If you are what you eat, you are basic as fuck. Despite living in one of the most diverse havens of cosmopolitanism in human history, New Yorkers’ palates aren’t all that different from those in Cleveland, Dallas, Fresno, Minneapolis or Phoenix.
Every six seconds, according to Crain’s, someone orders a fried chicken sandwich at the Chick-Fil-A on the corner of West 37th Street and Sixth Avenue (a store that’s only open 15-and-a-half hours a day). “The Garment District franchise sells more than 3,000 sandwiches a day, often with a side of waffle fries, and generates about $13 million in revenue, Crain's estimated based on data from Fittipaldi,” the publication explains. “That means it sees the same revenue as Balthazar, the chic SoHo brasserie where the average check is $70, nearly seven times a typical Chick-fil-A tab.” Taco Bells are about to triple their citywide locations. Dunkin’ Donuts has nearly doubled its citywide presence since 2008. It’s been a long time since 1974, when McDonald’s tried to open on the Upper East Side and were met with a 15,000-person petition and a rebuking editorial in the New York Times.
Yes, Chick-fil-A is the new Balthazar. And that’s just what we’re doing in public.
In private Seamless orders, all we seem to do is eat chicken wraps and kale salads. In three Staten Island neighborhoods—Annandale, Great Kills, and Etlingville— a grilled chicken wrap is the most popular order, according to a recent Seamless analysis, which found that the kale caesar reigns in Soho and Tribeca (and is the second most-popular order in the West Village). You know how you know Chelsea is over as a gay neighborhood? Its most popular breakfast order is for doughnuts. Battery Park loves its oatmeal for breakfast and grilled chicken for lunch. Midtown East cannot get enough chicken vegetable soup. Long Island City loves its avocado toast. From Fordham in the Bronx to the Wall Streeters of lower Manhattan, we love eggs and sausage as much as any Waffle House in Appalachia. Waffle House would slay here.
Do you know what New Yorkers express re-order on Seamless the most? A turkey fucking sandwich. Thousands of us recently fell for a fake In ’N’ Out pop-up. This summer we went crazy for a Taco Bell speakeasy. And roughly 2,000 people lined up for a recent Pringles pop-up in Times Square.
But can we get back to our obsession with grilled chicken wraps? There are better, smarter ways to eat lean protein than the meat equivalent of a vodka soda (which, geez, is so popular we actually named a gay bar Vodka Soda).
You don’t get to eye-roll at the tourists who make the Times Square Applebee’s the busiest in the world while you have caesar salad in your teeth and La Croix on your breath. And do not come at me with your pad Thai, which is so basic that it’s recently been featured as a Google doodle. We just published a list of the 100 best dishes and drinks in the city: Nepalese breakfast, Eritrean snacks, Japanese shakshuka, Indonesian coconuts pancakes, lox-and-cream-cheese-stuffed croissants, beef fat caramels and a plantain stuffed with shredded pork. None of them have pumpkin spice. Try one. The side order of fries and Diet Coke will still be there afterwards.
There are too many New Yorkers griping about how the city is losing its soul while they are standing in line at Chick-fil-A. When the Statue of Liberty asked for the world’s tired and weak, that’s not what it meant.