A new favorite menu item at Popeyes has restaurant lines out the door, making the popular fried chicken chain “Louisiana not-so-fast.”
The fried chicken sandwich, available spicy or classic on a buttered brioche bun, was released on Aug. 12 and went mostly unnoticed until a viral tweet from the official Chick-fil-A Twitter account taking a jab at Popeyes sparked a fierce chicken sandwich debate spearheaded by “Black Twitter.” The free advertising has contributed to stagnant drive-thrus and lines wrapping around restaurants.
“Just in the last four hours, we’ve sold 269 sandwiches. And we sell close to 600 or 700 a day,” said Derrick Harris, assistant manager at the Popeyes on Jackson Bluff Road. “We just try to encourage our employees to keep going, that’s all we can do.”
According to a report released by Apex Marketing Group, Popeyes received an estimated $23.25 million in equivalent ad value in media mentions across digital, print, social, TV and radio in just 11 days. Much of this is thanks to the buying power of Black Twitter, where memes, videos of people fighting employees and stampeding restaurants, and polls concluding Popeyes as the superior chicken sandwich champion have made the hype a household debate.
“They said it’s good so I’m here just to try it out,” said Laquanta Oliver. “They didn’t have it at the Popeyes in Quincy, so I drove all the way here. I hope it lives up to the hype.”
Oliver ended up leaving before placing his order because the drive-thru line was stretched down the street and the line inside was hardly moving in between customers walking out with bags filled with multiple sandwiches. One man bought five for him and his wife.
As the menu item’s popularity grows, fans have taken to social media to share both their excitement and disgust. Haters have pointed out unhealthy ingredients and food dyes that may be linked to depression, anxiety, and violent behavior. Despite the viral warnings from health enthusiasts, some still endure long wait times and the possibility of leaving the restaurant empty handed.
According to an article on Business Insider, Jose Cil, CEO of Popeyes’ parent company Restaurant Brands International, it was expected that people would love the sandwich when they tried it, but he admitted that the chicken sandwich debates on Twitter “exceeded our expectations a bit.”
“I refuse to stand in line for a chicken sandwich. I have a mama, a wife, some daughters, and some church mothers that will cook circles around Popeyes and Chick-fil-A,” said pastor, activist and author Bishop Talbert Swan in a tweet on Friday. “Since when do Black people need white folks to teach us how to season and cook chicken?”
Although reasonably priced at $3.99, not everyone is captivated by the sandwich. Whether it be the long wait times, possible harmful ingredients or because of the reality that the CEO of Popeyes is not actually the feisty Southern woman “Annie the Chicken Queen,” participating in the sandwich drama is just not for some.