Two bizarre, unconventional cuisine creations just hit our cheesy, formula fast-food chain restaurants. KFC locations all over the city are now serving a dubious-sounding concept called a Cheetos Sandwich, while Burger King now carries the Impossible Whopper — which makes use of the no-meat, plant-based, beef substitute from Redwood City-based phenom Impossible Foods.
SF Weekly loves it when fast food joints find new ways to make us fat, so we greased the wheels and made our way to Burger King and KFC to see if these high-calorie concoctions are worth the artery blockage and diabetes risk that accompanies them.
The Cheetos Sandwich is an attempt to replicate the viral success and morbid fascination that the Double Down created in years past. The unholy union of combined KFC-Taco Bell locations always has some kind of limited-time, counterintuitive food mashup on the menu, and the Cheetos Sandwich is sort of a Cheeto-fied iteration on the old Tex-Mex dish Frito Pie.
The thing is served in a crumpled foil wrapping designed for a slightly different menu item called the Crispy Colonel Sandwich. Upon unwrapping it, you are greeted by the visual hilarity of a radioactive-looking, bright orange goo all over your sandwich that is described as Cheetos sauce.
The Cheeto effect is more textural than flavorful; the crispy fried chicken fillet is the dominant taste here. But the Cheetos add a satisfying crunch that will have you contemplating the act of dumping Cheetos directly onto a sandwich in the future, if you haven’t already done so before.
These aren’t Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, and the sandwich itself is not remotely spicy. The condiment combination of Cheetos sauce and mayonnaise is surprisingly easy on your taste buds, and your intestines.
At $4.99 for just the sandwich — and just under $7 for the Combo with wedges and a medium drink — the Cheetos Sandwich is a fulfilling novelty purchase. It’s also an excellent way to consume Cheetos, because you won’t get dust on your fingers.
The Impossible Whopper, meanwhile, is now a permanent item on that chain’s menu and probably the more significant sandwich development in the fast food universe. Impossible Foods has already lent out its meat to Gott’s Roadside and Umami Burger, but these are the first Impossible Burgers being served at a non-boutique national chain.
This faux meat is incredibly flavorful, far more so than regular Burger King beef. That’s a low bar, we realize, but Impossible Burger meat tastes like it was marinated in some manner of spice or seasoning for a signature zest.
The problem is that it’s still a Whopper. The tomatoes are still underripe, the lettuce is whitish iceberg material that might contain less actual plant matter than the fake meat. But we’ve got to acknowledge that it’s served on the standard Whopper bun, which is one of the best in the fast food business.
Surprisingly, the Impossible Whopper is not significantly healthier than the regular Whopper. It has only 30 fewer calories, and substantially more sodium and carbs. The only real nutritional advantage is that the Impossible Whopper contains very little cholesterol.
But you are not eating at a Burger King if you care about nutrition. It’s the environmental upside of a meatless Whopper, replacing however many thousands of regular Whoppers America woofs down daily, that makes this a significant sea change in fast food. Beef comes with horrifying global impacts of deforestation, water waste, and animal cruelty, all drawbacks that a vegan, plant-based burger doesn’t have.
The KFC Cheetos Sandwich will be around until the end of July, whereas the Impossible Whopper will remain as a permanent Burger King menu item. We highly recommend both for your drunk or depressed fast food binges, but sustainability makes the Impossible Whopper give you far less guilt on your guilty pleasure pig-out.