Review: Seasoned Jumbo Popcorn Chicken from Sonic
In many ways, 2015 was a banner year for quick service and fast food chicken. More and more chains made commitments to serve antibiotic-free chicken, Chick-fil-A opened a flagship restaurant in New York City, and McDonald’s took a major step to bolster its credibility with millennials with the new Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich. Heck, even Burger King released a Chicken Burger at the tail end of the year. Not to be forgotten in the chicken hype is Sonic, which welcomes 2016 with three new flavors of Seasoned Jumbo Popcorn Chicken.If you’re keeping track at home, Seasoned “Jumbo” Popcorn Chicken is one of six distinct chicken preparations Sonic offers, with the flavor variations coming in as the latest LTO offering behind Boneless Wings and the new Ultimate Chicken Sandwiches. “Made with marinated 100 percent premium all-white meat chicken,” and “covered in an extra crispy coating,” they’re not really jumbo, although as I found out, one or two pieces are bigger than nugget sized as comparatively meaty.A mini snack-sized order of Jumbo Popcorn Chicken usually runs $1.49 at my local Sonic, but the seasoned versions are priced at $1.99 for the same size. “Same size” being, of course, an operative term. The three available flavors are Honey BBQ, Garlic Parmesan, and Sriracha.I was pretty surprised at the discrepancy in both the number of popcorn chicken bites in each of my order, as well as the size of the individual bites. This was not a case of getting shorted a burnt-end of breading for chicken for one of your eight Chick-fil-A nuggets; rather, I received an overwhelming portion of Honey BBQ Seasoned bites, and far fewer Sriracha and Garlic Parmesan bites.This actually turned out to be a good thing because the Honey BBQ bites were the best of the lot. The finger-licking seasoning tasted just like the classic Utz potato chip honey BBQ seasoning I grew up snacking on, with a great smoky-sweetness. I definitely got the flavor in each bite, as I also did with the Sriracha seasoned bites. Now, I’m not the biggest Sriracha guy out there, but the back-heat developed in each bite of the thick, orange-seasoned chicken definitely reminded me of Sriracha, and was certainly not as flavorless as cayenne pepper alone.In terms of seasoning, the Garlic Parmesan was a letdown. The garlic flavor was there, but there was just nothing cravable about each bite. I don’t know how much parmesan I got, and if I had really been seeking some, I might have had better luck in a packet of Pizza Hut “parmesan” from across the street. While the seasoning is a hit with a least two of the three bites, the texture is hit or miss. Perhaps the seasoning of the Garlic Parmesan chicken would have had more impact had the pieces I received not been so wimpy. Few had much meat in them, and most were burnt-out ends of breading. Those that did contain some meat were oddly shaped and the meat was tough and even a bit slimy. I guess I should have asked for Marinara sauce, but the only sauce options I was offered were BBQ and Ranch.I had more success with the meat-to-breading ratio in the Sriracha and Honey BBQ flavors, but I still did have a few pieces that yielded no meat. Again, there was nothing memorable about the “made with all white meat” interior, and while I enjoyed how the bites stayed crispy and crunchy, I would have liked a more substantial portion of chicken. This is “Jumbo” popcorn chicken, after all.Overall, Sonic’s new Seasoned Jumbo Popcorn Chicken is a mediocre addition to the growing menu board. While I really enjoyed the seasoning of the Honey BBQ popcorn chicken, the discrepancies in serving size, and the lack of substantial chicken meat, makes the bites themselves little more than a vehicle for seasoning. That’s a good deal if you get lucky and get a lot of meaty bites in your order (like I did with the Honey BBQ flavor) but if you don’t, it’s money that you probably will wish you had spent on a milkshake.
Pros: Crispy breading. Honey BBQ seasoning has lickable smokey-sweet flavor. Sriracha flavor packs plenty of flavorful back-heat. Available in mini “snack sizes.”
Cons: Not really “jumbo”. Poor meat-to-breading ratio in some cases. Inconsistent cuts. Garlic Parmesan flavor is run-of-the-mill. More expensive than regular Jumbo Popcorn Chicken at Sonic.
Grubbing on-the-go: 8.50/10
Price: $1.99 for the mini size
Overall GrubGrade: 5.50/10
More Info: sonicdrivein.com
Nutrition Facts (Per Medium Order):
510 calories, 28 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 40 grams of carbs, 2290 milligrams of sodium, 4 grams of sugar, 24 grams of protein
510 calories, 28 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 40 grams of carbs, 2320 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of sugar, 24 grams of protein
520 calories, 32 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 36 grams of carbs, 1720 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of sugar, 23 grams of protein