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Lunch Guys: Sonic’s new macaroni bites are pure heaven

POSTED: March 20, 2008 5:00 a.m.

We Lunch Guys are too hungry for mere "snacks" when noon comes. Yet when Sonic released its fried Mac & Cheese Snacks, we figured we could order as many snacks as it took to get through the lunch hour.

So, is this a decadent deal or a deep-fried disaster?

Chris: Tom, this of course isn’t the first time we’ve reviewed fried macaroni and cheese.

We’ve raved about the Cheesecake Factory’s four gourmet balls of cheese-and-pasta goodness, like cheesy, savory Dunkin Donuts Munchkins. One of the greatest lunches ever. I just had it last week — no joke. The only thing they’re missing is bacon sprinkles on top.

The Sonic version is certainly a downmarket version, with the six thick, half-dollar-sized discs having a machine-stamped look and the mac-and-cheese inside being definitely Kraft-like, with that made-from-powder aftertaste to the cheese.

Even with that said, it’s like the fried mac-and-cheese concept is so good, you can’t make it bad. These were little golden circles of heaven!

The outer batter has such a lightness to it that it seems no bigger than a delicate eggshell. One crispy bite and the cheesy pasta blossomed on my tongue. That inside stuffing is like the best from-a-box mac possible, with the little tubes packed so tight together and the warm cheese filling in every millimeter.

Yet this was basically a no-mess lunch — the outer grease was minimal, the inner cheese didn’t ooze. Coming away from the Sonic drive-through, I had wolfed these down within four blocks.

Tom: Chris, as you know, no food produces as much joy as the familiar Kraft blue box.

Every former college student’s brain releases a flood of endorphins with each hot, soothing forkfull. (I call it an "eater’s high" but the scientific community hasn’t embraced that term.)

Yet in the billions of quick-service lunches we eat (according to The Los Angeles Times, Americans spend $134 billion annually on fast food), until now, none have been macaroni and cheese.

For Sonic to be able to bottle this euphoria into bite-size chunks as easy to hold as a McNugget should qualify them for some humanitarian award.

Chris, as good as macaroni and cheese is, fried macaroni and cheese is that much better. I can’t explain the ecstasy one experiences when biting into one of Sonic’s molten-hot Mac & Cheese Snacks.

The crispy fried bread crumb exterior encapsulates real Kraft Macaroni and Cheese that is as warm and creamy as your roommate used to make.

You think to yourself, "these can’t be good for me," yet something compels you to keep going in that box until they are gone. It was all I could do not to double back and get another order.

Chris: Yeah, I feared eating too much of a good thing, so rather than get a double order, I paired mine with a chicken sandwich. After this breakthrough in comfort-food portability, I can’t wait for deep-fried spaghetti, meatloaf and mashed-potato snacks.

Tom: Absolutely. This concept is so big, if these had been invented earlier, I have no doubt fried macaroni and cheese would be one of our treasured national foods.

"Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and mac ‘n’ cheese." Sing it, Chris! No one drives Chevrolets anymore anyhow.

Tom James and Chris Tauber are Orlando, Fla.-based writers.



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