Strategy: Here's what it's like to eat at the Southern fried chicken chain whose diehard fans say is better than KFC and Popeyes (BOJA)
Bojangles', a North Carolina-based chicken chain, is demanding to be judged among its top competitors in the US.
A North Carolina-based chicken chain is demanding to be judged among its top competitors in the US after a recent Business Insider comparison of the best fast-food chicken failed to mention Bojangles'.
Bojangles' "is widely considered to be one of the South's most popular foods," the fried-chicken chain said in a statement published this week in The News and Observer.
"We've invited these reporters to visit Bojangles' on their next trip to the South and experience for themselves the flavor that's made us a true Southern icon for 40 years."
In fact, two Business Insider reporters had recently visited Bojangles' on a trip to Charlottesville, Virginia.
We realize that many people north of the Mason-Dixon line and west of the Mississippi have never heard of the Southern chain, which was why it was excluded from the original fried chicken face-off. However, as seen by the backlash to the article, loyal fans swear by their chicken and "Bo-Berry" biscuits.
Here's how Bojangles' actually measures up to competitors like Popeyes and KFC.
Bojangles' beige buttress beckoned from the highway in Charlottesville.
The taupe continued inside. The interior had a clean, sterile, yet vaguely homey vibe, like an old-school New England Wendy's.
The ordering system sets Bojangles' apart from most: the cashier calls orders over a PA system to the kitchen, which springs into action.
The system works seamlessly. Our orders were ready in roughly 3 minutes — easily the speediest chicken chain we surveyed.
We ordered quite the spread: chicken selects, a two-piece chicken dinner, a fried chicken sandwich, a grilled chicken sandwich, a "Bo-Berry" biscuit as well as a regular biscuit, and bowls of "dirty rice" and mac n' cheese for sides.
The chicken Supremes — Bojangles' take on chicken tenders — come in a combo with a biscuit and a "fixin'." The mac n' cheese is a solid, yet conservative take on the traditional side — nothing special, but certainly serviceable.
The Supremes look fairly appealing, but on first bite, the luster is lost. While they're not horrible, they lean on the dry side of things, and they lack that certain crunch that one craves with a proper tender. The Cajun seasoning, however, is an uplifting redemption that makes these worth a try.
Winner, winner, chicken dinner? Maybe not. Where the Supremes are dry, the chicken on the bone certainly isn't. In fact, the grease can be a tad overwhelming in a chicken that fails to truly distinguish itself in terms of flavor.
The dirty rice, on the other hand, is a surprisingly tasty side. Sausage adds a salty, savory punch of flavor to the seasoned rice. It's not something you can get at any fast food chain, and Bojangles' is better for it.
If only the same can be said for the grilled chicken sandwich. This mayo-laden mess is both dry and flavorless, with a bun that shirks its noble task of avoiding sogginess and wimpy lettuce that retreats in the face of a mayonnaise onslaught.
The fried chicken sandwich suffers from a similar mayo malaise. However, the Cajun seasoning manages to cling to life despite the dead weight of the goopy condiment.
Bojangles' signature sweet, the "Bo-Berry" biscuit, is adored amongst Bos' fans. Yet this adoration befuddles us. Biting in, Hollis immediately called his dentist to schedule a cleaning. The toaster strudel-esque icing gave way to a sweetened biscuit dappled with suspiciously artificial-tasting blueberries. It's an icon, sure, but a problematic fave.
The saving grace is the simple, humble plain biscuit. Sweet, buttery, salty salvation. It's a utility player that doesn't put on airs or ask for much, but it delivers every time.
Nowhere is the biscuit's power more apparent than the breakfast menu, which is available all day, and is in many ways Bojangles' shining star. Items such as the Cajun fillet biscuit blow other chicken options out of the water.
Bojangles' is also known for its extraordinarily sugary sweet tea. Something else caught our eye, however: Patio Red Cherry soda.
Fun fact: In high school, Kate's chemistry class took a field trip to Bojangles' to learn about supersaturation of liquids — using their sweet tea.