The Economics of Fried Chicken Sandwiches

In1946 when Atlanta restaurant owner Truett Cathy slapped a boneless grilled chicken breast and a couple of pickle slices between two pieces of bread and dubbed it the “Chick-Fil-A,” he started a slow-roasted fast food revolution that his restaurant empire dominated for decades.

The Helen of Troy of the Fried Chicken Sandwich Wars

But success has a way of breeding copycats … or copy chicks as the case may be. And in 2019, longtime also-ran chicken contender Popeyes escalated the battle for dominance of the fried chicken sandwich market with the introduction of its new crispy chicken sandwich (a vaguely familiar sounding fried chicken filet with pickles and mayonnaise served on a brioche bun).


It didn’t take long for the battle for chicken sandwich supremacy to move to the barbarous, anarchistic forum where all modern wars are waged: the internet. After a few snarky barbs on Twitter, the sandwich went viral. And quicker than a cat meme on covfefe, chicken aficionados and underemployed internerds were in a froth to try Popeyes new sandwich and make their voices heard in the Great Chicken Sandwich Debate of 2019. After all, assailing a fast food restaurant to get a chicken sandwich should have been waaay easier than the other social movement of 2019 — Storming Area 51.

Until it wasn’t.

The demand for the new chicken sandwich was so great that Popeyes sold out in just over two weeks, during which time Popeyes customers (and employees) lost their collective minds. There were reports of hours-long lines, insults, and outright violence at Popeyes locations across the country. Punches were thrown, someone was stabbed, a woman was body-slammed in Tennessee and a gun was drawn in Texas.

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