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[Photographs: Todd Brock]

So Burger King is getting into the holiday spirit* with a couple new desserts. Rather than go the easy peppermint/candy cane route, the King has decreed Winter 2012 to be the Season of Gingerbread, with a limited-time offering of the Gingerbread Cookie Sundae and the Gingerbread Cookie Shake.

*They say the holidays come earlier every year. Well, BK unveiled these new yuletide yummies in a press release dated October 18, with an ad blitz that began almost immediately thereafter. But you know what they didn't have ready to go on October 18? The damn desserts. When I visited the realm—on October 24—to give one a test drive, I was told, "We don't have that yet." "But it's your new thing," I told the register jockey, "I saw it on TV. Look, it's on the full-color video screen right behind your head. You don't have it???" "Not until next week." Hmmph. That part hadn't been mentioned. Since when do we need advance rollout notice on a fast food sundae? Did they think I'd mark the date on my calendar and camp out in line the night before? It's not an iPhone or the new Iron Man movie; it's %##&$!! ice cream. Okay, end of rant.

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Once I did get my hands on the sundae, I was admittedly perplexed by its simplicity. The Gingerbread Cookie Sundae ($2.49) features vanilla soft serve, gingerbread sauce, and gingersnap cookie crumbles. And that's it. Pretty low-key for a chain whose dude-food mentality had them cramming bacon on ice cream as recently as this past summer. This was trying hard to be a more refined confection. The ads even show the sundae served in an elegant drinking glass**, so I adjusted my expectations (and palate) accordingly.

**(The real thing, of course, comes in genuine plastic.)

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Soft serve is soft serve, making a sundae—at its heart—all about the toppings. Here, the cookie bits were crisp and genuinely crunchy with a true ginger taste. But I was left a bit wanting in that most of these "crumbles" were more like "dust." Sure, a few sizable nuggets dotted the top of the sundae, but the rest resembled the crumbs you'd sweep off the table after eating real cookies. The pulverized powder disappeared pretty quickly into the mix and left most of the sundae cookie-free... and a bit boring.

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The sauce is sweet. Extraordinarily so. Mine was mostly drowning the top and then puddled again at the bottom, making for too strong an opening and too tooth-aching a finish. I must admit, it didn't taste super-gingery; cinnamon and molasses are there, but ginger is not listed among its ingredients on the website's nutrition guide. (Maybe it's included in that "natural and artificial flavors" line item.) I found the sauce to be much more enjoyable after a thorough swirl to really incorporate it into the ice cream.

All in all, my Gingerbread Cookie Sundae wasn't terrible. But it's not worth a special trip; Burger King's just not a dessert destination. If I were already there and looking for something to top off the tank after a Whopper? Perhaps. If I really needed a Christmas-cookie fix, maybe I'd try the Gingerbread Cookie shake and hope the elements are better blended. Or probably, I'd just go home and eat some Christmas cookies, breaking some into a bowl of half-melted ice cream.

About the Author: Todd Brock lives the glamorous life of a stay-at-home freelance writer in the suburbs of Atlanta. Besides being paid to eat cheeseburgers for AHT and pizzas for Slice, he's written and produced over 1,000 hours of television and penned Building Chicken Coops for Dummies. When he grows up, he wants to be either the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys or the drummer for Hootie & the Blowfish. Or both.

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