After two months of waiting, longing, wishing. and wanting, Popeyes' chicken sandwich is back -- this time for good. The fried chicken chain relaunched the coveted menu item on Sunday. Unsurprising to anyone involved, the return of the chicken sandwich immediately meant crazed lines and breathless reactions on Twitter. Chicken sandwich mania is here once more.
And though I am one of the writers who praised Popeyes' first-ever fried chicken sandwich when it first debuted in August, I wondered whether the months off the menu would affect the way the sandwich made me feel. Would the suppliers be the same, or did Popeyes scramble to replace its desirable chicken sandwich with something that wasn't up to par? Would the buns still have that buttery and rich flavor? Would the chicken continue to possess an inexplicably crunchy batter? The answer to all of this: yes. Holy hell yes.
Popeyes' chicken sandwich is still as good as it was, if not better
I was lucky enough to snag my own chicken sandwich and speak to Popeyes Vice President of Culinary Innovation and Head Chef, Amy Alarcon, at a press event on Monday. She assured me that the sandwich should be exactly as I remember it -- that nothing in the recipe had changed. In fact, she confirmed that the butter used to toast the sandwich's buns is the same brushed over the biscuits; that the spices whipped with mayonnaise that's used for the spicy sandwiches' spread are the same spices that go into the signature spicy fried chicken; and that the seasonings for the chicken sandwiches are the same seasonings used for Popeyes' original buckets of chicken.
"It's like a microcosm of our brand that you hold in your hand," she said.
After the initial bite, I'm immediately transported to the first time I had the sandwich on its launch day in August, sitting in a stuffy Popeyes in Brooklyn and savoring every bite. It tastes just as good, if not better, than the first. And you never forget your first.
However, as I'm chewing and experiencing all the components of the sandwich -- the crunch, the butter, the fat, the tangy pickles -- I do feel like the sandwich has some differences I can distinguish. The first: The spicy sandwich tastes much spicier than the first time I had it. The remoulade-like sauce has a heftier kick and a warming pepperiness to it that I didn't experience during my first encounter. As someone who is always a proponent of more heat, this thrilled me. Though Popeyes' reps continued to tell me the recipe is exactly the same, I definitely think this go around is spicier -- and, to me, that's a good thing.
In addition to that, I received smaller pickle chips than I remember getting before, but more of them. The ratio of pickles to sandwich is still roughly felt the same -- I did have enough pickle in each bite to cut through the heaviness -- but it's just something I noted. I do hope my next chicken sandwich will contain the giant, barrel-cured pickles that I was able to devour in August.
All in all, I'm happy to report that I'm still helplessly obsessed with Popeyes chicken sandwich. There are times when fast food gets it wrong; where the return of a product loses its magic and doesn't feel the same. Popeyes got it right. It's still the best chicken sandwich in fast food.