Popeyes’ ghost pepper chicken wings aren’t very hot at all, which is a weird thing to say about a food that includes one of the spiciest things on the planet in its name.
Then again, this may be my own fault. The inclusion of ghost peppers in a wing implied that it would result in a super hot new menu cheap authentic jerseys item, but Popeyes never actually said that was the case. Take a look at their advertising: They use phrases like “new flavor adventure” and “taste the mystery” when talking about the wings, as if they were talking about the mystery Airhead flavor, not a death plant that’s essentially made of fire.
Oh sure, there are certainly ghost peppers in these wings somewhere, technically, legally but not enough to really matter much. The level of concern about these things containing ghost peppers is roughly equivalent to how worried you should be about that pint of rum raisin Haagen Dazs getting a 5 year old trashed.
Popeyes’ ghost pepper wings are like a crappy friend who promises to buy beer for a party, then shows up an hour and a half late with a six pack of Blue Moon and says that “It’s totally as good as that craft stuff, bro.” You can’t be that mad at it, since it’s really your own fault for having any sort of expectations.
On the other hand, Blue Moon is pretty cheap, as are these wings ($3.99 for six plus a biscuit). So, it’s got that going for it.
Popeyes Ghost Pepper Wings
Let’s be clear: I love me some Popeyes. Their chicken is great, and their spices are usually well balanced and let the chicken shine.
Ghost peppers, meanwhile, are jerks and they don’t really taste like much at all. They’re the food equivalent of your friend that keeps dropping ice cubes down your shirt. Only, instead of ice cubes down your shirt, this friend takes hot embers from the fireplace and forces them down your throat.
Then there’s the fact that they come in wing form.
I’m not here to say that boneless wings/chicken strips/whatever are clearly the better choice for smart, handsome people that smell nice. The issue at hand is that chicken wings at Popeyes is a rookie move.
You go big breast, thigh or go home. You can’t sacrifice vital skin surface area. The stakes are too high. You’ve got sides in play, and you can’t shift resources from your meat bank to your gravy and biscuit escrow. There’s no customization, no art, no romance with wings. It’s a quick primal oral assault with no nuance. Plus, wings are stupid.
Popeyes makes good chicken. I’m a fan of any place that’s tasty enough to be connected to the demise of a Boston Red Sox jerseys season. But with the tools it was given, the ghost pepper wings never had a chance.
So what do they taste like
I first noticed there was an issue with the ghost pepper wings when I gave them a sniff and didn’t pick up much heat. Actual ghost pepper spices would have cleared out my sinuses like a level 5 capsaicin laced hurricane taking out a nasal patio.
Upon taking a bite, it became clear that the wings are not engineered for high end heat. At first, there’s really no heat to speak of really. Eventually, a low, earthy, dry heat comes up late at the back of your mouth. It’s a different sort of heat than what you’d get from a standard hot sauce it’s worse.
With any sort of sauce made from jalapeno, chipotle or even habanero peppers, you get the heat, but also the nice peppery flavor that comes with it. Ghost peppers really don’t taste like anything, so the spice on the chicken comes off as bland dust that ignites with a low burn almost 10 seconds after you eat it.