Is Popeyes’ chicken sandwich worthy of the hype?

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A week ago, we decided to try the new Popeyes fried chicken sandwich. The reviews had been coming in and most were positive.

It did not hurt that the sandwich gained attention on social media with the chicken rivals taking shots at one another via Twitter. Even the upper-crust New York Timestook notice. This week, the chain announced it was out of chicken sandwiches period.

As the sandwich became a “thing,” one columnist said the popularity was a sign that consumer spending remains strong, given its higher price by fast food standards.

Meanwhile, fried chicken sandwiches have found their way on to menus at higher-end restaurants, sometimes with prices of $12 or more with a side order, more than double the price of a comparable order at Popeyes.

Whatever the reason for the popularity, the Popeyes chicken sandwich went viral, with demand outstripping supply. That drew the attention of local newspapers and TV stations and added to the feeding frenzy. This week, Popeyes announced the sandwich is sold out for now but will return.

We’re no strangers to Popeyes, a chicken joint that plays upits New Orleans origins that include a spicy batter and red beans and rice. Quality can vary, but it is still near the top of the guilty pleasure list. Popeyes locations typically did steady but unspectacular business– until the sandwich came along this month.

On an otherwise sleepyWednesday afternoon, well after the lunch rush at the Bear-Glasgow location,the parking lot was busy, our first clue of things to come. Once inside, the line was long, with well-behaved but cranky customers. It is not good to hear a fellow customer say, “good luck.”

At one point, an employee loudly asked if anyone wanted anything other than a chicken sandwich.

We already know theBear-Glasgow area likes its chicken sandwiches. Drive-through customers at the Chick-Fil-A in Governor’s Square are known tosnarl traffic in and out of a portion of the shopping center. The restaurant is so busy that management dispatches staff with mobile order taking devices outside to speed up orders.

A few of those customers must have made their way down Route 40. We waited and waited as the harried staff struggled to catch up.

The sandwiches eventually arrived, and our patience was rewarded.

The boneless chicken breast sandwich was close to being perfectly cooked. Both Popeyes and Chick-fil-A avoid the tasteless, dried-out breast meat of some of their competitors.

Popeyes fans will notice the company’s crisp and salty battermigrated over to the sandwich. The pickle and mayo add a nice southern touch, although one half of this reviewing team likes chicken plain. It took a couple of trips to the pickup area to get a plain Jane sandwich.

As for the difference between regular and spicy, it was hard to tell. Perhaps, the spicy order was lost in the shuffle.

One standout feature is the brioche bun, a departure from the dry biscuits that typically accompany chicken at Popeyes.

The final verdict – Popeyes’ sandwich edges out Chick-fil-A and even Shake Shack’s higher priced sandwich thanks in part to a superior bun and a hefty portion of well-seasoned chicken breast that looks similar to the stock photo above. You won’t come away hungry.

Enjoy your Wednesday, even if you have to wait for that Popeyes sandwich. If this newsletter was passed along,sign up here to get your own five-day-a-week email report at no charge. – Doug Rainey and Sharon Rainey.

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