Sold out: Reactions to the new Popeyes chicken sandwich

Students respond to the hype around Popeyes new menu item

Zara Iqbal and Alyssa Hui

On Aug. 12, Popeyes came out with its first ever chicken sandwich — 15 days later, they sold out nationwide. The sellout was sparked by a viral Twitter interaction on Aug. 19 between Popeyes and rival company Chick-fil-A. “…y’all good?” a Popeyes marketing representative responded to Chick-fil-A’s tweet about its own chicken sandwich: “Bun + Chicken + Pickles = all the [heart emoji] for the original.”

When senior Magnus Bruun didn’t have a satisfying dinner one night, he decided to stop by Popeyes and buy the sandwich he’d heard so much about. It was his first time trying Popeyes in general, and according to him, Chick-fil-A’s chicken is better. “I think it was just really bad fast food chicken, like Chick-fil-A is good but[Popeyes] is not,” Bruun said. “Chick-fil-a [has a] much, much, much better [sandwich] than the Popeyes sandwich. A lot of people said that Chick-fil-A was the second best chicken sandwich, but I thought it was the best.”

On the other hand, senior Samer Awad wanted to try the new Popeyes chicken sandwich because he didn’t like Chick-fil-A’s sandwich to begin with.

“[The Popeyes sandwich] was juicy — it has a lot of flavor. I loved it,” Awad said. “It doesn’t compare to my [homemade] chicken, [but] at the same time, Popeyes does have some of the best fried chicken … Beforehand, I didn’t think there was much to it, but afterwards, I had four sandwiches in three days — it was that good.”

Senior Shumi Wu also decided to try it after seeing posts and memes about the new sandwich. While he is a loyal Chick- fil-A fan, identifying his favorite parts like waffle fries and customer service, Wu can’t decide which sandwich he likes better because of the pros and cons of each.

“I feel like [Popeyes] fried chicken is way too crunchy, but the bread is really good,” Wu said. “The bread and the pickle and the sauce was really good, but their chicken was not that good. If they put the chicken from the Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich in the Popeyes chicken sandwich, it would be the perfect sandwich.”

While he personally didn’t like the sandwich, Bruun commended Popeyes’ use of social media.

“I think it’s really smart when brands use social media because all [of] their customers are on there,” Bruun said. “And if they say something funny a lot of people are going to see it and they’re going to be like, ‘I should try that.’ The main reason I tried it was just because of that.”

However, although Bruun thought it was a smart marketing strategy, he believed the product was overhyped on social media platforms like Instagram. While Awad doesn’t believe the sandwich was necessarily overhyped, he admits it’s because of how much he likes the sandwich, concluding that everyone should try it and determine if the sandwich truly lives up to the hype.

“People love to make hype around things that really shouldn’t matter that much,” Awad said. “But the thing is that Chick-fil-A had this godly reputation of being [one of] the best fast food places beforehand … and then the fact that someone else is trying to take them down — people were just trying to make a big deal out of it.”

On the other hand, Wu agrees with Bruun,believing the sandwich is overhyped because people want it just to say that they have tried it, not because they actually want the product, especially since it sold out in just over two weeks. However, he doesn’t necessarily see this as a bad thing.

“I feel like this is a good type of hype,” Wu said. “It’s not like streetwear where you’re overpaying for anything. In terms of this type of hype, it’s more of just the atmosphere around the sandwich. People aren’t paying triple the price of the original sandwich as they do with overhyped clothing.”

Wu also notes that there aren’t many negative effects to the Popeyes and Chick-fil-A rivalry, as it just gives another option to consumers, as well as enjoyment from the many memes that came out of it.

“Half the posts I see on Instagram, I’m pretty sure [they’re] Photoshopped, but I find it pretty funny how in these memes, fast food restaurants are just taking shots at each other, like we saw it with McDonald’s and Burger King too, and now we’re seeing it [with] Popeyes and Chick-fil-A,” Wu said. “I find it pretty entertaining how they’re just pointing out each other’s flaws.”

Awad agrees with Wu, believing that competition among the establishments allows for more options for consumers.

“I think it’s good that fast food companies are trying something new,” Awad said. “I mean, I don’t go to McDonald’s that much, but I always hear they’re coming out with something new every month. It’s not just staying stale at the same time. But then there are other companies like In-N-Out that just have [had] the same menu for so long. I think it’s good that they’re rivaling because then that just means more good food for us.”