What Popeyes Was First Called

Popeyes has been frying chicken since 1972, per the company website. According to People, founder Alvin C. Copeland Sr. opened the eatery to compete with Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises, the first of which opened two decades prior in Utah (via KFC).

Initially, Copeland established his New Orleans restaurant under a completely different name. When the restaurant failed to gain traction within its first few months, Copeland attributed the failure to his chicken recipe (via People). He closed up shop for several days and reopened it as Popeyes, featuring spicier Cajun-style chicken on the menu.

Contrary to popular belief, Popeye the Sailor was not the inspiration behind the new name. That honor belongs to Detective Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle, a fictional character from the 1971 film "The French Connection," played by Gene Hackman. The Popeyes name eventually became a success and has remained to this day.

Although Popeyes' original name didn't last long, it also wasn't the only name change in the company's history.

Popeyes underwent several name changes

Fueled by a dream to churn out fried chicken at a rapid pace, Popeyes was originally named Chicken on the Run. While Popeyes only mentions Chicken on the Run as the restaurant's original name (per Popeyes), other sources mention more. According to People, Copeland first changed the name from Chicken on the Run to Popeyes Mighty Good Chicken in 1972. However, the Los Angeles Times claims that Popeyes Mighty Good Fried Chicken was the new name. But both sources claim Copeland renamed the restaurant a second time in 1973 to Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken.

Nation's Restaurant News lists Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits as another name change in 2004. Finally, Popeyes rebranded itself in 2008 as Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, based on its Louisiana-inspired home cooking. This is now the official name of the 2,700+ restaurants scattered throughout the world, according to Popeyes.

Despite the name variations, most fans simply refer to the restaurant as Popeyes, partially thanks to that famous "Love That Chicken from Popeyes" slogan, coined in 1980.