We are living in a fried chicken sandwich renaissance

A bun, some pickles, a little bit of mayo, along with a big old piece of crispy tender friend chicken seem to be the big trend in food culture right now.

Blake_Morse

I don't think it's that uncommon for people to contemplate the origins of nourishment healthy or otherwise. The trial and error process was literally life and death at some point. How else would we know what we can and can't digest now without such primitive tests? But even beyond that, we still wonder how inspiration strikes for more contemporary cuisine. For instance, who said to themsleves "This chicken covered in breadcrumbs and deep fried in oil is good, but what if I put it inbetween even more bread? Whoever they are, they did the world a kindness when they realized you can basically turn anything into a sandwich with the right attitude.

Foods trends come and they go, for a while everyone was all about their fancy coffees. Bacon wrapped everything for a hot minute (and still does in my slowly-clogging heart and artieries). But now is the time of the fried chicken sandwich. If anyone is to blame it's Popeye's. When they launched their sandwich back in August of 2019 folks went crazy for it. Like literally crazy. The lines were long and the demand was high because, let's face it, we all desire decadance in some form or another and a Popeye's chicken sandwich is the kind of taboo just about anyone can afford to partake. 

Here in my beloved Oakland, CA it seems like you can't even throw a rock without hitting a new spot offering up its own take on the down home classic. With that in mind, I thought I'd take a moment to look at some of my personal faves that can be found either nationwide or locally. 

Popeye's

This seems like an obvious place to start, but it's also a really solid minimalist sandwich. I've had a few of these now from a couple different spots in the bay area and they've all been uniformly delectible. The chicken is always succulent and moist while also being just the right amount of crunch. I was never really a Popeye's person, but these sandos have made me a believer. I'd probably ask for light mayo though just to avoid having too much of that vinegar/egg flavor overpower everything.

KFC

I don't really recall if or when the Col. told someone to hold his beer and decided to make his own version of the standard chicken, mayo, pickle, and bun sandwich, but it's right on par with its main competitor. I grew up a KFC kid, so I'm willing to admit I have a personal preference here. But, even before they put out "the standard" I was all about that Snacker slider life because I can get them pre-slathered in BBQ sauce and they're rather inexpensive. 

KFC's real claim to fame though would have to be their Double Down. I mean, it's a fried chicken sandwich where the fried chicken is the bun! In between that fried chicken? Just some bacon, cheese, and some sort of heart-clogging secret sauce. It is the most brilliant idea for a sandwich ever and KFC should've won some sort of Nobel prize for it. Now that I think about it, why is there no Nobel prize for Fried Chicken? Now just bring back the double down, you cowards!!!

Hot Boys

This is my current favorite local spot for what I would consider a hardcore fried chicken sandwich! The ingredients are quality and the flavors they have in their coleslaw and sauces have to be tasted to believe. The one caveat I'd give you is that you better make sure your mouth and your booty are ready for the heat. These boys are definitely hot. I got a medium and the heat was still a lot more intense than I expected. After that initial "holy shit" feeling wore off though it was a magical journey that left me wanting more. Their website is also out of this world. Definitely check them out if you're ever in downtown Oakland. 

BK

Look, I don't know, okay...They're like, two for five bucks usually and they're pretty dang long. Ask for some ranch or honey mustard sauce to put on them and they're edible at the very least. If you're desparate or it's the only spot open they'll do in a pinch. I'd get really stoned first though if you're actually going through with this. (If you're an adult and its legal to smoke weed where you live. Say no to drugs, kids!)

Bakesale Betty's

If you want a basic fried chicken sandwich, but feel like paying a pretentious hipster fee for it, then Bakesale Betty's is the place for you. This local Oakland spot always has a line out the door and tends to sell out and I have no idea why after trying it a handful of times myself. The slaw, if you can even call it that, is bland AF, there's no special sauce or even mayo, and nothing here feels like it was made with love. You get to watch as your sandwich is slapped together rather haphazardly and that's exactly what they do, they just throw it all on the bread and call it a day. I just don't get why people love this place so much, but just about every other local spot, including Ike's, has their own take on it cleverly called something like "The Betty" or "The Bakeshop".

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Okay, I've made myself hungry enough talking about fried chicken sandwiches. I think perhaps it's time for me to put my money where my mouth is so to speak and get some dinner. Come back next week where I'll probably talk about my favorite fried chicken that isn't between two pieces of bread. Or maybe more sandwiches. I dunno. We'll see where things go. In the meantime, let me know what FCS is best in your life. 

From The Chatty
  • reply
    February 25, 2021 7:02 PM

    Let's talk about fried chicken sandwiches now

    Read more: We are living in a fried chicken sandwich renaissance

    • reply
      February 25, 2021 7:11 PM

      I agree and I'm not mad at it, love me a good spicy chicken sandwich. Semi-related, but are chicken burgers the next thing? This place recently opened up nearby that serves the steak burger equivalent but using chicken lhttps://www.chixenkc.com/, never heard of it but curious to see what they taste like.

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        February 25, 2021 7:14 PM

        Nothing will ever replace a real burger. NOTHING! :P

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      February 25, 2021 7:25 PM

      Agreed, this is truly the golden age of chicken sandwiches. The best one I’ve had recently is at the Chick N Bros food truck in San Jose. I’m pretty good with spice (I'm half Thai!), but a level 2 out of 5 sandwich was almost too hot for me. https://yelp.to/MPCuSQ7fbeb

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        February 26, 2021 1:47 AM

        guess I know what's happening for lunch today hah

      • reply
        February 26, 2021 10:58 AM

        Nice! I'll have to check them out next time I hit up the south bay!

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      February 25, 2021 7:34 PM

      the nashville hot chicken is dead. long live the nashville hot chicken!

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      February 25, 2021 7:48 PM

      Holy shit that Hot Boys sandwich looks good. Too bad I'm 2000 miles away :(

      In the meantime, somehow I've never tried the Popeyes sandwich, despite having a Popeyes very close. Do I need to rectifiy this?

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      February 25, 2021 8:14 PM

      No mention of Wendy's, who were doing spicy fried chicken sandwiches long before they were cool? Their spicy chicken asiago ranch club is still the best chicken sandwich from a fast food chain I've had.

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        February 25, 2021 8:20 PM

        The leaf of lettuce they slop onto their chicken burgers is always the saddest thing

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          February 25, 2021 8:22 PM

          It's usually been fine when I've gotten it. YMMV.

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        February 25, 2021 8:21 PM

        Jacks Spicy Chicken was the first I've known and still one of my favs.

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          February 26, 2021 11:20 AM

          When I was a teenager I loved Jack's Spicy Chicken sandwich, but something in their spices started making me sick at some point, so I stopped eating them.

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            February 26, 2021 12:03 PM

            That is the feeling of regret from eating at Jack in The Box. I have the same feeling as well.

      • reply
        February 25, 2021 8:32 PM

        Those were the jams!

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        February 25, 2021 10:21 PM

        Yes, Wendy’s has been doing it a long time.

        No, Wendy’s is not doing it right.

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        February 26, 2021 4:21 AM

        Wendy's is like the bottom tier of fried chicken sandwiches

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          February 26, 2021 5:29 AM

          No, that's Burger King. Their chicken sammy is a horrible, soggy abomination slathered with "mayo" and fake cheese. Wendy's spicy chicken is an actual breast filet, marinated in hot sauce with a nicely crunchy spiced breading. The only change I make is skipping the "mayo" and subbing either ketchup or honey mustard sauce, as Blake mentions.

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            February 26, 2021 5:43 AM

            i don't get the hate for wendy's either when BK exists. i've been eating wendy's spicy chicken for years and it really was the best out of mcdicks/bk before this whole chicken sandwich craze started 2 years ago. there's no chick fil a where i live so i don't have that comparison.

            bk is bottom tier. like, i don't know if this is real meat tier. their chicken sandwich is so salty and soggy. their nuggets doesn't resemble anything close to chicken either. i'll still go maybe once every year because it's like $5 for 500 nuggets just for the hell of it.

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              February 26, 2021 5:53 AM

              Exactly. BK's chicken sandwich (and others I'm sure) are basically a giant chicken nugget patty. Reconstituted mechanically separated chicken, heavily salted and breaded.

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            February 26, 2021 9:27 AM

            Why is Mayo in quotes and ketchup on that is an abomination

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              February 26, 2021 10:07 AM

              Because most fast food places use "light" mayo which is not actually mayonnaise. And I will put whatever I like on my Spicy chicken sammies.

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            February 26, 2021 12:12 PM

            yeah if they do manage to warm the chicken hot enough the mayo always seems to congeal into this yellow weird mess and melts all over. I don't even think it's true mayo at all

      • reply
        February 26, 2021 6:41 AM

        It's kind of amazing how much better Wendy's does chicken in general compared to like McDonalds or other big chains.

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          February 26, 2021 9:28 AM

          Arby’s chicken is better than Wendy’s

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        February 26, 2021 11:19 AM

        The only thing I ever get at Wendy's is their Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers and a frosty. Not into anything else they have there personally.

    • reply
      February 25, 2021 8:22 PM

      I got the McDonald's spicy chicken sammie the other night and it was awwwwwwful

      we got Popeye's yesterday. still fucking great.

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      February 25, 2021 8:24 PM

      The Burger King one is so bad. Like even the professionally done picture looks so sad compared with the others, and what you get is this limp dick sandwich with barely any lettuce that mostly falls off anyway. Good write-up on that turd.

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        February 25, 2021 8:48 PM

        are you talking about their long chicken sandwich? because OMFG it's my favorite thing at Burger King >:(

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          February 26, 2021 6:25 AM

          chicken long boi has a place in the Fast Food Hall of Fame.

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          February 26, 2021 10:59 AM

          It is also my favorite thing at Burger King. But it speaks more to what I think of Burger King than what I think of chicken sandwiches.

    • reply
      February 25, 2021 8:28 PM

      If you are ever back in Seattle, try https://maonaseattle.com !!

    • reply
      February 25, 2021 8:43 PM

      My friend's local spot blew up, he's doing amazing!

      https://www.instagram.com/p/CKXoRR3sRjc/?igshid=1wo9ptg6rj1kn

    • reply
      February 25, 2021 8:48 PM

      Ima gonna eat fried chicken

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      February 25, 2021 9:07 PM

      I am a pretentious hipster so I'll try the Betty. Only time I have tried one was popeyes and it was good. It worth the extra bucks to support local businesses in general but these days it's imperative.

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      February 25, 2021 10:05 PM

      I'd like it on the record that these are all burgers not "sandwiches".

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        February 26, 2021 11:45 AM

        You can GTFO with that blasphemy right now, Sam!

    • reply
      February 25, 2021 10:08 PM

      You’ve left out one of the two obvious best-in-show choices: Chick-Fil-A.

      Popeye’s is the only I’ve seen rival that. Haven’t tried Hot Boys.

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        February 26, 2021 11:46 AM

        Chick-Fil-A isn't really around in the bay area and their politics don't align with mine, so I'd probably avoid them anyway.

    • reply
      February 25, 2021 10:51 PM

      [deleted]

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      February 26, 2021 12:41 AM

      No Chik-Fil-A spicy chicken sandwich?

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      February 26, 2021 1:01 AM

      which ones doesn't have MSG?

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      February 26, 2021 1:16 AM

      Hot Boys looks amazing!

      I'm having this for dinner tonight, which I can't wait for: https://www.instagram.com/p/CLhS5Axp9sM/

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      February 26, 2021 5:13 AM

      There's a place called Flyrite here in Austin that's quite good. They'll serve a plain fried chicken sandwich if you like, but they also have some fun variations.

      https://www.flyritechicken.com/

      In addition to the normal menu they'll occasionally do stuff like a Chicken Parm sandwich.

    • reply
      February 26, 2021 5:33 AM

      1. Chick fil A
      2. Publix Chicken Tenders Sub

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        February 26, 2021 5:48 AM

        The problem is both of those companies are owned by terrible people.

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          February 26, 2021 5:55 AM

          And the Popeye's sandwich is better than Chick fil A

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          February 26, 2021 6:22 AM

          So I’m assuming you don’t buy anything from Amazon, let alone a cell phone from Chinese state sponsored manufacturing? Definitely not a single Nestle product either right?

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            February 26, 2021 6:31 AM

            Nothing wrong with FormerHPB pointing it out and it is pretty fucking easy to avoid eating a chicken sandwich. Nestle is probably the most comparable on your list if you can keep track of everything they own.

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            February 26, 2021 10:16 AM

            There’s no need to point these things out as if it’s evidence of hypocrisy. People making small changes in their lives is better than no changes.

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              February 26, 2021 10:31 AM

              That’s fine I guess. Little victories and all. I’m just pointing out that there are companies that people don’t think twice about that do far more damage than a chain of US based chicken fast food. It’s a little annoying when people pick and choose what they are willing to stand behind at different moments.

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      February 26, 2021 6:25 AM

      My favorite chicken sandwich has to be from Hatty B's in Nashville. Holy shit that was amazing and so damn spicy.

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      February 26, 2021 6:28 AM

      Let us not forget the Tender Crisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch jingle.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cffi7vkQZcI&ab_channel=RichardRout

    • reply
      February 26, 2021 7:51 AM

      A place opened up near me recently called Ricky's Hot Chicken. Gonna have to give it a try some day.

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      February 26, 2021 9:08 AM

      I'll never forget the day I learned that Jack in the Box had forsaken us and gotten rid of the Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich, leaving a limp non-crispy sandwich in its place. How could they?!

      In the meantime, I've been getting the chicken sandwich from Lil Woody's here in Seattle and it's pretty good.

    • reply
      February 26, 2021 9:25 AM

      I had a fried chicken burger earlier this week, was pretty good. A Chicken Shack opened up just down the road last year and it's pretty good too, but I think a bit overpriced.

      • reply
        February 26, 2021 9:30 AM

        Gotta adjust your price expectations with COVID

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          February 26, 2021 9:31 AM

          True, though they opened a bit before COVID. I think I've just been spoiled by small town prices for things, it's really not that bad and I like having more options.

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      February 26, 2021 10:03 AM

      Eh that new McD spicy crispy chicken sandwich is pretty good and spicy. I

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      February 26, 2021 10:19 AM

      Fast food spicy chicken is basically cardboard with some black pepper sprinkled on it. I tried Chic Fila's spcy chicken and thought they had made a mistake, it was sweet tasting with just a vague whiff of an impression of spice, like dinosaur dna found in a mosquito trapped in amber.

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      February 26, 2021 10:22 AM

      I couldn't find a single, good, fried chicken sandwich in North Seattle. I looked, tried a few, asked people on FB, zero. It's so fucking annoying. I mean sure, there's KFC but I was looking for a legit sandwich like these

      https://thebirdsf.com/

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        February 26, 2021 10:32 AM

        Lil Woody's in Ballard? Maybe that's not north enough for you, but the sandwich is pretty decent.

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          February 26, 2021 11:13 AM

          That actually looks half-decent, thanks!!

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        February 26, 2021 10:41 AM

        Closest I can think of is JuneBaby in Revenna. I can't vouch for them, but it looks quite good.
        https://www.junebabyseattle.com/welcome

        They're open Thurs-Sun, 3p-9p.

        They're right next to our Revenna office but not open when I'm there. Legit considering swapping my days in our Seattle offices to Thursday and Friday just for food.

    • reply
      February 26, 2021 10:24 AM

      Sandwich consumed!

      https://i.imgur.com/1glIhWn.jpg

      This was good, the fermented chili glaze was pretty good but not as good popl's other offerings

    • reply
      February 26, 2021 10:30 AM

      Chik-Fil-A supports shitty policies but they have a damn good spicy chicken sandwich. Now that I've read this article and have chicken sandwiches on the brain, I'm trying to figure out if I want to drive all the way out to the nearest Popeye's at lunch and wait in a long-ass drive-thru line to get at their sando.

    • reply
      February 26, 2021 10:35 AM

      FYI your dumb post about fried chicken is making me get fried chicken for lunch

      • reply
        February 26, 2021 11:50 AM

        My work here is done.

        • reply
          February 26, 2021 11:58 AM

          You probably prompted a few such reactions. Heck, I'm considering suggesting to the wife that we get Popeye's for dinner tonight.

      • reply
        February 26, 2021 12:34 PM

        Indeed. I went by Flyrite and got a chicken parm sandwich for lunch.

    • reply
      February 26, 2021 10:54 AM

      Dude I did not know you were in Oakland. I have hit the hotboys in Sacramento and it is indeed awesome. I love the slaw on the bun.

      I am in the camp that Wendy’s has changed their formulation over the years and it is now not as good. Don’t get me wrong, it is reliably good but there are much better fried chicken sandwiches available locally. Depending on the day I might prefer Chick Fil A to Wendy’s.

      Wendy’s used to be literally tinged red (presumably by the chili pepper in the marinade). This changed while I was in high school or thereabouts. It’s still spicy, but like many things, my memory of the flavor is better than the flavor today.

      There’s also Kiki’s which makes a good sandwich but their dressed fries are why I go.
      https://www.kikischicken.com/

    • reply
      February 26, 2021 10:56 AM

      Canada has a lot of catching up to do.

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      February 26, 2021 11:01 AM

      I have a soft spot for those crappy BK chicken sandwiches. I know they're not good and I would never defend them, but I loved them as a kid and somehow that translated into something I still enjoy as an adult. Granted, I only have maybe 2 of them a year at most. I actually do the same with the Quarter Pounder.

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        February 26, 2021 11:09 AM

        😄 Yeah, quarter pounders are good while you're eating one but disgusting to contemplate - so greasy, eww!

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          February 26, 2021 11:22 AM

          Yeah, the aftermath always coats your mouth with that weird sort of waxy fat feeling + regret and shame. But every few months they do hit the spot.

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        February 26, 2021 11:11 AM

        No shame here, you have mayooms, Head Rush, and myself as company. We can agree that it is delicious at the right time while agreeing that it is not the pinnacle of chicken sandwiches.

        Hell I will still by a pack of those frozen Tyson patties I used to eat as a kid about once a year.

    • reply
      February 26, 2021 11:22 AM

      Taco Bell has one in testing right now. No joke.

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