We tried the bacon burger for which Burger King gave up its fully-halaal status in South Africa – and we were distinctly underwhelmed
- Burger King gave up its fully-halaal status in South Africa to introduce bacon at some of its restaurants because customers wanted it.
- We tried the Bacon King, and we were not impressed.
- For the price, we expect more than a couple of tiny slices of limp bacon.
- Go to www.businessinsider.co.za for more stories.
South Africans really wanted bacon burgers, Burger King South Africa announced in August, so after six years in this country it would be dropping its status as an all-halaal chain to feed that demand at some of its outlets.
From earlier in this month pork is now on the menu, but Burger King was clearly worried about just how that would be received, so much so that it dropped the word “ham” from their hamburgers, "to be more respectful of" its halaal client base.
This week the chain changed the signage at five locations in Johannesburg and Cape Town, where the trademark Burger King logo now reads “Bacon King”, to celebrate the change and make it very clear it is in the bacon business.
See also: Burger King now serves bacon in South Africa – but dropped ‘ham’ from the names of burgers ‘to be more respectful’ of halaal clients
But there’s a slight catch: the Bacon King is only available at 40 of the chain’s new non-halaal restaurants. And in some regions, such as the Cape Town CBD, the nearest non-halaal stores are several kilometres away.
Availability of the burger in the city was a common complaint on social media.
Why are both Cape Town CBD still going to be halaal. can`t it be one is other not?— Edward Veerapen (@eveerapen) September 11, 2019
For others, the drive to the nearest Bacon King store was considerably further:
Sorry guys, but its not worth driving 35km. Quite disappointed actually.— jaime odendaal (@TheTinySalmon87) September 17, 2019
Hi thanks for losing very loyal customers where you didn't consider having stores that don't sell this near to each other. Literally have to travel 100km or more to my nearest store that doesn't sell. Pathetic— Mubz22 (@MubzD22) September 10, 2019
Still, given the grand promises made by the Bacon King advertisements, we thought the drive could be worth it.
Burger King describes the burger as one “smothered with mayonnaise and ketchup, followed by three rashers of crispy bacon, and a layer of cheese on a 100% pure beef patty, and another layer of cheese with another 100% pure beef patty again, nestled between a fresh bun with sesame seeds.”
This giant stack of meat and cheese doesn’t come cheap, though. The hamburger on its own costs R69.90. Include a side of small chips and a drink, and you’re in for a fast food meal that costs R89.90.
This prices it well above similar burgers at fast food competitors like Steers and McDonalds, and moves it closer to more premium options like those at RocoMamas.
For just R10 more, you can buy a full cheese and bacon burger at Spur, minus the soft drink.
So we made the drive – and wished we hadn't.
Business Insider South Africa went looking for the new Bacon King burger in Cape Town in order to put it to the test. Our nearest branch, from the CBD, is at Blue Route Mall, 15 kilometres away.
Upon arrival, the cashier commented that the Bacon King has been in high demand, with people requesting it even before its arrival earlier this month.
Even so, most patrons we observed during our stay appeared to be sticking to the traditional Whopper, which is R20 cheaper than the new Bacon King.
The staff were chirpy, friendly, and fast, and our Bacon King meal arrived just five minutes after we’d ordered. Although requested as an eat-in item, the burger was wrapped and bagged.
In spite of high expectations - set by the searing social media hype and the illuminated Bacon King picture above the cashiers head - our first impressions of the burger were disappointing.
The bouncy sesame-dotted bun, careful beef patty stack, oozing cheese, and glistening rashers of bacon promised on social media – and prominently on the restaurant menu – were nowhere to be seen.
Instead we found the bun flat and lacklustre, and almost dense and soggy to the touch.
A quick check under the hood revealed the possible source of the bun issues. As the advertising copy points out, it really was “smothered with mayonnaise and ketchup”.
Set in the sauce were two small, haphazardly-placed rashes of bacon, two large but otherwise typical Burger King style patties, and half a dozen slices of cheddar cheese layered between them.
Although it would be unrealistic to expect a fast food burger to excel on presentation, or even to match its marketing image, at this price point it would be reasonable to expect a burger that doesn’t look like it’s been quite so hastily slapped together.
At the very least, given the burger’s unambiguous name, the bacon could also have been made to look less like an afterthought.
The true test, though, was to come in the eating. And, unfortunately, this too was underwhelming.
The dense bun immediately compressed under the pressure of our fingers to patty level. And although the saucy, cheesy mixture was initially pleasant, it quickly became too much.
The burger was also far from hot, and felt possibly like it had been left on the shelf while staff finished off frying the admittedly perfectly cooked side of chips.
The expectations of “three rashers of crispy bacon” were also quickly dashed. The bacon was scarce, especially given the size of the bun and patties, and it lacked any perceptible crispiness that might have elevated the burger slightly closer to its cult hero status.
The copious amount of cheese, mayonnaise and ketchup also meant that everything quickly blended together with the bread, and it was hard to actually taste the addition of the prized bacon.
The burger is unapologetically meaty, but without any other items in the mix to add some much-needed crunch, or at least a bit of texture to liven it up, it quickly became a fairly dull and limp burger.
In all, our tasting suggested that there was little more to this burger than a few patties, some sauce, and a few rashers of uninspired bacon.
Although much of the social media commentary is based around availability and hype, some people have reported back on their own experiences, suggesting we aren't alone in our disappointment, though that is not the universal experience.
Several people on Facebook and Twitter claimed that the burger met their expectations. Some have also posted pictures of burgers that appear similar to that received by Business Insider South Africa, claiming that their experience was less than satisfactory. And some who’ve tried the Bacon King burger at international Burger King branches pointed out the local version is markedly different.
I think Burger King's burgers are okay but you never serve up this much bacon and your bacon is NEVER crisp.— Niels (@greengrogardens) September 17, 2019
If this was a traditional fast food item at a reasonable price point, the Bacon King may have faired adequately.
But given the social media hype, driven by a national campaign sporting an image of a voluptuous burger brimming with delectably crispy bacon, it seems unlikely that this is one burger that’ll live up to expectations. Instead, it seems more likely that loyal Burger King fans will resort to adding bacon to their Whoppers, rather than forking up for the Bacon King.
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