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Popeyes, Chick-fil-A and Wendy's spicy taste test for chicken sandwich.
Detroit Free Press

A sweet flavor bowl that matched a meaty portion of chicken. Crunchy thick slices with pickles. Good sized fried chicken breast with crunchy chunks.

Top it with a slice of a well-balanced spicy mayo that doesn't overpower, and you taste Popeye's new chicken sandwich that has been talking about the country.

But is it worth the hype?

Call us curious. We had to take a bite in the sandwiches.

We wanted to know how a fried chicken sandwich spurred a Twitter war, a lawsuit, caused an angry customer to pull a gun on a Houston Popeyes, according to CNN, when they couldn't get sandwiches and create lines at Popeye's locations all over country. And in some places they limited the number of sandwiches you could buy with each order.

Popeyes & # 39; new sandwiches debuted in mid-August and quickly fueled a social media storm .

It is clear that Popeye's new chicken sandwich offerings are intended to compete with Chick-fil-A's signature sandwich. Chick-fil-A responded with their own tweets and designated the chicken sandwiches.

When the storm was brewing, Popeye's quickly ran out of sandwiches. Now it looks like some locations are making up again. But as of last Wednesday, a sign was taped to the door of Popeyes at Woodward in Highland Park, saying it was of chicken sandwiches.

We put both the classic and spicy Popeye's chicken sandwich against almost the same versions from Chickfil-A and Wendy's. We included Wendy's after several employees mentioned being a supporter of the chicken sandwiches.

And now, drum roll, please.

It was the sum of all the parts and parts of Popeye's new – and hard to come by – spicy chicken sandwich that Free Press taste testers declared a winner.

But we must add: Popeyes & # 39; spicy chicken just barely eked out the win.

Chick-fil-A was very, very close. Of the four taste testers, three were considered Popeye's spicy chicken as the winner. The fourth chose Chick-file-A because it came without mayonnaise. Wendy's wasn't even up and running.

Nutritionally, almost all of the sandwiches' fat and sodium levels were high. But fatally, Popeye's has 42 grams – almost twice as much as everyone else – and the highest amount of saturated fat at 14 grams. But after all, it's a fried chicken sandwich.

On the sodium counts, Wendy's spicy chicken is the lowest at 990 milligrams and Chick-fil-A spicy is the highest at 1,620 milligrams. The American Heart Association (AHA) advises adults not to use more than 2,300 milligrams a day. Ideally, the AHA wants adults to limit themselves to no more than 1500 milligrams per day.

Staff Judge

Tresa Baldas: Covers federal courts.

Kirkland Crawford: Visiting Sports Editor.

Georgea Kovanis: Writing about the opioid epidemic.

Susan Selasky: Foodwriter / Woodward 248 reporter.

Here is a summary of the judges' findings:

Total winner: Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Popeyes.com menu description: A tender whole white chicken breast fillet, marinated in an authentic blend of Louisiana spices, then hand – beaten and breaded in our brand new buttermilk coating. Serve with crisp barrel-cured pickles and classic or spicy mayonnaise, served on a hot and toasted sandwich bowl.

Nutrition:

Calories Total Fat Saturated Fat Sodium [19659005] 700 42 grams 14 grams 1 473 milligrams

Price: $ 3.99 [19659005] Judge's comments: Attractive and welcoming, well-made sandwich. Good size, thick chicken breast in brioche bun. The chicken was tasty and juicy with the right kick. Everything was fresh looking and the way the sandwich was wrapped made it look upscale.

Popeyes Classic Chicken Sandwich

Menu description from popeyes.com: Chapter19459039] A tender whole white meat chicken breast fillet, marinated in an authentic blend of Louisiana spices, then hand-battered and breaded in our brand new buttermilk coating. Served with crisp barrel pickled pickles and classic or spicy mayonnaise, served on a warm and toasted sandwich brioche bun.

699 42 grams 14 grams 1 443 milligrams

Price: $ 3.99

Judge's comments: Large size chicken breast. Great flavor and a great "yay" to the crunchy pickles, as well as the sandwiches not getting greasy. It was as expected and the mayo was just enough.

Chick-Fil-A Classic Chicken Sandwich

Menu description at chick-fil-a.com : A boneless chicken breast seasoned to perfection, hand bread, pressure cooked in 100% refined peanut oil and served on a toasted, greased bowl of dill pickle chips.

440 19 grams 4 grams 1.350 milligrams

Price: $ 4.09

Judge comments: The chicken is really good and juicy. Although one judge thought it was nothing outstanding and another called it "no frills" and not particularly crazy. The chicken was bland and the sandwiches were not well put together.

Chick-Fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Menu description from chick-fil-a.com: 3.819459039] A boneless chicken breast seasoned with a spicy blend of paprika, hand-pressed, pressure cooked in 100% refined peanut oil and served on a toasted, greased bowl with dill pickle chips. Gluten-free bowl or multigrain bun is also available at an additional cost.

450 19 grams 4 grams 1.620 milligrams

Price: $ 4.39

Judge comments: This fell a bit in appearance, but the judges said this is not a beauty contest . Very juicy and the chicken is the star with this one, but on the salty side. It packed enough of a spicy touch that a judge said there was no need for mayo. Pickles were flimsy and not so dangerous.

Wendy's Homestyle Chicken Sandwich

Menu description from wendys.com: 3.819459039] A juicy, lightly baked chicken breast, crispy lettuce and tomato, and just enough mayo, all a toasted bowl. There is extra comfortable food.

500 22 grams 4 grams 1,020 milligrams

Price: $ 5.09

Judge's comments: This sandwich got very low marks. It was bland, messy and tasted institutional. Taste like any other fried chicken sandwich. The chicken sandwich game has been raised, and Wendy's has to go again.

Wendy's Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Menu description from wendys.com: A juicy chicken breast marinated and breaded in our unique, fiery blend of peppers and spices to give more flavor inside and out, cooled with crisp salad, tomato and mayo.

500 19 grams 3.5 grams 990 milligrams

Price: $ 5.09

Judge's comments: This was spicy enough and tasted better than Wendy's home style. But it was still short than the sandwiches from Chick-fil-A and Popeyes. The taste was OK for a fast food chicken sandwich, but was nothing special.

Contact Susan Selasky: 313-222-6872 or sselasky@freepress.com. Follow @SusanMariecooks on Twitter.

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