- Popeyes brought back its long-awaited chicken sandwich on Sunday after running out of it two weeks after its release in August.
- When Popeyes’ chicken sandwich first came out, we found that it was vastly better than any of the other fast-food chicken sandwiches out there, including Chick-fil-A’s.
- However, some fans have said the new sandwich seems different this time around. When reached for comment by Business Insider, a Popeyes representative said nothing about how the sandwich had changed.
- I went to a local Popeyes to investigate and found that the new sandwich was smaller and not nearly as good as the original.
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When it first came out, Popeyes’ chicken sandwich was a true revelation.
I tried the sandwich at a test location in Manhattan before it was officially rolled out. I compared it with seven other fast-food chicken sandwiches and found that it was better than all its competitors, including Chick-fil-A, in every regard. I rarely go back to fast-food places to eat the food I’ve tasted for work, but I had plans to go back to Popeyes for the chicken sandwich.
Then everything changed when the Chicken Sandwich Wars erupted across social media and a mad scramble for Popeyes’ sandwich led to it selling out within two weeks of its release.
Anyone who’s been following this sandwich saga knows that the chicken sandwich finally returned on Sunday after a hiatus of more than two months. But on Twitter, some fans noticed that the sandwich seemed … different.
I had a Popeyes chicken sandwich yesterday, they made them a lil bit smaller but they still hitting the same ????????????????????
— G.x2???? (@BeatinU_915) November 4, 2019
The chicken in the Popeyes chicken sandwich is way smaller than the previous release. This is sad…
— MR (@MR03588047) November 3, 2019
When reached for comment by Business Insider, a Popeyes representative said nothing about how the sandwich had changed.
So I went to a Popeyes in New York on Sunday to investigate.
The sandwich had been back for several days at my local Popeyes, so Sunday wasn’t as crazy as I expected. However, there were still several people waiting outside for the restaurant to open at 10 a.m.
The first three rushed in, then the line quickly grew. Everyone was there for the chicken sandwich. Some people had tried it before, and some were there to try it for the first time.
My first clue that something was different should have been the calorie count. The sign in the restaurant said the sandwich was 660 calories. But in a Healthline article from the time of the sandwich’s original release, Popeyes confirmed that it was 690 calories.
A representative for Popeyes did not offer an explanation for the differing calorie counts when reached for comment by Business Insider.
The bag felt lighter than I remembered. But it had been a long time since I’d eaten the sandwich.
The first time I tried the sandwich, it was stacked. The chicken was thick, the bun was thick, and even the pickles looked like they’d been plucked from an ad.
At first glance, the new sandwich looked different. The bun was lighter and smaller than I remembered, and it all just looked smaller.
The old sandwich had dappled waves of batter on a piece of chicken thicker than my wrist is wide. The bun was perky and smooth, while thick slices of pickle peeked out from under the chicken.
But the new one looked more like your typical fast-food chicken sandwich: beige, beige, and a hint of something else.
The first time I tried the sandwich, I was impressed by the perfect balance of its plentiful ingredients.
And don’t get me wrong, the new sandwich was far from bad. The chicken was as flaky and juicy as ever.
The original bun was a darker shade of brown, and it held its shape better.
The bun on the new sandwich was definitely lighter, flatter, and smaller, though it still tasted excellent: sweet potato brioche with great structural integrity.
The original sandwich had three large slabs of pickles: bright green, thick, and crunchy.
The new sandwich had just two measly pickle slices that were less green, less thick, and less crunchy than its predecessors.
On the old sandwich, the battered chicken outsized its bun, and there was plenty of mayo to glue it all together.
On the new sandwich, the chicken was noticeably smaller. The batter was just fine, though I would no longer describe it as “dappled.” There also seemed to be less mayo.
We reached out to Popeyes for comment on what, if anything, had been changed about the sandwich. A Popeyes representative told us that it was the same sandwich and that nothing had changed.
But these were clearly two very different sandwiches.
It’s possible that this was a store-to-store variation and that I just got unlucky this time. But judging by Twitter chatter about the sandwich, I wasn’t the only one to notice that the new version seemed smaller.
The chicken sandwich I had on Sunday still wasn’t bad by any means. It was still leagues above Chick-fil-A’s pithy slider. But it was far from the transformative experience my first Popeyes chicken sandwich was.
This sandwich was like the fourth season of “Community” or the ninth season of “Scrubs”: an extraordinary thing made ordinary, a reminder of what could have been.
If you’re a Popeyes employee who has witnessed a violent incident during the return of the chicken sandwich, please share your story with us at [email protected].
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