Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fast Food Review: Wendy's Boneless Buffalo Wings

Back in June I tried Wendy's boneless Asian wings and thought they were very good, if not exactly great. I planned to try the buffalo wings at a later date, which I thought would be a week or two. But then the weather finally turned nice and I started grilling at home much more, and I just didn't have any desire to go out and get fast food for dinner, so it turned into almost a couple months.

I love hot sauce, so I usually love a nice buffalo flavor. But lots of restaurants, both fast food and casual dining, use a type of buffalo sauce that I can't stand that contains high fructose corn syrup. Instead of a vinegary, spicy flavor, it tastes like an over-sweet, fake butter with a tiny amount of spice. When I was 21 I would sometimes help out my buddy who managed a restaurant. (By "help out" I mean do half of his chores so we could make it out to our favorite bar in time for Trivia Night.) I once walked in to the pantry and saw what happens to those gallon containers of sauce when they are dormant: they separate into a sediment and a liquid, neither of which are colors of this world.

I cannot recall any fast food joint ever serving a buffalo item that I thought was any good... until I came across the Wendy's "flavor-dipped" chicken sandwich last fall. Now there was a sandwich that didn't mess around: it was spicy without any of that cloying aftertaste of inferior, buffalo-drenched items. Unfortunately it was a limited time offer and when I went back a couple weeks later it was gone. I was hoping the boneless wings would use the same sauce.

I ate at the Wendy's in Alhambra. Anyone who doubts that fast food restaurants are booming during the current economic crisis should have been with me that day. It was only 11 AM and the place was packed. There were only two tables available in the dining room and a line of about 15 cars snaking out of the parking lot and down the street. Unfortunately, it was obvious that a lot of these people eat fast food every day, possibly more than once. I was one of the smaller people in the house, and that doesn't happen often.

Happily, this was the buffalo sauce I was hoping for. (Of course, reading the ingredients on the Wendy's website, I see the first one listed is "corn syrup," but I promise you it does not taste that way.) There was the biting, sour taste of vinegar and a buffalo flavor that was actually quite spicy. The quality of the chicken is relatively poor. If you're expecting more than that for $3.99 at a fast food joint, I'm not sure what to tell you. It would be ideal if you could get this exact buffalo sauce as a side for Wendy's chicken nuggets. Those are only 99 cents on the value menu and better quality chicken.

I do not anticipate eating these again. The sauce was very good, the chicken was not. I enjoyed the buffalo flavor more than the Asian. I don't plan to try the honey bbq.

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