August 5, 2013 Updated: August 5, 2013 at 6:25 pm
For a change, "hot" actually delivers the heat with Hot Shot Bites at KFC.
Hot Shot Bites are the 2013 extension of KFC's Bites boneless wings franchise, which started last year with Original Recipe Bites. I originally thought, "You know, these Bites bite," but the Hot Shot spicy version is pretty darn excellent.
Here's the blueprint: Six chunks of marinated white-meat chicken, dredged in spice-spiked breading and deep-fried to a reddish hue. Red signifies spicy in fast food's color-coded world.
The good news is, these Hot Shot Bites have got some kick to 'em. They won't blow your doors off like those insane wing restaurants that make you sign a waiver before they'll serve "Wings From the Devil's Own Kitchen." But KFC's Hot Shots will satisfy most spice freaks who enjoy drinking a gallon of ice water with dinner.
The trick is getting your Hot Shot Bites fresh from the fryer, when they're still glistening and you go "Whoa!" Let's eat the cole slaw first, and we'll get back to the chicken at a more reasonable temperature. KFC isn't a great lying-around product.
Hot Shot Bites are significant because they mark one more step on KFC's apparent journey to a boneless-chicken society. KFC is pumping out boneless chicken breasts, thighs, tenders and Bites. These are all targeted to a younger crowd that grew up with McNuggets and boneless wings in the school cafeteria. Bones are so your parents' chicken.
I'm not so pleased with the portion size and value, though. Hot Shot Bites are billed as two bites big ... yeah, if you're eating them during a job interview at the Miss Manners Institute. If you're eating alone, especially in your car, each Hot Shot Bite is one pop in your mouth - with plenty of room to spare.
Hot Shot Bites are also available in a big bucket - 10 Bites with eight pieces of boneless chicken breasts or thighs - for $15.99. Some KFCs also have Bites-only packs, six for $2.99.
Because the Bites are bitty, the smart play for big eaters would be one combo for $3.99, plus one Bites-only pack for $2.99 - that's $7 for a lot of meal. Oh, and eat in ... so you can drink your money's worth of refillable soda. That's how you get them.