CHICAGO — Fried chicken has absorbed the attention of both the internet and the fast-food industry in the past few weeks. It all began when Popeyes debuted its new chicken sandwich and took to Twitter saying that it was better than the sandwich from rival Chick-fil-A. Since then, both chains have generated unexpectedly large crowds at their restaurants, with customers curious to find out for themselves which sandwich is superior. Popeyes' sandwich generated so much interest that the chain ran out of supplies to make the dish, which were supposed to last through the end of September, the company said via Twitter.
But where do convenience stores fall in the fried-chicken conversation? While many chains have offered the crispy protein for years, some specialize in the dish and often highlight it as their flagship menu item.
Here are eight c-store chains that focus on fried chicken programs …
Casey’s General Stores
In August, Casey’s General Stores, Ankeny, Iowa, expanded its fried chicken options, which now include fried chicken sandwiches, fried chicken tenders and popcorn chicken. The chain’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich features a seasoned, breaded white-meat chicken breast served on a warm bun. Patrons may customize the sandwich with various toppings, including pickles, tomatoes, onions and lettuce. Like the sandwich, Casey’s fried chicken tenders and popcorn chicken are both made with seasoned, breaded white-meat chicken.
Fried chicken is a staple of the Parker Cos. Deals include one-, three-, five- and eight-piece white-meat servings, as well as an eight-piece dark-meat serving. The Savannah, Ga.-based retailer also offers fried chicken family meals with as many as 16 pieces. Through its ordering kiosks, customers can customize their own breakfast sandwiches, which may include smoked sausage with the fried chicken.
Royal Farms’ fried chicken is hand-breaded with the chain’s blend of spices and is pressure-cooked around the clock. The Baltimore-based chain offers a variety of fried chicken deals, such as two-, three- and four-piece individual meals and up to 50-piece family packs. Royal Farms also offers Thanksgiving meals, anchored by its fried chicken.
The Spinx Co., Greenville, S.C., offers fried chicken in a variety of formats. Individual portions include three-piece and five-piece portions; family meals come in six-, eight-, 12-, 16- and 20-piece portions; and party platters are available in 25-, 40- and 60-piece portions. Besides traditional fried chicken tenders, Sphinx also offers fried chicken livers and gizzards.
Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores
In August, Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores Inc., Oklahoma City, debuted the new Chester’s Fried Chicken Sandwich in all 113 of its stores that have a Chester’s quick-service restaurant. The sandwich is a fried and marinated chicken breast with crinkle-cut dill pickles sandwiched in a brioche bun. It is available for a suggested retail price of $3.99.
Rogers Market, Sarasota, Fla., offers fried chicken tenders and nuggets through its foodservice program. By creating simple menu items with quality ingredients, Rogers Market is attempting to break the stereotypes of a traditional convenience store, providing an easy, affordable and satisfying restaurant alternative for nearby residents, the company said.
Golden Pantry Food Stores
Golden Pantry Food Stores offer full-, limited- and self-service food formats, as well as quick-service restaurants. The Watkinsville, Ga.-based chain is known for signature fresh-made biscuits and hand-breaded fried chicken made from scratch each morning in its own kitchens.
Jet Food Stores
Jet Food Stores, Sandersville, Ga., offers fried chicken on its lunch menu. A single serving of the chicken breast comes atop two slices of white bread and a handful of potato wedges. Jet’s lunch menu also includes pork chops, hamburgers and fish, with sides of turnip greens, mashed potatoes, corn, macaroni and cheese and green beans.