The Popeyes chicken sandwich is on its way back, after leaving us more than two months ago.
It had to go away for the same reason Lenny’s rabbit had to go away: People loved it too much. There was a lot of hubbub.
This writer has found it a bit of a stretch to claim that the Observer’s review was a big driver of the phenomenon, but with The New York Times now suggesting as much, it might be time to concede the point.
Regardless of who’s responsible for spreading the Good News about this tasty ’which, it does feel like a foregone conclusion that Popeyes wouldn’t be able to handle success with grace.
It’s a wonderful chain for food, but fans know its personality is more “mercurial savant” than “organized executive.”
The founder, Al Copeland, was divorced four times. In the third instance, the FBI caught his lawyer brokering a deal with the judge whereby Copeland got custody of his kids if he would source his seafood from the judge’s side business. He once spied a rival businessman eating at the next table over and sparked a brawl that resulted in his pregnant (fourth) wife being hospitalized. Despite Popeyes now being part of an international conglomerate, Copeland's restaurants exude that unique energy to this day. It’s part of the charm.
The best guess as to the actual cause of the shortage appears to be that Popeyes underestimated the demand and balked at paying extra to speed up production. Their projection at the launch was that they had enough sandwiches on hand to last through the end of October. Those sold out before September started, and they opted to just wait until their planned re-up rather than shell out premiums for a fill-in order.
It’s worth remembering that there wouldn’t have been this kind of clamor for the sandwich unless it were perfect, and it is.
Every bite is a culinary magic carpet ride through the buttery kiss of the brioche bun, the satisfying crunch of the batter and the juicy delight of the chicken itself. You’ll likely have to wait, and honestly you’ll be lucky if the sandwich-craving masses calm down enough to form an actual line.
But those who want the ultimate need to be willing to pay the ultimate price. Do yourself a favor and get to your local franchise when fast food’s best chicken sandwich returns Sunday, Nov. 3 (the day of the week when that other, less stellar place is closed).
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