The speculating is over. Last week, we practically got more enjoyment guessing when Popeyes Chicken Sandwich would return than we did eating it—though since The Sandwich has been sold out for two months, it might be that we've just forgotten what it tastes like. But prepare to have your memory refreshed: Today, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen (this news is so big, we're using full names) has officially announced that its Chicken Sandwich will be returning to locations nationwide this Sunday, November 3.
Now that we know that, yes, the wait is almost over, graciously, Bruno Cardinali, Popeyes' head of marketing North America, was willing to explain why we had to wait so long in the first place. It turns out, no, the chain never planned to pull The Sandwich from stores as some sort of nefarious marketing stunt (though the marketing team did work overtime in the interim). "We sold through our inventory due to unprecedented demand, so the product was temporarily unavailable, but now we're excited to say it's back for good," Cardinali told me via email, clarifying that the Chicken Sandwich originally had been launched as a permanent menu item, not a limited-time offering.
"The response to our new Chicken Sandwich was truly extraordinary and unprecedented!" he continued, emphasizing the extent to which even Popeyes was caught off guard by the phenomenon. "Word traveled fast when our fans experienced the delicious sandwich firsthand and couldn't wait to tell the world. We are so humbled and grateful for the love of our guests. Since the launch we've worked hard to make sure we have all of the amazing ingredients ready to bring the sandwich back to stores as a permanent addition to our menu." Cardinali doesn't explicitly state it, but based on that final sentence, it would seem that part of the issue was that Popeyes struggled to source enough ingredients to keep serving The Sandwich.
And yet, in the end, Popeyes may be able to chalk this whole thing up as a happy accident. Absence can make the heart grow fonder—and though the chain came dangerously close to having fondness turn to frustration, it looks like the fervor is ready to resume on Sunday—and personally, I give Popeyes credit for being so forthright about admitting what happened. The honesty is endearing—as is knowing they weren't purposefully playing with our emotions.
That said, The Sandwich has been a marketing coup for Popeyes—and the chain apparently couldn't resist taking advantage of this auspicious situation one last time. Since The Sandwich is returning on a Sunday, Popeyes is taking a scheduled swipe at their biggest chicken sandwich rival: Chick-fil-A. Popeyes is promoting The Sandwich's return with a 20-second spot showing someone adding the words "OPEN SUNDAY" on a Popeyes sign that's next to a Chick-fil-A sign that reads, "CLOSED SUNDAY." Frankly, after what happened before, I'm not sure if now is the time to tempt fate… but then again, if the hype is to be believed, The Sandwich is so good, it's practically a religious experience.
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