It’s been nearly two years since Popeyes rolled our their now iconic Chicken Sandwich. August 12th, 2019 to be precise. No one knew it then, but that date would be a momentous day in fast food history; it would be the start of the fiercely contest chicken sandwich wars. Every month following that day, the fight for supremacy has become ever more hotly contested.
Recent reports in industry press reckons the sandwich has helped the brand to generate and addition $400,000 per location across 2020! No wonder then that the entire fast food world woke from their slumber and quickly got to work for a piece of the action.
So after a barrage of imitators, how does the original stack up, is the Popeyes Classic still the king of the fried chicken sandwiches? First up, here’s the sandwich in all it’s glory:
The first thing that strikes you about Popeyes’ Classic Sandwich is its size. The premium foil bag the sandwich comes in, is noticeably weighty. Unwrapped, the brioche bun is no small thing, yet the chunky chicken filet seeps out from the edges, almost too big to be restrained. It’s an excellent start where first impressions are everything. Speaking of which, I can’t be the only one who has to pause for a second to bask in all those crispy, crinkly fried batter edges, it’s truly a thing of beauty. Think of how many sad, limp and listless chicken sandwiches you’ve held and signed in dismay at. This isn’t one of those.
The first bite is a stunner. Despite that big bold batter encasing the chicken, it gives way quite delicately. It manages that ever-so perfect balance of being crisp to the bite, but quickly yielding. It’s surprisingly light and not greasy at all (though your mileage likely varies here with the quality of your local franchise I would imagine).
The crunch of the batter gives way to identifiable chicken, not some industrially processed, “what is this” moment. The chicken is satisfyingly savory, juicy, and not at all overtly salty as some sandwiches can be.
The barrel cured pickles don’t shy away from the whole big and brassy approach to this sandwich. They’re thick cut, laser sharp and deliver an acidic punch to what might otherwise slide into a one note affair.
The one word from those paragraphs that stands out is satisfying. Right down to the last bite, this is a tremendously satisfying sandwich. It’s filling, wonderfully savory and thrillingly enjoyable. It’s everything you want in a chicken sandwich. Unless of course you happen to be one of Popeyes competitors that is, because for me, this thing still rules the roost.
Hi, I’m Stuart, nice to meet you! I’m the founder, writer and wrangler at Gastronomic Salt Lake City, and a former freelance restaurant critic. I’ve worked extensively with local, regional and national food and drink organizations. I’m a multiple-award winning journalist and have been writing about food and drink for more than fifteen years. I’m largely fueled by a critical obsession with rice, alliteration and the use of big words I don’t understand. I don’t mind admitting to a certain secret obsession with fast food as well – and that’s where Menu And Price comes in…