Alright everyone, stop the presses and rev up those fryers. I’m sick and tired of the fighting, so we’re gonna settle this fast food score once and for all. I’m talking about the Great Chicken Sandwich Feud.
Most fast food locations, chicken-themed or not, have their own fried bird. But there’s been a food fight bubbling on brand Twitter recently with every big name in the business you can think of throwing their chicken hats in the chicken ring.
The whole thing started after Popeyes released their first-ever chicken sandwich last week, and people began debating which chain had the best chicken sandwich. In typical Twitter brand fashion, Popeyes decided to start some chicken-flavored beef, subtweeting Chick-fil-A’s appreciation post of their OG sandwich.
After a social media frenzy began, with both sides arguing over who has the better ‘wich, Wendy’s decided to step in and diss both parties.
Uh, OK, sure Wendy’s. We’ll see about that. Honestly, you don’t need to follow all the other tweets in the messy chicken war, because it quickly devolved into be less about comparing flavor profiles, and more about bad joke jabs. But all you need to know is that somehow Boston Market brought their mac and cheese to a chicken fight, and Shake Shack’s attempt to be hip with the kids backfired when they were called out for being too bougie to be part of this debate.
But we’ve had enough of brand Twitter going off amongst themselves while we feel like silent digital customers. Which is why I walked 500 miles (OK, maybe just a few city blocks) to personally taste test and rank every chicken sandwich I could get my greasy fingers on.
Now, I’ll readily admit that I’m not chicken sandwich expert. My experience in the fast-casual extends only to chicken nuggets, which I peel. Yes, peel. So I might not be the most qualified, but today I’m going to redeem my cursed food past and amend my chicken-peeling ways to give you this quality review. I promise, I kept the skin on every single one of these sandies.
From Pale Poultry to Chicken Supreme, here are the worst to best fast food chicken sandwiches. (McDonald’s and Burger King were both excluded because, come on.)
Wendy’s talked a big game on Twitter, but in reality had no chicken leg to stand on.
The chicken was a flat, limp breast covered in soggy batter and the sandwich was covered in waaaay too much mayo. The iceberg lettuce should never be the star of the sandwich, yet it was overflowing with a particularly icy, sad bunch.
I should’ve expected as much from a burger joint. You see why we didn’t go to McDonald’s and Burger King now? Maybe their Twitter account should’ve logged off and tried a bite before they flew too close to the heat lamp sun and dissed actual chicken experts.
Rating: 2/5 Chicken Sandwich (but 5/5 Twitter comebacks)
KFC was surprisingly silent on Twitter, making no grand claims about their own sandwich, or questioning anyone else’s. Maybe that was for a good reason.
When I got the sandwich I immediately noticed that it was much crispier than Wendy’s. The chicken was well seasoned — all 11 herbs and spices were definitely present and accounted for. I will say that at the very least, this was the most spiced chicken out of the bunch.
But then when I picked it up, the bottom of the bread globbed out an entire jar of mayo. Disgusting.
Also, while we didn’t try it, negative points for having the audacity to make me think about the ramifications of the oily Cheeto’s sauce-infused Cheetos Chicken Sandwich. Don’t give these brands any ideas.
Rating: 3/5 Chicken Sandwich (-100000/5 for playing chicken god with Cheeto’s)
Yeah, OK, I know, I know. I’m closing my Twitter DMs immediately over this, because I know there will be thoughts.
It’s not that Chick-fil-A’s sandwich is inherently bad! It was actually, dare I say, moist. Good, too, but mostly just moist.
Yeah the chicken is flavorful and juicy, but we all know now that their secret is just frying the chicken in 100 percent peanut oil. It’s just a bare-bones, no nonsense, decent chicken sandwich.
But the batter was not nearly as crispy as I wanted it to be and the bread was pretty chewy. That brioche was really killing my vibe, and my jaw, y’all. Overall it’s just… not as good as you want it to be, and at that point the roof of my mouth was thoroughly burnt from all the chicken.
There are newer, better chickens on the block with better options, and besides, homophobia leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Rating: 3/5 Chicken Sandwich (-1 million/5 for being a shitty company)
Chicken. Brioche. Pickles. New. Sandwich. Popeyes. Nationwide. So. Good. Forgot. How. Speak. In. Complete. Sandwiches. I mean, sentences. pic.twitter.com/14kXBv4jJw
— Popeyes Chicken (@PopeyesChicken) August 12, 2019
OK, so I know that they started the fight, but you know what? They earned their seat at the table. This was one damn good chicken sandwich. But, by god, did they make me work for it.
I knew, in theory, that the Popeyes sandwich had been rolling out slowly and was only going to be offered at select locations. The first Popeyes location I stopped in: no dice. Didn’t even have it yet. So I trudged through Manhattan in the 85-degree heat and finally reached the second Popeyes. The line was snaked three times around the inside of the restaurant, and five minutes into the line, an exasperated employee yelled out “there are NO MORE CHICKEN SANDWICHES, OK?” They were waving around tongs for emphasis. Half of us chicken clowns walked out.
I was beginning to lose hope. Prospects were dim, and I was never going to figure out whether or not Popeyes had any stakes in dunking on Chick-fil-A. But no, there had to be a way.
Trekking 20 minutes to the next closest Popeyes, I reached the final destination with a line that also filed out the door. Sweat dripping down my back, I thought to myself, this better be the best damn chicken sandwich in Manhattan or else. Dear reader, it was good. So good.
Maybe I was just riding the high of finally feeling air conditioning again. Maybe it was the extra crispiness of the breading, or the fact that the patty was thiccc with three ‘C’s. But I was living again.
It was almost the best, except…
Rating: 4/5 Chicken Sandwich (5/5 Crunch factor)
1. Shake Shack
…Shake Shack exists.
No, I don’t care that this sandwich costs as much as a movie ticket. If you’re buying a sandwich combo from any of the other competitors, it’s going to be about the same, and you’re going to be getting a more mediocre chicken.
It’s juicy, it’s flavorful, the spices are wonderful, the bread is dense but the patty is big enough to compensate. The mayo is HERBED, the pickles are pickled, and the lettuce is shredded as to not take away from the beauty of the whole beast.
While I only managed about a single bite from everywhere else, I demolished this whole bad boy in minutes. And this was after trying every other chicken sandwich. Bougie or not, this chicken has my heart. So save your coin and throw down with the Shack, although if you’re not near one of their locations, Popeyes is good enough contender.