YouTuber Chicken Connoisseur has taken the fast food world by storm with his viral fried chicken shop review series, The Pengest Munch. In it the connoisseur — real name Elijah Quashie — goes into great depth rating the fast food, showing off his fresh crep collection and entertaining audiences with his charisma.
Since he's gone viral, we'd heard rumblings that it had led to an upturn of business for the stores he visited. We popped into the first ever joint he reviewed — Taste of Tennessee in Shoreditch — to ask how it was doing since it was graced by the viral sensation. We chatted to bossman (real name Rava), who confirmed the upturn in customers. "Lots more people have come in recently and they mention liking the video."
In a later episode Quashie visited Miami Fried Chicken in Croydon and their manager, Rajah Kanna, spoke to Croydon Guardian explaining a similar effect. "More people have come in since it was put online, I didn't realise just how popular he is." That single review was viewed over 2.2 million times.
So far, it seemed like The Pengest Munch effect was real. One quick review meant a tangible effect to a place's dealings. We'd heard about another side effect too, so decided to dig a little bit deeper.
One of the things that had the connoisseur praising Tennessee so highly was the reasonable pricing. A look at their board suggests things have changed since that review. Back in the video, he's able to buy chips, a strip burger and two wings (but bossman gave him an extra one on the house) for just £2.49. Today it would cost you upwards of £3 for that deal.
Supply and demand is a basic principle of economics; when in high demand, you can push prices up to make more money on it. Reportedly Edens in Finsbury Park (which was also reviewed) have also pushed their prices up.
When Elijah broke out with these reviews, he said: "this was made for people who eat food like me, who talk like me... people who are from my area." That might be who the reviews were made for but their reach has been far greater.
Since pengest munch, fried chicken shops look like Vice articles pic.twitter.com/j8ENevdI4z— Pasquale D (@PasqualeLDN) February 12, 2017
It looks like some of these shops have become hotspots for hipsters. It will be interesting to see how long this trend can sustain itself, whether these people will be coaxed back to the safety of health food stores or vegan chicken. It's an interesting turn of events considering people had previously presumed that the less chicken shops in an area, the more ripe it was for gentrification.
Furthermore these specific stores might be benefitting but a lot of other chicken shops are struggling to survive in today's landscape.
All this raises the question: is Chicken Connoisseur inadvertently damaging the culture he is attempting to promote?
Check out our opinions on London's best fried chicken.