Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Chillers become Krushems

The saga continues, the trial of Chillers (as reported on here in April), themselves based on the Australian pioneered product the Krusher has now been rebranded the Krushem before it's even out of its trial period.

Having been trialled in Reading and the greater Birmingham area under its previous incarnation as the Chiller earlier this year I was excited to see this new product in my local Fenton branch in Stoke-On-Trent, sporting this new moniker. I initially thought that this was a nationwide roll out ready for the summer holidays but it seems not, nor does the official website make any mention of a launch.

Arriving for lunch on Monday 20th July I was surprised to see advertising for the Krushem and some new branded affiliated versions of it. Now in 4 flavours, a generic cookie crumble and strawberry cheesecake and branded Oreo and Maltesers versions.

Due to technical difficulties (the engineer was still fiddling with the machine when I arrived) I had the 1st Krushem served by Fenton and opted for the Maltesers version at 1.79. It didn't arrive promptly and took the staff some time to concoct, in their defence the pulled it off with aplomb. My Krushem was totally laced with Malteser flavour and 'bits' and made a great accompniment to my food and also took a long time to consume.

It is not rich and creamy dairy ice but mixed with very finely crushed ice. The drink has a smooth texture punctuated only by the 'bits' of your chosen flavour.

The last time we reported on this product the cups were unliveried. This has now changed and the Krushem has its own branding on its clear plastic cup as seen above.

My mild criticisms, is it slightly overpriced? at 1.79 (99p to add to a meal) I dithered wheter or not to purchase and think that a price tag of a more modest 1.49 would get more takers. It is also served in only one size, a little more choice would be nice perhaps.

However, this is a product that KFB will be having again on a hot summers day and a welcome addition to the menu.

Streetwise Menu

It's the biggest shake up we've seen for quite some time in the KFC menu. Coinciding neatly with yesterdays launch of the new Time Limited Offer (TLO) we also saw the introduction of the new Streetwise Menu, the official line is this:


For everybody who’s been feeling the pinch lately, KFC introduces the new Streetwise Menu, offering a great selection of 9 irresistibly tasty snack size products from only 99p.

From your favourite Popcorn Chicken or Mini Fillet Burger to our new exciting Rollers or Mini Variety Box, the Streetwise Menu gives you the irresistible KFC taste now at a price you don’t have to resist!!"

They've added a new logo which as you can see changes the Es from street with pound signs to accentuate the good value credentials of these products.

Whilst old favourites remain, such as corn and most importantly the Mini Fillet we've seen three new important new additions, the mini variety box, BBQ cheese roller and the Spicy caeser roller all for 99p Here's what HQ says about each product.

Mini Variety Box

A delicious duo of KFC famous Popcorn Chicken and spicy Hot Wing, served in a convenient cardboard box, ideal to eat on the go.

Cheesy BBQ Roller

Made with KFC famous Popcorn chicken, smothered in our signature Deluxe BBQ sauce and topped with melted cheese. All rolled up in a flour tortilla and lightly toasted to seal in the flavour.

The Cheesy BBQ Roller is the perfect handheld snack for big fans of BBQ and cheese!

Spicy Caeser Roller

Made with KFC famous Popcorn chicken, deliciously creamy and spicy Caesar sauce and crunchy lettuce. All rolled up in a flour tortilla and lightly toasted to seal in the flavour.

The Spicy Caesar Roller is a delicious handheld snack full on flavour with a spicy twist!

The taste test. . . .

In branch there was no indication what type of chicken was used to construct the rollers. Publicity shots show a profusion of chicken, and so there and then I deconstructed my products and found my caeser roller contained only 4 pieces of popcorn chicken and my Cheesy BBQ roller, 5. I'm not sure on the official line regarding preparation and just how many pieces there should be, but I found any taste of chicken was swallowed up by a profusion of wrap.

I couldn't hope but notice these 99p products had been launched at the start of the summer holidays and are a great way to appeal to the 'pupils pound' bored children with a little but not too much pocket money can get some food. For a hungry man I'd recommend neither of the rollers. . . . . But don't despair, the Mini fillet is here. at 1.19 this is a truly great product,

Mini Fillet Burger

A 100% chicken breast Mini Fillet with the big taste of Original Recipe herbs and spices topped with crisp lettuce, our irresistible pepper mayo, and served on a toasted sesame seed bun.

With plenty of Original Recipe chicken, an oh so tasty pepper mayo and fresh lettuce all on a sesame bun. truly the most Streetwise of the lot!

Hot Rods

It's that time again, six weeks since the last Time Limited Offer (TLO) emerged from its cocoon in the form of a Tex Mex wrapstar (a product that incidentally gained some KFB admirers) we now have a new TLO. . . . . . . . HOT RODS are back and they're spicier than ever!

We've seen HOT RODS in the past and would really like to see them become a permanent menu item. Four extremely substantial chunks of delicious white breast meat, marinated in what yesterday seemed a step up above Zing, coated in Extra Tasty Crispy (ETC) batter, all impaled upon a sturdy wooden skewer & served with a cool herb dip. Eating off of a skewer also replicates that Chicken on the bone scenario (i imagine) and there is some pleasure to be taken in behaving like a caveman, but a civilised one without having to deal with all that oomska.

2.29 buys you two hot rods with cool herb dip whilst the masterstroke comes in the form of the HOT RODS Box Meal at 4.69. This includes Fillet Burger (tower up for only 30p) medium soft drink, fries, your choice of side (gravy of course) and a delicious and importantly, boneless, HOT ROD.

But, a word of warning, this is a seriously spicy product, with so much of the surface area exposed to the marinade, compared to a single Zinger fillet, the HOT RED packs a serious spicy punch.

I've frequently taken advantage of the great box meal offers to get gravy at a reduced price but then been unable to eat the boney Chicken and wept as I've discarded it. This TLO offers me the chance to eat a complete satisfying meal, and I for one, along with all the other boneless product fans (who are probably buying burgers in the first place because they're not sold on boney chicken) call for its inclusion in the wider menu following the completion of this TLO.

The provenance of the HOT ROD is unknown but it is not constrained to these Shores having been spotted as far away as Malaysia as this advertising shows.

There is also a HOT RODS variety bucket to look out for!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

The KFC Halal Trial: mouths-on report

Earlier this year we caught wind of a halal trial occurring at several KFC branches across London. Now as all our loyal readers are no doubt aware, the only religion for us here at KFB HQ is the Church of Harland. However, we're not the type to shy away from new experiences, especially when they're chicken related. And so it was that we made the long and arduous trip down the road to our closest KFC, the Bethnal Green branch.

Picture the scene if you will: Pbad and myself are suffering the effects of a heavy night on the hooch and have decided the curing properties of the Colonel's chicken are the only logical option for brunch. We promenade our way down Bethnal Green high street until the Harland's smiling face peaks over the top of the chain of newsagent and pound shop signs. A smile crosses both our faces as we give each other a knowing look. Drawing closer to the branch we notice the above poster proudly displayed in the window. I turn towards Pbad as I exclaim

"Let's get halal!"

Before we get into the product itself though there are a few considerations to take into account. First and perhaps most importantly, in order for the food to be declared halal, KFC have had to pass numerous inspections by the Halal Food Authority. This means the way the chicken is slaughtered and prepared is of great importance. Though we'd previously chosen to believe that Harland himself whispered a prayer into the ear of every chicken just before it was to make the ultimate sacrifice, it has come to light that at the time of slaughter a blessing is recited by an 'appropriate person' as part of halal accreditation. As wel all know, Harland himself was deeply Christian, therefore lessenning his appropriateness for this task somewhat. To read more about the details of the trial, click here.

"Enough with the details!" I hear you decry. "How does it taste?" Well let us tell you now, it tastes...exactly the same. There is however one crucial element missing. An element so crucial in fact that its absence has caused an ENTIRE BURGER to be removed from the menu. And the name of this absent item?


Yes, bacon. Sadly, the laws of halal explicitly state that all pork products are banned. And sadly for us KFC lovers, this neccessitates the exclusion of the Big Daddy Burger - sure favourite of the manliest of men (have you ever tried to eat an entire Big Daddy box meal and lived to tell the tale?). In some regards removing a non-chicken based meat could be seen as a good thing. A purification of sorts. And yet in another way, bacon is plain delicious. So onto the bottom line: While halal opens up KFC to a vast and untapped new audience, it also casts aside a delicious burger. A mixed bag then ladies and gentlemen, a mixed bag indeed.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Product Profile: The Fillet Tower Burger

The Fillet Tower Burger, a cornerstone of the modern KFC menu:
A 100% chicken breast fillet coated in our Original Recipe herbs and spices, topped with cheese, ketchup, hash brown, crisp lettuce and our deliciously creamy mayonnaise - all served in a freshly toasted bun.

The official description is precise and to-the-point, reeling off a delicious list of attributes which, in my opinion, make the Fillet Tower Burger my product of choice. But why I hear you ask! A fair question, so please let me explain...

I could waffle on for many paragraphs about the toasted Kaiser bun, the creamy mayo and the crisp hash brown, but as avid followers of the blog I am sure you have all read DG's product profile of the Zinger Tower Burger and you are fully aware of how the ingredients and flavours combine to create one of the most (if not THE most) astounding burgers known to mankind. You may be thinking:
"Why should I bother reading on?? Surely the Fillet Tower Burger is exactly the same as a Zinger Tower Burger, just without our beloved zing? In fact, why would anyone even consider it when you could get the exact same product but with zing ASWELL for a few pence extra?"

A rookie error. In fact, I have overheard many a novice muttering such statements between friends when eyeing up the menu before making the final decision. Leaving aside the fact that some patrons may not be a fan of "Zing" (and may therefore opt for a less spicy alternative - enter Fillet Tower/Fillet Burger/Mini Fillet), there is one hugely significant reason for swaying the way of the FT; Original Recipe.

One of the most eye-opening revelations that we discovered on our trip to KFC HQ was that the Zinger Fillet found in the Zinger Burger and Zinger Tower burger is prepared off-site and has a different coating, known as Extra Tasty Crispy (ETC). This delicious coating gives the Zinger chicken its crispy crunch and spicy kick, both essential for a perfect ZT...but here is where the difference lies. The FT features none other than 100% Original Recipe chicken - that's the colonel's secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices right there.

Now let's not forget also that all OR chicken is prepared on the premises, breaded in-store and served fresh that day - I often feel that for this reason the chicken in a FT burger is somehow juicer and more tender. Finally, a controversial reason but one that I am not afraid to admit, I will often opt for no-zing just so I can experience the purity of the OR flavour, without any spice or salsa to take the attention away from my tastebuds.

I would urge all readers to consider the Fillet Tower for what it is - a truly different experience - not a clone, not an inferior product - and one that should not so easily be cast aside in favour of zing at every opportunity. Sure, the Zinger Tower deserves high praise indeed, but let's not forget: this is Original Recipe chicken, at it's best, complimented by a host of fine ingredients, just as the Colonel would have expected it.

Monday, 13 July 2009

KFB tries KGC

"If the mountain will not come to Mohammad, Mohammad must go to the mountain".

This phrase accurately summed up the dilemma KFB has faced since finding out that Kentucky Griddled Chicken (KGC) was being trialled only in the North East. It seemed our only option for a taste was to go there ourselves, however with our lack of budget it seemed we were doomed, but then, a miracle, the mountain did come to KFB.

On Sunday 12th of July a mysterious benefactor couriered a Griddled Chicken Ciabatta from Durham to our branch office here in deepest darkest Staffordshire by the medium of a 1994 dark blue 1.6l 16v Ford Escort.

It had traveled a distance of 187 miles in roughly 3hours and 14 minutes and reached my hands at 3.47pm.

The GCC was modestly wrapped in unassuming packaging, the type used for standard fillet burgers, I assume that specific packaging is still in the design phase.

Arriving home I was now faced with another dilemma, how to accurately restore a masterpiece to it's just cooked glory? I consulted a professional chef and followed his instructions. He advised a full strip down to its component parts, and so I duly separated Chicken, ciabatta, cheese & lettuce. I discarded the now terribly wilted lettuce and replaced with fresh, wrapped the Chicken in foil and reheated at 200 degrees centigrade (gas mark 6) for 6 minutes. I placed the bun in the microwave for a mere 15 seconds before transferring it to the oven for a minute to help it return to its former levels of crispiness.

When reheated I reseated the Chicken breast upon its bready throne and added the cheese, lettuce and bun top. fragile tendrils of steam escaped from the burger and my first bite revealed the juicy interior of the breast, the reanimation process had been a resounding success.

The breast was flecked with finely chopped green herbs which gave the burger a fresh healthy and aromatic taste unlike the familiar crunchy texture experienced elsewhere across the range. This particular example had suffered from a lack of sauce, having been thoroughly absorbed by the bread.The bread itself though was good, crisp without being abrasive on the mouth, it was light and flavoursome. Although at first the product looked small, it was densely packed and would make a good lunch, However a very hungry man may want to add a mini fillet to his order.

On this occasion I will not offer a rating due to these mitigating circumstances of KFB being responsible for the reheating.

It is still my ambition to try a freshly cooked example of a GCC in the opulent surroundings of a KFC restaurant but this has certainly piqued my interest. This product is an historic milestone for KFC but one worthy of our attention.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Colonelator 3000

The video at the bottom of this post Shows the Colonelator' capabilities in the labs. For the full back story read the post, or, just head to the bottom.

The idea for the Colonelator 3000 was inspired by two recent events in my life. Neither was significant when taken alone, but together they triggered an epiphany and my subsequent & sudden inventive streak.

some weeks ago (months now, the project has been more challenging that I first envisaged) I suffered a cold. One symptom of which was a blocked nose, a further corollary was that my usual ability to detect KFC simply by using my Jacobson's organ was severely impaired. For some further information on this oft thought vestigial organ please follow the link.

Usually within half a mile of a KFC I began to sense its presence, and was able to navigate my way there. Being without this function for a week severely limited my diet.

The second thing that happened was that I re-watched one of my favourite films, Commando starring the paragon of acting talent that is Arnold Schwarzennegger. In one scene our hero John Matrix is informed he has been targeted for assassination. His friend and superior officer assigns two of his best men to guard Matrix. Minutes later Arnie grabs his young daughter Jenny and throws himself and her to the ground moments before a hail of bullets is targeted at them by attackers. then this exchange takes place when Matrix, easily the most experienced there takes command of the situation telling one of his would be protectors:

"Remember they're down wind, your scent might tip them off"

"You think I can smell these guys"

"I Did"

Like me Arnie displays a similar talent. He can detect terrorists, I can detect chicken. what I didn't realise until that point, and obviously neither did Arnie, is that this is by no means a universal trait. I began asking around and, confirming my suspicions found that fewer than 1/10,000 people can detect chicken without the aid of KFC's store locater.

The store locater has undoubtedly made things easier and is the most popular application on the website. However what if you want a KFC on the fly, you aren't at home, don't have access to a 3g mobile internet enabled device, and cyber terrorists have struck rendering the internet defunct?

Then you need the Colonelator 3000. A totally self contained and portable unit that can also come equipped with a solar cell for use in a post apocalyptic world without batteries. The project has involved some major backers and collaborators and I am currently in talks with major electronics and automobile manufacturers for a large scale roll out. The short video below traces the development of the Colonelator from its nascent stages through to calibration and lab tests. I welcome your comments.