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New Jalapeño Chicken Fries from Burger King

Why eat fries made out of worthless potato, when spicy chicken is an option?

We’re seriously starting to feel reluctant to even cover Burger King on these pages. It feels like Burger King had a serious run in the late 1990s, offering a much tastier, more satisfying alternative to the thin, hammered out, grey discs of meat at the McDonald’s across the street.

Choosing to go to Burger King instead of McDonald’s felt like one of your first grown-up decisions, an acknowledgement that fresh vegetables and mayonnaise on your burgers mattered, in fact, they made all of the difference in the world.

The Burger King in my home town had table service. TABLE SERVICE! You could go in to our local Burger King, place a ridiculous and obnoxious order (“I’ll have a Whopper Junior with no onions, extra pickles, and cut in half. And a small Pepsi with just seven ice cubes.”), and be confident that your tiny, impotent will would not only be met, but that an employee would willingly BRING YOUR FOOD TO YOUR TABLE before you stole the salt and pepper shakers and smashed them in the parking lot because minor theft and light vandalism was all the rage in the 1990s.

How can it be, then, that this once-mighty chain has fallen so far from glory?

How can it be, then, that this once-mighty chain has fallen so far from glory? Gone are the fresh vegetables, replaced by sagging, colorless warehouse iceberg lettuce and tomatoes whose sole defining characteristic is their ability to travel unharmed at highway speeds in the back of a truck. Gone are those gigantic chicken sandwiches with the international themes, that made you feel like your taste buds were touring the globe, right from the comfort of your tan plastic booth. Gone are the nearly limitless customizations of inventive new limited time offerings, replaced by bargain-basement pancakes and what, hot dogs? HOT DOGS?

It’s a disgrace, is what it is, with the kind of grey, lifeless, flavorless food more reminiscent of the cafeterias that used to exist in Wal-Mart before they all got licensed out to become muggy Subway restaurants, where you could buy some kind of chicken mashed up into some other kind of chicken for a nickel while you shopped for baggy carpenter jeans and gigantic boxes of cereal.

There’s just no room for this kind of product in today’s fast food landscape. Other chains are managing to deliver not just inventive new products, but have dialed up the quality of their ingredients with organic lettuces, free-range eggs, buns that look like they may have been formed by human hands, and beef that makes it from butcher to restaurant, without ever even touching a freezer. And what is Burger King doing, in the meantime? Putting shitty, thin, fatty bacon on something for the 10,000th time?

Anyway, Burger King has these “Jalapeño Chicken Fries,” available for a limited time.

Written by Malcolm Bedell

Malcolm is the author of “Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road,” as well as a frequent contributor to Serious Eats, Down East Magazine, The L.A. Weekly, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and more. When not poisoning his body with garbage and then posting sardonic commentary about it on the Internet, he also owns and operates the ‘Wich, Please food truck, named Eater.com’s “Hottest Restaurant in Maine” for 2015.

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