We’re in the middle of a fight that wasn’t expected. Fueled by media that caters to click-bait
stories, social media warriors were quick to choose sides and take up
arms. The physical battleground was well
represented at high noon Sunday in Cobb County on Windy Hill Road, just down
from the Braves new stadium off an exit from I-75.
A Popeye’s Chicken restaurant was in gridlock. It was difficult to tell where the drive
through line began or ended. The parking
lot was full. A bank separating the two
combatants handled a bit of overflow parking.
Chick-Fil-A stood quiet, closed as is tradition on
Sundays. The sign however, told the
story. “FYI We don’t’ run out of chicken
A customer coming out of the Popeye’s looked at me taking a
picture of the scene and began chuckling through his exasperation. “They won’t have more chicken sandwiches
available until after 2pm. I’ve been
trying to get one of those things for four days!”
This was bound to happen.
Chick-Fil-A is one of the nation’s fastest growing restaurant brands,
having recently become the third largest by sales in the country. Others have taken notice, with Popeye’s now
moving into the sandwich business and McDonald’s franchisees having openly
called for a Chick-Fil-A competitor in June.
With Popeye’s apparently getting the product right (I, like
the gentleman I met in the bank parking lot, have yet to muster the patience to
procure one), they’re now learning that there’s more to Chick-Fil-A than a
chicken breast on a buttered bun with pickles.
There’s a supply chain, and there’s a human element that no restaurant
brand has come close to matching.
It will be interesting to see if Popeye’s can maintain the
enthusiasm once their offering becomes a daily routine. Others will be looking to see if Chick-Fil-A
maintains its market share, or if others can take a bite out of the brand’s
growth with their new offerings. With
Chick-Fil-A headquartered in Georgia, and Georgia being the largest producer of
chicken in the country, we have a vested interest in the outcome.
I don’t know what the kids today will tell their
grandchildren about the great chicken sandwich wars of 2019, but I will offer
that it offers a glimpse into the state of current discourse. The steps are generally the same:
A relatively inconsequential topic “goes viral”.
Opportunists graft onto the popularity to use it
as a vehicle for their own cause.
People quickly choose sides appropriating their
views as good and wholesome while the other must be rejected and the
personification of evil.
It’s been interesting to see social media warriors use fried
chicken sandwiches as their vehicle of virtue, but it’s not really a new
phenomenon. Some view eating at
Chick-Fil-A as their mid-week communion, while others project their own intolerance
onto the chain.
As the Popeye’s side of the story began to build, some began
to chide those fighting for sandwiches for not putting the same enthusiasm into
voting. These are the kinds of people
that fail to recognize that a hot chicken sandwich from either chain would
likely win a contest over the diet of politics and politicians we are offered
from both parties. They’re also probably
really annoying to have lunch with.
For a resolution to the chicken wars, I’ll offer a memory
from Chick-Fil-A’s founder, Truett Cathy, that is three to four decades
old. I recall him speaking of someone
once apologizing to him for eating at KFC, which was the major if not only
national fried chicken chain at the time.
He told them not to worry about it, as even his family occasionally
needed somewhere to eat on Sunday.
Besides, he said, if you want to pay for bones instead of chicken…
KFC didn’t need to fail for Chick-Fil-A to succeed, and
neither does Popeye’s. Mr. Cathy would
just want you to vote early, and vote often.
Georgia’s chicken producers would say “my pleasure” at the opportunity
to keep the contest going.
Publisher of GeorgiaPol.com
UGA & GSU degrees in Economics
Executive Director for PolicyBEST
Interests are public policy solutions in Education, Science & Medicine, and Transportation that keep GA competitive and a great place to live.