In Praise of Chick-fil-A’s ‘Inflitration’
Big Apple Meets Big Chicken (and Some Cows)
Chick-fil-A. I could eat there seven times a day
Where the people laugh and children play
Oh I’m in love with Chick-fil-A
Suddenly, I want waffle fries in front of me….
— Comedian Tim Hawkins, singing to the tune of the Beatles’ “Yesterday”
Many Manhattanites apparently feel the same way as Mr. Hawkins. The handful of Chick-fil-A stores in the Big Apple attract long lines. One of them reportedly sells a chicken sandwich every six seconds.
This outpouring of fowl fan-dom comes even though the president of the Atlanta-based fast-food chain committed the ultimate sin six years ago in the eyes of the New York intelligentsia. He said he thought marriage was the union of a man and a woman. You know, the way God created it. And the way Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton described it right up to 2012, after which they embraced the Roman emperor Nero’s version.
We know the ruling elites in New York are unsettled by Chick-fil-A’s enormous success because the New Yorker magazine, their flagship of cool, has done a hit job. Keep in mind that this is not your father’s New Yorker, which was chockful of compelling reading and cartoons you’d put on your refrigerator.
You may already have heard of the article by Dan Piepenbring that ran on April 13: “Chick-fil-A’s Creepy Infiltration of New York City.” Its urban arrogance and contempt for Christianity ticked off not a few people. Which was obviously intentional.
To juice readership, the New Yorker tweeted: “Chick-fil-A’s arrival in New York City feels like an infiltration, in no small part because of its pervasive Christian traditionalism.” Somehow, I doubt he will do a similar piece fretting about the “infiltration” of hundreds of Muslim immigrants who run food carts and newly opened stores in New York featuring halal food.
I read Mr. Piepenbring’s opus after a friend sent me a tweet about it from the prolific blogger “Iowahawk” (Dave Burge), who put it this way: “Once again, if you are frightened by what Trump says about immigrants, you should see what the New Yorker says about people from their own country.”
Mr. Piepenbring complains that the three-story, newest Chick-fil-A store overemphasizes community as a value and that this “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.”
Next, he takes aim at the famous Chick-fil-A cows and their deliberately misspelled “Eat Mor Chikin” ads. “It’s impossible to overstate the role of the Cows,” he writes. “If the restaurant is a megachurch, the Cows are its ultimate evangelists.”
Calling the cow campaign “morbid,” he says, “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.”
Somehow I don’t think many people go that deep into the liberal worry pit. If they did, they would have to run Charlie the Tuna out of supermarkets for urging customers to eat Charlie’s own canned, finny friends.
Chick-fil-A’s “infiltration” of the Big Apple is only the tip of the iceberg. The firm is fast expanding and is expected to become the third largest fast-food chain in the nation, behind only McDonald’s and Starbucks by 2020. Subway has the most stores right now, but this is the projection.
Founded in 1967 by S. Truett Cathy, who died at age 93 in 2014, Chick-fil-A has 2,300 restaurants in 47 states and had $9 billion in sales in 2017. Operating only six days a week – no Sundays – hasn’t hurt the chain. Its success also has come in the face of threatened boycotts by several big city mayors, including New York’s Bill de Blasio, Boston’s Thomas M. Menino and his successor Martin J. Walsh, plus Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel. “The Godfather” proclaimed in 2012 that “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values.”
I’m going to let that big, fat softball go by.
To get around the big city Chikin Curtain, Chick-fil-A has been opening restaurants in the suburbs. But even in New York City, resistance has ebbed, and the chain is spreading its good cheer and Christian values into the heart of Gotham.
Who knows? Maybe even New York cabbies will someday be thanking passengers by saying, “my pleasure” in a slightly Southern accent.
In the words of Tim Hawkins: “Chick-fil-A, you set me free!”
Originally published by the Washington Times online April 22, 2018 and in print April 23.