The Popeyes Chicken Sandwich Is Here to Save America

    Photograph Courtesy Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen

    One day in 2017, during the brunch rush at Sweet Dixie Kitchen—a small Southern California restaurant that the Orange County Register once dubbed “Long Beach’s Church of Southern Breakfast”—a customer was astonished to see a member of the restaurant’s staff duck into the kitchen bearing two large orders of Popeyes fried chicken. “I wanted to believe that this was just a snack for the workers, but alas it was not,” the patron, who goes by Tyler H. on Yelp, wrote, in an account of the meal. The chicken was, instead, destined for plates of the restaurant’s thirteen-dollar entrée of chicken and waffles. When Tyler asked a server for more detail on how the dish was prepared, his suspicions were confirmed: the restaurant readily owned up to outsourcing its chicken-frying to the national chain. Kim Sanchez, the owner of Sweet Dixie Kitchen—who happened to be the Popeyes smuggler Tyler had spotted—doubled down on her decision in a response appended to Tyler’s Yelp post. “We PROUDLY SERVE Popeyes spicy tenders,” she wrote, noting that her culinary philosophy is all about sourcing ingredients from the best purveyors, whether it’s tracking down jam from an artisan in Alabama, finding fresh vegetables at the farmer’s market, or placing a takeout order for America’s best fast-food fried chicken.

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    Helen Rosner is The New Yorker’s roving food