I have only been a customer of Burger King two or three times since I quit working at the fast-food joint as a high-school senior. When I left, there was no way to predict that two of my most desired delicacies—which I consider meals on their own—would one day combine to build a dessert for an international fast-food chain.
On learning of the addition of bacon and ice cream to Burger King’s menu as a single dessert item, the Bacon Sundae, I immediately set off on 36 hours of escalating anticipation that ended with a blind dessert date with my girlfriend, Courtney (the “blind” part being that I kept from her where we were going and what we were going to eat).
My emotions were too hyped and invested to just give away the “X” that awaited us at the end of the junk-food treasure map. I did, however, share my own combination of joy and suspense within the 36 hours leading to our upcoming excursion:
“My childhood would probably have been cheerier if my parents fed me this after dinner.”
“It’s going to be another edible item I can’t live without.”
“We should have gone in the morning. This item will probably be sold out by the time we get there.”
“Tell your friends and family where we are going, you may never want to come back.”
As we set out to B.K., I acted out my pre-rehearsed jokes to a patient, quick smile: “I’ve just prepared a little speech.” “The dry cleaner couldn’t get my suit back in time.” “Wait right there while I get you a blindfold.”
I asked her to look away from the menu as we entered the drive-thru. I wanted my order to divulge the dessert that probably caused her to lose sleep the night before—probably. Unexpectedly my voice cracked with excitement while ordering, just as it had when I introduced myself to a girl while working at Burger King many years ago. Ba...con Sundae! I was finally in a car with a girl and the order restored some respectable level of anticipation as we waited for the wonder-dessert we could finally form a real opinion about.
Murphy’s Law must surely be kicking in, I thought, as we sat only three car lengths from what I had waited seemingly my whole life to consume. I imagined the soft-serve yogurt melting over the crispy, shiny pieces of bacon as the clock in the drive-thru window counted up to and passed four minutes and 32 seconds.
Although I anticipated a yogurt machine malfunction, in the end nothing prevented us from pulling out of the drive-thru with our dessert game changer. The parking spaces of the King served as the ideal location to crack open the plastic lids and begin our taste test. At this point the vanilla yogurt had barely dripped down the cold bacon strips lying on the sides of the peak formed by the soft-serve in the clear containers.
The cold, soft truth is that this is not bacon-flavored ice cream. Like most specialty fast-food products, the featured ingredient that put this beyond a plain, old, taken-for-granted sundae was in short supply. While the bacon was crispy and cooked to visual perfection, it consisted of a few half-cut strips and a spoonful of cuts bits.
While the bacon strips could be treated as a finger food and used for a flimsy ice cream scoop, it begged the question of why sundaes are built the way they are. Sundae ingredients are typically small and can be taken in manageable bites for a mouthful of flavor. Nuts, sprinkles, pieces of candy, chocolate, and fruit serve this propose perfectly. But with the bacon sundae, you take a spoonful with a strip of bacon, and then you’re forced to swallow the soft serve and then chew the tough piece of bacon. The effect is like eating a sundae and some bacon, not a bacon sundae. Good luck trying to cut the bacon with a plastic spoon.
The saltiness of the meat overwhelms all other flavors while you chew, with sodium replacing the noticeable flavor of soft-serve, caramel, and chocolate syrup in every bite that includes bacon.
My wildest dream of tasting the perfect mix of bacon and ice cream did not leave me naïve enough to think that a fast-food joint could have the tastiest result. But when we drove away from the parking lot that night, I left behind my desire that the Burger King Bacon Sundae would be a game charger. All I took with me was a palate encrusted with salt and 510 calories.