Two years ago, a small Southern-themed restaurant in Long Beach, California became a national media fixation when the owner got busted for reheating Popeyes fried chicken tenders and serving them to customers as part of a “chicken and waffles” special without disclosing the origin of that first ingredient. And now, in a bizarre but marketing-savvy twist, Popeyes is teaming up with the #popeyesgate restaurant — Sweet Dixie Kitchen — to help launch a new product.
The chain’s first-ever chicken sandwich — a buttermilk-battered chicken filet on a brioche bun with pickles and mayo — will be sold at Sweet Dixie Kitchen today and tomorrow as a teaser before it lands on Popeyes menus nationwide next Monday, August 12. Popeyes also filmed this commercial with the mastermind of the original chicken hoax, restaurateur Kimberly Sanchez, recounting the story of the scandal and the Yelp drama that ensued. After explaining her partnership with Popeyes on this new product launch, Sanchez remarks that “the universe is having a great sense of humor.”
This may seem like an odd pairing at first blush, but considering just how oversaturated the market is for fried chicken sandwiches these days, it makes sense that Popeyes would employ some sort of stunt to launch this product. Most fast food chains now sell fried chicken sandwiches. Popeyes is attempting to stand out in this overcrowded field by invoking a viral moment that showcased just how much people like the chain’s chicken — enough for a restaurateur to put it on her menu, and for customers to pay $13 to eat it, reheated. And while it’s a little bit weird that Popeyes is using this small restaurant’s saga to hawk its own new product, this is only the latest example of a brand breaking the fourth wall and not nearly the strangest — that honor goes to KFC, which sent a fried chicken sandwich into outer space.