The Rise of Chicken in American Fast Food


William Sharis

Most Pleasant Valley students get their Chic-fil-A sandwiches at the 2945 E 53rd Street location. (Picture Above) Picture by William Sharis

Will Sharis, Photo Manager

The popularity of the chicken sandwich has been growing locally and nationally to a point where the iconic hamburger is being challenged.

With the rise of fast food during the late 20th century, the hamburger has become synonymous with the industry that feeds America on a daily basis. However, the monopoly it has developed as the face of the fast food market is now being challenged by Americans craving chicken products.

In a recent poll of Pleasant Valley students, 15 out of 26 respondents said they preferred buying chicken sandwiches over hamburgers when they went to a fast food restaurant. Out of the 15 that wanted the chicken sandwich, 10 of them specifically mentioned Chick-fil-A in their answer. Interesting though, none of the responses from the hamburger choice specifically mentioned where they wanted to buy their hamburgers from. 

The brand loyalty to Chick-fil-A is fascinating as there are only two franchises close to the Pleasant Valley School District. However, the love of Chick-fil-A, and more specifically their chicken sandwich, was displayed last year with the school district offering the chicken sandwiches in a few school lunches. 

The anticipation around the school was higher than any other lunches that year. Several students expressed their love for lunches this year during the polling process with Mitchell Strobbe even saying: “That was definitely the best school lunch we’ve ever had.”

That excitement for chicken sandwiches seems to not only be local, but also seems to be reflected nationally as well. Over the course of last year, the number of chicken sandwiches sold in the United States increased while hamburger sales dropped over the same time period. 

Walking into fast food restaurants across the Quad Cities can show how the industry is adapting to the change in taste, as grilled and fried chicken sandwiches are now located in the middle of the menu right next to hamburger options. Most of the large franchises from McDonalds to Burger King have chicken product lines that are similar in size to their hamburger counterparts.

The rise of the chicken sandwich seems to not only come from society changing their tastes in food. PVHS student Brenna Morley said, “Not only do I like chicken better, but I think it is also better for the environment.” 

Not only is what she said is true, the effects are even more devastating. Beef is 10 times more damaging to the environment as chicken because of the methane cows produce before being slaughtered. The concern of harming the environment will seemingly affect American’s choice of food in the coming years as concern over the environment increases.

The chicken sandwich has only just begun its crusade to dethrone the hamburger as the face of fast food, but changes in taste buds and society will seemingly fuel its campaign for the foreseeable future.