The Colonel must’ve discovered a Brian Eno record or gotten into Cy Twombly, because he’s been going through his experimental, weird-shit phase. Just this week, KFC’s Singapore division introduced the Chizza—pizza toppings melted atop a fried chicken “dough.” There were the comedy-bit-inspiring Famous Bowls, and who can forget the culinary protest art that was the Double Down?
The urge for ambition—to push forward and not rest on past successes—is an understandable artistic impulse. But KFC must remember that what made it successful was serving junky, savory, saliva-sapping pieces of bone-in fried chicken, and doing it with delicious consistency. So we were delighted that rather than following vogue trends by turning chicken into another delivery vessel (pizza, sandwich, chalupa, etc.), KFC’s latest keeps it focused on the bird.
Its Georgia Gold is a honey-mustard sauce that gets tossed with Extra Crispy chicken, soaking into the batter’s crunchy crevices (it’s also a sauce option for its chicken tenders, though not its Original Recipe fried chicken). It’s one of the finer fast-food offerings of the past few years, because it doesn’t taste much like fast food.
Firstly, the chicken feels substantial. Though taste-wise its Original Recipe chicken has its familiar, irresistible charms, KFC’s Extra Crispy batter is all about texture: an outward-expanding, volcanic-rock-like craggy surface, audibly crunchy, while maintaining good moisture in its meat. This sort of heavy coating reminds me of diner fried chicken, with that thick, corn-flaky outside you find with better chicken fried steaks—which is to say, this doesn’t taste like cheap chicken, and if a roadside restaurant subbed in a KFC Extra Crispy breast and charged $9.95, I wouldn’t protest.
The Georgia Gold sauce adds an interesting dimension. Despite the sauce soaking in the exterior, the skin retains a greasy crunchiness and doesn’t sog up easily (even after traveling 20 minutes in a car and steaming inside its container). The honey’s sweetness and mustard flavors are subtle and non-dominating, pair well together, and contribute a pleasant zing. No other superlatives are needed other than to say it’s really quite good, and a number of my taste-testing colleagues thought the same. If there’s one complaint, the bottom of the container gets oily as all hell.
The honey-mustard fried chicken builds on the commercial success of last year’s Nashville hot chicken campaign—which Nashvillians didn’t care for much. Nashville Scene editor Steve Cavendish told me, “I guess KFC’s hot chicken might be good if you’ve never had the real thing, but most Nashvillians will tell you that it really sucks. It’s the Lime-A-Rita of hot chicken.”
But we non-Nashvillians aren’t lucky to have such sensational, fiery fried chicken options, so we decided to sample KFC’s version, too, even if we’re a year late to the game. Our verdict? The predominant flavor is smoke from the paprika with a touch of sweetness, but the chicken barely registers on the spicy meter. KFC’s Nashville Hot chicken is a bit one-note for our liking, perhaps a little too meek. But we would pay out of pocket for its Georgia Gold chicken again.