Ethical Eating

Reviewing the Chains: Wendy's Sweet & Spicy Asian Chicken

I didn't exactly have high expectations when I was tasked with reviewing Wendy's new boneless chicken creations. I've certainly had a square hamburger or two from the red=headed temptress' chain, but it's never the first choice I make. So it's with a very real sense of dread that I walk through the doors and stand in line for my lunch today and decide to try the Sweet and Spicy Asian chicken over the Honey BBQ or Bold Buffalo flavors.

There are advertisements for these new chicken concoctions scattered throughout the entire restaurant. Most of the advertisements just nudge the reader to "Try one today" or "Try all three," but the most hilarious one of all reads "5-star taste! (No reservations required)." After trying the "Sweet and Spicy Asian chicken," I can honestly say that there's not a single accurate statement on that advertisement. In fact, we should all have reservations about living on the same planet as this dish, much less eating it.

I order the Asian Chicken combo for $5.99, which comes with some soggy

French fries and an enormous soft drink. I want to watch how the five-star

taste experience is put together. I hope I'm not giving away any

insider trade secrets by telling you this. To make the Spicy Asian

chicken nuggets, take some chicken out of the fryer (about seven

pieces should do), put them in a black plastic container, grab a squirt

bottle from above the French-fry lamp, and douse the nuggets. Gordon

Ramsay has nothing on these peeps.

After the gentleman places my chicken on a red plastic tray and slides

it across the counter, I make the long walk to a booth in the corner of

the restaurant. I take out my camera phone and begin taking pictures of

my food like I'm some starry-eyed aborigine who's never even heard of

fast food before. After dodging a few unbelieving stares and scowls

from other patrons, I pry off the plastic top and prepare myself.

Duck Sauce. Hot Duck Sauce is the only thing I can smell coming from

this basket of mushy chicken. The chicken nuggets in the "Sweet and

Spicy Asian sauce" are not exactly the same shape as the ones they ask

you to dip in honey mustard, but they're close. They're definitely

processed on the same machinery and from the same types of meat as the

standard nuggets. Not wanting to ponder the origins of this chicken

anymore, I grab a plastic fork, spear a chunk, and slowly raise it to

my mouth.

This is the part where I'm supposed to tell you what it tastes like, but I'm

not going to do that just yet. Instead, I'd like to tell you exactly

how you can duplicate this experience at home. First, take a jar of

duck sauce and pour a couple of tablespoons of crushed red pepper inside.

Next, grab a used sponge from your sink and cut it into seven uneven

pieces. Arrange the sponge chunks on a plate, pour the red pepper laced

duck sauce all over them, and place it in the microwave for about three

seconds. Congratulations, you've just made Wendy's Sweet and Spicy

Asian chicken.

 The chicken is soggy, lukewarm, and chewy. Not chewy like overcooked

chicken but chewy like Big League Chew. The breading is layered on

almost a quarter inch thick and is dripping with duck sauce and red

pepper flakes. What little chicken there is inside each nugget is moist

and stringy, a combination that scares me enough to never want to

mention it again.

So to wrap it all up: I ordered the "chicken," ate it, got an

honest-to-goodness set of stomach cramps for the next 30 minutes or so,

and I'm dreading what is coming next. Save yourself the trip and lick

duck sauce off a soggy piece of bread.

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Brett Gillin