- Popeyes launched a fried-chicken sandwich in August.
- After a Twitter spat with Chick-fil-A went viral, Popeyes’ sandwich exploded in popularity.
- Popeyes employees across the nation were sent into overdrive as many worked nearly 60-hour weeks to fulfil orders. The sandwich sold out across the country after being available for just two weeks.
- Following a nearly two-month hiatus, the sandwich returned on Sunday, November 3. And, in some cases, tensions escalated. Police confirmed that a deadly stabbing was connected to the relaunch of the sandwich.
- Here’s how a spat between two fast-food chains devolved into a civil war among sandwich-crazed customers.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Life was simpler in the early days of the Chicken Sandwich Wars.
The choice, though divisive, was clear. You were either for Chick-fil-A or Popeyes. And though still a war in the most basic sense, most of the battles were confined to snarky tweets and comments on social media. It was a simpler time, for the most part.
The war started when Popeyes added a chicken sandwich to its menu in August. Chick-fil-A, the self-proclaimed inventor of the chicken sandwich, had built an entire empire around poultry, sandwiched and otherwise, for years.
Popeyes was the underdog in this battle. Still, the chain’s move threatened Chick-fil-A’s dominance on the chicken sandwich scene. Business Insider’s Irene Jiang even proclaimed the Popeyes sandwich the superior option before it went viral.
But then, some Popeyes fans began to turn on each other, and tensions escalated.
Here’s how a spat between two fast-food chains devolved into a civil war among sandwich-crazed customers.
The battle begins
The tension between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A hit Twitter on August 19, when a spat between the two chains turned Popeyes’ menu item into a national icon, forcing fast-food consumers to pick a side in what became the Chicken Sandwich War of 2019.
Despite the popularity of the Popeyes sandwich, Chick-fil-A devotees still pledged their allegiance to the chain.
I don’t trust anyone who says Popeye’s chicken sandwich is better than Chick-fil-A’s.
— Kristen (@kurtzyy125) August 23, 2019
All jokes aside, there’s no way anyone is gunna convince me Popeyes is better than Chick fil a. Simply bc CFA service is phenomenal and Popeyes’s service is trash lol
— Ryan Stewart (@LegitRyan) August 24, 2019
But Popeyes was still gaining ground. And the divisions between the two chains were growing wider.
The tension escalates
What began as an inter-chain fast-food frenzy started to escalate as the sandwich got more popular. Sandwich-crazed fans went to extraordinary lengths to get a chance to taste the item that was poised to take down Chick-fil-A. The lines were massive, the demand almost insatiable.
In the first iteration of the sandwich, Popeyes employees across the nation were sent into overdrive, as many worked nearly 60-hour weeks to fulfil orders.
Around this time, things started to get violent.
“I had customers nearly fight some of my coworkers because they were told that we were not serving the sandwich because we had ran out,” a manager at an East Coast Popeyes told Business Insider in August.
The war turns civil
After the item sold out in August, the madness compounded.
An angry customer pulled out a gun at a Popeyes in Houston, Texas, apparently after hearing that the sandwich was sold out in early September, local news reported.
“He could have shot someone behind a chicken sandwich,” Fredrick Taylor, a resident who lives near the Houston Popeyes, told local news. “Somebody could have lost their life because they ran out of chicken sandwiches.”
By the time the sandwich relaunched in November, the players in the war between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A had gone rogue. Popeyes fans turned against their neighbours, and the violence mushroomed into a full-out civil war.
And then it got deadly
Since the sandwich’s relaunch, the violent incidents have continued. Many have resulted from agitated customers wanting to get their hands on the coveted menu item.
Perhaps the worst altercation linked to the sandwich happened the day after its official re-release, when an altercation between two men in line at a Popeyes in Oxon Hill, Maryland, ended in a fatal stabbing. Police confirmed that the incident was related to the release of the sandwich at the restaurant.
“For you to get that angry over anything, for that type of anger to develop into this type of violence, is a very sad and tragic day,” said Jennifer Donelan, a spokeswoman for the Prince George’s County Police Department.
“There is no reason for someone to lose their life on a Monday night in a parking lot,” Popeyes said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with the victim’s family and friends and we are fully cooperating with local authorities.”
All this for a sandwich?
At this point, Chick-fil-A is but a distant memory in the the Chicken Sandwich War of 2019, a supporting character that served its purpose in the first act of the drama.
Now, the battle pits Popeyes fans against their peers.
The sandwich hype has yet to fully die down. But amid a fatal stabbing and multiple reports of physical brawls and assault, one can only wonder if the sandwich is more than just a case of viral mania gone wrong.