The $65 million Popeyes Chicken Sandwich craze explained
Unless you've been living under a pile of KFC's new Beyond Meat-collab chicken, you've probably heard rumblings about Popeyes' latest chicken sandwich in the United States. So what's the deal?
It's late on a Friday night, you can't be bothered to cook and you feel you deserve a cheat day. Your first solution to this issue probably isn't Popeyes, the franchise after all only has 26 restaurants in the UAE right now compared to McDonald's' 158. Across the pond in the U.S. on the other hand, there's Popeyes mania as far as the eye can see.
Popeyes is an American chain of fried chicken fast food restaurants founded in 1972 in New Orleans, Louisiana and is headquartered in Miami, Florida. It has about 3,000 branches worldwide compared to McDonald's' 37,855.
On August 12, 2019, the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich went on sale across the majority of its American branches. Fast-forward to August 27 and Popeyes announced that the sandwich was sold out everywhere and it'll take an undisclosed amount of time to restock.
The company itself didn't even see this coming:
"The demand for the new chicken sandwich in the first few weeks following launch far exceeded our very optimistic expectations," the company said in a statement to Business Insider. "In fact, Popeyes aggressively forecasted demand through the end of September and has already sold through that inventory."
If you've ever had Popeyes in Dubai, Sharjah or Abu Dhabi you may be stratching your head, we've in fact had chicken sandwiches in our Popeyes as long as we can remember. Our American friends aren't as lucky though, with chicken sandwiches only being added to the menu this summer as a result of a weird marketing idea.
The story is that a small Southern-themed restaurants in Long Beach, California named Sweet Dixie Kitchen was reheating Popeyes chicken tenders as part of its own menu. Instead of suing the quaint eatery out of the water, Popeyes decided this year to team up with Sweet Dixie Kitchen on a new product - the Chicken Sandwich.
The new sandwich is very similar to the one we've had in the UAE for some time, with "a buttermilk-battered chicken filet on a brioche bun with pickles and mayo." The closest UAE sandwich is the Chicken Fillet CMB which is "a crispy chicken marinated with Louisiana flavours on a sesame hamburger bun with lettuce, pickles and spread of creamy mayo."
The Chicken Fillet CMB (AED 20.95 or around U.S. $5.70)
Esquire Middle East reached out to our local Popeyes and it confirmed that it has sandwiches in stock and they have been for sale as long as the person we spoke to could remember. Unlike the States, Popeyes here has a range of sandwiches, from the usual filet, to Cajun sandwiches, to shrimp and fish options. There's also a few different wraps to wrap your hands around.
With the new sandwich in the States selling out faster than people could ever have dreamed, the Americans have gone totally crazy with their new favourite meal being taken away.
A man named Craig Barr from Tennesse is suing Popeyes for U.S. $5,000 in damages. Barr explains to the Times Free Press that:
“I can’t get happy; I have this sandwich on my mind. I can’t think straight, It just consumes you.”
Curious what exactly he's suing for? He claims it is due to:
“false advertising, deceptive business practices by entity to public, Countless time wasted driving to and from Popeyes. No chicken sandwich. Was told to come back this day – still no sandwich,”
The hysteria doesn't end there, various Twitter users have reported seeing the elusive U.S. $3.99 sandwich go for hundreds if not thousands of dollars on sites like eBay and Craigslist.
From research on our end, we've found that the most someone has paid for the sandwich on eBay is a staggering U.S $5,000, enough money to buy over 1,200 of the sandwiches at once.
One final nugget of proof that the States has gone Popeyes mad: The brand sent American DJ Diplo a private jet full of the sandwiches.
Diplo took to Instagram flexing an image of him hopping into a private jet with a massive Popeyes bag in each hand. It's not certain whether Popeyes 'ACTUALLY' sent Diplo a plane full of chicken, but it just goes to show even celebs are in on the addiction.
Popeyes would certainly have the money to stock up a jet with its addictive sandwich. According to Forbes, the sandwich has netted the brand more than U.S. $65 million-worth of marketing and exposure. This is thanks to coverage of the chicken selling out and being compared to other chicken sandwiches in a meme called The Chicken Sandwich Wars. This trend had countless people online comparing the new sandwich to the likes of established ones from KFC, Chick-Fil-A or Wendy's.
The New York Post did a video on this hot debate:
Popeyes has assured the item is here to stay, though it has given no date as to when the meal will return in America.