A staggering 68 days after Popeyes first acknowledged it was running out of its wildly popular fried chicken sandwich, the fried chicken chain officially relaunched the sandwich on Sunday. The wait for the best fried chicken sandwich in all of fast food is finally over.
Popeyes announced last week that it would resume selling fried chicken sandwiches at its locations nationwide on Sunday, November 3, the same date as National Sandwich Day. While that’s a fitting day to relaunch the long-awaited menu item, Popeyes is also using the date to troll Chick-fil-A, which is famously closed on Sundays. Maybe the Great Chicken Sandwich War of 2019 isn’t over after all -- that remains to be seen. But what’s almost certain is that fried chicken sandwich mania is about to come back in full force.
Who knows what the second coming of the chicken sandwich will bring. The sandwich’s initial debut in early August launched a debate over fried chicken sandwiches and their place in the hierarchy. As a food writer, I was heavily involved in those debates. It became clear to me the Popeyes sandwich was something special -- something worth eating again and again. Hopefully, we’ll be able to actually do that this time.
Popeyes chicken sandwich is back, baby. Here’s everything we know so far:
Exactly when is the Popeyes chicken sandwich coming back?
Popeyes said you can get your greasy mitts on its chicken sandwich again, starting on Sunday, November 3, which again, is a clear middle finger to Chick-fil-A. However, the company has yet to say if the sandwich will be available in every single one of its locations on that date, so you may want to try calling your local Popeyes before you start salivating. It’s also unclear how many chicken sandwiches each location will have on hand, so definitely prepare yourself for long lines and possibility that they’ll sell out for the day.
"The Popeyes Chicken Sandwich was launched in August as a permanent addition to our menu," Veronica Nur Valdes, a Popeyes spokesperson, told Thrillist. "We sold through our inventory due to unprecedented demand, so the product was temporarily unavailable, but now we’re excited to say it’s back for good. We’ve learned from this experience and are looking forward to serving the Chicken Sandwich to our guests again."
And Popeyes is not playing around this time. Franchises of the chain have reportedly hired more staff to deal with the chicken sandwich-induced madness, which they should have done from the get-go. At the peak of the chicken sandwich frenzy, workers were pushed to exhaustion and horrifically turned into memes. Fast food is a tough enough job as it is, even without crazed chicken sandwich fans raising their voices, making demands, and acting entitled. Remember that guy who sued Popeyes over the shortage? Things got out of hand.
Why was the chicken sandwich discontinued in the first place?
We initially thought that Popeyes had pulled the plug on its chicken sandwich to create more hype and demand. After all, this is a common tactic used in the fast food world. Taco Bell’s Nacho Fries, the McDonald’s McRib, and Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte are great examples. But it turns out that demand for the chicken sandwich far exceeded Popeyes’ own expectations, which left the company’s supply chain unable to keep up with the demand. The company reportedly thought its initial supply of chicken sandwiches for last for about a month, but we ate them all in just two weeks. Popeyes CEO Jose Cil appeared on CNN and told America, “Yes, we have really run out.”
However, Popeyes never specified what actual part of the sandwich was sold out, nor did it provide and explanation for why it took so long to make a return. We're curious to know whether or not Popeyes is working with the same suppliers -- and how they will manage to keep the sandwich from selling out a second time around.
Why was the chicken sandwich so popular it sold out? Is it really that good?
The answer is yes, it’s really that good. We made it clear in an extensive ranking of the best fried chicken sandwiches in fast food" Popeyes’ offering is the best of the best. As I said in my initial review of the sandwich, the two pickle chips that arrive on the sandwich are meaty and tart, a welcomed bite against the savory salted buttermilk batter. The chicken is juicy and comfortably nestled between pillowy brioche buns that are generously smeared with creamy mayonnaise or spicy remoulade-inspired sauce. Considering all of this -- and the relatively low (chicken sandwiches can be expensive!) $3.99 price point -- it's no wonder the sandwich became such a sensation.
Of course, it also helped that the sandwich went viral. There were Popeyes chicken sandwich-inspired memes, Twitter feuds, and now there’s even a “sexy” sold out chicken sandwich Halloween costume.
Now that the sandwich is returning, we're looking forward to Popeyes experimenting with new takes on it -- like a Nashville hot version, for example. The the company spokesperson, however, said there aren't any plans for that. At least, not yet.
"The Popeyes Chicken Sandwich is offered in classic or spicy. Right now, we are focused on getting these two amazing sandwiches back in the hands of our customers," she said. "We think our sandwich is perfect as is, but if guests choose to remove the pickles or the sauce our restaurants are happy to accommodate."
How much money was generated by the famed chicken sandwich?
Speaking of viral fame, Forbes estimated the free publicity over the sold-out sandwich was worth $65 million dollars alone. That's thanks to all your tweets and opinions, everyone. And according to a report by CNBC, Popeyes was selling at least 1,000 chicken sandwiches per store, per day during the height of its chicken sandwich fame, which roughly translated to about 30% of the sales at Popeyes chains. That's a lot of chicken sandwiches.
"The response to our new Chicken Sandwich was truly extraordinary," Nur Valdes said. "Word traveled fast when our fans experienced the deliciousness firsthand and couldn’t wait to tell the world. We are so humbled and grateful for their support."
But just imagine what happened when the chicken sandwich sold out almost as quickly as it came? Did anyone actually bring their own buns to build makeshift chicken sandwiches with skinny chicken tenders? We definitely hit up Popeyes competitors because we couldn't enjoy a world without chicken sandwiches. It wouldn’t be surprising if there was a post-chicken sandwich crash.
If you weren't able to get the sandwich the first time around, then this is your chance. And if you got your hands on it before, then you’re days away from living your best life again. We can assure you the wait will be worth it, and you can make your own judgments about whether or not it beats that competitor that’s closed on Sundays.