By Hank Bedingfield
The reintroduction of the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich has plunged our culinary nation into a state of manic anarchy never before seen in the fast food world — and it really is that good.
After reading sensationalist headline after sensationalist headline surrounding this sandwich situation, my own journey was full of tumultuous anticipation. I wanted all the action, but more than anything I wanted some of that chicken. After two hours at a drive-thru on a hungover Sunday afternoon, I finally had the sandwich that was the cause of so much national turmoil.
“Popeyes customers brawl and STAFF turn on each other amid long lines nationwide for the restocked chicken sandwich — as one determined man even resorts to pushing broken down car through a drive-thru to get one,” read one of the many headlines that launched my expectations to a foolish lofty realm of brutal, violent, beautiful, adventure — striking some Peter Pan type nerve that had long been buried.
Unfortunately, I was left disappointed. The only real phenomenon worth noting was the strange, flash-mob style yoga session into which the line-weary clientele coerced itself. At any given moment there would be a patron awkwardly lunging, hips askew, and backs jolting strangely out of line from where a healthy spine should lie. All this took place within two feet my car door in that gravel parking lot, like some bastardized Pilates class.
After two hours and a vicious succession of leg cramps — alleviated only by my own routine of clumsy lot stretches — I was face to face with this beast of a meal, salivation in full swing.
Whereas Popeyes failed me in the chaos department, it made up for that betrayal with the chicken. The first thing you notice about this sandwich, which inevitably triggers some involuntary remark, is the size of the chicken they heave in between those buns. Beyond the comforting simplicity of its construction — bun, breast, mayo, and pickle — this sandwich has an impressive nuanced batter that for some ungodly reason is lost on the rest of the fast food community. A single bite into that flaky membrane and I understood all the hype — actually, this goes way further than hype. This is manic.
For those of you too timid to make the hajj — trauma- tizedbyshrimpdeep-friedbeyondrecognitionandcursed with auditory hallucinations of the catchiest jingle to ever damn the airways, I implore you to give it a shot.
The truth is, there have been more assaults, murders, and scandals surrounding this sandwich than any culinary event in the history of humankind. Very rarely do we get such a telling, miscalculated glimpse into the raw cogs of society. If that is not reason enough to try this sandwich, then leave it for the rest of us thrill seekers.
Step onto the crest of this mouthwatering wave before you are left abandoned in some McDonald’s parking lot, staring at the high-water mark of this beautiful culinary anomaly.