Friday, 27 February 2009

Doveridge Retail Park Branch Review 24/02/09

Uttoxeter, nestled on the Eastern fringe of Staffordshire has been resisting the colonel's advances since 2003 when plans were first submitted to bring the town into the Chicken age. This rural town of 12,000 people seems to have thought itself above a ride on the gravy train. Councillors repeatedly refused to grant permission for Harland to set up shop claiming:

"It would adversely affect proposals to regenerate the town centre, as well as existing businesses"

No dispute there from me, yes it would have affected the town. . . . . . for the better!

Uttoxeter's truculent councillors could not be kowtowed to the will of the Sanders, until, thankfully recession struck. Whilst other businesses shudder to a halt the Fried Chicken juggernaut has moved into overdrive. It has clucked the trend to announce 9000 new jobs. It would have been political suicide to oppose the creation of 40 new jobs in your town during recession, as a result, the Doveridge Retail Park KFC was born on 24th November 2008. No longer would the faithful of Uttoxeter, forced to wait patiently for 5 years, have to complete the humiliating 30 mile round trip for Finger Licking Chicken.

Entering Uttoxeter at around mid day I felt like I was in enemy territory, I was in the town whose leaders did not want Chicken and they had not been afraid to show their true colours for over 5 years. Much like mediaeval times I was looking forward to entering the Chicken Church to claim sanctuary. I entered the branch dead on noon just before the lunch time rush. It was immediately plain that space was at a premium here and the planners axe had been wielded to cut away the deadwood. Thus we saw a unisex toilet, no banqueting table and a Drive Thru lane that passes perilously close to the main pedestrian access point. This places pedestrians drunk on chicken when, leaving and blinded by lust when entering at risk.

Inside, the place was spotless. I was greeted and served courteously throughout my entire transaction during which time I plumped for that bar setting staple the Zinger Tower meal with a side order of gravy.

During the wait for my meal I quickly surveyed my surroundings seeing a laminated sheet of A4 hanging below the menu gantry offering Hot Rods. Something I would love to see making a nationwide return. On the wall to my left was another laminated A4 sheet proudly displaying 5 stars awarded by an East Staffordshire restaurant inspection team.

Presently my meal arrived:

Fries: Poor

Gravy: Hot and 3 step

Zinger tower: plenty of salsa, crisp lettuce, not too much mayo, kaiser bun was dry, Zinger fillet was acceptable. What was faultless, was the construction. The hash brown sat squarely atop the fillet fused there with cheese. The symmetry was flawless, had a set square been brought into play during construction?

My burger 6/10
Overall experience 8/10

Monday, 23 February 2009


It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I write this. Stafford's Greyfriars KFC closed its doors for the last time after a short illness in mid February. This magnificent edifice, a shining example of early post Colonesque architecture now stands forlornly at Stafford's Northern fringe. The Restaurant was one of the 38% of company owned venues and had been a stalwart of the the Staffordshire fast food scene since the 80s.

The restaurant had been bypassed by the recent refurbishment programme that has breathed new life into many branches and initial reports upon the closure suggested Greyfriars branch was being remodelled in line with the parent company's 2006 diktat. There was palpable excitement indeed at the prospect of a refurb. The sign on the door however for those that bothered to read it exclaimed otherwise 'This Branch is now closed'.

Stafford witnessed an outpouring of grief unprecedented in its 1000 year history, local flower shops were inundated with orders and many shut their doors early with nothing left to sell. Patricia Boynes, proprietor of one town centre flower vendor said
"Of course I was shocked like everybody else, I sold out in hours but saved a £150 bouquet and laid it myself, One guy came in here and spent over £1000, it's a tragedy for Stafford and a tragedy for the country as a whole."

The Greyfriars branch closure was also surprising due to its rumoured status as a regional hub. It's unusual two floor design held substantial office space which was presumably used by the firm. What will happen to the building remains to be seen, but local firm Tushingham Moore are handling the transition period. It was this unusual two story design which attracted Unesco, who are now considering making it a world heritage site as one of the finest examples of early post colonelesque architechture in the country its transmogrification into another business therefore could be slow.

The story of its demise was recounted to me by a worker moved from the Greyfriars branch to Stafford's young pretender the Hough Retail Park Branch(HRPB). Apparently the lack of a drive through facility at Greyfriars was the death knell and was enough the spur customers on a further 1.7 miles so as not to have to leave their car. There is a worry that the move may be premature. With the HRPB only trading since November, has it been long enough to accurately formulate a business model based on the seasons critics of the closure are asking. The Greyfriars branch came into it's element during the summer months when families would flock to its patio seating area to watch enthralled as the traffic roared past them on the busy A34, a fond memory that many Staffordians will hold dearly on to.

Other fond memories are of the winter wonderland that the staff went out of their way to prepare at the the Greyfriars branch. Each year a fake Christmas tree was festooned with all manner of product wrappers lovingly fashioned into Colonel themed decorations. From freshen up wipes to Popcorn Chicken boxes, nothing was left out in the pursuit of a perfect Chickeny Christmas and the neighbourhood children loved it as one elderly local resident recalls.
"If you lived round here you always just knew when KFC had decorated their tree, there was a feeling in the air, people suddenly seemed happier it lifted everyones mood and to see the children so happy, It was as if the Colonel himself had been here"
Another wonderful feature (for me at least) of this branch which was my local was the lack of disabled parking. I was able to park right by the door thus speeding up my overall journey time from home to branch. Stafford was also noted for the extremely high quality of its gravy, some of the best 3 step I have ever encountered was served to me at this branch. This would have been a prime candidate for a gravy centre of excellence. The Colonel himself was very particular with regard to the gravy,noting in his book:
"with me gravy is a mighty important thing. Most of it I see in restaurants today ain't fit for my dogs"

As Chaucher pointed out to us though
"all good things must come to an end"
but i didn't think the same proverb applied to great things too.

Rest In Poultry
1980s - 2009

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Yeehaaww! Tex Mex Wrapstar Review

The Wrapstar saw it's first appearance mid-2007, arriving on the menu as the Toasted Twister's bigger brother. Dubbed as the perfect solution for lunch on-the-go, the Wrapstar was aimed at young, busy adults and boasted a compact design fully enclosed in a soft tortilla wrap, thereby maximising portability and reducing the risk of contents spillage. Inside, the Wrapstar boasted two Crispy Strips, pepper mayo, a slice of cheese, a tostada, mild salsa, lettuce and tomatoes. It was well received, but as dg explains in his recent post Shifting Sanders, the Wrapstar was lost to the greasy graveyard of forgotten menu innovations, only to be reincarnated last year as part of the KFC AM suite, namely the AM Wrapstar. Was this the last variation we would see? Apparently not.

You can imagine my suprise (and that of fellow blogger Albad) as we arrived at Bethnal Green KFC branch for a Sunday meal. There, in the window, was a poster for the Tex Mex Wrapstar. This was the first time I had ever been made aware of new menu items by in-branch advertising - normally these new items are heavily advertisied in offline, online and television advertising. It seemed like the Tex Mex Wrapstar had appeared out of nowhere. The excitement took hold there and then, as we decided to immediately plump up the £2.99 for a meal deal.

In terms of review, there isn't a great deal to say here. The twist given to the Tex Mex is the addition of a pepperjack cheese slice and mexican salsa, supposedly giving more flavour and a fiery kick. It tasted just as I expected - good - but possibly too similar to the original Wrapstar. Sometimes I think it's not quite enough to add a single ingredient (here, salsa/cheese) and call it a new product... but at the end of the day, you can't go wrong with Crispy Strip chicken and mexican zing, a proven winning combination.

One thing I should note here, is construction. The chicken technicians at Bethnal Green KFC have never been noted for a high level of experience and craftmanship, but this was taking the piss. My Wrapstar arrived not as expected or as demonstrated in advertising material, but as a loose, floppy pouch, barely holding the contents and leaking salsa from all sides. After a couple of bites, handling it became nigh on impossible, feeling much like a bar of soap coated in grease. I resorted to picking it apart by hand and ended up in quite a mess. Thank god for the clean-up wipe is all I can say.

One month down the line, and as quickly as it arrived, it's gone. Another casualty, but one which most customers probably won't miss due to the strange lack of advertising behind it. This leaves me to wonder, was this a rare item? Possibly a smaller branch roll-out, or a market test/research for future products...we can only speculate at this stage. If you managed to experience the Tex Mex Wrapstar during it's 1 month shelf life, leave us your thoughts in the comments.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

An American Odyssey, Part 2: Deliverance

The Engine of our 1.4litre Chevrolet Cobalt neither roared nor purred but occasionally if you put your foot down it could be made to meow. When Leaving Washington DC we decided to take scenic route 50. After four hours we were beginning to regret it, we were deep in the Appalachian mountains and it looked like we somewhere close to where the events described in the book Deliverance occurred.

Unlike the America we see on the television this wasn't the land of rampant consumerism, businesses seemed few and far between let alone billboards which were thus, offering only accusation and damnation.

I hoped beyond hope to see something like this:

But it never came and after 8 hours of driving it was getting dark, we were tired, hungry and I was getting worried about running out of gas.

Just then. . . . something that seemed insignificant happened, we passed over the state border, leaving plain old Virginia for 'Wild & Wonderful' West Virginia, and wonderful it turned out to be

Dont just take my word for it, ask this chap:

John Denver is thought of as one West Virginia,s greatest advocates, but that is a fallacy. His famous song 'Country Roads'' had its original chorus altered at the behest of a tyrannical record executive insistent that the track appeal to a wider demographic. When I interviewed a bitter John regarding the whole unfortunate incident he told me:

"I was just a country kid back then, I knew what I loved and that was chicken, so I wrote a song 'bout it. I just figured back then that if I got that record deal and made me a stack o' money, that I'd be able to get me as much of that finger licking chicken as possible. And yeah it paid off, I've eaten me a whole lotta chicken since that day. When Harland died I realised I'd never had the chance to say sorry for turning my back on the man who was like a father to me. Well thems was real hard times. I don't know what I'd have done if I didn't have chicken at that time, I'm not even sure if I'd still be here. I musta eaten me damn near a thousan' buckets, Sad days man, sad days."

John agreed to let me have a copy of the original lyrics (in red) as opposed to the filth that was released (in blue.)

Country roads, take me home
To the place, I be-long
West virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads

Country roads, take me there
To the Chicken, I adore
Colonel Sanders, Chicken Popa
Cookin' Chicken, on the bone

It was this story that made finding a KFC in Grafton in the back waters of West Virginia so magical. Nestled as you can see amidst dense forest on route 50 as it langurously winds it's way across the country Grafton KFC reached out of the darkness like a reverse chicken lighthouse drawing modern day land mariners towards its enchanting warm glow.
And what a KFC it was, this was the paradigm, the bar against which others should be judged. This wasn't just a fast food chicken restaurant it was a dining experience. Pictures of the local football team adorned the walls, charity was prevelant but not intrusive, there were tasteful Haloween decorations (perhaps slightly premature) and many homely touches. A cruet set for example adorned each and every spotlessly clean table and there were mints along with the other condiments. Why anyone would want to purge their mouth of the flavour is beyond me but I appreciated the gesture.

Our Hostess, for that I what I would call her was knowledgable, helpful and understanding to the point of perfection. She could knock a few of those big city branches into line I thought to myself. And the food? well this was my introduction to the 'Plated Meal' Original recipe strips (great) a side of mashed potato and gravy, (good) soda (standard) and the curious american 'biscuit'. This was something akin to a plain scone which one can cover with the contents of a sachet of the Colonel's buttery spread (not to my taste).

And so we ate, said our goodbyes and went on our way into the night,revived not just by the food, but by the thought that tomorrow we'd be in the promised land. . . . Kentucky.

Coming Soon. . . . An American Odyssey Special Report~:Kentucky

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

An American Odyssey, Part 1: The Eastern Seaboard

Our flight landed at roughly 3 in the afternoon, we had touched down in United States of America. Land of the Recipe & Home of the Chicken.

The itinerary of the trip had been planned specifically to take in some of KFC's most ancient temples and revered monuments and relics. Along the way we planned was to seek refuge and revictualing in any of Harland's houses that we passed. Little did we expect to be so rigorously tested in the first three days.

Boston, our first port of call suffers a dearth of KFCs, we passed none during our idle wanderings around the city and resolved to use electronic means. But Google was a false prophet merely leading us astray. We walked for an hour towards what we thought was our goal but there was no chicken in sight. Defeated, we retreated to the scant comforts of base camp before the following day's outing to Salem, would this offer up the prize we strove for?

Salem is of course famous for its witch trials in 1692 in which 19 people were put to death. Had Harland Sanders been one of the pilgrim fathers and introduced his recipe at about this time the world would be a very different place indeed. I am sure that he would have been accused of black magic (for I think that the unearthly tastiness of the secret recipe is a mystery that even modern day science will never explain) but I have no doubt it would have been embraced and the USA we know today would have a distinctly different 3 letter acronym for its name!

Salem though yielded a blank and we were forced to seek pastures new on Manhattan island where our patience was rewarded as soon as we alighted from our coach by a KFC at Penn Station and my first foray into the world of The Famous Bowl.

This dish has been described by blogger Louis Fowler as
"One of the most delicious concoctions man has ever come up with"

Imagine, creamy mashed potato, rich and thick chicken gravy, sweetcorn kernels, crisp Popcorn Chicken and 3 types of grated cheese. It was good, not that I'd go as far as Louis but this was just my first foray into an exciting and exotic foreign menu.

Manhattan's KFCs however were not competition standard. Given that not many tourists make it away from major cities on the US' East Coast it seems a shame to leave them with such a poor memory of one of the US' best loved exports. Seating areas were graffitied, dips were out of stock and air conditioners dripped ice cold water onto the faithful below. We were still a long way from Kentucky though and I knew things would improve.

Whilst Philidelphia yielded no KFC, Washington DC offered a fine establisment boasting both KFC and TacoBell under the same roof a phenomenon seldom seen but that I have been lucky enough to witnessed also in Australia and Canada.

To ability to mix and match from the two menus really adds an entire new dimension to the whole dining experience.

What Washington DC also introduced to us was KFCs rival: Popeyes Chicken. A chain that worryingly commands the kind of fan loyalty seen below.

Sun Tsu in his two thousand year old tome 'The art of war' told us to
"Know your enemy"
and Popeyes in terms of food quality appeared to be a formidable opponent.


What both the Capital and arguably the US' most important city were lacking was a flagship store on a par with London's Leicester square branch, nothing it appeared thus far was up to competion standard.

From here however our journey began across country through the Virginias towards the greasy heart of chicken country.

Coming Soon. . . . Part 2 The Road to Louisville

Ray Allen. . . . Saint, or Sinner

We here in the United Kingdom have much to thank Ray Allen for, we also have a lot of reasons to hate him. Ray was the visionary responsible for bringing KFC here to the UK in 1965, a whole nine years prior to the arrival of Ronald McDonald and his burger pedaling cronies.

Following meetings with Harland in 1963 Ray was able to open the UK's first KFC ,in Preston ,in May 1965. Back then Preston was a small town in North West England. It seems a strange choice, but here Allen was on home turf and due to his catering background throughout the 1950s he thought that the good people of Preston were ready for this taste sensation. He was not wrong. Still trading today at 92 Fishergate, Preston, Lancashire, the store is testament to Allen's early successes.

The Colonel is in fact rumoured to have visited Preston to oversee the overseas expansion of his empire in its nascent stages. Rumour though is all it seems to be for there is no substantiating evidence to be found, not even in Preston. Nor does the colonel mention ever having visited in his autobiography giving the country only a fleeting mention.

Ray Allen undoubtedly did some good work in the early days, expanding the UK KFC operation to some 250 outlets. In fact he himself climbed so far up the greasy pole that he too was made a Kentucky Colonel Just like Harland by the then Kentucky Governor Edward Breathill.

Nobody knows exactly when it happened, or how it happened but it has since become apparent that Ray Allen turned his back on the Colonel's guidence and benevolence before finally sticking the knife in. The Colonel, wiser than us, may have seen this treachery afoot as early as 1974. In his autobigraphy published in that year he gives scant mention to England and does not mention Ray Allen's name. Surely a man whose franchise business had just begun to operate on a whole new continent would have something more to say about this? But no, compared to the Colonel's good friend and first American franchisee Pete Harman, who's mentioned regularly throughout the book, Allen is a ghost.

What other evidence is there to suggest that Allen dropped the ball, deliberately or otherwise? Most damning of all is the squandering of a 9 year head start that Allen had over the rival McDonalds chain which went onto dominate the UK fast food scene. Surely Allen would have only let this happen if he had designs on his own fried chicken empire?


With the dawning of the 90s, some 25 years after bringing KFC to the people of the UK Allen decided that,
"The UK market would appreciate a home grown original fried chicken"
which having developed
"Their very own secret recipe fried chicken"
they brought to the market in the form of Allens Fried Chicken.

KFC's response it seems has been expunge Allen from the record. The official UK website simply states the facts before moving swiftly on witn no mention of Ray Allen's involvement. Not the actions of a company proud of their affiliations. If the Colonel had had his way Allen's treachery would be all but forgotten were it not for the actions of Allen's themselves, in what appears to be a to be a ploy by the fledgling franchise to trade off the Colonel's good name. Below is a picture of the box lid that adorns all Allen's packaging. Read it for yourself, look at the pictures, and ask yourself why they feel they need such as strong disclaimer at the bottom there.

Allen's it seems, after about 15 years of trading has failed to leave the north west and who can blame them when the chain gets reviews like these below from real diners posting their thoughts on the website

Don't bother

Alans fried chicken is a mistake which I think everyone makes once, and will never make again. I hope by reading this you save yourself from a waste of time and money. The food is standard, and what you expect when you go into this style of eatery but the staff are rude and rubbish and tried to short change me and then blame it on myself – not a good start. The food is greasy but sometimes that’s what you need but for the treatment I got I would not go again. A friend also went and some other customers thought he was going to have the last piece of chicken so they threatened to pull a knife on him. I do not blame the Alans chicken staff for this but I blame them for not doing anything and for not asking them to leave when my friend was in obvious distress.

Followed by the more comedic and scathing review:

Quantum Physics and fried chicken

At a fast food restaurant i do not expect to receive gourmet food or gourmet service. What i do expect is quick, simple, properly cooked food for a reasonable price. If i have any issues i expect them to be given due consideration. I got neither from my one and never-to-be-repeated trip to Allen's Fried Chicken on Oxford Road close to St Peter's Square.

After ordering a chicken fillet burger meal i sat down to eat my food. When i found a deep-fried mosquito-type fly in my chips my appetite escaped me. I returned to the counter and asked politely for a refund on my barely touched meal. The response i received was simply astounding; The fly was "my responsibility" and must have flown into the restaurant and landed on my chips (somehow deep frying itself in the process). I was told "once food passes over the counter it was no longer his problem". I was further told if the fly had been on the chips when i had bought them "i should have noticed it and said something straight away". I am alas getting older now, and am no longer able to see through the paper bags that hold the meal and the chips themselves.

My repeated request for a full refund (a quite considerable £4.10) was absolutely not possible-the "manager" assured me the till could not perform this task - i can only imagine what trails you must conquer to attain change from this machine's obviously unwilling bowels..?! After asking the "manager" for his name - as i now wished to make a formal complaint against him - he suddenly went tongue tied, turned out the restaurant's lights, pulled down the shutters and demanded that my friend and I leave as they were now closing (this despite another couple in the corner of the restaurant who were not asked to leave-presumably Allen's have exclusive "lock-in's" with select customers...) i wonder if their opening hours will remain at the new 9.40pm closing time or mysteriously revert back to a later "catch the pub-leavers-going-home" business...?

I have been left with not only a sour taste in my mouth but also the theological question of "just how drunk will i have to be before i forget my experience and happily accept assorted diptera in my food again"...? a quandary indeed. If i ever crack that, bring on quantum physics...

And so we finish this story back where we started it, in Preston where the Lancashire Evening Post reports that the people have chosen their hero, opting to adopt Colonel Harland Sanders to adorn their city over local lad and chicken traitor Ray Allen.

A finger lickin' First for the city

Published Date 30/10/08
By Emma Broom

He's the face that launched a world famous secret-recipe and now Colonel Harland Sander the man synonymous with Kentucky Fried Chicken is in line for his own treat. A lasting tribute to the man behind the fast food brand, possibly in the form of a bronze bust has been included in plans for a heritage art trail in Preston.

Monday, 16 February 2009

300 new branch openings by 2014!

In this time of recession it's all too common to hear of the closure of individual retail stores or in extreme cases, entire chains. Less choice for the consumer, lowered employment and less competition are never good things.

It is with added excitement then that we are proudly able to reveal the Colonel's 5 year expansion plans: No less than 300 new branches will be opening within the next 3-5 years, adding an extra 9,000 jobs to the 22,000 that the chain already provides. And how might KFC be growing when others are falling by the wayside? The fantastic quality of the produce aside, it is the sheer value for money that people are lapping up. The introduction of the Snack Boxes are certainly partly to thank (though raising the price of the mini fillet beyond 99p was and still is unacceptable).

Carry on, Colonel, carry on.

Original source.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Safely Back Home

One of the world’s most guarded trade secrets, Colonel Sanders’ handwritten Original Recipe, made a quiet return to its Louisville, Ky., home. Accompanied by armed guards, KFC brought back the secret blend of 11 herbs and spices to its newly modernized and remodeled home.

The return of the valued secret comes five months after it was temporarily moved to a secure off-site location while security upgrades were performed at the vault at KFC headquarters.

The recipe lays out a mix of 11 herbs and spices that coat the chain's Original Recipe chicken, including exact amounts for each ingredient. It is written in pencil and signed by Harland Sanders.

The iconic recipe is now protected by an array of high-tech security gadgets, including motion detectors and cameras that allow guards to monitor the vault around the clock.

"It's like an onion of security — many layers," said security expert Bo Dietl, who brought the recipe back to the building.

Thick concrete blocks encapsulate the vault, situated near office cubicles, that is connected to a backup generator to keep the security system operating in times of power outages.

"I can guarantee you, once it's in there, it will be safe," Dietl assured Eaton.

The recipe is such a tightly held secret that not even Eaton knows its full contents. Only two company executives at any time have access to the recipe. KFC won't release their names or titles, and it uses multiple suppliers who produce and blend the ingredients but know only a part of the entire contents.

“We’re glad to have the Secret Recipe safely back home,” said KFC President Roger Eaton. “The Colonel’s Original Recipe is priceless, so I’ve had a few sleepless nights while it was kept off site. I can finally get a good night’s sleep knowing it is now back in Louisville in our high-tech safe and vault.”

Colonel Harland Sanders created the now-famous Original Recipe in 1940, and it hasn’t changed since. Sanders’ Original Recipe fried chicken is a mainstay of the KFC menu and the recipe ranks among the world’s most valuable trade secrets.

The Secret Recipe's new high-tech home is like something out of a Hollywood movie. The custom-built, digital FireKing safe protecting the Secret Recipe weighs more than 770 lbs and has a 1/2" thick steel door. The computerized safe also boasts a dual-opening system that requires both a smart key and a personal identification number (PIN). A built-in silent alarm and time lock feature provide additional layers of safekeeping, which will alert the security team of any attempted intrusion and allow access to the safe only during pre-set periods of time.

But the new safeguards don’t end with the safe. The vault housing the new safe is reinforced with two feet of concrete in the ceiling, walls and floor to ensure that no one can tunnel or drill into the vault. Additionally, the vault and safe are now under 24-hour video and motion-detection surveillance.

Last September, KFC temporarily relocated the prized possession to an undisclosed secure location while upgrades were made under the supervision of corporate security expert and former New York City Police Detective Bo Dietl.

“The Colonel and KFC kept the Secret Recipe safe for 68 years and while the recipe has never changed, times have and the security needed an upgrade,” Dietl said. “We designed this system to keep the recipe under wraps for at least another 68 years.”

Shifting Sand(er)s

In recent months and years we have seen the introduction and sadly the withdrawal of numerous delicious KFC products. Whilst I am all for innovation what irks me is the lack of information the customer is given. If these things were trialled under the banner of 'for a limited time only' or 'trial period' I should be slightly appeased. Though I hate to admit it, the McDonalds model is a good one the introduction of seasonal menus allows diners to assimilate the fact that this product will not be around for longer than 3 months, if particularly popular McDonalds will know for a possible reintroduction.

The casualty list is high, all the below have fallen in battle and though some (with*) have attempted a return they again have fallen by the wayside MIA presumed dead but leaving their grieving fans with nothing tangible, and that slight bit of hope they cling onto can be a cruel master.

Kickin' Cajun Burger
The Complete Treat Meal
Hot Rods
Boneless Bites Flavour Station
Smoky Blue Tower Burger
The Zinger Twister
The Big Daddy Burger*

The above I'm sure is not an exhaustive list and please feel free to mention any products I've left out.

The one product that appears to have been a mainstay has in my opinion been one of the Colonel's worst innovations. . . . Popcorn chicken, surely the blandest product available. So come on Colonel a bit more info please.

Blazin' Boxmaster

The Blazin' Boxmaster, KFC's newest main item offering. If memory serves; we have seen a version of the Boxmaster previously, but not, in this revised format. Zinger lovers are often left out in the cold by the inclusion of only standard original recipe fillets in new product launches, but the Blazin' Boxmaster does not disappoint.

It was trialled by Rob Fentem and myself on February 10th at Manchester's Regent Road branch at 9pm along with a large side serving of gravy which revealed itself to be of hallowed 3 step variety.

I'm always slightly wary when entering a KFC that has security glass as this one did but the food however was of a high standard, hot , fresh and juicy as Harland hentended.

The Ingredients

Zinger Fillet
Hash Brown
Hot Salsa
Crispy Bacon
Jalapeno Mayo

Since the original launch of the Big Baddy burger in October 04 I am not sure if I have personally been able to reconcile KFC preparing, selling and serving bacon. Their name is very clear on their product and often constrains them, but chicken and bacon have been proved time and time again to be good culinary partners.

Moving on,

The product was served in an innovative paper wrapper with a cardboard belt with simple fastening device. Included in this was an integral identifying device to differentiate between the Blazin' or BBQ versions. Whilst the packaging was good, when put into context with the product. it was weak. One expects a product such as the Boxmaster to be in an actual box and that the product in some way masters the box either by being so large as to be it sole occupant or some other unthought of device for portraying its imperious pretensions over said box.

Once removed from the packet, the product itself was very dense thus giving it a very weighty feel. The Bacon in fact looked absent upon a cursory visual inspection but was in fact within. many of the ingredients are known to us due to their positions in other products but what is new here particularly is the Jalapeno Mayo (and Harland said it shall be good) and it was good. It was hot and added a significant new dimension to the menu.

Essentially though this is a ZT with some added extra hot sauce but suffering from wrap syndrome, a phenomenon whereby one eats to the end of the product and instead of being left with some amazing final bites, ends on 3 mouthfulls of what is virtually all wrap to contend with, thus ensuring the final mouthful is a disappointment.

All that said. . . . I would entertain another but as so often is the case it's no Zinger Tower.
6.5 out of 10