The Reason American TikTokers Are So Upset About Popeyes In Europe

"The U.S. needs to seriously step up their game." "America could never!" These outbursts, quoted by Dillon Thompson for an In The Know article, were not due to the government's handling of the coronavirus, but the disparity between a Popeye's in Spain and those spawned stateside. Elliott Norris shared their adventure to Spanish Popeye's on TikTok.

The European Popeye's interiors were clean and industrial-looking, with touch-screen ordering, a marked contrast with the American chain's interior decor, which pulls from its Louisiana roots with a pseudo-French Quarter. As the Thrillist reported in June, Popeye's had announced that it will undergo a redesign fitting for its new global ambitions: "It was time for Popeye's to translate its Louisiana roots in a more modern approach." This modernity has yet to reach all of its homegrown outlets, with the South Florida Business Journal stating that the new look debuted in outlets in Shanghai and Louisiana. Perhaps it's merely a case of the future being unequally distributed.

Or it would be if the food, weren't better as well. The chicken sandwiches, while smaller, were "way juicer" than the ones served in America. Similarly, there's a variety of items on the menu unavailable in the US. The consensus among those watching Norris's supper was that they were all missing out on better decor, better menu options, and better food. Just wait until they discover the differences between McDonald's outlets in America and Europe.

America's better in Europe

It's not a secret that fast food chains try harder abroad. In 2007, The New York Times reported on McDonald's attempts to attract business in Europe, with a more "sophisticated" dining experience — "healthier foods and items that cater to regional tastes," and how these changes only work in Europe because analysts saw that Americans prefer to eat in the car or at home.

The same theme was picked up again by NPR in 2012. The report chronicled how French McDonald's offers Alpine burgers with three types of cheese. The meat at McDonald's in France is superior, because in the US, cows are corn-fed and pumped with hormones, as opposed France, where beef is raised eating grass and chemical tampering with meat is illegal.

The point is that companies like McDonald's and Popeye's fail to "step up their game" or "could never" as the TikTokers complained because of nothing intrinsic to the brand. Rather, they do better elsewhere because in some other countries there is tighter regulation of food and a higher expectation of quality. These factors introduce a competitive aspect that has mostly been missing from the American fast food scene. Perhaps with foodier chains opening things will change, but these older franchise stores have an entrenched advantage.