McDonald's new spicy chicken sandwich is a wimpy response to Popeyes' chicken sandwich triumph

McDonald's Spicy BBQ Chicken SandwichIrene Jiang / Business Insider

On Wednesday, McDonald's entered into the Chicken Wars with a new spicy BBQ chicken sandwich.

McDonald's sent its contestant into battle on the heels of the release of Popeyes' chicken sandwich, which ignited a massive Twitter war and caused no shortage of real-world chaos when it ran out.

Spicy chicken is all the rage these days - Wendy's spicy chicken nuggets returned to a resounding fan welcome - so I went to McDonald's to try its new peppery poultry. But, I wasn't lovin' it.

Read more: Popeyes' new chicken sandwich convinced us that we never need to go back to Chick-fil-A

McDonald's spicy BBQ chicken sandwich should have stayed in the test kitchen where it belongs. Its accompanying spicy BBQ chicken tenders were even more disappointing.

Here's why:

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I went to the McDonald's across the street from Business Insider's Manhattan office. I ordered a four-piece spicy BBQ glazed tenders and a spicy BBQ chicken sandwich.

I went to the McDonald's across the street from Business Insider's Manhattan office. I ordered a four-piece spicy BBQ glazed tenders and a spicy BBQ chicken sandwich.

The spicy chicken sandwich came on a sesame bun, which I thought was an odd choice for a chicken sandwich. Its non-spicy counterpart, the buttermilk crispy chicken, comes on a lovely potato brioche.

The spicy chicken sandwich came on a sesame bun, which I thought was an odd choice for a chicken sandwich. Its non-spicy counterpart, the buttermilk crispy chicken, comes on a lovely potato brioche.

Read more: I ate 8 chicken sandwiches from fast-food chains, and the best was also the cheapest

Upon opening up the sandwich, I was faced with even more confusion. The sandwich had not one, but two pieces of fried chicken — not spicy. In addition to two flaccid pickle rounds, there was a smattering of onion slices.

Upon opening up the sandwich, I was faced with even more confusion. The sandwich had not one, but two pieces of fried chicken — not spicy. In addition to two flaccid pickle rounds, there was a smattering of onion slices.

The BBQ sauce on top was less than generous, which made me nervous because it's the only thing giving this sandwich any flavor.

The BBQ sauce on top was less than generous, which made me nervous because it's the only thing giving this sandwich any flavor.

This odd combination of ingredients made me wonder what exactly McDonald's was going for with this sandwich.

This odd combination of ingredients made me wonder what exactly McDonald's was going for with this sandwich.

The chicken was nice and crispy, but the continental shift between the two pieces was annoying. It was also nowhere near as juicy, fresh, and flavorful as Popeyes' chicken.

The chicken was nice and crispy, but the continental shift between the two pieces was annoying. It was also nowhere near as juicy, fresh, and flavorful as Popeyes' chicken.

The pickles were sadly imperceptible, and the presence of the onions was just confusing. What were onions doing on a chicken sandwich? Moreover, this simply wasn't spicy. At all. It just tasted weakly of BBQ sauce.

The pickles were sadly imperceptible, and the presence of the onions was just confusing. What were onions doing on a chicken sandwich? Moreover, this simply wasn't spicy. At all. It just tasted weakly of BBQ sauce.

It was like McDonald's slapped two chicken tenders on a bun with some onion slivers and BBQ sauce. I wondered why McDonald's had even bothered to release it.

It was like McDonald's slapped two chicken tenders on a bun with some onion slivers and BBQ sauce. I wondered why McDonald's had even bothered to release it.

So many fans have been clamoring for the return of the Spicy McChicken. Why not just answer their call? Or at least put the spice in the chicken batter like Chick-fil-A does?

So many fans have been clamoring for the return of the Spicy McChicken. Why not just answer their call? Or at least put the spice in the chicken batter like Chick-fil-A does?

Read more: I compared the legendary McChicken with 4 cheap sandwiches from other fast-food chains, and it proved the original is still the best

The new spicy BBQ glazed tenders told a similarly sad story.

The new spicy BBQ glazed tenders told a similarly sad story.

They emitted a strong, alluring smell while in the bag, but when I took them out, they looked less than appetizing.

They emitted a strong, alluring smell while in the bag, but when I took them out, they looked less than appetizing.

These were essentially McDonald's buttermilk crispy tenders drenched in what can only be described as "plain ol' barbecue sauce."

These were essentially McDonald's buttermilk crispy tenders drenched in what can only be described as "plain ol' barbecue sauce."

I was suspicious that all this sauce wouldn't bode well for the crispiness of the tenders.

I was suspicious that all this sauce wouldn't bode well for the crispiness of the tenders.

And I was right. This tender didn't have the texture of something that's been fried even though it had indeed been fried. I tasted nothing but sauce and lean white meat.

And I was right. This tender didn't have the texture of something that's been fried even though it had indeed been fried. I tasted nothing but sauce and lean white meat.

These mild, middling tenders are no threat to anyone, much less to Popeyes. I still have hope that McDonald's will come out with a better kind of spicy chicken, one where the spice is in the batter or the marinade. Until then, I'm getting my spicy fix elsewhere.

These mild, middling tenders are no threat to anyone, much less to Popeyes. I still have hope that McDonald's will come out with a better kind of spicy chicken, one where the spice is in the batter or the marinade. Until then, I'm getting my spicy fix elsewhere.
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