This week, I reached out for a Buffalo Ranch Crispy Chicken Sandwich, new and cheap, cheap, cheap, from everybody's No. 3 burger flipper, Wendy's — with 6,600 restaurants spanning the globe.
Most drive-thrus have a value menu, but now Wendy's is taking its elevator down to the bargain basement.
Here's the Buffalo Ranch Crispy Chicken Sandwich's breakdown: a lightly breaded and deep-fried chicken patty, Monterey Jack cheese, creamy Buffalo Ranch sauce, and leafy lettuce on a warm bun.
Total calories: 360. Fat grams: 19. Sodium: 1,020 mg. Carbs: 33 g. Dietary fiber: 2 g. Protein: 17 g. Manufacturer's suggested retail price: $1.
Only $1. You are looking at the diamond of discount. It's like the TV reality series Storage Wars, when they find an expensive piece of junk in the pile of worthless junk.
The Buffalo Ranch Crispy Chicken Sandwich starts with a lightly breaded patty of chopped and formed (chewed and glued) chicken. Think of this as a smushed chicken nugget. The breading is delicately seasoned with salt and pepper. The patty is plopped in the deep fryer till golden brown and crispy.
Chopped and formed chicken usually is met with wrinkled noses and images of gelatinous goop. But Wendy's patties are made with white meat chicken, and they taste perfectly fine. If you didn't know ... you wouldn't guess.
The Monterey Jack is melted — a nice touch — not just thrown on at the last second. The Buffalo ranch sauce is creamy and cool, providing contrast and texture. The sauce has a kick; you'll be pleasantly surprised. The leaf lettuce, like all lettuce, is completely unnecessary. Okay, maybe it gives the sandwich a little color. But color has no taste. It's the lounge comic of sandwich fixins.
By buck sandwich standards, the Buffalo Ranch Sandwich delivers a whole lot of delicious for a tiny bit of money. For comparison sake, McDonald's has a similar dollar sandwich, the McChicken. The McChicken comes with plain mayo, chopped lettuce, and no cheese. Edge to Wendy's.
The Buffalo Ranch Crispy Chicken Sandwich is a bottom-line decision. Throw in value menu fries and small drink, and you can eat lunch for $3. That is, if you're a kid. Or a grownup with tremendous self-control. Me, I'm good for two or three of these sammies.
Wendy's is bragging that this sandwich has "great taste" at a "great price" and that it's "spicy and melty and just a buck, what more could you ask for in a sandwich?"
What more? What about ... more! The Buffalo Ranch Chicken Sandwich is small, closer to a slider than Wendy's full-size, fabulous, and iconic Spicy Chicken Sandwich. The Spicy Chicken Sandwich, which features a whole breast filet, is $4.79. So, you do the math and make your move.
Ken Hoffman reviews a new fast food restaurant item every Wednesday. Have a suggestion or a drive-thru favorite? Let Ken know in the comments or on Twitter.