Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen is bringing its popular fried chicken sandwich to central Alberta.
The restaurant in Gasoline Alley, just south of Red Deer, is one of five Alberta locations offering the menu item beginning next Wednesday. It is also available in Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Lloydminster and Fort Saskatchewan.
A Canadian trial for the sandwich was planned for April, but that was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
When Popeyes launched the sandwich in the U.S. last August, critics fawned over the fried chicken with pickles and sauce on a brioche bun creation – it became a social-media sensation.
New Yorker food correspondent Helen Rosner wrote a piece headlined: “The Popeyes chicken sandwich is here to save America.”
Hordes flocked to the chain’s restaurants as reviews of what was dubbed “the sandwich” flooded social media. Some stores ran out of the in-demand product within days, prompting anger and even violence.
In September, police in Houston said a man pulled a gun at a Popeyes restaurant after learning they had sold out of the sandwich. When the manager repeated that they were out of stock, the man left and no one was injured.
On Nov. 4, 2019 — one day after Popeyes started selling the sandwich again — a man in Maryland allegedly stabbed to death a 28-year-old man who police said had been “methodically” cutting in line for the re-released chicken sandwiches for about 15 minutes before the suspect, who was later arrested and charged with murder, confronted him.
The sandwich supercharged Popeyes sales as the chain’s comparable sales, a key retail metric, grew more than 10 per cent in the U.S. for the quarter during which it sold the item as a limited-time summer offer, making it one of the chain’s best quarters in almost two decades.
Popeyes later released the famous menu item in Brazil, China and the Philippines “so Canada was coming regardless of this” pandemic, said Rob Manuel, Popeyes Canada general manager.
The company initially planned a simultaneous start in Ontario cities London and Windsor, along with Edmonton, but decided to wait. The chain’s parent company, Restaurant Brands International, which also owns Tim Hortons and Burger King, backed that choice.
“We made the conscious decision not to do this back in April because it didn’t … seem like the right thing to do at the time,” said Manuel.
–With files from The Canadian Press