Fast food has some basic rules.
You put cheese on a hamburger, for example, not hot fudge or shredded coconut. Those rules, however often get sacrificed when it comes to innovation. We've seen chains like McDonald's (MCD) - Get Free Report, for example, use saffron — a savory flavor — as an ice cream topping.
That's actually fast-food steering into a cultural trend. The prevalence of cooking shows and competitions has made pairing ingredients that don't go together a bit of a thing.
When you get a "Chopped" basket featuring chicken, Nerds candy, prunes, and ranch dressing, well, it forces creativity.
It's a situation where chains like Restaurant Brands International's (QSR) - Get Free Report Burger King can't garner attention simply by putting a slightly different cheese or better bacon on a sandwich.
Sure, if you add enough bacon or cheese that's a news story, but the days of adding onions and barbecue sauce to a burger and getting a lot of attention have passed.
That has led to some odd pairings in the fast-food world that on the surface may seem like a bad idea — think Garfunkel and Oates or peanut butter and cheese — all things that work as part of a duo, but perhaps not just any duo.
French fries and ketchup count as one of those classic duos. Sure, we've dabbled with cheese sauce and dipping fries into Wendy's WEN Frosties, but at the end of the day, it's fries and ketchup that capture our love.
Burger King wants to change that.
McDonald's and Burger King Bring Consistency to the Fast-Food World
French fries might be the quintessential American food. It's simple and delicious and we've exported it around the world.
The problem — and it can be a big one — is that the world does not always do American well. Order "American" pancakes in parts of Europe and you'll get a monstrosity featuring corn kernels, and, well, be very wary of what you might get when ordering a "New York Bagel" anywhere outside of the U.S.
Fries, however, have been an exception. McDonald's has actually led the way by making its french fry a global experience. You get the same french fry at McDonald's in Shanghai as you do in Chicago.
That doesn't mean McDonald's hasn't tried fry innovation around the world. It "Shaker Fries" let customers shake on their own toppings, but those stayed to tried and true flavors we associate with the beloved side dish.
Burger King, however, has chosen to try something very different, with its french fries and you may love it (or you may hate it.
Burger King Has a New Take on Fries
In New Zealand, Burger King has added a very new take on fries to its menu for a limited time, Sweet 'N' Spicy Loaded Fries. And while "sweet" may have you thinking "uh oh," the chain has a pretty loose interpretation of the word.
"Introducing Sweet ‘n’ Spicy Loaded Fries. Our famous fries, topped with smoky BBQ sauce, mustard and crispy onion. Designed for people who like sauce on their sauce," the company shared on its New Zealand website.
Barbecue sauce on fries isn't the weird part. Mustard being added to fries, however, might strike some as sacrilegious, but it's not unprecedented as a flavor combination.
"The sweet, yet spicy flavor of honey mustard makes it a great choice for French fries. Sometimes the tanginess of the mustard cuts the fat from the frying. Also, if you like honey mustard on your chicken nuggets, you will probably love it on French fries," wrote Fansided in an article on alternative fry condiments.
In this case, the BBQ sauce provides what the honey would have creating a not traditional, but perhaps not unprecedented, flavor combination.