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#GarbageTime with KFC's Cheetos Sandwich


I Ate Oklahoma is brought to you in part by:

#GarbageTime is I Ate Oklahoma’s exploration of limited-time-only fast food dishes. Lobster from Long John Silver’s? A Big Mac that is bigger than normal? A taco made entirely of burritos? We’re there! 

For the inaugural #GarbageTime review, we’ve gathered a Dirty Quarter Dozen of Oklahoma’s finest “food” tasters—my oldest friend in the world, Becky Carman, the teach who’ll have one of each, Ben Luschen, and myself—to try Kentucky Fried Chicken’s newest monstrosity: 

The Cheetos Sandwich

The Cheetos Chicken Sandwich

Becky "My Dad Once Met Col. Sanders and No I'm Not Joking About That" Carman

Are you familiar with the concept of holism? Things being greater than the sum of their parts. 

The KFC Cheetos Sandwich is a fried chicken sandwich with:

  • fried chicken (duh)
  • a bun
  • Cheetos
  • mayonnaise
  • "Cheetos sauce," which is a powdery, oily-looking orange liquid that tastes like Cheetos...like if you could milk a single Cheeto (Is Cheeto the singular version of Cheetos?)

It looks and tastes like exactly the sum of those parts. It is not even 1% greater.

Also, my dad met the actual Col. Sanders.

Ben "The Juice Is" Luschen

For reasons that have a lot to do with a long-standing and robust culinary curiosity, and bear absolutely no correlation to my inability or indifference toward finding a nice girl somewhere to settle down with like my mother so wishes were the case, I can tell you that exactly two years prior to the release of KFC’s Cheetos Sandwich came the debut of Burger King’s Mac n’ Cheetos, an orange-powdered stick of fried macaroni and goo cheese that was so unremarkable and short-lived I’m certain your brain has pushed knowledge of the product’s existence from its archives. 

I hated Mac n’ Cheetos because they fell far short in the two categories that, together, define a Cheeto: crunchiness and cheeziness. And I call it cheeziness with a "z" because when we talk about the flavor of Cheetos powder, we’re not talking about a flavor that is necessarily ‘of cheese’ or of anything found in the natural world. It’s an incredibly bold flavor that hasn’t been fully replicated by anyone else. 

As I took my first bite into KFC’s Cheetos Sandwich, these were the two factors on which I was focused. The crunch was there. Aside from the five or so Cheetos tucked beneath my chicken breast patty, the KFC Extra Crispy breading certainly lives up to its name.

A table full of bad ideas

But what about the "cheeze?" I will say, the authentic flavor of Cheetos was present. The flavor comes not only from the actual Cheetos tucked inside the bun, but from a neon orange sauce lightly drizzled over the chicken. The sauce appeared to be one part grease, two parts Trumpian skin toner. In reality, I imagine it’s the hydrated form of the bright orange Cheetos dust that leaves your fingers stained until your next shower at minimum. 

While the taste of Cheetos was there, the dominant flavor sensation was still that of bun and fast-food chicken. I wish the Cheetos flavor was more assertive in the sandwich. Using more sauce on the chicken breast piece would have been a mess, but guess what? You’re eating a freaking Cheetos Sandwich. 

Overall, it’s not a bad tasting product. The flavors just don’t mesh as well as one would hope. If it lasts on the KFC menu longer than a couple of months, I don’t see myself caring enough to order it again.

Greg "We've Heard Enough From This Guy Already" Elwell

To all of you who were hoping this sandwich would be an epic trash fire, my apologies. It is not good, nor is it bad. The Cheetos Sandwich simply exists. There are things it does well: the fried chicken breast is nicely done, as you would imagine, and the Cheetos held their crunch against all obstacles. 

The “Cheetos sauce” is an abomination, undoubtedly, but it does what it was put there to do: make things taste more like Cheetos. 

The question becomes, then, why not use more of that sauce? Because if there was one issue with The Cheetos Sandwich, it was that it didn’t taste enough like Cheetos. Why not dunk the entire fried chicken breast in the sauce? It certainly looks more cheesy on KFC’s product page.

It felt, to me at least, that The Cheetos Sandwich was a bit of marketing done on an unrealistic deadline. It tastes like a third draft; not a final product. 

While Becky showed a lot of restraint in ordering only The Cheetos Sandwich Combo, Ben and I opted for the entirely unnecessary Cheetos Lover’s Box (Which had no picture and no price on the menu. C’est la vie!). We got:

The Cheetos Sandwich

Potato wedges

A medium soft drink

A side of macaroni and cheese

Popcorn chicken bites drizzled in “Cheetos sauce”

Popcorn chicken in "Cheetos sauce"

The sandwich was fine. Inoffensive, at least. The potato wedges remain one of the worst substitutes for real french fries available over the counter. For the soft drink, I found out that Mountain Dew makes a special KFC-only flavor called “Sweet Lightning.” It’s kind of like pineapple Mountain Dew. I don’t hate it.

The macaroni and cheese are a complete mistake if for no other reason than nothing that tastes like cheese is going to make an impact when you’re eating “cheeze,” as Ben called it. The real move here (which we tried ourselves with great success) was drizzling the leftover “Cheetos sauce” onto the macaroni and cheese, which should 100 percent be standard operating procedure at all KFCs starting tomorrow.

The popcorn chicken in “Cheetos sauce” was just odd. Ben seemed to like his more than I did mine, and Becky was shocked there was even chicken inside them, but I couldn’t get over the seemingly restrained hands of the kitchen staff who lightly applied the sauce. Either drench them or leave them alone, I say! Half measures do none of us good.

Do you have an idea for the next #GarbageTime review? Good. So do we.

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?