Perhaps no chicken sandwich in the history of fast food has been as hyped as the one introduced this month by Popeyes.
In mid-August, after Popeyes rolled out a fried chicken sandwich reminiscent to Chick-fil-A’s signature dish — leading to a passive-aggressive Twitter battle between the two fast-food brands — the sandwich became a hot commodity, drawing long lines and sell-outs at Popeyes locations around the country. The Dallas Morning News, in reaching out to 36 Popeyes locations across North Texas, declared the sandwich “nearly impossible to find.” The Tampa Bay Times couldn’t find one, either. Long lines and sell-outs were also reported in Witchita, Kan.; Lansing, Mich.; Naples, Fla.; Pittsburgh and beyond. Meanwhile The New Yorker’s Helen Rosner boldly declared that the sandwich is “here to save America.”
On Thursday, The Denver Post reached out to all eight Denver locations of Popeyes, but were only able to reach two — the other six, perhaps, were too busy slinging sandwiches to answer the phone. The Popeyes on Peoria Street sold out by 3 p.m. Wednesday and, on Thursday, an employee who answered the phone said the store had 20 sandwiches, maybe, but that customers might have to wait a while to get one. Customers were ordering almost nothing but the fried chicken sandwich, the employee said. At a Popeyes on Federal Boulevard, an employee said the fast-food spot ran out of sandwiches on Wednesday but had restocked by the next day.
So for those who can get their hands on one of these mythical fried chicken sandwiches, does it really live up to the hype?
As a native Southerner, I sought out this sandwich. It took two tries to find it in Denver, but it’s available — but going early in the day is your best bet.
On my first attempt Wednesday night, my husband and I drove up to the Parker Road location in Aurora. The drive-thru line wrapped around the building, the line inside was 10 deep and the store looked like a Louisiana hurricane had rolled through.
We were three orders away from the counter when we heard the cashier throw the white flag: “I’m sorry. We’re out of chicken sandwiches.”
We left and went to Chick-Fil-A.
I tried again — successfully — on Thursday with three co-workers. We waited in line for 21 minutes at the Popeyes on Colorado Boulevard near Interstate 70.
It was immediately apparent that the demand for fried chicken sandwiches is overwhelming Popeyes employees. The restaurant was in disarray. The Coke machines were broken, there was no ice and — the horror — no sweet tea. They were temporarily out of sporks until one reporter cried out, “No sporks!” and a harried employee rushed out with a fresh case.
But this isn’t about sporks or sweet tea. This is about a sandwich.
Friends, this is a real piece of fried chicken on a bun. It’s got that hot, crispy skin that makes fried chicken so delicious. The bun is warm and buttery. The pickles are crunchy and substantial, better than the average Vlasic thrown on so many fast-food sandwiches.
Also, this sandwich is big. I hardly touched the fries that came in my combo.
The only thing I would change is the mayo. I’m not opposed to mayo, but I’m super picky about its quality and quantity. (Ever heard of Duke’s?) I prefer to add my own rather than allow someone else to glop it onto a piece of perfectly fried chicken.
But Jason McCloskey, a customer standing in the crowded restaurant while eating two of the sandwiches, said the sauce’s inclusion gave this sandwich a leg up on Chick-Fil-A.
“It’s pretty good, man,” McCloskey said of Popeyes’ sandwich. “It’s crunchier. It comes with sauce already, which I think is pretty huge.”
“I’ll definitely be coming again for this,” he said.
As for me, I’m not giving up on Chick-Fil-A — but Popeyes has the true fried chicken sandwich.
Entertainment Editor Beth Rankin and Restaurant Reporter Josie Sexton contributed to this report.
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get entertainment news sent straight to your inbox.