Once every few decades, we are faced with a tragedy that defines a generation, a heart-wrenching event that shakes us to our very core. Such events linger ominously over our lives and make us question why God would allow such indecent and inhuman calamities. My generation has already faced such a tragedy: the disappearance of Burger King’s chicken fries.
I eat fast food. A lot. I imagine that, over the years, my arteries have developed a thin coating of crust, making them like little glazed donuts inside by body that pump blood. But future health problems aside, my fascination with the world of fast food has allowed me to become something of a connoisseur. And like any expert in fine wine or 18th Century decor, I would have difficulty describing to a layman which fast food joints I like more than others and why. Ranking fast food restaurants is a delicate and complex process, as each minute detail of the establishment would have to be taken into account, but if I had to make a list of my favorites, Chic-Fil-A would definitely be at the top and Burger King would probably occupy the bottom.
The tale of the chicken fry’s rise and fall begins with a look into Burger King’s history. For years, the folks at Burger King just didn’t have much going for them. Consider the four foremost burgers of the fast food world (the “Four Pillars of Burgerdom,” if you will.) I don’t have anything against the Whopper, but it’s just not as good as the Big Mac, Carl’s Jr.’s Famous Star, or whatever Wendy’s signature burger is called.
The same goes for the fries. McDonald’s has the best fries (This statement is not up for debate. It is fact.) and the Burger King fry, while tasty, will always live in the McDonald’s fry’s salty shadow. From chicken nuggets to fish sandwiches to ice cream-related edibles, Burger King was always a step behind its competitors. It was a dark age for the monarch of burgers and all throughout the drivethru line there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.
But then came that glorious day. Like a holy cherubim descending from the heavens, the harbingers of deliciousness known as the chicken fries descended upon Burger King. Though they contained chicken, these were no mere nuggets or patties. They were filled with a mysterious, magical blend of spices and fried to cylindrical perfection. Biting into a chicken fry was like eating a unicorn sprinkled with fairy dust and dipped in ranch dressing.
I started going out of my way to visit Burger King, even choosing the king of burgers over its fast food counterparts. And I always ordered the chicken fries. Everything else on the menu just seemed beside the point. It was a happy, innocent time when all seemed right with the world.
And then, just like that, they were gone. I went into Burger King one day, asked for my beloved chicken fries, and was told by an apologetic employee: “Sorry. We don’t have those anymore.” Those words pierced my very soul. The sacred fries of chicken had been snatched from my hands like so many hopes and dreams. And so darkness has come once again to the realm of the Burger King. There is no more laughter or joy, just mediocre hamburgers with too much mayonnaise.
And so, once a year, I pause in a moment of silence for Burger King’s chicken fries. I may never taste them again, but I will always feel them. In my heart. Especially in a few years when I have to go in for a triple bypass.