“I don’t like their politics, but damn do they make a good fried chicken sandwich.”
Every human who’s ever discussed the anti-LGBTQ donation history of Chick-fil-A has heard this. Many of us have said it (myself included). It’s a thing people repeat when discussing the company, spoken in the same definitive tone as “never put ketchup on hot dogs” and “ranch is trash.” It’s a semi-joke — edged with truth, considering that Chick-fil-A ends up atop just about every power ranking of fast food fried chicken sandwiches ever published — that I’ve heard made by straight friends, gay friends, and queer friends. Almost to the point that it’s become accepted wisdom.
It’s also total nonsense, no matter who says it. Sure, on a flavor level, it is a good sandwich. It’s straightforward, featuring tender chicken breast, lightly breaded, with pickles and a buttered bun. The company uses peanut oil, which is a nice choice. But do you know how easy it is to make a good fried chicken sandwich? There is perhaps no culinary task so exceedingly simple as making fried chicken taste delicious. It’s absolutely on par with creating “the best peanut butter and jelly on earth.” And for this culinary marvel, for this astounding construction of nuanced flavors, for this fusion of technique, style, and presentation, we’re supposed to look past the fact that Chick-fil-A has consistently donated to organizations that don’t share in the belief that there should be equality in America?
No, we shouldn’t. Not just because it’s a morally weak position but also because there’s no need. Top Chef‘s Richard Blais has opened five Crack Shacks slinging fried chicken in just a few years, with more on the way. The food is unarguably better and Richard Blais loves LGBTQ people. Okay, fine, his sandwiches cost more. How about this: McDonald’s does a fried chicken sandwich that’s in the same flavor ballpark and they’re far more transparent about their food sourcing (hitting their planned benchmarks and operating in lockstep with US National Chicken Council). Or better still, get your fried chicken fix met at a local joint. Have you been to Acme Feed & Seed in Nashville? It’s spectacular and they have bands playing nightly. What about Howlin’ Rays in LA? People stand in lines around the block just to visit that spot. Or Buxton Hall in Ashville, NC — where you can also score a whole dang pie?
The sky is the limit and this dish is ubiquitous across the country. Download Yelp. You don’t need to make moral concessions to eat fried chicken sandwiches. You don’t need to spend time pondering whether the purity clause banning all “homosexual acts” in the employee contracts for The Fellowship of Christian Athletes — which Chick-fil-A donated $1,653,416 to — is something you should bother boycotting a restaurant over. It is. Not simply because you expect the businesses that you frequent to support equality both upstream and downstream from your purchase, but also because, dear god, this act of revolution is so exceedingly easy.