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Taste Test: Popeye's Jalapeño Cheddar Chicken Poppers



Due to popular demand and the fact that we love trying weird foods and candies, The A.V. Club will now regularly feature "Taste Tests." Feel free to suggest disgusting and/or delicious new edibles for future installments.

Popeye's Jalapeño Cheddar Chicken Poppers, $1.99

Now that the fast-food industry has fully embraced the paradox of jumbo popcorn chicken (Query: How big can a piece of chicken get and still qualify as "popcorn"?), it's apparently now looking for ways to inject more flavor into scraggly, heavily breaded chicken bits. Leave it to Popeye's, the restaurant that introduced the idea of chicken with taste, to pioneer the concept of hyper-taste, by beefing up their nuggets from "popcorn" to "popper" size, and adding fistfuls of cayenne and powdered cheese. Welcome to our world, Jalapeño Chicken Poppers.

Taste: Any fried item that tries to convey a flavor other than "salt" has to contend with the temperature factor. Right out of the fryer, these Poppers are too hot to taste of anything. (Unless "scald" is a taste.) Ten minutes later, they're lukewarm lumps of peppery batter, surrounding a dry wedge of chicken. But five minutes after frying…well, they're still pretty disgusting, but no more than any other fast-food fried chicken scrap. At the least, they've got an acceptable burn level: fiery, but not too acidic. (Too much acid and spicy food starts to taste like reflux.) The major problem with Popeye's Jalapeño Cheddar Chicken Poppers is the cheese. The word "poppers" conjures up visions of cheese-stuffed bar apps, but here the cheese is on the outside, as a seasoning. The result is like a dried-out buffalo chicken finger rolled in Cheeto dust.

Office reactions: "There's no cheese inside them? How do you bread them in cheese?" "This is fucking gross. And I love gross food." "Hurry up and finish those before they corrode a hole in the table." "I'd rather eat puked-up yogurt than that ranch sauce."

Where to get it: Come on now. You know where you love that chicken from.