Why Did I Just Wait in a 25-Person Line for a Popeyes Chicken Sandwich?

updated Aug 26, 2019
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Credit: Lauren Masur

Bird Word on the street is that there’s a new chicken sandwich in town and it’s already ruffling some feathers. After Popeyes announced their no-brainer of a new menu offering this month, a good old-fashioned Twitter war erupted between the fast food industry’s major chicken sandwich peddlers, igniting a national debate over whose version reigns supreme. Thanks to the social media buzz, people have been flocking to Popeyes Louisiana Chicken locations all across the country this week to try the newest chicken sandwich on the block — myself included.

I know what you’re probably thinking and you’re right. We don’t write about fast food often here at Kitchn — unless we’re talking about lightning-fast home-cooked weeknight chicken dinners — but we couldn’t let our country’s collective clamoring for Popeyes’ chicken sandwich go by the wayside.

Credit: Lauren Masur

As I set out on my journey to get my hands on Popeyes’ latest, I realized just how real the hype actually is. Case in point? The first location I attempted to visit had a sign printed on a sheet of 8×11-inch computer paper which read “Sold Out on Sandwich” before the clock struck noon. I was not too worried, the next Popeyes on my route was just 0.5 miles away and I had high hopes a chicken sandwich was waiting for me there. (Manhattan, I love you.)

Upon arrival at my next destination, I parked myself at the back of a 25-person line which snaked out the back door and down the stairs of the Chinatown Popeyes. It was 90 degrees but everyone wanted hot chicken, global warming be damned. By the time I reached the front of the line, my body’s internal temperature was roughly the same as the pot of hot oil that the contents of my future chicken sandwich was currently frying in.

Credit: Lauren Masur

An angry mob had formed near the single operating cash register where a plastic sign informed us all we could only order two chicken sandwiches each. I panicked and ordered one. Upon reflection I most definitely should have ordered two in order to compare the spicy chicken sandwich to the classic chicken sandwich, but you live and you learn.

Drenched in the sweat of both myself and others, I sat down in a booth with my piping hot chicken sandwich to see what all the fuss is about. The sandwich came wrapped in a foil-lined bag on a buttery “brioche” bun that was probably just a hamburger bun if we’re being honest. I took my first bite of the shatteringly crisp fried chicken (Popeyes always gets that part right), nestled on top of three, thick-cut pickle slices and nodded in agreement to absolutely no one.

Compared to Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich, these pickles are thicker, the chicken is heftier, and the bun is butterier which puts Popeye’s version light years ahead. One glaring omission, though? There is no Chick-fil-A sauce at Popeyes (obviously). Rest assured that Popeyes has their own saucy selections that you can experiment with which is a trade-off I’m willing to accept. The People of the Internet recommend pairing Popeyes’ chicken sandwich with their ranch sauce… so do with that information what you will.

Popeyes’ sandwich is good, great even, but it’s not necessarily something to write home about. Alas, I finished the sandwich and then went home — to write about it.