I am not really what you would call an “onion ring person.” The reason for this is simply because I do not like onions. No matter where I go, I will generally not eat onions or onion rings. I might eat the batter, but that’s it; throw the rest away, as far as I’m concerned.
I think it may be a texture thing, or it might be something else, but onions (and usually peppers, for that matter) tend to make me gag or worse. And it’s really too bad, because I sometimes like the smell of those things, like on a supreme pizza, but to actually put it in my mouth? Nuh-uh; it would never make it.
There is, however, one exception to the onion rule (besides onion-flavored seasoning, such as that found on potato chips): Burger King’s onion rings.
I can’t explain it– certainly not in any way which sounds flattering– but for me, Burger King onion rings aren’t like eating onions at all. The Simpsons once had a joke where Bart and his friends were searching for Springfield’s stolen lemon tree, and Martin questions a boy selling lemonade. The boy assures him that “this is Country Time lemonade mix. There’s never been anything close to a lemon in it, I swear!”
That’s pretty much how I feel about Burger King’s onion rings. Whether it’s true or not, it’s like whatever traces of onion that might have been in there have either long since departed, or turned into something unrecognizable as an onion. Whatever the case, this means I can eat them (along with that zesty sauce which tastes like the dip Outback uses for their shrimp) and enjoy them without any worries.
Which makes a recent find on store shelves interesting to me…
These are “Burger King Onion Rings Flavoured Snacks” by Initial Brands, who also distribute the TGI Friday’s brand of mozzarella cheese stick flavored snacks, pizza-flavored chips, and bacon & cheddar potato skins. The two latter are basically the direct descendents of Keebler’s products from many years ago.
As you can see, the onion rings come in a bright, colorful bag which is evocative of the Burger King brand. Unlike most potato and snack chip bags, its shape is a bit more square than rectangular.
On the top of the bag’s back is an emblem celebrating Burger King’s “50 Years of Perfection, accompanied by the following text:
Of course we’re talking about the flame-broiled, made to order WHOPPER®. Accept no imitations. Because no matter which of the 221,184 different ways you choose to customize it, you can bet you’re getting it your way. That’s what makes a WHOPPER® a WHOPPER®.
Great speech, so to speak. It almost makes me wish that I had purchased some sort of WHOPPER®-flavored snacks instead, but as far as I know, those don’t exist. So on with the onion rings, which have this to say:
What’s better than a batch of fresh, hot onion rings? BK® crispy Onion Ring flavoured snacks. These small puffed snacks are packed with a zesty onion flavour and deep crunch. You’ll be wanting more!
Wait… did they just say that these off-the-shelf grocery store snack food imitations are better than the genuine deal? That’s… that’s actually kind of alarming. Maybe there really isn’t any onion in the ones served at their restaurants?
Of course, that’s still fine by me. I realize they really need to sell people on these things, but what an odd thing to say. I’d expect them to say these are “the next-best thing,” but to say they’re better?
Well, anyway, it is what it is, and here I try them for myself.
The texture and weight are very much like the puffed corn meal you find as the base of such snacks as the puff-style of Cheetos, or the aforementioned TGI Friday’s mozzarella sticks. Unlike the short, tube-like shape those carry, these are instead shaped as thinner rings to better resemble the food they’re trying to emulate.
As far as the puffs go, you can definitely get a sense of the corn meal as well, but not too much. The seasoning masks most of it, and provides an interesting blend of flavors. One part is a sort of onion-type powder, like you might expect from sour cream & onion potato chips.
But on top of that is another strong flavor I can only describe as “burned.” It’s not quite like the sort of charred, burnt taste from something left in for too long, but it feels like it’s trying to evoke the sort of cooked taste a batch of onion rings would have. It’s not offensive, really, unless you perhaps really hate anything approaching well-done where your food is concerned.
Whatever it is, it certainly seems to set it apart from other onion-flavored snacks occupying the same aisle, though this might be because it’s not being complemented by something like sour cream. Of course, you don’t see too many onion-flavored corn snacks in the first place, either, helping to further differentiate them.
All in all, I like these. They aren’t my favorite snack food; I wouldn’t want to eat bag after bag of them, but they make a nice break from the norm where such foods are concerned. If you were having a party or even just an intimate get-together these would work great with something else as a complementary snack food.
Oh, and in case you were still wondering: No, they don’t really taste like BK’s actual onion rings, and aren’t really a substitute for them… unless you just really don’t like the real ones. In such a case, they stand well enough on their own as a snack apart from their inspiration.