In Praise Of … Royal Farms Chicken

by Jay Hood on September 16, 2013

in FOOD

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World Famous! All the signs around town say it. It proclaims it outside the store. It says it inside the store. It even says it right there on the box. So it’s true, right?

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If you want food porn, go check out Bourdain. This is not food porn. World Famous Royal Farms Fried Chicken was not meant to look good. It doesn’t even pretend to look good. It is the Hustler of food porn. I’m not sure it’s even possible to take an attractive photo of the contents of a snack box. Well, maybe with a five figure production budget. With my iPhone though, forget about it. But appearance is not what made World Famous Royal Farms Fried Chicken world famous. So why try to dress it up? They don’t. I won’t.

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I’m not quite sure what exactly has made it world famous. I’m not even sure when it stopped being just plain old royal farms fried chicken and became World Famous Royal Farms Fried Chicken. Scant evidence remains around town that it once was simply famous without the world-wide notoriety. The first I can recall being aware of the increased worldwide recognition was when massive billboards were stuck to the side of the Baltimore Arena letting everyone in town know they can add one more item to the civic pride checklist. World Famous Lexington Market? That’s so yesterday. And take that crab cakes! The first few times I walked past the new sign I was nonplussed. But eventually everywhere I went, there it was, world famous. It hit me, people in Bangladesh are clamoring for this stuff. Why am I missing out when everyone in Botswana is devouring it? I need to get back in on this. It is World Famous!

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I think part of the allure might be the price. That’s how they draw you in. I was originally introduced to the snack box in college. The snack box included a breast of World Famous Royal Farms Fried Chicken, western fries (of lesser stature) and a roll (claiming no notoriety whatsoever) for the student-friendly price of $3.99. Inflation has taken a toll, but not by much. The snack box will only set you back $4.79 these days and, if you make it a combo, you can stuff yourself with an additional five western fries and wash it all down with a large soda for only $7.29.

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I had never seen a Royal Farms store before moving to Maryland. On the surface, it appeared quite similar to the Philadelphia staple, WaWa, that I grew up with. But where WaWa prided itself in the local tradition of hoagie creation, Royal Farms had bigger aspirations. They were going to become world famous by dishing out World Famous Royal Farms Fried Chicken. This would be no small feat given that there was already a rather recognizable southern gentleman world famous for the Exact. Same. Thing.

But Royal Farms forged ahead anyway. And what do you know, they pulled it off.

So lets take a trip to the local Royal Farms store and bring home a bag for dinner.

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The closest Royal Farms store is about a five minute drive from our house. Tonight, that proximity makes it an ideal emergency destination. I’m unexpectedly left to my own devices for dinner and I just don’t know what to do. I’ve got fried chicken on my mind so I get in the car. Royal Farms has made getting their Royal Farms World Famous Fried Chicken as easy as possible. An electronic terminal stationed near the chicken counter is easily navigated provided you have a reasonable grasp of technology and can operate a touch screen. Check and check. No matter what you press on the screen, I have a suspicion World Famous Royal Farms Fried Chicken is the output.

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As I wait for my order to be prepared I fill my jumbo cup with Coke and poke an even jumbo-ier straw through the top (made for sucking down the calories as efficiently as possible). There is a slight hangup as the guy by the fryer informs me I’d need to pay first. The guy at the register further delays my World Famous Royal Farms Fried Chicken purchase by initiating an odd conversation about the Blue Man Group. I eventually realize I’m wearing an old blue man t-shirt. Now it makes sense, sort of. I finally pay, getting change for my ten dollar bill no less, and head for the car.

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By the time I get home, the car smells like a deep fryer that hasn’t been cleaned in a week. The smell of McDonald’s french fries has nothing on this. I make a mental note that I need a car wash soon. Surely the scent of fake cherry air freshener pumped through the vents and a pine tree hanger will be able to overpower the aroma of World Famous Royal Farms Fried Chicken.

I open the bag and begin removing contents. See, right there on the box. World Famous. World Famous.

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I grab an extra large stack of napkins and head for the table in front of the TV to enjoy my World Famous Royal Farms Fried Chicken experience. Just one napkin is insufficient. A roll of paper towels might have been more appropriate. But I decide to take my chances that I won’t have to go back downstairs.

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Proper procedure includes disassembling the box to provide easy access. This also creates a space to squeeze out the mandatory pool of ketchup to liven up the western fries experience. Gaze upon the flakiness of the roll. But don’t spend too long because you don’t want it to get cold.

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As previously stated, presentation isn’t paramount with Royal Farms. They simply seek to provide you with World Famous Royal Farms Fried Chicken fast, real fast. Real fresh and real fast in fact. So fast that the contents of the box are just hastily piled on top of each other. The epitome of no frills. For convenience, and perhaps to boost the food porn quotient a bit, I sort the contents of my official snack box and my bonus combo box. It makes the pile of chicken look rather sad, but I now have the Mount Everest of western fries. I also unsuccessfully create a barrier out of a ketchup bottle, jumbo drink and box tops to keep the cat at bay.

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Circumventing my barrier, the cat comes by to investigate a bit more closely. I give in and set out a napkin for her to eat off. She turns her nose up at a western fry. She ignores a juicy piece of white meat (always fresh, never frozen). A nubbin of skin, now that is what she is interested in. Honestly, she’s not going to win that battle. Those nubbins are all mine. Mine all mine. But she’s on to something. She has honed in on what makes the World Famous Royal Farms Fried Chicken so irresistible. It’s the skin. Crispy. Crunchy. Perfectly seasoned. It’s the ideal compliment to the succulent meat cradled inside.

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I’m making some serious headway. As I chow down, it’s becoming increasingly clear why this is world famous. The breast of World Famous Royals Farms Fried Chicken has been picked clean. I still have a few little bits of skin left that I’ve pushed to the side and am saving for last. Part of a wing calls me. The pile of western fries is proving to be a daunting task. Perhaps the combo was unnecessary. It seems unimaginable, but five additional fries has made this a herculean task.

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That pile of napkins? It is quickly dwindling as I reach for one after another. Each bite of World Famous Royal Farms Fried Chicken, each additional western fry seems to necessitate another fresh napkin to absorb the grease juices. But my hasty estimation was correct and I have achieved the ideal food to napkin ratio. As I finish my last bite of World Famous Royal Farms Fried Chicken, I ball up my last napkin.

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I throw in the towel. Even that cat has given up. I dump a pile of bones and a few stray western fries into the bag from which they came. I pop the last piece of roll into my mouth. I look down at what remains. I try not to think too hard about the greasy remains of the box. After all, I did say this was “In Praise Of … World Famous Royal Farms Fried Chicken”, right?

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Praise indeed. For despite the no frills presentation and the unappealing aftermath, this is some darn good chicken. That other southern gentleman could learn a thing or two. This World Famous Royal Farms Fried Chicken is incredibly moist. The breading isn’t so thick that it overpowers the rest of the meat. It’s not overly salty or peppery. It’s a perfect blend of spices. The small nubbins of skin that fall off and clutter the bottom of the box are perhaps the best part of the meal. Nice and crispy little nuggets of flavor.

But the biggest praise of all? Haloti Ngata from the Baltimore Ravens. He stars in a series of local ads touting how good the World Famous Royal Farms Fried Chicken really is.

World Famous? Yeah, I can believe it.

* this post in no way paid for or endorsed by Royal Farms, but it should be!


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Jay Hood (Section Chief Shea Garage/Contributing Editor)

Jay Hood has lived in Baltimore, Maryland for the past 25 years.  He likes to travel and is an avid photographer.  His photography has been featured in several obscure and unassuming locations, such as John Ball Zoological Gardens.  He does not eat vegetables and is learning to enjoy seafood.  He strives to keep his DVR no more than 40% full.  Comfort is paramount and he is not above a little slacking.

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