Proving yet again that South Korea is light years ahead of everyone else in fast-food technology is The Col-Pop. The nation that brought the world the spiral-cut potato on a stick and hot-dog-stuffed pizza ushers in a new era of snack portability with this mashup of drink cup and food container that holds popcorn chicken up top and a cold drink in the bottom.
The Col-Pop is the brainchild of BBQ Chicken, a South Koreabased fried chicken chain that has recently set its sights on worldwide chicken domination (though at this time, it only has locations in New York, New Jersey, and North Carolina). From the looks of this container, on-the-go America will certainly eat it up. It's perfect for handy snacking while walking, driving, talking on the phone, or--as we discovered the other day--blogging.
And the genius doesn't stop at popcorn chicken. In South Korea, sister company BHC Chicken also offers spaghetti, french fries, and fried mozzarella balls in Col-Pop containers. The Col-Pops we inspected come in two sizes: small (20 ounce cup) and large (32 ounce).
This post got linked on Gizmodo, where Matt Buchanan says: "[Adam] doesn't comment on the effectiveness of keeping the two separate. I mean, the obvious problem with this triumph of science over nature is that piping hot chicken nuggets will water your Dr. Pepper down to Diet Coke-like consistency, while cold soda will turn your steaming nuggets into tough, lukewarm chunks of breaded styrofoam."
I also realize I didn't really mention what the chicken actually tastes like. So let's answer these questions ...
I have to admit that hot side hot, cool side cool was not foremost in our minds as we played with the Col-Pop--though the McDonald's McDLT [video] did come to mind among the older members of the staff (myself included).
It wasn't until we were down to the last couple of nuggets that I noticed the condensation factor (as seen above). This was after about 20 minutes of goofing around with the cup, taking photos, and shooting video. Honestly, are most people going to take 20 minutes to finish a small tray of popcorn chicken? I doubt it.
Sure, we tested in winter, indoors, at a temperature of around 72 degrees. I'd expect heavier and faster cup sweat in sweltering summertime conditions. But, again, a caveat: You'll be eating this in your air-conditioned car, so not (much of) an issue.
Have you had popcorn chicken from a fast-food joint? Then you've basically had BBQ Chicken's Col-Pop nuglets, which are made from all-white-meat chicken and check in at roughly the size of a Gobstopper. Sure, they were plenty tasty in that fast-food fried-chicken way, but they were nowhere near as good as the regular fried chicken (right) that BBQ Chicken turns out. Now that stuff is truly remarkable from a flavor, texture, and crispness perspective. Serious Eats overlord Ed Levine remarks on regular BBQ Chicken here.
Of course, placing a 2-inch-deep insert in the top of a 32-ounce cup will diminish its liquid load considerably. I took the time to measure the true holding capacity of the large Col-Pop. It holds about 18 fluid ounces. The only thing I wonder about is how Col-Pop employees know when to stop filling, as there's no internal line to mark the failsafe point. I'm guessing their fountains are calibrated with a special Col-Pop setting.
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