Like crop tops and George W. Bush, everything just-slightly-old is new again in 2019. So having churned through actually innovative menu items like the Impossible Whopper, Burger King has disinterred a fast food zombie from roughly 2013: the pretzel bun. The new Pretzel Bacon King—available as a single or double sandwich—debuted September 19 and is available for a limited time. While this particular sandwich may not stick around long enough to become anyone’s favorite, it raises the question: Is a fast food burger ever better on a pretzel bun?
I am an avowed pretzel fan, but a pretzel bun wouldn’t be my burger bun of choice. Yet as I dissected the Pretzel Bacon King, I came to a place of understanding: A fast food burger could benefit from a pretzel bun—in theory. The Burger King pretzel bun, when I ripped a piece off and tasted it solo, did carry that deeply browned, alkaline-derived flavor. It could be a nice echo of Burger King patties’ signature grilled flavor and the bacon’s smoky char, creating a one-two-three savory punch—in theory. In actuality, the bacon, cheese, beef, and condiments overwhelm the delicate pretzel flavor, rendering the bun an entirely textural experience.
And about that texture—like other pretzel buns, Burger King’s is dense, chewy, and sturdy. Again, this sounds like it could be an ideal vessel upon which to deliver a topping-heavy, multi-pattied fast food burger, as the two formidable pretzel halves bookend and contain the sloppy contents within. But alas, reality fails to live up to theoretical hypotheses. A single Burger King Pretzel King is too tidy, with not enough sauce to require such heft. It instead tastes dry and blocky, a Brutalist’s interpretation of a cheeseburger. To necessitate a pretzel bun, a burger would need barbecue sauce, or at least two greasy patties, or sautéed onions. Maybe all three.
I hold out hope that there’s a place for the fast food pretzel bun, summoned from menus of yore to contain an onslaught of savory toppings and roguish patties, adding its earthy pretzel essence to the rich, grilled-meat melange. The Pretzel Bacon King isn’t it. But now I want to believe.