In June 2013, Hees departed to run Heinz, and Schwartz became Burger King’s CEO. He spent his first months toiling in Burger Kings and discovering what it was like for the chain’s cooks and dishwashers. Brendan Berg, Burger King’s senior director for global learning, was Schwartz’s guide during his training. He remembers his boss struggling to keep up with orders for items from the expanded menu. “There’s nothing like standing in the back of the house, and the lunch rush is upon you, and you have complicated sandwiches,” Berg says. “We had three different barbecue sauces. Some burgers had raw onions. Some had red onions. We had sweet potato fries. We’re standing there side by side, and he’s saying, ‘Brendan, this seems like a lot here.’ ”
After a few of these midday scrabbles, Schwartz thought it was time to simplify the menu with new products that were easier to assemble and didn’t require a multiplicity of ingredients, such as Satisfries, which were introduced last September and have fewer calories and less fat than Burger King’s traditional fries (which are still available, of course). For customers in need of something more filling, there is the Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger.
The emphasis is mine, as two of the latest Burger King– or at least, Burger King Canada, as neither of the following items are available in the U.S.– menu items seem to follow a philosophy of doing more with less. Or rather, doing more with what they already have.
First up, we have the Ultimate Original Chicken Sandwich, “a spin on the classic original Chicken Sandwich” which “features a lightly breaded chicken fillet topped with juicy tomatoes, fresh cut lettuce, creamy mayonnaise, crunchy pickles, and sliced white onions on a soft sesame seed bun.”
In short, they’ve taken the Original Chicken Sandwich and dressed it up with Whopper ingredients (of which mayonnaise and lettuce were already a part).
As a longtime fan of the Original Chicken Sandwich, this item was intriguing to me. Lettuce and mayo are generally the standard, while tomato is a nice option, and thanks to Chick-fil-a and McDonald’s Southern Style Crispy Chicken Sandwich, pickles have become something of a norm as well.
Of course, many of these ingredients were already available on Burger King’s own Chicken Big King sandwich. What the description (but not the picture) leaves out is the inclusion of ketchup mixed in with the toppings as well.
Every ingredient does its part to take the sandwich beyond the norm the Original was known for (save maybe the onions, as I never get those), but it’s the ketchup which really seems to give the sandwich a certain “zing” that takes it to a whole new level. Odds are this has long been a poorly kept secret to ketchup fans who put the condiment on everything, but for the rest of us? This simple addition really does go a surprisingly long way on a type of sandwich it’s not commonly associated with.
The other addition, Poutine à la burger, “a spin on a truly Canadian favourite.” This variation on the ultimate Canadian cold-weather dish consists of “fresh golden fries smothered with cheese curds and piping hot gravy, chopped beef, mustard, ketchup, and savoury pickles.”
Poutine can sometimes be good for a whole meal by itself, and that’s where this type excels, as it provides a bit of meat to go with your starch and everything else. Getting the right forkful of fries, cheese, and a chunk of burger (perhaps a pickles as well) is rewarding in the same way as stabbing together that perfect blend of fries and cheese, only more so.
Unfortunately, whatever mustard was supposed to add to the experience was sorely missed in my sampling of the product. Either it wasn’t there, or– knowing how chintzy many a Canadian fast food establishment can be with the stuff– it might have been completely drowned out by everything else. Seriously, I can order a burger with nothing but pickles and mustard, but I’d have to contact NASA to find any trace of the latter. I don’t get it, I’ve never gotten it, and I’ll probably never get it.
That small rant aside, I will say that the ketchup, on the other hand, was rather noticeable. While as common to put on fries as salt, it’s no surprise that it works well in that regard, but with everything else, it seems a little unusual. Nonetheless, with this particular combination, it’s not only desirable, but almost feels necessary to a certain degree, as it seems to bind the ingredients together in an almost harmonious way. One would think the ketchup and the gravy would get in the way of the other condiment, but that really wasn’t the case in my experience.
In fact, it works so well that the next time I get it, I’m almost hesitant to ask for extra mustard, despite that being one of my favorites (I’ve eaten many a hot dog with mustard alone).
If you’re looking for something a bit heartier than the regular poutine Burger King serves up, give this a shot. It’s definitely worth trying at least once.
The best part of these two sandwiches is that it doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere soon; nothing says they’re for a limited time, so hopefully that means plenty of time for you to try either or both… and for me to have them again.