The Fried Chicken Sandwich II: Clash of the Titans

Zev Green

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  No matter how much I think I’ve grown as a person, I inevitably find myself back here.  Pitting one fried chicken sandwich against another in glorious combat.  

Sound familiar?  It should.  But whereas last time I evaluated two gourmet fried chicken sandwiches, today we’re kicking it a little more traditional.

If you know anything about me, you know that I’m a Popeyes man through and through.  Skeptical?  I had Popeyes cater my Bar Mitzvah at age 13.  

Anyway, I’m sure you all remember when the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich mania happened last year.  Popeyes had always been a straight-up fried chicken spot, and their fans (me) knew that such a simple product kept the actual quality of the chicken high, as they couldn’t conceal shoddy chicken with sauces. 

So when they introduced their sandwich in August of last year, people lost their minds.  For some people, the sandwich was literally to die for, as someone was stabbed to death for it in Maryland.  Additionally, Chik-fil-A, the original fried chicken sandwich chain, took offense. CNBC wrote of the feud:

“Chick-fil-A, the biggest chicken chain in the U.S. by sales, alluded to the new [Popeyes] sandwich Monday in a tweet that said “Bun + Chicken + Pickles = all the [heart] for the original” about its own chicken sandwich.”

Fast-forward to today, I was bugging my parents to order Popeyes, as during quarantine they were offering free delivery.  Though I had sampled it previously during Thanksgiving week, I decided to get it again and pressured my family into doing the same.

One thing we need to account for is something I call “delivery handicap”.  That’s essentially the degree to which the quality of the food goes down during the delivery process.  It took about 35 minutes for the delivery, during which the sandwich was essentially steaming itself in its foil-lined bag. 


Simplicity is the key to this sandwich – it’s just a fried chicken breast on a brioche bun with a smear of spicy Cajun sauce and a few dill pickles.


It wasn’t as good as the first time, but I’m attributing that to the aforementioned “delivery handicap”.  Regardless, it was still delicious.

The next day, we paid a visit to Uwajimaya for some dystopian social distancing shopping.  As we were waiting outside to enter the store, I spotted a Chik-fil-A across the street. 

I, well aware of Chik-fil-A’s reputation as the original masters of the fried chicken sandwich, convinced my parents to pay it a visit for lunch so I could compare the two sandwiches.

After ordering a spicy chicken sandwich, I decided to wait on eating it to give it the same “delivery handicap” that the Popeyes sandwich had.

The Chik-fil-A sandwich was shockingly similar to the Popeyes one in almost every way.  They tasted very similar – both had nice, crispy chicken with a slightly soggy bun (delivery handicap, people) and a few dill pickles for some acidity.  


The biggest difference?  The keyword ‘spicy’.  For an allegedly Cajun fried chicken sandwich, the heat from Popeyes was puny and disappointing.  You have no idea how much it hurt me to refer to a Popeyes product as ‘puny’.

For this reason, and this reason alone, the Chik-fil-A sandwiches triumphs over its Popeyes counterpart.  Though it hurts,  I have to speak my truth.  I take solace in the fact that Popeyes chicken is good enough to eat it straight up, without any frills.  Until Chik-fil-A starts serving à la carte chicken, I will stand by Popeyes.