Chick-fil-A's gradual move into the Big Apple over the last few years got a great big thumbs down in a New Yorker article — titled "Chick-fil-A's creepy infiltration of New York City" — which called out the fast-food chain's "pervasive Christian traditionalism" among other critiques.
The author of the piece, Dan Piepenbring, described being "alone on the rooftop of the largest Chick-fil-A in the world" on Fulton Street in Manhattan, noting it opened last month and is the company's fourth operation so far in the city.
He admitted, too, that "New York has taken to Chick-fil-A" and that the chain intends to open "as many as a dozen more storefronts in the city."
"And yet the brand’s arrival here feels like an infiltration, in no small part because of its pervasive Christian traditionalism," he continued. "Its headquarters, in Atlanta, is adorned with Bible verses and a statue of Jesus washing a disciple’s feet. Its stores close on Sundays. Its C.E.O., Dan Cathy, has been accused of bigotry for using the company's charitable wing to fun anti-gay causes, including groups that oppose same-sex marriage."
Piepenbring noted that when the first Chick-fil-A opened in New York three years ago "a throng of protesters appeared. When a location opened in a Queens mall, in 2016, Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed a boycott. No such controversy greeted the opening of this newest outpost. Chick-fil-A’s success here is a marketing coup. Its expansion raises questions about what we expect from our fast food, and to what extent a corporation can join a community."
The author added that Chick-fil-A's "emphasis on community ... suggests an ulterior motive. The restaurant’s corporate purpose still begins with the words 'to glorify God,' and that proselytism thrums below the surface of the Fulton Street restaurant, which has the ersatz homespun ambiance of a megachurch."
Misspellings — and many moos
Piepenbring also appeared to have little patience for the company's mispelled mantra — “EAT MOR CHIKIN” — or its emphasis on cows.
Image source: YouTube screenshot
"Employees dance around in Cow suits. The company’s advertising manager doubles as its 'Cow czar.' The Cows have their own calendar. (This year’s theme is 'Steers of Yesteryear.')," he added. "They’ve been inducted into the Madison Avenue Walk of Fame, and their Facebook following is approaching seven figures. Stan Richards, who heads the ad agency that created the Cows, the Richards Group, likened them to 'a guerrilla insurgency' in his book, 'The Peaceable Kingdom': 'One consumer wrote to tell us the campaign was so effective that every time he sees a field of cows he thinks of chicken. We co-opted an entire species.'"
More from the New Yorker piece:
It’s worth asking why Americans fell in love with an ad in which one farm animal begs us to kill another in its place. Most restaurants take pains to distance themselves from the brutalities of the slaughterhouse; Chick-fil-A invites us to go along with the Cows’ Schadenfreude. In the portraits at the Fulton Street restaurant, the Cows visit various New York landmarks. They’re in Central Park, where “EAT MOR CHIKIN” has been mowed into the lawn. They’re glimpsing the Manhattan Bridge from Dumbo, where they’ve modified a stop sign: “stop eatin burgrz.” They’re on the subway, where the advertisements . . . you get the picture. The joke is that the Cows are out of place in New York — a winking acknowledgment that Chick-fil-A, too, does not quite belong here.
"Its arrival in the city augurs worse than a load of manure on the F train," Piepenbring added, noting also that "there’s something especially distasteful about Chick-fil-A, which has sought to portray itself as better than other fast food: cleaner, gentler, and more ethical, with its poultry slightly healthier than the mystery meat of burgers."
He concluded, urging New Yorkers to say "NO MOR" to Chick-fil-A.
This writer's perspective
While Chick-fil-A has been hammered by many on the left for its founder's views on traditional marriage, the company just keeps growing and spreading. Even Piepenbring noted that he "could see that the line to get inside" the new Fulton Street restaurant "stretched almost to the end of the block."
The same scene greeted a first-time diner at NYC's first Chick-fil-A:
Image source: YouTube screenshot
Who knew there were that many conservative New Yorkers to save Chick-fil-A's skin?
And while we're at it, let's not forget Chick-fil-A never seems to cease doing good for somebody, somewhere:
- When thousands of travelers were stranded due to a power outage at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport last December, Chick-fil-A opened its doors — on a Sunday, no less, when they're usually closed — and handed out food.
- It provided food and a rescue boat for an elderly couple hit by the Houston floods last summer.
- Following the deadly 2016 terrorist attack in Orlando, employees from a few local Chick-fil-A restaurants — again, on a Sunday — made food for those donating blood to victims.
And as you can see from a news report following de Blasio's call for a Chick-fil-A boycott a couple of years back, customers didn't seem terribly interested:
Now, what was that cow maxim again?