Who loves orange soda? Kel Mitchell does. In fact, the actor tells Blavity that his knowledge of orange goes way further than the sugary, fizzy drinks.
“I’m an orange connoisseur,” Mitchell told Blavity playfully over Zoom. “When people think of orange, immediately they think of me.”
Much to our delight, he presented a question we were dying to ask him.
“Who loves orange soda?” he asked rhetorically. Before being able to jump in and answer, he responded with that one of the most iconic comedic bits of the ’90s.
Mitchell, of course, is referring to his beloved character Kel Kimble from the beloved ’90s TV show Kenan & Kel. A big part of Kimble’s personality was his love for orange soda, which he frequently thirsted for, making clear it was his drink of choice.
The former child star said that even though the show went off the air over two decades ago, fans still know him for his portrayal of Kimble and his obsession with the orange soda.
So when Panda Express approached the actor to be the face of their meatless orange chicken, which they created in partnership with Beyond Meat, it was a no brainer. Plus, according to Mitchell, the Beyond The Original Orange Chicken is actually delicious.
“It has an amazing crunch to it, which is awesome,” he shared. “I was shooting a Christmas movie a little while ago, and I was working out a ton and stuck in LA traffic often. Whenever I needed to grab something to eat on-the-go, I’d get the Beyond The Original Orange Chicken because I knew the calories weren’t going to be that crazy and it’s gonna be good for me.”
If you’re wary about vegan food, or loyal to the original orange chicken recipe, Mitchell gets it. And he assured us that the plant-based version of the Beyond Meat version tastes just like the original.
“It tastes so much like the original orange chicken,” he said. “It has the same tasty, delicious crunch to it.”
Don’t worry, you don’t have to give up the original orange chicken cold turkey. Mitchell encourages folks to just give it a try — and he believes you won’t regret it.
“When you walk into Panda [Express], you’re there and you see it and say let me get a taste of that. Then feel free to order all your other stuff. You’ll be surprised,” he said.
It looks like Mitchell will have to rely on Panda Express’ Beyond The Original Orange Chicken for a while longer. The actor is booked and busy — and when it comes to the highly anticipated Good Burger sequel, things are moving fast.
When we asked Mitchell what it’s been like revisiting the Good Burger universe 25 years after the original film’s release, the comedian says its been an incredible experience.
“It’s [been] super awesome to step back in those shoes,” he shared. “We just had an amazing table read and the script is amazing. It’s really, really good. This is gonna be great. Fans are gonna love it.”
Like orange soda, Mitchell says Good Burger has been the “gift that keeps on giving,” and he’s thrilled that fans have been calling for another installment of the 1997 classic.
“You all have all been asking for this, which is super awesome,” he happily stated.
Good Burger is just the latest of several ’90s films and TV shows that are getting the modern treatment. Some reboots hit the nail on the head while others … not so much. Mitchell thinks the key to getting a reboot right is harnessing the magic of he original.
“Try to remember what is so dear to the first one,” he recommended. “What made everyone so excited about the first one? What was it about the story of the first one that everyone resonates with? Go from there and build on those elements.”
That’s what both Mitchell and his long-time collaborator Kenan Thompson made sure will be at the heart of Good Burger 2.
“It’s going to definitely have all the same zaniness and heartfelt moments as the first one,” he shared, adding that the sequel feels like it was made and set just “two years” after the original.
But that doesn’t mean the new movie isn’t for Gen Z-ers.
“Within the story, there are some things that we put in there for people from the new generation. So this is truly, truly, truly a family film that everyone can enjoy,” he said.
Mitchell exclusively told us that just like the first film, fans should expect to see lots of exciting celebrity cameos in Good Burger 2.
“The first one had a bunch of fun celebs. We had we had Shaq, Carmen Electra, Shar Jackson from Moesha — you all will be just as excited,” he divulged.
Mitchell and Thompson have been working together for over two decades. Not many partnerships last for a fraction of that amount of time. Mitchell said that’s thanks to their commitment to communication and transparency.
“We’ve learned over the years to always have an open line of communication. That was something that was very important to us,” the actor revealed.
It helped them avoid the he-said she-said drama that’s the culprit of ending many professional (and personal) relationships in Hollywood.
Their strong relationship is part of the reason why fans are getting a second Good Burger film. And Kenan & Kel may be the next reboot coming to the small screen. Mitchell mentioned the cast of the show are “talking” about what bringing back the show may look like.
“We were talking about even doing like maybe a special — that could be kind of fun too.”
We asked Mitchell what he thinks his character Kel Kimble would be up to in 2022. The actor says that’s an easy answer: getting his orange on.
“Kel Kimble would definitely be doing something within the orange. Actually, what we would really be doing is collaborating with Panda Express on the Beyond The Original Orange Chicken,” he said.
Beyond The Original Orange Chicken is now available at more than 2,300 U.S. Panda Express locations for a limited time.