The Many Virtues of the Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Since the Spicy Chicken Sandwich is firmly planted at the happy, poultry-based center of my comfort zone, it seems like as good a place to start this exercise as any. I have a textbook Pavlovian response to thoughts of the SCS -- salivation, audible tummy-rumblings, an overwhelming need to set my office chair on fire and immediately begin my lunch break -- and, if you haven’t already guessed as much, it is the delicious rut into which I have dug myself.

Before I go any further, it’s important that I say a few words about my go-to Chick-fil-A location to provide some context. In a city stuffed with buildings and lots that are so terribly designed that they almost transcend their badness and become good again, this Chick-fil-A is doing work. During the lunch hour, which lasts four hours, the drive-through line manages to accomplish a few really impressive feats: it prevents access to half of the available parking spots; it blocks one of the two driveways into the parking lot, shoving crazed, would-be Chick-fil-A-ers out into the main road and thereby causing massive traffic jams for about half a mile; and it loops in a crazy-cartoon-eyes spiral around the building, eventually circling back to its point of beginning like a snake eating itself. In other words, it’s what our forefathers would have derisively but affectionately labeled “a clusterfuck.”

All that to say that on the days that I opt to drive (I can walk when it’s warm enough), I’m dead set on some Chick-fil-A. I crank up my car, let my eyes glaze over, induce a manual blackout (auto-erotically), and hope that I wake up back at the office with a bag of lunch. I usually do.

Now, the SCS, as far as I can tell at this early stage in my research, is as good as it gets. When it was introduced in the summer of 2010, I was living in Athens, Georgia, and I snagged myself a coupon for a free sandwich during the “Premiere Week event” prior to official rollout. I tasted it once and never looked back. I have quite literally not ordered a regular, non-spicy sandwich since mid-2010. Like I said, there’s a rut, and I’m in it. I eat my SCS with ranch dressing, and I tell my beaming (dead-eyed) cashier to keep his dirty pickles to himself. I almost always order fries as a companion piece, and said fries are subjected to brutal and repeated dunking into containers of Chick-fil-A sauce and, sometimes, as I progress towards the end of my meal, leftover ranch.

The SCS, while not really spicy at all, has an epic spicy flavor. It’s like it wants to convince you that it’s hot but doesn’t want to actually set you on fire for liability reasons. Chick-fil-A must have great lawyers. The ranch douses the non-flames perfectly, the bun is soft and buttery, the pickles are nowhere to be found, the breading is brown and crispy, and the chicken is juicy, just like Truett Cathy envisioned in 1865 while fighting for the Confederacy. He didn’t invent the chicken, though, just the chicken sandwich. Thanks for clearing that up, Truett, although I guess if you had invented the chicken, that would’ve answered the chicken-or-egg thing pretty definitively.

TRUETT CATHY CAME FIRST.

Anyway, the evaluation.

I haven’t decided yet if I want to give numerical rankings to my gourmandizing conquests. Since this is sort of a baseline reading - in that the SCS is my longtime default order - I’m just gonna leave it alone. After all, if I kick this thing off by handing out a perfect score, how can anything else on the menu possibly hope to measure up? It wouldn’t be fair to the nuggets, man. Let it be known, however, that the SCS is the one to beat, the golden-fried standard to which everything else will be compared. Watch the throne, SCS.

In the meantime, here are some stylized pics to marinate on. Note the artfully arranged and hyper-authentic office setting, replete with functional laptop, cheap pens, and a stapler. Speaking of which, the results of the “How Big Is This Sandwich Compared To A Stapler” (HBITSCTAS) test are in, and they’re shocking. This sandwich is about ¾ the size of a stapler. Make sure you have sufficient space on your desk before you go pick up lunch, friendo.