Following in the grand culinary tradition of Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Tacos, Burger King has unveiled a delightfully trashy new fast food hybrid: The Mac n’ Cheeto. Yes, the dish consists of deep-fried macaroni and cheese sticks with a Cheeto-flavored shell—five for $2.49. They are weird and silly and already causing a minor freakout on Twitter, as these products are meant to do, and will be on sale for a limited time starting June 27.
This is, of course, yet another sign of the great divergence in fast food, in which brands have decided to either head upmarket, embracing fresher and more expensive ingredients, or downmarket into the world of high-calorie novelty noshes. McDonald’s, for instance, has been busy trying to elevate its image a bit by dallying with custom burgers and American regional cuisine—hello lobster rolls and Gilroy garlic fries. But the private-equity owners of Burger King seem to have taken a cold, hard look at their brand and concluded that rather than try to industrialize semi-current food-blog trends, they should just lean into their inner freak with bright red hamburger buns and chemically enhanced, deep-fried noodles. Which, by the way, don’t sound that bad. Cheetos are a tasty cheese-flavored product, and adding mac is mostly just going to create a pleasant textural contrast, I imagine. The early reviews, anyway, seem positive.