There’s no shortage of fast food fried chicken out there, but in most people’s minds, only two are in the big leagues: Kentucky Fried Chicken and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. While KFC has turned its Southern-style chicken into a huge success, Popeyes made a name for itself by being more specific in its Southernness: namely, Louisiana. It’s hard to argue with traditional Cajun dishes and flavorings, and it’s equally hard to argue that Popeyes’ spins on spicy fried chicken, po’ boys, red beans and rice, and jambalaya aren’t a welcome reprieve from the usual ho-hum fast food offerings. But we bet that there’s a lot about Popeyes that you don’t know!
First, a little history. Popeyes was founded in the New Orleans suburb of Arabi in 1972 by a gregarious entrepreneur named Al Copeland. After some recipe tweaking the chain took off, and the first franchise location opened four years later in Baton Rouge. Over the next 10 years, 500 more locations were added, and today the company is wholly owned by Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc., with more than 2,000 locations open worldwide.
Popeyes is deeply tied to the South; its commercials and legendary jingle have been Southern mainstays for decades, and the bulk of its locations are still south of the Mason-Dixon line. The company also ran with the rights to use Popeye the Sailor Man for marketing, and the cartoon character was inextricably linked with the chain until the partnership came to an end in 2006.
With its menu of “Bonafide” chicken in spicy and mild varieties (which is marinated for 12 hours and breaded and battered by hand), fried seafood, po’boys, biscuits, sides, and unique specials like Chicken Waffle Tenders and Rip’n Chick’n, Popeyes has done a great job of taking the crowded fast food fried chicken market and making it its own. Read on for 11 things you didn’t know about Popeyes.