I am a lover of fried chicken. This is highly documented over on my old website and even once on 1234KYLE5678. Fried chicken is the perfect food: chicken is perfect and frying chicken takes it to a delicious, decadent, once-in-a-while treat status. It is an American culinary icon that is more important than the hamburger considering its preciousness.
This is changing, though. Fried chicken is popping up more and more in interesting ways, from crispy sandwiches to the classic bucket of legs. It hopefully will become a “thing,” too: Eater has declared that the time is right for a fast casual fried chicken revolution. They cite Momofuku‘s David Chang and Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack as leading the charge to sophisticate and challenge what fried chicken folks at KFC and Chick-Fil-A are doing. (Note: Chick-Fil-A is basically perfect. Their politics are not but, damn, their fried chicken is good.)
This is happening in myriad ways. The two brands are creating outposts for the food while others are throwing their hand in the ring as upgrades and potential local offerings for the dish. Hill County Chicken‘s CEO Marc Glosserman sums up the idea pretty nicely:
“There are so many places that my generation grew up with,” Glosserman says, rattling off a list including KFC, Popeyes, and Bojangles’. “But I think this generation of millennials are looking for something different. They don’t have the same brand loyalty. They’re much more discerning when it comes to the origins of their food.” The way he sees it, fried chicken is simply next in line for the culinary upgrade. “We’ve seen it in burgers and we’re seeing it in barbecue, and I think we’re going to see it in fried chicken.”
The article notes that the mass boom of fried chicken is great in theory but potentially difficult. There are concerns that the chicken will be inconsistent. You also have to contend with the precious battle for doneness since fried chicken cannot be over or undercooked. Then, there is the worry that the big companies like the Chick-Fil-As are going to squash you. Legitimate concerns, obviously.
Yet, there is hope. These concerns can be bypassed. If cities start doing a few locations of one great fried chicken concept? That’s all I want. I am willing to visit these places once (or a few times) next time I am in that city. Fried chicken is such a glorious food that it can be travelled to. It is very deserving of this attention.
I welcome you, wave of new fried chicken masters. I welcome you into my mouth and into my body and soul. Please wash over me with your hot, juicy, oily goodness and make me into a fried chicken, too. (And, also, I vow to only indulge once or twice a month because I realize the danger of eating too much fried chicken.)