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Column: Can any fast food chain’s chicken sandwich rival Chick-fil-A?
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Chick-fil-A stood its ground for decades as the dominating fast-food producer of simple chicken sandwiches with a few slices of pickles. Can it stand up to those who threaten its throne? - photo by Kelsey Podo

The war between fast food chains for the title of best chicken sandwich isn’t over. This year, more restaurants entered the fray.

The chicken sandwich wars began in August 2019 when Popeyes released its chicken sandwich to go after Chick-fil-A’s title as the chain with the best chicken sandwich. 

A craze broke out over the internet as thousands flooded Popeyes restaurants to get a taste of the new sandwich. Drive-thru lines stretched past the restaurants and into the streets, with locations experiencing a chicken sandwich shortage locally and across the country. 

Now, Zaxby’s and McDonald’s have entered the war. McDonald’s released several variants of the chicken sandwich in February and Zaxbys recently put out its signature chicken sandwich to all locations in early March. 

As a native of Gainesville, the self-proclaimed chicken capital of the world, I took it upon myself to try all four sandwiches to see whose is really the best. I ordered the sandwiches as they come, with no alterations, and decided to stay away from the spicy versions to make sure things didn’t get too complicated.

I will be rating the sandwiches on three main categories: taste, presentation and value on a 1 to 5 scale. 

Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A is famously known as the home of the original chicken sandwich. Its classic chicken sandwich features a buttered bun, three pickle slices and fried chicken. The sandwich is simple but still packs a lot of flavor into the chicken. The restaurant uses peanut oil to fry its food, and you can tell in the flavor of the chicken that it is different. The presentation is not as grand as some of the other sandwiches I’m trying, but it doesn’t take much away from the taste. The sandwich by itself costs $3.69, making it one of the cheaper options from the list. The overall taste of the sandwich for the price that it costs is a great deal despite the loss of points for presentation.

Taste: 4.5

Presentation: 3

Value: 4

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Popeyes thought it started and ended the chicken sandwich wars with its crispy, hearty challenge, but this brave warrior will have to defend itself against new rivals. - photo by Kelsey Podo
Popeyes

Popeyes began this feud with the release of its sandwich, and I see where it all the craze came from. The taste of the sandwich was outstanding for a meal I was able to get in minutes. The sandwich, again, was simple with only pickles and mayonnaise to accompany the chicken and bread. It had a nice crunch along with amazing flavor that can only come from Popeyes’ special seasoning and flour blend. The bread also had a nice, buttery taste. The presentation for the sandwich was also good with the sandwich held in wax paper. Costing $3.99, the value for this sandwich has to be best because of the great flavor and size of the sandwich itself.

Taste: 3.5

Presentation: 4

Value: 4.5

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Zaxby's chicken sandwich steps up to the plate as a new competitor in the chicken sandwich wars. - photo by Kelsey Podo
Zaxby’s

Zaxby’s is the third chicken restaurant to enter this war. The chicken sandwich comes with crispy chicken, pickles and the signature Zax Sauce. From the looks of it, this sandwich is very similar to Popeyes. The sandwich is big in size, and the chicken itself tastes similar to Popeyes, but the Zax Sauce is what makes this sandwich unique in flavor. Presentation is actually the best I saw, with a fancy looking bread and not messy at all even with the sauce on top. Value for the sandwich is well balanced with the huge sandwich costing $4.99. The presentation and the flavor of the sandwich really make it all come together for a good value, but still on the more expensive side. 

Taste: 3

Presentation: 4.5

Value: 3

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McDonald's reminds its patrons that it, too, has a gladiator willing to step out in the the chicken sandwich wars arena. - photo by Kelsey Podo
McDonald’s

McDonald’s has had several chicken sandwiches, including the buttermilk chicken sandwich, the McChicken and now this crispy chicken sandwich. The sandwich is not different from the rest when it comes to presentation. Featuring three pickles, the bun and the chicken, the sandwich is basic. The flavor is still good, however, with a slight crunch, and the chicken itself seems to have its own pickle taste. In a way it’s similar to a school cafeteria chicken sandwich, not a first choice but not bad. Presentation-wise, it doesn’t look too appealing, especially compared with the other four. The price for this sandwich is $3.69, but it still doesn’t make up for the flavor. Especially compared to the Chick-fil-A sandwich, which is equal in price and vastly better in taste. 

Taste: 3

Presentation: 2.5

Value: 3

After a pretty great experience trying chicken sandwiches for a day, the winner for the chicken sandwich war has to be Popeyes. The different flavor and crunch from the chicken along with the presentation made this my personal favorite.

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