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The King’s Buns

August 7, 2017

At some point a couple of years ago, I actually went to a Burger King for the sake of science to document the classic chicken sandwich. This was one of the beloved fast food items among my circle of friends during the teen years. And I was really curious to taste it again as an adult.

To complete the comparison, I also visited McDonald’s to see what was happening under the golden arches with their chicken.

Neither this story, nor its photos, saw the light of day. The Burger King chicken sandwich was not the stuff of memory. However, I was suspicious that the poor excuse of a chicken sandwich I received was the result of operator error. It would be a tragedy if the brand had let the standards that built a classic erode so badly. Of course, it could also be that as kids we simply did not know any better.

With this experience under my belt, in addition to the awful taste the Burger King burgers literally left in my mouth a few years prior, I figured I was totally done with this chain. That is, until two forces conspired against me:

1) A Family road trip to Pennsylvania
2) BKs new Chicken parm sandwich

Highway dining is fraught with peril. When you pull into the rest stop for a meal, you have precious few options. On this last go around, it was either Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Nathan’s Hot Dogs, or Burger King.

But that bitter pill was made easier to swallow when I saw chicken parm on the menu.

Curiosity got the best of me, and I was eager to see how this burger chain would do in delivering on the classic flavors of this Italian-American red sauce classic. Certainly, the picture looked great. But the picture always looks great. Still, this is something that’s so simple, it seems hard to screw up.

Fried chicken. Tomato sauce. Melted mozzarella. Bun.

The first problem, when confronted with the hard reality of the sandwich vesus its much prettier menu board cousin, was the issue of the sauce. Where did the sauce go? When I went looking inside the sandwich, I found a little. Just enough to prove it was present. But not nearly enough to contribute the flavor that this sandwich demands.

The second problem was the bun.

Could a chicken parm sandwich work on a potato bun? Maybe. But definitely not on this potato bun. Philly Voice found this bun to be a sandwich killer because of its greasy sweetness. Mrs. Fussy was put off by its flavor.

What could be the source of that strange flavor? I hypothesized it could be some dough conditioner. Maybe even the “yoga mat” one that was all the rage a few years ago. But then I did a little sleuthing and suspect the culprit is much more obvious. Here are the ingredients, and let’s see if you come up with the same conclusion.

POTATO BUN: Unbleached enriched flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, sugar, yeast, potato flakes, contains 2% or less of each of the following:, wheat gluten, soybean oil, palm oil, salt, glaze (water, sunflower oil, vegetable proteins, wheat maltodextrins, wheat dextrose, corn starch), dextrose, yellow corn flour, natural and artificial flavors, sodium stearoyl lactylate, monocalcium phosphate, monoglycerides, enzymes, colored with turmeric and paprika, mono-diglycerides, ascorbic acid, calcium propionate (to retard spoilage).

I’m calling foul on the artificial flavors. Although, perhaps the culprit was the natural flavors, or maybe something else from within the formulation.

Perhaps your curiosity is piqued, and you’ll give this sandwich a go despite my warnings. Hopefully, you’ll get a sandwich with an adequate quantity of sauce. Because the fry on the chicken, and the melt on the cheese were actually quite good.

And heck, maybe most people have been conditioned for weird tasting bread these days. It must be the case. Otherwise, how else can one explain the persistent popularity of Subway?

The mind boggles.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 7, 2017 10:24 am

    As the Queen of Chicken Parm I’ve been tempted to give it a try. I’ll let you know!!!

    • August 7, 2017 10:31 am

      I was hoping you would. At least now you are going in with your eyes wide open. Just to be on the safe side, you might want to ask for a little extra sauce on the side.

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