Thursday, September 10, 2020

Eating off the Hill: KFC is cannon fodder in the chicken sandwich wars

 It seems like all the cool stuff comes to Canada late. That's certainly the case with the fast food chicken sandwich wars, which have already been fought and won in the United States. I thought the new NAFTA or whatever its called meant we would have chicken sandwich free trade?

The battle has primarily been waged between Popeye's and Chick-fil-A. It's been a viral sensation with long lines, fights over limited supplies, and lots of Instagramming. While there were entries from other traditional players like Wendy's and McDonald's, these two were the primary competitors. Each upped their game, and it's generally agreed Popeye's came out on top with a buttery toasted brioche bun, larger breaded chicken breast, pickles and the option of regular or spicy mayo.

In Canada, Mary Brown's has a contender, which I reviewed when last in Scarborough.

We only have two Chick-fil-As in Canada (both in Toronto) and while we do have Popeye's, they've made us wait for the hero sammy. It's been testing in the select Alberta markets since the spring, and will go nation-wide on Sept. 14th -- looking forward to it.

KFC has tried to jump on to Popeye's hype though by beating it to the Canadian market with its own hero chicken sammy -- the "famous chicken sandwich." According to KFC, its "buttermilk marinated and hand breaded in KFC's famous Extra Crispy seasoning, and is then topped with sweet chunky pickles, creamy mayonnaise and sandwiched between a lightly toasted potato bun." You can also get it with "double spicy mayo." So, being a chicken sammy fan, I picked a spicy one up yesterday and brought it home to eat safely. 

Short review: meh. And definitely not worth the $6.99 before tax.

I liked the bun, the spicy mayo was noteable but not overpowering, and the breading had the usual KFC seasoning. But there wasn't near rnough chicken for a sandwich at this pricepoint, and it was a bit dry. It was an OK chicken sandwich, but definitely not a worthy contender in the chicken sandwich wars and not worth the price charged. A little more spicy mayo would have been nice too.

Maybe my childhood memories are hazy, but I'm of the impression that KFC has had a major decline in quality over the past couple of decades. I remember going to KFC on my lunch break during junior high, using my paper route money to buy a big crunch sandwich. And while it's still on the menu, the big crunch used to be big. Maybe 40% bigger than this new famous sandwich.Much meatier. And I still remember fondly working accross the street from the Rideau Centre in the early aughts, going over to the food court on Twonie Tuesdays for an original chicken sammy and small fries for $2.00.

Anyways, nowadays KFC just seems to be going through the motions. One opened accross the street from my condo a few years ago, and it was good for about two weeks and then they just stopped trying hard.

Other warning signs at my local KFC: masks worn around the neck instead of the face in the kitchen (the manager not wearing one at all), and the manager loudly talking about ordering a pizza for the team. If they're not going to eat their own food, I'm not likely to be back any time soon either.

Anyway, glad I tried it but I wouldn't cross the road for this sammy again. Waiting for Popeye's!

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