I love the insolence of Honey BBQ.
Think about it. In an oversaturated food landscape where barbeque has become hyper-regionalized, all about the smoke, and increasingly shaped by other cuisines, Honey BBQ announces itself as unapologetically one-note.
Where other barbecue sauces hit you with a variety of flavors from fruity to tangy to smoky to hot, Honey BBQ essentially announces itself as the potluck contribution of Winnie the Pooh.
At the risk of glancing over the “Spicy” in McDonald’s new Sweet N’ Spicy Honey BBQ Glazed Tenders, that’s basically the story with the latest LTO from the Golden Arches. Sure, there’s a slight kick of cayenne on the backend of the tenders, but it’s more “hmm” than anything else.
Heatseekers be warned, these are not a reincarnation of Chick-fil-A’s unicornish Spicy Chicken Nuggets. If you’re looking for genuine heat, these are not the tenders you’re looking for.
The thing is, they don’t have to be. The first bite of the first tender was chicken tender heaven. Suddenly, marketing buzzwords like “crispy,” “juicy,” and even the highly suspect, if not potentially reprehensible, “finger licking” carry meaning beyond a 30-second radio spot cliché.
For chicken tender aficionados, that first bite is less a taste sensation and more a moment, as if the combined flavors of every horrible-for-you food came together and created a slow-motion music video of you chomping away.
The glaze, meanwhile, is a double-edged sword, one that invites you to lick the sticky-sweet goo as you would a popsicle, but at the cost of precious crispiness on the part of the tender’s breading. While excellent as far as Honey BBQ goes, the sauce was inconsistently applied.
While I’d avoid sticking the c-word label on the tenders, I’ll be the first to admit that to some taste buds they may seem cloying. Such is the biological reductionism of Honey BBQ, which functions at its best when paired with crispy, fatty foods like those $1 Wise Honey BBQ potato chips it sells at Dollar General, or, as I’ve found, boneless all-white meat chicken strips at McDonald’s.
If you can make peace with this, you will like these tenders. If not, well, there’s always a petition to get Chick-fil-A’s spicy nuggets to go national.
(Nutrition Facts – 4 pieces – 640 calories, 27 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 105 milligrams of cholesterol, 1780 milligrams of sodium, 63 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 35 grams of sugar, and 39 grams of protein.)
Purchased Price: $4.19
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Nails the Honey BBQ flavor. Addictively saucy. Tenders stay fairly crispy despite excess moisture. Gives “all-white meat” a good name.
Cons: Spice is modest and not exactly caliente. Inconsistent saucing. Terribly, terribly messy to eat.