For months, a fried chicken frenzy has been gripping America, sparking food-fights, fistfights and even a fatal stabbing, as people scramble to get their hands on a brand-new burger.
It all started in August when Louisiana-based fast-food chain Popeyes first released its fried chicken sandwich, featuring a big, crunchy piece of poultry on a brioche bun with pickles and mayonnaise.
By all accounts, it is a tasty burger. But it quickly became more than just a burger. It became a cultural phenomenon — the “iPhone of chicken sandwiches” — and sold out in all 3,000 locations across 49 states.
Driven by word-of-mouth and an all-out #ChickenWar on Twitter, Americans lined up for hours, in queues out the door, to get their hands on the $US3.99 burger ($5.85).
In New Jersey, police were forced to intervene when queues of cars lining up for the drive-through created traffic mayhem on a major highway. Signs were placed along Route 17, reading:
“A sandwich isn’t worth a ticket. Do not delay traffic”.
The burger received rave reviews
The New Yorker magazine declared “the Popeyes chicken sandwich is here to save America”.
On August 28, two weeks after its launch, Popeyes announced its supplies had been exhausted.
“Popeyes aggressively forecasted demand through to the end of September and has already sold through that inventory,” read the statement.
The Great Burger Shortage of 2019 lasted for three gruelling months, but in November, it was re-launched — on National Sandwich Day, no less.
It also happened to be a Sunday, when its socially conservative rival, Chick-fil-A, famously closes its doors.
This only sparked a fresh wave of chaos. It turned deadly when a 28-year-old man in Maryland was fatally stabbed after he apparently tried to cut the queue.
“We have been able to determine that preliminarily that this is related to the release of the sandwich here at this restaurant,” Prince George County Police spokesperson Jennifer Donelan told CBS News.
Could it also be a force for social change?
Americans love fried chicken, and fast-food companies are continually trying to capitalise on this fast-growing market, releasing new products they hope will capture the nation’s attention.
Part of the success, in this instance, has been put down to the fact that Popeyes took on the reigning king of chicken sandwiches, Chick-fil-A, whose evangelical Christian owners have caused controversy with their support of anti-LGBTI causes.
Shortly after Popeyes first released its fried chicken sandwich, Chick-fil-A tweeted: “Bun+Chicken+Pickles = all the [heart] for the original.”
A thinly veiled critique, just saying that it had come first.
Fifteen minutes later, Popeyes shot back with a sassy reply: “… y’all good?”
And with that (and 300,000 likes) the #ChickenWar was on.
Fried chicken connoisseurs and other fast-food chains piled on to prove whose sandwich was supreme.
Angela Brown, a social media manager for GSD&M, which runs the Popeyes campaign, said the Twitter feud struck a nerve beyond the rivalry.
“You have Chick-fil-A, who is known to be more conservative. They’re anti-LGBTQ,” she told Daily Texan.
“The product is good, but the brand is not as favoured among people, so they don’t necessarily have a strong community behind them who can sway media.”
This week, Chick-fil-A announced it had cut ties with the anti-LGBTIQ causes it previously supported.
‘The iPhone of chicken sandwiches’
Jonah Berger, a marketing professor and author, told the ABC that Popeyes “turned a chicken sandwich launch into an iPhone launch by making it scarce”.
He suspects the so-called shortage was a deliberate strategy by Popeyes to increase the sandwich’s “social currency” — just as Apple has done with its own products.
“People are, in some senses, what they buy, and getting access to something that not everyone else has access to makes you look good,” he said.
“Having this sandwich that not everyone else has tried makes you look smart, in the know, and ahead of the curve.”
Whatever the strategy, it worked. And it has become something of a cultural unifier: Everyone wants a piece of it.
Tennis champion Serena Williams celebrated her second wedding anniversary with entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian by chowing down on the crispy chicken, gushing about the experience to her 11.8 million Instagram followers.
“How have I known life before this day?” she wrote. (Let’s not forget she’s won 23 grand slam tennis championships).
Journalist (and Oprah’s best friend) Gayle King was so determined to try the sandwich, she called 15 stores before posting on Instagram: “It only took me 3 days … but it was worth it.”
Apparently it has healing powers too
After winning an NFL match, star-player Deshaun Watson credited a diet of Popeyes chicken with helping heal his injured eye.
“I’ll tell you what the key was: the Popeyes spicy chicken sandwiches that I ate this week. That helped the eye,” the Houston Texans quarterback — an elite athlete — told reporters.
Even the ABC jumped on the bandwagon, forking out $3.99 for an authentic Popeyes experience.
The chicken was juicy and the burger well structured, but honestly, we don’t know what the fuss was about.
Source: Thanks msn.com