Living in Georgia there aren’t as many things as dominant as the stronghold that Chick-fil-a has in the state for the fast-food game. Kate Taylor of Business Insider reports that as of 2019 the restaurant chain ranks 3rd largest in the US only behind McDonalds and Starbucks. It is known around the country as the fast-food chicken sandwich don of the southeast. No one has truly been able to rival the simple yet iconic classic entrée. At least that is what I thought until August 13th when I tried Popeye’s new chicken sandwich.
Popeye’s has been in the chicken game since its inception and has been a staple for family meals across the US forever. In fact, fans of the restaurant alike have wondered why it has not attempted to make a sandwich to rival the southeast giant as the actual chicken has been thought to be superior in taste. I suppose that the cliché phrase, better late than never, applies here because the hype is real.
I went with two of my close friends to try it as the rumors of it being better than chick-fil-a is almost sacrilegious in of itself. I ordered the spicy one. It took a little while for the sandwich to come out after we ordered which is honestly a good sign. Chick-fil-a is known for their great customer service and fast turnaround time. However, that usually means that the food isn’t as fresh as it should be. These Popeye’s sandwiches needed some more TLC I suppose. When we got the order I was taken aback by the packaging that it was delivered in. The bag was basically the same as the iconic, foiled on the inside bag that Chick-fil-a. This has to be a direct shot at the king. Taking it out the bag the two things I initially noticed are that the sandwich is wrapped in a paper skirt copying a lot of food spots on the west coast and that the piece of meat in between the bun is huge in comparison to its competitors. I would say it’s 2-3 inches thick as if they just deboned chicken breast and put in on the bun. The first bite was mouthwateringly juicy. I was a bit surprised that I wasn’t eating a Chick-fil-a product honestly. I kept going through getting more impressed by the bite mark. It was when that sauce hit my tongue when everything changed for me. That sauce took a sandwich that was pretty good and could give Chick-fil-a some trouble to actually putting its foot on the king’s neck. That sauce is the equivalent of Klay Thompson in Game 6 of a playoff game. I was mesmerized. My friends were equally as shocked. After finishing the meal, I couldn’t stop talking about it. This led to a second trip the next day with my coworker and good friend, Donovan who will be providing his own take on this magical meal.
In conclusion, Popeye’s has done it. Down goes Frazier. There is a new king of the south.
As you go throughout life, you come across things that are universal facts. The sky is blue, water is wet, and Chick-Fil-A is the king of the chicken sandwich. As a native ATLien, Chick-Fil-A has seemingly been a part of my life for as long as breathing. And for a majority of my life whenever I would want to make my fast food runs, I would run to Chick-Fil-A. The service was pristine, the lemonade was refreshing, the ice cream was appetizing, and the waffle fries were made in grease that would put a smile on anyone’s face (when fresh of course). But nothing on their menu was as flavorful, as delectable, or as palatable as their chicken sandwich. Whether you got the original or the deluxe edition, the Chick-Fil-A sandwich was automatically a tier 1 sandwich. A healthy-sized chicken breast, pickles, and buns were all it needed to reach the hearts of millions of customers across the country.
Then, I heard the rumblings from close friends and colleagues that there was a new king of the chicken sandwich from Popeyes. I wanted to keep an open mind and go try the sandwich for myself. But could that really be true? Chick-Fil-A, the chicken sandwich that has been there with me for all of my life, could be dethroned? And by Popeye’s? Do not get me wrong, I recognize Popeye’s as the best-fried chicken chain restaurant. Better than Bojangles’, Church’s, and yes, better than KFC. But that is a completely different game compared to the chicken sandwich game. Could it truly be done?
Yes, yes it can. And it was done by a landslide. Let me tell you my story of how Popeye’s original chicken sandwich destroyed everything Chick-Fil-A has done.
Upon entering the Popeye’s restaurant, I was nervous about what was about to happen. And as I placed my order and sat down at my table, I began to grow even more nervous. I did not know if the hype I had heard from this sandwich would be true, and Popeye’s was not helping with my anxiousness as I had to wait for a good fifteen minutes before I received my meal. But as I had heard the waitress call my name and I rose to collect my tray, I could tell just by the aura in the room that things were about to go down. I sat down, gathered myself together and unwrapped the sandwich from its containment, and what I saw alone told me I was in for a doozy. The sandwich was literally steaming upon leaving its packaging. Steaming. No Chick-Fil-A sandwich I’ve ever had has accomplished this feat alone. The chicken breast alone was intimidating compared to the chicken breast from Chick-Fil-A. Much more full, flaky and seemingly more seasoned than the so-called “king of the chicken sandwiches”. And the pickles within the sandwich were noticeable without me having to take the bun apart, which was already a bonus for me.
As I took my first bite, my teeth were the first to notice that Popeye’s was going to change me. The sandwich has a delightful crispiness to it not ever achieved by a Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich. But the sandwich was not crunchy, it was firm and full. However, that was not the only aspect of this sandwich that makes it king. As I continued my bite my tongue noticed the flavor, and I cannot describe how well-seasoned, how juicy, how incredible this sandwich was. The next thing my tongue noticed was the mayonnaise and pickle, which complimented the chicken breast like a drummer and a bass player in a rock band. Even the bun on the sandwich was of quality, as once I began to chew on the first bite the bun made its sweet and savory presence known to my taste buds.
My friends that were with me at the restaurant can attest to the fact that I was completely blank-faced and in awe of what just happened. A silence had fallen over me as I began to reflect on what had just happened and how this was possible. But after I took my time enjoying what would be the first of many chicken sandwiches from Popeye’s, one thing became apparently clear: some universal facts are wrong.
In the words of Omar Little, “you come at the king, you best not miss”. Popeye’s had Chick-Fil-A lined up in the crosshairs for the title of chicken sandwich king, and fired. Now we live in the reign of the Popeye’s Chicken sandwich. All hail the king.
Photo Credits: Jenny G. Zhang/Eater
Ethan Orphe is the Sports Director and Donovan Taggart is the Assistant Music Director at The WOLF Internet Radio. Check out their podcast Anistalgia right here on thewolfuwg.com returning this fall.