Tag Archives: chicken

KFC Nashville Hot Chicken

KFC Nashville Hot Chicken ContainerI always get excited when KFC comes out with something new, because they’re pretty unique in the fast food arena in that they’re not coming out with a new menu item every week. In fact, I’ve been doing this review thing for [checks imaginary watch] seven years now and I can count my KFC reviews on one hand.

Can we also talk about the new Colonel? If you gave me five million guesses as to what Norm MacDonald would be doing in 2016, I never would have guessed “being Colonel Sanders”. Also, that would be a really exhausting game. “Being Burt Reynolds” probably would have come up at least a dozen times.

Okay, focus. KFC’s new Nashville Hot Chicken was first test marketed in Pittsburgh. Just joshing, it was test marketed in Nashville.

…Wait, no, it really was test marketed in Pittsburgh. What?

Perhaps they were afraid Nashvillains, which I am totally calling people from that city from now on, would disapprove, and Nashville Hot Chicken would never live to see its nationwide release.

You see, Nashville Hot Chicken is a real thing, with a storied history that would be far too long for me to explain here, and is already explained very eloquently in that article.

To put it overly simply, Nashville Hot chicken is fried chicken that’s hot, and it comes with dill pickle slices. Count me all in.

KFC’s website sucks at telling you about their menu options, so I’ll inform you right now that you can get Hot Chicken in 1-piece, 2-piece or 8-piece options. I found this odd, and dubbed them “Why Bother, Decent Lunch, and Fat Man Party Time”.

They also offer Tenders, but I forgot to note their quantities because stop being a pussy and just eat your bone-in chicken. (I’m allowed to say that because I used to be one of those pussies.)

KFC Nashville Hot Chicken

I chose Decent Lunch, which came with a biscuit and a small coleslaw. I was not aware of the latter part until I got my Decent Lunch home. Nobody asked me what side I wanted. I would have chosen mashed potatoes, of course. The last time I ate KFC coleslaw was about 20 years ago. It turns out I still hate it.

Oh, right, the chicken. Here’s how KFC’s “we’ll tell you about our food but not how much you can buy” website describes it: “Get that flavorful, spicy, smoky Nashville Hot Chicken. Now with pickles! It’s finger lickin’ hot! (The chicken, not the pickles. The pickles are more like soothing lozenges for your mouth.)”

KFC Nashville Hot Chicken Skin

Here’s how I describe it: not smoky, barely spicy. Quite the review, right? Honestly, though, that’s about it. The chicken was moist, which was good. The batter was crunchy and medium-thick, which was also good. But the Hot was only a mild build of spicy heat, and I only detected a bit of smoky in a few bites. The bright spot was a mild peppery spice that worked well with the batter and the chicken.

Even the pickles were sad – they were the exact same ones you’d see on a shitty McDonald’s burger. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I felt like the pickles were part of the whole experience, so they should have been better.

In the end, I was left with a red grease slick on my fingers that made me wonder why it was there when the heat wasn’t. Sure, there was a little spice, but not enough to need a pickle lozenge. I feel like KFC did a disservice to the name Nashville Hot Chicken.

In its defense, it was a lot better than the bucket of regular KFC chicken I bought along with it, which had a super-thin batter and was soggy like it had been sitting around for half a day. Has KFC’s regular chicken declined, or does my local restaurant just suck?

So, I’ve spent the majority of this review shitting on KFC’s Nashville Hot Chicken, and now I’m going to turn around and tell you to try it. It’s actually pretty tasty; it just fell short of my expectations in both the spicy and the smoky departments. But hey, it’s something new and different from KFC! That doesn’t come around too often, so give it a go.

Or, if you live in Nashville, get some real Hot Chicken.

KFC Nashville Hot Chicken

  • Score: 3 out of 5 pickle lozenges
  • Price: $5.79
  • Size: 2-piece meal
  • Purchased at: KFC #D212071
  • Nutritional Quirk: No nutritional info on their website, but I could tell from the red grease slick that covered my fingers that this is not health food.

Jack in the Box Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich

Jack in the Box Blazin' Chicken SandwichJack in the Box didn’t form a large campaign around their Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich, instead opting for a sexual harassment commercial that, while mildly amusing, I found frankly disappointing.

Normally, I would barely notice or care if a fast food place went pedestrian when it comes to sandwich marketing – after all, new menu items come out all the time, especially if you’re Jack in the Box – but as soon as I heard the description for the Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich, I was struck with the Lightning Bolt of Marketing Brilliance.

“The new Jack’s Blazin’ Chicken has spicy crispy chicken, Ghost Pepper Ranch sauce, and sliced jalapeños.”

I took two words away from this: Ghost Ranch.

Jack went all out with their Bacon Insider Burger, giving us an inside view of Jack’s farm that includes a curly fry tree and a helicopter.

But you know what’s missing? Jack’s motherfuckin’ Ghost Ranch.

Imagine the commercial: Jack’s tooling around the farm, moving hay bales or experimenting with the genetics of mutant animals or what have you, and suddenly he hears a strange noise coming from a corner of the farm that has long since been abandoned and neglected.

He parts the branches of a grove of weeping willows to find a spooky-looking ranch, complete with fog machine and maybe a graveyard for all the previous failed genetic abominations he’s created. Suddenly, he hears a loud noise…


Jack jumps three feet in the air, probably not soiling his overalls since this is a rated G commercial, but then he sees a chicken with a loudspeaker!

“Aw, I messed it up,” the chicken says, looking crestfallen. “I was supposed to say ‘BOO!’”

“That’s okay, I’ll keep your secret,” Jack says amicably. “What is this place?” But as he looks back the chicken is suddenly…gone.

Flummoxed and freaked out, Jack notices a strange glowing a little ways away. He goes over to explore, and finds a whole field of ectoplasmic slime! But right in the middle of the goo, he spots it – the ghost pepper plant.

And then some other spooky stuff happens. I kind of ran out of ideas at this point.

Sooo let’s move onward to the actual sandwich!

Jack in the Box Blazin' Chicken Sandwich Inside

There’s three heat factors to the Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich, and I will address them separately first. Let’s start with the jalapeños.

Dear every fast food chain ever: Why can’t you put more than three fucking peppers on my sandwich? This is a widespread, chronic problem that continues to frustrate me. Is this some sort of rule? The three jalapeño max? Pickled jalapeños must cost, like, half of a cent each. So why can’t you give me enough to cover my whole sandwich?

That said, there was nothing special about these peppers, but they did add a nice touch of heat to the sandwich.

Next up, the spicy crispy chicken. I actually quite enjoyed my chicken – it was juicy and definitely crispy, with a thick breading that had an excellent amount of seasoning and a nice touch of heat. I’m assuming it’s the same chicken they use on Jack’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich, which I’ve never had, but I’d put it up at the top of my list of spicy chicken sandwich filets.

Jack in the Box Blazin' Chicken Sandwich Ghost Pepper Ranch

And finally, the ingredient designed to set the Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich apart: the Ghost Pepper Ranch. While my lack of jalapeños was disappointing, the amount of ghost pepper ranch on my sandwich made up for it.

I’ve come up with a scale when it comes to fast food peppers: take whatever spicy ingredient they claim they’re using and take it down about two notches (unless you can see physical evidence of the pepper itself). For example, if you see “habanero”, think “jalapeño”.

Therefore, when I saw “ghost pepper”, which is actually the first time I’ve seen a fast food place with the balls to use them, I figured “habanero”. Which is not an unimpressive amount of heat, mind you.

Jalapeño slices and spicy breaded chicken already make a great combo, but I have to say, I was really impressed by the Ghost Pepper Ranch. The base was distinctively ranch dressing, with its signature tanginess, but the ghost pepper part of the equation really did pack a punch. It hits you immediately and builds with every bite. In fact, my lips were burning after just a few bites, and continued to do so after I’d finished the sandwich.

The Ghost Pepper Ranch wasn’t just heat for heat’s sake, though – it was also quite delicious. The ranch balanced the heat, which is exactly what it should do, and the flavor of the peppers also managed to come through the spiciness. I’m so glad I got a heaping helping of it, and I wanted more even after my sandwich was done and my mouth was burning.

Jack in the Box Blazin' Chicken Sandwich Halves

Now let’s put all these ingredients together. I got some sad lettuce, as per usual, and some nice tomatoes that I didn’t feel were really necessary. The bun was pedestrian sesame, and the cheese, which Jack in the Box calls “Swiss-style”, was actually melted and added a nice creaminess to compliment the crunch of the chicken, which was not at all soggy, I might add.

I just noticed on Jack’s website that I was supposed to get grilled onions on my sandwich. They were nowhere to be found. That sucks. They wouldn’t have been necessary, but they would have been a nice addition.

By the way, maybe it was just the amount of Ghost Pepper Ranch on my particular buy, but my Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich was messy as hell. I didn’t care, since I was eating it in the privacy of my own home, but my buns were sliding all over the place (teehee) and the whole thing needed constant rearrangement to keep from falling apart completely.

All in all, I call Jack in the Box’s Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich a rousing success. I got a sucky amount of jalapeños, but Jack makes a nice spicy chicken, and the shining star was the Ghost Pepper Ranch sauce. I wasn’t exactly crying tears of capsaicin horror, but it was legit spicy and delicious at the same time. I want Jack to start offering Ghost Pepper Ranch as a side sauce. I would put it on everything.

I usually conclude a supposedly-spicy fast food sandwich by saying something like, “you suck, this wasn’t at all spicy, I hate when fast food even mutters the word spicy, blah blah blah”, but in the case of the Jack in the Box Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich, I can recommend it with a clear conscience if you’re looking for a kick from your chicken. Just ask for extra jalapeños. And extra-extra Ghost Pepper Ranch. And extra napkins.

[Disclaimer: This Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich was purchased with a gift card courtesy of Jack in the Box. This in no way influences my review or changes my mind that Jack should have had a Ghost Ranch.]

Jack in the Box Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich

  • Score: 4.5 out of 5 soiled overalls
  • Price: Free (regular price $4.69)
  • Size: 1 sandwich
  • Purchased at: Jack in the Box #111
  • Score Quirk: I’m calling this a “score quirk” because I gave it high marks despite the lack of onions and not enough jalapeños. Sometimes you can’t blame the company for the franchise. Plus I got extra ghost pepper ranch so nyah.

Domino’s Specialty Chicken: Crispy Bacon & Tomato and Spicy Jalapeno-Pineapple

Domino's Specialty Chicken Crispy Bacon & Tomato and Spicy Jalapeno-PineappleThere seems to be some confusion surrounding Domino’s new Specialty Chicken. I first heard mention of it from Conan O’Brien, where he described it in his monologue as “ new pizza where, instead of dough, they’re using fried chicken.” Half-listening, I thought to myself, “Oh, that must not be in this country. The United States has gotten pretty insane with our pizzas, but not that insane.”

And yet, as I was doing my usual Internet food-trolling duties later that day, I came across the Specialty Chicken.

I love the mysteriousness of the name. What makes this chicken so special? Is it because it is, indeed, a chicken pizza crust? Domino’s themselves describes it as “100% whole breast white meat chicken covered in our toppings, sauces and cheeses.”

Well, that sounds like a chicken pizza crust to me!

At this point, Specialty Chicken became known as “Domino’s Abomination” in my household, two words I tried desperately to portmanteau. “AbDomination” was the best I could come up with, which still reeks of trying-too-hard so I don’t even know why I’m telling you this.

So far, Domino’s Abominations come in four flavors: Classic Hot Buffalo, Sweet BBQ Bacon, Crispy Bacon & Tomato and Spicy Jalapeno-Pineapple. Given the concept, I only chose two, as the idea of eating or even possessing four chicken crust pizzas was too daunting for my mouth.

When my special chickens arrived, they came in the same box that Domino’s uses for their sandwiches and wings. Upon opening, I was more than a little disappointed by the size. Instead of a whole pizza, it was more the size of a slice.

I’ll discuss the basics before I get to the specific toppings. First of all, Specialty Chicken is not a chicken crust. While Domino’s description above is questionably accurate, what they fail to add is that the chicken basically comes in nugget form. Call it disappointing or encouraging, this does not a chicken crust make.

That said, the pieces were lightly breaded with a nice seasoning, and the chicken was surprisingly tender. I wish I’d taken the time to count exactly how many there were – I’d estimate a little over six per.

The real failing here was the topping coverage. The Crispy Bacon & Tomato managed to hold it together, you might say, but the Spicy Jalapeno-Pineapple just looked like a disaster.

Domino's Specialty Chicken Spicy Jalapeno-Pineapple

Starting with the latter, Domino’s describes it as “Tender bites of lightly breaded, 100% whole breast white meat chicken, topped with sweet and spicy mango-habanero sauce, a blend of cheese made with mozzarella and cheddar, jalapeno and pineapple.”

Domino's Specialty Chicken Spicy Jalapeno-Pineapple Close-Up2

I feel like I was missing a fair amount of all of these things except the chicken. There was a lot of cheese overflow, resulting in some lovely cheese crisps, but that wasn’t the point. I had to actually work to get cheese, a piece of jalapeno and a piece of pineapple on the same piece, and I didn’t even know there was a sauce until I read the description.

That said, when I managed to get the toppings in tandem with the chicken, the spicy and the sweet worked quite well together. I’m not a huge pineapple fan, but it worked well to balance the impressive level of heat from the peppers. If there had been any trace of the mango-habanero sauce, I feel like that would have taken this Specialty Chicken to the next level.

Domino's Specialty Chicken Crispy Bacon & Tomato

The Crispy Bacon & Tomato actually kind of resembles a pizza slice. Domino’s describes it as “Tender bites of lightly breaded, 100% whole breast white meat chicken, topped with garlic parmesan white sauce, a blend of cheese made with mozzarella and cheddar, crispy bacon and tomato.”

Domino's Specialty Chicken Crispy Bacon & Tomato Close-Up

The toppings were joyously more prominent on this Specialty Chicken. The garlic parmesan white sauce definitely made its presence known, adding a creamy lubricant (phrasing) that compliments the toppings and the cheese that binds it all together.

I actually had a bit of fun pulling these chicken pieces apart, watching the cheese stretch and enjoying the smoky bacon that was actually crisp, along with the juicy tomatoes. The tomatoes were more scarce than the bacon, but I’d rather have that than the other way around. The sauce was tangy and really brought it all together.

All of this sounds overly complimentary in the face of my description of the Spicy Jalapeno-Pineapple Specialty Chicken, but in reality, neither of these delivered on the toppings-to-chicken ratio. If you ordered a pizza and half of it was completely topping-less, you’d probably call Domino’s asking for your money back. If we’re treating this like a chicken pizza, that was exactly the case here.

I’m amending my initial moniker of Domino’s Abomination and calling Specialty Chicken Domino’s Disappointment. If these had initially been described to me as “breaded chicken pieces smothered in sauce, cheese, and toppings”, I would have responded with, “Fuck yeah, where do I sign up?”

While this is what Specialty Chicken was meant to be, this is not what I got. Everything was lacking except the chicken – barely any toppings, cheese that didn’t even start to cover each piece of chicken, and sauce that was meager or tasted non-existent. Furthermore, the price for these things is completely overblown – I was able to eat both in one sitting, which comes to $12 for a lunch from a fast food joint. I feel like Domino’s Specialty Chicken could be so much more if they lowered the price and upped the toppings.

Domino’s Specialty Chicken

  • Score (Spicy Jalapeno-Pineapple): 2 out of 5 sad “Where’s the sauce?” jokes
  • Score (Crispy Bacon & Tomato): 2.5 out of 5 creamy lubricant jokes
  • Price: $5.99 each
  • Size: 12 pieces each
  • Purchased at: Domino’s #7602
  • Nutritional Quirks: Domino’s website tells me there were 12 pieces each, but I swear I got cheated.

Popeye’s Chicken Waffle Tenders with Sweet Honey Maple Sauce

Popeye's Chicken Waffle Tenders with Sweet Honey Maple Sauce ComboIf I had to pick an iconic American food that would suddenly enter the junk food hype machine, I would have never guessed that chicken and waffles would be the next Big Thing. But here we are, with chicken and waffle-flavored chips (which lost Lay’s Do Us a Flavor contest but are now back on shelves – don’t even get me started on that), Torani Chicken ‘N Waffles Syrup that you could theoretically put in your coffee or on your ice cream or whatever you want to turn disgusting, and now Popeye’s Chicken Waffle Tenders.

I give kudos to Popeye’s for this concept. They’ve taken a pre-existing platform – their chicken, as opposed to something like chips or syrup – and added the waffle aspect in a rather unique way.

Oh, sure, they could have just chucked a few pieces of waffle in with their chicken, but Popeye’s got creative. According to their commercial, Chicken Waffle Tenders are all white-meat tenders marinated in Louisiana spices and hand-crafted with a light, crispy waffle coating.

What this basically means is that the tenders are dipped in waffle batter instead of traditional egg wash before they’ve been coated with Popeye’s signature seasoned coating and fried up.

Pretty ingenious, right? Okay, maybe not ingenious, but at least not outright lazy.

I have to admit, I came into this biased. I’ve never had actual chicken and waffles, which means I should probably shut my mouth right now. But I’ve had fried chicken and I’ve had waffles, and it just doesn’t seem like a combination I’d like. In general, I like my savory and my sweet separate. It’s just a personal preference. It’s part of the reason why I disliked Lay’s Chicken & Waffles chips.

I really wanted to give Popeye’s a fair shake, though, so I put my on my Objective Journalism Cap and went to work.

Actually, before I put the objective cap on, one more thing – Popeye’s customer service sucks. I don’t think I’ve ever had an experience there that went smoothly. They get my order wrong. They’re out of whatever it is I happen to be ordering. They do that thing where they make me pull around from the drive-thru and park in front to wait for my food.

This last incident happens almost every time, and wouldn’t bother me that much, except as I sit there the a/c in my car gradually starts to grow warmer until I’m marinating in my own distinctly not-Louisiana spices.

You could chalk this up to one bad location, but I’ve had several friends from different parts of the nation have the same experiences. I dunno what it is about Popeye’s, but it seems they just can’t get their shit together.

On this trip, I decided that, in addition to my Chicken Waffle Tenders, I’d get some Zatarain’s Butterfly Shrimp as a backup lunch in case I really hated the tenders. Even though it’s still featured on their website, I was informed that they no longer carried them, because that was last month’s promotional item.

You know what? Fair enough. I was willing to give them a pass on that.

Other than my crustaceous disappointment, things actually went smoothly. I was a little irritated that the Chicken Waffle Tenders were only available as a combo with a biscuit, fries and drink, but that was a minor complaint. I was in the mood for lemonade anyways.

Then I got home and pulled this out of the bag:

Wait, what?
Wait, what?

Before my Rageometer reached critical mass, I opened up the box:

Popeye's Chicken Waffle Tenders with Sweet Honey Maple Sauce Combo

Oh, okay. Fairly new item. Using up old boxes. Whatever. At least my order was correct. I could tell, because the smell of Popeye’s seasoning was mixed with a faint waffle scent. Plus, I got the Sweet Honey Maple Sauce that is advertised specifically for this item. I had to sit down for a moment, in shock that I’d received the correct order.

The tenders also had a darker coating than normal Popeye’s fried chicken, which I took as an indication of the presence of waffle batter.

Popeye's Chicken Waffle Tenders

I tried the tenders without the sauce first. The chicken was moist and tender, which is not unusual for Popeye’s. They may suck at customer service, but then generally deliver some pretty darn good chicken.

The fried coating had just the right amount of crunch and was not at all soggy. It did have an annoying tendency to flake off the tenders more than regular fried coating, though.

Of course, the important part here is the Waffle part of Chicken Waffle Tenders. I am pleased to say that, despite all my predictions, I actually liked the waffle flavor. When I first bit into a tender, I tasted those Popeye’s Louisiana spices right off the bat. As I got through the bite, the waffle flavor came through, almost as a finishing taste. It was distinctly and authentically waffle, but it wasn’t very sweet at all, and I was so happy Popeye’s decided to keep their spices and add the waffle batter, because the two worked really well together.

Enter the Sweet Honey Maple Sauce. This seems like another smart move on Popeye’s part, since what is chicken and waffles without syrup? It seems the perfect dipping compliment to Chicken Waffle Tenders.

Popeye's Chicken Waffle Tenders with Sweet Honey Maple Sauce

Except for the fact that something went horribly wrong. While I really enjoyed the tenders on their own, the Sweet Honey Maple Sauce ruined the whole thing for me. It did, indeed, have a strong maple flavor, and I liked the touch of honey, but it was cloyingly sweet.

Now, if you like your chicken and waffles smothered in syrup, this sweetness may not be an issue for you. What I consider to be a completely objective problem with this sauce was the texture.

Have you ever tried a dip that was so thick in all the wrong ways that whatever you were dipping either came out of it with no dip at all, or just one giant glob of dip? That’s exactly what Sweet Honey Maple Sauce is like. A small cup of ectoplasmic goo far too thick for a chicken tender, and also far too sweet for my taste.

I’m a dipper by nature, but I wound up eating all three of my tenders straight after my initial bite of the sauce. The spices and the waffle batter combined with the moist chicken were all the flavor that was needed. I really couldn’t think of a substitute dip that would outshine the flavor of the tenders themselves.

This was my first taste of actual chicken with actual waffle (if in batter form), and I definitely see the appeal. I thought the waffle flavor would ruin the chicken, but instead, it enhanced Popeye’s spices and didn’t overwhelm the moist chicken or the seasonings with sweetness. The waffle batter may have caused the fried coating to flake off too easily, but it was still nice and crunchy, even if I had to sort of cobble it back on to the tenders.

While I considered the Sweet Honey Maple sauce subjectively too sweet and objectively too goopy, I don’t fault the Chicken Waffle Tenders for it. Popeye’s took a trending flavor and managed to put a rather clever and successful spin on it, and I consider this a pretty high bar for future chicken-and-waffle-flavored concoctions. (Note: I’d really rather not see any more chicken-and-waffle-flavored concoctions. I’m glaring at you, Taco Bell Doritos Locos Tacos.)

Popeye’s Chicken Waffle Tenders with Sweet Honey Maple Sauce

  • Score: 4 out of 5 let’s-pretend-Sweet-Honey-Maple-Sauce-never-happened
  • Price: $5.99
  • Size: 3-tender combo with biscuit, fries and drink
  • Purchased at: Popeye’s #5636
  • Nutritional Quirks: I couldn’t seem to find any nutritional info on Popeye’s website, but I’m pretty sure the Sweet Honey Maple Sauce was made with Slimer’s secretions.

Other Chicken Waffle Tenders reviews: The Impulsive Buy, GrubGrade, Brand Eating

KFC Original Recipe Boneless Chicken

KFC Original Recipe Boneless ChickenAre you guys ready for this? Maybe you should sit down. Have a fainting couch nearby and some smelling salts.

Because this is The Greatest Day in Chicken History.

At least, according to KFC, it is. Well, technically it was April 14, when they launched their new Original Recipe Boneless Chicken. But with such a bold declaration, I’m going to assume KFC thinks every day that Original Recipe Boneless Chicken exists is still The Greatest Day in Chicken History.

You’d think that would be enough of a marketing campaign, but KFC isn’t done yet. They’re pushing the slogan “I ate the bones!” hard through commercials and social media, including a #iatethebones contest starting April 22nd wherein you can submit your “best I ate the bones! face” in order to win money.

In case you haven’t sussed it out yet, the commercials show various people looking down at their empty KFC boxes and completely losing their shit, yelling “I ate the bones!” like they’re having an autistic freakout.

“Holy shit, I am so in love with this chicken that I ate the fucking bones and didn’t even notice, I may be dying and in need of medical attention” is not quite the ad campaign I would have gone for, but KFC is really committed to it.

Because I am a heartless jerk, I hope this leads to dozens of news stories about people actually eating KFC bones. Even better, I want to see pictures of people choking on bones entering the #iatethebones contest. That’s real commitment. I hope all KFC employees have been trained to give the Heimlich maneuver.

For a large chunk of my life, I refused to eat chicken-on-the-bone. It grossed me out. All those veins and tendons…no thanks. My chicken world was restricted to nuggets and strips, which is kind of funny, since I’m sure whatever goes into making nuggets is more disgusting than a bone. Even chicken strips weren’t what they are today in both quality and availability, so I think old me would have been thrilled at the idea of KFC Original Recipe Boneless chicken.

Fortunately I have expanded my culinary horizons since then, so I’m perfectly fine gnawing on a leg or a thigh. But if this Boneless version can stand up to KFC’s regular Original Recipe, I may go back to my no-bone ways. Plus, that’s one less thing for my cats to try to dig out of the trash while I’m asleep.

My first impression when I saw the two pieces of Original Recipe Boneless Chicken that came with my meal was that they were a little smaller than, say, a bone-in breast, but they were still fairly sizable.

KFC Original Recipe Boneless Chicken White Meat

The piece of white meat actually did resemble a chicken breast, and the breading looked just like Original Recipe, although less greasy.

KFC Original Recipe Boneless Chicken White Meat Inside

I was pleased when I ripped the white meat piece apart. It was obviously juicy, and it did, indeed, taste juicy. The chicken was just the right texture, too.

I have no idea how KFC makes their Boneless pieces happen. I’d like to think it’s Gary Larson’s vision come to life. No matter how they do it, I was pleased that it didn’t feel or taste like a Frankenstein’s chicken monster – it had the taste and texture of a chicken breast, with the added bonus of not having to work around bones. This resulted in a more even breading-to-chicken ratio.

KFC Original Recipe Boneless Chicken Dark Meat

As for the dark meat Boneless piece, it seemed a little more misshapen than the white, making it look a little odd. Exactly what part of the chicken did this come from? You know what, don’t answer that.

KFC Original Recipe Boneless Chicken Dark Meat Inside

I was pleased when I ripped it open to see that it was obvious that this was the dark meat piece. I mean, it’s not like they came labeled, but I had my suspicions as to how the dark meat piece would actually pan out. It also didn’t look processed or cobbled together on the inside, despite its outward appearance.

I found the dark meat piece to be not only more flavorful, but also a little juicier. These are things I typically feel about dark meat vs. white meat, so Boneless really scored there.

When you’re dealing with bone-in chicken, you tend to have to work a little harder to get that dark meat, and there’s less of it than you’ll find on a white meat chicken breast. I found this a particularly nice quality in the dark meat Boneless, because being able to eat a big, juicy piece of dark meat with even breading and without having to work around bones and other…stuff was a unique and enjoyable experience.

Please take note that I am staying far, far away from “big, juicy dark meat” entendres.

In the end, I enjoyed both pieces. Both had juicy and tender meat that tasted like I was eating chicken and not chicken by-product. The breading-to-meat ratio was great on both pieces, and there was a noticeable grease decrease. I found this to be both good and bad – while it added to the crunch of the breading, I found myself missing the pleasure of eating those greasy pieces of skin. That could be a plus or a minus, depending on your viewpoint.

One thing I did notice was that, when you rip the Original Recipe Boneless white meat into pieces, it feels pretty similar to eating chicken strips, which is something you could easily order off the KFC menu and get pretty much the same experience.

Where I felt the Original Recipe Boneless really shone was with the dark meat piece. It had more flavor, and the experience of eating a big ol’ piece of dark meat with little effort and with a nice distribution of breading was pretty unique.

Have I reformed back to the chicken-off-the-bone ways that I had worked to conquer? Not completely. I missed the skin and the greasiness of bone-in chicken, while on the other hand, I loved having such a large piece of dark meat that I could chomp and crunch easily.

Fortunately for me, KFC offers buckets that are part Original Recipe Boneless and part regular bone-in Original Recipe. If I’m hankering for some skin and grease but still want that large-piece-chicken experience, that would work great. Or, if I just want to rip into some crunchy dark meat, I could get my 2-piece Original Recipe Boneless meal with two dark meat pieces. It’s nice to have options.

I just hope I don’t accidentally eat the bones. And because I’m not a wild, laughing hyena ripping into my KFC chicken with wild abandon and incredible jaw strength, I don’t think that will be a problem.

KFC Original Recipe Boneless Chicken

  • Score: 4 out of 5 laughing hyenas posting their #iatethebones faces on Twitter
  • Price: $4.99
  • Size: 2-piece meal with individual side, biscuit and drink
  • Purchased at: KFC #D212045
  • Nutritional Quirks: I feel like there’s a quirk behind-the scenes in regards to how KFC makes their Boneless chicken happen. I’m also pretty sure I don’t want to know what it is.

Other reviews that did not eat the bones: Brand Eating, Fast Food Geek, GrubGrade

News: Popeye’s Rip’n Chick’n Returns; Still Prefers Apostrophes Over Vowels

I first wrote about Popeye’s Rip’n Chick’n back in July of last year; I never got around to reviewing it, probably because of time or real life or something stupid like that. Well, now it’s back! Here’s the official description:

“Rip’n Chick’n is a boneless chicken breast marinated with a blend of spicy peppers, then hand-battered, breaded and cooked. The chicken breast is sliced into pull-apart strips that are easy to rip and dip. This portable treat is served with cool buttermilk ranch dipping sauce for $3.99 and available as a combo with Cajun fries and a biscuit for just $1 more.”

I’m not an angry person, but if I need to take out some aggression, I think I’d rather do it on food as opposed to, say, my bathroom mirror. It also sounds a lot more tasty and a lot less painful.

GrubGrade actually reviewed Rip’n Chick’n last year, and while it’s hard to tell from the promo photo above, apparently it looks eerily like a monster hand, which makes it all the better. Who doesn’t want to rip off and then consume monster fingers? If you don’t, something is wrong with you.

Rip’n Chick’n is only back for a limited time, so if you want the chance to rip and dip (as opposed to grip and sip, which is a very different thing), head over to Popeye’s soon.

News: Popeyes Wants You to Take Your Aggression Out on New Rip’n Chick’n

Do you always order the blooming onion appetizer at restaurants? Did you rip the heads off of all your sister’s Barbies as a kid? Then you may enjoy Popeye’s new Rip’n Chick’n.

The premise here is that Popeyes takes a whole white meat chicken breast and cuts it into strips, but keeps the strips connected at the base. They then marinate the mutilated breast in four different peppers (cayenne, habanero, white and black peppers) and “Louisiana seasonings”, whatever they may be. It’s then hand battered and fried.

It’s basically just a unique twist on their Louisiana Tenders, but I like the idea. I’m down with any food that lets me take my aggression out on it. *RIP* Take that, guy that cut me off in traffic this morning! *RIP* How dare you leave SVU, Chris Meloni! Now who is going to get inappropriately angry at rapists and throw them against the interrogation room wall? I trusted you to rid New York of its unusually high population of violent pedophiles! *RIP*

Rip’n Chick’n comes with Cajun fries, a biscuit and buttermilk ranch for dip’n for $3.99. It’s only available through August 28, so if anger management classes aren’t working out for you, you better hurry on down to Popeyes soon.

Sources: Brand Eating, GrubGrade

Wendy’s Spicy Chipotle Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Spicy Chipotle Jr. Cheeseburger and Natural-Cut French Fries with Sea Salt

Please welcome special guest reviewer Robert (Not Bob).  A little while back, GrubGrade broke the news that Wendy’s had some new items in test markets. One of these items was being tested in the Dallas area. My friend Robert lives around there, so I asked him if he would try it out and write a review for me. To my astonishment, he actually did! Enjoy this sneak peak of what may someday come to a Wendy’s near you!

To me, Wendy’s seems to be the “Red Haired Step-Child” of fast food chains. They’ve even acknowledged this by choosing a red haired, and presumably gap-toothed, hayseedish-looking child as their mascot.

Unlike your usual reviewers, I’m not a habitual frequenter of fast food restaurants. But the 3 or 6 times a year I do consent to go to one, I never even consider Wendy’s. Hell, they can’t even make their hamburger patties the right shape.

A quick look at the Wikipedia page for Wendy’s tells me that it’s the third largest hamburger chain after McDonald’s and Burger King, which surprises me, because I personally can’t find anyone that’ll admit to frequenting their establishment. As for myself, I honestly think that the last time I visited one was about 20 years ago, when I was dirt-poor and in college, and discovered their cheap-and-surprisingly-good chili. Most of the people I talked to about Wendy’s seemed to share the same opinion, which is “They have a couple of things that are pretty good, but when I want a burger, I go elsewhere.”

At this point, I’ll pause to point out that the sole qualification I have for writing this review is that I live in North-Central Texas, where Wendy’s is test marketing a couple of new menu items.

Like every other chain, Wendy’s is rolling out a spicy chicken sandwich. Since chipotle is the “go-to” spicy of fast food, they’ve jumped on that bandwagon too, resulting in the “Spicy Chipotle Crispy Chicken Sandwich”.

The first thing I noticed when I stepped into a local Wendy’s is that the average age of their patrons appears to be hovering around the 65~70 mark. Maybe that’s the secret of their success. The geezers don’t want to dodge the kids at McDonalds and they don’t want to associate with the potheads at Taco Bell, so they’ve made Wendy’s their destination restaurant. Hey, they actually have “Old Fashioned” as part of their subtitle, so that may actually be the market they’re playing for.

The second thing I noticed was that my target sandwich is a 99-cent item and has a companion menu item, the 99-cent Spicy Chipotle Jr. Cheeseburger. I decided to take one for the team and try them both. I also decided to give their much-hyped Natural-Cut French Fries with Sea Salt a shot, so you get a bonus review, even though it’s a review of something that’s been around for six months.

Let’s take a look under the hood of the Spicy Chipotle Crispy Chicken.

As expected, there’s the orange-y chipotle sauce that shows up so often on “spicy chipotle” fast food items. A quick by-itself taste test reveals that it’s not as spicy or tangy as most. In fact, it appears that the main thing it brings to the party is “orange”. The chicken looks to be a standard, un-spicy pre-formed patty and the cheese is maybe white American or Swiss.

The real surprise is the jalapeños. Didn’t see that one coming. As a food item billed as “chipotle”, it’s supposed to get it’s spicy from a sauce or seasoning from dried, smoked jalapeños, not from fresh or pickled ones.

After tasting the sandwich, I can say that it’s a good thing they’re there. The chicken patty itself is fine, although you’d never mistake it for the vastly superior chicken of Chik-Fil-A. As expected, the sauce really didn’t add much spice, just kept the overall sandwich from being overly dry. Even in that function it didn’t do very well, since its application was a little sparse for my taste. The jalapeños, however, held up their end of the bargain and added a decent amount of bite. Much like the presence of Patrick Warburton in a substandard kiddie movie, they made a mediocre offering palatable, even mildly enjoyable.

Ok, time to look at the Spicy Chipotle Jr. Cheeseburger, which features the exact same ingredients, but with the weird square patty instead of the chicken.

After only one bite I finally, instantly understood why Wendy’s hamburger patties are square.

It’s a warning. Like the brilliant colors on a poison dart frog, it’s nature’s way of saying “Don’t Touch”. The meat had an unhealthy, “off” taste that seriously made me unable to even taste the jalapeños, let alone the bland chipotle sauce.

Shuddering at the memory, I cleansed my palate and moved on to the Natural-Cut French Fries with Sea Salt.

I’m not a big french-fry eater. I honestly think they’re an over-rated side, and that their success is mostly due to their portability and America’s love affair with salt and dipping food into other food.

However, I must say, these were some pretty tasty fries. The left-on skin gave them a hardier, more potato-y flavor than you usually get out of a fast food fry, and the use of sea salt instead of table salt was noticeable, if only slightly. Wendy’s got it about right on these.

In conclusion, I’ll say that the Spicy Chipotle Crispy Chicken is a fairly decent offering for a 99-cent value-meal item (even if it’s name is a lie) and the Natural-Cut French Fries with Sea Salt live up to their name. However, the Spicy Chipotle Jr. Cheeseburger is literally uneatable, due to the nasty-tasting beef that Wendy’s apparently uses. However, if you decide to try any of them, I recommend bringing along this if you actually want to taste anything that even vaguely resembles chipotle.

Spicy Chipotle Crispy Chicken Sandwich

  • Score: 3 out of 5 surprise jalapeños
  • Price: 99-cents
  • Size: 1 sandwich
  • Purchased at: Wendy’s, Fort Worth, Texas
  • Nutritional Quirks: Sauce apparently more ornamental than functional.

Spicy Chipotle Jr. Cheeseburger

  • Score: 1 out of 5 poisonous amphibians
  • Price: 99-cents
  • Size:1 burger
  • Purchased at: Wendy’s, Fort Worth, Texas
  • Nutritional Quirks: Square hamburger patties preferred by the geriatric.

Natural-Cut French Fries with Sea Salt

  • Score: 4 out of 5 Lot’s wives
  • Price: 99-cents
  • Size: 1 value-size container
  • Purchased at: Wendy’s, Fort Worth, Texas
  • Nutritional Quirks: Sprayed with sodium acid pyrophosphate, dusted with dextrose corn sugar and boiled in oil containing dimethylpolysiloxane.  Oh, and there’s presumably some sea salt in there somewhere.

Quiznos Chicken Bacon Dipper

I think we all know by now that when it comes to bizarre fast food items, it’s on. It’s an arms race to see who can come up with the weirdest new product; who can generate the most Internet buzz? Pizza Hut has recently come out with a stuffed crust pizza that includes toppings AND cheese (obligatory “yo dawg I heard you like pizza in your pizza so I stuffed your pizza with pizza” joke), but, not to be one-upped, Quiznos has come out with the Chicken Bacon Dipper.

The sandwich itself seems pretty loaded, but largely innocent: all-white-meat chicken, smoky bacon, mild chipotle mayo and chipotle jack bread. Sounds good, right? Chipotle, fast food’s favorite flavor-of-the-month, comes into play twice, and you’ve got bacon, which the Internet seems to get a boner about whether it’s in a sandwich or used to construct a bacon house slathered in Baconnaise.

But wait, this isn’t just any sandwich: it’s a Dipper! What does this mean? Well, it’s not unheard of to dip a sandwich, of course; you can find a French Dip on almost any diner’s lunch menu. But this ain’t no jus, son; this is cheese dip! More specifically, Quiznos’ “signature” cheese sauce, which contains tomatoes, diced green chiles and “traditional Mexican spices”.

I guess this is considered weird. I’ve seen news articles and blogs on it calling it a “horror”, saying Quiznos is “trippin’”. I don’t see it as that bizarre. You can’t tell me that some stoner college student hasn’t dipped a ham sandwich into a jar of Tostitos Salsa con Queso at 3am. It’s possible I have done this, completely sober. I swear I’ve dipped a sandwich into some ranch dressing at some point. But that’s just me, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t fall into the “normal” category when it comes to food habits.

I’ll tell you what is weird, though: the commercials. Obviously intended to be bizarre, but I’m pretty horrified by the dude who sticks his beard into the cheese sauce and then starts rubbing his sandwich on it, and I’m terrified I’m going to wake up one day and find the woman in “The Cement Mixer” staring into my bedroom window. I never thought I’d say this, but I’d rather have The King stalking me.

So is this sandwich truly that strange? Let’s find out. I have to say, I’m walking into this with more anticipation that trepidation. Sandwich + cheese sauce? Genius, I say.

There’s a lot to say about this sandwich, so I’ll try to break it all down. The bread was soft, but it was hard to discern if there was any chipotle or jack in it. The chicken was surprisingly juicy, and as you can see, there was some sort of herbal seasoning on it that was really tasty. I think I detected some rosemary, and there was some more stuff going on that I couldn’t specify, but overall it really added some great flavor to the chicken and I’m surprised it wasn’t included in the sandwich’s description.

Unfortunately, the contents of the sandwich were rather anemic. I could have used a lot more chicken, as well as more bacon, which was smoky and added some good flavor but suffered from the all-pervasive Limp Fast Food Bacon Syndrome. There was also a serious lack of chipotle flavor. Having chipotle in both the mayo and the bread, you would think it would be prominent, but all I could taste was a little bit of heat and that’s it. Chipotle has a distinct smoky heat, and that just didn’t come through, which was disappointing.

On to the dip! Oh, the dip. So much potential, and so much failure. Where to begin? Well, first of all, the cheese sauce was way too thick. So thick, in fact, that when I dipped the sandwich into it, it sucked out half the contents of the sandwich, resulting in my having to go on a fishing expedition to get my chicken back into the sandwich after each dip, resulting in serious Cheesy Fingers.

While the addition of diced chiles and “traditional Mexican spices” (whatever that means) added just the right amount of heat, the cheese itself was…how do I put this nicely…the most artificially-flavored cheese I’ve probably ever eaten. Now, hey, I likes me some artificial cheese sauce. I eat cheese out of a can. I won’t apologize. But even Easy Cheese tastes less artificial than Quiznos’ signature cheese dip. After I’d finished it, I felt like I’d just ingested about 500 different chemicals. I couldn’t find any nutritional information about the Chicken Bacon Dipper on their website, but that’s probably for the best, because I’m sure the ingredient list for the cheese dip reads like a Dickens novel.

Sadly, I actually kind of liked the cheese sauce. Like I said, the seasoning gave it a nice bit of heat, and that and the cheesiness, however fake, worked well with the contents of the sandwich. I had to take a step back, however. I had to remove my own sick palate from the situation and be objective. How would a “normal” person feel about this dip? The answer: they would most likely be repulsed. It really does taste artificial and just…wrong. It’s just wrong, this dip. I hate to promote one of my favorite foods twice in one post, but really, you would be so much better off dunking this sandwich into some Tostitos Salsa con Queso. How hard is it to make a cheese dip that’s the right consistency and doesn’t taste like you’re eating at a high school cafeteria?

I wanted so badly to love this sandwich, but in the end, it just didn’t live up to my expectations at all. The chicken was delicious but there wasn’t enough of it. The bacon was also lacking. There was no real chipotle flavor to be found. The sandwich worked well with the dip, which added some heat and some cheesy flavor, but it tasted so artificial that most people would probably be put off by it. My body felt wrong after eating the dip (which, by the way, I did finish, and found the cheese-to-sandwich ratio to be just about perfect), and when your body feels just wrong after eating something, that probably means you shouldn’t have eaten it.

Chicken Bacon Dipper, I wanted to like you so badly, but in the end, you let me down. I hope this doesn’t discourage Quiznos or other fast food places, though; in the future, I want to see all sandwiches come with some form of dip. That’s right, I said it. Gravy, cheese, ranch, jus, I don’t care. I just want to dip it. Dip it good.

  • Score: 2 out of 5 Cheesy Finger fishing expeditions
  • Price: $2.99 (with coupon; regular price $5.19)
  • Size: 1 sandwich
  • Purchased at: Quiznos #7845
  • Nutritional Quirks: No nutritional information available, but that’s probably for the best.  Quiznos signature cheese dip is probably just one big quirk.