Food Theory: I Found the SPICIEST Fast Food Chicken Sandwich!

The Food Theorists
19 Mar 202419:21

Summary

TLDRIn the first episode of Food Theory, host Santi explores the spicy chicken sandwich phenomenon, testing eight popular fast food chains and local favorites in Los Angeles. Each sandwich is judged on taste, chicken quality, toppings, and spice level. After a thorough evaluation, Wendy's emerges as the overall winner for its balanced flavor and heat, while Howlin' Ray's tops the spiciest list. The episode concludes with a tie for second place between Howlin' Ray's and KFC, with Wendy's securing the gold for the best spicy chicken sandwich.

Takeaways

  • 🎉 Santi introduces himself as the new host of Food Theory, taking over from Matt, and shares his love for spicy foods.
  • 🌶️ The origin story of the Nashville Hot Chicken is shared, involving a man named Thornton Prince and his spicy revenge by his girlfriend.
  • 🍔 Santi aims to find the scientifically best spicy chicken sandwich by testing eight popular fast food chains and two local favorites in Los Angeles.
  • 📊 Each chicken sandwich is judged based on four categories: overall taste, chicken quality, toppings, and spice level, rated on a scale of one to five.
  • 🥇 Wendy's Ghost Pepper Chicken Sandwich emerges as the overall winner with a balanced flavor, great spice, and good value for money.
  • 🥈 KFC's spicy chicken sandwich secures the second place with its nice heat and good chicken quality, but loses to Wendy's in the value comparison.
  • 🥉 Howlin' Ray's, a local LA favorite, takes the third place for its extreme heat but is edged out due to its higher price and less chicken content.
  • 🍗 The taste test reveals a variety in the preparation of spicy chicken sandwiches, from breading and spice blends to buns and toppings.
  • 🌟 Pickles are highlighted as a key topping that helps balance the heat of the spicy chicken sandwiches, providing acidity and fat to counteract the spice.
  • 🚫 Burger King's spicy chicken sandwich disappoints across all categories, landing it at the bottom of the rankings.
  • 📝 The episode concludes with a recommendation to try Howlin' Ray's for the spiciest experience and Wendy's for the best overall spicy chicken sandwich.

Q & A

  • What is the main topic of the first episode of the show?

    -The main topic of the first episode is a scientific exploration of spicy chicken sandwiches from various popular fast food chains and local establishments.

  • Who is the host of the show?

    -The host of the show is Santi, a long-time friend of the previous host, Matt.

  • What is the origin story of the hot chicken sandwich mentioned in the script?

    -The hot chicken sandwich originated from Thornton Prince's girlfriend in Nashville, who, after discovering he cheated, decided to punish him by making his fried chicken extremely spicy. Surprisingly, he loved it and started selling it, leading to the creation of Prince's Hot Chicken shop.

  • How many different spicy chicken sandwiches were tested in the episode?

    -Eight different spicy chicken sandwiches were tested in the episode.

  • What are the four categories each sandwich was judged on?

    -Each sandwich was judged on overall taste, the quality of the chicken itself, the toppings, and the spice level.

  • Which restaurant had the most disappointing spicy chicken sandwich according to the host?

    -According to the host, Dave's Hot Chicken had the most disappointing spicy chicken sandwich.

  • What was the final verdict for the best spicy chicken sandwich?

    -The final verdict for the best spicy chicken sandwich was Wendy's, followed by KFC in second place and Howlin' Ray's in third place.

  • What specific topping from Wendy's spicy chicken sandwich stood out to the host?

    -The ghost pepper crispy onions from Wendy's spicy chicken sandwich stood out to the host as a unique and standout topping.

  • Why are pickles commonly used as a topping in spicy chicken sandwiches?

    -Pickles are commonly used as a topping in spicy chicken sandwiches because they add acidity which helps neutralize the alkaline capsaicin, as well as saltiness and sweetness from the brine that cuts through the heat, and the fat from the rest of the sandwich.

  • What was the main complaint about the Burger King spicy chicken sandwich?

    -The main complaint about the Burger King spicy chicken sandwich was its dry and unimpressive bread, which overwhelmed the other flavors in the sandwich.

  • How did the host determine the spiciest chicken sandwich?

    -The host determined the spiciest chicken sandwich based on the immediate heat experienced upon tasting and the overall heat levels offered by the restaurant, with Howlin' Ray's being the spiciest.

Outlines

00:00

🎬 Introduction and Background

The script begins with an introduction to the first episode of the show, Food Theory, hosted by Santi. He expresses his excitement and shares a personal connection with Matt, the previous host. Santi's background is highlighted, including his high school days and his love for spicy foods. He reminisces about a past episode where Matt scientifically determined the best chicken sandwich and Santi's desire to remake it with a focus on spicy chicken sandwiches. The origin story of the hot chicken sandwich is shared, detailing the legend of Thornton Prince and the birth of Nashville Hot Chicken. Santi outlines his plan to test eight different spicy chicken sandwiches from various fast food chains and local establishments in Los Angeles, with a focus on finding the scientifically best one. The criteria for judging the sandwiches are also introduced, including overall taste, quality of the chicken, toppings, and the spice level.

05:02

🌶️ Spicy Chicken Sandwich Taste Test

In this segment, Santi conducts a taste test of the spicy chicken sandwiches, evaluating them based on taste, chicken quality, toppings, and spice. He starts with local favorite Howlin' Ray's, noting its crispy texture and overwhelming pickle flavor. Popeyes and Chick-fil-A receive low scores for their lack of standout flavors and overpowering tomato and lettuce tastes, respectively. Burger King's sandwich is criticized for its poor quality, while Wendy's surprising flavor combination earns a higher score. McDonald's is noted for its dry bread and overwhelming mayo, leading to a low rating. KFC and Dave's Hot Chicken show promise, but Dave's is a disappointment due to its unappetizing seasonings. The round concludes with Wendy's, KFC, and Howlin' Ray's leading the pack, while the others lag behind.

10:02

🍔 Analysis of Toppings and Spice

Santi delves deeper into the analysis of the sandwiches, focusing on the toppings and spice levels. He praises Howlin' Ray's pickles for cutting through the spice, while KFC's strong start continues with its unique topping of ghost pepper crispy onions. Dave's Hot Chicken suffers from an unbalanced kale slaw that detracts from the experience. Santi discusses the importance of pickles in neutralizing the heat of the sandwiches and criticizes the use of tomatoes for not providing enough acidity. Burger King's bread is singled out for its dryness and lack of contribution to the sandwich. The round concludes with Wendy's, Howlin' Ray's, and KFC standing out for their well-balanced heat and spice implementation.

15:03

🏆 Ranking the Spicy Chicken Sandwiches

Santi tallies the scores to determine the best spicy chicken sandwich. He awards Howlin' Ray's the title for the spiciest sandwich, noting its medium heat level and the option for even spicier versions. He then calculates the overall winner based on a combination of taste, quality, and value for money. Howlin' Ray's and KFC tie for second place, but KFC's larger chicken content and better price point earn it the silver medal. Wendy's takes the gold, offering a delicious and balanced flavor with great value. Santi advises avoiding Burger King's sandwich, which scores the lowest. He concludes by recommending Howlin' Ray's for those seeking extreme heat and Wendy's for the overall best spicy chicken sandwich experience.

Mindmap

Keywords

💡Food Theory

Food Theory refers to the show's concept of using science to analyze and understand various aspects of food, such as taste, quality, and preparation methods. In the context of the video, it's about exploring the best spicy chicken sandwich by examining different fast food chains and local establishments.

💡Spicy Chicken Sandwich

A spicy chicken sandwich is a type of fast food dish consisting of a chicken fillet that is seasoned or coated with spices and served in a bun, often with various toppings. The video's main theme revolves around evaluating and comparing different versions of this sandwich from various restaurants based on their taste, spice level, and overall quality.

💡Thornton Prince

Thornton Prince is a historical figure mentioned in the script as the originator of Nashville Hot Chicken. The story goes that his girlfriend made his fried chicken extremely spicy as revenge for his infidelity, but he enjoyed it and eventually opened Prince's Hot Chicken, popularizing the dish.

💡Spice Levels

Spice levels refer to the degree of heat or spiciness in a food item, typically measured by the Scoville scale. In the context of the video, the spice levels are a critical factor in evaluating the spicy chicken sandwiches, with the host aiming to find the scientifically best one by considering not just the intensity but also the quality of the spice experience.

💡Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is a type of chili pepper known for its heat and flavor, commonly used in various cuisines to add spiciness. In the video, cayenne pepper is one of the ingredients that contribute to the spice level of the chicken sandwiches, affecting their overall taste and heat.

💡Ghost Pepper

Ghost pepper, also known as Bhut Jolokia, is one of the hottest chili peppers in the world. In the context of the video, ghost pepper is used as an ingredient to add extreme heat to the spicy chicken sandwiches, contributing to the varying spice levels and the 'spicy journey' of each sandwich.

💡Taste Test

A taste test is a method of evaluating food products by sampling and comparing their flavors and qualities. In the video, the host conducts a taste test of eight different spicy chicken sandwiches, judging them across several categories such as overall taste, chicken quality, toppings, and spice level.

💡Breading

Breading refers to the outer layer of a food item, typically made from a mixture of flour, seasonings, and sometimes eggs, that is applied to the food before cooking. In the context of the video, the breading is an essential part of the spicy chicken sandwich, affecting the texture and flavor, and is a criterion in the evaluation of the sandwiches.

💡Toppings

Toppings are additional ingredients placed on top of a food item to enhance its flavor, texture, or presentation. In the video, toppings on the spicy chicken sandwiches play a crucial role in the overall taste and experience, with examples including pickles, onions, and sauces.

💡Price to Value

Price to value refers to the ratio of the cost of a product or service to the perceived worth or quality received. In the context of the video, the price to value is considered when determining the best spicy chicken sandwich, taking into account not just the taste and quality but also the cost and the amount of chicken provided.

💡Wendy's Ghost Pepper Chicken Sandwich

Wendy's Ghost Pepper Chicken Sandwich is a specific menu item from the fast-food chain Wendy's, featuring a chicken patty seasoned with ghost pepper and served with various toppings. In the video, this sandwich is highlighted as the overall best spicy chicken sandwich based on the host's taste test, scoring the highest in the evaluation.

Highlights

The host, Santi, is starting his first episode by revisiting an old favorite show format with a spicy twist.

The show's name is Food Theory, focusing on the science behind various food topics.

Santi has known the previous host, Matt, since high school and shares a love for spicy foods.

The classic chicken sandwich episode by Matt used science to determine the best sandwich.

Santi plans to remake the classic episode with a focus on hot chicken sandwiches.

The origin story of the hot chicken sandwich is shared, involving a man named Thornton Prince and his revengeful girlfriend.

Prince's Hot Chicken, established almost a hundred years ago, popularized the Nashville Hot Chicken.

The goal of the episode is to find the scientifically best spicy chicken sandwich.

Eight different spicy chicken sandwiches from various popular fast food chains and local favorites are tested.

Each sandwich is judged based on four categories: overall taste, chicken quality, toppings, and spice level.

Howlin' Ray's uses a mixture of ghost pepper and habanero for their chicken sandwich.

Wendy's ghost pepper chicken sandwich stands out for its unique flavor combination.

Burger King's chicken sandwich is criticized for its dry bread and lackluster flavor.

The importance of pickles in spicy chicken sandwiches is discussed for their counterbalancing qualities.

Wendy's, KFC, and Howlin' Ray's lead in the first round of judging with four points each.

In the second round, Popeye's redeems itself with high-quality chicken.

Howlin' Ray's, KFC, and Wendy's are recognized as the big winners in the toppings category.

The final rankings for the best spicy chicken sandwich are determined based on a point system.

Howlin' Ray's is deemed the spiciest option, while Wendy's is crowned the overall best.

Burger King遗憾地排在最后,with its chicken sandwich receiving the lowest scores.

Transcripts

00:00

Well, here we are, my first episode.

00:02

I can't tell you how excited I am to be here with all of you.

00:05

And what better way to start a new chapter than by spicing up an old favorite, eh?

00:11

Eh?

00:11

Look, Matt was the one that specialized in puns, okay?

00:14

Hit it!

00:28

Hello, Internet!

00:29

Welcome to Food Theory, the show that's stepping up its hotness in more ways than

00:33

one.

00:34

Speaking of which, you may notice that there's something slightly different, and I figure

00:37

now is as good a time as any to settle some things.

00:40

First of all, hi!

00:41

I'm Santi.

00:42

I've known Matt for a long time, since I was in high school, so being here is pretty

00:46

surreal to me.

00:47

For those of you who don't know me, before the Grays set in, I once got frosted tips

00:51

because I wanted to so badly be a member of a boy band.

00:55

I still have hope, though it dwindles every day.

00:57

What doesn't dwindle, though, is my love for all things spicy.

01:01

If you've been a fan of the channel for a while, you may remember the chicken sandwich

01:04

episode from a few years back where Matt found the overall best sandwich using science.

01:09

That's always been one of my favorites.

01:11

Even way before I joined the team. But as someone who loves spicy foods, I always

01:15

told myself that if I had the opportunity, I'd remake the episode with hot chicken

01:19

sandwiches.

01:20

So here I am with you today to do just that.

01:23

For those of you who aren't spice fiends, even if you are, you may not be familiar with

01:27

where the hot chicken sandwich originated, and let me tell you, the story is probably

01:31

spicier than any chicken sandwich I'll ever eat.

01:35

Legend goes, Nashville's own Thornton Prince, a taste maker, essentially an influencer of

01:40

Yesteryear, came home from a wild night out, and while no one knows exactly what did him

01:45

in, his girlfriend found out he had cheated and decided to take revenge.

01:49

Did she elect to murder him?

01:51

Poison him?

01:52

Good ol' draw and quarter?

01:54

No.

01:55

See, Thornton was something of a fried chicken lover, and his girlfriend figured the best

01:59

revenge for his adultery would be to make his fried chicken super duper spicy.

02:05

She loaded his nightly fried chicken with heaps of cayenne pepper, expecting him to

02:08

break down in tears, but instead, he loved it.

02:12

He was such a fan of this dish that he decided to start selling it out of his own house.

02:16

He decided to perfect the recipe and open up his own restaurant, Prince's Hot Chicken,

02:21

which is still open to this day almost a hundred years later.

02:25

So the fiery flavors of Nashville Hot Chicken came from the fiery loins of one adulterer.

02:30

Now that's what I call a cheat meal.

02:32

I'm so sorry for that.

02:34

And so Nashville Hot Chicken was born, and it became the hottest thing around, and now

02:39

it seems like every restaurant worth their salt is coming out with their own version

02:43

of the spicy chicken sandwich.

02:44

But taking a look at the landscape of chicken sandwiches on the market, you'll notice

02:48

that there's way more diversity in how they prepare this classic craving than you might

02:52

have originally thought.

02:54

It's a chicken sandwich with some heat.

02:55

How much could you possibly change?

02:57

Turns out, a lot.

02:58

From the breading and the spice blend to the buns and the toppings, there's clearly no

03:02

consensus about what makes the perfect spicy chicken sandwich.

03:06

Until today, my goal is to definitively find out the scientifically best spicy chicken

03:12

sandwich.

03:13

I'm going to be testing eight spicy chicken sandwiches from popular fast food chains,

03:18

Popeyes, Chick-fil-A, Burger King, McDonald's, Wendy's, and finally KFC, but also including

03:23

some local favorites from here in Los Angeles, Dave's Hot Chicken and Howlin' Ray's.

03:27

We wanted to include some local establishments that specialize in hot chicken sandwiches

03:31

to see how they would differ from the larger chains.

03:34

I feel like I should mention here that because some of these places allow you to choose from

03:38

a range of how spicy you want your sandwich, we decided to keep it as equal as possible

03:42

by asking for medium spice levels wherever it was offered.

03:46

Each sandwich will be judged in four different categories on a scale of one to five.

03:50

First, the overall taste.

03:52

Pretty self-explanatory.

03:53

Second, the chicken.

03:54

Namely, the actual quality of the chicken itself.

03:57

Nobody wants to chew on rubber while their eyes are welling up from the heat.

04:01

From there, we'll be looking at the toppings and how they add or take away from the overall

04:05

experience of the sandwich.

04:07

And finally, and most importantly, the spice.

04:09

This part can get pretty subjective, so not only will I give a ranking based on how each

04:13

spicy sandwich worked best for my tastes, I'll also be looking at the combination of

04:17

peppers used, how the peppers are cooked in, whether in the breading, a sauce, or a dry

04:22

rub on top, and how the overall spice journey is so that it's not all about more spicy

04:27

equals better.

04:28

In other words, does the spice hit you all at once and go away, or do you get a wonderful

04:32

roller coaster where it builds up slowly to a peak and then dies down before you go in

04:37

for a second bite?

04:39

Round one, taste.

04:40

Now that we've got all that squared away, it's time to get to testing.

04:43

We're gonna be going down the line from left to right, starting with local favorite Howlin'

04:48

Ray's.

04:49

Howlin' Ray's uses a mixture of ghost pepper and habanero, so two really spicy peppers

04:55

that they dust on top of the coating.

04:57

So a lot of the spice is going to come from the ghost pepper and the habanero, so let's

05:01

dig in.

05:02

Oh God, that is very crispy.

05:05

It was very crispy, but once I was able to actually go in again and take a bite of the

05:10

complete sandwich, my initial reaction cooled down a bit.

05:13

While the taste of the chicken and the spice was great, it was overwhelmingly pickley,

05:18

so I had to knock it down to a four.

05:19

Popeyes had a tough act to follow and fell flat on its face.

05:23

I gotta say, from a flavor overall, it's kind of basic, we're gonna go with a two.

05:28

There was nothing in the sandwich that popped out to me from a flavor standpoint.

05:32

The sauce was more sweet than spicy, and the pickles didn't provide much of a briny addition

05:37

to the chicken.

05:38

And if you thought Chick-fil-A would do any better, you'd be very wrong.

05:41

From a flavor standpoint, it's hard to get over the strong flavor of tomato and lettuce.

05:47

It really overpowers the ensemble.

05:50

I'm not a big fan of that.

05:51

I'm gonna give it a two right there, and it's a pretty easy judgment for me.

05:55

I gotta say, I'm not the biggest fan of Chick-fil-A.

05:57

I think it's overrated.

05:59

The waffle fries?

06:00

Great.

06:01

But their name is Chick-fil-A, not Waffle Fry-A.

06:04

Needless to say, I figured this would be rock bottom and that Burger King would be where

06:07

the flavor started to bounce back, but um...

06:11

This is really not good.

06:12

This is a one.

06:13

Honestly, it seemed like this episode was over before we even started, but finally,

06:18

Wendy's of all places brought some life to the competition.

06:21

From a flavor standpoint, this is actually really good.

06:23

Despite the mayo, the ghost pepper seasoning, the crispy onions, sure you have the lettuce

06:27

and the tomato, but the flavor of everything working together really goes together well.

06:32

I'm really surprised because the mayo adds a little hint of freshness at the very front,

06:36

and then you get all that spice and you're kind of eased into it.

06:39

This is a four.

06:40

Wendy's ghost pepper chicken sandwich, this is a four from a flavor standpoint.

06:44

I may not be a huge fan of their burgers, but man, I know what I'll be getting every

06:49

time I go to Wendy's from now on.

06:51

McDonald's, on the other hand, no, no, no.

06:56

The potato bread is giving me flashbacks to Burger King.

07:00

It's again, dry.

07:02

It's kind of tough to get through and it immediately is what you taste.

07:05

But then once you get past that little hurdle, you get so much mayo in this spicy mayo sauce.

07:12

I will say it packs a good amount of heat, but it's just mayo.

07:15

It's mayo spicy.

07:16

From everything else, it's just underwhelming.

07:19

The tomato is really thick and it adds a lot of tomato flavor.

07:23

The chicken gets completely lost in everything, and what you get is just mayo.

07:28

Yeah.

07:29

Looks like Ronald and the King are going to be taking home the lowest ratings in this

07:32

category.

07:33

With only KFC and Dave's Hot Chicken left, it honestly started to seem a bit one-sided.

07:38

From a flavor standpoint, honestly, this is great.

07:41

I wouldn't give it a five because I think it is a little one note, but it all comes

07:46

together really well.

07:47

This is a four, easily.

07:48

Great showing for the Colonel.

07:49

His bread was nice and soft.

07:51

The pickles added just the right amount of brine and the mayo complemented the chicken

07:56

perfectly.

07:57

Local chain Dave's, on the other hand, I wanted to like this so much more than I do.

08:03

So much more.

08:04

Honestly, despite giving it a two, ranking it higher than McDonald's and Burger King,

08:08

this was the biggest disappointment for me.

08:10

The chicken looked great.

08:12

The colors in the sandwich were vibrant and it had a diverse mixture of toppings from

08:16

pickles and cheese to kale slaw.

08:18

It was actually the only sandwich of the bunch to include kale and the second with a slaw

08:23

after Howlin' Ray's.

08:24

But the flavor, their choice of seasonings made it seem like I was licking a sweaty armpit.

08:29

If that sounds bad, I guarantee you tasting it wasn't fun either, folks.

08:33

Closing out the first round, Wendy's, KFC, and Howlin' Ray's led the pack with four

08:38

points each.

08:39

Popeye's, Chick-fil-A, and Dave's Hot Chicken lagged behind with twos and Burger

08:43

King and McDonald's were scraping the bottom of the barrel with one point each.

08:48

Round two, chicken.

08:49

Looking at the taste and quality of the chicken in this round, honestly, I thought going into

08:53

it that the rankings would stay pretty much the same.

08:56

But I was quickly proven wrong by Popeye's, which redeemed itself once I isolated the

09:00

chicken from the other components of the sandwich.

09:03

The breading is so good and it's a nice, thick, chunky piece of chicken.

09:08

I'm gonna go for a five with this chicken.

09:10

It's not spicy, but if we're just looking at the chicken alone, oh boy, is this delicious.

09:15

Chick-fil-A continued to be lukewarm, coming in at a three for its chicken.

09:19

It had an off-putting sweetness in the breading and it was a tiny bit dry because it was on

09:23

the thinner side.

09:24

It wasn't bad, but it definitely wasn't good.

09:27

And while Burger King had a horrible first round, it also had a horrible second round.

09:32

The chicken is soggy, but it is so tough and dry that when you bite through the bread and

09:37

get to it, you have to kind of rip it off.

09:40

And that is the last thing you want with a spicy chicken sandwich.

09:44

Not a good day for the king.

09:45

It ended up earning a two thanks to the passable breading.

09:48

Wendy's continued the strong streak with a four alongside KFC and McDonald's got itself

09:53

a three to really make this category much more competitive.

09:56

It was a weak three, but it was a three nonetheless.

09:59

So the chicken breading has no spice in it whatsoever.

10:02

It is soft.

10:03

It's soggy.

10:04

It's not dry, which is a nice welcome difference from the previous couple.

10:09

There's a weird flavor in the breading that I can't quite put my finger on.

10:12

It's a little pickly, almost briny.

10:14

Unfortunately, the disappointment with Dave just kept on coming.

10:19

It's well cooked.

10:20

It's not dry, but it's also not juicy either.

10:23

It's kind of just there, but that breading is horrendous.

10:26

So I'm going to give this a two.

10:28

Gotta say, so far, Howlin' Ray's is really putting the LA hot chicken game on its back.

10:33

Number three, toppings.

10:35

This round saw some big winners and some big losers.

10:38

Howlin' Ray's downfall in the first category ended up earning it some points in this one.

10:42

The pickles, however, are really good.

10:44

I think that that's what helps cut the spice level.

10:47

So when it gets to that peak, the pickles come in and just slice it like a samurai.

10:51

And I gotta say, that is a very, very good pickle.

10:55

Toppings wise, this probably gets a four just because of the pickle.

10:59

KFC also came out of the gate strong with a four.

11:02

But Wendy's was the standout star for a unique topping here.

11:07

Their ghost pepper crispy onions.

11:09

That crispy onion that is coated in ghost pepper is the greatest thing any of this has.

11:14

I could go in for another bite and another bite very easily.

11:17

While all the others struggled with ones and twos, Dave's in particular incorporated a

11:22

kale slaw that brought everything crashing down.

11:25

The kale slaw itself really takes so much away from the experience and it doesn't help

11:31

anything with the spice.

11:33

If anything, I feel like it makes it worse because with the bitterness, my mouth is focusing

11:37

on that and the spice alone.

11:39

You may have noticed that almost every sandwich on this list came with a pickle.

11:43

But why?

11:44

Well, pickles add a combination of acidity, which helps neutralize the alkaline capsaicin,

11:49

as well as saltiness and even sweetness from the brine that helps cut through the heat

11:53

and the fat from the rest of the sandwich.

11:56

They're the perfect counterbalance to save you from tearing up from spice and pain with

12:00

every bite.

12:01

A lot of the weaker scores came down to just being unbalanced, not having the freshness

12:06

or acidity of the pickle to cut the spicy mayos that the restaurants would slap onto

12:10

their chickens.

12:11

And for the places that elected to use tomato, why?

12:14

Why would you do this?

12:15

Sure, tomatoes are refreshing and can provide sweetness and some tang, but they don't deliver

12:20

the right amount of acidity, like from a pickle.

12:23

And with such a strong flavor, it completely ruins the ensemble.

12:26

Even taking a cue from another Food Theory episode didn't help.

12:30

Even turning it upside down, all I get is tomato.

12:32

I do have to give a special shout out to Burger King here, though, because the king went above

12:37

and beyond to keep their losing streak going.

12:40

I'm going to talk about the bread for a second here, because while all the other breads have

12:43

been fine and not really a contributing factor or a detrimental factor, the bread here is

12:48

horrendous.

12:49

It is dry.

12:51

It's falling apart.

12:52

Yet at the same time, it's all you taste.

12:54

It's all you feel in your mouth.

12:56

Yeah, where every other sandwich had bread that ranged from good to completely inconsequential,

13:01

this almost had BK coming out with a zero.

13:03

Instead, we'll just have to replace his crown with a super dry bread bun.

13:08

Round four, heat.

13:09

Like I mentioned earlier, because spice is subjective and what works for me spice-wise

13:13

may not work for others who are more or less tolerant to heat than I am, I'm ranking these

13:17

more on the spice journey, how the heat kicks in, giving way to sandwiches that give a quick

13:22

ramp up to a tolerable peak and then cooled off enough to go in for a second bite.

13:28

What also factored into this was how the spicy peppers were implemented.

13:31

In other words, was the spicy mayo better than the dry rub?

13:34

This way, we were able to keep the subjectivity of preferred spice level out of it.

13:38

The three big winners here were Wendy's, who's just been crushing it, Howlin' Ray's,

13:43

and KFC.

13:44

Interestingly, they all got their heat in different ways.

13:47

Howlin' Ray's has a dry coating of their ghost and habanero peppers that goes on top

13:51

of their regularly breaded chicken, and whatever they did, from a heat perspective, it was

13:55

awesome.

13:56

Wow.

13:57

The taste of that is phenomenal, which is interesting because there's the spice.

14:02

Oh, I didn't think it would be that bad at first.

14:04

It gets a lot worse.

14:06

It's a slow build, but then it goes away very quickly.

14:09

That's actually the most impressive thing.

14:11

It went to a peak super quickly, but then it kind of mellowed out.

14:15

Wendy's incorporates their ghost pepper straight into the breading of their chicken and adds

14:19

to it with the delicious ghost pepper crispy onions.

14:22

Seriously, I can't stop raving about how good those were.

14:26

More than that, the heat from everything involved worked together like a symphony of heat.

14:32

Everything works together to get to a very nice peak, and it goes away.

14:36

Doesn't go away as much as Howlin' Ray's.

14:37

I think the toppings have a lot to do with that there, but it's manageable throughout.

14:40

I could go in for another bite and another bite very easily.

14:44

Man, Wendy's, you got something right there.

14:48

I'm going to go in for another bite.

14:49

I'm not even mad at the tomato.

14:51

That's impressive.

14:51

And then there's KFC, which uses a spicy mayo to top their chicken.

14:55

There is a good hit of cayenne in here.

14:57

It's not a burned flavor.

14:59

It's not a spice that makes you have to pause after every bite.

15:02

I'm not a fan of the mayo, but I am a fan of the spice.

15:06

All of them provided excellent heat that hit you perfectly and then subsided just in time

15:12

for you to go in for more.

15:13

The big takeaway for this category, though, is that the dry rubs of powder like Howlin'

15:17

Ray's did have a tendency to be a bit front loaded.

15:20

And without being cooked or mixed into the sauce, they tiptoed into the realms of tasting

15:24

like battery acid, which wasn't ideal.

15:26

Still packed a punch and did so in a very manageable way.

15:29

But when you're out looking for spicy chicken sandwiches, probably best to stick to ones

15:33

with sauces or with the heat fried right into the breading of the chicken.

15:37

So now that I've gone through and just absolutely massacred every single spicy chicken sandwich

15:42

here, I mean, look at this.

15:43

I'm a barbarian.

15:44

It's time to go through and tally up all the scores to figure out which spicy chicken sandwich

15:50

is best.

15:51

Now, it only felt right to give two different final rankings here.

15:54

This is a spicy chicken episode after all, so it makes sense to give you which one I

15:58

deem to be the spiciest one straight from my gut as opposed to my brain.

16:02

If you're looking for the best sweat on your lip, tear inducing spicy chicken sandwich,

16:06

that title goes to Howlin' Ray's hands down.

16:09

You saw it as soon as I took a bite.

16:11

It took me a second to recover once it hit me.

16:14

The best part about it for all you other spice heads, that was a medium.

16:17

There's not one, not two, but three levels of heat above this.

16:21

If you ever find yourself in sunny LA, you have to make time for the sandwich.

16:25

I actually went back and had the hot version of the sandwich after we filmed this episode

16:28

and boy, let me tell you, it almost got the best of me, but it was so delicious.

16:34

I had to finish it.

16:35

I wanted to try the extreme heat, but you can only do it once you've eaten their other

16:39

heat levels and signed a waiver.

16:41

Needless to say, it's still on my bucket list.

16:44

If you're not looking to take a plane just for a sandwich though, the heat from Wendy's

16:47

Ghost Pepper is definitely a worthy runner up.

16:50

Putting my gut aside and whipping out the calculator, it was time to look at how all

16:53

the points for the sandwiches added up.

16:55

In a spicy twist, there was actually a tie for second place.

16:59

Howlin' Ray's and KFC ended up with 20 points.

17:02

Both had strong numbers across the board, so it only felt right to break this tie by

17:06

going back to the drawing board, or the calculator.

17:09

See, it made sense to break the tie by finding which sandwich gave you the best spice at

17:14

the nicest price.

17:15

It wasn't as simple as just looking at the price tag though, since Howlin' Ray's boasted

17:18

one that was double KFC's and it felt wrong to dock it points just for that.

17:22

So we decided to measure the weight of the chicken in each sandwich to calculate the

17:26

spicy chicken per dollar spent and that's when the gap between them really emerged.

17:31

With both of their heat ranks being equal, it was Howlin' Ray's price point and KFC

17:35

just having more chicken in their sandwich that separated them.

17:38

With both of their heat ranks being equal, this landed Howlin' Ray's squarely in third

17:43

place with the bronze and KFC holding the silver in second.

17:46

And in first place, none other than Mother Cluckin' Wendy's.

17:50

As soon as I tasted this bad boy, I knew this was going to be ranking high.

17:54

It had a delicious, balanced, and complex flavor with great texture as well thanks to

17:59

those crispy onions.

18:00

While the chicken itself may not have been the crispiest, it was propped up by the rest

18:04

of the toppings.

18:05

Across the board, the Little Redhead stomped the competition and ended up with 26 points.

18:10

And whatever you do, stay far, far away from Burger King which landed itself in last place

18:16

with 8 points.

18:17

Sorry BK, but the numbers don't lie.

18:19

It honestly had nothing going for it.

18:21

Not only did it have the second most expensive sandwich of the bunch, it also had the worst

18:25

ratio of chicken in the sandwich.

18:27

The bread alone was enough for it to come dead last if you ask me.

18:31

So there you have it.

18:32

If heat is what you're looking for, hop on a plane for LA so you can try Howlin' Ray's.

18:36

But when it comes to the overall best spicy chicken sandwich, look no further than Wendy's.

18:42

Not only did it have the best spice per dollar value, it also just had an amazing flavor

18:47

and became my favorite right away.

18:49

In the end, despite going up against chains who specialize in chicken, good ol' Wendy's

18:53

showed that she won't chicken out.

18:55

But hey, that's just a theory.

18:57

A food theory.

18:59

Bon Appetit.

19:01

If you enjoyed this episode, then definitely make sure you go back and watch the original

19:05

chicken sandwich episode right here to find out which sandwich has the loudest crisp and

19:09

the most calories per dollar to fill your stomach right up.

19:12

And from here on out Loyal Theorists, I'll see you next week.

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