In my 35 years living on this shiny, blue orb I had never eaten at a Chick-Fil-A -- until last week. The closest I'd gotten was when a mall co-worker generously offered me a tiny, chicken-biscuity breakfast thing, which I politely nibbled at and then tossed in the garbage when she was out of sight. I was not drawn by the pervasive odor of gamey grease that seemed to waft out of Chick-Fil-A -- permeating the communal mall food court in the most un-altruistic way possible.
But lured by the promise of Chick-Fil-A's new desserts, which debuted last week, I finally hit a stand-alone store at 1301 East 120th Avenue in Thornton.
The place seemed inviting -- there were stuffed cows in the windows, and when I sniffed the air in the parking lot, I detected no grease. I took another sniff as I walked inside: still no grease. (Maybe just mall stores stink?)
I took a look at the menu board, which listed a predictable flock of chicken sandwiches. But there were also those new desserts, including Chocolate Chunk Cookie and Fudge Brownie and corresponding Chocolate Chunk Cookie and Fudge Brownie sundaes, as well as the returning seasonal Banana Pudding Milkshake.
Before I got to the good goodies stuff, though, I decided to start with a Chick-Fil-A Deluxe Chicken Sandwich, which came with lettuce, tomato and a slice of American cheese. And I ordered waffle fries on the side.
The sandwich wasn't bad, although the patty was seriously salty, something I'm noticing a lot lately with fast-food proteins. Chick-Fil-A either had to inject the chicken with sodium or brine the shit out of it to get the bird this salinated. But at least it was an actual chicken breast filet, shaped like a chicken breast filet should be shaped instead of an obvious shill, chicken-mash creation. I've often thought that other fast-food places that serve "chicken" sandwiches should do an all-or-nothing and either make their chicken look like chicken -- or venture into a new level of creativity and make their patties in interesting shapes, like puzzle pieces or arachnids.
The waffle fries were delicious, though: lightly salted, with a perfect crisp-to-moist potato ratio. And I got to use the tiny ketchup tubs I'd snagged from the condiment bar. (I usually prefer to order condiments on/next to my food, rather than fight a losing battle with squishy packets, but Chick shells out for neato little "dip & squeeze" cups of ketchup.)
On to dessert. The cookie was a decent size, warm, soft and with plenty of chocolate (as well as some healthy oatmeal ingeniously snuck into it). And the brownie was just the way I like 'em: a moist, dense square of dark fudge cake shellacked with rich, fudgy icing. While the previous incarnation had nuts, this one was nut-less but dotted inside with chocolate chips.
The cookie and brownie reappeared in the sundaes. The vanilla soft-serve was tasty but light (I like a DQ-dense vanilla soft-serve myself), but the cookie bits in the bottom of the cookie sundae were stale. The brownie sundae had that delectable brownie at the bottom, though, so I quickly ate my way through the ice cream to claim my reward.
The Banana Pudding milkshake was overloaded with pulverized vanilla wafers, which made my mouth too gravelly to want to continue after a couple of straw pulls. Sonic makes strangely wonderful pie shakes, and Chick should send an operative there to learn Sonic's secrets.
The employees were spotlessly attired, and I don't know how they managed to keep the store so squeaky clean with the herds of kids sweeping through like cattle to the Denver stockyards. But with every clean front there is a dark side, and Chick-Fil-A's manifests itself in a policy of disfavoring homosexuals and same-sex-marriage. In January 2011, news broke that the WinShape Foundation, the "charitable arm" of Chick-Fil-A, had been actively fighting against same-sex marriage, hosting conferences with high-profile, anti-gay organizations including Focus on the Family.
A same-sex couple was turned away from a WinShape marriage retreat, prompting a candid e-mail exchange in which WinShape stated, "WinShape Retreat defines marriage from the Biblical standard as being between one man and one woman. Groups/Individuals are welcome who offer wholesome, educational conferences and programs that are compatible with Biblical values and WinShape's purpose."
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I contacted a representative from Chick-Fil-A to ascertain whether or not the company has changed their position on same-sex marriage since last January, and as of publication I have not recieved a response.
How does any of this affect the food at Chick-Fil-A? It doesn't, and people are free to spend their money wherever they like. But this will probably be the first and last time I eat there voluntarily, because although those waffle fries are positively scrumptious, I prefer gay rights over chicken sandwiches, and suppressing rights stinks worse than the grease at the mall stores.
But I'll miss those ketchup packets...