Review: Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwiches
Chick-fil-A. Love it or hate it? I seem to be at odds. There is a mass hysteria surrounding them right now, and I’m not entirely sure why.
I know that they have received a lot of bad press over their owner’s strong Southern Baptist beliefs. Those beliefs cause him to close all his stores on Sundays, and cause him to support traditional bible-centric marriage between 1 man and 1 woman. These actions have caused an internet sensation of people (mostly supporters of same-sex marriage) ripping on the restaurant chain and boycotting their food. Is this what’s causing the amazing business success and public hysteria?
Whether you agree or disagree with Chick-fil-A’s owner, Mr. S. Truett Cathy’s, principles of faith, his strict adherence to them has probably led to his success as a business owner. I have no doubt that it has also helped define his character as a man. That character can be seen in all the different charitable donations Chick-fil-A has provided, as well as all the scholarships they have issued. Personally, I respect Mr. Cathy for standing up for what he believes in, regardless of the consequences on his business.
From what I have researched, it seems that Mr. Cathy, and his family, run their business unselfishly, and don’t ask their employees to do anything they are not willing to do themselves (like working on Sundays, Christmas, and Thanksgiving for example). Their business has exploded over the years, becoming the 2nd largest chicken retailer in the country (2nd only to KFC), as well as surpassing even McDonald’s in the average sales per restaurant ($2.7 million per restaurant as compared to $2.4 million at each McDonald’s). Despite the negative press and food bans, Chick-fil-A’s sales continue to soar. But I find it hard to believe that the opposing sociological and political views surrounding Chick-fil-A are what are creating the mass “eat more chicken” madness.
So it must stem from their food. I’ve noticed that people go crazy for it. Their restaurants are packed with chicken lovers. What exactly is going on?
A new Chick-fil-A recently opened in Meridian, Idaho. They have 2 drive through lines, and every day those lines are backed up clear out into the parking lots of the surrounding businesses. I was going to pull in and give their food a try, but quickly decided to go inside instead because of that line. But the place was packed inside as well! It was standing room only. What the freak? So I gave it a couple months to slow down before I tried it again. Nope, still just as packed. I thought to myself, “that must be some damn good chicken! I’d better get my hands on some fast!” I’m ashamed of myself for falling prey to this mass hysteria. Is this the same thing that happened years ago with Krispy Kreme donuts? Just mass hysteria around a food without much substance? I had to find out, so I braved the crowd and went in.
As I stood in line to order, I stared at the remarkably undesirable menu board. Chicken sandwiches and fries. Do they have anything else? Oh, there’s a salad with the same chicken on it I could choose. And there’s the same salad wrapped up in a tortilla. Or wait, there are some chicken nuggets. Oooo, what’s that? A chicken soup! Oh, nope, there’s the mother load that’s making everyone go crazy….. a chicken salad sandwich. Nice! What the hell is going on? I ordered a plain original chicken sandwich, and its spicy version right next to it. I kindly paid my $7, took my receipt, and found a stool to sit on. Their staff brought me my food, somehow knowing exactly who I was, what I ordered, and where I took my seat. Alas, the moment of truth had arrived….
Chick-fil-A Original Chicken Sandwich Good or Bad?
So, honestly, what goes through your mind when you look at this picture? Do you think to yourself, “Oh my gosh, this is going to be the most amazing chicken creation I’ve ever put in my mouth?” Do you think, “this is so beautiful I’m about to cry?” Or are you like me and think, “this thing is what everyone’s going so ape-shit about?” I wasn’t sure what was happening. This is a breaded and deep-fried chicken breast with some pickle slices on a plain, ugly hamburger bun. There is no sauce, no lettuce, no special components, no anything. I could have splurged for lettuce, tomato, and a slice of American cheese for $.60 more I guess, but would it have made any difference? I was mesmerized with the fact that this sandwich built a $4.6 billion dollar company.
“Well, the chicken breast must be really really good,” I thought. So I took a bite. Here’s what it looked like:
Hmm. See the pickles? They had a nice crunch and tasted like….pickles. The bun was the typical flattened, sweet fast-food burger bun (but at least it was toasted), and the chicken was a whole chicken breast. I appreciate that is was a whole chicken breast. That’s better than most fast food press-formed chicken patties for sure. The seasoning in the breading was good, but nothing magical by any means. It had a nice black pepper flavor, some onion powder, some herbs, and other things like sugar I imagine, and it was nice and crunchy. The chicken itself was very moist and tender; a result of the pressure-fryer it was cooked in. And that’s where I get really confused.
People have been diminishing in their KFC eating because of the exact same pressure-frying cooking method. Pressure frying forces hot oil into the chicken meat, and drastically reduces the overall cooking time required. This “oil injection” is what helps make KFC’s chicken (and Chick-fil-A’s as well) so moist and tender. It is also what makes it so high in calories. So if KFC chicken is so bad for us, why isn’t Chick-fil-A’s when it’s cooked in the exact same fashion? (hint: they are equally as bad for you) And why have people stopped eating lunch at KFC? KFC’s seasoning is far tastier, they make their chicken sandwiches out of whole chicken breasts too, and their sandwiches come with bacon, cheese, and sauce. Maybe it’s because Chick-fil-A offers 10 different sauce packets to squeeze onto your sandwich. But most of those sauces are calorie nightmares, and are full of corn syrup and/or sugar. Seems a bit silly.
The Chicken Sandwich tasted good, and so did the Spicy Chicken Sandwich (exact same chicken and seasoning as far as I could tell, except with a hot cayenne pepper addition that made it actually very spicy), but neither where anywhere near the worth of hysteria our society is giving Chick-fil-A.
Chick-fil-A Chargrilled Chicken Club Sandwich Review
After my first experience, I decided that maybe I should give their grilled chicken a try. So I went back another day and ordered their Chargrilled Club.
The presentation of this sandwich was much better with nice beautiful leaf lettuce, crisp red bacon, melted provolone cheese, pickles, tomato, and a marinated grilled whole chicken breast all on a pretty wheat bun. “This is more like it,” I thought. I figured this was what the hysteria must be stemming from. So I eagerly dove in.
Just look at that beautiful chicken breast! It was so tender, and so moist, and it was grilled! Finally, a great tasting and healthy sandwich at a fast food chain! Well, maybe not. This guy still brought in 400 calories, 36 carbs, and 1110mg of sodium, all before I added any sauce to make it taste better. And a quick check of the ingredients show: butter flavored vegetable oil (think butter flavored Pam), added flavors, preservatives (TBHQ) salts, sugars, and a cute little workaround to MSG – yeast extracts and disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate. The yeast and the disodiums have the two main building blocks of MSG, so when combined, you get practically the same thing as MSG but don’t have to label it as such. Like I said, cute workaround.
That being said, it was fairly tasty, though I didn’t love the processed fake tasting marinade. And 400 calories is pretty good when compared to other fast food options. It didn’t fill me up though, so I found myself ordering another item off the menu to leave satisfied. But if you want a lower calorie option, and a decent tasting chicken sandwich, Chick-fil-A’s Chargrilled Club might be worth ordering, especially if you pour some of their low-calorie Buffalo Sauce (only 10 calories per pack) on it.
Chick-fil-A Chicken Biscuit Breakfast Sandwich, What a Joke
I don’t even know what to say about this thing. What a stupid and pathetic creation. I’m embarrassed that I ate it. I’m just glad I got it for free with a coupon to lesson my shame. It’s their deep fried chicken breast, and hallmark pickles, put on a buttermilk biscuit.
The chicken was as good/bad as the rest (because it’s the same bloody chicken!), and the biscuit was fluffy and good. But this thing brings in 440 calories, 20g of fat, 48 g of carbs, and 1210mg of sodium. Plus you have to eat it with one of their dipping sauces if you want any flavor at all. I paired mine with 2 packs of BBQ sauce, which brought in another 90 calories, 11g of carbs, and 180mg of sodium. So this one little breakfast sandwich started my day with 530 calories and close to an entire day’s allotment of sodium! Compare that to a better tasting McDonald’s Egg McMuffin at 300 calories, 30g of carbs, and 780mg of sodium, and you start to see just how ridiculous this breakfast beast is. No thanks Chick-fil-A. I have better things to get fat off of.
Ethics and Morals Behind Chick-fil-A Review
So I still have no idea what the hysteria is all about, and I find myself completely torn on this place. The menu really isn’t anything special; most of their sandwiches are OK at best. But I really admire their Christian business ethics of being closed on Sundays, and also their ownership’s moral standing on doing what they feel is right without fear of what it may do to their business success. I think the social hysteria surrounding them right now is ridiculous, but find myself being willing to eat there despite it. I doubt I will add Chick-fil-A to my lunch routine, but I will likely choose them over the others at airports and such when traveling.
The Bald Gourmet can’t give Chick-fil-A a recommending food review, but admires their business practices and wants to support them because of it.