REVIEW: Burger King Frozen Surge

Burger King Frozen Surge

Aaaand…now the ‘90s are back. Yeah, the house became full again and a different gender already met world, and the clever girls switched sides.

But it’s only now, when Coca-Cola decided to excavate a forgotten, bootleg Mountain Dew by way of a second-place fast food try-hard that the nostalgia train is perhaps learning it’s running out of track. Surge is back, baby! But at Burger King only! And it’s not really a liquid anymore! And what is Surge again?

Surge was Coca-Cola’s answer to Mountain Dew and launched in the mid ‘90s, but dwindling sales pretty much had it out of stores before Facebook existed. (A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? Not drinking Surge.) Successors include Vault — which had more caffeine — and Red Bull chased with green Gatorade left overnight in a hot car. It’s questionable whether the world was thirsting for a rebirth of Surge. But here we are.

Like an imposter, something is different, as much as Coke wants us to believe the vintage drink is being reinstated. It’s in a Slurpee, ICEE form, and it’s being featured exclusively at your local, grungy Burger King. Other things exclusive to Burger King include Chicken Fries and the thought “I wish I was at McDonald’s.”

Burger King Frozen Surge 2

Frozen Surge is serviceable. The Surge flavoring seems more muted than the original drink, which I remember having maybe a handful of times. The ice freezes up the taste buds all nice so practically the entire flavor profile is on the back end of the drink experience, which features an artificial lemon-lime tinge that definitely tastes “green.”

It’s slightly sweet and has a citrus bent that is somewhere between a lemon-steeped carafe of table water and a green Brach’s candy bean. The semi-carbonated, energy drink-soda hybrids have become plentiful in the past decade during Surge’s absence, and this drink feels like a frozen version of all of those put together. There is a light, fizzy tickling of the back of the throat that is more apparent as the frozen parts of the drink become less so. Overall the taste is a neutral proposition — it’s like a watered down Mountain Dew Slurpee.

The biggest problems are the sticky fingers, which made me feel like a dirty ass toddler, and the speed at which I had to consume it. It’s called “Surge,” like some sort of extreme boost, but since it’s so cold I had to drink it super slowly because every other sip would trigger brain freeze. The flavors had me wanting to pound it like a Swedish hacker at 3 a.m., not like a Swedish hacker at 3 p.m. (They’re asleep so they would drink slowly, right?).

The best consistency is probably ten to fifteen minutes after purchasing the drink, when it’s warming up so the flavors surface a bit more. Unfortunately, the drink very quickly begins to melt from the bottom up soon after and leaves a puddle of syrup below a glacier of frozen green stuff. This makes for a delicate balance unsuited to the brutality of stuffing a Western Whopper and onion rings into your maw.

It’s hard to imagine anyone going out of their way to grab this, especially since it’s only available at Burger Kings, but along with a meal it’s a decent accompaniment that delivers light citrus flavors and a little bit of an energy drink kick. I’d say it makes you feel like you’re traveling through time to the ‘90s, but only because it constantly hurt my brain, like reruns of Full House that feature the Beach Boys. Cut it out.

(Nutrition Facts – Medium – 100 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of cholesterol, 5 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 24 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Burger King Frozen Surge
Purchased Price: $1.39
Size: Medium
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Would go well with a meal. Not unpleasant.
Cons: Flavors are slight. Sipping it so slowly because it’s too cold for brain, and then melting too fast.

REVIEW: Burger King Pumpkin Spice Oreo Shake

Burger King Pumpkin Spice Oreo Shake

Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookies never had much appeal to me. Of the 487 (unofficial count) flavors Oreo has on the market, I wanted to try that one the least. Then I heard Burger King was offering a Pumpkin Spice Oreo Shake that was apparently different from the cookies of the same flavor. Now you’re speaking my language.

Instead of liquefying the shelf version of Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookies, Burger King made a pumpkin spice flavored shake with bits of the classic chocolate Oreo cookie. Brilliant decision.

I initially thought the color was going to be off-putting, but when I got a closer look, I liked it. The shake was a very subtle orange color with the familiar black cookie crumbles mixed in.

The shake smelled good. It looked good. How could it not be good?

At first I thought it was better than good. It was surprisingly delicious. Don’t get me wrong, I expected to like it to a degree, but it blew away my expectations.

Once I got beyond the whipped cream that I couldn’t resist adding on, I expected the pumpkin spice flavor to be totally overpowering. It did have a little of that “potpourri” taste on the back of my tongue, but compared to other pumpkin spice products, it was mild.

The bits of Oreo were the best part. The hint of vanilla soft serve actually gave off a flavor reminiscent of the classic Oreo crème filling. The consistency of the cookie pieces held up pretty well for the most part and gave the shake a tiny bit of texture which meshed well with the pumpkin base.

Despite the slight potpourri flavor, it didn’t leave a bad aftertaste. It was quite pleasant. It did however stick around a lot longer than I would have ever expected.

With all that said, it wasn’t perfect.

Burger King Pumpkin Spice Oreo Shake 2

Like a lot of milkshakes, I did get sick of it about halfway through. It wasn’t over-the-top sweet, but even the small size was a bit of a struggle to finish. Not to mention that it lost a lot of its appeal as it melted. Drinking it as a milkshake was delicious. Drinking it as milk wasn’t even close.

I’d actually be thrilled if Oreo teamed with an ice cream company to manufacture this as a flavor. I’d buy a pint in a second, and without the threat of it melting as fast, I could see it jumping to the top of my favorite ice creams list.

I’m a plastic cup half full kinda guy, so I’m giving this a high score despite the last few sips. If I had just stopped midway and called it a day, you’d probably be looking at a 9 out of 10.

Oh, and in case you are considering it, don’t pair one of these with a burger and fries. It would be too much on your stomach. I say get it as more of a standalone dessert.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 ounces – 500 calories, 14 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 360 milligrams of sodium, 83 grams of carbohydrates, 66 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein..)

Item: Burger King Pumpkin Spice Oreo Shake
Purchased Price: $3.41
Size: 12 ounces
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Delicious. Pumpkin spice not overpowering. Chocolate Oreo cookie pieces. Undoubtedly better than the Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookie. Burger King reminding me they are still an option.
Cons: Potpourri-y. Tastes pretty bad in liquid form. Aftertaste lingered… and lingered. Would probably make a better ice cream than shake. Burger King reminding me they are still an option.

REVIEW: Burger King Buffalo Chicken Fries

Burger King Buffalo Chicken Fries

Which would you rather fight in a duel to the death?

A) 1 buffalo-sized chicken
B) 100 chicken-sized buffaloes

Across the span of history, this question has troubled every great thinker, from Plato to Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and even the wisest philosopher of our time: Waldo of Where’s Waldo? fame. We thought we were searching for him in those colorful pages, but he was really teaching us how to find ourselves.

And while I doubt this age-old enigma will ever have a solution, I think it makes for good food for thought while eating Burger King’s new Buffalo Chicken Fries, which combine everyone’s favorite earthworm French fry shaped chicken morsels with fried breading that’s spiced like a buffalo chicken wing.

I want to take a second to applaud the adorable packaging on these Buffalo Chicken Fries. Though PETA may object to the implied idea of a manmade chicken-buffalo hybrid, I prefer to imagine it as the Burger King’s festive doorknocker.

Burger King Buffalo Chicken Fries 2

My 9 breaded pool noodles Chicken Fries varied in length from “extended middle finger” to “Dixon Ticonderoga #2,” but they all shared a greasy, semi-soggy texture and wiggly flimsiness. As a result, there’s no crisp bite like you’d find in a McNugget. Instead, the sketchy, spongy mouthfeel is closer to that of an over-microwaved Tyson dinosaur nugget.

Or maybe SpongeBob just fell into BK’s deep fryer.

The tastiness of the breading makes up for this, though. True to Burger King’s online description, the buffalo trinity of pepper, butter, and vinegar are all here. The standard floury and oily taste of the breading has a garlic buttery fattiness that’s spiced up by a modest kick of pepper.

Flavor wise, this kick is one part Cayenne, one part black pepper, and one part “generic red pepper from a Looney Tunes cartoon that made Foghorn Leghorn blow steam out of his ears.”

The mild heat wasn’t strong enough to trample my taste buds, but it still left my tongue feeling as pleasantly tickled as the Elmo dolls people got trampled over on Black Friday. And while the tangy acridness of the vinegar didn’t show up until after my meal, for hours afterwards, my mouth was filled with the flavorful ghosts of dyed Easter eggs and pickle jars.

Burger King Buffalo Chicken Fries 3

Unfortunately, this authentic buffalo experience comes at the cost of the actual meat. There was a skinny layer of chewy and bizarrely mealy chicken at the center of each fry, but any poultry flavor is largely stomped out by the brazen hoof of the buffalo breading.

So if you’re like me and are looking for a reliably chicken-y Chicken Fry experience, you’ll need to employ some careful tongue archaeology to extract the flavor of these chickens from their spicy prisons.

But if you’re the kind of buffalo flavor fanatic who rents Mark Ruffalo movies just on the off-chance that the DVD case made a typo, these peppery, buttery Slenderman appendages Chicken Fries might just make you fall in buffa-love.

Either way, I recommend pairing the fragile Fries with a thick dipping sauce to mask the iffy texture. Ranch is a good choice for contrasting the spice with cool creaminess. Plus you get to make everyone around you groan and boo by exclaiming, “Look, I’m a buffalo rancher!”

Burger King Buffalo Chicken Fries 4

But buffalo sauce works, too, half because of the added heat and nearly cheesy viscosity, and half because I like pretending that the Buffalo Chicken Fries are vengeful ghouls spewing forth their own fiery, ethereal ectoplasm.

Hey, Halloween might be over for you

(Nutrition Facts – 9 fries – 270 calories, 140 calories from fat, 16 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 850 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 14 grams of protein.)

Item: Burger King Buffalo Chicken Fries
Purchased Price: $3.19
Size: 9 fries
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Accurate buffalo chicken flavor. Elmo-levels of tickling spiciness. Pairs well with fiery, ethereal ectoplasm. Changing my college major to “tongue archaeology.” An inevitable SpongeBob/Burger King crossover episode.
Cons: Mushy mouthfeel. Asking, “Where’s the chicken?” in my Wendy’s old lady voice. Licking Mark Ruffalo DVDs. Extinction of the dinosaurs via microwave.

REVIEW: Burger King A.1. Halloween Whopper

Burger King A.1. Halloween Whopper

I know what everyone is going talk about regarding Burger King’s A.1. Halloween Whopper. They’re going to discuss how one particular ingredient perfectly fits the Halloween theme of the burger. Some people will think it looks disgusting. Others will be fine with it.

Yes, as you have probably guessed, I’m talking about Burger King’s iceberg lettuce. That ghostly white lettuce with a green tint is disgusting, scary, and reminds me of the skin color of many Scooby Doo villains. But those make it an appropriate addition to this Halloween-themed Whopper.

Besides that spooky lettuce, this limited time only item has a 1/4 lb flame-grilled beef patty, a slice of American cheese, tomato, mayonnaise, pickles, onions, and A.1. Thick and Hearty Sauce on a black sesame seed bun.

The bun is not only black, it also has A.1. Sauce flavor baked into it. But it doesn’t get its color completely from the sauce. So what gives it its color? It’s not squid ink, Sharpie pens, charcoal, mold, or Hot Topic. Looking through the bun’s ingredient list and pulling out possibilities, it could be a combination of FD&C Red #40, FD&C Blue #1, raisin juice concentrate, Worcerstershire sauce, caramel color, and FD&C Yellow #6. Mmmm…FD&C Yellow #6.

Burger King A.1. Halloween Whopper Top

At times the bun does have a slightly sweet and smokey flavor to it, but it’s faint and it disappears quickly. Maybe my tongue is imagining things or maybe the flavor is a ghost. But while eating the burger, the question I asked myself was, “Why include A.1. Sauce in the bun, if there’s A.1. Sauce in the burger?” Because the bun doesn’t make the burger taste A.1.-ier.

If you’re reading this in the middle of December and want to know what this Whopper tastes like, get into your car, tune your car’s FM radio dial to 101.5 to designate October 2015, and then drive 88 miles per hour…to the nearest Burger King location (or one that’s farther away because you’ll get there quickly if you’re going 88 miles per hour). When you get there, order a Whopper your way with American cheese and A.1. Thick and Hearty Sauce because that’s what this burger tastes like.

Burger King A.1. Halloween Whopper Wrapper

The A.1. Thick and Hearty Sauce wasn’t very thick. If it was, much of it wouldn’t have ended up on my hands and the Whopper’s festive mummy wrapper. It tastes exactly like regular thin and light A.1. Steak Sauce, which I’ve enjoyed on overcooked steaks from chain restaurants. Unfortunately, because it kept plopping out of the burger, I didn’t taste the sauce in every bite. Also, I think the mayonnaise diluted its flavor.

Burger King A.1. Halloween Whopper Half

The beef patty has that unique Burger King flavor that’s the chain’s fingerprint. It’s a flavor I enjoy. But the tomato, onions, pickles, and white lettuce did a wonderful job of bringing down the overall temperature of the burger, making it slightly unpleasant to eat. As for the cheese, let’s face it, it really doesn’t do anything flavor-wise on a regular Whopper. But it does something color-wise with this burger by matching nicely with the black bun.

Overall, I enjoyed the look of the A.1. Halloween Whopper more than its flavor. The burger is full of Halloween colors, and I have to admit the black bun was cool to experience with my own eyes. But the burger’s flavor wasn’t anything special since it can easily be recreated after the promotion is over. And, of course, that ghost lettuce freaks me out.

Update: There’s one bit of information I need to add. The dyes in the bun might turn your poop green. I’ve experienced this. Others in my household have experienced this. Commenters have experienced it. I apologize for the grossness of this, but I needed to mention it in case someone out there is on a toilet and freaking out because their poop is green. But you have to admit, green poop does fit with the Halloween theme.

(Nutrition Facts – 710 calories, 390 calories from fat, 43 grams of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 105 milligrams of cholesterol, 1530 milligrams of sodium, 52 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and 31 grams of protein.)

Item: Burger King A.1. Halloween Whopper
Purchased Price: $6.39*
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like a Whopper with A.1. Sauce. Black bun is something cool you should see with your own eyes. Very festive; lots of Halloween colors. Mummy wrapper is neat.
Cons: Tastes like a Whopper with A.1. Sauce. Ghost lettuce freaks me out. Black bun baked with A.1. flavor doesn’t have a lot of flavor. A.1. Sauce everywhere. Produce does a great job of bringing down the temperature of the burger. Bun may make your poop turn green.

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did.

REVIEW: McWhopper

McWhopper 1

Burger King tried to get McDonald’s to combine their two flagship sandwiches into one hybrid behemoth named the “McWhopper.”

It was proposed to promote World Peace Day. BK built a plan and posted full-page ads in a couple newspapers, reaching out to McDonald’s in the name of “peace.” It even created a website.

McDonald’s said no.

There’s all this boring marketing analysis stuff: McDonald’s is recently down in sales blah blah, Burger King has something like half as many stores blah blah, fast food ads aren’t as effective blah blah blah. Whatever. The McWhopper is not going to happen, at least not officially. So the I decided to go ahead and make my own McWhopper to give it a try to see if I “love havin’ it your way, right away, ba da-da-da-dah.”

Since it takes two restaurant trips to construct the chimera, I mapped out the nearest two franchises to the lab, which were .4 miles away from each other. Burger King first, then McDonald’s. At 2:23 p.m. I had Whopper in hand along with a few extra packets of Heinz tomato ketchup. Five minutes later I arrived to the McDonald’s and at 2:33 p.m. the entire shebang was together. An extra trip back to the laboratory took a few more minutes and after all the construction was done, it was 2:55 p.m.

That’s 32 minutes from the start of the project to eating time. That’s not an ideal amount to wait before eating a fast food burger, sure, and it would be a bit cold. But if you think the McWhopper is a good idea, your time probably isn’t worth that much anyway. And this is considering that all of the ingredients were acquired during relatively off peak hours with little to no wait at the register with locations pretty close in proximity.

McWhopper 2
Big Mac Parts

McWhopper 3
Whopper Parts

Extraction is stunningly easy. The McWhopper calls for the top bun, one beef patty, the cheese, chopped lettuce, special sauce and middle bun from the Big Mac and the tomato, onion, ketchup, pickles, flame-grilled patty and bottom bun from the Whopper. It is a bit of a mess but other than some sauce and lettuce flung about, the ingredients are simple to separate. The things that aren’t featured on the McWhopper are the Whopper’s lettuce, which is a bit chunkier, and the Big Mac’s pickles and onions, which are dinkier. And in theory the Whopper’s mayonnaise, but that is difficult to get completely off the patty.

McWhopper 4

The sandwich is basically a Whopper wearing a Big Mac hat. This method is also necessary, at least in the home version, to avoid being top heavy because the Whopper is considerably wider. The McWhopper’s shape ends up looking like a Machu Picchu pyramid if the Incas worshipped obesity, or Grimace.

The taste is surprisingly decent for a lukewarm fast food offering. The most striking contrast is the sodium hum of the special sauce against the char-grill patty. The combination accentuates the sweetness of the Big Mac qualities and the earthiness of the Whopper, which completes a satisfying union. The fact that these qualities jump out really underlines what these companies want us to remember about these burgers. On the Big Mac even the meat plays second fiddle to the special sauce, with extra bread to dull out the taste. The Whopper has a facsimile of that coat-the-mouth backyard grill flavor and it ambushes the eater, while all the other ingredients aside from the ketchup work to restrain it.

I also got an extra order of Big Mac sauce—which came in a four piece Chicken McNugget container—and spread more on with a higher ratio of ketchup from Burger King, which gave it all a tart kick, and a wet slather that eventually spilled out the sides of the sandwich. Shout out to Carl’s Jr.

The pickles, in particular, added a crunch here and there. The tomatoes and onions and lettuce did not add much but did not detract. There is a ton of bread at play here, and with the added heft of vegetables and a larger second patty, it’s a substantial burger. The Whopper’s bread seems chewier than McDonald’s softer bun, but it is tough to differentiate when it’s taken in at once. The McWhopper suffers a little bit from being monotonous texture-wise, but this one is cobbled together from spare parts, so it’s understandable. Frankenstein could walk and talk like a human but he was still green and had bolts in his neck. Pobody’s nerfect.

McWhopper 5

The entire McWhopper affair hits some nice notes and really avoids being offensive in any way. The interplay amongst the ingredients works well and for people well versed in fast food burgers there is just about nothing unexpected. If you’ve had both the Whopper and the Big Mac before, you can probably imagine how this would taste, and you would be right. It’s almost disappointing how much of a train wreck the McWhopper isn’t.

In my hazy memories, BK’s Big Mac rip off Big King was bad and Mickey D’s Whopper wannabe Big N’ Tasty was okay. Whatever you think of the Big Mac, it seems harder to deliver a sandwich with a distinct (and maybe boring) taste than it is to make a sometimes-mediocre version of a backyard burger. McDonald’s seems to be in the power position here, which is probably why they nixed the idea. Still, it reminded me of this.

Another note is the price of each burger. At least in my neighborhood, the price of the Big Mac and Whopper are exactly the same at $4.19—which seems strange—like they are price fixing us, or both companies are really owned by the Koch brothers.

The McWhopper is surely not an original idea. Thousands of children have probably joked about it and dozens if not hundreds of stoners have carried out the experiment. The time and effort and combined price do not pay out in a way that makes this a regular dining option, although the work put into the construction of the homemade McWhopper gives a slight illusion of cooking, which fosters a feeling of accomplishment. It is an interesting undertaking that seems like it has unique roots in these two signature sandwiches. Who cares if KFC and Popeyes put out a fried chicken? Or Subway and Quiznos made a sub? I wouldn’t eat that. Even for world peace.

(Nutrition Facts – Big Mac Parts – 465.2 calories, 27 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 80 milligrams of cholesterol, 770 milligrams of sodium, 31.4 grams of carbohydrates, 6.62 grams of sugar, 2.3 grams of fiber, and 22.26 grams of protein. Whopper Parts – 338 calories, 20.5 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 595 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 8.5 grams of sugar, 17.5 grams of protein.)

Item: McWhopper
Purchased Price: $4.19 (Whopper) $4.19 (Big Mac)
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Burger King and McDonald’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Tastes intermingle well. Feels like cooking.
Cons: Time spent making it will leave it lukewarm. Textural monotony. Expensive.