Burger King is making a statement during Pride Month: It’s trying to get a leg up in the chicken sandwich wars by taking a not-so-subtle dig at rival Chick-fil-A’s fraught history with the LGBTQ+ community.
The fast-food chain tweeted last week that it would donate 40 cents to the Human Rights Campaign for every Ch’King chicken sandwich sold in June. The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization.
Burger King added it will make those donations “even on Sunday,” tweeting the eyes emoji. Chick-fil-A, because of its devout Christian ownership, closes its restaurants on Sundays.
Chick-fil-A and the LGBTQ+ community
Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy said in 2012 that the company supports “the biblical definition of the family unit.” In a 2018 interview with a local Atlanta TV station, Cathy reiterated his position on same-sex marriage but said he’s not anti-gay.
The company has since tried to distance itself from its less-than-supportive stance toward the LGBTQ+ community
For example, in 2019, Chick-fil-A made major changes to its charitable foundation, ending donations to two organizations that have been criticized for being anti-LGBTQ+ — the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Both organizations have taken controversial stands on homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
What’s Burger King up to?
Burger King is trying to make up ground in the chicken sandwich wars. Popeyes struck gold with its chicken sandwich in 2019, which sent customers flocking to the fast-food chain to get their hands (and mouths) on one.
Since then, the quick-serve restaurant industry has fallen over itself to get in on the fried chicken sandwich action.
Wendy’s, McDonald’s, KFC, Shake Shack and many other competitors have blown up their staid chicken sandwiches for new ones or developed additional flavorful menu items. Americans have been eating more chicken and less beef the last few years, and low-growth, low-margin, low-loyalty fast-food companies are desperate for any leg up over the competition.
Burger King first announced in February its new chicken sandwich, served on a potato bun with pickles and a savory sauce. To help distinguish the product, Burger King has since renamed the sandwich the “Ch’King” (it had originally been referred to as simply the hand-breaded crispy chicken sandwich).
Although Burger King is one of thousands of brands to celebrate Pride Month with deals, the timing happens to coincide with a previously announced Ch’King promotion: To raise awareness and drive sales, Burger King said last month it would give free Whoppers to any customers who order a Ch’King through Burger King’s website or app from June 3 until June 20.
CNN Business’ Danielle Wiener-Bronner and Jordan Valinsky contributed to this report.
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