By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Since the days of the Civil War, the United States has seen brother against brother.
Our soil was coated with the sweat, tears and blood of Americans. The men fighting on both sides of the North and South were born here. They looked alike and had so much in common.
But ideals, philosophies and certain ways of life divided them our country in the 1860s. I’m grateful in the past 150 years silly things have come into our American way of life to cause controversy. The latest had been “The Great War of the Chicken Sandwich.” All August, social media, gyms, churches, mainstream media and the beauty salon has been raving about who has the better chicken sandwich. The longtime champion of the fowl burger has been Chick Fil A. Recently a challenger arose from the Bayou in the Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich.
Videos have gone viral showing customers fighting over the new item inside of Popeye’s locations. Signs have been posted on drive-thru intercoms reading, “Out of chicken sandwiches.”
Loyal Chick Fil A patrons swear that the champion still holds the title. While several people have declared the new kid of the chopping block is the winner.
These trivial food and beverage battles started for me back in the 1980s with the Cola Wars. The rivalry between the soft drink giants Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo started a huge marketing campaign that has lasted the test of time.
Some trace the history of the Cola Wars back to the 1970s. The intensity of mascots, giveaways and commercial reached a peak in the mid-80s. The fast food industry paid attention and said are there really any losers in a battle of grub? Taste depends on the individual. But it is just fun to argue over who has the better what or who is the best at making this.
The Civil War was real life and a real sacrifice for our country to grow into a worldwide leader. Those lives given up on the battle field paved the way to stronger Union, democracy and freedoms. They also made it possible for us to have the “Fast Food Wars.”
Let me breakdown the greatest battle of the industry during my lifetime. And yes, I will declare a winner.
10. Filet-O-Fish vs. Big Fish
McDonald’s has offered us the Filet-O-Fish for decades. Then recently McDonald’s main competitor in the burger wars brought the Big Fish to the public.
Burger King’s version of a fish sandwich feature lettuce and tartar sauce. And it lives up to the name Big Fish doubling the Filet-O-Fish in calories and grams of fat. But the Filet-O-Fish is twice as better than the sandwich at Burger King.
The combo of cheese and tartar sauce over a breaded fish square is simple and delicious. The smile of a Filet-O-Fish draws you in and you sometime carve it.
9. Wendy’s Value Menu vs. McDonald’s Dollar Menu
We’ve all got the jingles and slogans stuck in our head. Every fast food restaurant has either a value deal, meal or menu. Let me get this song stuck in your head… “Five dollar foot loooonnnnng.”
And do you love the 4 for $4 or do you prefer a good $5 deal.
The grandfather of them all was Wendy’s. The chain is credited with being the first fast food eatery to offer a value menu in October 1989, with every item priced at $0.99.
Leave it to McDonald’s to try to improve on the concept with the Dollar Menu. But as the economy has changed over the past 30 years, it became harder and harder for fast food establishments to maintain those kinds of prices.
The best item ever featured on the McDonald’s value menu was the McDouble. The McChicken still holds onto the legacy today. But the winner was the original. Wendy’s gave me fries, a Frosty, chilly and the beloved Double Stack all for $0.99 each.
WINNER: Wendy’s Value Menu
8. Frosty vs. Blizzard
My apologies to the McFlurry and the entire lineup at Sonic, but this battle of cold treats in cup comes down to name recognition.
People love the variety of Blizzards from Dairy Queen. And folks might refer to the ice cream based offerings from various restaurants as a Frosty because Wendy’s has branded the product beautifully. To me the two best in the game are the Frosty and Blizzard. With the Blizzard, the signature dessert at Dairy Queen is pricey but worth every penny. It’s packed with robust flavor and chunks of Oreos. It takes about 5 minutes to make one and it is worth the wait.
Produced a little faster is the Frosty. It’s not the most visual appealing dessert but it delivers with taste. It is so affordable too. But what gives the Frosty the victory here is the trick taught to me by a few friends. Deep your fries into it for a wonderful salt and sweet treat.
7. Taco Bell’s Nacho Fries vs. Burger Joint fries
We can all agree Taco Bell had the Mexican fast food market on lock nationally. I guess The Bell felt competitive and jumped into the French fries deep fryer.
Taco Bell is not stranger with working with spuds with the Fiesta Potatoes on the menu among other offerings. But as a new year beacon in 2018, Taco Bell introduced the Nacho Fries to America.
They were a basic concept of thick fries coated in a nacho seasoning. They came with a side of nacho cheese sauce. This is a pleasing snack for $1.29.
These fries forced the other guys to step up the quality of their products. But I’ll take the field on this debate. McDonald’s fries are iconic when hot. Burger King has great fries. And I can get seasoned fries at Checkers.
WINNER: Burger Joints
6. Subway vs. Jimmy John’s
There are so many factors outside of taste that go into picking your favorite sandwich shop. For the longest time Subway has been king of his niche’. But Jimmy John’s has quickly rose into the No. 2 spot sparking this debate.
Jimmy John’s has branded itself with consistent pricing, fast service and great potions. Meanwhile Subway has convenience with several locations, healthy choices and timely deals.
So it comes down to flavor and variety. I do enjoy a good sandwich from Jimmy John’s. Great portions of meat on those bad boys. But my winner here is Subway. They introduced the process of picking my items on my sandwich. And I can make my sandwich taste anyway I want it from the bread options to the toppings. The Subway signature taste has been the same since 1990.
5. Krystal vs. White Castle
This battle is not about the overall menu. It’s all about the tiny hamburgers. But this is my most competitive competition in this countdown. The reason is because White Castle out of my grocer’s freezer is outstanding and much better than Krystal take-home version.
But when I was in Nashville and ate at White Castle a few times. It was lacking that great flavor I enjoyed at home.
Meanwhile a bag full of Krystal burgers from the restaurant are the perfect dinner. It’s almost a toss up. But I must go with Tennessee’s own Krystal. The pickle and tiny onions on that steamed bun were introduced to me by Krystal.
4. Long John Silver’s vs. Captain D’s
In the mood for seafood but don’t have the Red Lobster budget? You have two options with Long John Silver’s and Captain D’s. Apparently this establishments belong with mean with the last names Silver and D.
I don’t know these gentlemen but I have gotten to know their menus since childhood.
I became a fan of Long John Silver’s because of the massive size of the pieces and fresh sides. The fish was so big I thought it was chicken.
But as I have matured, I kept gravitating back to the Captain. Hushpuppies — check. Coleslaw — check. Variety — check. French fries — the best in the business.
I’m willing to sacrifice the size of the pieces of fish for overall greatness. Captain D’s is the clear winner. The reason why this ranks so high on my list is because of the branding, lawsuits and natural animosity. I would say there is more fish in the sea, but these two chains would make a trip back to dry land just to scrap over them.
WINNER: Captain D’s
3. KFC biscuit vs. Church’s Chicken
For some reason, fast food chicken places have to serve biscuits with their meals. I’m not complaining, just wondering why.
I love the biscuits from Popeye’s and locally at Jack Pirtle’s. But the original war of the 1990s was between Kentucky Fried Chicken and Church’s Chicken.
Church’s dared to be different by offering a honey coated biscuit. This must be eaten fresh and immediately. Pretty much take the biscuit out of the bag on the way home and swallow it to get the maximum flavor.
The offering from KFC does allow more time to enjoy and even get it home to eat with the meal. The KFC biscuit is perfect for mopping up gravy and making a quick chicken and biscuit.
The KFC biscuit is the undisputed champ when fresh and near liquid to help wash down.
WINNER: KFC biscuit
2. Pizza Hut vs. Papa John’s
First let me give a shout out to Little Caesar’s and Domino’s. I love being able to give Little Caesar’s $20 bucks and walking out with four boxes of pizza. And Domino’s has improved tremendously in the past 10 years in presentation and taste.
The primary pizza war the last 20 years has been between two princes of the pie — Pizza Hut and Papa John’s.
When Papa John’s burst onto the scene, the pizza war got real. Butter/garlic sauce, peppers and fresh ingredients helped the product gain a following. The size of the pizza at Papa John’s was true. A large pizza was really large. With the sauce, you felt you got your money’s worth.
What kept Pizza Hut the standard was creativity and traditional taste. Whether it was thin or pan crust, you knew what you were getting from the Hut.
It was too close to call until I realized Pizza Hut introduced my stomach to stuffed crust pizzas. It was like a gift from heaven. All I can say is thank you Pizza Hut.
WINNER: Pizza Hut
1. Big Mac vs. The Whopper
The Coke vs Pepsi, LeBron vs. Michael or Ford vs. Chevy of the fast food industry is Big Mac vs. The Whopper. I do enjoy a Big Mac. I love the jingle too. But the best burger at McDonald is not the Big Mac. It’s the Quarter Pounder. So the winner here is Burger King’s Whopper.
The Whopper lives up to the name in size and flavor. It’s the best thing to ever join forces with onion, tomato, lettuce, mayo and cheese.
The Whopper even beats the Big Mac on fat and calories. And it is worth it for that flamed broiled patty.
WINNER: The Whopper
THOMAS SELLERS JR. is the editor of The Millington Star and both the sports editor and a weekly personal columnist for West 10 Media/Magic Valley Publishing. Contact him by phone at (901) 433-9138, by fax to (901) 529-7687 and by email to email@example.com.