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Popeyes v KFC v Mary Browns Fried Chicken Showdown

Hey Hounds

So we had a small group of people over on Saturday and did a taste test of the above 3 fried chicken chains in our area. The results were, to a certain degree, very surprising.

If you've read my post in the Taste Test Thread, don't bother reading any more. I cut and pasted.

Overall impressions. Popeyes was the most crispy and also most salty however salty in a good way seemed to be the consensus. As well, of 7, 2 thought MB's had the best overall taste. ALL thought the KFC was just about terrible. Under seasoned and doughy breading and very oily chicken.

So, with that you can imagine that KFC was a distant third. Very disappointing distant third. Their pieces were also the smallest.

In at a very respectable second was Mary Browns. People thought the breading had great taste and the chicken was tasty and the right amount of greasy.

Popeyes was a unanimous first place winner here. People seemed to cite it as the best balance of greasy, herby, crispy and chicken flavour.

So there you have it folks. Popeyes is the grand champion at my house.


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  1. I just remember several years back on a trip from Vancouver to Banff, we stopped off at a Mary Brown's and the taters with poutines were like edible gold.

    I'm sure the fact that it was cold and we had not eaten for about 8 hours had something to do with it, but I'd still like to think they were tasty on their own.

    1. Like most of the old chains, I remember when KFC was good. Now it's inedible. Why do people still buy it?

      1. KFC: Original Or Extra Crispy? Popeye's: Mild or Spicy? Without this info, your results are meaningless. KFC Original isn't like either version of Popeye's and isn't meant to be, and someone who liked it wouldn't likely care for Popeye's at all, and vice versa. A fairer comparison would be KFC Extra Crispy to Popeye's Mild, unless you lived in a part of the country where KFC featured Extra Spicy Crispy, in which case you'd compare it to the Popeye's Spicy.

        I happen to prefer the Popeye's too, but really.

        Most KFC's make the chicken the same way they did, using the same ingredients and formulas they did when I worked there as a kid 35 years ago, so for anyone who used to like it but doesn't anymore, it's not the chicken that's changed.

        5 Replies
        1. re: acgold7

          We eat KFC, Extra Crispy. We don't find it greasy at all, but the chicken is very juicy. The piece size is fine, but the price seems to go up every year. We don't have a Popeyes and I have never heard of Mary Browns. Our other choice for chain Fried Chicken would be Roy Rogers which has its own loyal following here in NJ.


          1. re: Jerseygirl111

            If you hit a good KFC on a good day the Extra Crispy can be fantastic and not at all greasy. But it can vary. Our nearest Popeye's is about an hour away so while I never miss an opportunity to duck into one when one is near, we more often partake of The Colonel's wares and are usually pretty happy.

          2. re: acgold7

            We got the "Original" version of all places.

            This was a few guys and their wives who got together to watch a football game and eat some food. This was by no means a scientific experiment with controls and score cards or anything remotely official like auditors hanging over our heads.

            Relax. It was just for fun.


            1. re: Davwud

              With some cold beer, I like your kind of fun!

            2. re: acgold7

              Two observations: Freshness and proper preparation helps turn an eating experience at KFC from forgettable to being decent [and proper prep/freshness issue goes for the others as well]. Second, Popeye's Spicy is consistently the best of the three IMHO. It doesn't hurt that I really like the jalepeno gravy on the mashed potatoes either.

            3. Had Popeye's today, The mild. Got a three piece dinner with red beans and rice and a biscuit. Scored a huge juicy breast, small thigh and wing. I was really happy with the crispy skin and moist meat.
              I really like the red beans and rice too. So bored with fries.

              2 Replies
              1. re: givemecarbs

                Try the spicy next time with the jalepeno gravy and mashed potatoes. I agree that the beans and rice are a nice change-up.

                1. re: hawkeyeui93

                  1+ to the spicy chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy and red beans and rice. Oh don't forget, the biscuits and they have great fries and onion rings. Love Popeyes for the chicken and the sides!

              2. I've always been a fan of Popeye's a a guilty fast food pleasure. I also think their red beans and rice is one of the best fast food sides out there. About the only one that really gives them a run for the money as far a chicken is concerned is Churches.

                3 Replies
                1. re: mike0989

                  Second the beans and rice. Also their onion rings which they have to make fresh. They're never left under the heat lamps, so the staff hates having to make them.

                  1. re: mike0989

                    +1 Popeye's unless there is a Royal Farms in the vicinity. I am not a KFC fan whatsoever and never heard of Mary Brown's

                    1. re: mike0989

                      My area Churches have not impressed me over the years. If you are ever traveling the interstate and see a Chester's Chicken sign at a truck stop, it is generally above-average. Just the chicken. The sides are mostly fried items [and the gravy lack real flavor].

                    2. Another who never heard of Mary Brown's, which is only in 5 Canadian provinces. Between Popeye and KFC, I like KFC because my dad dressed up as Colonel Sanders for a masquerade party, but Popeye's chicken is better. :-)

                      1. Pioneer Chicken (circa 1980s) was the best.

                        Now? Not so much.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          What I wouldn't give to get my hands on a Pioneer drumstick. You could smell those places a mile away and would immediately start drooling. I think I might miss the smell of Pioneer almost as much as the chicken. And the comic books they gave us as kids.

                          1. re: Jelly71

                            There are three remaining locations in the Los Angeles area: 1) 5970 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles (near San Vicente Blvd); 2) 904 S Soto Street, Los Angeles; and 3) 6323 Florence Avenue, Bell Gardens.

                            1. re: subal

                              But trust me, they are *nothing* like they were 20 years ago.

                              But then again, few things are. Certainly not my stamina ...

                        2. I believe the quality of chicken at any chain restaurant can vary from store to store. While I can't say I have bought a lot of KFC recently, I do remember good and not so good locations in the past.

                          An interesting side note...Popeye's recently bought 14 Twin Cities KFC locations out of bankruptcy. Right now, there is only one Popeye's restaurant in Minnesota, but that will change next year.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: John E.

                            We have only a few in Iowa as well ....

                          2. Kentucky Fried Chicken, thanks to Pepsi, has tasted like crap ever since the very day Pepsi bought it. I would rather eat wet sloppy horse poop.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: joeroberts

                              I much prefer chicken, of any kind.

                              1. re: John E.

                                I'd rather eat a fistful of cow flop.

                                1. re: monkeyrotica

                                  Not me. I'll leave that to the dung beetles.

                            2. About two years ago in Orange Cty, CA the health board raised the minimum temperature for fried chicken by about 10*. This has resulted in 99% of fried chicken here being cooked to the '
                              dried jerky' texture!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: subal

                                Interesting. So there's no decent fried chicken in Orange County? You'd figure that 1% would get all the business.

                              2. It must vary significantly by location, but the few times I've tried Popeyes in recent years, the pieces were consistently scrawny & dry. After many years of avoiding KFC, we revisited them about two years ago and were pleasantly surprised by the very good quality of their original recipe (light batter, plump pieces & moist, not greasy) and especially their coleslaw. We've been back perhaps a dozen times since with consistent results.

                                Not familiar with Mary Browns.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Clams047

                                  I think I shed tear reading about your not so good Popeyes experience...I love that place

                                  1. re: Clams047

                                    I'll admit Popeyes does have consistency issues. Not as bad as Five Guys, but one-in-ten trips yields chicken that's either been sitting under the lamps too long or sloppy service. I've pretty much lost my taste for KFC after too many poor meals. Popeyes and Roy Rogers has me covered in the fried chicken department. Them and the Chinese carryouts.

                                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                                      Fortunately for me, I've only had Popeye's 3 times and all 3 I've had to wait for my bird to come out of the fryer.


                                  2. I would choose Popeyes over KFC. Churches Chicken also beats KFC IMO.

                                    1. I don't find your results that surprising actually.. I would rank them in the same order.

                                      Popeye's is having a real push in GTA/Ontario area now. A lot more locations opening up including one not too far from me. I have been able to resist though, only been once since it opened up!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: ylsf

                                        Used to have one about two blocks from my former office .... It was a weekly thing for me.

                                      2. Love That Chicken From Popeyes!!! ~ Wouldn't eat KFC unless I was starving on a desert island. ~~Churches? You're kidding me right?? ~~~ I know of two or three convenience store/gas stations that do a better job frying chicken than KFC...or Churches. ~~ Timing is everything....The fresher the better ~~. 2:30 in the afternoon is not a good time to buy fried chicken...unless the establishment is doing a lot of volume.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: Uncle Bob

                                          Royal Farms (the Baltimore convenience chain) serves a suprisingly good fried chicken. Definitely better than KFC or Church's.


                                          1. re: monkeyrotica

                                            OMG! I think I posted this above, but Royal Farms indeed does make a delicious fried chicken. For a few years now, they have been my weekly fried chicken go to and I have introduced quite a few people to the greatness of "gas station chicken." I even went so far as to bring a few buckets to work one afternoon just to show how great it is. I am now on a Popeye's kick but do love Royal Farms and they are open 24/7. Also, if you are into western fries, they sell them as well and are truly addicting.

                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                              Love that term "gas station chicken." When we lived in TN, we would frequently look forward to some "gas station chicken", especially with the potato wedges - far better than the Bojangles, KFC & Popeyes in the area. .

                                              1. re: Clams047

                                                Despite my coworkers insisting on calling it "gas station chicken," the Royal Farms closest to us in the city don't actually sell gas but I guess the association of the stores that do closer to the highway has stuck

                                            2. re: monkeyrotica

                                              I love Royal Farms chicken (and their potato wedges)! but the last time I got it I took it home (about a five minute drive) and the skin was completely soggy. I guess every other time I've eaten it at the store (some have tables) or in a car on the way to or from Ocean City.

                                              I remember trying Chruch's when I was a kid and it was completly bland. Maybe that was just our local one, but I never liked it.

                                              Anyone else remember the old Church's urban legend?


                                              1. re: 4X4

                                                Oh yes, there is quite the mad dash from Royal Farms to my house a few blocks away. When I get the craving it is often late which makes parking somewhat of an issue. I'm pretty sure that the last time I fulfilled the craving that I parked illegally to save the chicken and then moved the car after I was full and satisfied.