The real reason Popeyes ran out of chicken sandwiches

When Popeyes launched their fried chicken sandwich on August 12, it got a lot of positive attention — their Twitter announcement got more than 31,000 likes, which is pretty impressive considering that their posts usually get less than 400. What the world didn't know was that Popeyes was going to run out of chicken sandwiches before the month was over. But what's the real reason it disappeared? And when will the Popeyes chicken sandwich be available again, if ever? To find out, we have to go back to the beginning.

For the longest time, Popeyes only sold chicken pieces and tenders, with no sandwiches on their menu. They have a loyal fan following nonetheless, including the late Anthony Bourdain, who is said to have once eaten at a Popeyes buffet for three days in a row. The Popeyes chicken sandwich, made with their signature crispy fried chicken on a spicy mayo-slathered brioche bun and topped with pickles, was bound to be a hit with fans, but it had a few competitors who wanted to make their presence known when the newcomer started getting attention. 

Chick-fil-A, a big name in the chicken sandwich game in spite of their company's allegedly anti-LGBTQ attitude, was compelled to tweet out an equation, stating, "Bun + Chicken + Pickles = all the love for the original," alluding to the fact that they have the original chicken sandwich. Popeyes wasn't having it, tweeting a simple "... y'all good?" in response. While Chick-fil-A's tweet got more than 23,000 likes, the reply from Popeyes got almost 325,000. Round one goes to Popeyes.

Wendy's, with its notoriously on-point Twitter game, also tried to get in the fight, posting a tweet that said, "Y'all out here fighting about which of these fools has the second best chicken sandwich," but once again Popeyes' reply — "Sounds like someone just ate one of our biscuits. Cause y'all looking thirsty." — got way more engagement from customers.

It's not just social media hype, either. The masses seem to agree that Popeyes chicken sandwich really is superior to Chick-fil-A's chicken sandwich, calling it better and cheaper, to boot (via Business Insider). CBS This Morning's Gayle King, who called 15 different Popeyes locations trying to get her hands on one, said on her first bite, "It really lives up to the hype, it's really good... Popeyes, bravo!" (via Twitter). 

Even celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse gave his version of a five-star review. He posted on Twitter that he was about to try the Popeyes chicken sandwich, and when a fan asked, "What did you think of it chef?" Lagasse replied with two explosion emojis, a facsimile of his famous "Bam!" catchphrase. 

But not everyone managed to try one of the chicken sandwiches. Just 15 days after they launched, Popeyes made an announcement on Twitter, dashing the dreams of hopeful diners. "Y'all," the company said. "We love that you love The Sandwich. Unfortunately we're sold out (for now)."

A Popeyes spokesperson told CBS why the sandwich sold out so quickly, explaining, "The demand for the new Chicken Sandwich in the first few weeks following its launch far exceeded our very optimistic expectations. In fact, Popeyes aggressively forecasted demand through the end of September and has already sold through that inventory."

While those of us who haven't gotten our hands on a chicken sandwich are clearly disappointed, Popeyes isn't likely too upset about how all this turned out. The buzz and hype around the sandwich fueled sales, with one firm saying that thanks to the media attention, Popeyes likely got $65 million in free advertising (via Forbes).

The chain hasn't said exactly when the Popeyes chicken sandwich is coming back, only that they, along with their suppliers, are "working tirelessly to bring the new sandwich back to guests as soon as possible." If you want to know the second it becomes available, you can download the Popeyes app and enable push notifications. You'll get an alert as soon as the sandwich hits stores, so keep gas in your car and a go-bag by the door, because you never know when the call might come (via Twitter). 

And don't worry — once the Popeyes chicken sandwich becomes available it won't be disappearing again. According to a Popeyes spokesperson, "It is a permanent menu item." That's great for fans of the chain, which allegedly include Beyonce (who served Popeyes fried chicken at her wedding), celebrity chef David Chang, and the rest of us watching the fast food chicken wars unfold on Twitter.