A few months ago I noticed McDonald’s had started offering a “southern style” chicken biscuit on their breakfast menu.
“Wotta ripoff!” I hollered, like my mother-in-law at Easter Mass. It was clearly an attempt at replicating the kick-assness of the Chick-fil-A breakfast sandwich. And while I was mildly intrigued, I refused to play along. To do so would’ve been a betrayal, a fast food treason.
When I lived in Atlanta I took Chick-fil-A for granted, I now realize. They were inside every mall, and the free-standing restaurants (known as Dwarf Houses, for some reason) weren’t too difficult to find, either. So, their excellent food was readily available, and no big deal to me.
But when we moved to California, and had no access whatsoever, everything changed. Chick-fil-A became almost holy in my mind. When it was wrenched from my life, I realized how much I liked it, and missed it.
One time during those years, while on a business trip in Maryland (or somesuch), I stopped at a McDonald’s along a highway. I shouted my order into the electronic order-catcher, sighed with resignation, and pulled around to the first window. And as I turned the corner, I glimpsed a Chick-fil-A halfway down the block.
Holy crap! I had no idea they were so far north; my heart literally skipped a beat — this time before I’d had a chance to polish-off a Quarter Pounder with Cheese. What had it been, two years? Two years since I’d last experienced the magic of a Dwarf House?
But I’d already placed my order at McDonald’s, and was waiting to pay. What to do? Yeah, that problem required roughly two seconds to resolve itself. I whipped the steering wheel violently to the right, and rocketed away from Mickey D’s. Screw ’em. You can get their swill anywhere.
So, when I learned McDonald’s was doing their best to copycat an old favorite, my reaction was predictable. And I still haven’t tried one of their chicken biscuits. I refuse to be a party to it.
More recently, however, I was waiting in line to purchase a Big Mac combo meal, and noticed promotional materials for a “southern style” chicken sandwich. Just like the one at Chick-fil-A. I couldn’t believe it. Those people are McShameless!
But it sounded mighty good… The original version, anyway. I realized I didn’t want McDonald’s food at all, I wanted a good ol’ Chick-fil-A sandwich. And by the time I reached the counter I’d somehow justified purchasing the impostor, along with an outsize vessel of their pretty-good sweet tea.
Maybe I could write a review of it? It wouldn’t be a betrayal really, it would be research. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
The sandwich was served in a cardboard box, like the Big Mac. When I flipped open the lid I noticed the bun was shiny, as if it had been buffed and waxed. Weird. Eventually I decided the bread had been brushed with butter, or whatever passes as butter in such a setting.
I removed the top bun, and saw only chicken and two or three pickle slices. Just like at Chick-fil-A… No additional condiments were present, and that’s probably a negative for some people. But not for me. I don’t use food as a transport system for mayonnaise, a surface with which to move Thousand Island.
I peeled the pickles away (nasty!), and lifted the sandwich from its housing. And it didn’t feel right in my hands, it was kinda limp and lifeless. The original Chick-fil-A version is perky and tall, but this thing seemed incapable of withstanding the forces of gravity.
I inspected the meat itself, and it was shaped like a real chicken part. Similar, once again, to Chick-fil-A. But it was flat and, I suspect, fashioned from a mold at the McDonald’s factory (or whatever). I don’t have proof of it, but I think they have three or four different casts that they use to crank out chicken approximations.
This wasn’t starting well…
I lifted the sad thing to my mouth, took a bite… and was pleasantly surprised. The taste wasn’t bad, not bad at all. The chicken was juicy, and looked like real breast meat inside its breading shell. Diabolical!
I continued eating, and while it was nowhere near as good as the fresh and delicious original, straight outta Georgia, it was close enough to satisfy a craving up here in Yankee territory.
The overall listlessness of the sandwich was disappointing, and a little disturbing, but I thought the taste was better than it had a right to be.
And so, I give the McDonald’s Southern Style Chicken Sandwich a B-. It’ll do in a pinch, I think, whenever I’m experiencing a hankerin’ for Chick-fil-A. But will it replace the original? Don’t make me laugh.