BK's Philly Chicken not true Philly, but still tasty
This week I reached out for a new Philly Chicken Sandwich, here for a limited time only at busy, busy No. 2 burger flipper Burger King, with 12,500 restaurants around this crazy blue planet.
The Philly Chicken Sandwich is one of five new items on the Burger King menu, joining Cheesy Tots (the cheese is inside the tater tot), Molten Fudge Bites, crispy tempura-style Chicken Nuggets and the Avocado & Swiss Whopper.
Remember the Whopper? Oh yeah, that's what brought Burger King to the dance in 1957.
In the past 12 months, Burger King has introduced nearly two dozen new products, and it's hard to find a burger in the basket. That's because beef prices are so high that Burger King -- like all drive-thru joints -- is getting down and funky with chicken, fish, smoothies, coffee drinks, desserts and, desperate times call for desperate measures, salads.
Gotta give Burger King credit -- the geniuses in product research and development are swinging for the fences. Variety is good. New stuff keeps me pecking at the target like a rooster in a lab experiment. And it's not like Burger King has ditched its fallback burgers. The Whopper is still king at the King.
Here's the Philly Chicken Sandwich blueprint: a lightly breaded chicken fillet, diced red and green peppers, grilled onions, American cheese and cheese sauce on a toasted sesame-seed bun.
Total calories: 550. Fat grams: 25. Protein: 30 g. Dietary fiber: 3 g. Carbs: 54 g. Sodium: 1,870 mg. Manufacturer's suggested retail price: $4.29.
What a coincidence with the sodium content: 1,870. That's the year Gustavus Dows patented the modern soda fountain.
Speaking of, come on, fast-food chains -- when are you going to wake up to Coke Zero? That's what we're all drinking now. If spigot space is the problem, get rid of the orange soda or strawberry Hi-C or that awful flat lemonade that nobody likes.
Burger King picked a curious name for the Philly Chicken Sandwich. It really doesn't resemble a Philly cheesesteak very much. First, Pat's King of Steaks and Geno's Steaks, the legendary cheesesteak joints near each other in Philadelphia, don't even have a chicken sandwich on their menus. And you have to order special if you want grilled onions wit' your sandwich. Peppers are extra, too. If you can find a cheesesteak place that does have a chicken sandwich, the chicken will be grilled and chopped, not breaded and fried.
So what we're left with, Burger King's Philly Chicken Sandwich, is simply … a darn good, tasty chicken sandwich. "What's in a name?" That's Shakespeare.
Burger King uses the chicken fillet from its Original Chicken Sandwich. It's lightly coated, so you're not getting a ton of greasy breading and just a sliver of chicken. It's a good-size, meaty piece of white-meat bird.
The peppers, onions and cheese sauce are a welcome, crunchy change of pace from the same old, same old ranch dressing. I'm so tired of ranch. Now I understand why Pernell Roberts left "Bonanza" after five seasons.
American cheese is the right choice for this sandwich, and the creamy cheese sauce is a ringer for the Cheez Whiz up in Philly. I liked this sandwich, period.
Add a side of Cheesy Tots -- heck, I'll take the 12-pack -- and a box of Molten Fudge Bites, and I'll be on my way.
Ken Hoffman's syndicated column appears Wednesday.