Will the limited-time-only peach-flavored chicken sandwich make you want to 'rise up' or throw up?
By: Jimbo X
Although I am -- and have been -- an Oakland/Los Angeles/San Antonio(?) Raiders fan my entire life, my de facto "B-team" so to speak has always been the Atlanta Falcons. This is reasonable enough, I suppose, considering the fact that I've spent nearly three decades of my existence residing within the boundaries of the Peach State.
Atlanta Falcons fans are a peculiar breed, to be sure. In a city overrun with transplants, the Falcons are more or less viewed as nothing more than a way for all the neo-carpetbaggers to see their favorite teams from up north and out west live and in living color. Of course, there are indeed homegrown Falcons fans, but they are few and far between, and really, those people are much more inclined to be rabid Georgia Bulldogs fans, or a fan of one of the neighboring SEC squads. There seems to be this weird Boca Juniors/River Plate, Guadalara Chivas/America rivalry going on between UGA and all of Atlanta's teams (college or pro) in which the Southern metropolis (and its corresponding NFL franchise) embodies modern excess and "the selling out" of regional identity, while the quaint little college football powerhouse up in Athens embodies the true spirit of the proletariat, working class Southern man.
So, who is the true Atlanta Falcons fan? Well, the true Atlanta Falcons fan is usually in his forties or fifties (although there are quite a few hardcore fans in their 20s. If you've ever seen Snow in tha Bluff, you'll know EXACTLY the types I'm talking about. By and large, he has white hair (or a receding hairline), and a beer belly, even though he's otherwise skinny. He either lives in one of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods in the city proper (Castleberry, East Lake Meadows or, god help your mortal soul, Vine City or English Avenue) or one of the many indistinguishable, beaten down 'burbs just outside the city limits (places with names like Rockdale, Douglasville and Fayetteville.) He usually hates his job, he hates himself and he's behind on child support payments. If he doesn't have a truck, he used to, and he prefers getting his hair cut at this one no-name barber shop that he doesn't mind driving or MARTA-ing 20 miles out of his way to visit. And even then, he complains about the slow service when he gets there.
The actual Atlanta Falcons fan is a weird goulash of desperate blue collar proletariat and unabashed Southern bigot, no matter what color he is. As much as he hates the racial other, he hates all of them damn neo-carpetbaggers even more. He especially hates anybody from New Orleans, if not because they are de facto representatives of the Saints, then because they still get federal incentives they don't qualify for and first dibs at public housing (which is fewer and further in between these days.)
These are the kinds of people who still wear Michael Vick black and red jerseys in public and challenge people to fist fights at sports bars if they say anything bad about career drunk driver Jamal Anderson. That is, if they feel like walking that far. Or leaving the house. Which they don't, for the most part.
But more than anything, this rare, rare bird of the Piedmont variety loves to eat grocery store deli product. Go ahead, find yourself a Falcons fan, and they'll talk your ear off about why Kroger's fried chicken is better than Wal-Mart's (it's the fried okra, it's always the fried okra) and why Target, for lack of a better word, sucks the big one (once again, it probably has something to do with the substandard fried okra.)
That's why I wasn't surprised one iota when I waltzed into the local Publix and saw this thing sticking on the electronic sliding glass door entrance...
An NFL-flavored sandwich, you don't say? Clearly, this idea has some legs to it. As it turns out, Publix actually offers three more NFL-branded sammiches for the three Florida pro-football teams, which -- not unlike their play this season -- I can assume probably suck.
It's a weird combination of ingredients, to be sure, but then again, this is the South, where we actually fuckin' sell and buy fried brownies. In public. And nobody says anything about it. Really, eating a sub smothered in peach jam and bacon is probably one of our saner local delicacies, now that I think about it a bit.
For those of you doubting the sincerity of such an invention, well, there's the big, bold, barcoded truth that it ain't a fabrication. I guess you could call this thing a footlong, although I'm not quite sure how geometrically accurate that wording actually is. I mean, it's probably closer to 10 inches, and the meat itself tends to stop at the 8.5 inch marker. The 9 inch, if you are lucky and the sandwich artisan is feeling awfully generous that afternoon.
So, what all do you get with this NFC South-themed sub? Well, you get a pretty decent white roll, but as far as advertised ingredients, that's all I received. You know how uptop, the sign says you get maple-flavored chicken tenders? Well, the dude at my local store just grabbed a handful of fried chicken pieces from the rotisserie pit, crumbled them up and said "eh, good enough." This shit was about as maple-flavored as a Tijuana tostada, which, in case you weren't aware, isn't very maple-flavored at all.
While my deli man completely deviated from the promotional formula, I reckon his ghetto-concoction was way better than anything that could have been mass produced, anyway. His idea of srirachi mayonnaise was literally slathering mayonnaise on the bun and then squirting some hot sauce on top of the white goop. And he used some damn peach preservative all right -- with a bottle of store-branded peach jam.
Even the bacon was pure-D trailer park home cooking. The dude took a handful of that instant pork junk, slammed the plastic microwave door shut and nuked the shit for all of a minute and a half before pulling out a sizzling plate of bacon with salty white foam bubbling out of it like someone had just thrown the bacon Necronomicon into a furnace or something. As someone who grew up poor and fat in the American South, I can assure you this is just about the most authentic regional cuisine you're bound to find anywhere.
Sure, the Falcons sub was a bit on the gross side, but there is no denying that it wasn't filling. It was nearly impossible to hold with one hand, and moving the sandwich just one centimeter out of whack caused three or four chicken tenders to fall out and/or a weird amalgam of mayonnaise, chili sauce and preservative-soaked peach jam to drip all over the floor. In short, it was the perfect foodstuff to symbolize the team and its oft-misunderstood fan base -- a big, bulky, unorthodox and salty tribute to the last of a dying breed of regional roustabouts and lifelong gentrification victims.
If they ain't selling overpriced simulacrums of this limited-time-only delicacy when that newfangled Mercedes-Benz Stadium opens in 2017, I for one, will be pissed a plenty.