Handicapping the Great Tupelo Chicken Wars

·3 min read

Sep. 10—Who will win the Great Tupelo Chicken Wars of 2022?

The veterans would have to be the favorites: Abner's and Chick-fil-A. But Zaxby's has established a solid presence since opening five years ago. And then we have the new, ambitious kids on the block: Raising Cane's and Slim Chickens.

All five of these chicken joints are located within a half-mile of each other on the north side of town. Four of them are right off Gloster Street, and Chick-fil-A is off Barnes Crossing Road (plus it has the mall location). The area is saturated with chicken.

Can they all survive? Given how much we love chicken around here, it's possible. The only one I have yet to patronize is Slim Chickens — the newest one — but the other four all make good chicken. Not gonna lie, though — Jesus chicken is the O.G. And I would do some very un-Christlike things for those waffle fries.

I've not sensed any animus between these restaurants, but it sure would make things more interesting if they engaged in sign wars, a la Strange Brew vs. McDonald's in Starkville. I've got some ideas for each place.

Abner's: "More like Slim Pickins, amirite?"

Chick-fil-A: "Our employees are happier than yours."

Raising Cane's: "Chick-fil-A thinks mayo is spicy."

Slim Chickens: "Abner's decor is farm chic."

Zaxby's: "Open on Sundays. Heathens welcome."

Meanwhile, down on South Gloster, Connie's and Popeye's are just chillin' with drive-thru lines wrapped around their buildings. Those lines don't move nearly as fast as the ones at Chick-fil-A, but I'm pretty sure Chick-fil-A drive-thrus exist in another dimension. Soon as you enter the parking lot, you're in a space/time vortex. I once pulled in there at 5:30 and left at 5:28.

Connie's and Popeye's don't need fast lines, though, because their chicken is worth the wait. Connie's has the best chicken biscuit in town, and Popeye's has the best fast-food chicken sandwich. You could also make an argument for any number of gas stations around here, because that is some of the finest Southern dining you can find.

I will usually opt for Connie's, Popeye's, Papa V's or any other number of eateries before hitting North Gloster. That side of town has become overcrowded and is thus a pain to navigate. Once Black Friday arrives, I refuse to go that way for any reason.

So, back to the Chicken Wars. If we could anthropomorphize each of the restaurants, who would win in battle royal? And what would their fighters look like?

We'll start with the easiest one, Abner's. Its founder, Abner White, played center for the Ole Miss football team, so he would be a tough out. Chick-fil-A would be, obviously, a cow. Those things are dumber than a bag of hammers but difficult to move — kind of like your mom. (Rim shot!) Raising Cane's, which was founded in Baton Rouge, would be some guy who wrestles alligators. But can he wrestle a cow?

The Slim Chickens logo is a chicken wearing a fedora tilted down over its eyes, so we'll go with that. He might be small, but he's probably got some weird aikido moves or something. And finally, Zaxby's: I don't know why, but I immediately thought of Boo, the giant chicken from "Animaniacs" who tries to pass himself off as human. He's the only fighter whose size can match the cow's, but I fear the gator wrestler might prove too squirrelly for him.

So, who wins? Oh, I don't know. So long as we have all this chicken to choose from, I think we all win. Sure could use some more Mexican restaurants, though ...

BRAD LOCKE is senior sports writer for the Daily Journal. Contact him on Twitter @bradlocke or via email at brad.locke@journalinc.com