July 13, 2016
With so many cultures weaving through the fabric of this city, Philly is a fine place to be a snack aficionado.
In my South Philly neighborhood, the best in international food (junk and otherwise) is right outside my door, from Vietnamese bánh mì and French breads to authentic Italian baked goods and Indonesian fish — and it's all within a couple blocks’ radius.
One of my favorite spots is El Soto, a terrific Mexican sandwich shop at 15th and Tasker. Everything I’ve had off their menu so far has been a delight, with the Cubano, in particular, being a big hit at my home. The tortas are stacked to the brim with fresh-cut meats, and on the weekends, they serve their fantastic homemade tamales.
On a recent visit, I was cruising for new treats when a display of various snacks from Bimbo caught my eye.
Headquartered in Mexico, Grupo Bimbo is now the largest baking company in the world, having purchased other top snack brands like Sara Lee, Thomas’ English Muffins, Entenmann’s and many more. Bimbo also has a large line of snacks under its own label, and its U.S. headquarters are nearby in Horsham. You may have seen Bimbo’s logo plastered on the front of Philadelphia Union jerseys.
Somehow, I had never eaten these Mexican goodies. Was this a whole new scrumptious world of junk food that I had yet to untap? I grabbed two different products — Rebanadas and Bimbuñuelos — to find out.
Looking at the package of Bimbuñuelos, I pictured these “crispy wheels” to be made of puffed oats, not unlike the parts of Lucky Charms that aren’t the marshmallows. However, I was mistaken. Bimbuñuelos are actually made from pieces of fried dough with a texture similar to cheap fried Chinese restaurant noodles. Sprinkled all over are thick granules of extra-sweet sugar.
Immediately, the crunch makes a big impact. (These are slightly messy; eat them over a plate or trash can.) The impact of the dough’s crispiness is soon diffused with the sugar covering, quickly melting and coating your mouth with pleasantness. While obviously patterned after a churro, Bimbuñuelos are not as good. Still, they are a solid quick-fix treat if you are in a churro-less area.
The main event was the Rebanadas, which is what originally got my attention in the grocery aisle. Spanish for “slices,” this is a sandwich made from frosted toast and a large smattering of cream. No doubt it is a unique situation for a packaged snack food, but the experiment paid off.
As with many sandwiches, you only need one bite to be reminded of why crusts are the weakest part of the sandwich. But after that brief flash of too-crunchy dryness, your taste buds hit the inside spread, which is simply exquisite. There are slight undertones of strawberry, but it’s mostly a vanilla cream taste crescendo. This is the sort of deliciousness I always imagined Powdered Toast Man would taste like. Just an all-around wonderful snack.
Since both items are reminiscent of cereals, I decided to try them with milk. (Even though I actually prefer my cereal dry with a glass of milk on the side. I don’t like it soggy. I AIN’T SORRY.) Frankly, neither one benefits from a milk bath. With the Bimbuñuelos, the sugar coat gets splashed away easily, leaving just a piece of bare dough. The Rebanadas already has a dairy element with the cream, so the milk just dulls that intricate balance. Plus, the crunch is a massive part of the appeal, and the milk robs you of that experience completely.
Verdict: I give Bimbuñuelos two-and-a-half Rey Mysterios out of a possible five. I give Rebanadas a record four-and-a-half Mysterios.