How Chick-Fil-A's Biggest Controversy Is Inspiring A New Competitor

How delicious is fried chicken? When made well, this comfort food classic combines juicy, well-seasoned chicken with a tantalizingly crispy crust. As much as we love to make fried chicken ourselves, it can sometimes be a pain to deal with skillets full of hot oil — and that's when we turn to our local soul food joint, or even chains such as Popeyes and KFC.

If you, too, love fried chicken, chances are you've visited a Chick-fil-A in your day. The Hapeville, Georgia-founded chain currently boasts more than 2,400 locations in the United States (via Business Insider), offering a variety of fried chicken sandwiches as well as waffle fries, mac 'n' cheese, and sweet tea (via Chick-fil-A). Fast food diners generally agree that Chick-fil-A's offerings are pretty darn delicious, and the chain's annual sales earned its ranking as the third-largest U.S. restaurant chain, behind McDonald's and Starbucks (via Restaurant Business).

But as many diners probably remember, the chain suffered a giant controversy back in 2012, when it was revealed that the restaurant, whose founder was a devout Baptist Christian, had regularly donated large sums of money to anti-LGBTQ charities (via Vox). A heap of negative press and even a boycott followed the news (via Vox) — and, nine years later, one Burlington, Vermont pop-up restaurant is riffing off the enduring uproar with its own take on fried chicken.

Chic Full Gay dishes out pro-LGBTQ chicken sandwiches

Back in 2012, reporting revealed that the fried chicken giant Chick-fil-A had made many donations to anti-LQBTQ Christian charities such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (via CNBC). Amid a PR nightmare as well as a well-publicized boycott, the chain's revenues didn't suffer at all (via USA Today), proving the old adage that there's no such thing as bad publicity.

Today, Chick-fil-A is as popular as ever. It's the highest-grossing fried chicken chain in the U.S. (via QSR Magazine) and its drive-thrus regularly create traffic problems as long lines form in pursuit of its acclaimed sandwiches (via Fox News). But memories of the 2012 controversy remain fresh for some, including Brian Gildersleeve, the owner and chef of a Chick-fil-A competitor in Burlington, who chose the name Chick Full Gay for their fried chicken spot (via Burlington Free Press).

The pop-up, which has operated about once every other month since January, serves a variety of from-scratch fried chicken sandwiches, such as "The Spicy," featuring fermented black bean mayo and pickled veggies (via Facebook). Gildersleeve donates a portion of the restaurant's sales to pro-LGBTQ organizations, such as last Tuesday, when $2 from each sandwich sold went to Outright Vermont (via Burlington Free Press). "It's kind of like a middle finger to them," Gildersleeve said of the name Chick Full Gay, referring to its corporate competitor. Pro-equality fried chicken? Count us in.