It’s NFL season again. Which means that, besides watching the Chargers lose over and over, I also get to watch a lot of meretricious commercials. Most of them are about cars that I cannot afford, political attacks I’m sick of, and crappy fast food. Last year, McDonald’s convinced me that they created new “craft burgers.”
This time, it's not McDonald’s who is pushing their garbage food on me while I enjoy football. It’s Burger King, with a commercial featuring the creepy Burger King mascot and Chester Cheetah announcing their newest creation, Cheetos Chicken Fries. The seven-year-old me would have loved this product.
Bacon King 2016 — The Tour
Another commercial Burger King keeps showing is for their Bacon King. Two pretty white boys wearing paper crowns explain this new BK creation:
“We are going to take you on a tour. First floor: bun; second floor: two patties; third floor: penthouse — six strips of bacon, sesame seed roof; sunset.”
I ventured to my nearest Burger King in San Ysidro where I met up with my roommate before crossing the border back to Tijuana. As I expected, the inside was depressing. A homeless man drank coffee while he wiggled a dirty rag doll with his right hand and talked to himself. A woman breastfed her child — a large soda and no food was on the table in front of her. A tired old worker sat by himself with plastic bags at his side. Families of excited children and bored parents formed the other few patrons, all of them Latinos.
The menu behind the counter, a nice array of futuristic HD screens, brought me back to the year 2016. Chester Cheetah ran around between the screens announcing the arrival of my childhood dream food. The Bacon King is featured on another screen.
The roommate frowned at me as he analyzed his choices. He opted for the double cheeseburger and 10-piece chicken nuggets (both $1.49). I got what the TV commercials told me I should get: a Bacon King for $5.99 (with 1040 calories and 1900mg of sodium) and Cheetos Chicken Fries for $3.49 (280 calories and 890mg of sodium).
I went to the bathroom to wash my hands and, on the way, noticed that every kid in the restaurant was eating the Cheetos meal. The bathroom greeted me with the foulest of smells. A tower of used toilet paper overflowed the trashcan by the prison-looking toilet — there were no paper towels to dry my hands.
As I returned to our table, I saw that the roommate had already devoured his cheeseburger. “It tasted like puke,” he remarked and moved on to the simple chicken nuggets.
I unwrapped the Bacon King to find the obvious — the commercial had lied. The burger was flat and oozing with condiments. It looked as if someone had sat on it before serving it. Removing the “penthouse” sesame seed bun revealed six unrecognizable, tiny pieces of bacon in the mesh of ketchup and mayonnaise that had almost disintegrated the bread.
My cautious first bite was such a surprise that I let out an audible, “Huh!?”
I expected much worse. My experience at McDonald’s last year led me to believe that BK was going to be as laughable, but it actually tasted like edible fast food! McD’s "crafted" burgers tasted like what I imagine 3D printable food tastes like. BK's burger actually had that recognizable rubberlike taste that I remember from my childhood. The bacon was flavorless and chewy. The yellow American cheese had that pristine plastic quality of cheese that can never go rancid (pretty boy in the commercial failed to inform us about the cheese).
Second bite was not as nice — too much ketchup and mayonnaise. I did my best to remove the condiments with more than a couple of napkins, but it was futile since the whole bun, bacon, and meat were saturated with them.
“You going to finish that?” The roommate snarled as each bite got worse than the previous one. I did finish the burger, which was much better than what McDonald’s offered. If it wasn’t for the amount of condiments it had, it would have been an okay guilty pleasure burger. Maybe next time I’ll ask for it without condiments.
(Who am I kidding, I’m not going back.)
As for the Cheetos Chicken Fries, they were elongated chicken nuggets covered in Cheetos coloring. There was barely any Cheetos flavor, robbing me of the simple pleasure of getting Cheetos dust on my fingers. The almost flavorless breaded chicken meat goes so great with whatever sauce you prefer, that even the lid of the colorful box invites you to “dip with both paws.”