There sure are a lot of spicy items these days. At the Observer, we’ve recently noted spicy nuggets from McDonald’s and a spicy chicken sandwich from Shake Shack. Of course, Popeyes included a spicy option when introducing its chicken sandwich.
Why the emphasis on spicy? One contributing factor could be articles such as this one. There are a lot of people who will write about new items. That creates a strong incentive for fast food restaurants to introduce more items, and spicy items make a nice hook.
The spicy item under the microscope this week is a new spicy chicken sandwich from Whataburger.
The sandwich comes with lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayo. I will admit to not being the biggest vegetable fan, but I do wonder if fast-food restaurants would be better served by starting to steer away from serving "fresh" produce.
Fast food is built around having a simple formula that can be easily repeated across hundreds of stores. Trying to guarantee fresh lettuce in that situation can be tricky. The lettuce in my sandwich certainly could have been less wilted than it was. Tomatoes have a little lower degree of difficulty, but they still prove to be tricky.
The best thing going for the sandwich, ingredients-wise, is that the meat is one whole piece, a marinated and fried filet. I don’t think we’d be reviewing this if they’d just tossed some tenders in buffalo sauce and put them on the sandwich. Actually, Whataburger puts exactly that item on the menu, and we haven’t reviewed it. But my point is that the full piece of meat is quite delicious and is clearly superior to a tender sandwich.
That chicken is spiced up the right way, too. Whataburger puts the peppers in the marinade rather than just drizzling it on after the fact, and it shows: It’s a very comprehensive flavor.
The first bite is sweet in a pleasant way, and the heat comes on slowly, building into something serious but not overpowering.
Whataburger's latest take on the fried chicken sandwich is a quality item that will most definitely be joining my Whataburger rotation.
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