El Pollos Locos: Taste-testing chicken from Popeye’s, White Castle, Chick-fil-A and Burger King

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It started with a commercial. Greasy human fingers were gleefully ripping apart finger-like tendrils of Popeye’s fried chicken from what looked like a fried palm.

“Have you seen this? The Chicken Ripper?” asked Neil. “It looks like a hand.”

“I want to put White Castle Chicken Rings on that Popeye’s chicken hand,” I said.

And from there, an art project/taste test was born. We set out to gather all of the fast-food chicken gimmicks we could find and compare them (while also putting chicken rings on chicken fingers).

The line up:

Popeye’s Rip’n Chick’n

Burger King Chicken Fries

White Castle Chicken Rings

Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets*, strips* and a spicy chicken sandwich*

(*While these don’t seem immediately gimmicky, they are. Chick-fil-a began as a chicken sandwich slinging shop and grew its repertoire to include all kinds of products, but they’re really all just takes on the same ol’ same ol’ chicken.)

White Castle sliders* and cheeseburgers*

(*These little fellas somehow just jumped into my car at the WC drive-thru. I don’t know what happened, I swear!)

The tasters:

Me, Neil and our dedicated friend Shannon (who does not love chicken, she’s more of a beef/sausage kinda gal)

The process:

Taste a bite and give a one-word review. In some cases, a second word was also allowed. In emergencies, a third. The second and third words are set apart in parentheses.

The reviews:

Popeye’s Rip’n Chick’n

Shannon: Sinewy. (Alarming).

Neil: Disturbing.

Kate: Childhood. (Surprising).

Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Shannon: Layered.

Neil: Wow. (Slow-burn).

Kate: Redeeming.

Burger King Chicken Fry

Shannon: Cork. (Turdish). (Spongy).

Neil: Coated.

Kate: Corpse. (Dissection). (Frog).

Chick-fil-A Chicken Strip

Shannon: Cluck-cluck.

Neil: Real.

Kate: Sweet.

White Castle Chicken Ring

Shannon: Oh…

Neil: Processed.

Kate: Tyson?

Chick-fil-A Chicken Nugget

Shannon: Tidbit.

Neil: Traveled.

Kate: Chicken-y.

The next step:

In the end, we discussed and rated them. One thing that should be noted, the chicken wasn’t entirely fresh. There was much coordinating, fetching and discussing that took place before we dove in. That, according to Neil, means that the Chick-fil-A is usually better (Neil would also probably return to the Catholic Church if they replaced communion wafers with Chick-fil-A Nuggets).

The item that held up best through the travels was the Spicy Chicken Sandwich. This was also the only item that had foil packaging. Coincidence? Not likely.

You’ll see by our rankings, below, that we each valued different qualities in our chicken gimmicks. Shannon and Neil preferred the more natural products, like Chick-fil-A, while I opted for the processed chicken, like the White Castle Chicken Ring, which happens to taste more like soy chicken products (Boca chicken patties, for example). We all agreed that the Spicy Chicken Sandwich was better than any of the other chicken products.

Also, I’d like to note that while the White Castle sliders and cheeseburgers were not meant to be a part of the competition, they did top all of our lists, hands down. “Eating White Castle is like eating a tumor,” said Shannon. “But it’s delicious.”

Results:

Shannon

1. White Castle Cheeseburger

2. Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwich

3. Chick-fil-A Chicken Strips

4. Chick-fil-A Chicken Nuggets

5. Popeye’s Rip’n Chick’n

6. White Castle Chicken Rings

7. Burger King Chicken Fry

Neil

1.White Castle Slider

2. Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwich

3. Chick-fil-A Chicken Strips

4. Chick-fil-A Chicken Nuggets

5. Burger King Chicken Fry

6. White Castle Chicken Ring

7. Popeye’s Rip’n Chick’n

Kate

1. White Castle Cheeseburger

2. Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwich

3. Popeye’s Rip’n Chick’n

4. White Castle Chicken Ring

5. Chick-fil-A Chicken Nugget

6. Chick-fil-A Chicken Strip

7. Burger King Chicken Fry

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6 thoughts on “El Pollos Locos: Taste-testing chicken from Popeye’s, White Castle, Chick-fil-A and Burger King

  1. Popeye’s Rip’n Chick’n sounds pretty bad, but I’m a huge fan of Popeye’s, and Rip’n Chick’n is NOT what they do best, whereas the Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich precisely is what Chick-fil-A does best. Why not compare the best from each joint?

    I don’t even think BK deserves consideration here, it’s not a chicken joint. And where is KFC? As much as I dislike KFC, it DOES deserve a spot [to be soundly beaten] on this test. Since you’re in Chicago, Harold’s should be here, too.

    1. If KFC had chicken straws I would have included them. I really just wanted to focus on the more gimmicky aspects that fast food restaurants resort to. Admittedly, Chick-fil-A was added to entice Neil to join (and later justified).

  2. Love it! I’ve eaten enough Chick-fil-A during the past year to almost completely forget why I was a vegetarian for almost two decades. I hear the company is very, very conservative…that’s one of the reasons they are closed on Sunday. The chickens cluck for Jesus.

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