STAFFORD – “Put up your dukes” could soon translate to “put up your wings” when it comes to competition amongst chicken fast food restaurants on the mainland portion of Route 72.
Buffalo Wild Wings’ intent to open up near the new Dunkin Donuts has some squawking that Stafford appears to be the Chicken Capital of Southern Ocean County.
The latest chain joins already existing Kentucky Fried Chicken and Chick-Fil-A as far as offering poultry connoisseurs a choice in quick fare. Popeyes plans to open soon in the Stafford Square Mall, which features Shop Rite and Lowes as its largest anchor stores.
Even the two other primarily beef drive-thru eateries on the roadway leading to and from Long Beach Island have chicken choices. McDonald’s introduced the McChicken more than four decades ago, while Wendy’s debuted its first grilled chicken sandwich in 1990. Panera Bread also takes a somewhat gourmet approach in matching up chicken and bread as one of its menu items.
The National Battle of the Fried Chicken Sandwich turns out to be one that began in August 2019. When Popeyes tweeted about their new fried chicken sandwich, Chick-Fil-A suggested it bore a remarkable resemblance to one they already dished out.
Wendy’s weighed in as well, maintaining Chick-Fil-A and Popeye’s battle was for second place – a less than subtle hint they considered their chicken sandwich tops.
Months passed and the war intensified as Popeyes took to reminding those craving chicken of their restaurant’s everyday appeal. The focus turned to highlighting Chick-Fil-A’s “Never on Sunday” commitment – seen by some as a left wing/right wing controversy (this is in reference to politics, not chicken wings).
“Our founder, Truett Cathy, made the decision to close on Sundays in 1946 when he opened his first restaurant in Hapeville, Georgia,” explains Chik-fil-A’s corporate website. “Having worked seven days a week in restaurants open 24 hours, Truett saw the importance of closing on Sundays so that he and his employees could set aside one day to rest and worship if they choose – a practice we uphold today.”
Chik-fil-A has also come under fire for what some people characterize as its owner’s financial support to legislation against the LGBTQ community. The basis for the dissent began with reports of donations to the National Christian Charitable Foundation, a group who no longer receives money from the Cathy family.
“I’ve eaten at neither Popeyes nor Chick-Fil-A,” admitted Waretown resident Carla Lounsbury. “Although I’m told Chick-Fil-A is very good, I won’t try it because of their beliefs.”
“I’ve heard Chick-Fil-A is great,” concurred Pat Kennedy, also of Waretown. “But they’ll never get a dime of my money because of their political views. They’re free to run their business as they see fit and I’m free to choose to support them or not.”
Not only has the New York Times and FoxNews found the chicken wars between Chick-Fil-A and Popeyes reportable – Saturday Night Live also decided to pit KFC and Popeyes against each other in one of its skits.
Calls for a truce to end the chicken fighting began as far back as 2020 when COVID-19 hit and impacted supply and demand chains. Marketing companies jumped on the bandwagon – with hashtags as clever as “MakeSandwichesNotWar.”
Meanwhile, declines in the cost of chicken breasts resulted in a resurgence in the quest to gain the greatest market share when it comes to putting some “cluck” into menu items.
Reportedly, Popeyes put its competitors on blast just before Turkey Day last year – saying the rest were too chicken to beat the Louisiana-based eatery’s latest sandwich variety.
According to one report, Chick-Fil-A ranks first nationally in chicken-centric fast food chains, and that’s despite the decision to forego one full day of revenue weekly. Only eight percent of drive thru eateries primarily focus on serving chicken – with 30 percent still flipping a greater majority of burgers.
Notably, some suggest that fast food restaurants began offering more chicken items when the cost of beef went up. Others insist the interest more correlates to the assumption that chicken is a better protein choice than hamburgers – debatable when it comes to adding breading and oil for addictive taste.
The least expensive prepared chicken selection in town may be a small detour from the local highway. Costco’s rotisserie offering at just $5 a chicken makes it more reasonable than even the raw deal.
As Bed Bath and Beyond prepares to “fly the coop,” more prospective chicken hawkers have space to set up shop. The building which once housed K-Mart also remains unoccupied.