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?

Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich

Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich

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:

Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich Inside

Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich Inside

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.

Chick-fil-A Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich

Chick-fil-A Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich

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.

Chick-fil-A Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich Inside

Chick-fil-A Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich Inside

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

Chick-fil-A Chicken Biscuit

Chick-fil-A Chicken Biscuit

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.

Chick-Fil-a on Urbanspoon

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.

 

14 Comments + Add Comment

  • As a former Chick-fil-A employee, I’d have to agree with you when it comes to the quality of the menu items offered. I have tried everything (literally everything) on the menu. It’s all the same; fried chicken to which you dip in fatty sauces or grilled chicken with an awful, plasticky marinade flavor. I mean I ate it because I had to most of the time, not because I actually loved it or enjoyed the flavor. After two years of working there, I still support everything that Mr. Cathy believes when it comes to how he runs his business. I worked there during the boycott of Chick-fil-A by the LGBT community and to be honest it only made business even better normal. I understand that Mr. Cathy supports a marriage between a man and a woman. I don’t believe he was saying that he “hates gays” like everyone was trying to throw around. He was simply standing up for his Christian beliefs and morals regardless to how it would effect business. Funny enough, we were probably the busiest during that whole boycott than we had been for months. So when it comes to food, I’d say ehh it’s alright. But when it comes to supporting the business because of Mr. Cathy, then I’d say give it a try.

    • Thanks for commenting Chelsea. Great insight. I appreciate you sharing.

  • I have to (strongly) disagree with your comments about their food. I think it is pretty amazing. Especially the chicken biscuit at breakfast!!! And I don’t care about the political views. I go there to eat. why? Because their chicken is pretty amazing.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts Aimee. I’ll give them yet another try.

    • I agree with your comments about the Bald Gourmet regarding Chick A Fil. The first item I take exception to is his language. Was his schooling inept or was he inept in gaining knowledge and the usage of larger words to describe situations?

      Secondly, the Bald Gourmet shows his ineptness or lack of desire to learn or embrace regional cultures. The biscuit review (which he was paid to provide and negates his opinion) showcases his lack of knowledge in the area of what he professes to be an expert.

      Thank you.

      Choosewiselymydear

      • Choose Wisely – First of all, I’m bold enough to approve your comment for all of my readers to enjoy. Secondly, I’m not sure what ineptness you’re referring to. If you’re referring to my use of “shit, damn, and freak”, they were appropriate descriptions and flowed with my lighthearted and humorous writing style. If you were referring to my 2 grammatical typos, thanks for pointing them out so that I could correct them and update. But I must say that I had a good laugh at your own maladroit spelling of “Chick A Fill” instead of Chick-fil-A. Funny that you would insult me but not take the time to ensure your own competency! And lastly, the chicken breakfast biscuit is ridiculous because it doesn’t taste very good and is obscenely high in fat, calories, and sodium. I stand by what I said, regardless of its regional southern classic traditions. The bowl of steaming intestines and rice porridge I ate at a Vietnamese stand last year wasn’t very tasty either, but am I supposed to love it and sing its flavor praise because it is a regional favorite in Vietnam? Shit tastes like shit regardless of its cultural representation and history.

        And for the record, I do not get paid for any of my reviews. They are 100% unbiased and honest from my mouth to your screen. The pursuit and sharing of true deliciousness is The Bald Gourmet’s mission. The chicken biscuit at Chick-fil-A does not meet that mission, nor did the rest of their menu items I reviewed. There are better options to find elsewhere, but if you love “Chick A Fill’s” food, then by golly keep on buying it.

  • Please make spicy nuggets and strips. Thanks:)

    • I agree, Jennifer. That would be a most welcome addition to their menu.

  • Hi Jothan,
    Like you I respect Mr. Kathy for sticking to his beliefs and resented the hell out of those people who went after him. I never knew he was so charitable. Obviously he considers religion a source of inspiration to be a better person rather than looking down on those with other beliefs like the people who attacked him. I went in for the first time solely as a show of support. I was struck by the quality of the staff. They were friendly, helpful and informed, and seemed genuinely happy to be there. As usual, your review was accurate, though I really liked the spicy chicken sandwich. The reason I don’t go in more is that my biggest junk food weakness is next door-The Cracker Barrel.
    Keep up the good work
    Jeff

    • Thanks Jeff. Insightful comments for sure.

  • I have no need to eat at a restaurant that feels it is ok to discriminate against a segment of the population they disagree with. And I must admit…why pay for such mediocre food when I have better options?

    • Joan, I would agree about their mediocre food. I don’t get the craze over Chick-fil-A. I guess they’re better than McDonalds though, so if I had to choose between the two, McDonalds would lose every time.

      As for discrimination, I think we need to be careful with the use of that word. Chick-fil-A does not discriminate in their restaurants or employment force. They actually have very strict rules against discrimination in their workforce. Their private owners are strict southern baptist Christians that support traditional marriage values and political movements. Their support is vocal, organized, and financial. They have a profitable business, and have the American right to spend the personal income they take as pay from that business in anyway that they choose. For us as an American public to dictate otherwise would be a form of discrimination itself wouldn’t it? It just seems like those that are pro gay movement discriminate against the pro Christian value movement, and vice versa. Tricky business for sure. That’s why I stick to the simpler matter at hand, which is the food and eating. Chick-fil-A’s sandwiches are fair, but not exceptional by any means. I will eat them when other choices are limited, but probably won’t go out of my way seek them out…. solely based on the flavor, quality, and health of their food offerings.

  • I am not a fan. Wife loves it, so just like most things… She and I disagree.

  • I don’t understand the hype either. Hilary and family all love the place but I always steered clear because I figured it was just a bunch of white meat, which I don’t generally like from fast food places because it’s usually dry.

    There are lots of Chick-fil-As in Texas and one recently opened up in our former neighborhood. When we were there over the holidays last year I decided to go ahead and give it a try. I tried the chicken fingers and those were actually pretty good. I’d go back for those. And there is a breakfast sausage biscuit, which I believe I got egg and cheese on, that I really liked. But that’s not chicken is it? I think I agree with you about their other chicken offerings.

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I'm Jothan Yeager and I am The Bald Gourmet. After years of experimenting in my kitchen, creating delicious food and eating at amazing places around the world, I wanted a place to share my experiences with everyone. Thus the Bald Gourmet was born. I hope to open the doors of great food and great cooking to you, to inspire you to reach beyond prepared boxed meals, and to teach you of a world of deliciousness that has brought joy to me and those around me. Please enjoy the adventure which is The Bald Gourmet and share it with those you love.