Forget turkey. Let’s talk chicken. Specifically, the chicken sandwich.
If you haven’t caught the headlines, there is a Chick-fil-A vs. Popeyes war raging across the United States pitting the two sandwiches against each other.
I know what you’re thinking: “Popeyes?” Yes, that’s right. It’s no joke and some say they’re winning.
It started back in August, when Popeyes finally released a fried chicken sandwich it had been testing for years.
From there I’ve done my best to piece the story together:
The sandwich received enormous praise across the online chatter. Meanwhile, defending its own sandwich, Chick-fil-A posted a tweet about being the “original.” Popeyes responded by retweeting that post with a snarky response: “.... y’all good?”
The post went viral and launched a virtual bomb.
The fallout was anything but virtual. Lines snaked out Popeyes’ doors, and the fast food chain ran out of chicken sandwiches within a couple of weeks. A franchisee owner in Dallas told the Wall Street Journal they had forecasted to sell 60 sandwiches a day and went through 1,000. Nationally, Popeyes had stocked for a two to three month supply, and blew through it in 14 days.
How does one run out of a fried chicken sandwich?
The layman may think these are simple ingredients available in mass supply and in any U.S. grocery store, but according to the Wall Street Journal, it took Popeyes a month to find suppliers, specifically for the small chicken breast size and possibly its special brioche bun.
During the waiting period, everyone tried to cash in on the chicken sandwich rage.
If you’re in the fast food business, it’s good business. American’s have curbed beef consumption and are eating almost twice as much chicken, according to CNN. Earlier this year, food service research firm Technomic reported Chick-fil-A now ranks No. 5 within the Top 500 restaurant chains. It has tripled its annual revenue over the last 10 years and outpaces all other fast food chains in sales-per-store.
Still, the whole ordeal has been great for Popeyes. Sales in U.S. restaurants grew by 10% in the third quarter according to the Wall Street Journal.
Fourth quarter looks promising. Like zombies on brains, crazed fans found great relief when Popeyes relaunched the sandwich in November. Diners are willing to wait hours to get one and fight over them, too. In Maryland, a man was stabbed to death over it.
A couple of years ago, I ran across a story about a California restaurant sourcing its fried chicken from Popeyes, too. A customer was outraged when they saw the kitchen staff sneaking in boxes of the fried stuff from the fast food chain down the street. Until then, the restaurant had been getting five star reviews on Yelp.
So is it that good?
El Paso Inc. photographer Jorge Salgado confirms that the Popeyes sandy is indeed superior.
As for me, leftover turkey never sounded better. That, and I’m reminded to be evermore cautious about the social media minefield unless opportunity is on your side. But that is probably harder to master than perfect fried chicken.