Reality Check: We Try Burger King's New Rodeo Sandwiches

Fast Food

Would you like fries (or onion rings or chicken tenders) with that?


[This photograph: Burger King; All others: Lee Movic]

Oh, Value Menu. You are a fickle mistress. You are a proving ground and a retirement home. AAA Ball and a Hall of Fame. A goldmine and a minefield. You are both hub of innovation and a stark reminder that in today's Jumbo/Mega/Ultra-sized world, "small" = "weak." The people want VALUE, dammit, so you get out there and give it all you got. You let us down, and often. But we keep coming back to you.

Because more often than not, you deliver. Maybe it's because we hold you to a different standard. "Hey, it was on the Value Menu," we tell ourselves when the sauce is applied so haphazardly you'd think it was supposed to be on the outside of the sandwich. Maybe it's because it's difficult to think of anything that you can buy for a dollar nowadays. (Challenge: ask your friends what the first thing they think of that cost $1. I'll bet you they say, "something from the value menu." Stakes: $1).

So what if I told you that for $1 you could get a value-sized burger or chicken sandwich and a side order of onion rings with barbecue sauce? Too good to be true, right? Well it is, sort of. Burger King's new Rodeo Chicken Sandwich and Rodeo Burger are exactly that, just all under the same bun. Call it a 'mashup', if that helps. Better yet, call them unexpected jewels in the King's crown.

There isn't anything particularly innovative about putting onion rings and barbecue sauce on a sandwich. In fact, these sandwiches are essentially a cheaper, cheese-less alternative to Burger King's failed BK Toppers. (It's a great review; read it.) But a properly toasted bun, 3 well-positioned onion rings, a proper dollop of tangy sauce, and your choice of patty for $1 is a winner in my book. Since a value-sized order of onion rings contains roughly 9 pieces, perhaps it helps to reframe the sandwich in these terms: For every 3 Rodeo Burgers/Chicken Sandwiches you purchase, you get a free order of onion rings. Additionally, Todd Brock's onion ring profile provides a better analysis about why Burger King may be the only major fast food restaurant where these sandwiches would work. And work they do.

The onion rings retained a surprising level of crispness given that they were direct contact with the barbecue sauce. And though I'm generally not a fan of barbecue sauce on a burger, but this sauce was applied sparingly enough to provide a pleasant sweetness without the harsh syrup, smoke, or spice notes that are commonplace in many industrial versions. As expected, the sandwiches are small (easily consumable in 3 bites), but I found that I enjoyed the balance of flavors more if I stuck with half-onion-ring-size mouthfuls (for a total of 6 bites per sandwich). Maybe I'm overthinking it, but hey, it's my job.

So in the grand crapshoot that is the Value Menu, these sandwiches are 5s (or 4s...or whatever a good number is in Craps).

And no, I don't accept Bitcoin for that dollar you owe me.