Popeyes' Honey Sauce Has A Lot More In It Than Honey

As popular as Popeyes is, its Louisiana-inspired food can be hit-or-miss in the ingredients department. Part of why Popeyes' biscuits are so delicious is due to the addition of buttermilk — but its chicken is loaded with fat and sodium. That said, Popeyes probably won't consider a healthier menu for financial reasons. 

On packets of Popeyes' honey sauce, the word "sauce" is doing a lot of hard work. A glance at the ingredients list will show that, although honey is listed first, the rest of the product is chock-full of things that aren't honey. A packet of honey from the famous chicken chain also contains corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, natural flavor, fructose, and caramel color. Several ingredients are also probably recognizable to conscious consumers as thinly veiled pseudonyms for added and modified sugars.

There are more than 60 different words used on food labels — including those on Popeyes' honey sauce — to hide sugar content. Actual honey is only one of a half-dozen ingredients in Popeyes' honey sauce; the rest are either sugar substitutes or extra flavorings and colorants. The most likely reason Popeyes does this is simple: money. Many of these ingredients are cheaper than pure honey, which could be part of the reason employees toss packets in your bag like candy, but these extras might be worse for you, too.

Added ingredients in Popeyes' honey sauce may keep costs lower

According to Healthline, pure, raw honey can provide antioxidants and other immune and digestive benefits, so some people eat honey every day. But on the flip side, consider high-fructose corn syrup, an ingredient in Popeyes' honey sauce. Due to United States agricultural subsidies that contribute to low corn prices, it's a super-cheap sweetener. Plus, as an enzymatically treated version of corn syrup, it can have detrimental health effects. Per Cleveland Clinic, overconsumption of high-fructose corn syrup can lead to insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. 

However, it makes sense that the chain wants to keep costs low: Popeyes nearly went bankrupt in the 1990s and has made major payouts to get back on its feet. In 2014, after years of not owning its recipes, the chain forked over $43 million for control of its secret formulas, as reported by Slate. But when it comes to honey, Popeyes isn't the only company to exchange quality for a cheaper product. Grocery stores could also be full of diluted products since honey is one of the most commonly adulterated food items. If you've got the real stuff at home and are concerned about your sugar intake, maybe skip the sauce.