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Shake Shack's Hot Chick'n sandwich won't even make you blush

The latest chicken sandwich by Shake Shack may take its inspiration from Nashville's hot chicken, but that's about where the comparison ends.
Shake Shack's Hot Chickn'n Sandwich
Shake Shack's Hot Chickn'n Sandwich

In a perhaps brilliant ploy to sell more milkshakes, Shake Shack is jumping on the hot chicken craze.

That trend has actually been going strong since the fall of 2015, but you’ve gotta hand it to Danny Meyer for launching his take right at the height of ice-cream-as-beverage season.

Despite assurances by Shake Shack culinary director Mark Rosati that “we’ve been playing around with a spicy version of our Chick’n Shack for some time now,” the Hot Chick’n sandwich likely won't even make a true spicy food fan break a sweat.

The Hot Chick’n uses the Shack’s usual cage-free chicken slow-cooked in buttermilk marinade then fried. It’s only then that the sandwich gets its kick from a dusting of guajillo (about the same level of heat as a jalapeno) and cayenne peppers, then topped with Louisiana hot sauce-laced slaw and kosher dill pickles.

Although we have not tasted it yet — the sandwich debuts Aug. 1 — we’re pretty sure this method is not enough to move the needle on the Scoville Scale.

The Louisiana hot sauce is your clue that we're not even in the right state for hot chicken. The dish came out of Nashville, where chefs use a blistering blend of peppers in the spice rub the chicken is dragged through before being breaded and fried. Alternately, it can also get a lashing of "dry" sauce after coming out of the fryer. The results are face-meltingly hot.

We're sure you’re all shocked that a hot chicken sandwich from a New York City-based burger chain doesn’t exactly live up to the Tennessee original. That said, maybe true hot chicken is too much for the city — “The Chew” host Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen restaurant based around seven degrees of hot chicken “closed for retooling” in May and remains shuttered.

If you’re still down to try it, the limited-time Hot Chick’n launches nationwide (excluding airports, stadiums and ballparks) on Aug. 1, or get it starting July 28 if you order via the Shack App.

Special-edition chicken sandwiches seem to be working well for Shake Shack, which has launched a few variations on the theme since first rolling them out in Summer 2015, at the height of the fried chicken craze. Last October, there was the Salt & Pepper Honey Chick’n with salted honey and ground black pepper.

Hm, maybe their tactic is to train America’s tastebuds by ramping up the heat gradually, in which case carry on.