McDonald’s Canada has recently introduced a new item to their menu: the oddly named “The 12″ chicken sandwich.
Unfortunately for me, I’ve yet to have one fresh — long commutes home with the sandwich have seen it arrive far from piping hot. To that same note, I was hungry enough and without camera in hand that I don’t have any pictures of my own to provide for this article. Fortunately, the sandwiches I had didn’t look too far off from the publicity images provided.
So why, then, am I reviewing it? Because honestly, even in its cooled-down state, I really like what I’ve had. Enough that I’ve actually gotten it twice, and even cold, it was probably the best chicken sandwich I can remember having at McDonald’s — at least since the sadly now-defunct McBistro Mushroom & Swiss grilled chicken sandwich.
Meanwhile, The 12 (which has yet to cease feeling silly to say when ordering) is described on their website as consisting of “grilled or crispy seasoned Canadian chicken breast, topped with white processed cheddar cheese, crisp leaf lettuce, fresh tomato, and applewood smoke seasoned sauce, on a sesame and poppy seed glazed bun. It’s a satisfying sandwich you’ll feel good about.”
The lettuce and tomato provide a nice garnish to the sandwich, while the sesame and poppy seed glazed bun didn’t really do much to draw attention to itself. It was just kind of there, I felt, but in a good way: it does the job a bun needs to do and tastes alright, but doesn’t intrude on the sandwich. Similarly, the white processed cheddar cheese was rather mild, offering a hint of cheesy flavor and texture, but not overwhelming in any way. (As an aside, my wife — who usually prefers her sandwiches without cheese, has yet to ask me to hold the cheese on one of these.)
The real show-stealer here, however, is the applewood smoke seasoned sauce. Combining a smokey flavor with a bit of a tangy taste, it’s what really makes the sandwich pop, I find, and I was not left wanting for it on any of the sandwiches I ordered (two for me, two for my wife). A good sauce can define a sandwich, as McDonald’s well knows with their Big Mac, and the sauce is what truly defines The 12 in a comparable way. I may feel silly saying the name when I order it, but that’s not going to stop me from doing so.
I often like to get a grilled chicken sandwich when I can, but since one of my recent visits was inside a Walmart, they did not have grilled chicken available (or salads, for that matter). Nadia and I both enjoyed the crispy variation, myself enough to get it again even when grilled was available. I did get a bite of her grilled sandwich on the second go-round, and I definitely need to get one of my own as well.
Incidentally, we did notice that the grilled chicken on this sandwich was a little plumper and juicier than what we were used to, though I’m not sure if they’re actually using a different type of chicken for this sandwich.
At the restaurants I’ve been to, despite the “limited time only” signage, The 12 has supplanted the previous specialty chicken sandwich — The CBO (Chicken Bacon Onion) — from the menu. The CBO was alright, but it just never quite clicked with me the way this has — part of why I could never bring myself to review it. I suppose that’s because I’m not much for onions, and that’s the entire conceit of that sandwich: onions in the bun, crispy onions on the sandwich, onion-flavored sauce — just so much onion.
Honestly, I think The 12 is a big improvement, and would rather McDonald’s bring this sandwich on full-time. Even my wife, who likes onions more than I do, prefers the new sandwich. Maybe if enough people like it, it will take the CBO’s place full-time.
David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.