An Open Letter to Popeyes About the New Chicken Sandwich
Let me begin this letter by saying that you’ve won. You’ve absolutely won. Your new chicken sandwich is hands down THE best there is.
Having now tried both the original and the spicy versions, I can’t even begin to imagine how anyone could not select you as the top sandwich in each of those categories. The Burger King original chicken sandwich, with its light breading and torpedo-style bun, now feels like some outdated relic from the 1970s. The McChicken seems like something you’d get from a middle school cafeteria. The Wendy’s spicy chicken, once the dominant chicken sandwich in my eyes, now just seems like it’s a giant spicy nugget on a bun.
Even the perceived public champion of all things chicken sandwich, Chick-fil-A, has now taken a back seat to you (and you’re open on Sundays).
Whether the spicy or original version, your sandwich feels like it was genetically engineered to be superior. It’s the chicken-on-a-bun version of Ivan Drago, telling all other chicken sandwiches “I must break you,” but none of your competition can pull off a Rocky-like comeback win.
It’s perfection. A nice, thick cut of chicken with just the right amount of seasonings in the breading (and the right amount of kick, if you opt for spicy) with mayo (or Cajun sauce) and two thick pickles on a brioche bun. It is put together in the way a true southern chicken sandwich should be, with the pickles on the bottom, giving a cold crunch to contrast the warm chicken. And I’ve never seen the big deal over brioche until now; I can’t imagine this sandwich on anything else, as it stands up boldly to the potential sog of all its ingredients, saying “give me your best shot” but never giving in and collapsing under the pressure. Oh, and the best part? It’s only $3.99 for the sandwich.
All that said, we need to talk about how difficult it is to get one.
When I first heard about this sandwich, it was because I saw a few posts on social media about a dubious marketing stunt in which the Popeyes chicken sandwich wasn’t actually launched at Popeyes, but rather at Sweet Dixie Kitchen. This was, after all, the place that got bagged for using your chicken in its chicken and waffles dish without informing diners it came from Popeyes. So partnering up with them to launch the most anticipated chicken sandwich in recent memory? Weird flex, but OK.
But now you’re here, at the Popeyes off Coggeshall Street in New Bedford, over by Market Basket. There’s no need to make a trek to the outer limits of the SouthCoast, like you have to in order to hit up the Seekonk Chick-fil-A. These glorious globs of chicken bliss can be had at just about a moment’s notice.
Except, you keep running out of them.
Twice, I tried to visit Popeyes to sample the sandwich of the gods. Both times, I was told that you had run out of chicken sandwiches. It seems the demand has far outweighed the supply, something Popeyes said it did not expect. I’m sorry, did you not TRY your sandwich before launching it? One bite, and you would have known you’d were going to need a bigger batch.
Then, the one day I did arrive early enough for you to still have sandwiches to serve, I was told it would be a five-minute wait. I eagerly pulled over into the parking lot from the drive-thru, knowing I was just minutes away from seeing if the hype was legit. Five minutes turned into 10, 10 into 15, and before I knew it, I had been waiting over than 20 minutes for my sandwich. Multiple times, a Popeyes worker came over to the line of cars with a bag, and we all sat up at attention, eyes wide, as if we were dogs waiting for our master to give us the bone from a steak. If we had tails, they’d be thumping. But we just kept waiting and waiting.
When it finally was my own bag, I snatched it up and peeled out of there before anyone could try and snag my sandwich. I barely glanced to see if there was a car coming as I rolled out on to Coggeshall, and I swear, I had half the sandwich gone before I got to the lights by Belleville Avenue.
It shouldn’t have to be like this, Popeyes. It shouldn’t make me crazy to get my hands on a chicken sandwich. It shouldn’t take 20 minutes. And it shouldn’t be a trip that ends in utter disappointment when I’m told at the drive-thru that you’re out of chicken sandwiches.
Yes, I know the fervor will die down and eventually it’ll be easy to get the sandwich. And maybe then, as it becomes commonplace to be able to get one, it won’t seem as special. But it will still be as delicious.
Some conspiracy theorists are saying you did this on purpose to create a buzz. That you’re taking advantage of the Twitter exchange with the likes of Chick-fil-A and Wendy’s in the hopes of stirring up the chicken sandwich version of the old Coke vs. Pepsi Cola Wars. That you’re purposely holding back your chicken sandwich to make sure the demand always outlives the supply.
But you wouldn’t do that, would you, Popeyes? That’s a cheap move, far cheaper than a $3.99 sandwich.
I know this letter went kind of long, and I hope nobody had to wait 20 minutes for their chicken sandwich while you read it. I have faith that you’ll get it together and figure this whole thing out.
As the wise street prophet Omar once said, “You come at the king, you best not miss.” You came not only at the king, but at all the other contenders to the throne, and hit them with the kill shot. Don’t let up now.
Lovin’ That Chicken from Popeyes