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Food critic tries Burger King's long-awaited Ch'King sandwich

The Ch'King, Burger King's new chicken sandwich.

The Ch'King, Burger King's new chicken sandwich. Credit: Newsday/Scott Vogel

Ever since its inception in 1954, the Burger King corporation has worked tirelessly to convince Americans of the superiority of flame-broiled patties, or as they were once known, burnt hamburgers. Its success in this vein speaks to the genius of the royal chain’s marketing department, which like Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, adapts, reinvents, and finds ways to remain relevant, despite waning public support for the monarchy. .

Which brings us to this month, and two campaigns for recognition and acceptance — one by the LGBTQ community, which is celebrating Pride, and BK, which is celebrating the national debut of the Ch'King. Earlier this month, in a bid to establish it as the most woke chicken sandwich on the market, the fast food giant announced via Twitter that it would make a small donation to the country’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group for every Ch’King sold. In a further bid to separate theirs from other fried chicken fiefdoms, BK vowed to make such donations "even on Sunday," a reference to Sunday-shuttered rival Chick-fil-A and the notorious 2012 episode in which its CEO inveighed against gay marriage, championing instead "the biblical definition of the family unit."

The first interesting thing about the Ch’King is its name. Never in the history of punctuation has an apostrophe been forced to labor so, standing in for no fewer than five letters by my count, and that may well be a conservative estimate. The second interesting thing is the price. The Ch’King is $6.49 on Long Island — cha-ching! — perhaps the only place in America where it costs so much. Chicago’s Ch’King is $3.89. It’s $4.99 in New York City and Los Angeles, $5.39 in Miami, $5.49 in Boston. Long Island, you are being snock’rd.

But perhaps money is no object for you. Perhaps, improbably, you possess both vast wealth and a love of chicken sandwiches wrapped in wax paper. How are we to judge the Ch’King and other instances of fried fowl? In the end, it all comes down to cragginess.

Besides "juicy," there are few words that flatter a chicken sandwich’s ego more than "craggy." A craggy chicken sandwich is one whose batter solidifies into high cliffs and deep ravines when the breast is plunged in oil, turning it into a true triglyceride whisperer. The Ch’King is more craggy, crackly and crunchy than its competitors, and also appears to contain more meat.

Equally admirable, at least in this regard, are the Spicy Ch’king and Ch’King Deluxe (in which a single tomato slice and a couple of lettuce leaves completely transforms a sandwich into something costing $7.19). Not so BK’s ancient, Pre-Craggozoic-Era chicken sandwich, still on the menu and as perfectly flat and oval as a NASCAR track ($6.49). Honorable mention goes to the Spicy, which glistens with a sweet-peppery-deceptively-magenta glaze. It also packs a capsaicin hit that, if it won’t exactly clear nostrils, at least puts them on notice. And it certainly out-burns Popeye’s et al., either that or I bought some bum Pepcid.

Otherwise, the meat inside is tender, the bun is, you know, a bun, and there are pickles that many swear are appreciably superior to BK’s rivals. For my part, I will resist comparing and contrasting fast food pickle slices, not ready to reckon with the tragedy that is my life.

Ch’King sandwiches are available at Burger King locations Islandwide. For $6.49.

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