Do you remember where you were the day the McDonald’s Dollar Menu died?
I do. Alone and confused, nostalgic yet worried for the future, I staggered into my local McDonald’s on that bleak November 3rd, 2013 for one last look at the dollar signs next to the familiar menu items. What would become of each, I wondered; pondering if this was really the end of the McDouble as we know it, or the Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger I had grown to love.
I had heard rumors, of course, that some items would still be just a buck, but the sheer uncertainty of a future scrambling for extra pennies and nickels taunted me. Knowing the scene would soon fall back into the prosaic of bygone classics like the dollar Double Cheeseburger, I nevertheless approached the counter, uncertain of how I should best spend that last, fateful dollar on the Dollar Menu.
While my mind debated whether the McDouble, McNuggets, or the Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger should deserve the honor of my last Dollar Menu purchase*, there was one thing I was certain of — I wasn’t getting the McChicken.
Seriously, there’s pretty much nothing the majority of any of us can agree on in society these days, but thankfully, most sane people concur the McChicken might as well be called the McBland. How iceberg lettuce and mayonnaise are suppose to entice one to buy what often amounts to a thin and dry oversized Chicken McNugget is beyond me, but in my many years of surviving off the Dollar Menu, I really can’t say I’ve ever craved the McChicken.
Maybe that’s why the Bacon Buffalo Ranch McChicken is so intriguing. McDonald’s has done what any food purveyor looking to justify increased cost and make a bland item more desirable would do; they added bacon. Why the hell not? Bacon obviously makes everything better, including, but not limited to, sandwiches, donuts, and deodorant (yes, deodorant). Likewise, they nixed the mayonnaise and added Spicy Buffalo Sauce and Buttermilk Ranch Sauce, because life deserves more than just gloopy white stuff if you want to make it taste good.
If you’re screaming about how blue cheese should be the only condiment paired with fried chicken and buffalo sauce, relax. The Buttermilk Ranch Sauce actually tastes really good in tandem with the Spicy Buffalo Sauce. I’ve always liked McDonald’s Spicy Buffalo Sauce, finding its moderate cayenne heat and strong garlic flavor to be balanced by enough (albeit fake) butter flavor to create a tasty combination. But I’ve seldom given the slightly tangy and sweet, surprisingly complex Buttermilk Ranch Sauce enough credit, and together the two sauces give the McChicken patty plenty of flavor and some real umami.
The McChicken patty I’m used to—you know, the dry oversized McNugget—actually came out surprisingly moist and even retained some exterior crispiness. Go figure. The black pepper and garlic flavor dominates, but aided by the excellent smoky taste of McDonald’s much improved and meatier bacon, you might even say the McChicken tasted, well, good. While I’m of the distinct impression that life could always use more bacon, the two half strips seemed sufficient in this case. Even the bun serves its place, lending a squishy-malty-sweetness that serves to bind all the flavors together.
While it’s a tasty little sandwich, it does have its flaws. For starters, the layering of all the sauces and toppings on the top of the chicken patty creates a tendency for said sauces and toppings to slide to one side due to the lack of surface area. Likewise, they weigh down the crispiness of the McChicken, making on-the-go eating not the smartest choice. If it were up to me, I would move the combination of Spicy Buffalo and Buttermilk Ranch sauces beneath the patty and keep the bacon above, all while nixing the iceberg lettuce.
While the Buffalo Sauce adds a nice but not overpowering cayenne heat, it’s inherently balanced by the cooling Buttermilk Ranch, and doesn’t need the bulky iceberg to act as an additional cooling agent. Finally, while the sandwich tastes good and meaty, it doesn’t feel substantial despite its 420 calories. If I want something with a little more heft, I’m still more likely to spend my two dollars on the Bacon McDouble than even an upgraded McChicken.
Is the Bacon Buffalo Ranch McChicken worth it? To be honest, it all depends on your level of emotional attachment to McDonald’s new Applewood Smoked Bacon. If you’re like me and must order something from McDonald’s with bacon, then yes, it’s worth it. But if you’re just looking for a more flavorful variation of the regular, and admittedly, bland McChicken, then the one dollar Buffalo Ranch McChicken is probably the choice for you. Either way, the combination of Spicy Buffalo and Buttermilk Ranch make the McChicken more than just an afterthought, which is something the old Dollar Menu could never claim.
(Nutrition Facts – 420 calories, 180 calories from fat, 20 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1250 milligrams of sodium, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 41 grams of carbohydrates, 2 gram of dietary fiber, 6 grams of sugars, and 20 grams of protein.)
Item: McDonald’s Bacon Buffalo Ranch McChicken
Purchased Price: $2.00
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Not bland like the regular McChicken. Spicy Buffalo and Buttermilk Ranch sauces create a really good taste together. Chicken was surprisingly moist. Bacon adds much needed smoky flavor and meaty bite. McDonald’s small sandwich buns, which for some reason I find oddly addictive.
Cons: Not really spicy enough for spicy sandwich lovers. Bacon loses crispiness due to two sauces. Iceberg lettuce is a waste of space. Top-heavy value sandwiches are an eating while driving hazard. Doesn’t feel like 420 calories. Over 50% of your daily sodium, which means if you have a “buy one get one free” coupon you are totally screwed health wise.