- Chick-fil-A is the most popular chicken chain in America, according to a recent Market Force survey. But I don’t get the hype. Its food is just OK.
- Popeyes just released a new chicken sandwich that competes with Chick-fil-A’s most famous offering, and it’s much better in every way.
- Not only is Popeyes’ sandwich cheaper and bigger, but its chicken is crispier and juicier, its pickles are crunchier and tarter, and its bread is thicker and toastier.
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I confess: I just don’t get the hype about Chick-fil-A.
I don’t think it’s terrible. I just don’t think it’s as amazing as everyone says it is.
Granted, my Chick-fil-A experience has been pretty limited. I’ve had its fries, and they aren’t great. I’ve had its frozen desserts, which are also just OK. But Chick-fil-A is about the chicken, right? Chicken is what the chain is known for, specifically its chicken sandwich.
So I expected the world from its chicken sandwich. Maybe that was the problem. Maybe I should have just given Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich more space instead of pushing for something that wasn’t meant to be.
This is where Popeyes comes in. Popeyes is more than a fresh-fried rebound, more than just a salt-of-the-earth Louisiana chain carving out a life in the North. Popeyes and I come from different worlds. In college, I passed by one of its restaurants every so often, never even thinking to enter.
Only after Popeyes released its new classic chicken sandwich did I realize just how much I was missing out on.
You should never settle.
True love is a chicken sandwich that makes you feel full, whole, and taken care of. It’s a bun that envelops your chicken in a comforting embrace, a thick slab of juicy, crispy chicken that reminds you of a Southern city you’ve never been to, and pickles and mayo that thrill. True love is a chicken sandwich that makes you feel held.
I know Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich has many lovers out there, but just hear me out. I’m going to show you why you, too, should never go back to Chick-fil-A — if there’s a Popeyes in town.
I went to a Chick-fil-A and a Popeyes in Manhattan and brought back a couple of their chicken sandwiches.
Popeyes’ chicken sandwich costs $3.99 at the Manhattan location I went to.
Chick-fil-A’s sandwich costs $4.99 at the Manhattan location I went to.
Even though it’s a dollar more expensive, Chick-fil-A’s sandwich is a lot smaller and lighter than Popeyes’ sandwich.
Popeyes’ sandwich is huge.
It’s thick and there’s lots of everything, but it holds together well.
It’s a challenge to bite into, but it’s the kind of challenge that puts butterflies in your stomach.
The fluffy bun gives way to the crispy chicken and the tart, crunchy pickle.
The sandwich is uniformly outstanding. One bite gets you a bit of everything. Everything is very good on its own and even better together.
And it holds together so well that in the end it’s surprisingly easy to eat, even if it is quite thick.
Every bite of this sandwich tastes as good as the last. It also bears the thickest piece of chicken I’ve seen on a fried-chicken sandwich.
Chick-fil-A’s sandwich is noticeably smaller, browner, and flatter than Popeyes’ sandwich.
It also doesn’t hold together very well. It’s pretty much just a piece of chicken between two squished buns.
I suppose people like the sandwich for its simplicity.
To Chick-fil-A’s credit, its chicken is fairly uniform.
It’s also a much more manageable bite than Popeyes’ sandwich.
But ultimately, it’s a much less exciting one. The chicken isn’t bad, but it isn’t nearly as good as Popeyes’ chicken, and there is nothing else giving the sandwich flavor.
The sandwich will pretty much fall apart if you don’t hold it together yourself. There’s no mayo.
That’s what Chick-fil-A sauce is for, presumably. But overall, the sandwich is just unexciting compared with its Popeyes counterpart.
Still not convinced? Let’s put them next to each other.
On the left is Chick-fil-A’s sandwich, and on the right is Popeyes’ sandwich. Right off the bat, you can see a clear size difference.
Popeyes’ sandwich looks as if it came straight from an advertisement. The bun is fluffy and shapely, and the chicken is tall, proud, and dappled with amber waves of crispy batter.
Meanwhile, Chick-fil-A’s sandwich is less than photogenic. It’s flat, and yes, there’s chicken. But it just looks a lot less appealing than Popeyes’ sandwich.
If we take the sandwiches apart, we can see just how much bigger and more interesting Popeyes’ sandwich is.
The giant rounds of pickle are glued to the toasted bun with a swipe of sticky mayo, which in turn glues the pickles and bun to the chicken.
Popeyes’ chicken is perfect. It’s battered for maximum crispiness yet somehow manages to be incredibly juicy on the inside.
Its pickles look and taste gourmet: big, thick, crunchy, sour, and fresh.
Meanwhile, Chick-fil-A’s sandwich puts a dry bun next to a dry piece of chicken.
The pickles are underneath the chicken rather than on top of it, but they’re so thin and wimpy that they might as well not be there.
Granted, Chick-fil-A’s sandwich isn’t all bad.
The chicken, for example, tastes pretty good. It’s not nearly as crispy, juicy, or thick as Popeyes’ chicken, but it’s not bad.
That’s about it. The pickles are really just lip service, and the standard bun, though toasted, is nothing to text home about.
Popeyes’ breading is so fresh that it can peel off if it’s stuck to the bun. That might be a minus for some, but it’s not for me.
And Popeyes knows that the way to a woman’s heart is a nice, thick slice of pickle. Its pickles add a pop of fresh tartness that elevates the already perfect chicken. Its bun, too, is toasted, buttery, fluffy, and thick.
Chick-fil-A’s sandwich isn’t bad. Just like everything else the chain offers, it’s reliably OK. But Popeyes’ sandwich is a handful of heaven. And even though it’s much larger, it costs a dollar less.
But I get it. Love is often irrational. Those of you who love Chick-fil-A will probably go back time and again for its mediocre, overpriced chicken sandwich. And I won’t blame you. The heart wants what it wants. That said, I know what my heart wants: Popeyes forever.