Life

Popeyes’ New Chicken Sandwich Isn’t Coming To Canada. So What Should We Eat Instead?

How do Tim Hortons and A&W's options stack up?
A woman holding a chicken sandwich. 
A woman holding a chicken sandwich. 

There’s a chicken war raging on the Internet.

It all started with Popeyes introducing a new chicken sandwich. Then Chick-Fil-A weighed in. Popeyes shot back. Then Wendy’s jumped in. And now everyone’s trying to figure out what the best fast food chicken sandwich is.

One thing everyone can agree on is that that Popeyes’ sandwich is good. Apparently, really really good. According to the New Yorker, it’s even going to “save America.” But unfortunately for us, Popeyes has confirmed that the new chicken sandwich is not available at Canadian locations yet.

Here, north of the border, we’ll have to satisfy our cravings for juicy, crispy, crunchy chicken elsewhere. And boy do we have options.

I am a lifetime chicken sandwich consumer. A childhood hatred of mustard and onions meant I steered clear of beef options and went straight for the chicken sandwich. I’ve lived the chicken sandwich life, and it’s been a good one.

To help you in your quest, here’s a breakdown of some of the fast-food chicken sandwiches available in the true north strong and free and whether or not they’re good. Each is rated out of five chickens.

Tim Hortons

Canada’s national coffee and donut provider recently introduced a low-budget chicken sandwich to its roster of food offerings. Is it good? No. Is it cheap? Yes.

Tim Hortons Canada describes the sandwich as a “100 per cent seasoned and breaded white meat chicken patty.” It’s mediocre at best. But for $1.99? That’s a steal of a deal.

Every time I’ve gotten one, it’s been dry and sort of disappointing. But it’s a meal, and I’m usually hungry and far enough away from any other options. Should you get it? I mean, it is a meal for a toonie. That’s pretty good.

Rating: 🐓/5

Final verdict: While you do love to see that low low price, quality is first and foremost. Stay in your lane Timmy’s. Stick to the donuts.

WATCH: Tim Hortons opens innovation cafe in Toronto. Story continues below.

A&W

For a long time, A&W made its impact with the classic Chubby Chicken burger. But their chicken itself is nothing to write home about, and the Chubby Chicken burger has remained mostly unremarkable.

Then came the Chicken Buddy Burger.

The Chicken Buddy Burger follows the same formula as the popular sandwiches from Popeyes and Chick-Fil-A — chicken, pickles, mayo. That’s it. And you know what, there’s a reason that’s the way people do it. Chicken, pickles and mayo all rule individually. Put them together and you get magic.

What elevates the Chicken Buddy Burger to true excellence is its smallish size. Rather than having to work your way through an entire burger, you can just get a taste of chicken sandwich. Feeling wild? Get two. Get three! Live your best life. I’m not judging!

Will I get one when I’m walking home next weekend at 2 a.m. after a night out on the town? You betcha.

Rating: 🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓/5

Final verdict: A bite of perfection. And I have to respect the brand’s contribution to the Popeye’s Twitter discourse.

Church’s Chicken

Church’s Chicken is a new discovery for me. The chain, with locations across the United States, and B.C. and Ontario in Canada, is not as prevalent as bigger chicken giants like KFC or McDonald’s. But it can hold its own against the big guys.

The classic chicken sandwich has everything you want — white bun, lettuce, mayo and even cheese, a rarity in the chicken sandwich game. But the true winner is the chicken itself.

This is how you do it — crispy, crunchy and you can basically feel the oil on your teeth when you bite in. That’s good s**t right there. This is an honest-to-goodness piece of chicken, not a patty. And it shows.

A lacklustre bun situation keeps this sandwich from being truly great. But you know what? It does the job.

Rating: 🐓🐓🐓🐓/5

Final verdict: I’m a fan. I’m eating one right now — it rules.

McDonald’s

McDonald’s Canada has a spattering of chicken sandwich options, from the classic McChicken to the signature chicken sandwiches that feature tomato and mozzarella or BLT versions. We don’t need anything fancy though.

Keeping it classic, the McChicken is simple. It’s the definition of “OK” in the world of chicken sandwiches. If we had to artificially make a chicken sandwich through science in a laboratory, the McChicken is what would result.

Rating: 🐓🐓🐓/5

Final verdict: It’s fine. It’s good even. It’s not spectacular.

The true star of McDonald’s chicken sandwiches, though, is the Junior Chicken. For half the price of a McChicken, you get an arguably better, if a touch smaller, sandwich. The peppery flavour of the Junior Chicken elevates it beyond your basic chicken sandwich. And at that price-point? [kisses fingers like an Italian chef].

Rating: 🐓🐓🐓🐓/5

Final verdict: Blessed be the late-night drunk food of millennials everywhere.

A McDonald's restaurant in Montreal. 
A McDonald's restaurant in Montreal. 

KFC

The longtime purveyor of fried chicken doesn’t make a half-bad chicken sandwich either. Like many of the sandwiches on this list, the KFC Big Crunch is simple — bread, mayo, lettuce, chicken. This is truly top-tier chicken quality in terms of chicken sandwiches. The fried chicken breast has crevasses as deep as the Arctic, just waiting to be filled with iceberg lettuce shreds and dropping mayo.

Again, the bun isn’t perfect. But that’s a damn good sandwich.

Rating: 🐓🐓🐓🐓/5

Final verdict: You love to see that crunch.

WATCH: KFC Is Meeting With Plant-Based ‘Meat’ Makers. Story continues below.

Wendy’s

Like McDonald’s, Wendy’s offers a variety of chicken sandwiches. And while I should talk about the chain’s homestyle chicken sandwich, I’ve got to go off script here.

It may be fancy, it may be expensive, but I will stan the Asiago Ranch Chicken Club as the best chicken sandwich on the market in terms of major fast food chains in Canada. There’s just something about the Asiago cheese, bacon and ranch combined with the juicy chicken breast that makes this sandwich soar. I know it’s not a classic chicken sandwich. I know it’s probably a different category than all of these other ones. But you know what? It’s heckin’ tasty.

Rating: 🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓/5 (yeah, that’s right. There’s a bonus chicken.)

Final verdict: PUT RANCH ON MORE CHICKEN SANDWICHES

UPDATE: Mary Brown’s

Since publishing the initial ranking of fast food chicken sandwiches, my email inbox has been inundated with readers asking why I didn’t include the Big Mary from Mary Brown’s. The simple answer? I live in Vancouver and the nearest Mary Brown’s is a two-hour journey on public transit away.

That is no excuse though, and on Labour Day weekend when road-tripping back from my parents’ house, we stopped in the tiny town of Merritt, B.C., for gas. And there, on the horizon, like a holy sign, was the yellow sign of Mary Brown’s.

Finally, the Big Mary sandwich. Purchased at a Mary Brown's in Merritt, B.C.
Finally, the Big Mary sandwich. Purchased at a Mary Brown's in Merritt, B.C.

I tried the chicken sandwich, dear reader. The chicken sandwich that, according to an actual sign in the restaurant, is the best chicken sandwich in Canada.

It was good. It was really good. The chicken was perfectly flaky and the bun was marshmallow-soft. My only detraction was the sad excuse for a pickle I got on top, and the limp lettuce. Otherwise? Totally worth the hype.

Rating: 🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓/5

Final verdict: I spent the car-ride back to Vancouver complaining about how mad I was at how good it was.