When student body presidential candidate Jean Cocco first came to USF as a freshman, one of the first things he noticed about his experience dining at USF was that an essential component was missing from the Marshall Student Center (MSC) Chick-fil-A.
Among the spread of sauces offered, ranging from Buttermilk Ranch to Barbecue, Honey Mustard to Honey Roasted BBQ, Buffalo to Polynesian, noticeably absent was one: Chick-fil-A sauce.
Many of its most ardent advocates on campus say the sauce that touts the corporate franchise’s name is not done justice by its ingredient list, which according to the Chick-fil-A website includes BBQ sauce, mustard, hickory smoke, egg yolks, garlic, vinegar and oil among other things.
“Chick-fil-A sauce is the bomb,” said Ian McNally, a senior who only occasionally frequents the MSC location, but said he is always disappointed to see the sauce missing.
Olivia Harris, a sophomore majoring in art, said she’s vegetarian and only eats the sauce with the franchise’s waffle fries, but said she too wished the campus location would offer it.
“It’s such a shame USF doesn’t have it,” she said.
But when Cocco noticed the sauce was missing, he said he asked members of the USF Dining Services staff why the sauces weren’t served at the location. He said he was told it was due to a “contractual obligation” that did not allow the sauces to be served at the location.
So when Cocco launched his campaign for student body president and began talking with students about issues important to them, he said he found one issue that united many people was the absence of sauce. He decided to create a petition.
“Chick-fil-A sauce is something everyone can get behind,” he said.
Many of the online signees of the petition on change.org seem to think so, too, sharing messages such as “I LOVE CHICK-FIL-A SAUCE,” “That s— is dope” and “How else am I supposed to eat my chicken?”
From a campaigning standpoint, though, Cocco said the petition, which had collected 109 signatures at the time of print, is more than about just the sauce.
“It’s about engaging leadership and those with authority. It’s about we the students,” Cocco said. “It’s about creating a conversation.”
Denis Spradlin, the operator who oversees the Chick-fil-A at USF and the East Fowler Avenue location, said in an email via Chick-fil-A spokesman Mark Baldwin, that this was the first Chick-fil-A had heard of “how much USF students are craving Chick-fil-A Sauce at our location on campus.”
“Originally, we introduced Chick-fil-A Sauce as a dressing intended to complement our Chick-n-Strips,” Spradlin said. “Our USF location does not serve Chick-n-Strips, so Chick-fil-A Sauce is not automatically sent that location.
“However, we strive to accommodate customer wants and needs whenever possible, so we are going to check into bringing Chick-fil-A Sauce to the USF campus as soon as possible so that students can use it to enhance their chicken sandwiches, nuggets, waffle fries and any other of our menu items,” he said. “We greatly value our relationship with the students of USF, so we will do our best to make this happen.”
This is not the first time Chick-fil-A has been at the epicenter of campus activism, however.
In spring 2011, several student organizations initiated a campuswide boycott in response to CEO Dan Cathy’s public stances on espousing anti-LGBT views, and in fall 2012, a USF professor launched an online petition, which received almost 900 signatures to see the franchise removed from campus for similar reasons.
USF Dining Services did not respond to requests for comment on this article by the time of print Wednesday.