In spite of what you might have heard on Twitter, hen sandwiches existed in advance of Chick-fil-A marketed its first sandwich in 1961. There was schnitzel. There was milanesa. There was katsu. There was Nashville hot rooster. There have been even plain outdated fried hen sandwiches: Donna Fight Pierce, writing for Ebony, uncovered an advert in the Kansas Whip, Topeka’s Black newspaper, for a fried rooster sandwich exclusive at Booker T’s Café… from 1936. Odds are that some hungry soul late just one evening very long just before that experienced the strategy to place some leftover fried hen between two slices of bread and garnish it with mayo and pickles. People are fairly normal factors to locate in a fridge.
Popeyes was also not, regardless of what you may have listened to, the initial quick foods joint to rip off the Chick-fil-A formula. McDonald’s released a “Southern-Model Rooster Sandwich” in 2005 and retained it on the menu for ten total yrs. When it disappeared in 2015, no person built a peep. Burger King experienced hen sandwiches. Wendy’s had rooster sandwiches. KFC had rooster sandwiches. Hardee’s experienced rooster sandwiches. Culver’s had hen sandwiches. Boosting Cane’s experienced chicken sandwiches. All people had a goddamned hen sandwich just before August of 2019. I know: I’m not definitely that fond of speedy foods burgers, so I attempted a whole lot of them.
So why did the speedy meals globe go batshit crazy in August 2019 when Popeyes introduced its rooster sandwich? Why are we now, practically two many years later, still in the midst of the hen sandwich wars? Why does just about every fast food stuff cafe feel compelled to provide up a hen sandwich with mayonnaise and pickles? Is there a deep, elementary hunger that lies in all of us that only rooster sandwiches can fill? Right here are some theories:
Theory #1: Supply and need
No quicker did Popeyes introduce its hen sandwich than it instantly ran out. There is nothing at all that tends to make folks want a little something extra than if they’re informed they can’t have it. Sort of like just about every fashionable toy at Christmas or COVID vaccine photographs this past spring.
However. Quick food stuff joints run out of things all the time. And yet, the globe has not gone insane for McFlurries. There has been no BKFlurry. Wendy’s has not combined everything into the Frosty.
Also, in general, it is a poor concept to run out of stuff that you are advertising and marketing greatly. And yet the Popeyes insanity just spiraled.
Then there is this: Chicago, the place I dwell, was a test market place for the Popeyes hen sandwich months before it was launched nationwide. I also are living less than a mile from two individual Popeyes areas. Until eventually anyone commenced heading insane for it, I was totally unaware that this chicken sandwich existed. (To be truthful, this was also right before I begun performing for The Takeout and rooster sandwiches became my planet.) In June, a friend occurred to wander into a Popeyes near her new apartment. She requested the hen sandwich. It was fairly great, she said. But not deserving of the rapture that later on came.
Theory #2: Social media
As shortly as Popeyes introduced the rooster sandwich for true, Chick-fil-A’s social media team went on the defensive and posted on Twitter that the Chick-fil-A Hen Sandwich was the First Hen Sandwich.
The Popeyes group, of system, did not consider this lying down.
Twitter, specially Black Twitter, went nuts. The social media celebration even obtained its own hashtag: #TheChickening. Our sister web page The Root interviewed two customers of the social media crew at GSD&M, the Austin-primarily based ad company driving Popeyes’ Twitter account, who mentioned, between other items, that they’d expended 4 months on a complete marketing and advertising marketing campaign that they finished up scrapping since the tweet went more than so nicely.
Chick-fil-A bowed out of the Twitter war early, but Wendy’s leaped into the fray, followed by Zaxby’s, Bojangles, and Shake Shack. When the dust cleared, Popeyes ended up with an estimated $23 million in absolutely free promoting, in addition 25,000 new Twitter followers. Which is a good deal of individuals sitting on Twitter studying about a rooster sandwich they can not acquire for the reason that it is sold out. Does Twitter make you hungry? I just Googled and uncovered no conclusive respond to. But judging from the sheer amount of money of pointless details and argument on Twitter, a good deal of persons go there when they’re bored. Is boredom connected to starvation? And hen sandwiches? Or is this just yet another illustration of how Twitter results in an echo chamber to make one thing a Thing?
Idea #3: The very same damned thing where ever you go
Why has every single new chicken sandwich given that the summer of 2019* been particularly the very same? The standard set up: fried chicken breast, brioche bun, mayonnaise, pickles. Occasionally there will be a variation, like a potato bun or special sauce or lettuce and tomato, but quite almost never does a fast food stuff chain alter a lot more than just one of these factors. And the rooster is generally a breast, in no way a thigh, even while there is a documented lack of hen breasts.
* Okay, that is not totally genuine. McDonald’s released a new hen sandwich that September (which experienced probable been in advancement for various months, if not several years, ahead of the Popeyes rooster sandwich initially appeared). It came drenched in spicy barbecue sauce, heavily spiked with corn syrup. It was stunningly mediocre and disappeared quickly.
Why is every single quick food items hamburger the similar? Why, when there is a full vast entire world of readily available condiments, do American fast food items joints admit just ketchup, mustard, and distinctive sauce? Are we definitely a nation of sheep, allergic to any form of change?
A leaked electronic mail to McDonald’s franchise entrepreneurs from early 2020 appears to indicate that that is precisely what the mind have faith in of McDonald’s Country was wondering. “We require to keep concentrated on coming up with a Rooster Sandwich our prospects are heading to crave,” it mentioned. “A hen sandwich that gives our customers an additional purpose to stop by McDonald’s.” Sounds a bit obsessive, yeah? And nevertheless, lo and behold, a small a lot more than a 12 months afterwards, McDonald’s released not one, but three new hen sandwiches, with only slight variants on the general theme.
Idea #4: The pandemic
On the other hand, exterior the globe of chicken, we have had very a lot of change around the earlier yr and a fifty percent. For a very long time, we couldn’t go out. Sit-down places to eat closed or pivoted to takeout-only or grocery. For a whilst, it seemed like all we experienced was quickly food push-thru or supply. And gosh, will you search at that? For most of the pandemic, chicken was next only to pizza in conditions of sales. Popeyes, KFC, and Wingstop actually professional expansion by most of 2020, at least according to exact-shop product sales details.
And why is that? Chicken is effortless to transportation. It doesn’t flavor unquestionably wretched when it is not piping very hot. (Basically, most recipes for fried chicken advocate permitting the concluded chicken sit for a minor although for greater flavor.) And what meat eater does not really like fried rooster?
Popeyes’ growth, it have to be famous, appeared to fall off abruptly in the fourth quarter. But then yet again, Q4 2020 was currently being compared to Q4 2019, that is, the Quarter of The Chickening. And Popeyes in 2020 continue to showed an increase in retail store-in excess of-retail store income.
Theory #5: Chicken is cheep
Final 12 months, according to information offered by the National Hen Council, a pound of beef cost $3.17 wholesale. A pound of rooster went for 67 cents.
At my community McDonald’s, a Crispy Rooster Sandwich is presently $4.19. A Massive Mac is $5.19. Even if the wholesale charges of beef and chicken have absent up (as they in all probability have, due to offer chain difficulties), the profit margin on the hen sandwich is nevertheless significantly greater than that of the Massive Mac. It is in restaurants’ very best interests for us to Try to eat Mor Chikin, as the Chick-fil-A cows place it.
There is also the argument that hen is significantly less fatty and cholesterol-laden than beef. But frying possibly negates any nutritional advantage.
Principle #6: Is Popeyes seriously the finest?
We say that it is. The L.A. Occasions claims that it is. The rest of the online says that it is. But each time a new hen sandwich arrives out, everybody just has to check out to make sure. For the reason that wouldn’t it be terrific if you had been the 1st a single of all your close friends and acquaintances, each in life and on Twitter, to declare that Popeyes has been dethroned?
Oh, lord. We all want life.
Concept #7: We have been manipulated by foodstuff shortages, social media, groupthink, and dining establishments determined for much better profit margins, combined with serious pandemic boredom
So really all of these matters. A grand unified theory at final! Or maybe…
Principle #8: Fried chicken sandwiches flavor good
Specifically, Popeyes’ fried hen sandwich preferences excellent. And it costs just $3.99. Can it actually be that basic? It’s possible, but “simple” doesn’t necessarily mean “easy.” Popeyes place in a lot of work—two a long time of get the job done, to be precise—to make its rooster sandwich taste so great. If we’re going to be manipulated, we must at minimum concur to be manipulated by the best.