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An order of fries, hold the potatoes

Times Staff Writer

ANSWERING the question “Do you want fries with that?” is so hard these days. If you say yes, you need to specify natural or spicy curly, criss-cut or shoestring, French or freedom. Last week, Burger King introduced Chicken Fries, which aren’t even made of potatoes. Further confusing matters, the company’s head honcho said in USA Today, “For me, they’re like M&Ms.;”

So what exactly are these fry-shaped strips of white-meat chicken

Perhaps most disruptive of all to the fry world, Chicken Fries are being marketed through ads featuring a fake, chicken-mask-wearing hard-rock band with a name that would make Mr. Potato Head’s eyes water.

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Burger King Chicken Fries

Taste (**)

Chicken Fries are essentially elongated versions of BK’s nuggets (Chicken Tenders), with a slightly more flavorful breading. They’re so thin that you don’t get much sense of the meat when you chomp them. On the side is a mildly spicy Buffalo sauce; five other sauces are available, but you have to ask for them. (Drive-By’s advice: Ask.)

Diet Watch (**)

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Could be better, could be worse. Without sauce, nine pieces have 390 calories, 23 grams of fat, 980 mg sodium and 26 grams of carbs -- all roughly comparable with an equal portion of Chicken Tenders. Buffalo sauce adds 90 calories, 8 grams of fat, 370 mg sodium and 2 grams of carbs.

Portability (***)

Chicken Fries come in a cup-holder-friendly cardboard container, with a fold-out well to cradle the dipping sauce. How do we know this? Above the well is inscribed: “Somebody said you wanted a special place to dip while in the car. Done.” Let’s not get carried away; the box is OK, but a sharp tap on the brakes might catapult the sauce.

Hype-o-meter (****)

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You’ve got to hand it to Burger King’s ad agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, for following up its Subservient Chicken campaign with one centered on a band named Coq Roq. Featured in TV ads and on an interactive website, this sextet could whip Jack in the Box’s Meaty Cheesy Boys in a rumble any day.

* Ratings are on a scale of one (lowest) to four (best).


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