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Surprise, Surprise: The New Yorker Turns a Fun Little Chicken Sandwich War into a Political Story

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, you may have missed the fact that Popeye’s has launched its own chicken sandwich.

This sandwich has gone viral (which is, admittedly, not the best word to use when describing food), in part because it appears to be a direct affront to the gold standard of chicken sandwiches – Chick-fil-A.

In fact, the sandwich launch has sparked a bit of a social media war.

It’s all in good fun – and the fracas should boost sandwich sales at both restaurant chains. The interesting phenomenon is that both sandwiches have their passionate devotees, and it’s been fun to watch people defend their choice. (Confession: I haven’t tried Popeye’s sandwich yet, and although I’m sure it’s good, I’m a Chick-fil-A man for life.)

Now the New Yorker has hopped into the fray with an article with the melodramatic headline, “The Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich Is Here to Save America.”

As one might expect, the New Yorker is taking the most pretentious tack on this sandwich as it can. Witness this bit of verbal gymnastics to describe a fast food chicken sandwich. Referring to the original and spicy sandwiches that Popeye’s now offers, author Helen Rosner writes:

Both sandwiches stick the landing on the most important element of a fast-food sandwich: the fusion of its distinct components into an ineffable, irresistible gestalt. The salt, the fat, the sharpness, the softness—together, they’re what flavor scientists might describe as “high amplitude,” a combination so intense, and so perfectly balanced, that they meld into one another to form a new, entirely coherent whole.

This isn’t a Michelin-star meal here; she’s talking about chicken sandwiches from a fast food chain, for crying out loud. But, the most important clue to the ridiculous headline comes buried near the end of the article. You see, the reason Popeye’s chicken sandwich is so important is political. That’s right, it’s safe for LGBTQ people to eat.

For some diners, put off by Chick-fil-A’s right-leaning corporate politics and widely known funding of anti-gay activism, Popeyes appeals as a chicken sandwich with less overt moral compromise. (The Advocate, the L.G.B.T.-interest magazine, ran a story about the sandwich under the headline “More Flavor, Less Homophobia.”) 

That’s right, folks. You can safely eat a chicken sandwich from Popeye’s because that corporation’s owners don’t publicly support traditional marriage. And that’s what’s most important to lefties like the folks at the New Yorker.

It doesn’t matter that there’s room for both sandwiches in the marketplace. Don’t worry that one company may offer a better price or that diners may just prefer one to the other – or like both equally. Heck, there are other chicken sandwiches that can give both restaurants a run for their money (I’m looking at you, Zaxby’s Zensation sandwich).

The only thing that matters to the left is the politics of your chicken sandwich of choice, especially when all other factors may be equal.

My advice to you: try them both. Eat whichever one you want. Don’t let politics drive your food decisions. The politicization of food is part of the reason why we can’t have nice things anymore.


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