Chain Reaction: Burger King's New Bacon Sundae
I really like bacon, which makes me something of a heretic in the world of secular, carnivorous bon vivants because to really like something is not the same as loving something, and it is taken as an article of faith in some quarters that to love life is to love bacon.
Don't listen to the pork propagandists. Bacon, though excellent, does not improve everything it touches. To wit, I refused to attend weddings between 2006 and 2009 to protest bacon's constant and unconscionable molestation of the majestic sea scallop. And bacon turns pizza into a greasy mess. Deep down, reasonable people know this, but the bacon lobby won't listen; they just cover their ears and yell about how replacing your laundry detergent with a quarter-cup of bacon grease will permanently remove all stains from both your pants and your soul.
If you're one of these inveterate bacon apologists, then you don't need this review to tell you whether to try Burger King's new Bacon Sundae. But if you're a bacon appreciator with a legitimately open mind regarding its place on fast-food soft serve, come right this way.
OK, now that we've gotten rid of the irrational bacon brigade, I don't mind admitting that in this case they were right. I figured this would just be a cup of crappy fast food ice cream topped with limp bacon. My plan was to take a bite, scoff, and then peel off the bacon to take it home, finish cooking it, and put it someplace it belongs. Instead I ate the whole damn thing and now I want another one.
The ice cream is indeed standard-issue industrial soft-serve vanilla garbage. There's too much sweetener and not enough of whatever the vanilla-ing agent is. The swirls of caramel and chocolate fudge sauce don't offer a lot of help; they're browner, gloopier versions of the same problems—cold, viscous candy without much by way of specific flavor profile.
So far, so bad, just as I suspected. But I was smacked square in the gob upon discovering that merely tossing some bacon into the mess really did solve everything (eh, nearly everything. Let's not go overboard: This isn't a great dessert, because you can't build a great sundae atop crummy ice cream, but it's better than it has any right to be, especially for $2.49).
Burger King calls the bacon "thick, hardwood smoked," and it is indeed thicker than what I'm used to seeing strewn atop a fast-food burger. More important than the thickness of the cut or the hardness of the wood, however, was the degree of doneness. My sundae was served with four full strips of bacon cooked medium-well (note: the marketing materials suggest bite-size bacon chunks augmented by a single whole strip, so individual serving styles may vary).
The room-temperature bacon was extremely salty, which I don't usually favor, but the salt served as a perfect foil for the too-sweet sundae. There wasn't a ton of traditional smoky pork flavor, but it was certifiably bacony. The real magic was the way the good-but-not-special bacon mixed with the bad-but-hey-at-least-it's-sweet ice cream, caramel, and chocolate.
The bacon was crisp enough to break up with a spoon, so after a few seconds of puzzling over how to incorporate the full strips into the rest of the sundae, I just thwacked away for a bit and voila: I had a bacon-studded sundae that yielded not only a great textural contrast but also offered a different flavor with each bite, depending on the ratios of bacon to ice cream to caramel/fudge sauce. Bacon and vanilla tastes like bacon flavored ice cream, which is good but also a bit clumsy and overbearing. But when you get a little of the brown stuff in there, it adds just enough competing flavor to make things truly interesting. The traditional sundae elements dominate the beginning of the spoonful, but the aftertaste is pure bacon. It's the good kind of magic.
If the bacon were cooked just a bit less, it wouldn't have been so easy to snap with the plastic spoon, and in that case you might have to revert back to Plan A: peel it off so you can take it home for further cooking and eventual repurposing. But the sundae I was served on this occasion was truly revelatory.