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Drive-thru Gourmet

KFC comforts the drive-thru crowd with limited-time-only mac & cheese bowl

KFC comforts the drive-thru crowd with new mac & cheese bowl

Drive-Thru Gourmet - KFC mac & cheese bowl
KFC is getting into the comfort food game with the limited-time-only Mac & Cheese bowl. KFC.com

This week, I reached out for a new Mac & Cheese Bowl at the world’s No. 1 poultry palace, KFC, with 22,000 restaurants pecking our globe. The main difference between KFC’s unleashing of Mac & Cheese Bowls and other drive-thru’s efforts at everybody’s favorite childhood comfort food ... KFC’s bowl is an entrée, not merely a side dish.

Here’s the KFC Mac & Cheese Bowl breakdown: a bowl of macaroni and cheese, topped with a grabful of KFC fried chicken nuggets, and sprinkled with a shredded three-cheese blend. Total calories: 720. Fat grams: 34. Carbs: 79 g. Dietary fiber: 6 g. Protein: 26 g. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: the bowl is part of a $5 Fill-Up meal, which includes a medium drink and chocolate chip cookie.

KFC’s Mac & Cheese Bowl also comes in a spicy version, where the chicken nuggets are dunked in Nashville hot sauce. Same price, Honest Abe.

By introducing Mac & Cheese Bowls, KFC is borrowing a trick out of Taco Bell’s playbook: taking a few products already in the fridge, shaking them up in a Yahtzee cup and spilling out a “new for a limited time only super-duper dish!” KFC has had macaroni and cheese as a side and popcorn chicken on its menu forever.

KFC is simply swapping mac and cheese for mashed potatoes in its lineup of “Famous Bowls.” It’s a definite upgrade. The best thing about mac and cheese is, who doesn’t love it? The second best thing: it’s pretty hard to mess up mac and cheese. KFC’s take on mac and cheese isn’t gourmet-level like on cooking shows, but it holds up to Luby’s, the blue Kraft box, and school cafeteria. No complaints with any of those.

Mac & Cheese Bowls beat KFC’s mashed potatoes because, I’m not spilling any beans here, KFC's mashed potatoes are instant potatoes, like those boxes in the supermarket. Not a fan. You don’t think there was somebody peeling potatoes in the back and boiling them in a giant cauldron, do you? Same with the gravy, not exactly made with real roast chicken drippings fresh everyday in each restaurant. So big ups and heavy edge to mac and cheese as the bottom layer in KFC’s bowls.

The chicken nuggets are standard issue. I prefer them dipped in Nashville hot sauce, only for the flavor boost. Both nuggets are fine and dandy. KFC’s Mac & Cheese Bowls are aces when it comes to filling your belly for cheap and the quality is A-okay, too. It's a good thing, as Martha Stewart says.

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Ken Hoffman reviews a new fast food restaurant item every Wednesday. Have a suggestion or a drive-thru favorite? Let Ken know on Twitter.