If you didn’t know, Popeyes chicken sandwich has been trending for the last few weeks. The new sandwich was released earlier this month to compete with Chick-Fil-A’s classic chicken sandwich. While fast-food sandwiches in and of themselves aren’t newsworthy, the social media frenzy for a food item was unparalleled.
Social media users recorded videos, commented, and shared posts debating if the new chicken sandwich at Popeyes tastes better than Chick-Fil-A’s. The only differences between the sandwiches are Popeyes’ use of a mayonnaise sauce and brioche bun. Both sandwiches contain fried chicken breast with pickles.
Major brands and users flooded every platform, sharing their love for one sandwich or the other, or trying to add another competitor into the mix. Known for its comical twitter feed, Wendy’s threw its hat into the ring in the battle of best chicken sandwich. McDonald’s avoided the taste test by merely stating it was the more affordable option. Both Popeyes and Chick-Fil-A’s twitter feeds seem to take subtle jabs at each other.
Arguments ensued, and society was able to see brand loyalty at its mightiest. Also, the sheer volume of media encouraged consumers to try the sandwich, even if they don’t usually eat at Popeyes.
Downside of Popularity
All of the social media interaction may have worked too well. Long lines at Popeyes restaurants blocked traffic and cause massive delays. The company sold out of its seven-week supply of chicken sandwiches in two weeks, upsetting customers further. First, they were confused about how it was possible to run out of chicken. The main menu item is chicken, so this seems like poor planning. However, how could management expect the sandwich to be in such high demand?
Second, they were concerned because Popeyes didn’t provide an estimated timeline for replenishment in its apology. Again, many users took to social media to express their displeasure and threats to take their money to Chick-Fil-A. Others tried to resell their sandwiches for hundreds of dollars as many complained of locations having sold out.
Unfortunately, the employees had not prepared for the success of the sandwich beyond the limited inventory. Many worked 60-hour weeks and made hundreds of sandwiches. There were reports of customers bullying employees for not efficiently handling the large number of customers. There was a photograph of a worn-out employee that circulated, underlining the stress that accompanied a simple sandwich.
Effect on the Market
Chick-Fil-A is a privately-owned company, but Popeyes’ parent company, Restaurant Brands International (QSR) has recently been gaining steam. Some believe this is due to its foray into plant-based meat since Popeyes makes up only 12% of the brand. Restaurant Brands also owns Burger King and Tim Horton’s.
Jim Cramer says the real winner in the chicken sandwich battle is Tyson Foods (TSN), a primary meat processor. As the demand for fast-food chicken sandwiches increases, undoubtedly, the providers will benefit. The stock has been steadily rising for the past eight months.
Was the sandwich worth all of the excitement? I don’t believe so. I tried the sandwich for myself. While tasty, I was not overly impressed. However, there are people all over the country that would disagree. Will you try the sandwich when it is in stock?