KFC strikes again

Many food items earn their way into one of these blog posts through being particularly or exceptionally unhealthy, but shortening the consumer’s life expectancy isn’t the only route to the top when it comes to Eating Badly. There’s also Eating Stupidly.

KFC, as a company that never shies away from criticism or apparently feels fear (or any coherent thoughts) in designing menu items, would of course have to be the one to come up with the “Streetwise Cheese Top Burger.” If you are already looking at the photo up top and can’t seem to make heads or tails of it, what you’re looking at is this: A chicken patty on a bun, with “garlic parmesan dressing” and cheese — on top of the sandwich. As in, a layer of cheese, melted on top of the bun itself. And this product is designed for “street eating” in the Philippines, which is the only place it’s on sale.

…what? WHAT?

This is the kind of product announcement where my first reaction was to assume it was a hoax. What does that say when a fast-food item makes me jump to conclusions that someone is playing a trick on me? But no, this thing is completely real. Even the KFC Philippines Facebook page is advertising it. There’s a commercial, for goodness sake!

Despite the fact that this seems like something eerily similar to the sort of surreal dreams I struggle to remember on the ride to work each morning, in the Philippines it’s just a fact of life. You roll out of bed there, shake off the cobwebs of sleep, and go get a chicken burger with the cheese on top of the bun. Average Tuesday in either the Philippines or the Bizarro World.

There are so many obvious questions that this thing raises. Among them:

1. How does such an idea get conceived in the first place? It seems suspiciously like an accident or joke that someone took seriously when they shouldn’t have. Say, a worker accidentally puts some cheese on top of a bun, walks away and it melts. The manager sees it and angrily asks “What is this thing?” The worker, looking to cover his behind, says “Oh, this is so popular on ‘the streets!’ This is how everyone eats their burgers!” The manager insists that if that’s really the case, it should go on the menu immediately. A visiting corporate suit asks about the weird cheese-top burger and the manager proudly explains that “people from the street love it.” The executive, seeing dollar signs, brings it to a room full of millionaire investors, who look around at each other and say “Well, if they like it on the streets…”

2. Why the Philippines? Did they show some kind of proclivity toward cheese on top of the bun? Is there market research backing this up? If so, how do I get that job?

3. How, under any application of rationale, could cheese outside the bun be regarded as more conducive to “street eating” than cheese inside? Moreover, how is it supposed to taste any different when the only thing that has changed is the location?

4. Logistically (and this one bugs me), how does the cheese even GET MELTED? Fast-food places fake-melt all their stuff for the most part, but with a burger it’s at least traditionally held that the warmth of the burger — that is to say, the hot sandwich contents on the INSIDE — is what causes the adjacent cheese to melt. What about this stuff on the top of the bun? A typical fast-food bun, even served warm, maintains that temperature for what, five seconds? They must put this thing under some kind of heat source to then melt the cheese onto the top of the bun. The more words I type on this, the worse I feel about the fact that I’m taking the time to consider it.

If you’re actually curious about eating one of these bizarre sandwiches, I recommend you start making your Philippine travel plans. Somehow, I get the feeling that this one isn’t going to be around long enough to make the jump over the Pacific to American KFC’s.

What do you think, sirs? Does “cheese outside sandwich” seem like a better idea than “cheese inside sandwich” to you? I’d really like to hear back from my many streetwise readers.

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