We tested fried chicken from Southern favorites Church's and Bojangles to see who does it better - and the winner is clear
Kate Taylor,Hollis JohnsonJul 28, 2017, 21:55 IST
In the fast-paced, cut-throat chicken industry, it's hard to set yourself apart.
However, a regional chain from North Carolina isn't content to stay in the South any longer.
Bojangles', with 728 locations nationwide, is on an expansion spree. But, if the chain wants to catch on outside the Carolinas, it needs to take on international players - like the ubiquitous Church's Chicken, with more than 1,700 locations worldwide.
In an effort to see if Bojangles' could keep up with the flock, we visited Bojangles' and Church's as part of our whirlwind chicken tour.
Ultimately, the biscuit carried these sandwiches the extra mile — and ultimately brought Bojangles' out on top.
We ordered a slew of biscuit-based sandwiches — something we had skipped on our last visit — and dug in. Prime among the sandwiches were the Cajun Chicken Fillet and the sausage egg and cheese.
With two uneven menus, it was hard for us to decide how Bojangles' and Church's stack up. Kate was leaning towards Bojangles', while Church's had convinced Hollis. In an effort to declare a winner, once and for all, we decided to revisit Bojangles' for breakfast — in part, at the bidding of Carolina Bojangles' loyalists.
The shining star was the biscuit. Church's honey-butter biscuit showed what a sweet biscuit should be — not the cloying blight of the Boberry. It was almost light, with a lovely honey glaze on a savory biscuit providing the perfect balance of sweet and salty, a flavor combination for the ages.
The sandwich was a pleasant pocket-sized surprised. It didn't pretend to be anything fancy, but it packed a punch as far as fast-food chicken sandwiches go.
The tenders had a similar issue. The meat was reasonably juicy and good quality, but the wow factor wasn't there.
Eating the chicken on the bone, we realized we may have made a strategic error. The chicken was passable — not too dry, not very greasy, and while slightly lacking in crunch, not embarrassingly so. However, the lack of distinct flavor made it forgettable.
We headed to Richmond, Virginia seeking salvation, arriving at a small location with just a handful of booths — a to-go style shop. At Church's, we ordered a two-piece combo, tender strips, and a chicken sandwich.
Leaving Bojangles', we had a mission. We hoped Church's Chicken could take us to church, with a heavenly chicken recipe.
On the other end of the biscuit spectrum is Bojangles' classic yet noble biscuit. It doesn't work for glory — it simply does its job as a buttery workhorse. In its simplicity, lies its strength, lifting every dish it accompanies to new heights.
To say we did not join the cult of the Boberry biscuit is an understatement. The biscuit left us cringing as we bit through the strata of sugar. It's tooth-achingly sweet — and the dehydrated blueberries taste fake.
Then there's the Boberry biscuit. People adore this iconic treat: a sweet, blueberry biscuit smothered in frosting.
Even more disappointing is the grilled chicken sandwich. To quote from our notes: "Dry! Bad! No flavor!"
The Cajun Fillet sandwich is similarly well-flavored — but the mayo ratio is way off and the bun falls short.
The Selects, Bojangles' name for tenders, are somewhat dry. The spice is nice, but Bojangles' fails to capture the crucial crunch.
The chicken on the bone certainly isn't dry. Instead, the grease threatens to overwhelm the otherwise serviceable chicken.
As we sipped on the sugar super-saturated sweet tea and a cup of Cherry Patio (a beverage the has been impossible to find anywhere except Bojangles' since the late '70s), we tore into our chicken.
We ordered quite the chicken and biscuit spread: four piece Chicken Supreme combo, two-piece dinner, grilled chicken sandwich, a Cajun Fillet sandwich, and the infamous Boberry Biscuit.
Ordering is a speedy business — though not a stealthy one. Cashiers relay orders over a speaker system to the kitchen, who quickly put together your meal. It's surprisingly efficient, taking less than five minutes start to finish.
Walking in calls to mind the cleanly, sterile taupe terrain of an old-school Wendy's.
Bojangles' was founded in 1977 in Charlotte, North Carolina. We visited one in Charlottesville, Virginia.