- The fast-food value wars are heating up again, and McDonald’s has introduced a new chicken sandwich on its new Dollar Menu.
- It’s almost a carbon copy of Chick-fil-A’s classic chicken sandwich.
- But – surprise – it’s just not as good as the original.
McDonald’s new value menu has reignited the fast-food wars, but there’s yet another battle brewing because of it.
On the three-dollar tier of the menu sits the new classic chicken sandwich, which almost anyone can see is a direct stab at Chick-fil-A’s sandwich.
Fried chicken and pickles on a bun: a simple and iconic pairing that the Southern chicken chain has mastered and that other chains consistently try to replicate with the same level of success.
McDonald’s has previously tried to attack Chick-fil-A’s iron grip on the chicken-sandwich market, with the buttermilk crispy chicken sandwich. But Chick-fil-A’s strengths – simplicity and quality – helped it come out on top in the end.
And McDonald’s recently unveiled a revamped chicken tender that was surprisingly good. It didn’t win against Chick-fil-A, but it came close. McDonald’s is clearly on the chicken warpath, and Chick-fil-A seems to be the target.
This new sandwich, however, is as close as McDonald’s can get to Chick-fil-A’s formula. But can the Golden Arches match Chick-fil-A’s quality? Or will it be another fowl disappointment?
It has been a long time coming: McDonald’s answer to Chick-fil-A’s iconic sandwich.
In terms of size, the sandwiches are rather distinct. Chick-fil-A’s, on the left, is substantially larger and, in this instance, less smushed.
Let’s start with the leader of the pack: the Chick-fil-A classic sandwich.
The chicken is a meaty, lightly breaded breast — Chick-fil-A’s chicken is rarely crispy, but the breading is consistent in taste and coverage. The scent is intoxicating and somehow unique. Fried chicken has many smells (all good) but Chick-fil-A’s is unmistakable.
A pickle is a pickle is a pickle — at least in this instance. The pickles are an integral part of the classic sandwich, adding that bright and crisp note of vinegar, as well as a refreshing vegetal crisp.
One bite, and you know why Chick-fil-A has for years dominated the chicken-sandwich dialogue. The chicken is buttery, juicy, incredibly tender, and flavored just right — the buttermilk marinade shines.
Now, McDonald’s. The chicken breast is crispier but thinner, and this trade-off comes with a tougher meat that’s sometimes dry and stringy — not always, but enough to notice. The flavour is more breading-forward as opposed to being dominated by any seasonings or marinade.
The pickles are fine; what’s odd here is the sauce. Chick-fil-A adds no sauce to the sandwich — the onus is on the eater — but McDonald’s slathers on some of its relatively new “signature sauce,” similar to the Big Mac sauce. It’s your typical savoury mayonnaise-ketchup-and-“spices” kind of deal.
The sauce is an odd fit — it feels rather shoehorned into the sandwich as an afterthought. We all know that pickles are the perfect pairing for fried chicken, so the sandwich has that classic culinary construct working in its favour. But the chicken itself just isn’t as good.
The McDonald’s sandwich isn’t rich enough, isn’t smooth enough, isn’t as flavorfully decadent as that which it so desperately craves to be: Chick-fil-A. And so, perhaps unsurprisingly, Chick-fil-A’s sandwich still reigns supreme.
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