As General Patton once said, the object of war is not to die for your chicken sandwich, but to make some other bastards die for theirs.
OK maybe I’m getting the exact phrasing a bit off, but the context still stands: When you’re in a conflict, even a branded battle on Twitter, the best defense is a good offense.
In the past 24 hours, we’ve witnessed the opening volleys in a meaty melee for the hearts and minds of America’s chicken sandwich lovers. Coinciding, almost certainly not coincidentally, with this month’s launch of Popeyes’ chicken sandwich—described by the chain as its biggest product launch in 30 years—a Twitter battle has engulfed several brands in a debate about whose poultry is paltry.
So who’s winning? Here’s our ranking of the combatants as they stand now, though it’s almost certain that there are many more shots left to be fired.
No. 5: KFC
There’s a zero percent chance that KFC isn’t aware of the chicken sandwich wars raging on Twitter this week, and yet the brand hasn’t said a peep.
Generously, you could argue KFC is, as a market leader, following Sun Tzu’s tenet that “the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” But come on, this is the brand that invented the Double Down: a fried chicken sandwich where the buns are fried chicken! KFC even recruited The Mountain from Game of Thrones to launch a sandwich with double the usual chicken payload. Such bold innovation could be decisive in this battle, and yet there’s no sign of any crispy meat mobilization.
Seriously, KFC, your mascot is literally a colonel.
There’s no time for poultry pacifism in a world of social scorched earth, so for now we’re ranking KFC dead last.
No. 4: Chick-fil-A
With more than a million Twitter followers, Chick-fil-A should theoretically be a daunting combatant in the Great Chicken Sandwich Twitter War. But so far, the Atlanta-based chain and proud inventor of the chicken sandwich has pretty much only served as the battle’s first victim.
When the brand posted a vaguely mathematical tweet about how bun, chicken and pickle equal love, most of the initial backlash came from LGBT supporters, who’ve long been critical of Chick-fil-A owner Dan Cathy’s stance against gay marriage. The combination of “bun” and “pickle” in one tweet proved just too easy of a target for many to ignore.
What happened next set a truly unexpected series of events into motion. Popeyes quoted the bun-pickle tweet and asked its competitor a simple question: “Y’all good?”
After that, it was ON. That said, Chick-fil-A simply took the social beating (Popeyes’ tweet has been liked more than 278,000 times in 24 hours) without comment, complaint or comeback.
But we’re willing to rank them at second from the bottom just for being in the fight, even if it was as an unwitting and slow-witted victim.
No. 3: Boston Market
Guess who’s back? Back again. It’s Boston Market.
Wait, you might ask, are they still around? Yes, despite the chain’s high-profile bankruptcy filing in 1998, Boston Market went on to be bought and eventually sold again by McDonald’s. Today, its financial stability remains in question, with Boston Market closing 45 of its 454 stores this summer.
Wait, you might ask, do they make a fried chicken sandwich? No. No, they do not. But that didn’t stop the brand’s Twitter feed from joining the digital donnybrook.
Likely motivated by Chick-fil-A’s recent decision to start carrying mac-and-cheese, a side in which Boston Market has long taken pride, the chain known for its rotisserie decided to skewer some unnamed competitors: