The man in the hooded sweatshirt led Paul down a long dark hallway. The air was cold and carried a whiff of french fries. Paul picked up his pace to keep up with the long strides of his mysterious hooded guide.
The two approached a giant stone door. Paul hadn’t noticed this before, but his guide was wearing bright yellow gloves. The man brought his sunshine fist to the door.
“Who’s there?” barked a guy on the other side.
“Mi-key doesn’t work, can you open the door?”
Paul heard some muffled laughter and a few groans. There was the sound of an unlatching deadbolt and the door gradually inched open.
The room looked like something you’d find in the Pentagon. Or that giant war room from Dr. Strangelove. The man in the hooded sweatshirt turned around and slowly took down his hood. Paul immediately stepped back, startled by the bright red hair, red nose, red goatee, the painted white face, and the enormous cartoonish smile.
This man was a clown.
And this clown… was Ronald McDonald.
“Take a seat,” Ronald said. “We’ve got a lot of ground to cover.”
Paul looked over and saw a restaurant crew covering the ground with new carpet. Of course, Paul thought to himself. Ronald McDonald speaks in puns.
Up ahead, there were five people at the grand table. On one side was Colonel Sanders from KFC, the strange-looking king from Burger King, and Wendy with her red pigtails. On the other side were two guys wearing 90s graphic t-shirts. One said Pizza Hut, the other Taco Bell.
The door swung open again. A pirate, a knight, and a short man wearing a toga and flip flops walked into the war room. As the short toga man walked, his flip-flops sounded like they were saying: Pizza, pizza. Pizza, pizza. Behind them was the Arby’s Oven Mitt, someone in a giant domino costume, and a man carrying a bag of urinal cakes and a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner.
“What’s in your hand?” Colonel Sanders asked, addressing the knight.
“Forty-five sliders and a thing of onion rings,” the knight replied holding up a White Castle bag.
“No, your other hand,” the Colonel replied.
“Oh, just a couple Chick Fil A sandwiches.”
“Arrrgh!” the pirate (known as Long John Silver) chimed in. “I got meself a few from ‘ol Popeye the sailor man when the sun was in the high noon.”
“Oh, good for you guys,” the colonel said in frustration. “Thanks for supporting my funeral.”
“What have I always told you?” the knight said. He placed his hand on Colonel Sanders’ shoulder. “I’d support your chicken sandwich if you’d just put one on the menu.”
“Why? Why do I need a sandwich when I have an entire bucket of Kentucky fried?”
“People like the bun,” the knight said.
“Gotta have the bun,” Burger King chimed in.
“You gotta think outside the bun,” said the man in the Taco Bell t-shirt.
“Ladies, gentlemen, Arby’s Oven Mitt, our table is honored tonight with a very special guest,” Ronald McDonald said, ignoring the fried chicken banter. “Little Caesar, please open things up with the reading of our father’s poem. You ready?”
“Oh, I’m always hot and ready,” Little Caesar replied.
Little Caesar cleared his throat. The man in the Pizza Hut t-shirt cut him off with a fart noise.
“Too long, didn’t listen,” the Pizza Hut guy said. The room roared in laughter.
“Always stealing my thunder,” Little Caesar said under his breath. He sat down and crossed his arms in front of his chest.
“Here, let me give ya the Sparknotes version,” the Pizza Hut guy continued. “We all have the same Dad and we grew up together in a castle. In Topeka, Kansas. We had this amazing chef in our kitchen who taught us how to cook. We gathered our recipes together in one book, and the very last page was her chicken sandwich recipe. It was, without question, the greatest sandwich ever made.”
“The GOAT,” Burger King said, nodding his enormous head.
“Well, her goat was also really good, but the chicken sandwich was her best,” Pizza Hut said. “Anyways, we had this greasy little servant who, on the day our father died, snuck in and tore that last page right out of the book. He snuck out of the castle and we never saw him again. Then a few years later, a place called Chick Fil A just happens to pop up making the best chicken sandwiches in the United States.”
“And none of us have made a quality chicken sandwich ever since,” Ronald said.
“Yeah, I mean Burger King’s looks like a chicken sandwich slept with a $5 footlong,” said the Arby’s Oven Mitt.
“Footlong, get your footlong!” the knight shouted out. He gave the Oven Mitt a high five. Burger King shrugged with an, “Eh, it’s true,” acceptance.
“And the Colonel hasn’t even attempted one!” the knight said.
“Bucket. Sandwich. 20 pieces. One piece. It’s simple fricken math!”
“At Kentucky fricken chicken,” said the Arby’s Oven Mitt. A roar of laughter. Another high five, which, when high-fiving a talking oven mitt, it’s really a slap in the face.
“Anyways, Chick Fil A just kept getting bigger and bigger, but we never viewed them as a threat. I mean, they weren’t even open on Sundays. Seven vs. six. It’s Kentucky fricken math,” Pizza Hut said with a smirk. “But then, just as we were kind of starting to worry about Chick Fil A, we see these massive lines forming all around the country outside of Popeye’s. It was madness. Landing one of their chicken sandwiches was like getting your hands on Hamilton tickets.”
“Rumor had it, they hired our father’s former chef to bring the secret ingredient she never wrote down over to Popeyes,” Ronald McDonald chimed in. “Now, personally, I’ve had both, and the ones I remember in the castle were pretty much like a direct combination of Chick Fil A and Popeyes. But neither one is 100 percent it. And that’s what we can’t quite figure out.”
“I mean the Colonel can’t even figure out how to use buns,” the Oven Mitt said.
“You talkin’ mitt to me?” the Colonel said.
“He talks more mitt than Gary Payton,” Ronald whispered to Paul.
“Payton was the glove. I’m the Mitt. Respect the difference,” Oven Mitt said.
“You, uh, gonna run for president again?” the Colonel said. He took a dramatic pause for his shaky punchline. “Mitt Romney.”
“Good one!” Oven Mitt said. “Can I get that joke with a side of mac-n-cheese and a biscuit? I mean, seriously, you already have the biscuits, just use those for the buns.”
“Bring up the sandwich one more time!” the Colonel shouted. “I’m warning you!”
“See, he’s a real bucket of fun,” Oven Mitt said to Paul.
“Ok, so wait, who’s this new guy?” Pizza Hut asked.
“This is Paul Tree,” Ronald said. “He’s a chicken farmer. Well, more of an egg guy. But he also happens to be…”
Ronald paused to take a sip of his Diet Coke. He let out a loud belch then continued.
“The son of our old chef,” Ronald finished.
Wendy and Little Caesar gasped. Godfrey dropped the bag of urinal cakes.
“Arrgh!” Long John called out. “Thought ye looked familiar! I remember when ye were just a wee little lad. Ye taught me the art of the hush puppy.”
“And now he’s gonna teach us the art of the chicken sandwich!” Wendy cried out.
“Hear me out,” Taco Bell guy chimed in, “what if we swapped out the buns with a taco shell made out of fried chicken.”
Taco Bell made the mindblown gesture.
“Food for thought,” Taco Bell said. Then he unwrapped a Cheesy Gordita Crunch.
“Hey, Colonel,” Arby’s Oven Mitt said. The Colonel already closed his eyes in anticipated frustration. “What if we swapped out the buns with little edible buckets? Make it look like a little top hat.”
“That’s it,” the Colonel replied. “I’m too old for this mitt. I’m out of here. Oh, just curious, Paul, where’s your farm? I’d like to stop by for a carton of eggs on the way home.”
“Oh, awesome,” Paul said. “Yeah, happy to. We’ve got a fridge and a little money box. Actually, no, just take some. It’s on me.”
“Yeah, definitely. Always been a big fan of your work. We’re past the highway at 2850 North Poultry Way.”
“Perfect,” the Colonel said. He gathered his things. “Well, good luck everybody. Hope you can figure out the glorious chicken sandwich, you know, before it’s too late.”
“Hey, Colonel,” Oven Mitt called out. Colonel Sanders stopped in his tracks. Let out a long sigh.
“Hey, I’m sorry about all the jokes. Really. I didn’t mean to upset ya.”
“Well. Thank you. I. Well, I appreciate the apology. It takes a big, um, oven mitt to own up when he’s wrong.”
“Eh, I would’ve gone with ad-mitt when he’s wrong, but can’t win ’em all,” Oven Mitt replied. “Oh, and one more thing. You ever think about putting a giant bun on top of the bucket? It could serve as the lid and it becomes at least half of a sandwich.”
Everyone roared in laughter. There were more Oven Mitt high fives all around.
Colonel Sanders stormed out of the room. It wasn’t clear, but Little Caesar thought he heard the disgruntled Colonel uttering, “You’ll all be sorry,” under his fried chicken breath.
The “Chicken Wars” series will continue with Part 4 going up — I think — on Wednesday, October 20th.
Hope you have a great week, and consider getting some Arby’s today for lunch.
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