered with Southern California’s own Melissa’s Produce to guarantee the freshness in their meals that one would expect from a company that is a top choice for high profile clientele.

With an ever expanding menu, and a multitude of clean eating options, Z.E.N. Foods is poised to make a splash in the fresh meal delivery sector in the coming year. Or, as Rossano succinctly put it:

“Sky’s the limit in 2020.”

Check out www.zenfoods.com to peruse through and purchase one of the various meal plans. Or if you’re looking for pure convenience, check out zenclassics.com for their a la cart meal plan.


Created in partnership with Melissa’s Produce.

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Hit-Or-Miss

PizzaRev Is Now Letting Kids Eat FREE At All Their Restaurants

While everyone’s advised to stay home, parents may have it pretty tough balancing a work-from-home life as well as the responsibility of feeding kids currently out of school. Yes, it’s every parents’ responsibility to make sure there’s food in their child’s stomachs, but what if that meant free pizza?

In an effort to bring some relief to stressed out parents, build-your-own pizza chain PizzaRev is letting kids eat FREE all day everyday.

With the purchase of an adult entree, a child will get his or her own personal cheese or pepperoni pizza, a healthy drink, and a dessert of their choice. Parent and child can sit down together and enjoy their own personally crafted pies from the safety of their homes.

PizzaRev is also offering beer and wine through DoorDash with proof of ID upon delivery. Just in case y’all feel like stress drinking.