There’s a monotony to fast food sides that needs to be challenged. French fries are all well and good, but there’s only so much potato a person can stand. While we wait for every fast food joint to catch up to those that are serving things like rice dishes and fried pickles as sides, we can at least take comfort in a new offering from White Castle that’s raising the bar on non-potato-based bites: Mac and Cheese Nibblers. To add even more excitement to the menu addition, White Castle debuted a new soda collaboration with Twitch streamer Captain Puffy to wash it all down.
The Mac and Cheese Nibblers are just what they sound like: bite-sized nugget-like “nibbles” filled with creamy cheddar cheese and macaroni and coated in a crispy batter. You can swap these out as your side with any meal or get them on their own in varying sizes: small (five Nibblers) for $1.99, medium (12 Nibblers) for $3.99, or a sack of 20 Nibblers for $5.99.
Like many other fast food chains, White Castle has introduced new site-specific drinks (think Baja Blast, Hi-C, etc.). In September, the chain debuted Sprite Midnight and Powerade Midnight, both a mix of citrusy lemon-lime and grape flavors. According to QSR Magazine, Sprite Puffy Mix, so named because of its association with Twitch streamer Captain Puffy, mixes the traditional lemon-lime flavors of Sprite with “the sweet notes of grape and raspberry.” The drink is available only through December 31.
As instantly appealing as the concept of fried mac and cheese sounds, I was worried that the execution wouldn’t deliver on the promise. White Castle sliders themselves often lack texture because of the steamed buns, and the thought of a mushy ball of mac and cheese on top of that isn’t the most appealing. But goddammit, White Castle nailed it.
The crispy batter is indeed crispy, providing the ideal shell and textural contrast to the perfectly gooey mac and cheese center. And the macaroni tucked inside is akin to a perfect bowl of Kraft—nothing too fancy, exactly in line with what you crave when you head to White Castle. The size of each nibbler provides the perfect ratio of mac and cheese to breading, and you can easily pop these in your mouth in one go if you want to forgo the suggested nibbling.
Swapping in this side in place of french fries or onion rings also adds some much needed heft to a typical slider meal. Sometimes two small burgers isn’t quite enough, especially if you’re stopping at White Castle with a case of the munchies or to soak up some alcohol after a long night out. But add five of these Mac and Cheese Nibblers to your order and you’ve got yourself a nice full stomach. Heck, skip the sliders altogether and just go for the sack of Nibblers—they’re that good.
Unfortunately the Sprite Puffy Mix doesn’t earn the same accolades. First of all, the look of the soda itself is not as advertised: Instead of an electric purple, my drink was more of a muddy brown, like the result of mixing a little bit of every soda from the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine into one. And while the flavor wasn’t cloying sweet as Sprite mixtures can often be, it also wasn’t much of anything. It tasted like a diet version of a grape soda, with just subtle notes of the berry. If a soda is being advertised as purple, I want it to taste purple.
But the disappointing drink doesn’t overshadow the power of the Mac and Cheese Nibblers. White Castle has challenged what is possible for a top-notch fast food side, and other brands should take notice and step it up.