Friday, December 31, 2010

BACONQUEST


The Team of Experts (from left to right:) Jim, Andrew, Kevin, Serafina, Patrick 
  
Me at the Arby's Drive-Thru Window

It all began with a single vision: to find a way to turn homework into bacon. Everyone met at my house and jumped into my car, and with little delay we were on our way to do just that. My friends and I spent two hours driving up and down Kirkwood Highway in order to find and review the best bacon that the local fast food restaurants had to offer. We considered over ten different locations from Elkton to Bear to Newark, but in the end we decided to settle on Kirkwood Highway. We stopped at several different places, sometimes only to find that the restaurant either no longer sold bacon or would not sell bacon. These places were Taco Bell and Starbucks. It is no secret that Taco Bell is my personal favorite for fast, good food, but we had to take off serious points when we found that they no longer carried any items on their menu containing bacon. Soon after, my friends and I were again met with disappointment and an awkward goodbye to the restaurant staff when we stopped at Starbucks Coffee, only to find that they could not make us their "artisan bacon" sandwich because their oven was turned off. I don't know when Starbucks closes on a Thursday night, but it was only 7:00 P.M.


Clockwise from top-left: Panera's Chipotle Chicken Sandwich,
KFC's Double Down, BK's Double Stacker, Wendy's Baconator,
Arby's Bacon Chicken & Swiss

When at long last, after a long journey of driving from restaurant to restaurant with a bag of food slowly increasing in size, we finished our quest for bacon. It was then time to eat. We all went back to my house and quickly unwrapped the glorious feast from its less-than-glorious covering. Our eyes fixed on the bacony bounty that lay before us, we had no idea where to begin. Before long (and before it went cold,) I handed out plates and pencils and score sheets as one of the others cut each sandwich into six pieces. It was time to get down to some serious work. We began each test by first cleansing our pallet with a soft drink and taking our slice of the sandwiches, making notes and making comments about its physical appearance and scent and just how appetizing it looked in general. After giving our first impressions, we all took a bite and wrote down our scores and gave our thoughts. It was entertaining and pretty funny to see all of us (especially Andrew) taking it so seriously.



We began with the Burger King Double Stacker. A little over three dollars, it consists of two meat patties, two slices of bacon, cheddar cheese, and a yellow sauce. As we picked up our individual slices, we all quickly noticed that they were small, the cheese looked almost fake, and the whole thing very unappealing. Jim remarked that it looked like a "Phisher-Price Burger with plastic cheese." When we took a bite, the immediate reactions signaled that our fears were true. The bacon was flimsy and thin, and worst of all, you couldn't even taste it. We quickly wrote down our score and moved on.

The Arby's Chicken, Bacon & Swiss is just that. It was a very good looking bun with good looking chicken and good looking bacon and good, real looking swiss cheese. We all took a bite, wrote down our scores, and discussed. All of us were in agreement that it was definitely a good, solid sandwich. At only a little over four bucks without the combo, it was a little expensive, but well worth it.

The KFC's Double Down sandwich was good looking. It looked really bad for you (as Jim's initial reaction, "The first thing I think of is 'fat'," illustrates,)  but it also looked like it tasted really good. We were not disappointed. The Double Down is real looking, meduim-thick bacon with good cheese between two pieces of boneless fried chicken. Jim, deciding he didn't want to eat beef and thus could not participate in most testing, decided to buy himself one before the taste test. That's how appetizing this sandwich seemed. It was a little greasy, a little heavy on the taste of chicken, and five dollars without a combo, but we all agreed it was worth it, just maybe not if you're tight on cash.


Inside of the Baconator
 Now things were really starting to get exciting. Most of what we had eaten already was great, and we decided to try the Wendy's Baconator next. Hyped to be the greatest fast food bacon out there by many, including bacontoday.com, we moved through our first observations eagerly. It looked like a real burger with real, thick cut applewood smoked bacon, a big bun, and decent looking cheese. When we took a bite, reactions were mixed. We all noticed that the bacon taste came after, which was fine, but as Serafina said, the bacon tasted like it was cooked in an oven, not a skillet. A good amount of people on the team declared that it seemed almost out of place somehow with the rest of it. By itself, it was definitely good bacon. Put into the burger, it was also good, but not what we thought it would be.


Me Enjoying The Chipotle Chicken Sandwich
 It was then that our heads turned to the beautiful item that was left. We could still smell the fresh and incredible scent that comes with all Panera Bread food. Before us was the Chipotle Chicken Sandwich. This aromatic sandwich was made up of what we tasted to be perfectly cooked grilled chicken topped with real cheddar cheese and a spicy, smokey chipotle spread with thick cut and slightly crunchy bacon on french bread. It comes with tomato, but as a personal preference, we excluded it from our order. To our surprise while stopped at the Panera Bread on Kirkwood, we found that it cannot be ordered without the combo for a lower price. They could sell you just the sandwich, but at the combo price of about seven dollars. For that seven dollars, though, you do get a nice combo and a sandwich which was very big in comparison to the others we had that night. You could get a good two or three bites out of our individual slices instead of the one you could get out of the samples from the others.

The Scores
Our scoring was done on a ten point system individually by the five of us (Jim, as stated before, didn't eat the beef and as such did not partake in scoring,) and then the scores for each item were added together and multiplied by two. This was Jim's idea, and it worked very well, since we now had an easy way of giving scores out of 100 and assigning a grade. These are the results of the top five fast stops for bacon anywhere on Kirkwood Highway and their items' grades:


5. BK Double Stacker 
...with a horrendously low score of 22. Its wet-noodle-like bacon is far and away beyond an F.


4. Wendy's Baconator
...with an average score of 57. A sandwich that isn't bad, but isn't for everyone. It averages to an F.


3. KFC's Double Down
...with respectable score of 79. It recieved a good solid C+ overall and left a good impression on us.


2. Arby's Chicken, Bacon & Swiss
...with a really great score of 82, you'll probably get the most bang for your buck with this B sandwich.


1. Panera's Chipotle Chicken Sandwich
...with an utterly fantastic score of 94, it easily won the best scores of all. It's a little expensive, but an A!


In the end, we were all in agreement that although some of the food we had tonght was amazing, you simply can't beat bacon cooked in a skillet over the stove at home. It was an incredible night and it was certainly a lot of fun. All of us consider this adventure to be a great and successful one. Thank you for reading and I hope it's been fun for you to read whether you like bacon or not. As a side note, the name of this post is a reference to BRODYQUEST, a nonsensical YouTube video created by Neil Cicierega of Potter Puppet Pals fame. Don't worry, I don't think the video is supposed to make any sense, but I like the part when he walks into the sun.


15 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. AND IT HAS BEEN CALLED THROUGH THE PROPHECIES OF ADRIAN BRODY THAT THEE AND THINE HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT SHALL BE CALLED BACONQUEST. AND THEN THEY PVT'D.

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  3. I liked the part about bacon and Adrien Brody.

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  4. I think this blog is awesome. Johnny I have to give you a lot of credit for coming up with this idea and then planning it out for your blog. It's so creative and I love that you made it your mission to blog about something more than just everyday happenings. Once again, awesome blog, and if you ever have any other ideas like this one, I am sure that it'll turn out just as well. On a side note I will remember to go to Panera if I am looking for the best bacon.

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  5. I am not sure that this was a scientifically designed test: discussing amongst yourselves as you taste tested may have skewed the results. And the sample of sandwiches OR testers was certainly not random. However, as an exhibit of the intensity of Christmas vacation entertainment choices in Delaware, I commend all of you for your creativity and ability to waste huge amounts of time. Time to eat again.

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  6. Well, think of it more as series of reviews with the scores averaged together, like a Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic rating. Personally, I think the results are still valid, since the grade scores are so vastly different. I think if results had been skewed in either direction for any of these sandwiches, it looks like they still would have come out in the same order. Thank you for your comments, and I certainly do believe that my friends and I are extraordinarily talented at wasting time in the best ways.

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  7. I'll admit I expected Wendy's Baconator to score in at least the top two. Personally I love the bacon sandwiches from Burger King and Wendy's, but with that in mind I have also never tasted the other three sandwiches listed. Cool blog though I am definitely going to try those other sandwiches. Thank you for helping me with my own personal quest of finding satisfying and cheap food. I am a personal bacon lover and this was very cool.

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  8. Don't forget, Smooth Talkin' J, it's Baconquest *2010*. If anyone thinks we're only doing this once, they would be nuts. Plus I promised my wii fit I'd gain a pound so...

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  9. I agree with Johnny on the "scientific test" topic. This is how people rate movies and games and whatnot, so why not food? This was'nt designed scientifically, it was more of a wine tasting with bacon sammitches.

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  10. personal bacon lover???? I think my middle aged ears are melted. or fried.

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  11. This is quite and interesting topic. I personally enjoy the taste of bacon and I may need to stop in Panera for a delicious treat. I greatly enjoyed reading this blog. Johnny, I applaud you for your creativity and excellent choice of food to test. Everyone involved seemed to contribute well in the creation of this blog. This will be quite useful next time I crave some bacon. Excellent work. :)

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  12. I loved the idea for this blog, and it seemed like a lot of fun. While I do love bacon, I think that this maybe might have turned me off from it for a while though. But congrats on being able to eat all that fast food... I might have lost it. haha

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  13. My confusion comes from the need the lack of a classic BLT - one of my personal favorite sandwiches. If this sandwich is disappearing from menus, then this is a serious cause for concern. And why did all of these places feel the need to pair it with cheese? That sounds very overpowering, considering bacon has plenty of fat and flavor on its own.

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  14. Very funny and interesting idea. But they all deserve F's since they are made of animal :) I personally think my soy bacon and burgers are the best!

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  15. this really makes me want bacon/Panera.

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