In the ever changing fast food world, there are still a few things you can take to the bank. Aside from the universal appeal of McDonald’s French fries and the undisputable fact that Taco Bell always tastes better after a few beers, you can pretty much count on whatever is being billed as the latest “spicy” item to be not really that spicy. Sure, there are a few exceptions (I’m looking at you, Chick-Fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwich), but for the most part, the fast food execs calling the shots know many of us are wimpy gringos who really can’t handle the flaming stuff.
That, or they know their employees would find a way to screw it up when it came time to serve it.
Hence, the case of KFC’s new Hot Shot Bites. You matriarchs out there can relax, because these are not, as they say in the Dixie, “slap yo mamma silly” hot. In fact, depending on the KFC you walk into, you might find them even less seasoned than their Original Recipe Bites.
Which brings me to perhaps the most tried and true hallmark of fast food: consistency, or lack there of. Yes, you might as well fetch the cheese board, because I’m about to do some whining when it comes to KFC’s remarkable record of inconsistency.
I went to two separate KFC’s to buy the Hot Shot Bites, and in both cases was presented with something that was being sold as the authentic Hot Shot Bites. The first occasion found me receiving what looked more like Popeyes Rip’n Chicken than anything else; with dry, stringy meat that displayed no red hue, absolutely zero heat or spice, and more cornflake-like breading than actual meat.
We’ll get back to those impostors later, because my second trip (to a completely different KFC) at least managed to turn up the Mars red-hued nuggets that matched the promotional photo.
The good news was the batch I received on the second trip contained moist and juicy meat right out of the fryer. The bad news? The breading, which was oily and falling off as soon as I touched the Bites. While I’m sure eating the Bites is healthier this way, it definitely also reduced the heat level. However, the problem with these Bites is that heat level wasn’t high to begin with.
Crunching on the exterior breading, I detected a noticeable but very restrained cayenne and black pepper flavor that you might associate with Tabasco sauce. True, it’s got a kind of buttery-Buffalo style aftertaste because of how oily the Bites are, but unless you’ve been living in the Arctic Circle, I doubt you’ll find the Bites hot and spicy.
Now, back to those impostor Bites. Remember those? I actually returned to the KFC selling the impostors after buying what I’ll call the real Hot Shot Bites (“hot” being used in the most liberal of applications), and I brought along one of the real Bites to compare.
After asking the manager about the discrepancy, I was assured the Bites I received from the first store were “up to standard,” and was shown, much to my amazement, the exact same impostor Bite I received on my first trip (lack of red hue and all). What do I make of it? Well, you’ve got me. All I can opine is what I’ve noticed to be a record of inconsistency at KFC franchises, a record which makes getting something truly spicy akin to playing the fast food lottery.
All things considered, the real KFC Hot Shot Bites aren’t bad. No, they’re not very spicy or hot, but they’ve got enough flavor to eat sans sauce, and when cooked properly, are succulent and juicy. Still, they’re not nearly as good as Chick-Fil-A’s now discontinued Spicy Nuggets from a few years back, and that’s assuming you get a good batch.
In that case, perhaps the best question isn’t, “Can you take the heat?”, but rather, “Are you feeling lucky?”
(Nutrition Facts – Not available on website.)
Item: KFC Hot Shot Bites
Purchased Price: $3.99 (combo with a side and drink)
Size: 6 pieces
Purchased at: KFC
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Moist and succulent white meat. Has buttery Buffalo sauce aftertaste thing going on. Crunchy breading. KFC’s Sweet Kernel Corn (the most underrated fast food side in the world, if you’re asking me).
Cons: Inconsistent spicing and cooking by location. Not actually slap-yo’-mamma hot. One note in cayenne heat. Breading falls off too easily. A bit oily. Fast food manager rage.