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Where did the Southwest Spicy Chicken go?

posted Sep 18, 2012, 3:35 AM by Darryl Giors   [ updated Dec 3, 2012, 5:05 AM ]
Spicy chicken sandwiches
Not long after I started college Carl's Jr. released a pair of my favorite fast food sandwiches.  It was circa 1994 when the duo of value priced spicy chicken wonders were introduced.  Both were based upon a fried chicken patty surrounded with spicy breading.  Before dollar menus were commonplace, the 99¢ Spicy Chicken sandwich presented it's fiery flavor upon a standard white bun with lettuce and mayonnaise.  The even better Southwest Spicy Chicken came with American cheese, Santa Fe sauce, lettuce and green chili strips on a honeywheat bun for a mere $1.49.

A moment ago I declared my opinion that the Southwest version is the better choice.  However, it soon became evident that I was not among the majority of fast food goers.  After a number of years both sandwiches unceremoniously disappeared from the menu at all of the local Carl's restaurants.  Just as suddenly as these two had appeared without promotion or fanfare they were gone.

I'm accustomed to restaurants and food producers discontinuing items that I consider my favorites.  My tastes are a little odd in a way.  I like bold strong and spicy dishes that don't always prove popular.  These 2 sandwiches were actually pretty spicy.  They had a bite to them.  Unless you're used to that kind of thing neither sandwich would be very enjoyable.

Fortunately the Spicy Chicken sandwich returned to the menu after it's absence of a couple years.  Thankfully it has retained it's 99¢ price to date.  As of today the Southwest Spicy Chicken sandwich has yet to return.  What happened to my favorite fast food sandwich?

The truth is that even when the sandwich was off the menu I was able to order the Southwest Spicy from Carl's locations where the cashiers remembered the formula.  The required ingredients are all available in the Santa Fe Grilled Chicken sandwich which is much more expensive.  The only difference with that sandwich is that it has an overpriced piece of grilled chicken taking residence where a breaded spicy piece of chicken ought to live.  Unfortunately over time the Carl's staff at every location I've visited has forgotten the long lost Southwest Spicy.  In order to enjoy it again I had to figure a way to order it without calling it by name.

If you remember and miss the Southwest Spicy or you want to experience what you missed, here's how to custom order one:

note: don't try this at the drive through.  No offense to anybody involved but they will mess it up. Go inside, walk up to the counter and verify your order on your receipt.

  • Spicy Chicken Sandwich
  • No mayo
  • Add American cheese
  • Add Santa Fe sauce
  • Add chili strips
  • Substitute honeywheat bun
So that's it.  The sandwich isn't so much gone as it has no official name on the Carl's Jr. menu.  By the way, it's still a tremendous value. Depending how your cashier punches up the order each sandwich will cost between 99¢ and $1.49.  Sometimes they will neglect to charge you for the extras like cheese and chili strips.  Quite a wonderful bargain especially if you are billed on the lower end of the range.

FYI: I believe the honeywheat bun originally used for the Southwest Spicy Chicken sandwich was a little smaller than what Carl's Jr. stocks currently.  When making this custom order there seems to be quite a bit of bun overlapping the patty.  Other than the larger bun everything else is how I remember.
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