During the summer of 2019, Popeyes released their chicken sandwich and threw down the gauntlet. The war for the best chicken sandwich was reignited and has been raging-on ever since. Popeyes and Chick-fil-A found themselves scrambling to outsell each other with a “category leading chicken sandwich”.
Since chicken hasn’t always been the most popular meat you may be asking yourself, “Why all the hype over a fried chicken cutlet on a bun?” It was not until the 1990s that chicken surpassed beef, pork, and turkey as the most popular meat in America. Today, the average American eats about 95 pounds (43.09 kg) of chicken per year, more than twice the amount consumed per person in 1965.
No chicken sandwich frenzy may ever replicate what happened in the summer of 2019. Consumers stood in line for hours to taste Popeyes new sandwich and couldn’t wait to post about it on social media. Workers had to put in grueling hours to counter the rapid surge in demand. Initially, Popeyes projected that their sandwiches would satisfy demand for 6 weeks - stores across the country sold out in 2 weeks! Twitter exchanges between Popeyes, Chick-fil-A, and Wendy’s on Twitter only added fuel to the fire.
Despite the chaotic chicken sandwich summer we witnessed in 2019, the fight over fried chicken dates back at least 30 years. An early battle in the chicken sandwich war occurred in 1989 when McDonald's released their McChicken. This kicked off a war with Hardee’s (one of the biggest fast food chains in the U. S at the time). Following this brave foray into battle, The Charlotte Observer published an article with the headline, “Chicken Sandwiches Incite Fast Food War”. Ever since, numerous fast-food chains have launched and relaunched varying iterations of chicken sandwiches, some gaining more popularity than others.
Chicken sandwiches were thrust back into the spotlight following Popeyes game changing sandwich. Recently, Wendy’s, Mcdonald’s, and KFC have been trying to match Popeyes' and Chick-fil-A’s success with their own versions of the classic comfort food item. This trend will certainly continue as fast food restaurants across the country do everything they can to attract customers and drive sales during COVID-19.