To be honest, I knew how my Taco Bell experience was going to end. Though I’d say I’m a pretty healthy eater, I’m no stranger to fast food, particularly Taco Bell’s value-to-flavor ratio and the eventual digestive wringing that follows a meal. Knowing and accepting that eventuality makes it easier to enjoy the experience, but I did not approach my second outing with the same calm resignation.
I usually don’t mess with KFC. I admit I fell into the whole “KFC doesn’t use real chickens” hoax, and even though it’s been disproved, I think the very idea of a mutated chicken that’s mass produced in a lab to supply a fast food chain is too close to plausible for me to take the risk. Test tube chicken aside, KFC just looks unhealthy. All of the food from there comes in mostly shades of brown, which speaks to its nutritional value and I think is an indicator for the “T + 3” effect.
To balance out the huge amount of calories I’m about to consume, I decide to walk to KFC. Since I’ve been in Ellensburg, the average temperature has hovered around 35 degrees. According to Googlemaps, it’s a two mile strike to KFC and I’m convinced that this hike will somehow counteract the impending punishment to my insides. I can’t feel my face by the time I get there, and as the Colonel smiles down at me from his giant, rotating bucket on top of a lamppost, I smile back. I’m excited to be at KFC.
Inside it is warm and welcoming. The cashier cheerfully lists off the $5 lunch options as though he’s a king introducing his daughters, each one more beautiful than the last. KFC boasts a “5 for $5” so there are five choices all together. I love the thematic consistency. The first three are pretty similar variants: a three-piece chicken strip meal, a fried leg and wing combo, and a grilled chicken breast. Each comes with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy, a flaky biscuit, a medium drink, and a chocolate chip cookie. The other two options are a chicken pot pie and one of the new “Loaded Potato Bowls.” The pot pie and the potato bowl don’t come with a flaky biscuit or a side, but you still get the drink and the cookie. The cookie is very important to me. By including a dessert, KFC has endowed its lunch special with a crown jewel that makes it truly a meal.
The total price is $5.40, and though it’s over five bucks, it’s still priced better than Taco Bell. There aren’t many items on the menu that come close to the value of the $5 meal deal. A 1-piece breast meal that comes with two sides (your choice), a flaky biscuit, and a medium drink is $5.79. I think that’s a good value, but I don’t know if the options for sides makes up for the lack of choice in entree. You can get two “Chicken Littles,” (adorably named) chicken sandwiches for five dollars, but no drink, no sides. An individual side costs $1.89, a large side is $3.59, a medium drink is $1.79, and biscuits are two for 99 cents. Outside of the meal deals and the chicken breast meal, getting any of the Colonel’s famous chicken starts to get pricey, so I feel like getting one of the “5 for $5” is a bargain.
Even though I really want the chicken tenders, I order the Loaded Potato Bowl. It seems like if I am to judge this restaurant fairly and truly get the most out of this experience, I have to order the new signature dish. What the potato bowl comes “loaded” with is mashed potatoes, gravy, strips of fried chicken, cheese, corn, and bacon, and it is heavenly. Though I think all the options have their virtues, the Loaded Potato Bowl has an efficiency that I admire. I don’t have to go back and forth from box to container; everything I want is in one place and the blend of savory flavors is friggin’ delicious. I don’t know if my perception of this was skewed from walking in the cold and my body just needed fuel to generate heat, but I imagine that if everything that makes up a Thanksgiving feast: stuffing, mashed pa’taters, gravy, cranberries, turkey, and what have you, were served all together as equals inside of a bowl, a new holiday tradition would be formed. I don’t know how, but KFC can take a bucket and bowl and make them seem revelatory.
Presentation: 1/3 – Efficiency isn’t always pretty, and this dish looked like five shades of brown.
Satisfaction: 3/3 – Let me reiterate: I want my Thanksgiving served in a bowl.
Value: 2.5/3 – The bowl filled me up, but I thought they could have thrown in a biscuit. I think the value really depends on what you order, and maybe you get more out of KFC If you’re buying for a large group.
T + 3 Hours: 2/3 – Yes, this lunch ran right out of me, but it did so without the pain or urgency of the previous meal. I was able to walk the two miles back home and deal with it on my own terms and I’m grateful for that.
Dairy Queen: The matriarch of fast food.