Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen set the world on fire Aug. 12 with the release of a new crispy chicken sandwich that the New Yorker called an “exquisite slab of chicken breast, hefty and juicy and snow-white, in its crenellated armor of that uncommonly crisp fried batter.”
Households with longstanding devotions to Chick-fil-A were suddenly divided. Brother pitted against brother, mothers against daughters, and entire families against a healthy, balanced diet. The great Chicken Sandwich War of 2019.
The aftermath of the sandwich’s creation has been a portrait of American lethargy.
Drive-thru lines stretch around blocks, uniformed herds of patrons unwilling to park and lumber the 17 arduous steps from car door to Popeyes counter. One champion, desperate for a taste, breaks from the pack and ventures indoors — Pheidippides embodied, running from Marathon to Athens to deliver the good news of fried chicken on a brioche bun.
With Chick-fil-A yet to make the move to U.S. military installations, Popeyes zeroed in on CONUS-based service members.
The sandwich’s spellbinding effects were immediate.
Out were military priorities of readiness and lethality. In were fried chicken, pickles and buttered buns.
But it turns out the demand of troops, coupled with the insatiable appetite of an increasingly obese public, was too much for the ambitious fast-food chain, which surrendered production of the $3.99 dish just two weeks after its debut enraptured millions.
Sandwiches were flying out of the frier at a rate — about 1,000 sandwiches a day per store — that significantly outpaced the speed in which processing centers could decapitate chickens.
"We need more machetes!” “My arms are sore!” exhausted workers could be heard shouting from behind the closed doors of undoubtedly sanitary Popeyes factories.
The restaurant’s white flag was not well-received by avid followers who had defected from the ranks of Chick-fil-A.
At a Popeyes drive-thru in Houston, Texas, an armed group of three men, two women, and a baby — the baby was reportedly unarmed — angrily abandoned their car and attempted to break into the fast-food store once the attendant became the bearer of chicken-free news.
The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a Popeyes chicken sandwich.
Craig Barr of Tennessee became so incensed at the nonexistent sandwiches housed in his belly that he filed a lawsuit against Popeyes, accusing them of deceptive business practices and false advertising after driving to several locations, only to be turned away each time.
The desperate Barr went as far as sending someone posing as a Popeyes employee $24 after the person listed an ad on Craigslist claiming to be slinging sandwiches under the table. C’mon, Craig...
All the while, troops stationed overseas watched patiently, awaiting the Christmas morning-like euphoria that would come with the sandwich’s arrival at any number of the 34 Popeyes locations on overseas installations.
But it never came. And with the infamous Popeyes Chicken Sandwich Famine starving out our brave servicemen and women back home, no signs indicate it ever will.
Overseas troops and their families are not pleased — hopes are dashed, forced to live a chicken sandwich-less existence devoid of all joy.
Families accepting an overseas billet often uproot the only lives they’ve ever known. It is in those dire moments when a family must rely on a foundation that can withstand the harshest storm. It is in those moments when families must have the Popeyes chicken sandwich.
A Popeyes spokeswoman offered overseas personnel little in the way of solace.
“We, along with our suppliers, are working tirelessly to bring the new sandwich back to guests as soon as possible,” she told Stars and Stripes. “Popeyes is currently focused on the launch of its new Chicken Sandwich in the U.S. I’ll be sure to keep you posted once I have more information to share.”
If only service members could satisfy hunger with “more information.”