If you pay attention to such things, you’ve surely heard that Burger King is no longer number two. That’s right, Wendy’s is now the second-largest burger chain in the U.S. in terms of sales, behind McDonald’s, of course. Burger King has fallen behind in part because they have failed to expand their menu in recent years, unlike their counterparts at Wendy’s and McD’s, among others. So what’s their answer?
Basically, be more like McDonald’s. If you’ve been to a Burger King lately, you noticed the new menu-board and menu items, which sort of make you feel like you’re at McDonald’s. The new items include chicken strips, chicken wraps, salads, smoothies and frappés. Sound familiar? That’s because all of those things are also found on the menu at McD’s. (Read about all the changes here.)
So I had to find out whether these new items at BK are worthy counterfeits of their McD’s counterparts. Not so much to compare them, but just to see if they’re any good, regardless of any similarities they may have to Ronald‘s version. (Don’t click that link if you’re afraid of clowns and/or pedophilia. If you are and you already clicked on it, you’re probably thinking this warning should have come before the link, and I 100% agree.)
Because I’m poor and couldn’t possibly eat all of the new items, I went with the ones that I was most interested in: chicken strips, ranch snack wrap, and caramel frappé. No salad because I never eat salad so my opinion would be irrelevant; no honey mustard snack wrap because I hate honey mustard (gasp!); and I went with the caramel frappé as the drink choice over the mocha frappé, tropical mango and strawberry banana smoothies because it just sounded the best. So let’s get to it.
Crispy Chicken Strips (3-piece: $3.59)
Premium Crispy Chicken Strips are made with white meat tenderloin chicken, marinated and lightly battered in seasoned home-style breading, served in three- or five-piece servings and perfect for dipping in one of our classic or bold new sauces, such as new Kung Pao and Roasted Jalapeño Barbecue sauces.
You may have noticed the price is quite high. I agree, but that seems to be the norm when it comes to chicken strips, which is why I almost never order them. They are about the same size as McD’s Chicken Selects, maybe a tiny bit smaller. Think 4-5 bites per piece.
But it’s the taste that counts, right? Well, unfortunately these didn’t taste like much. The breading had little to no flavor, and the same goes for the chicken. They got the ratio right, at least. The chicken was not juicy at all. It didn’t help that the drive-thru technician failed to put my ranch and jalapeño barbecue sauces in the bag. A mediocre chicken strip with ranch on it is infinitely more delicious than one without. Because what are chicken strips really, besides vessels to get sauce in your mouth because drinking it straight from the cup is not socially acceptable? 5/10
Ranch Snack Wrap ($1.59)
Our Ranch Crispy Chicken Snack Wrap combines seven premium lettuces, marinated all white meat chicken, a three-cheese medley, and KEN’S® Ranch Dressing all wrapped in a delicious white flour tortilla.
That ad was pulled by BK after complaints that it’s racist. Why? Because it’s a black woman singing about chicken? Every race eats chicken. I didn’t find it racist at all. So maybe it’s perpetuating a stereotype a little. But definitely less so than Popeye’s or McD’s commercials. It’s offensive in that it’s a terrible commercial, but not racist by any means.
You’ll notice the description above, which is from the BK website, mentions seven lettuces. Really? SEVEN lettuces? I didn’t even know there were seven lettuces. It’s all just lettuce to me. And why do you need seven lettuces to make a snack wrap? It seems like one would suffice. Maybe two if you want to be all fancy.
What was I talking about? Oh yeah, the wrap. Despite the fact that there’s way too much lettuce and the piece of chicken is tiny and flavorless, it’s not bad. Surprisingly, the lettuce seemed to be fresh and good quality. Cheese is cheese, you can’t really go wrong there. The part I liked most was the Ken’s ranch dressing. There wasn’t a ton of it, but it managed to be the most dominant flavor. So the ranch snack wrap has it’s negatives, but I’m a positive kinda guy. 6.5/10
Caramel Frappé (small: $2.59)
Indulge yourself with our BK® Caramel Frappé. Ice, caramel, and a hint of coffee blended to perfection, topped with whipped deliciousness and a caramel swirl just for you.
You’re never going to mistake Burger King for a fancy brunch spot, and it’s not going to come up in a “coffee” search on your Yelp App. But that doesn’t mean they can’t do a better job of attracting a morning or coffee drinking crowd with a fancier caffeine drink in the form of a frappe.
If you’re not familiar with the American version of the frappé, let me give you some background. Starbucks started selling them as Frappuccinos a few years back. McDonald’s followed suit, calling them Frappés because Frappuccino is trademarked by Starbucks. Now BK has their version. Fat people get them instead of coffee, rationalizing that since it has coffee flavor and comes from Starbucks, it’s an acceptable alternative to coffee. It is not. Think of it more as a dessert, like a coffee milkshake, than a coffee drink.
Keeping that in mind, the BK frappé does pretty well as a dessert. It has a lot of caramel flavor and, as promised, a hint of coffee. I could have done without the whipped cream and caramel “swirl” (looks like more of a blob than a swirl; I guess the drink-maker wasn’t feeling very artsy on this day), as they put it over the top as far as sweetness. This version definitely has the least coffee flavor of the three (SBucks, McD’s) I’ve tried. Starbucks comes closer to being a legitimate coffee drink than the other two. But, like I said, not bad as a dessert. 7/10
You can bash BK all you want for being copycats, but the reality is that everyone copies each other. There is hardly any innovation in fast food. It’s all been done before. If one restaurant finds something that works for them, the others are going to try it, too. And while the recent changes at BK are probably the most blatant replication of them all, the bottom line is if it tastes good, no one will care. It’s not the first time they’ve copied McDonald’s, and it sure as shit isn’t the last.
As far as the items I tried, I would rate them as ‘passable.’ Not great, not bad, just okay. But just okay is good enough in today’s world of fast-food. I can’t say I would recommend any of these things, but I won’t tell you to avoid them, either. I’ll just say that if you’re so inclined, go ahead and try some of BK’s new stuff. And if you’re hungry/poor/in a rush, and there’s a BK right next to you, it’s passable.