If we’ve heard “supply chain issues” once, we’ve heard the phrase a thousand times. This has been the catch-all catchphrase for the dumpster fire that 2022 has been, with the words “logistics” and “shortages” trailing along behind it like sad limp balloons.
Which makes Thanksgiving ’22 the perfect time to, well, give thanks to those who make our goods go, all through long days and dark nights, in all manner of weather and road conditions as they sacrifice their holiday so that we may have ours. (And our Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays, too.)
Luckily, one brand out there had the foresight to get a jump on its Turkey Day gratitude: Chester’s Chicken, a fried chicken chain that has a special soft spot for the truckers we can’t live without.
For those not in the know, Chester’s Chicken is a road trip classic, and has been for over 50 years. It’s a fried chicken chain beloved for its use of fresh chicken only, double breading, and a family recipe marinade. Chester’s has 1,200 locations, but the brand flies on its crunchy wings below the mainstream radar since, rather than standalone restaurants, it’s mostly found in convenience stores and rest stops. So obviously, the brand has a soft spot for the road warriors our entire supply chain depends on, and will give back to that community this Thanksgiving.
“Truck drivers have always been essential, and during the pandemic, we all saw that their service was more important than ever,” said William Culpepper, vice president of marketing for Chester’s Chicken. “The pandemic brought challenges and supply chain disruptions, so we relied heavily on professional drivers to deliver critical goods—fuel, food, medicine, vaccines, etc.—that we’ve become so accustomed to in our daily lives. Additionally, the holidays are an especially busy time for them, with the average driver clocking in 60 hours on the road per week.”
“We started Truckersgiving last year, in 2021, in collaboration with one of our biggest operators and the nation’s leading travel stop network, Love’s Travel Stops,” says Culpepper. All 141 Chester’s restaurants within Love’s participated in this 34-state range, giving away custom trucker hats and over 10,000 servings of mac and cheese to commercial drivers who stopped in on the Thursday before Thanksgiving.
And if you’re wondering why it’s the week before the holiday, well, we were, too. Joe Cotton, Vice President of Restaurant Services for Love’s, had the answer.
Roughly 60 professional truckers visit one of Love’s 600-plus locations two to three times in an average week, he said. Based on their experience, the week before Thanksgiving is actually one of the busiest times for truck traffic, and it’s the week they deserve our gratitude the most.
In 2021, the truckers seemed to enjoy the promotion so much so that Love’s and Chester’s have decided to make it an annual tradition, one that gets better with each passing year.
“It was a huge success, and well received by professional drivers around the country, so we wanted to make it even bigger this year,” Culpepper tells The Takeout. In 2022, Chester’s is upping the ante by giving away 100 free meals to the first long-haulers to hit each participating location.
First, be a truck driver. Second, be a truck driver with the Love’s Connect App on your phone or a My Love Rewards Card on your keyfob. Then, be a truck driver that stops at a Love’s with a Chester’s location during the restaurant’s operating hours on Thursday, November 17.
The first hundo guests at each participating location will be treated to a Super Snack meal, which includes a signature fried leg and thigh (each) and a side of thick and zesty battered potato wedges. With 141 participating locations, that’s 14,100 meals hitting the road gratis. Plus, the first 20 truckers who show their commercial driver’s license at each location will get a custom hat, too. (It’ll be trucker-style, natch.)
The truckers can, of course, add on whatever they like from the menu of tenders, sandwiches, sides, and desserts. The honey butter biscuits are another distinctive item on the Chester’s menu, and at no other chain can you pick up a side of fried livers and gizzards. Options for other sides include the mac and cheese given out last year, mashed potatoes and gravy (of course), and green beans with bacon. People can close out their on-the-go meal with dessert hand pies in apple and strawberry cream cheese flavors.
However diners choose to customize their meal, the two pieces of fried chicken and taters is a nice way to fuel up alongside their rigs.
“Professional drivers can’t be thanked enough for their hours on the road,” Cotton says. “Truckersgiving is a new favorite tradition we’re proud to host with Chester’s Chicken to celebrate our professional truck driver customers and kick off the holiday season.”
Culpepper agrees. “Truck drivers are some of our best and most loyal customers, so offering this free meal to drivers across the country is our way of saying thank you for their important work,” he says.
And as we get ready to shop online and get all of our shit delivered directly to our doorstep this season, we can’t help but piggyback on that gratitude.