The Strange Urban Legends Surrounding Popeyes

There's no doubt about it. Popeyes is fast food royalty, and they want you to know it. To begin with, they celebrated their 3,000th store opening by coating their chicken in champagne and 24 karat gold flakes (via Eater New Orleans). Then there was that time that the fast-food chain duct-taped a sandwich onto a piece of canvas. What did they do with it? Display it at a Miami art exhibit, and try to sell it for $120,003.99. That extra $3.99, in case you are wondering, was the price of the sandwich (via Local24). Queen B also a fan. Beyonce, reportedly, has a free "Popeye's for life" card (via The Revelist). Did you notice that Popeye's new uniforms look uncannily like her clothing line, Ivy Park (via CNN)?

But there's something undoubtedly strange about Popeyes, too. Hidden behind the glitter are seemingly unending urban legends linking the chain to an underworld of secret societies, illicit substances, and even premature death. 

There may be something supernatural about Popeyes

Do the urban legends surrounding Popeyes have something to do with its founder, Al Copeland? In 1997, Copeland stirred up public controversy by opening a cafe, Straya, on 2001 St. Charles Ave in New Orleans, the real-life place where a fictional vampire met his demise (via Time). Since then, an uncanny amount of Popeyes fans have met with their fair share of troubles while in search of their favorite menu item

Remember when a woman got into a mysterious tray-throwing fight with a Popeye's employee in San Antonio (via KSAT)?  Or that time an eager customer incurred thousands of dollars of car damage, trying to secure her place in a Popeyes drive-through (via ABC)? Or how about when a Tennesee man sued Popeyes for $5,000 dollars, after damaging his car in a desperate search for a sold-out Popeyes sandwich (via NBC)? Surely you remember when a Maryland man was stabbed to death for cutting a Popeyes' line (via CNN)? 

But the legends surrounding the fast-food giant and its inexplicably irresistible chicken are darker still. 

Will eating Popeyes make you sterile?

For years, there have been rumors linking Popeyes to illicit substances. In 2017 disproved news reports claimed that a Popeyes manager in Georgia started lacing batter with cocaine to make the food more addictive (not true, according to Snopes). In 2019 The New York Post reported on a man who apparently found a half-smoked joint in his Popeyes Chicken Sandwich. 

More sinister are the claims Popeyes occasionally uses fried rats instead of chickens in their sandwiches (unproven, according to Snopes). As documented by Patricia A. Turner in I Heard It Through The Grapevine, the use of the rodents may be linked to the chain's mythical, and unproven connections, with the Klu Klux Klan. The Klu Klux Klan is also purportedly behind a secret ingredient in Popeye's chicken recipe, designed to make Black men sterile (via The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales).

Will eating Popeyes make you sterile? Just as there is no real evidence that the chain laces its sandwiches in drugs, no science has yet to prove this undeniably strange urban legend.