Photo: Erik R. Trinidad
Burger King has a history of being inspired by the menu items of their long-time adversary McDonald's. In the '90s, BK revamped their old soggy French fries with a crispier recipe that suspiciously resembled the ones at the Golden Arches. It was also during that decade that BK blatantly ripped off McDonald's Big Mac with the introduction of the short-lived Big King -- a hamburger that also contained two all-beef patties, a special sauce-like Thousand Island dressing, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onions on a sesame seed bun. Now, with the introduction of their new Chicken Tenders, it seems that BK is at it again -- this time looking to the McNugget for inspiration, and attempting to do more than just drop the "Mc." Here's how they rate:
The Claims: BK's new Chicken Tenders are "tender," "crispy," and contain "white meat." They come in servings of four (190 calories), eight (380 calories), or twenty (950 calories). If you do the math, you'll find that each piece is 47.5 calories, but that adds up when you dip it in any of the six sauces: Zesty, Honey Mustard, Ranch, Buffalo, Barbecue, or Sweet & Sour.
The Price:$1.00 for four; $1.99 for eight; $4.99 for 20. (Prices may vary at participating locations.)
The Verdict: C. Gone away are the crown-shaped chicken pieces of the past; at a glance, these new Chicken Tenders look just like McNuggets (albeit a tad smaller) -- they have the same colored batter and even come in peculiar shapes like the ones at Mickey D's. The batter is crispy and starchy, like the McNuggets', with little to no herbs or spices to be tasted other than salt and a little pepper. The inside texture is just like the McDonald's counterpart: white meat that is ground, pressed, processed, and formed into nuggets. The taste is also similar, but not exactly the same. If it was BK's intention to simulate their rivals' chicken offering, they've missed the mark; what they have is drier and leaner-tasting, as opposed to the slightly fattier and softer texture found at the Golden Arches. (When I'm in the mood to order processed fast food chicken nuggets, I already know what I'm getting into, and prefer the latter.)
Perhaps these new Chicken Tenders have a flat taste by themselves because they are merely vehicles for the six dipping sauces available. However, those are nothing to rave about either: The light orange Zesty sauce is generically tangy; the Honey Mustard tastes like no-frills honey mustard; the Ranch merely maintains its status quo; the Buffalo is slightly spicy, but still sort of flat; the Barbecue has that sweet, factory-engineered smoky flavor; and the Sweet & Sour tastes like the kind you might get at a generic Chinese take-out place. Each sauce inherently enhances the chicken a tad, but that isn't saying much when you don't have something exciting to begin with. If this was BK's attempt to best Chicken McNuggets, like they tried to do with French fries, I'd advise them to try again -- or just stick with their signature items and improve upon them, instead of trying to emulate their rivals' food.