TikTok Can't Believe How Duolingo Just Completely Trolled Chick-Fil-A

For some reason, fast food chains devote entire social media teams to insulting each other. We're used to it by this point, but it's still strange. Last week, however, the most savage and most successful attempt at connecting to a consumer base belonged to Duolingo, the language learning app.

"I've never loved Duolingo so much," @alexa.23231 wrote for a TikTok video showing a now-deleted social media exchange between Duolingo and Chick-fil-A. In response to a question posed by Duolingo's TikTok team about what snack you bring to the weekly meeting, Chick-fil-A said, "Bringing a nugget tray to share. What sauces would y'all like?" Duolingo responded, "Rainbow sauce only plz," and everyone went wild. At the time @alexa.23231 caught the exchange on video, 3,448 people liked Chick-fil-A's suggestion while around 15,200 approved of Duolingo's slapdown. 

The crux of the troll is that Chick-fil-A has been permanently tied to a controversy that erupted in the early 2010s. As Vox explained in 2019, Chick-fil-A's brand was partly guided by the religious beliefs of its founder S. Truett Cathy. In an interview, Cathy expressed his view that marriage is exclusively a union between a man and a woman. Moreover, the Chick-fil-A Foundation regularly donated to organizations that espoused anti-LGBTQ positions. Since 2020, there has been some change in how the foundation chooses who gets the money, but the brand has not come out in full-throated favor of LGBTQ initiatives.

A rainbow-colored stain

The troll was certainly well-received by some. "I love all the gays saying they are now going to download Duolingo," @alexa.23231 added in the comments of their video (via TikTok). "We'll always say gay rights," Duolingo assured @alexa.23231. Other commenters weighed in about the saucy comment as well. One person proclaimed, "duolingo the ally." Some else responded, "brb signing up for duolingo again." Others seemed amused by what they likened to a battle of birds, alluding to the fact that Chick-fil-A sells chicken, and Duolingo's mascot is an owl. A TikTok user described the troll as "bird on bird crime" while another remarked that "even in nature ... Owls beat chickens." Chick-fil-A has since deleted its comment and, in doing so, removed Duolingo's response. 

As Duolingo's head-turning quip arguably demonstrates, the donation issue is now less of a flashpoint than a constant reference point to anything Chick-fil-A-related that happens. For example, towards the end of October, Texas Public Radio covered a state supreme court case over the decision made by the city of San Antonio to not extend the Chick-fil-A lease in its airport. The specific reason was because of the chain's past support for anti-LGBT groups.

Similarly, The Burlington Free Press found a pop-up that styled itself as Chic Full Gay. As you might imagine, it sold chicken sandwiches but had an overtly pro-LGBTQ identity. Like Duolingo's trolling, these stories would fall away quickly, but Chick-fil-A's funding controversy has made the point always relevant.