Recently in the middle of a long drive, I found my head growing heavy and my sight growing dim. I didn’t have to stop for the night, but I decided that if I kept going I would probably end up falling asleep at the wheel and hitting a pregnant nun on a bicycle or something terrible like that. So I opted to stop at the nearest Kentucky Fried Taco Hut.
If you don’t have Kentucky Fried Taco Huts or some variation of the fast food combo-stores near your house, I honestly have to say that I don’t know whether to pity or envy you. They seem like such a wonderful idea; a mecca of Fast Foodery that draws tired road-trippers and poor college students (of which I was both) like an electric bug-zapper. But much like the aforementioned pest control appliance, Kentucky Fried Taco Huts come at a terrible price.
After debating what food to get, I opted to see what Colonel Sanders had to offer me. Eventually I went for a drink (caffeinated), an order of Potato Wedges (the undisputed God of side dishes) and some delectable-looking Honey BBQ strips. After picking up my order, I sat down to eat the food I had purchase.
This was my first mistake. Little did I know the roller coaster of emotions that my dinner would take my sleep-deprived mind on before the meal was through.
I started off with the Potato Wedges. This was a safe bet since, on a scale of One to Jesus, your average Potato Wedge weighs in at around a Jesus +6. However, upon biting into the wedge I found that not only was it cold, but it had somehow managed to achieve some sort of Zen-like state where the outer skin was warm but the inner potatoey workings were frozen solid. This did not please me, and brought the value of the Wedges down to about a Burt Reynolds point 5.
I felt confused and betrayed. Potato Wedges had always been there for me. I trusted them. I gave my heart to them. And they stabbed me in the back. I kept myself from crying. Barely.
Not to be deterred, I took the Judas Wedges back to the counter and asked the nice lady for a different order. She was surprisingly kind and amiable, and instantly produced a new batch for me. This second batch, when eaten, was more up to the International Potato Wedge standard, but my dissapointment lingered still. I’d have to rate them about an Ed Norton -12.
Moving on, I opened my box of Honey BBQ strips and was perplexed to find not Honey BBQ Strips but Honey BBQ Misshapen, Deformed Chunks of Shame. “Still,” I thought to myself, “shape doesn’t matter. I owe it to these poor malformed chicken bits to eat them, since all the other Honey BBQ Strips probably made fun of them.” I was the Charlie Brown of the Fried Imitation-Chicken Industry. I took a bite.
Biting the strip allowed the sauce coating it to actually make contact with my taste buds, which as I have now learned should never ever happen. Ever. I was immediately made aware that the flavor of KFC’s Honey BBQ sauce is a bit more on the smokey side than most BBQ sauces, and certainly a great deal more on the shitty side than anything I’d ever tasted in my life. It seemed to me that the vat from which they had drawn the sauce had in fact contained a brown, liquid form of all that is bad and vile in the world. I sputtered. I spat. I gagged. I gave it a rating of Negative Gary Coleman. And then I saw the bone.
Yes, the bone. Sticking out of the chunk of chicken I’d just eaten was a sliver of bone, possibly from some bird-related animal. This surprised me not simply because I expect my strips of fast food meat to be boneless, but because I’d always operated under the assumption that strips of fast food meat did not actually come from any living creature.
It was too much. The idea that an institution like KFC, which I had loved and respected for so long would offer so shoddy a product baffled and confused me. It shouldn’t have, but it did. I reeled. The neon lights chafed my eyes. I threw the whole meal in the trash, tossed the door open, and staggered into the night, a horridly disillusioned husk of my past self.
And then I went to Wendy’s and got a bacon cheeseburger. It was pretty good. Not great, but good. I’d rate it somewhere between 55 and James Brown.