After Popeyes' Chicken Sandwich completely sold out upon its launch in 2019 (more details on that later), the brand and industry experts alike feared that the menu item would lose its enthusiastic appeal upon its relaunch about a month later. However, it defied the odds and dominated sales once again—cementing its status as a fast-food legend.
Now, how did Popeyes Chicken Sandwich get so darn famous? Read on to find out the surprising story. (And, for more fun food facts, make sure to sign up for our newsletter.)
The sandwich just celebrated its one-year anniversary.
Wednesday, August 19, 2020, marked the one-year anniversary of Popeyes' popular Chicken Sandwich. The sandwich took the world by storm last year from the minute it hit the menu, and the hysteria has yet to die down 365 days later.
And since 2020 has been an extremely rough year, Popeyes is launching a countdown to 2021 by kicking off the Ball Drop—135 days ahead of schedule. Until August 31, you can go to Times Square in New York City and see the Popeyes ad on display counting down the days until the new year begins. The star of the ad, of course, is the saving grace of 2020: the Chicken Sandwich.
A tweet that Popeyes directed at Chick-fil-A put the sandwich on the map.
As Restaurant Business reports, Popeyes "upended the restaurant industry with just two words."
How did Popeyes turn the restaurant industry upside down? Through a tweet targeted at rival Chick-fil-A. Chick-fil-A tweeted: "Bun + Chicken + Pickles = all the [heart] for the original," to which Popeyes responded in its own tweet, "… y'all good?" Little did the company know this would push their brand new chicken sandwich into the limelight and reel in a record-breaking amount of foot traffic.
That tweet was worth nearly $90 million.
The tweet, which garnered over 300,000 likes, enabled Popeyes to earn 8 billion impressions on social media, which is worth about $87 million. It also led to days' worth of long lines at Popeyes locations everywhere. The chain completely ran out of the sandwich just two weeks after its debut, selling as many sandwiches as it (originally) anticipated to sell through the end of September.
It took Popeyes two years to land on the perfect recipe.
Popeyes didn't just impulsively add a chicken sandwich to its menu just to have one. It took the brand two years to develop the perfect $4 sandwich, and while its launch was quiet, the famous tweet is attributed to making the menu item legendary.
The sandwich inspired other brands to introduce their own.
The success of Popeyes' Chicken Sandwich effectively prompted the chicken sandwich wars among rival brands like Chick-fil-A and KFC. This May, KFC announced that it would be testing its own version of the chicken sandwich, a crispy chicken filet on a buttered brioche bun complete with mayo and pickles. Both Chick-fil-A and McDonald's rolled out their own takes on the boneless chicken sandwich within the past year, as well, in an attempt to match Popeyes' momentum.
For more, check out 5 Major Changes You'll See at Popeyes Going Forward.