Burger King's Chicken Parm
I'm a sucker for anything even vaguely reminiscent of a good chicken parm sandwich, but that doesn't prevent me from recognizing the Burger King version's significant flaws. The salty, semi-arid tomato sauce was almost completely flavorless, and the cheese situation wasn't any better, with a few parmesan-looking shavings tasting like nothing much beneath a pile of bland industrial mozzarella.
Burger King's Italian Basil Chicken Sandwich
One nice thing I can say about the BK Chicken Parmesan is that it's not the worst chicken sandwich the King foisted upon his unsuspecting subjects in 2012. That dishonor belongs to the Italian Basil Chicken Sandwich. The bun was pretty good and the chicken was acceptable, but the sauce tasted like licorice mayonnaise--sweet and the bad kind of funky--and was splooged on far too exuberantly.
KFC's Chicken Little
I like KFC more than most fast food writers seem to, but even that positive predisposition couldn't save my opinion of the newly reintroduced Chicken Little. I don't ask for a ton of fun for my $1.29, but the Colonel's latest attempt to wring excitement out of a reformulation of a very basic sandwich comes up short. If all you're offering is bread, chicken, mayo, and pickles, you can't afford to mess up any of those elements, and the Little's decent chicken was undermined by and awful bun.
Panera's Roasted Turkey and Cranberry Panini
Panera's Roasted Turkey and Cranberry Panini had the potential to be good, but there wasn't nearly enough turkey (or anything else) to justify the $9 price, even after the apologetic manager agreed with my assessment and sent over a remake. I don't like to damn a sandwich based on what amounts to bad customer service/attention to detail, but Panera made the same mistakes twice in five minutes, and several commenters told us that's not as rare as it should be at the chain.
Burger King's Carolina BBQ Whopper
Our burger-lovin' Erin Jackson got raw on Burger King's Carolina BBQ Whopper: "The sauce was exactly as described: sweet, and a bit tangy. Unfortunately, the two elements that could balance the sweetness of the sauce didn't deliver. The bacon was limp and under-seasoned and the pepper jack cheese, which was mostly unmelted, had zero-point-zero pepper flavor. Until I double checked the online menu, I was 100 percent sure it was processed mozzarella."
IHOP's Bacon and Cheddar Hash Brown Stack
The worst thing I put in my mouth all year was IHOP's Bacon and Cheddar Hash Brown Stack, a meal so bad I actually swore about it in the original review. I've resolved to cuss less, but let's just say that the hollandaise was the worst part of a meal that also compelled me to say, "The hash browns were not golden; they were white. Friends, have you ever eaten raw potato? Don't eat raw potato. I ate nearly raw potato at IHOP the other day and it was very unpleasant." Cheese sucked, too.
Del Taco's Primo Carnitas Burrito
Ms. Jackson wasn't too impressed with Del Taco's Primo Carnitas Burrito, which she dissed for having "too many competing ingredients. Spicy jack cheese is a tasty addition to the carnitas, but the rice detracts from the pork and the chipotle sauce overwhelms the whole mess with an artificial, processed flavor. The sauce exemplifies the failure of fast food: it should be delicious, but because it is complicated with so many ingredients and fillers like tomato paste and 'corn sweeteners,' it ends up tasting terrible and tainting everything in its path."