The History of the Chicken Sandwich: From Truett Cathy to Popeyes

The chicken sandwich is a beloved staple of fast food restaurants around the world. But who was the first to come up with this delicious dish? It is believed that the first chicken sandwich was invented in 1946, when an Atlanta restaurant owner named Truett Cathy made an alternative to the popular hamburger. He placed a piece of grilled boneless chicken fillet in a bun and named it Chick-fil-A. Chick-fil-A claims that it invented the fried chicken sandwich in the 1940s, although this claim is not proven.

The Southern-style chicken sandwich Chick-fil-A (served with pickles on a steamed bun), introduced on March 21, 1964, was most likely the first chicken sandwich introduced by a fast-food restaurant chain. Other notable vendors of chicken sandwiches include KFC and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. Today, most major fast, casual and casual food chains offer some type of chicken sandwich, even in restaurants where chicken is not a specialty. So how did this iconic sandwich come to be? It all started with Truett Cathy's invention in 1964. He created a unique recipe that has been kept secret for more than 50 years. Soon after, other restaurants began introducing their own premium chicken burgers.

Austrians like chicken escalope breaded with a mixture of lightly seasoned flour and breadcrumbs, fried until golden brown and served with fresh parsley and lemon slices. The recent resurgence of the chicken sandwich, partly due to the 'chicken burger war', has seen many restaurants task their culinary teams with developing an exclusive fried chicken sandwich. The Scots used to fry their breaded chicken in fat, which made a very soft but crispy piece of chicken. Surprisingly, General Tso's chicken did not originate in the Chinese province of Hunan, and it doesn't go back to the Qing Dynasty. Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen saw great potential in the category and, during the pandemic slowdown, released their own version of the fried chicken sandwich. Within a week, there were huge lines of customers at Popeyes stores, and many were completely sold out of fried chicken sandwiches for the day. So how are we doing with the chicken burger? It has been interesting to see the introduction of kimchi and the like to replace acidity, as well as the variation in bowling styles, including bao as shown below from Lazy Su.

A juicy breaded chicken burger on a fluffy toasted bun with two slices of spicy dill pickle layered inside.

Tristan Gagliardo
Tristan Gagliardo

Proud social media ninja. Bacon expert. Unapologetic gamer. Proud zombie nerd. Freelance pop culture scholar.

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