Mary Tutwiler

Popeye's frys up "slow" fast food

by Mary Tutwiler

Sounds too good to be true. Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits is launching three new $1.49 items on its menu including this one - a cheddar cheese-flavored tortilla wrap filled with fried chicken tenders and red beans and rice. Hot sauce served on the side. Anyone who has tried to juggle chowing down on one of Popyeyes crisp, spicy chicken wings and spooning up a mouthful of its sublime, smoky red beans and rice while shifting in traffic has dreamed of a one-handed, all-in-one bite. Other items on the new menu are a sandwich dubbed a delta mini - fried chicken with delta sauce, (creamy and mildly spicy, with relish) on a toasted bun; and fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits, served with either hot sauce or honey. (Honey? Does anyone eat fried chicken with honey?)

Along with the additions to the menu is a new ad campaign dubbed “Louisiana Fast.” Playing on the "slow food" movement, an international trend to reconnect a fast-food noshing public with the goodness of mama’s home cooking, Popeyes is focusing on its 12-hour marinade process and hand battering to authenticate its Louisiana black pot roots. Look for a new logo as well. The redesign is part of a rebranding of the company founded by the late New Orleans entrepreneur Al Copeland in 1971.

Originally named Popeyes Mighty Good Fried Chicken, after Popeye Doyle, Gene Hackman’s character in the film The French Connection, Copeland’s New Orleans chicken restaurant grew to a chain of more than 800 stores. Copeland expanded into a casual Cajun-inspired line of restaurant’s called Copeland’s, as well as a spice label and cheesecake business. After buying the Church’s Fried Chicken chain in 1989, the company went into debt and filed for bankruptcy in 1991. Popeyes is currently owned by AFC enterprises out of Atlanta.

So is Popeyes slow food or fast food? It’s an interesting question in the debate on how to eat well in a face-paced society. While I am on a personal mission to find the holy grail of fried chicken, a place where it is still shallow fried in a black iron skillet by someone who turns up his or her nose at the ubiquitous deep fat fryer, Popeyes is the best commercial fried chicken I’ve ever tasted. Ditto for its red beans and rice. Sometimes it’s best just to trust your taste buds and believe. The new menu launches this week at Popeyes Fried Chicken restaurants across Acadiana.