Accuracy in Media

New York has withstood a lot in its history. Multiple epidemics of cholera and yellow fever, a fire that wiped out much of the Garment District, the 9/11 attacks, the Dinkins mayoralty.

But according to the New Yorker, the city is now dealing with one of its worst intrusions ever – that of fast-food chain Chick-fil-A.

“There’s something especially distasteful about Chick-fil-A, which has sought to portray itself as better than other fast food: cleaner, gentler, and more ethical, with its poultry slightly healthier than the mystery meat of burgers,” wrote Dan Piepenbring in a story headlined, “Chick-fil-A’s Creepy Infiltration of New York City.”

“Its politics, its décor and its commercial-evangelical messaging are infected with this suburban piety.”

Piepenbring objects to nearly everything the restaurant says and does – from its practice of closing on Sundays so its employees can attend church to its advertising campaign with the Cows who don’t spell so well to its practice of trying to genuinely join the communities in which it places stores.

He seems especially annoyed that it has come to New York and his fellow New Yorkers seem to like it.

A new Chick-fil-A, the fourth in Manhattan, “opened last month to the kind of slick, corporate-friendly fanfare that can only greet a new chain location,” Piepenbring wrote.

“New York has taken to Chick-fil-A,” he wrote, noting the line around the block to order from the new restaurant. “One of the Manhattan locations estimates that it sells a sandwich every six seconds, and the company has announced plans to open as many as a dozen more storefronts in the city. And yet the brand’s arrival here feels like an infiltration, in no small part because of its pervasive Christian traditionalism.”

Not only has support grown, Piepenbring wrote, but opposition has waned. “When the first standalone New York location opened, in 2015, a throng of protesters appeared,” he wrote. “When a location opened in a Queens mall in 2016, Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed a boycott. No such controversy greeted the opening of this newest outpost. Chick fill-A’s success here is a marketing coup. Its expansion raises questions about what we expect from our fast food, and to what extent a corporation can join a community.”  

If you want to join the community in Manhattan, you can’t have stores that close on Sundays for religious reasons. You can’t have a “corporate purpose” that begins with the words “’to glorify God.’”

Customers can’t patronize stores whose Atlanta headquarters are “adorned with Bible verses and a statue of Jesus washing a disciple’s feet.” And you definitely can’t have a store in New York that does not wholeheartedly endorse the gay agenda.

“Its CEO, Dan Cathy, has been accused of bigotry for using the company’s charitable wing to fund the anti-gay cause, including groups that oppose same-sex marriage,” Piepenbring wrote. “The company has since reaffirmed its intention to ‘treat every person with honor, dignity and respect,’ but it has quietly continued to donate to anti-LGBT groups.”

Oh yeah, and The Cows in the Eat Mor Chikin commercials – “in official communiques, they always take a capital ‘C,’” Pipenbring noted – are “creepy.”

“If the restaurant is a megachurch,” Piepenbring wrote, “the Cows are its ultimate evangelists. Since their introduction in the mid-90s … they’ve remained one of the most popular, and most morbid, advertising campaigns in fast food history, crucial to Chick-fil-A’s corporate culture.”

The Cows, he wrote, “ have never bothered to improve their spelling.” The company’s ad manager doubles as its “Cow czar.” And the Cows have nearly 1 million followers on Twitter and their own calendar – this year’s theme is Steers of Yesteryear.

“It’s worth asking why Americans fell in love with an ad in which one farm animal begs us to kill another in its place, Piepenbring wrote. They are everywhere in ads keyed to the city, including on with Cows riding on the subway.

“The joke is that the Cows are out of place in New York – a winking acknowledgment that Chick-fil-A, too, does not quite belong here.”

Those people buying a sandwich every six seconds obviously disagree.

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