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Lunch guys: Colonel's new wrap heats up chicken war

POSTED: March 23, 2008 5:01 a.m.

To toast or not to toast. That’s one of the most heated topics here at Lunch Guys headquarters.

Sometimes toasting is a triumph (think Quiznos); sometimes it’s a complete gimmick (uh, sorry, Subway).

Now KFC is introducing a new permanent item to its menu: the Toasted Wrap. So is this idea just a warmed-up leftover or is it the hottest new lunch?

Chris: We all know McDonald’s beat KFC to the chicken-wrap punch when it introduced its Snack Wrap back in 2006. And my review at the time was a big thumbs-down for what’s essentially a sliced-in-half chicken filet in a surplus Taco Bell tortilla.

But Tom, I have to admit, I’ve had dozens of Snack Wraps since then. When I don’t feel like fries, but the Double Cheeseburger isn’t quite enough, I go for the wrap.

So now that I’m hooked on the McDonald’s wrap, would I ever switch loyalties to KFC’s late entry in this chicken war?

Absolutely. It’s as if the Colonel has been waiting to pounce with the perfect wrap. A big advantage here is the toasting.

OK, it actually does nothing to enhance the flavor — it doesn’t even melt the generic "three cheese" shreds. But that warm coziness in my hand — and the crisp and clear grill marks — are a terrific first impression.

Then, the Colonel’s superior chicken backs up that promise, offering big, juicy, slightly peppery goodness with possibly the best chicken in the business.

Granted, the cheese, lettuce and tortilla is still bland, but it’s all about the warm poultry, Tom.

Tom: I can’t believe you’ve been sneaking in Snack Wraps off the clock — especially since you didn’t agree with me that they were pretty darn good when we first reviewed them.

However, with KFC’s Toasted Wrap now on the scene, they are the snack equivalent of an 8-track tape — or at least an HD-DVD to KFC’s Blu-Ray.

While the products are basically priced and constructed the same, it doesn’t take George Foreman to know that grilling the doughy, lifeless tortilla both companies use would transform KFC’s version into a crispy, airy, ideal snack while the un-toasted McDonald’s version still sticks to the roof of your mouth like the paste from your second-grade paper mache.

Furthermore, the simple addition of tangy peppery mayo on the KFC version (vs. a thin ranch sauce at McD’s) cements KFC’s claim to the championship belt.

It goes without saying that KFC’s chicken is better. As you said, big, juicy, peppery ... I couldn’t believe I only paid $1.29 for this gem. This just goes to show that when you really want good chicken, go to Kentucky.

Chris: Overall, I’d say KFC is still losing the chicken wars to McDonald’s. Sure, KFC now has the superior wrap, but Ronald has a huge head start, plus established hits with his Premium Chicken Sandwiches and line of chicken salads. The Colonel’s new toaster may be too little, too late.

Tom: Chris, KFC’s chicken is better. Period. Even if this wrap weren’t toasted, it would be superior.

A colonel doesn’t lose a war to a clown, especially when chicken is involved.

Tom James and Chris Tauber are freelance writers.



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