It is not hard to imagine the meeting that birthed this product.
“People, we’re takin’ a lickin’ on the chicken.”
Chicken McNuggets are so vile that they have earned a place as a featured rage recipient on the Angry Arab’s page. He is nowhere near as angry as he should be about them, though.
The little grey blobs of what unconfirmed reports claim is chicken have become an international symbol of everything that is revolting and wrong with fast food, so it is no surprise that McDonald’s, after several years of this, finally noticed and decided to take action.
According to the commercials, the new Select Chicken product is so delectable that your loved ones will attempt to wrest it from you if you leave it unattended for even a nanosecond. I was skeptical, but I like to keep an open mind, so I decided to give it a shot.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that my preferred fast food chicken is KFC Original Recipe, so I was prepared to find the McDonald’s Chicken Selects to be too crispy for my taste, and I was not disappointed.
They are very crispy.
To say the quality and overall taste were an exponential improvement over the dreaded McNuggets would be to damn the Selects by faint praise, I am afraid that is about all I can offer.
I found them comparable to Popeye’s Chicken Strips, which are not bad, but they are not very good either. Like the Selects, they are very crispy.
McDonald’s seems to have gone out of its way to maintain the Selects’ seasoning level safely below anything that might cause the consumer to perceive flavor of any kind. I assume this is just good marketing, since quite a lot of Americans, especially children, prefer their foods to be as flavor-free as possible, but for those of us who do not feel that we have eaten unless our eyes water and our tastebuds fire rocket launchers, McDonald’s Chicken Selects offer scant enchantment value.
I have a suspicion that the Selects’ focus groups were focused on what food designers call “mouthfeel” as opposed to taste. The mouthfeel is very crispy, and crispiness seems to win over flavor with almost all fried fast foods.
(Civilized people fry chicken in a mixture of one part pancake flour, one part garlic powder, and one part cayenne pepper, with a few extra parts of black pepper and salt, and a spoon or so of ginger, depending on the level of civilization one aspires to.)
In an apparent bid to appease the pro-flavor segment, McDonald’s has deigned to join its fellow purveyors of excessively crispy bland chicken in providing “dipping sauces” to try to compensate.
I chose the “buffalo” option because I just did not even want to know what chemical abomination the Golden Arches would shamelessly label “honey mustard,” and “ranch” seemed to sort of defeat the purpose.
Maybe because my expectations were so low, the “buffalo” sauce did not suck as hard as I anticipated it would. While I would not accuse it of having “zing” or being “zesty,” Chicken Selects with it are definitely better than Chicken Selects without it.
I expect that this product will be popular with finicky 8 year olds who will eat only cheese pizza and blue M & Ms, and people who can tell a difference between Popeye’s “spicy” and “mild.”