Nothing will bump up the calorie count on an already indulgent dish quite like macaroni and cheese – the trend of adding it, fried, to everything from burgers to pizza started when Jack in the Box (JACK) – Get the Jack in the Box Inc. report. launched fried mac and cheese bites in 2008.
Since then, we’ve seen everything from Burger King’s (RSQ) – Get the Restaurant Brands International Inc report Mac-‘N-Cheetos (DYNAMISM) – Get the report from PepsiCo, Inc. at McDonald’s (MCD) – Get the McDonald’s Corporation report Mac and cheese burger in Korea.
Items are usually presented in the form of “how many calories does this have?!” or “what did they do?!” product for the brand.
Mac and cheese, tacos and chicken (all at once)
A yum (YUM) – Get yum! Report Brands, Inc. The KFC brand recently launched the Mac ‘N Cheese Kentaco: a fried chicken breast shaped into a taco, stuffed with the brand’s macaroni and cheese and sprinkled with mozzarella and cheddar cheese for good measure.
American fans of such a fried food are out of luck, however, as the dish is only available at KFC Singapore. KFC’s Asian franchise launched Kentaco for the first time in 2020 like a fried chicken taco shell filled with lettuce and tomatoes for a slightly more balanced treat.
“For a limited time only, treat yourself to the new KFC Mac ‘N Cheese Kentaco – an all-chicken taco shell filled with creamy Mac ‘N Cheese,” KFC Singapore wrote in one release.
The Mac ‘N Cheese Kentaco costs $6.95 in Singapore dollars, or about US$4.99. KFC Singapore timed it with the release of KFC Golden Cheddar Wedges for SGD$4.95 (about US$3.59).
The closest American alternative is the Double Down sandwich, a cult bacon sandwich in which the bread has been replaced by two pieces of fried chicken fillet.
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It launched in select US cities in 2010 and, after reappearing in 2014, was eventually discontinued in the US. Some other countries, including Canada, still have it on their menu.
Why do chains accumulate calories?
Global franchises of popular chains often post articles that can almost be seen as a parody of how the world views American food – Burger King Japan recently had a four-patty, six-slice-of-cheese thing called King Yeti Super One Pound Beef Burger.
But even at home, many chains have published an artery-clogging article as a marketing strategy. In an illustration of the saying “no bad publicity”, dishes that combine the incombinable or that shock just by their size and calorie content often go viral on social media.
It had already happened with the KFC Fried Chicken and Donut Sandwich and Domino’s DPZ Pasta Carbonara in a dessert-style baking bowl.
Most recently, Krispy Kreme DNUT teamed up with General Mills GIS Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal for a donut while Heinz (KHC) – Get the Kraft Heinz Company Report released a sauce specifically for dipping a burger.
The latter two also tap into a second trend, one in which fast food companies partner with popular snack brands for products that combine the best (or, depending on your perspective, the most indulgent) items from each brand. .
The most obvious examples are Burger King’s Mac-‘N-Cheetos and Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Tacos.
“It’s part of a long tradition of companies creating new combinations of fast food and slightly extravagant snacks – more cheese, more meat, more layers, add sauces, [or] Cheetos, for the crunch and a touch of flavor,” food historian Ashley Rose Young told the BBC in 2019.