Unpopular Opinion: Why Popeyes Is Better Than Chick-Fil-A

Chick-fil-A is the undisputed king of fast-food chicken. The $10 billion in sales the chain racked up in 2018 was more than double what KFC made that year. By a lot of measures, Chick-fil-A is the most successful fast-food chain in America. It may not be as big as McDonald's or Starbucks — at least not yet. But an individual Chick-fil-A restaurant makes more money, on average, than any of the restaurants on QSR's annual top-50 list. 

Popeyes, meanwhile, is a distant third in QSR's ranking of chicken fast food, behind Chick-fil-A and KFC. Popeyes, which rebranded several years ago to "Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen" (via The Washington Post), once saw the white-clad colonel from Kentucky as its main competitor. That was before Popeyes took direct aim at Chick-fil-A in what became the most viral fast-food moment of 2019: the chicken sandwich wars (via The Washington Post).

We believe Popeyes won the war. Even though this may be an unpopular opinion, we would go even further and say this: Popeyes is simply better than Chick-fil-A. Don't get mad. Just read on, and find out why.

Popeyes tastes better than Chick-fil-A

A little more than a year ago, Popeyes' menu standout was the chicken po' boy sandwich, but it wasn't any real competition for Chick-fil-A (via Business Insider). Then came August 2019, when Popeyes introduced a fried chicken breast on a brioche bun with pickles and mayonnaise. This also pretty much describes Chick-fil-A's signature sandwich (via Vox). Popeyes had shamelessly copied Chick-fil-A, and the chicken sandwich wars were on.

While Popeyes doesn't get any points for originality with this move, they scored where it counts — in taste. Popeyes' version of the chicken sandwich is indisputably better than its predecessor. The chicken in the Popeyes sandwich is thicker and juicier (via Reader's Digest). The Takeout's side-by-side comparison found Popeyes' sandwich to have a better texture, and a more authentic and satisfying kick to its spicy version.

Business Insider probably gives the most thorough account of what its like to eat both sandwiches. Everything about the Popeyes version was better, according to BI, down to the pickle slices. Not only that, the Popeyes sandwich can be $1 cheaper, depending on location. To top it all off, the Popeyes sandwich is bigger but somehow has about the same number of calories as the Chick-fil-A version, according to Reader's Digest.

Despite the cows, Popeyes has better marketing than Chick-fil-A

If Chick-fil-A fans lost the taste debate, they might try to console themselves with the argument that Chick-fil-A does a better job with marketing. But they would be wrong. Again. If the chicken sandwich war was a marketing battle as much as a fight over our palates, Popeyes won on that front, too. Sure, Chick-fil-A had a stroke of genius when it decided to use spelling-challenged cows in the "Eat Mor Chikin" ad campaign. The cows made it into the Advertising Hall of Fame and the Smithsonian Museum (via Top Right). Chick-fil-A spent $148.8 million on advertising in 2019 (via Statistica). That's impressive, but Popeyes got millions of dollars worth of free advertising in just 15 days, when its chicken sandwich went viral (via Forbes).

Chick-fil-A actually fired the first shot on the digital front lines of the chicken sandwich wars. Chick-fil-A's Twitter account reminded customers which restaurant came up with the sandwich first: "Bun + Chicken + Pickles = all the *heart* for the original." Popeyes slapped back with this retweet and response: "... y'all good?" That one tweet was liked and retweeted so many times it helped Popeyes generate 8 billion impressions, the equivalent of $87 million in free advertising (via Shorty Awards). The tweet was credited with not only changing Popeyes' fortune, but also with moving the whole fast-food industry toward chicken (via Restaurant Business).

Chick-fil-A isn't open on Sunday — a fact they apparently forgot

After "y'all good?" Popeyes' sly show of sympathy for the competition, people were willing to wait in line at the drive thru for over half an hour, only to find their local Popeyes had sold out of chicken sandwiches (via Twitter). Within days of Popeyes' tweet, every location in the U.S. had run out of chicken sandwiches. What was supposed to be a 10-week supply was gone in eight days (via Shorty Awards). When the sandwich finally returned, on National Sandwich Day, November 3, 2019, Popeyes ran a TV ad that poked fun at Chick-fil-A's policy of remaining closed on Sundays. Which brings us to another reason why Popeyes is better than Chick-fil-A: Popeyes is open every day. 

Popeyes could declare utter social-media victory after Chick-fil-A invited customers to enjoy its sandwich on National Sandwich Day — apparently forgetting they would be closed that day because the holiday fell on a Sunday (via USA Today). So, if you're reading this on a Sunday, you like things that taste better, or you want to support clever marketing, then you'll choose Popeyes over Chick-fil-A, too.