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Wendy’s Jalapeño Popper Chicken Sandwich and Salad bring the heat to your mouth

Meet humanity’s apex of achievement, at least in chicken-fried goodness.

This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, Wendy's, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.

Chicken is hot these days. The beloved, deceptively simple yet hard-to-master deep-fried bird is evolving right before our eyes. More spiciness! More crispiness! Add bacon! Put an international twist on it! But plenty of the sandwiches out there might as well quit while they’re ahead. Behold: the Wendy’s Jalapeño Popper Chicken Sandwich and Salad are the most innovative advancements in the field of ultra-crisp tenderness this side of Le Cordon Bleu. They’re the chicken-fried duo to rule the roost.

Consider that crave-worthy chicken

A momentous pair of menu items like these must be savored philosophically before they’re savored literally. First, we ask you to consider the humble jalapeño popper. That deep-fried delivery mechanism of tangy, crunchy, gooey goodness that also happens to burn with the fire of a thousand suns.

Next, consider the chicken. Here is chicken in its most platonic form: tender and juicy, breaded and deep-fried. Humankind has been breading and deep-frying chicken for millennia, on every continent, and yes, that truly means every continent. As a species, we love fried chicken so much that we even launched it into space for our brave astronauts to reminisce about a taste of home. Chicken being that most magical of proteins, of course, it is also versatile enough to be grilled to tender perfection, without any loss of heat or cheesy goodness.

But now, combine the two. What do you get? You get the Wendy’s Jalapeño Popper Chicken Sandwich and Salad — two delectable innovations of heat and crispiness. Everything to love about fried chicken. Everything to love about capsaicin.

Here’s how that innovation happens

Wendy’s food engineers brought the jalapeño popper back to its natural state: jalapeños and cream cheese, plus the breading of the Wendy’s Spicy Chicken fillet — as close to a cult menu item as one can get without asking for a side of secret sauce. It’s a brilliant breakdown of a familiar form. What’s more, it all revolves around that ultra-tasty fried chicken fillet. The popper also features two more types of cheese: shredded pepper jack, plus warm cheddar cheese sauce. For those keeping track, that’s three different cheeses and three different levels of spice, which is perfect for those who are chasing the heat. It’s winter, after all, so this drop couldn’t come at a better time. Top it all off with crispy bacon. Tuck the whole thing between a premium bun.

At this point, Wendy’s research and development team could have rested on their crispy, crunchy laurels. And yet, there were still qualitative forms to discover, new form factors to develop: Wendy’s parlayed the whole structure into a salad form, with a base of crisp, fresh romaine lettuce and spring mix. Into this mix go diced tomatoes and shredded pepper jack cheese, spicy chicken, applewood smoked bacon, and jalapeños in three forms: jalapeño ranch, jalapeño cheddar croutons, and the round discs of perfection that are the peppers themselves.

To the Scoville scale and beyond

Wendy’s latest chicken choices are good for what ails you, if what ails you is a lack of spicy, spicy goodness: your “doctor” might advise you to take a Jalapeño Popper Chicken Sandwich to the dome and call back in the morning.

To push the bawk-bawk boundaries, to slip the surly bonds of mildness and burn like the red-hot core of a supernova: that’s what Wendy’s has done here. One might suggest that we’ve already reached dizzying heights of sandwich and salad technology. That there are no more worlds to conquer, no more combinations to string together, not since we collectively decided that a hot dog is a sandwich. (Or is it?) If a tender bird that goes pop in your mouth is the apex of food achievement, then we have witnessed it here, together. What is crispy chicken’s ultimate form, you might ask? Wendy’s has just answered that question.

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