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Burger King's Cheetos Chicken Fries: How Did We Get Here?

 The burger chain is no stranger to the food hybrid game

Burger King

It’s almost as if Burger King executives have designed a novelty food generator that churns out crazy food mash-ups based on the tastes of teenage boys. And they can’t stop hitting the “create” button. The latest crazy combination of seemingly disparate foods? Chicken Fries (itself a strange hybrid of chicken strips and french fries) and Cheetos.

According to marketing speak (and as first reported by Business Insider), these Chicken Fries are “cooked to crispy perfection so that they have a dangerously cheesy outside and are made with juicy white-meat chicken inside." They cost $2.89 for a nine-piece order are available for a limited time only, beginning Wednesday.

How do they taste?
YouTube user Peep THIS Out! reviewed the Chicken Fries over the weekend, and says they offer “a strong Cheetos taste” and “a satisfying crunch.” Another reviewer, Daym Drops, says the fries taste nearly identical to standard Chicken Fries — until the very last bite, when, presumably, they taste like the inside of your mouth hours after you’ve eaten the last Cheeto.

How did we get here?
The fast food chain is certainly no stranger to the food hybrid game. In 2005, it re-introduced Chicken Fries to a national audience. To make them, strips of white meat chicken are cut into oblong batons, breaded, and then fried. The chain says this makes them better for dipping, and who are we to argue with that? In 2016, the company began molding poultry into a new, possibly more child-friendly shape when it debuted Chicken Rings.

Cheetos began infiltrating the menu this past June, when BK introduced the now infamous Mac n’ Cheetos, a combination of macaroni and cheese, mozzarella sticks, and Cheetos. (Taco Bell also dabbles in Cheetos novelty foods.)

What else has Burger King thrust upon an unsuspecting American public?
Among Burger King’s other gut-busting forays into food nobody asked for? Grilled hot dogs, hot sauce-flavored burger buns, and the Whopperrito — which is, as the name suggests, the ingredients found in a Whopper wrapped up in a tortilla.

But why?
These days, Burger King seems to be less about burgers and more about novelty foods. That’s because the buzz associated with these out-there menu items is, executives hope, worth millions. In other words, the chain doesn’t expect to actually boost its bottom line with sales of Cheetos Chicken Fries, but it does hope to grab the attention of consumers (and the press). (Yes, that would be us.)

Alex Macedo, president of Burger King North America, confirmed as much in a recent interview with USA Today. According to Macedo, while limited-time menu options give sales a boost, novelty foods are "just to get peoples' attention to come in to the restaurants” and "also important for keeping the brand relevant."

Burger King’s strategy — focusing on strange Frankenfoods, rather than on quality (like eliminating antibiotics, as many of its competitors have done) — might seem counterintuitive, but the chain has seen sales rise due to some of its wackier creations. Whether or not consumers walk in the door to order Cheetos’ covered chicken strips doesn’t matter. All that matters is they walk into Burger King — and not near those Golden Arches.

Taste Test: Burger King’s New Hot Dogs [E]
Burger King Has Unleashed an Absurd New Weapon in the Fast-Food Wars [BI]
All Burger King Coverage [E]

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