Lupe Fiasco loves Harold’s Chicken, but does he know which Harold’s is best? | Bleader

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Lupe Fiasco loves Harold’s Chicken, but does he know which Harold’s is best?

Posted By on 02.08.18 at 09:00 AM

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Harold's Chicken Shack No. 62 in the South Loop - ROBERT A. DAVIS
  • Robert A. Davis
  • Harold's Chicken Shack No. 62 in the South Loop

The Reader's archive is vast and varied, going back to 1971. Every day in Archive Dive, we'll dig through and bring up some finds.

On Sunday, Lupe Fiasco Tweeted the video for his new song "Harold's," a tribute to the beloved south side fried chicken chain. As Leor Galil pointed out in a blog post yesterday, the track is part of a long and honorable tradition of referencing Harold's Chicken Shack in Chicago hip-hop, going all the way back to Common in 1992.

"Lupe makes a persuasive case for Harold's supremacy," Galil writes,
"which, as he aptly describes on the track, 'Makes KFC taste like Mississippi river rat.'"

But some Harold's franchises are better than others, as Reader restaurant critic Mike Sula discovered during his exhaustive 2006 tour of 35 Harold's locations.
While training to be the poster boy for acid reflux, I attempted to mathematically evaluate each shack within the city limits, excluding suburban stores and the handful operating out of state. I developed a list of 14 criteria to be judged on a scale of 1 to 10. These included grease, a controversial category given that a low score due to too much grease might result in a higher score in the next category, the fries-bread-grease ratio. Next was size. Some shacks pushed scrawny birds, others served brawny brutes. The juiciness factor was determined primarily by how moist the breast was. The flavor score was enhanced by chicken that stood up to the competing flavors of grease, batter, and seasoning. Oil—did the frying medium taste old or rancid?

The freshness category was an important one. Was the chicken fried to order, or had it been sitting around all day? The service category was an easy way for a shack to bump up its score—if a chicken slinger displayed a shred of personality or friendliness he received a high mark.
Sula survived the ordeal. No one has dared duplicate it since.

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