Sold out new chicken sandwich sparks wild war and trash-talking marquees

(Photos by Joe Raedle/David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe/Getty Images)

One of the latest viral trends is the so-called “chicken wars” between Chick-fil-A and Popeye’s. While Chick-fil-A has long offered a popular chicken sandwich, Popeye’s introduced one on August 12 and the launch of the new sandwich has led to both companies taking direct hits on each other, as well viral tasting videos and heated arguments on social media over which fast food joint has the best sandwich.

In between all of this chaos are employees who are struggling to keep up with demand and dealing with sometimes impatient customers.

Demand has been so high for the Popeye’s chicken sandwich since its launch that there has been a nationwide shortage.

“Y’all. We love that you love The Sandwich. Unfortunately, we’re sold out (for now),” Popeye’s tweeted on Tuesday.

Popeye’s workers have meanwhile been dealing with a customer base demanding the new chicken sandwich and frustrated with lines that stretch into the street at many establishments.

“Somebody called me Mr. Slowa**. I’m not stupid. I heard it,” one Popeye’s employee said in a video posted to Twitter. Though it went viral, the video appears to have been deleted at this point.

Another Popeye’s employee told Business Insider that he worked an 11-hour shift just prepping sandwiches.

“I was working like a slave in the back prepping the buns with pickles and the spicy mayo,” Carlos, 18, said.

Carlos estimated that he made more than 600 chicken sandwiches during his 11-hour shift.

“Everyone wanted to quit so bad because it was that bad,” an Orange County crew member said. “We have never seen it get this insanely busy.”

“Popeyes restaurants experienced unprecedented volumes over the last couple of weeks. All restaurant employees have worked very hard. We are very grateful for all that they do for Popeyes guests,” a Popeye’s spokesperson said in a statement to Business Insider.

One employee at a Newark, New Jersey location actually said she quit one day in the middle of making sandwiches because she could not keep up. Many employees have reportedly been working sometimes 60-hour work weeks and skipping breaks to keep up with public demand.

“The issue with Popeyes or any fast food is the treatment and the amount of pay that a worker gets,” the former employee said. She said that even though she was working harder because of increased demand she was still getting paid “next to nothing.”

“My coworkers said that there’s been nights that they go home at 2 a.m. when closing is at 11,” a West Coast employee said, adding that her coworkers usually don’t take breaks until four or five hours into their shifts.

Some employees claim that the public craving runs so deep that customers are verging on getting violent.

“I had customers nearly fight some of my coworkers because they were told that we were not serving the sandwich because we had ran out,” an East Coast manager said.

“I had an instance where a customer was threatening to assault me when I was taking out trash,” a California employee revealed. “A customer sees me and shouts: ‘Do we have a problem or what! Why no sandwiches! You guys are the third Popeyes to say so! You better stop looking at me or else!’ I was looking at the line.”

“They’ve worked really hard, and actually the success that we’ve seen with the launch of the chicken sandwich is really a success that’s been driven by our franchise partners as well as our team members and the restaurants,” Jose Cil, the CEO of Popeye’s parent company, Restaurant Brands International, told Business Insider., an analytics platform, reported that traffic to Popeye’s raised almost 70 percent on August 20 and 21. Just comparing it to those dates in 2018, traffic rose over 100 percent.

Chick-fil-A has taken shots at Popeye’s for running out of their new sandwiches so quickly.

“FYI we don’t run out of chicken sandwiches,” read a marquee at one location.

A marquee at a rival Popeye’s took a shot at Chick-fil-A for being closed on Sundays.

“FYI. People need to eat on Sundays,” the sign read.

While other fast food restaurants like Wendy’s have tried to join in on the viral chicken sandwich wars, the main competition for people seems to be between Chick-fil-A and Popeye’s.

“Ya’ll out here fighting about which of these fools has the second best chicken sandwich,” Wendy’s recently tweeted along with a photo of their chicken sandwich.

Popeye’s replied, “Sounds like someone just ate one of our biscuits. Cause ya’ll looking thirsty.”

Check out some more reactions to the chicken wars below:


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