Wednesday, March 25, 2020

I Tried Wendy’s Breakfast Baconator!

Because living in a soft-totalitarian state is no excuse for not starting the morning off with a hearty sausage sandwich meal, am I right?

By: Jimbo X

Boy, what a difference a couple of weeks make, huh?

At the beginning of the month, we were all enthralled and enchanted by Wendy’s announcement that the chain was launching a new breakfast menu. Of course, the chain has tried such in the past with rather unimpressive results, but still — it was March 2, 2020, and we genuinely had nothing more significant going on in our lives than sharing memes on Twitter about the fast food biz’s passive-aggressive advertisements. Eh, simpler times, indeed.

As I type this, however, I’m stuck in this weird dystopian hellscape where the same thing that killed Gwenyth Paltrow in Contagion has apparently run amok in the United States, probably because the Chinapeople (credit to UFC commentator Daniel Cormier for popularizing the phraseology) had a bad habit of not washing their hands every time they ate raw pangolin on the dirt-and-excrement-coated streets of Wuhan. Ironically, though, one of the few public touchstones that remains open domestically are the hallowed drive-thru slots of chains like Wendy’s, who are making beaucoup bucks right now while all of the smaller chains and cafes and moms and pops are emergency-declarationed into bankruptcy and insolvency “for the greater good.” Indeed, if I was a conspiracy theorist, I’d surmise this whole coronavirus brouhaha has been nothing more than an elaborate ruse to trick millions of Americans into subsisting off nothing but a high-fat and high-sodium diet of processed junk, perhaps part of a ploy to make us slower and groggier when it’s time to start rolling the tanks through Times Square. So all of that to say, even if you don’t like Wendy’s new breakfast menu, tough goddamn titties, because in the Coronapocalypse, that’s all we’ve been rationed, anyway.

Now, per the date on my iPhone product that was probably put together by some 12-year-old Vietnamese boy for 83 cents an hour, I tried this newfangled Breakfast Baconator on March 5. And while that’s technically only a couple of weeks ago, I can tell you right now, flipping through those images makes me feel 110 goddamn years old. In a way, looking at the pics kinda’ reminds me of all the stuff I was doing on Sept. 10, 2001 — we had no earthly clue just how much daily life was about to change, and just how many civil liberties we were about to lose in the process. Alas, I’m not here to bitch and moan about the government using an objectively overblown public crisis as a convenient excuse to eviscerate every safeguard enshrined in the United States Constitution, I’m here to review breakfast hamburgers that contain 730 calories, give or take, and I think we can all agree that such is the far more important matter to be discussing at this juncture in American history.

Now, assuming you voluntarily choose to read this here article, odds are, you’re already quite familiar with Wendy’s Baconator hamburger offering. For those of you that somehow stumbled upon this review who aren’t, basically, it’s a regular hamburger with all of the usual hamburger fix-ins, included, as the name implies, a fuck-ton of bacon. Thus, the newfangled Breakfast Baconator more or less has the same hook, albeit, with some considerable change-ups to the recipe. Let’s get down to the meat of the matter (literally), why don’t we? 

To begin, let’s start with the choice of breading. Whereas many fast food restaurants here in the States use a biscuit shell for their breakfast comestibles, Wendy’s decided to work against type and utilize what appears to be a wholly unmodified hamburger bun for said thankless task, albeit one that seemed to be lightly toasted. So in terms of texture and mouthfeel, you’re getting a pretty good combination of chewy and crunchy, although in this oddly unrhythmic pattern. Like, one bite is all crispy and the very next is light on the bicuspids — it’s not totally unpleasant, but it does tend to throw you for just a little bit of a loop when you begin putting down the sumbitch.

I guess now is a pretty good time to get into the nutritional details, eh? All in all, the Wendy’s website tells me this thing ports around about 450 calories from fat, 280 milligrams of cholesterol and 34 grams of protein. It also comes packed with 1,750 milligrams of sodium, which for those of you out of the loop, is a whole goddamn lot. Even weirder, the website gets REALLY granular about the ingredients inside the chain’s self-described “premium bun,” which — among other elements — is reported to contain sodium sterol, mono calcium phosphate and ammonium sulfate, all of which sound like the kinds of things that would probably kill a motherfucker in high enough doses. It’s around this point that I’d advise most of you to proceed with caution on actually eating this thing, but you know, by this point, it’s not like you assholes would listen to me, so why bother?

Now, I’ll once again refer to the Wendy’s website to outline everything you’ll find wedged in between the two premium buns. Per the corporate internet presence, this sammich contains grilled sausage, American cheese, Applewood smoked bacon (an aside, but why is it ALWAYS Applewood smoked? Is that like, an official, patented bacon smoking process, or a regional type of pork I should be aware of?), a fried egg and, rounding out the product, a monumental fuckton of Swiss cheese sauce. Granted, they don’t actually describe the portion as “a fuckton,” but let’s face it, we’re probably just 10 years or so away from that unironically appearing in their marketing materials, so there.

I suppose the easiest way to review the product, as a whole, is to first review it in its parts. The Swiss cheese sauce is a good place to start, primarily because it’ll likely be the first thing you taste that isn’t the breakfast sandwich breading. Despite the weird, off-orange hue, the congealed goop does indeed have a nice, savory, smoky, pseudo gruyere-taste to it, and all-in-all, it was probably my favorite thing about the entire burger. If nothing else, I’d advise giving this sandwich the old collegiate try just to taste-test the proprietary dairy batter — as a matter of fact, it’s so tasty, I wouldn’t mind dousing the shit on a proper Baconator and eating it as thoroughly and fatly as humanly possible. 

Alright, the bacon. Since that’s literally in the product name, Wendy’s has no choice but to load up on the bacon, and I counted up no less than SIX goddamn strips residing in my sandwich. What you can’t see from the photos is the hidden layer of bacon beneath the sausage, which I ain’t gonna’ show you just yet because I think it makes for a pretty good M. Night Shyamalan-ish twist ending. But yeah, no matter how you slice this thing, there is a TON of bacon in this product, and if that’s your thing for breakfast, this sandwich likely will not disappoint you. 

I guess I can review the American cheese and fried egg at the same time, right? Well, if the Breakfast Baconator had a profound weak link, this is it right here. It’s not that the pseudo-melted cheddar slice is subpar as it is the fact it’s gustatorily needless. Really, you have to struggle to pinpoint the proper American cheese flavor therein, since the Swiss cheese goop is so overpowering in the first place. And even when you get a direct hit, the seasoning on the egg tends to dominate the cheesiness, to the point you almost forget it’s even a component of the product. 

And the egg itself was easily the least impressive aspect of the sandwich from my tastebuds’ perspectives. The yolk was just too mushy and greasy, and I don’t know if this is a company-wide thing or just the handiwork of my local drug court participants masquerading as fast food workers, but holy goddamn shit, did they inundate this thing with salt. Every bit felt like I was running my uvula over a trail of Morton’s, and to say that it clashed horrifically with the rest of the sandwich wouldn’t just be an understatement it would also be … the truth.

Which brings us to the “twist-ending” of the sandwich, so to speak. You know how, normally, whenever you get a sausage sandwich from a fast food chain, be it McDonald’s, Burger King or Taco Bell, the patty itself is almost uniformly circular? Well, apparently, the fine folks at Wendy’s decided that it’s LITERALLY hip to be square, bucking all empirical wisdom regarding customary sausage practices and giving consumers a rectangular patty that feels more like something you’d see at White Castle than the Big Dub. Granted, it’s not as shocking as finding out the woman you’re making out with secretly has a penis, but seeing THIS four-sided clump of flash-fried pig carcass at the ass-bottom of my burger definitely took me back a little bit. Alas, despites its unconventional geometric pattern, I can assure you the sausage square itself tastes pretty damn good — maybe not as solid as McDonald’s tried-and-true patties, mind you, but still, quite respectable, if not a tad underwhelming in terms of girth and circumference.

Time will tell if the newfangled Wendy’s breakfast menu has any real staying power, especially in our post-COVID consumer shitscape. Alas, if Taco Bell’s breakfast menu can chug along as an economically feasible market segmentation for a half decade and counting, I reckon Wendy’s morning-time line-up certainly has a pretty good shot at succeeding, mayhap even thriving. For those curious, there’s quite a few other Wendy’s breakfast items included as part of the package, but I assure you the Breakfast Baconator is the most interesting of the items. I mean, the honey butter chicken biscuit and maple bacon chicken croissant do sound promising and all, but let’s face it — the BB is where the shit is AT

In the grand scheme of things, I suppose the existence of the Breakfast Baconator is a very, very insignificant matter. But for me, personally, this consumer comestible will always represent something a little grander, something a little more poignant. In many indirect ways, the sausage sandwich has come to symbolize the pre-coronavirus world, that American culture just before, representing a point-in-time that, as a collective, we can never return to. I’m pretty sure that, 20 years from now, I’m going to think about the Breakfast Baconator for the first time in eons and I know the first thought that’s going to come to mind is “Oh yeah, that’s the thing I ate right before the fuckin’ outbreak happened.” And for that, this stupid little breakfast comestible is always going to hold a special place in my heart — if nothing else, as a suspiciously salty momento of the way the world I knew used to be.


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