Winner, Winner, Chicken Sandwich

Sentry+Staff+Reporter+Evan+Rotker+trying+one+of+the+chicken+sandwiches+in+question.+

Quinlan Montgomery

Sentry Staff Reporter Evan Rotker trying one of the chicken sandwiches in question.

Evan Rotker, Sentry Staff Reporter

The Popeyes vs. Chick-fil-A debate has captivated the country since Popeyes’ release of their own version of the chicken sandwich. It was originally released on August 12, and was immediately compared to rival Chick-fil-A’s sandwich. The debate swept the nation, fiercely dividing customers and driving sales through the roof. Popeyes quickly ran out of these sandwiches, first at individual stores and eventually at every location across the country. November 3 marked the return of the sandwich, and the heated argument over store superiority was back in full force.

When analyzing the situation, the sandwich itself is obviously the most important piece, but other elements must also be taken into account. To make a final verdict, you must take a holistic approach to the full body of work. The side dishes, service and every other facet of the dining experience must also be considered when making a final decision.

I will start with the sandwich itself. Chick-fil-A offers a classic and spicy sandwich, both are staples of their menu. The difference between the two options is evident, as the spicy sandwich provides a powerful kick to compliment the tender chicken. The chicken is covered with a sizable, but not overbearing, breading on the outside that provides a sufficient crunch. The meat itself is well-cooked and noticeably high-quality, and the peanut oil provides an extra level of flavor. The bun, however, leaves something to be desired, as the toasted bread is often flavorless and adds nothing to the meal.

Popeyes also offers two options, but the difference between them is negligible. The ‘spicy’ option is more flavorful than the traditional, making it the preferred option. The sandwich is massive, chicken protruding on all sides of the brioche bun. This bun is far superior to Chick-fil-A’s, as the brioche is well-buttered and thick, adding an extra component to compliment the chicken. The breading on Popeyes’ sandwich is buttermilk, providing thick layers of crunch as opposed to Chick-fil-A, which prefers to highlight the chicken itself. The breading on Popeyes’ is almost overbearing: one could conceivably take a bite and end up with just bun and breading. For some, this may be a drawback, but I believe a good crunch is essential to the sandwich experience. Finally, the meat is mediocre but not incredible-not on the same plane as Chick-fil-A. Despite this, it is certainly aided by the great flavors that accompany it.

Chick-fil-A prides itself on great service, and it shows. Not only are orders filled quickly, but the staff is  welcoming and happy to assist. Popeyes, on the other hand, has dealt with a severe influx of hopeful sandwich-triers, and have their staff overworked as a result. At peak hour, wait times can reach 30 to 45 minutes, a definite hassle.

In order to properly compare side dishes, I went with a classic: french fries. Both restaurants have their own unique take on fries, both of which are superior to many fast food alternatives. Popeyes serves cajun fries: traditional fries slathered in powerful cajun seasoning. They are incredibly flavorful and compliment the sandwich beautifully, but often end up undercooked and slightly soggy. Chick-fil-A, on the other hand, has their famous waffle fries, the best of any fast food chain. Also fried in peanut oil for  extra flavor, they are thick, crispy and covered in a healthy layer of salt.

Each establishment has a slightly different offer. Chick-Fil-A wows with service (I’ve never been there without hearing “my pleasure” at least three times), and has the edge with side dishes. But when push comes to shove, the debate is over the sandwich, and for that, look no further than the ‘Louisiana Fast’ promise at your local Popeyes.