The celebrity of the week, at least across all my feeds, isn’t an actual person. Can an “issue” become a celebrity? Maybe it’s not even an issue. Can a “sandwich” be an “issue”? Not just any sandwich, but the chicken sandwich. I’m in Canada, and the chicken sandwich in question isn’t even available here, but it’s all I’ve been seeing everywhere.
Here’s how it started for me. A couple of days ago, The New Yorker (!!!) profiled Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich. “The Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich is Here to Save America” read the headline. People are apparently losing their minds over this chicken sandwich. And that kicked off a chicken sandwich throwdown, not just among the people, but among the fast food chicken sandwich outlets themselves – a conflict which was covered yesterday by the NY Times after Popeye’s and Wendy’s took shots at each other on Twitter.
And this morning, The Ringer is coming in with the analysis on “Why the Fried Chicken Sandwich is the Perfect Hot-Button Issue”. See? The chicken sandwich is now an ISSUE! No complaints here. I love it when food is an issue. If you’ve been visiting this site a while, you know I can talk food all day. I’m Asian, we think ourselves the original foodies.
I’m currently planning a trip to see a friend in the US in a few weeks. She texted me yesterday asking if I need to hit up a Popeye’s as soon as she picks us up from the airport. And here’s the thing – chicken isn’t even my thing. When I do eat chicken, it’s always thigh and wings. I do my best in life to avoid chicken breast. Most chicken sandwiches, however, are made from chicken breast. That’s why it has to be fried. You’ll never convince me that there is no such thing as a good chicken sandwich made with breast that isn’t fried.
This is why I consider myself the best judge of whether or not Popeye’s chicken sandwich is indeed the sh-t. Because if I like it, it means it’s converted a non-believer. Which is what happened when I went to Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken in Memphis a couple of years ago. People kept telling us it was the greatest. When we got there the wait time was an hour so I bitched for an hour and finally the chicken came and I was like, f-ck yeah, I’ll do this again, I’ll even go up to 90 minutes. That said, I never had a chicken sandwich at Gus’s. It was just straight fried chicken, no bun. And a sandwich, of course, is a different art form. It’s about the bread, the condiment to bread to chicken ratio, the placement of said condiments, and the consistency between bites. This is what makes me crazy about sandwiches: there shouldn’t be a huge difference in taste in the outside bites and the inside bites. You shouldn’t have to tolerate the bites off the edge just to get to the goods in the middle.
Is the Popeye’s chicken sandwich deserving of its celebrity status? Or is it just a chicken sandwich that’s distinguished itself from the pack because it has a great publicist and a brilliant marketing campaign?
Yours in gossip,