Saturday, 19 August 2006

The PopCon Chicken Caper

Hi, I am BP, and I'm writing about my experience with KFC's Popcorn Chicken Shake nearly two years ago.

"Popcorn Chicken"? This marketing gimmick was simply chicken coated in KFC's special recipe batter and cooked into semblances of popcorn-like balls, served in an authentic popcorn box. Like most KFC specials, it had to be combined with various side dishes before it can be considered a meal. The Popcorn Chicken Shake promo just meant that you could add another dimension to your already flavoured chicken bits with a choice of three (or was it four?) artificial flavourings in small convenient satchets. The available serving sizes were Microscopic, Tiny and Small.

Being a creature of habit, and egged on by the ludicrous radio ads for the entreé for days, I took the plunge one fine day at a KFC outlet near the office.

There were about a dozen individual faux popcorn bits in my order. The shaker was a small paper cup with a plastic cover ripped off a 7-Eleven Slurpee stand. My flavouring of choice was smoky barbecue. I felt a bit foolish pouring the contents out of the box and into the shaker along with the seasoning. Surprise, surprise, there wasn't enough room for all the pieces. Nearby, a small family consisting of a bawling ill-tempered Brat, his mother and an elderly female relative sat by a window.

I tipped the contents of the satchet and started shaking.

shake shake shake

Oh yeah. I was absolutely suave and debonair doing this - not. I tried very hard to ignore the imaginary stares boring into my back and forehead.

shake shake shake

Ten seconds into this and I was totally embarrassed. Even today's kids wouldn't even give this a second look. Me and my curiosity. I opened the cover and dig in. I tasted very little of the smoky barbecue flavour, but it was there. Strangely familiar, too.

shake shake shake

Oh right! It's the Generic Smoky BBQ Flavour™ used in every food chain owned by KFC Holdings Malaysia. Mmm, yes. Nothing like the taste of home. Meanwhile, Brat dropped his toy on the floor for the third time and howled for its return.

shake shake shake

It started tasting more and more like chicken in barbecue marinade - after lying in an oven under medium heat for about three hours, that is: dry and totally rough. Brat dropped his toy for the fifth time.

shake shake shake

"The more you shake it, the better it gets™", huh? No kidding. There was an increasing amount of batter chips at the bottom of the shaker, which explains why the balls were tasting even more and more like chicken. I also spied some crystalline slivers of monosodium glutamate (MSG) among the batter bits. My mood does not improve. In fact, it gets worse as Brat droped his toy for the eighth time. I no longer kept count after that.

The meal started getting uncomfortable as the batter coating began tearing into the roof of my mouth. The orange-flavoured soda did squat for the wounds. The ill-mannered Brat was still at it. I began harbouring unwholesome desires to throw him out the window.

At long last, the ordeal was over. Many of the fast food promo dishes are mediocre at best, but rare were those that caused me such pain. I never ordered or accepted offers for KFC Popcorn Chicken ever again.

I emptied my cup of soda, and as I got up to leave, I saw Brat and his family at the top of the stairs leading to the exit. A man with a full tray was trying to get up, but Brat's mom refused to give way and squeezed past the fellow, followed by her entourage.

So that's where Brat got his manners from.

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