The debate of the GOAT chicken sandwich has been on-going for as long as what feels like; the same length as Donald Trump in the oval. So(me) might say “enough is enough”, but I ain’t here to debate the presidency (shoutout Joe Biden). This is essentially the Michael Jordan vs Lebron James debate reincarnated.
Following a troubling start to 2020, the Popeyes’ Famous Chicken sandwich made its debut in September of this year. It was the win we Canadians needed to preserve our optimistic outlook on life. Funny enough, Chick-Fil-A took over Canadian headlines when it opened up its Bloor-Yonge store just a year prior to the Popeyes’ new sandwich debut.
After hours of trying to piece together various opinions, public votes and “food expert” breakdowns, it finally occurred to me that no matter what we find on the internet, it will always come down to subjectivity. And whose point of view would be better to write from than a guy like me, who’s been stuffing chicken down his throat since he was two years old? That’s right—no one.
To determine the GOAT once and for all, I’ve broken it down into the following categories: look, taste/texture, size, and price point. Without further ado, let’s bite into this.
You cannot look at me with a straight face and convince me that the Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich actually looks more appetizing than Popeyes’. With no offence to Chick-Fil-A, it looks closer to something my mom would quickly pack me for my middle-school lunches. I will give Chick-Fil-A the benefit of the doubt that they sacrificed their sandwich appearance for its taste, but the L for its look. From the look of it’s brioche bun, to the texture of its chicken patty, you just know Popeyes has something in store for your taste buds before you even need to sample it.
TASTE AND ALL THE FEELS.
Rumour has it, Chick-Fil-A marinates their chicken patties in pickle juice for 30 seconds—giving it its super juicy, flavorful taste and tenderness. Popeyes also takes a similar approach, marinating their meat with their famous reddish-orange seasoning for 12 hours.
The crispiness of the Popeyes chicken patty reigns superior to a rather lackluster breading on the Chick-Fil-A’s. In addition to its lacking texture, Chick-Fil-A just doesn’t offer the same punch that Popeyes has in their evenly-salted, better-sticking buttermilk batter, and New Orleans-inspired cajun spices.
If it’s any consolation, Chick-Fil-A has by far edged Popeyes when it comes to tastier sauces (BBQ and Chick-Fil-A being my personal faves). However, the core of this debate, and sandwich, is the chicken, not the sauces.
The 10,000 hour rule, authored by Malcolm Gladwell, suggests that that’s the magic amount of hours to become world class at any “deliberate practice”. And in the case of marinating, Popeyes proves that effective having more of a consistency of flavour all throughout their chicken sandwich.
Do not be fooled by the trickery of skilled photoshoppers. I’ve had the luxury of holding and eating both sandwiches, and the Popeyes chicken sandwich is by far larger in proportion. Despite Chick-Fil-A’s smaller frame, it packs a punch that could fill you up quickly; but eating two sandwiches back to back, I’ve always had a tougher time getting through two Popeyes sandwiches. Pictures could be deceiving, so I suggest you put the two side by side and see for yourself.
Usually, in a head-to-head comparison over price point, the cheaper one usually wins, right? But when you look to measure “bang for its buck”, this becomes a rocket science argument. Putting a microscope on the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), the Popeyes chicken sandwich is priced storewide at $6.99, where the Chick-Fil-A chicken sits a dollar lower at $5.99. Because we are talking about food here and not electronics, I will spare us all here and give this one to Chick-Fil-A simply for being the cheaper of the two.
With a 3-1 ratio, Popeyes takes the W. Debate your granny.
Some honourable mentions are KFC—who created a late-summer two day frenzy by selling their new-to-Canada chicken sandwich for as cheap as $2, Wendy’s who has been around 10x longer than Trump in office, and the post-secondary goer favorite, the Junior Chicken sandwich from your friendly neighbourhood McDonald’s.