Dan Piepenbring is not, it is fair to say, a fan of Chick-fil-A. He is at odds with its owners’ opposition to same sex marriage (FWIW, I don’t agree with their stance either), and more generally their embrace of a form of traditionalist Christianity:
New York has taken to Chick-fil-A. One of the Manhattan locations estimates that it sells a sandwich every six seconds, and the company has announced plans 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. Its headquarters, in Atlanta, is adorned with Bible verses and a statue of Jesus washing a disciple’s feet.
Disciple’s feet, Bible verses, wait a second, scroll back….
That’s a—how shall I put this— interesting word to choose. It suggests that Christian traditionalism (and no, that’s not my thing either, but live and let live) simply doesn’t belong in New York City: Diversity, it seems, can only be taken so far. Piepenbring is fully entitled to his opinions, and any magazine is fully entitled to publish them, but I wonder if the New Yorker–a proud standard-bearer of what it considers to be liberalism–would have been quite so keen on an article suggesting, say, that Halal food carts represented some sort of ‘infiltration’.
New York City currently has six Chick-fil-A restaurants.
Adding another dozen would take the total to eighteen, in a city of well over eight million.
Piepenbring also disapproves of the chain’s advertising:
It’s impossible to overstate the role of the Cows—in official communiqués, they always take a capital “C”—who are displayed in framed portraits throughout the Fulton Street location. If the restaurant is a megachurch, the Cows are its ultimate evangelists. Since their introduction in the mid-nineties—when they began advising Atlanta motorists to “eat mor chikin”—they’ve remained one of the most popular, and most morbid, advertising campaigns in fast-food history.
Morbid? Oh dear.
But it’s hard to avoid the impression that Piepenbring’s real beef (I’m sorry) is with Chick-fil-A’s Christian mission, which he can detect, well, everywhere:
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….
[T]here’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. Its politics, its décor, and its commercial-evangelical messaging are inflected with this suburban piety.
Sometimes a chicken place is just a chicken place.
And now I feel hungry (googles Chick-fil-A and discovers that the nearest one is just a few minutes away).