Yes, America, it has finally happened: Chicken sandwiches are now a partisan issue.
A couple of weeks ago, Chick-fil-A's president/CEO Dan Cathy was quoted during a radio interview saying in regard to the issue of gay marriage:
I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage." ... I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.
It's hardly breaking news that Chick-fil-A's corporate leaders are against gay marriage (in 2009 the company reportedly donated roughly $2 million to anti-gay groups), but never before had Cathy been so vocal about his company's stance in regard to the issue.
Naturally, battle lines have been drawn in response to the announcement. Many are boycotting the franchise, and some mayors have asked the company not to bring the restaurant to their city. On the other hand, conservative leaders such as Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee have rallied for a counter-protest on behalf of Chick-fil-A.
Having been a frequent consumer of Chick-fil-A during my college days (and occasionally at their super-secret location on NYU's campus), I can personally attest to the fact that it's delicious -- so much so that frankly, I can't help but feel slightly hesitant to give it up, despite the fact that I hold views that are apparently diametrically opposed to those of Chick-fil-A's corporate leadership on the issue of gay marriage. So in order to tip the scales a little further, I decided to compile a list of a few other reasons why I, and maybe you, probably shouldn't eat at Chick-fil-A -- you know, aside from the whole heavily-donating-to-hateful-causes thing.
It's Really Not the Most Healthful Place to Eat
This may be a little obvious, as I doubt many people who down a fried-chicken sandwich are doing so to be fit, but Chick-fil-A isn't the best addition to a healthy diet. I knew this fact, but I was pretty surpised to discover that my favorite meal at the restaurant -- a spicy chicken sandwich deluxe, waffle fries, and a sweet tea -- accounts for almost 2,100 calories, which is roughly an entire day's worth. While this made me worried for my personal health, my concern shifted to Rick Santorum when I read the nutrional value of the restaurant's signature peach milkshake, which he so proudly tweeted about consuming on Thursday. A large peach milkshake at Chick-fil-A contains 850 calories, 21 grams of fat, and 540 milligrams of sodium. By comparison, a Big Mac contains 550 calories. So even if you are willing to sacrifice your personal values for a chicken sandwich and a milkshake, know that you're going to have to sacrifice some arteries, as well.
You Can Eat a Fried-Chicken Sandwich Almost Anywhere Else Without It Being a Political Statement
Even if you just really like the food, there's a high likelihood that eating at Chick-fil-A will carry unsavory connotations for at least the forseeable future. It's a good sandwich -- a great sandwich, even -- but is it really worth the palpable moral judgment you might incur for eating it? And yes, once again, I know it's a really good sandwich we're talking about.
You Can Make It at Home
Fortunately, if you quit giving your money to Chick-fil-A, that doesn't mean you have to give up their sandwiches: Internet chef Hilah Johnson recently posted a video giving instructions on how to create their much-fabled fried-chicken sandwich. It may not offer the immediate gratification you crave, as there is some assembly required, but being able to make it yourself is still pretty cool.
As for recreating their waffle fries, well, you're on your own.
They're Being Sued for Gender Discrimination
If donating millions to prevent same-sex couples from marrying doesn't bother you, then there's a good chance gender discimination won't strike a nerve, either, but regardless, it's something to keep in mind before you indulge in your remarkably caloric meal. Brenda Honeycutt, a former Chick-fil-A employee, alleges that she was fired from her job at the restaurant so that she could be a "stay home mother." Even more troubling, the lawsuit cited a pattern of discrimination against female employees at the Duluth franchise where Honeycutt worked.
They Sued a Guy for Selling T-Shirts That Read, 'Eat More Kale'
Chick-fil-A has had a long-running advertising campaign in which cows urge the public to "Eat Mor Chikin." (Get it? The cows want you to eat chicken because then they won't be eaten and they spell poorly because they're cows. Heady stuff.) When a folk artist from Vermont named Bo Muller-Moore started selling a T-shirt reading, "Eat More Kale," the corporation sent him a cease-and-desist letter, most likely because they were offended by the idea of promoting a vegetable-heavy lifestyle. Muller-Moore started a Kickstarter campaign that has raised almost $90,000 to assist with his defense in the lawsuit he is now facing. So it seems that textbook corporate bullying is within the company values Mr. Cathy claims he's trying to represent at Chick-fil-A.
There's Such a Thing as Too Much Fast Food
Reverend Billy Graham referred to the restaurateurs as "my good friends" in a statement. Being able to refer to the management of a fast-food restaurant as your good friends is probably a good indication that you're eating too much fast food.
In-N-Out and Whataburger Have Much Better Food
Objectively. I've done the research.