FOOD: Popeyes – The Sandwich

Chicken is the most popular meat in the world. Its meteoric rise to the top has been compounded by a number of factors: a general desire to eat “healthier”, the growing pressure of climate change and the impact of the beef industry upon it, the plummeting prices of chicken meat as a commodity…. It goes on and on. Chicken is the king, and every restaurant is trying to get in on this action.

“This action” is, almost always, a kind of chicken sandwich based upon the kind offered by Chick-fil-A. If chicken is king, Chick-fil-A is its greatest kingdom; it is without a doubt the most popular restaurant in America. Its chicken sandwich is considered one of the finest among the fast food art form, and the service exhibited at its restaurant is said to be unparalleled.

Unfortunately, Chick-fil-A is incredibly homophobic.

Chick-fil-A- was founded by S. Truett Cathy, a devout Southern Baptist. It still holds on to its southern Christian heritage to this day by closing on Sunday, printing bible verses on its cups, and donating to Christian anti-LGBT hate groups. Despite these misgivings, Chick-fil-A maintains its top position in the fast food world with this winning combination: ardent homophobic supporters; people who simply do not care; and myopic poultryvores who apparently think the food really is just that good.

Popeyes, on the other hand, is not openly homophobic. It’s not the most popular chicken restaurant in America, either, but it’s got a loyal following for its unique ‘Louisiana-style’ chicken. Being a chicken restaurant, it was only natural that they would get in on the sandwich craze. But not even Popeyes could’ve expected the massive response when they released the sandwich back in August. It exploded in popularity, fermenting a sharp war between Chick-fil-A loyalists and Popeyes fans across the nation; it was so popular that every restaurant in the nation ran out of sandwiches before the promotion was even slated to end.

Now it’s back, as a permanent menu item. We tried and failed to get it when it was new, forcing us to suffer through lengthy waits at two different restaurants with advertisements still proudly posted in their windows, but now it’s up for grabs whenever. Does it live up to the incredible hype? Can it topple the Chick-fil-A throne? Find out after the cut.

The sandwich itself is packaged in a standard paper-foil pouch, similar to the kind used at Chick-fil-A. It’s a thick and hefty sandwich! I was surprised at how big the patty was. It really feels like a whole chicken breast, fried and on a bun. Speaking of the bun, it’s brioche, and spread with a thin layer of spicy mayonnaise. The bun is buttery and soft, with the brioche crust texture keeping it from falling into a mushy mess. Normally the bun being praiseworthy means something was terribly wrong with the rest of the sandwich, but that isn’t the case here.

The only other accompaniment to this sandwich is a pair of pickles, as any Chick-fil-A ripoff sandwich must have. These are some thick pickles! At Chick-fil-A, they’re thin and ripple-cut, but these are two thick slices. If you’re not a pickle fan, you’ll probably want to take these off, but we think the extra-thick pickles were the right choice. With how soft the bun is, a thinner cuke would be absorbed into the bread and go unnoticed; these larger pickles hold their own and provide needed crunch.

Not that this sandwich needs much help in the crunch department! Unlike other chicken sandwiches, this one is made with Popeyes chicken, meaning a distinct double-breading with actual texture. Chick-fil-A sandwiches are severely lacking in this texture department. The Popeyes sandwich comes in both mild and spicy – naturally, we got spicy. It’s not mouth-frying, must-have-milk spicy, but it’s a good heat that will tingle your taste buds without forcing you to put the sandwich down to breathe.

The lowest point of the sandwich, to us, was the mayo. It didn’t add a lot of flavor, and we felt it had a strange, pasty, gritty consistency. Perhaps the batch at our restaurant was mixed wrong. This might’ve worked better if they used plain mayo, or mixed the spices into the sauce more. There was also very, very little mayo on each sandwich – it didn’t even cover the bread all the way, and it was already spread thin. Perhaps this was for the best. Overloading us on low-quality mayo would’ve been even worse than giving us no mayo at all.

Perhaps the final nail in this coffin is the price. We won’t mention specific prices due to regional differences, but a combo for a Popeyes sandwich was substantially cheaper than the equivalent at Chick-fil-A. Not only do you get a larger sandwich for less price, you get a massive variety of sides to choose from – mashed potatoes, corn, red beans and rice, or a massive portion of french fries. How can you argue with that?

Overall, the Popeyes sandwich is a clear superior to the Chick-fil-A. Really, unless you really want people to know that you hate gay people, there’s no reason to go back to Chick-fil-A. The flavor is better, the texture is better, the buns are better, and the Cajun-seasoned fries are so much better than the plain waffles. This is as simple as a sandwich can get, and it’s as GOOD as a sandwich gets. We’ve gone through our share of chicken sandwiches to review, and this one is the top of the tops. Will it be enough to knock Chick-fil-A off its perch? Probably not, but at least you can get it on Sundays.

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