It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the war started between fast-food chains over which could gross customers out more with new monstrous food creations. I’m inclined to say it was KFC with its notorious Double Down back in 2010, although it probably goes back further than that.
There’s little doubt that the “sandwich,” to use the term loosely, garnered KFC a ton of media attention wherever it was released. Most of that attention wasn’t of the good kind – just about every story noted how incredibly unhealthy the DD was – but like Ozzy Osbourne used to say, any press is good press.
Since then, other chains have followed KFC’s lead by creating their own nasty concoctions in hopes of grabbing some headlines, which they ultimately hope will lead to some new customers.
The latest of these is Burger King with its Bacon Sundae. Yup. It’s an ice cream sundae, with bacon.
The chain announced the new offering last week and, predictably, the media ate it up. Many even condemned it without trying it.
As luck would have it, I was in New York on the weekend (the sundae is thus far only available in the U.S.). As a self-appointed arbiter of good fast food from bad, I felt a duty to try it.
Usually, I’m quite excited to try new fast-food abominations. I get psyched at creative new attempts to repackage the same old stuff in slightly different ways. I was really jazzed, for example, to try the Doritos taco at Taco Bell, which features a shell made out of Doritos chips. (It was excellent, by the way). I must admit, however, to a certain level of trepidation when it came to the Bacon Sundae. Yes, I love bacon and yes, I love sundaes. But I also love skiing and drinking beer, yet those two don’t belong together. The same goes for some foods.
I hit the Burger King near the World Trade Center site and ordered it. The fellow at the counter looked confused – he thought I might be putting him on. He called a manager over, who then indeed confirmed that Burger King was now serving such a thing.
She led him over to the sundae stand and proceeded to demonstrate how to make one. A crowd of employees gathered to watch. I got the distinct impression that I was the first one to order a Bacon Sundae at this particular location.
I watched as they dribbled chocolate and caramel sauce on the ice cream and thought, “Okay, so far so good.” But my enthusiasm turned to cringing as first the bacon bits were sprinkled on, then a large strip of actual bacon was hauled out and placed on the side like the meaty garnish it’s intended to be.
The monstrosity – clocking in at 510 calories, or more than a quarter of the recommended daily allowance – was complete and the counter guy proudly brought it over.
My wife and I headed upstairs to eat it (well, I was going to eat it, she was going to watch in horror). A manager guarded the stairs – at such a busy location, he was there to ensure only paying customers used the seating. He quickly parted upon seeing me clutching the sundae in both hands like some perverted trophy.
After taking a picture for posterity, I dove in with the same sort of nervous dread usually reserved for jumping into a lake that you know is going to be painfully freezing.
The first bite was familiar – the sweet, soft goodness of ice cream. But lo! There was a crunch as well, like a spoonful of Rocky Road; first, the ooey-gooey goodness, followed by the satisfying crunch of walnut.
But it wasn’t walnut, as the aftertaste so clearly illustrated – it was the unmistakeable saltiness of bacon. I have to admit, it completely snuck up on me. At first, I thought it might be a regular sundae, but that blast of sodium banished the thought.
The first contrast wasn’t so bad, but with every successive bite, the incongruity of the flavours became increasingly apparent. Then there was the bacon slice garnish.
As with all fast-food bacon, it was cold, stiff and dry. Its typical characteristics made it fit better with the context, but I mean that as more of a statement against fast-food bacon’s other uses than as an endorsement of its function on the sundae. As a side, it was gross. Plain and simple. It was like having a scone to dip into your ice cream, but only if that scone was a salty piece of cardboard.
Getting through the Bacon Sundae was tough, a labour of duty more than anything. I couldn’t wait to get the bacon chunks out of the way so I could enjoy the sundae underneath, which reminded me of being forced to eat my vegetables as a child before I could get any dessert.
Once the bacon chunks were gone, I was able to resume the ice cream goodness. But it didn’t end there – ice cream tends to have no aftertaste, but bacon sure does. For the first hour or so, I was reminded of the incredible thirst I felt after eating the Double Down. I can’t say I’ve ever felt thirsty after a dessert before, which makes the Bacon Sundae even more freakish.
While I’m generally in favor of trying fast-food monsters at least once, just for their novelty, I can’t say I’d recommend the Bacon Sundae even as a one-time thing. It truly is a phenomenally bad idea that combines two foods that have no business being together. Bacon and ice cream lovers alike are sure to be dissatisfied.