THIS SNACK SUCKS: McDonald’s Chicken Parmigiana Snack Wrap
Back when we were discussing the horror that was the McDonald’s Big Mac Snack Wrap, I posited the theory that McDonald’s tested products on Canada for three reasons:
- Because we are in many ways similar to the United States, in that we have a Chicago (Toronto), a Boston (Montreal) and a San Francisco (Vancouver), without having a New York or Los Angeles that would refuse putting up with the kind of shit we are fed sometimes,
- Because there are as many people in our entire country as there are in some major metropolitan centers in the U.S., making any success a promising one, but any failure an invisible one,
- And because Canadians are the sort who have actually paid Subway $16 for a sandwich with lobster meat in it.
So in other words, we here in the north have gotten exactly the fast food industry we deserve, though we at least glean the pleasure of complaining bitterly about it.
And while there is some kind of a prestigious thrill to being one big petri dish in which a mega-corporation can test its products, I still feel like I should get my back up when I’m treated to positioning like this:
McDonald’s holds 1,400 Canadian restaurants that will be celebrating the upcoming Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games with the reveal of a new Parmigiana Chicken Snack Wrap. The limited-time menu item will combine Parmesan cheese, marinara sauce and crispy or grilled chicken in a tortilla. The wrap should become available beginning December 29. (thanks to Burgerbusiness)
Really, McDonald’s? Canadians are going to be celebrating the Olympic Winter Games with, what, our traditional low-calorie breaded chicken and cheese wrap? That long-loved favorite of the snowy Canadian Rockies? Is that honestly the best you can do?
Sadly, yes. Yes it is the best that they could do, and someone should be ashamed of themselves. Because it sucks.
I would like to point out the elements carefully shown in the image above: gently-shaved flakes of Parmesan cheese, a crispy slice of chicken and a light rubbing of marinara to give the whole thing some moisture. It isn’t difficult to get chicken parm right, as any number of guys who’ve tried to make impressive meals for first dates will tell you: there’s some breading, there’s some grated cheese, there’s a bit of baking and there’s a jar of Prego.
We are not landing deep space probes on the surface of comets, here. We are making a chicken finger sandwich, here. It should not have posed a challenge.
And yet, here is what you end up with. I freely admit that carefully food-styled photography can only be trusted as long as my optimism holds up, and that any McDonald’s item one unwraps upon one’s return home will have ejaculated some fluid or another onto its paper. It’s all part of the unspoken contract between us and the cashier, where we won’t complain if all the cheese on a Big Mac is stuck to the box, as long as it’s just as salty and tasty and foul as it’s ever been.
The Chicken Parm Snack Wrap comes in two varieties: the breaded finger, and the grilled breast.
Here’s the breaded variety, and you may recognize some of the elements from the advertised image above.
See? There’re the flakes of Parmesan cheese, and there’s the lump of chicken, and there’s the marinara sauce. And again, I feel nothing but compassion for the poor souls who have to — possibly using little more than their imagination — figure out the proper proportions for all of these ingredients. It doesn’t seem like brain surgery to evaluate how much marinara sauce is just enough, versus, say, how much will totally drown the wrap and render it a gluey mess.
But who am I to judge? Perhaps this was just one bad example. Maybe the grilled chicken breast will–
Oh, no. No, it won’t.
One wonders what went through the mind of the assembly cook while he or she was putting this together. Was it a musing over the resemblance to an organ, torn from a still-living creature and applied to a nutritious tortilla? Did that result in a total abdication to the step of adding cheese, with the understanding that no dairy product could rescue this experience? Could a little part of that person have died that day?
Hard to say, but we can take for certain that consistency is no more the hallmark of McDonald’s process than it ever is. Therefore, in any given Chicken Parmesan Wrap, one may perhaps count on — at most — two of the three ingredients in the product’s freaking name.
But it’s easy to be unkind about this sort of thing without trying them, and so Tina kindly offered to join in and help evaluate the alternatives. And I can prove it.
Yes, bless her brave heart, she dug right in there with the kind of courage and conviction that says, “Don’t look at me while I bite into this or I might start crying or laughing or I don’t even know what, so for the love of God, don’t.”
And I, for my part, did what I could.
Before I attempt to decode the expressions on my face, it’s worth reminding ourselves of an important fact:
The Snack Wrap is a magnificent rip-off.
It is absolutely genius. It was a marvel when McDonald’s took a half of a hamburger patty, slapped it in a tortilla with some special sauce and lettuce, and then charged half as much as the whole Big Mac would have cost. And it is doubly a masterstroke now, as they take a single chicken finger and turn it into a $1.29’s worth of sandwich. I refuse to even calculate the profits they must be reaping on the 1/4 of a grilled chicken breast, which doesn’t even bear the cost of frying.
So it’s crucial to remember, as you bite through your low-calorie wrap (which tastes like gummy nothing) into your reheated chicken (which tastes like chewy nothing), and have a jet of barely-seasoned marinara squirt into your mouth — just warm enough to have melted and absorbed the morsel of cheese provided, but just overpowering enough to obviate its flavor totally — that you have every right to be angry.
You paid money for a micro-portion, and it wasn’t even a good one. You could have done better hanging around the deli and just finishing everyone’s coleslaw… and you’d have still had cash enough to take the bus home.
Count me as admiring, then, as well as astonished and appalled. I can’t say that I was disappointed by the Chicken Parmesan Snack Wrap, because it met every single one of my expectations: puny, bizarrely conceived, poorly made and brilliantly overpriced.
That McDonald’s has chosen to release this not only in concert with Canada’s Olympics, but in direct celebration of them, says something about what they must think of us. And all I can say right back is:
THIS SNACK SUCKS, McDonald’s. I can accomplish the same taste sensation by sticking a cotton ball and a tablespoon of Prego in my mouth, and that still has more to do with the Olympics than your sandwich does. For shame.
Thank you to our eagle-eyed readers for pointing out the accidental delight of MCDONALD’S SNACK CAT!