Serious Eats

New at Roy Rogers: The Spicy Chicken Sandwich

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Ever been to a Roy Rogers? Chances are, if you don't live in the Northeast, you haven't. Once a thriving Northeastern chain, most Roy Rogers locations are now found in highway rest areas. The Western-themed restaurant has always served fried chicken, charbroiled burgers, fries, and chicken fingers, and I don't think I've seen a new menu item from them since I started eating the Gold Rush Chicken Sandwich.

But last week, I took to the highway to find their new Spicy Chicken Sandwich. They advertise it as a marinated, fried, all-white-meat chicken breast with Monterey Jack cheese and spicy "boom boom" sauce, all on a Kaiser roll (the daring can add bacon). I had loved their Gold Rush Chicken sandwich as a kid riding along the Pennsylvania Turnpike with my parents and was eager to see how this would stack up.

The chicken wasn't unlike the spicy chicken fillet at Wendy's, except with less meat and a lot more salt; they both have a similar crisp, and a similar heat. The Monterey Jack was melted but flavorless, and the bacon didn't stand out in any way; the "fresh Kaiser roll" ranks somewhere between a McDonald's bun and a Martin's Potato Roll, tasty enough if unmemorable. As for the "boom boom" sauce, it had a moderate spice, but the odd orange color was somewhat unnerving. It had the texture of a thick, spicy, Thousand-island dressing.

Really, it seems as if they're trying to emulate the Wendy's Spicy Chicken sandwich. It comes close, but it's still too salty, not as hot, and not as flavorful. Call it the minor league version of the Wendy's sandwich. It didn't displace the Gold Rush Chicken sandwich as my favorite—but it's the sort of nostalgia that reminded me of when I was too short to reach the Dr. Pepper on the self-serve drink fountain. Run out and get it right now? No. Safe to eat if you happen by? Yup.

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