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#GarbageTime Presents: Whataburger's Spicy Chicken Sandwich


I Ate Oklahoma is brought to you in part by:

If 2/3rds of the Garbage Time Gang is here, that’s technically a quorum, so it’s time to eat some regrettable fast food with Becky and Greg!

When last we met, three fast food restaurants squared off in a battle of spicy chicken sandwiches: Chick-fil-A, Popeyes, and Wendy’s (lol). Read all about it here.

But then, answering a call that absolutely no one was making, Whataburger decided to jump into the fracas with its own Spicy Chicken Sandwich. Because I enjoy making Becky roll her eyes in disdain, I asked her to eat one and share her thoughts.

Becky's sandwich

Becky: If you’ve ever been in the Whataburger drive-thru at 2 a.m., you know that this is a fast food chain that marches to the pace of its own drummer and also that the drummer is so slow that you have time to cycle through several waves of regret before you get your taquito that is actually a breakfast taco. Thusly, we are well into fall of 2020, and Whataburger has now entered the fast food spicy chicken sandwich fracas of summer 2019. 

I will admit that Whataburger’s breadth of chicken offerings is the second reason I like the chain at all, and yes, the first is the prepackaged spicy ketchup. When Greg asked me to try this, I was kind of pumped because the only thing my refined palate loves more than fancy food is absolute trash. The thrill of my expectations lasted until I opened the bag to find the flattest chicken sandwich of all time. Barely three-dimensional. Like someone had run over a McChicken. 

After picking off the soggy lettuce and warm tomato, though, I had what I’d call a perfectly serviceable appetite depressant. The sandwich I got, perhaps due to its 1:1:1 batter:chicken:batter ratio, was surprisingly spicy—a spice level that matched the brazen orange color of the breading. That it was actually kind of spicy was the best thing about it, because I sort of forgot how it actually tasted. 

Look, guys, this is just not a sandwich to look at or eat in the cold, harsh light of day. More like WHATEVERBURGER, am I right? If you really want something kicky, choose more wisely: Put hot sauce on the honey bbq chicken strip sandwich if visiting between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. or on the honey butter chicken biscuit if you’re capping a night of regrets and/or hoping to start your day off sort of wrong. 

Greg's sandwich

Greg: I know that fast food restaurants tend to think they should be everything to everyone, but what exactly is the point of this sandwich? Whataburger does a pretty good job with making burgers and, like a lot of burger joints, has a nice little sideline in breakfast. But after watching people go wild for Popeyes—a brand I thought I was alone in celebrating—everybody wants a piece of the chicken (pot) pie. 

The first issue is the look. Take a gander at that fried chicken breast and tell me you haven’t seen better breaded chicken patties come out of a freezer bag at the local warehouse club. I know that Popeyes isn’t breading their own chicken in-house. That’s what caused those shortages. But the products are miles apart. This looks downright industrial.

The second issue is the flavor.

“Wait, you’re saying the look and the flavor have issues? So should I even try this?”

No, you probably shouldn’t. It’s just not a very good chicken sandwich. They claim it’s “perfectly marinated,” but I would challenge the definition of both words. It’s not dry, necessarily, but it’s far from juicy. And the hot sauce marinating is spotty at best. The first bite I took had some sizzle, but everything after that was dull as dishwater. 

Thank goodness Whataburger is doing this “for a limited time,” because they are much better at so many other things. Not only does this not hold a candle to the unholy duo of Chick-fil-A and Popeyes, it makes me question how the test cooks at Whataburger still have jobs.

About the Author

Ben Luschen. Becky Carman. Greg Elwell. Three nearly human beings gathered together for one purpose: Eating the bizarre, limited-time-only dishes served by national fast food chains.

Will we survive?