Note: This guest review was written by our internet pal Russ Shelly from What’s Good at Trader Joe’s.
You don’t have to take Bowling for Soup’s word for it: 1985 was an odd year.
I mean, check this out – any further proof needed? Recorded and released as a single for Live Aid’s quest against world hunger, David Bowie and Mick Jagger’s cover of the Martha and the Vandellas classic “Dancing in the Street” is, well, perhaps the zenith of well-intentioned goofiness the mid-’80s offered. Or so I think, I was only like three years old and preoccupied with Sesame Street. Perhaps more interestingly, the video proves that because two things (in this case, Bowie and Jagger) that are awesome separately aren’t necessarily great when streams are crossed and forces combined.
Think about it. Chocolate and gum. Pickles and ice cream. Could you picture Freddie Mercury with Gimlee’s beard? Hard no.
Once again, though, two all-time classics, in the name of combating hunger, come together in the new Kentucky Fried Chicken & Donuts Sandwich, currently being test marketed in Pittsburgh as well as the great Virginia cities of Norfolk, Richmond, and Virginia Beach. Fried chicken. And donuts. That’s all, that’s it. Big question: is this another Bowie/Jagger or is it more Bowie/Mercury?
The answer, of course, is a little bit of each.
First, take a look at this behemoth. My goodness. It’s a full-sized fried chicken filet bookended by two full-sized glazed donuts, served warm and drippy and gooey. There’s no way anyone could eat this while driving. Or even manage a full bite: the sandwich is too colossal. Human mandibles are not meant to chomp something of this size – it’s simply impossible. It’s a two-hand job for sure.
Aside from its size, what’s most impressive about this chicken donut sandwich is the quality of the donuts themselves. It’s doubtful the Colonel is making 4 a.m. wake up calls for freshly made donuts at each store, so to have fresh, warm donuts within minutes of ordering is some sort of fast food management marvel.
And not just that – they’re legitimately good. Crispy on the outside and warm and cakey on the inside, there’s almost like a funnel cake vibe to them, except in larger form, and instead of being doused with powdered sugar, there’s a syrupy sweet plain sugar glaze amply gooped all over the place. And while the donuts weren’t as melt-in-your-mouth as, say, fresh made Krispy Kreme, they were soft and comforting, but a bit crumbly if smushed to create a more manageable bite.
If you’ve had KFC chicken, you’ll know what the filet tastes like. Just fried chicken. Heavy on the crispies, decent seasoning, a little peppery. Not awful, but not Chick-Fil-A or Popeyes either. Just all right.
Together, though? It’s not as awful as I imagined it potentially being, but there’s room for improvement. First, with the respective size of the donuts and the filet, it was hard to get a lot of bites with a decent representative sample of each in there. Many seemed to be a little too heavy on the carby and not the clucky side. Even if both get their way in, though, there’s something amiss.
Logically, a salty/sweet flavor profile ought to be in play, but it’s not. The sugar glaze overpowers a lot of the chicken and saps its strength. There’s not anything that bridges them – instead of sugar glaze, how about maple or honey? That seems a better play to me. That might also fill the gap between what makes chicken and waffles such a success while this particular interpretation isn’t nearly as inspiring.
To any KFC bigwigs reading this, here’s my two cents, and contact me for any royalties. First, use one donut and not two. Slice it bagel style so there’s half the carbs. The donuts are big and fluffy enough; they can handle it. The kindly counterperson who chatted me up while my order was readying stated that she had not seen a single person finish a whole sandwich that week simply because it was too big. Second, instead of glazing the donuts with pure sugar, switch to maple or honey glaze and put it atop the chicken instead of drenching the dough. That’d make it probably more enjoyable.
Chicken and waffles is definitely a thing, and in KFC’s case, with a little tweaking, chicken and donuts can be, too. Indeed, there’s also the option of ordering a chicken and donut basket combo. To be honest, the whole shebang was more enjoyable served up that way. At $5.99 for the sandwich or $7.99 for a combo with potato wedges and soft drink, this particular KFC excursion wasn’t regrettable but is unlikely to be repeated. We definitely weren’t dancing in the street after.
Purchased Price: $5.99 (sandwich only)
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Not available.