We tried fried chicken from 2 of the South’s fiercest rival chains — and the winner was clear

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Hollis Johnson

In the fast-paced, cut-throat chicken industry, it’s hard to set yourself apart.

However, a regional chain from North Carolina isn’t content to stay in the South any longer.

Bojangles’, with 728 locations nationwide, is on an expansion spree. But, if the chain wants to catch on outside the Carolinas, it needs to take on international players – like the ubiquitous Church’s Chicken, with more than 1,700 locations worldwide.

In an effort to see if Bojangles’ could keep up with the flock, we visited Bojangles’ and Church’s as part of our whirlwind chicken tour.


Bojangles’ was founded in 1977 in Charlotte, North Carolina. We visited one in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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Hollis Johnson

Walking in calls to mind the cleanly, sterile taupe terrain of an old-school Wendy’s.

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Hollis Johnson

Ordering is a speedy business — though not a stealthy one. Cashiers relay orders over a speaker system to the kitchen, who quickly put together your meal. It’s surprisingly efficient, taking less than five minutes start to finish.

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Hollis Johnson

We ordered quite the chicken and biscuit spread: four-piece Chicken Supreme combo, two-piece dinner, grilled chicken sandwich, a Cajun Fillet sandwich, and the infamous Boberry Biscuit.

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Hollis Johnson

As we sipped on the sugar-saturated sweet tea and a cup of Cherry Patio (a beverage that has been impossible to find anywhere except Bojangles’ since the late ’70s), we tore into our chicken.

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Hollis Johnson

The chicken on the bone certainly isn’t dry. Instead, the grease threatens to overwhelm the otherwise serviceable chicken.

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Hollis Johnson

The Selects, Bojangles’ name for tenders, are somewhat dry. The spice is nice, but Bojangles’ fails to capture the crucial crunch.

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Hollis Johnson

The Cajun Fillet sandwich is similarly well-flavored — but the mayo ratio is way off, and the bun falls short.

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Hollis Johnson

Even more disappointing is the grilled chicken sandwich. To quote from our notes: “Dry! Bad! No flavor!”

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Hollis Johnson

Then there’s the Boberry biscuit. People adore this iconic treat: a sweet, blueberry biscuit smothered in frosting.

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Hollis Johnson

To say we did not join the cult of the Boberry biscuit is an understatement. The biscuit left us cringing as we bit through the strata of sugar. It’s tooth-achingly sweet — and the dehydrated blueberries taste fake.

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Hollis Johnson

On the other end of the biscuit spectrum is Bojangles’ classic yet noble biscuit. It doesn’t work for glory — it simply does its job as a buttery workhorse. Its strength lies in its simplicity, lifting every dish it accompanies to new heights.

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Hollis Johnson

Leaving Bojangles’, we had a mission. We hoped Church’s Chicken could take us to church, with a heavenly chicken recipe.

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Hollis Johnson

We headed to Richmond, Virginia, seeking salvation, arriving at a small location with just a handful of booths — a to-go style shop. At Church’s, we ordered a two-piece combo, tender strips, and a chicken sandwich.

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Hollis Johnson

Eating the chicken on the bone, we realized we may have made a strategic error. The chicken was passable — not too dry, not very greasy, and while slightly lacking in crunch, not embarrassingly so. However, the lack of distinct flavor made it forgettable.

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Hollis Johnson

The tenders had a similar issue. The meat was reasonably juicy and good quality, but the “wow” factor wasn’t there.

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Hollis Johnson

The sandwich was a pleasant, pocket-sized surprise. It didn’t pretend to be anything fancy, but it packed a punch as far as fast-food chicken sandwiches go.

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Hollis Johnson

The shining star was the biscuit. Church’s honey-butter biscuit showed what a sweet biscuit should be — not the cloying blight of the Boberry. It was almost light, with a lovely honey glaze on a savory biscuit providing the perfect balance of sweet and salty — a flavor combination for the ages.

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Church’s Chicken

With two uneven menus, it was hard for us to decide how Bojangles’ and Church’s stacked up. Kate was leaning towards Bojangles’, while Church’s had convinced Hollis. In an effort to declare a winner, once and for all, we decided to revisit Bojangles’ for breakfast — in part, at the bidding of Carolina Bojangles’ loyalists.

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Hollis Johnson

We ordered a slew of biscuit-based sandwiches — something we had skipped on our last visit — and dug in. Prime among the sandwiches were the Cajun Chicken Fillet and the sausage egg and cheese.

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Hollis Johnson

Ultimately, the biscuit carried these sandwiches the extra mile — and ultimately brought Bojangles’ out on top.

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Hollis Johnson