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Take cover, Chick-fil-A: Popeyes chicken sandwich to return

The new Popeyes chicken sandwich (right) with chicken sandwiches from Shake Shack (left) and Chick-Fil-A (top).
The new Popeyes chicken sandwich (right) with chicken sandwiches from Shake Shack (left) and Chick-Fil-A (top).

Earlier this year, Kanye West complained to Santa Claus – no, check that; it was David Letterman on his Netflix’s series, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction” – that liberals often bully Trump supporters such as himself. “We don’t have to feel the same way, but we have the right to feel what we feel,” West told Letterman.

Fast forward to Sept. 27, when West dropped his latest album, “Jesus Is King,” an effort described by one critic as a “clear-cut foray into Christian hip-hop.” Among the 11 songs on the album is one titled, “Closed on Sunday,” a kind of love letter and sermon on faith, church and Chick-fil-A. Some sample lyrics:

“Closed on Sunday, you my Chick-fil-A

“Hold the selfies, put the ’Gram away

“Get your family, y’all hold hands and pray.”

As if to prove it won’t be bullied by a famous rapper, or the competition, Popeyes announced Monday that it will reintroduce the chicken sandwich that, for a brief moment this summer, united America – mostly in a line of cars at the fast-food chain’s drive-through. Given its widespread appeal, the return of the sandwich was predictable. What was not was the sandwich’s comeback date: Nov. 3. That, in case you haven’t heard, is Sunday.

That’s the day Chick-fil-A is closed, a tradition that can be traced back to the late founder S. Truett Cathy’s Southern Baptist faith.

If this sounds like a slap across the cheek of Chick-fil-A – a chain repeatedly called out for its support of anti-LGBTQ organizations, even after the company downplayed its conservative agenda – it is. It absolutely is. Popeyes’ short announcement video offers ample evidence.

If you haven’t been following the saga of Popeyes’ chicken sandwich, let’s briefly recap:

• In August, Popeyes unveiled its crispy chicken sandwich, available with pickles on a brioche bun, with either mayonnaise or a spicy Cajun sauce.

• Everyone in the food media swoons over the sandwich (and takes their jabs at Chick-fil-A’s politics).

• The chicken sandwich interloper ruffles the feathers of Chick-fil-A, the third-largest restaurant chain in the United States, which Tweeted:

“Bun + Chicken + Pickles = all the [love] for the original.”

• Popeyes responds on Twitter with a classic two-word Southern phrase, setting off the summer’s fried chicken sandwich war.

“. . . y’all good?” – Popeyes Chicken (@PopeyesChicken) Aug. 19, 2019

• Popeyes sells so many sandwiches, so fast, that the chain burns through its entire inventory by late August. It hopes to bring the item back “as soon as possible.”

• At least one customer, who wouldn’t accept the bad news, pulls a gun at a Popeyes in Houston, apparently hoping the weapon would make a sandwich magically appear.

• The chain suggests customers could bring buns to Popeyes and build their own sandwich. The eye-rolling emoji gets a workout on social media.

• Two months after the crispy chicken sandwich goes AWOL, Popeyes announces its return via a statement that is two words long. It reads: “I’m back.”

The implication here is clear: The Popeyes chicken sandwich is as big as Michael Jordan in his Airness’s heyday. Certainly bigger than Kanye West.

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