What does it mean?
They tell me it’s a smoked jalapeño, but the word has been repeated so much in recent years, it might as well be Klingon on my tongue. Assembled in an American trend factory, “chipotle” has been introduced to the public, pumped full of hype and then abandoned, surreptitiously left outside to slowly evaporate. My brain doesn’t even register it anymore. It took me three passes to not just read “Wendy’s Spicy Jr. Cheeseburger.” Chipotle. Chipotle. Chipotle. Oh no, I just summoned a Beetlejuice made of peppers.
Standing in line waiting for my order at the local Wendy’s, the question suddenly presents itself: What exactly am I about to eat? And then I look up to see this sign.
Thoughts, in order: Is this Russian? I can read “brioche.” Can I … read Russian? Am I in Russia right now? (I am waiting in a line for food, after all). Have I been in Russia my entire life? Does Wendy’s serve cold beet soup? … What is chipotle again? Am I ordering a cheeseburger with a mediocre Mission-style burrito on it? A cheeseburgeritto? Well, at least I know nobody in Russia would come up with “cheeseburgeritto.” I must be in America. Whew. Anyway, I got the cheeseburger and it wasn’t bad!
The Wendy’s website lists the components of the Spicy Chipotle Jr. Cheeseburger in a handy list. “Sandwich bun, junior hamburger patty, spicy burger sauce, pepper jack cheese.” If you’ve dabbled in the Wendy’s value menu before, the bun and patty are familiar. The bun is springy, functional, and inoffensive. The patty is chewy like a warm ground up sponge, but, like, a reasonably tasty sponge. The meat is also noticeably less greasy and flavorful than the non-“Right Price Right Size Menu” burgers.
“Right Price Right Size?” Shut it down, Wendy’s. Nobody wants to say that many words. I’ll eat at Wendy’s every day for a year if one person has ever said the name of that menu out loud in casual conversation. (Someone say it! I need an excuse to eat Wendy’s for a year!)
Let’s get to the flavor portion of the pageant. There’s the sauce, cheese and jalapeño, which, in concert, give a decent kick to the burger. While the aforementioned “spicy burger sauce” is a little too mysterious for my liking, it has a hit that immediately dissipates into a soft numb that barely lingers at all. The tiny pile of jalapeño looks like it fell off a truck on the way to a Subway, and definitely exhibits that earthy jalapeño taste, for better or worse. The peppers are sliced but not chopped, and the texture of “full” vegetables along with the spiciness kind of recreate the feeling of eating some sort of torta-burger concoction. The cheese adds a reliable, creamy counterbalance to the bite of the sauce, rounding out the burger.
The Spicy Chipotle Jr. Cheeseburger is a decent choice (great for the price point) but feels a little like a relief pitcher, good enough to get you through a few innings but not the entire game. It has a unique heat that seems to draw inspiration from Mexican sandwiches, rather than the sharp, aggressive burn from most other fast food spicy fare, which almost marginalizes it as a novelty or a side dish. Since it lives on the value menu, perhaps that’s by design.
I would recommend getting this item in a collection of foods, as it serves as a good change-of-pace burger. Okay, we ain’t in Russia for sure. We eat so much we got change-of-pace burgers, y’all. And I’ll eat Wendy’s every day for a year if Vladimir Putin has ever eaten anything that had “chipotle” in its name.
(Nutrition Facts – 340 calories, 170 calories from fat, 18 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 930 milligrams of sodium, 210 milligrams of potassium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fiber, and 17 grams of protein.)
Item: Wendy’s Spicy Chipotle Jr. Cheeseburger
Purchased Price: 99 cents
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Great price. Well balanced flavor. Good chance of pace from regular Jr. Cheeseburger.
Cons: Some may not cotton to the taste of jalapeño. Not satisfying enough to eat just one. Saying “Right Price Right Size” out loud. “Chipotle” means nothing. Never learned Russian.