Back in 2017, we at Foodbeast broke a story that caught the eyes of many outlets around the country that came to be known as #PopeyesGate. It involved a restaurant named Sweet Dixie Kitchen in Long Beach, CA that incurred some backlash from the public after being caught using store-bought Popeyes chicken and repurposing it to be served in their chicken and waffles dish. An angry yelper recounted his dismay when he saw the boxes being brought in, feeling bamboozled, especially for having to pay for a meal that would cost significantly less at Popeyes. That led to a reply from owner, Kim Sanchez, who defended her actions on the premise that “Popeyes was the best chicken.” We even paid them an incognito visit, in hopes of getting a better understanding of the whole story.
The whole thing blew up, and long story short, the internet agreed that an ethical line was crossed. Without full disclosure to customers, Sweet Dixie Kitchen passed off someone else’s work as their own. It’s just like school, nobody likes the weak link in the group project that still gets the same grade as everybody else.
While food plagiarism is indeed controversial, the practice isn’t illegal, and who knows if this specific case is even grounds for filing a lawsuit? At the end of the day, Sweet Dixie Kitchen embraced their infamy, benefited from it and continued with operations as normal but with a bit of added transparency.
Fast forward to August 2019, after all was thought to be said and done: Sweet Dixie returns to the spotlight after two years, but this time, with help from an unlikely collaborator: Popeyes!
“To be honest, I thought they were calling to sue me,” detailed Sanchez. Instead, Popeyes invited them to debut their biggest product launch in thirty years! Apparently, the folks at Popeyes were so honored by the whole #PopeyesGate situation that they felt a little collaboration was in order. What better way to show their appreciation than to allow Sweet Dixie Kitchen the honor of launching the new chicken sandwich into the world? How odd is it that a series of strange moments of virality led to a neighborhood eatery having the Popeyes chicken sandwich before Popeyes itself. Nobody could have guessed that things would come around full circle, and we would end up with a sudden cultural phenomenon in our hands.
The internet is a wild place where things happen in the blink of an eye, and word just gets around real fast. On the day that Popeyes dropped their new chicken sandwich at all their stores, social media was set ablaze pronouncing a (chicken) coup d’etat set to dethrone Chick-Fil-A’s hold on the matter.
Let’s be real, up until the past month, Chick-Fil-A was “Top Cow,” the heavyweight champ. No one challenged the status quo until Popeye’s dared to rinse the pickle juice out of our eyes and showed us how to throw some Cajun into the mix.
Popeyes Initial Announcement 8/12
Chicken. Brioche. Pickles. New. Sandwich. Popeyes. Nationwide. So. Good. Forgot. How. Speak. In. Complete. Sandwiches. I mean, sentences. pic.twitter.com/14kXBv4jJw
— Popeyes Chicken (@PopeyesChicken) August 12, 2019
Chick Fil A Tweet:
Bun + Chicken + Pickles = all the ❤️ for the original. pic.twitter.com/qBAIIxZx5v
— Chick-fil-A, Inc. (@ChickfilA) August 19, 2019
… y’all good? https://t.co/lPaTFXfnyP
— Popeyes Chicken (@PopeyesChicken) August 19, 2019
It was at that moment, the dam broke, and any fast-food chain who felt they had a say in the matter, did—which is why the Internet stays undefeated. The “Chicken Sandwich Wars” between the nation’s top fast-food chains had the internet at a standstill, with everyone trying to get their opinions in.
While the exchange between Popeyes and Chick-Fil-A was mild at best, Wendy’s wasn’t afraid to get into it, tweeting: “Y’all out here fighting about which of these fools has the second-best chicken sandwich.”
Wendy’s Gets In The Ring:
Y’all out here fighting about which of these fools has the second best chicken sandwich. pic.twitter.com/4v9RJFgy0T
— Wendy’s (@Wendys) August 19, 2019
Sounds like someone just ate one of our biscuits. Cause y’all looking thirsty. https://t.co/89eqI5vk2z
— Popeyes Chicken (@PopeyesChicken) August 20, 2019
Shake Shack somehow enters this royal rumble, tweeting: “If you’re looking for a chicken sandwich (without the beef), you know where to find us.”
If you’re lookin’ for a chicken sandwich (without the beef 😉), you know where to find us. pic.twitter.com/2wtV2POvFf
— SHAKE SHACK (@shakeshack) August 19, 2019
I See No Lie There…:
Your chicken sandwich is $104.39. https://t.co/Z5APZoKYdw
— Asia 🌿 (@AsiaChloeBrown) August 19, 2019
Popeyes Sold out announcement 8/27
Y’all. We love that you love The Sandwich. Unfortunately we’re sold out (for now). pic.twitter.com/Askp7aH5Rr
— Popeyes Chicken (@PopeyesChicken) August 27, 2019
After just fifteen days of long lines and countless “Come Back Later” signs, Popeyes just could not keep up with the demand and announced a temporary SOLD OUT sign on their beloved chicken sandwich. Like a bright comet, it came and went, with a brilliant flash that blazed through our timelines. Until it’s return, we wait. Or make our own at home.