Thursday mornings at Chick-Fil-A shouldn’t look any different from Thursday mornings at any other fast food restaurant. Cars buzz in and out of the parking lot on an unseasonably warm day. People shuffle in an out the doors. A mom — sore eyed from a late shift and already back in her nursing gown for another long day — is telling her daughter to eat her fruit before she gets to her chicken nuggets. For breakfast.
That’s thing number one I love about Chick-Fil-A. You can essentially, and are in fact encouraged, to eat chicken nuggets for breakfast. And not those frozen chicken nuggets with spotty whole grain breading that your mom tried to stuff down your face during busy weeknights as a kid. We’re talking your peanut oily sweet, succulent morsels of all white meat that greeted you on cold days during fast food runs with your free coupons in college.
That’s the number two thing I love about Chick-Fil-A. The memories. In November 2010 — my senior year of college — they opened a CFA in our town. In Utah. In November. I took three straight days off to camp out in the First 100 event to win 52 meal coupons, and even though I was forced to stay warm by huddling with 18-year old dudes in a fart-infested tent, the experience was worth it. The coupons? Those were great too, but as anyone who has ever been to a First 100 will tell you, it’s the people, and the atmosphere, which really leave you feeling like a winner.
That’s the third thing I love about Chick-Fil-A. The people. I’ve always been amazed at the diversity of the stores I’ve walked into. Every one who goes in seems to love it, and unlike chains which target certain demographics, CFA checks provocative ads or minority targeted campaigns at the door. Walking into a Chick-Fil-A, you see all kinds of people there. And all kinds of people working there. Cows, I guess, don’t discriminate. They even give out free Chick-n-Minis on Thursdays during the winter to anyone who steps in, awkward looking young adults included.
There’s a lot of misconceptions out there about Chick-Fil-A. A lot of slinging around of phrases that, aside from being born from partisan soundbites and a sixth-grade level of civic understanding, just aren’t accurate. But while we may argue about semantics and labels of this and that, I challenge any person to walk into a Chick-Fil-A and not feel welcomed. To feel stared down at, like an alien crossing the silent, divided line of, “people like me just don’t go there.” And while you’re at it, I challenge you to have chicken nuggets. For breakfast.
I’ve been eating at CFA’s for a lot of years, but this was my first time having their Chick-n-Minis. How two-bite sandwich morsels can make such a transcending breakfast is beyond my scope of linguistic ability, but let me try to break it down. It starts with the roll. Half biscuit, half potato roll, it has firm outside with a lickable honey butter coating that pairs perfectly with the airy, warm, and yeasty interior. It’s savory and sweet, rich and light, walking the balance between the always competing ying and yang of breakfast preferences. All this before you even get to the chicken.
If you’ve never had Chick-Fil-A’s chicken it’s almost fruitless to try to explain. The breading is crisp but not crunchy, the taste succulent, nutty, and sweet. It’s as if each fiber of protein sings to your salivary glands, conducting a symphony of flavor that is so simple, it’s genius. The size is small, but the effect is substantial. Your first bite reveals the depth of flavor, and from here on out you’re commanded to nibble away, reminded that sometimes the best things in life are the little things we often glance over.
Just like how the best chicken sandwiches are mini. And the best chicken sandwich restaurants are like a home away from home, for everyone.