A Story About Popeyes Chicken (That's Not About Their GOAT Chicken Sandwich) and Also About Nothing at the Same Damn Time

Photo: David McNew (Getty Images)

There’s been a whole lot of chicken talk lately. Most of the chicken conversation has centered around the new Popeyes chicken sandwich that had folks, including me and my own family, waiting over an hour for an opportunity to jump into the conversation about its goodness—which is now a thing of the past since Popeyes is apparently, and oddly, now sold out of this sandwich.

Is this new sandwich the GOAT chicken sandwich? Is it the Godbody Chicken Sammich? Personally, I was fairly underwhelmed by it—and I purchased and ate both the spicy and classic options—but J. Cole went platinum with no features so this isn’t exactly a Baldwin Hill that I’m willing to die on. (That’s a reference to a sketch on A Black Lady Sketch Show. Enjoy it; there aren’t too many folks doing that, second season renewal notwithstanding. Uno, bitches. Uno.)

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Anyway, all of the recent Popeyes chicken talk reminded me of a related chicken sandwich story from back in the days when I was young (I’m not a kid anymore). You know, some days I sit and wish I was a kid again, but that’s neither here nor there.

Back in the late ’90s when I was in college in Atlanta, one of my favorite things to do when I was either bored or hanging with the homies was to hit up the city malls. Obviously, Lenox was a fan favorite, but it was nothing to head up to Cumberland Mall or down to Greenbriar Mall. On less frequent occasions, though, I’d head out to Decatur’s South DeKalb Mall (now the Galleria at South DeKalb) because, for some reason, this mall had more kiosks that sold black apparel than any others in Atlanta. You know what I’m talking about: graphic tees with black upliftment messaging and Nat Turner University shirts and all of the shirts that made their way around black colleges in the ’90s.

Anyway, one day, one of my boys and I went to South DeKalb Mall out of boredom and made our way to the less-than-impressive food court that did, however, have a Popeyes. Back then—say, like 1999 or 2000—they did have a chicken sandwich on the menu, though I’m pretty sure it’s not this current iteration. Interestingly, I’ve always thought Popeyes had a perpetual chicken sandwich on the menu because I’ve eaten lots of Popeyes chicken sandwiches. Anyway, on this particular day, my boy and I went to Popeyes and both ordered the chicken sandwich meal.

I don’t know how else to say this so I’ll just say it: There are certain places I venture for my fast foods that I have literally no expectation of expedient service. Or even good service. Any Popeyes USA is one of those places.

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My boy and I put in our orders for two chicken sandwich meals, which came with their signature fries and a drink. We both took our seats and waited for our meals. Nobody knows how long is too long to wait for fast food; it’s more of a feeling than a fact. It’s like cooking soul food or making Kool-Aid. You pour sugar into your Kool-Aid with your heart, not a measuring cup. What I do know is that after about 15 minutes, it felt like it was too long to wait. And at 20 minutes, it definitely felt like it was about to be furniture movin’ time.

My boy, never one to hold his tongue, went up to the counter and demanded to know why our food was taking so long. Mind you, we were not the only ones waiting for our food. You’d have thought they had to fly in the chicken from...hmmm...Popeye (?)...and then cook those jokers in the back. The homie got into an actual back-and-forth argument with the server, which, in retrospect, was in no way going to ensure that our food got to us any quicker but some shit just makes you feel better. She let him know in no uncertain Decatur-terms that we’d get our food when it was ready. His heightened anger heightened the anger of everybody else waiting. There’s nothing worse than a tense situation at a chicken shack, Jack.

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So he came back to my table and we got to fussin’ and carrying on about how slow the service was and the terrible customer service we were receiving. I don’t know who said it first, but we both agreed, loudly to everybody and nobody, “this better be the best damn chicken sandwich of all time.”

After another 10 or so minutes—seriously, we sat there waiting for almost 40 minutes—our numbers were called. Of course, we went to the counter and snatched up our foodstuffs and sat down to eat, mumbling and grumbling along the way. We both took bites of our chicken sandwiches and looked at each other with stunned silence. We both did one of those numbers where you look around searching the atmosphere for the right words to say. Then the homie looked at me, cocked his head to the side and said, “yeah, this might actually be the best chicken sandwich I’ve ever had in my entire life.” I agreed and we happily ate our chicken sandwiches because all was right with the world. And because our mothers raised us right, on our way out, we did tell the staff that the chicken sandwich was amazing and, oddly, worth the wait.

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So what’s the moral of this story, what is the big societal takeaway here? I’m glad you asked.

There is none, but I’ve personally been willing to wait way too long for chicken sandwiches for almost two decades and I’m not sure what this says about me as a person. But I can’t get better if I don’t acknowledge the problem. Sharing is caring, thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

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And most importantly: Thanks, Obama.

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About the author

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.