So I’ve eaten a lot of chicken in my life. Also a fair bit of waffles. I’ve even been known to maple it up a bit with syrups and sweets. So I can give a fair assessment on this. Now I have never had chicken and waffles proper. It’s never really spoke to me. I understand it’s concept, it’s history, and it’s modern interpretations so being objective and taking it in the light of what chicken and waffles started as I can say it lives up to where it comes from.
It was the roaring uh, whenever jazz was big. Diners in downtown Harlem started staying open all night to catch the hungry cool cats and hip chicks as they poured out of the jazz clubs. Writers, musicians, theologists, and everyone else you could imagine was very quick to take in the late night dive clubs. Free from scrutiny and judgement they would spend hours lost in thought and conversation. Often not even having more than a cigarette and whiskey until the sun came up they were famished. So the local eateries stayed open as they did the morning prep for their breakfast crowd. Offering whatever they had left over or anything already prepped for opening. Often in little mixed plates until one man was like “Hey, I got a lot of fried chicken, waffles are easy, and both taste great with honey…” then bam! Chicken and Waffles became a staple of the late night scene. That’s right, the southern classic started in Harlem. The southern variety often uses special buttermilk breading for it’s chicken. Making the whole thing more uh, cohesive. Traditional chicken and waffles is whatever chicken you got and a waffle. Also some honey and a little syrup and your done. That’s closer to what we have here.
Close being the operative word here. Lee’s chicken strips have a certain dirty salt taste that works great for spicy but fights against the sweet with everything it has. The waffle tastes like it has a sugar glaze. It’s not sticky, just it has that almost vanilla taste that you get from those prepackaged glazed doughnuts. It’s not bad, for a frozen waffle that is. The maple dip is the most interesting part of it. A pasty off brown sweet slurry that is passable enough for it’s role. The Creamy Maple is both sweet and a little salty. A solid bridge between the chicken and the waffle. I can see why people would like this. I can see why people would love this, honestly. Just for me, it’s not working. Perhaps I am to used to Lee’s or my specific preference in drowning my Lee’s in hot sauces has made me come to expect heat not sweet. It is hard to tell. I do know it hurt my tummy something fierce. So much so I had to order a pizza for dinner just to apologize.
So I won’t say it’s bad. A lot of people enjoy that flavor pairing. So much so you can even chips flavored like it. It’s often whispered in the back corners of pop culture. Everyone knows about it, but how many people have actually tried? Because each part works on its own. Together I was just acutely aware there was two different foods in my mouth. Not a wonderful harmony like say a s’mores. Rather a cacophony of contrasting clashing culinary concepts. Such a wild back and forth that is very much like the jazz scene that nurtured it. So is it worth it? I’d say give it a shot on a day off, don’t make it your work lunch. It’s a touch to experimental for that. So if you are in a position where you could skip a meal or eat something else then definitely go for it. If for no other reason than to say you had it. To better understand those references. That way you can be in on one of America’s oddest food pairings. Better hurry though it’s only available for a limited time. Or skip it and just say “Eh, it was okay, coulda been better but not bad” that should work well enough.