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Reviews of fast food burgers and a look at how the real life version compares to the advertised beauty shot.

Reality Check: New BBQ Whoppers from Burger King

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[Photograph: Burger King]

There's more to Burger King's new summer menu than the bacon sundae (Serious Eats review coming soon!). The barbecue-inspired summer offerings include three "regional BBQ sandwiches," including the Texas BBQ Whopper, the Carolina BBQ Whopper, and a Memphis BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich, plus frozen lemonade and sweet potato fries. I tasted both of the new Whoppers and the new fries to see if any of these limited time items are worth rushing out to try.

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[Photographs: top, Burger King; bottom, Erin Jackson]

The Texas BBQ Whopper ($3.99) is made with a 1/4-pound patty topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, jalapeño slices, and Texas barbecue sauce. The sauce is supposed to be "smoky and spicy," but when I took a swipe of it by itself, it tasted like a watery tomato paste tinged with a bit of vinegar. There wasn't even the faintest flavor of heat or smoke. The only element that brought any real excitement to the burger were the jalapeños, which ended up overshadowing everything else. The veggies were wilted and lifeless, the patty was mealy and bland, any flavor from the cheese was negligible, and the sesame seed bun was stone cold.

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[Photographs: top, Burger King; bottom, Erin Jackson]

The Carolina BBQ Whopper ($4.49) is very similar, but it's got pepper jack cheese, bacon, and Carolina barbecue sauce. This time, the sauce was exactly as described: sweet, and a bit tangy. Unfortunately, the two elements that could balance the sweetness of the sauce didn't deliver. The bacon was limp and under-seasoned and the pepper jack cheese, which was mostly unmelted, had zero-point-zero pepper flavor. Until I double checked the online menu, I was 100 percent sure it was processed mozzarella.

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[Photograph: Erin Jackson]

Both of the new Whoppers are also available as Tendergrill chicken sandwiches, which swaps out the beef for a grilled chicken fillet. You'll save over 100 calories with this option, but since neither of the barbecue sauces were worthwhile, I'd just ask for some jalapeños on your Whopper and call it good.

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[Photographs: top, Burger King; bottom, Erin Jackson]

What was good...great, even, was the new sweet potato fries ($2.09 for a small). Towards the bottom, they got a little over-salted, but the majority of the fries were spot-on. Crisp on the outside, and sweet and fluffy on the inside, these spuds were easily as good as the ones I've had at restaurants where you can't eat your meal wearing a paper crown. They're listed as a limited time item, but here's hoping they get a permanent spot soon. I wouldn't return for either of the new Whoppers, but I'd gladly return to the kingdom for more fries.

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About the author: Erin Jackson is a food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best eats in San Diego. You can find all of her discoveries on her newly-launched food blog EJeats.com. On Twitter, she's @ErinJax

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