We Finally Tried the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich
If you told me a year ago that I'd be canceling plans in order to try a fast-food chicken sandwich, I would have laughed. Hard.
After more than six years as a strict vegetarian, I only recently began eating meat again. And the meat I do eat has been carefully vetted. Organic, humane, free-range, local, well-loved, and basically baptized. (Yes, I'm still insufferable, just less so.) But last night I stood in a crowded room with a sandwich containing fried chicken of unknown origin between my shaking hands. This wasn't just any chicken sandwich, I reminded myself as my taste buds stood at attention.
As a journalist, I've been writing about the Popeyes chicken sandwich for months. Like most people, I was curious to see what all the buzz was about. What kind of chicken sandwich could be worth standing in line for hours for? Worth harming another human for.
My eagerness to try it was heightened by the fact that it sold out, in dramatic fashion, mere days after its debut. So, when Popeyes invited me to a media tasting party to celebrate the sandwich's highly anticipated return to stores, this baby meat-eater was all over it.
When I arrived at the party, a gaggle of reporters were crowded around a tall, impeccably dressed African-American woman who was eating an oversized sandwich with gusto. Sensing that this must be the main event, I joined them. Is this what meat-eaters do, I wondered? I decided that it was best to keep a low profile, so I snapped a quick picture of the woman and texted it to my editor. She informed me that I was witnessing CBS This Morning co-host and Oprah-bestie Gayle King have the time of her life chowing down on a $3.99 sandwich. Of course.
After grabbing a glass of complimentary champagne (when in Rome, y'all) I was approached by a woman carrying a box of the coveted sandwiches. I selected a "Classic" and pocketed a "Spicy" one for my (very blessed) boyfriend.
And then it happened.
Biting into it, I was immediately struck by the brioche bun. It's toasted but not too toasted, and its softness lets the crunch of the crispy batter shine. The chicken-to-mayonnaise ratio is ideal, with just enough mayo to lend some moisture to the considerable chunk of white meat, but not so much that it slides out when you bite it. (Insert praise hands here.) The chicken is well-seasoned and tender, and you can tell that it came from an actual bird which made me both happy and sad. But my favorite part, and call me crazy, was the pickles. An amateur pickle connoisseur, I'm often repulsed by fast-food pickles, but these thin little guys stand on their own, and snuggled up on a thick bed of crispy chicken is right where they belong.
WATCH: Not Even Popeyes Predicted the Chicken Sandwich Frenzy
While my enthusiasm for the sandwich did waver towards the end, I attribute that to the fact that I ate it much too fast. It filled me up quickly which I appreciate, but next time I will practice more restraint. I should also note that my boyfriend, a professional chef, had rave reviews for the "Spicy" sandwich even though it was cold by the time he ate it.
So, yes, the Popeyes chicken sandwich is very good. It lives up to the unprecedented hype—no small feat. But did it change my life? Would I throw a punch for one? No, and absolutely not. It is a delicious, well-balanced, supremely filling sandwich well worth the $3.99 price tag, and a welcome addition to the chicken chain's menu. 10/10 would cancel plans for it again.