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Popeyes chicken sandwich is (possibly, maybe) back: Worth the hype?

There she is.

There she is. Jay Boller

It felt like I'd won some sort of chicken lottery. 

"...Be Back Soon!" stickers were slapped over the Chicken Sandwich image on Popeyes' Richfield drive-thru menu, but I decided to roll the dice. 

"Is the chicken sandwich back yet?" I boldly asked the drive-thru attendant on Sunday. 

Score!  

"It might only be here today!" beamed the cashier as he handed me Popeyes' first-ever chicken sandwich, which debuted last month, became a cultural sensation, and then disappeared as the chain failed to meet the insane demand

It's still unclear whether you can currently purchase what's being billed as the Chick-Fil-A killer.

Can it possibly deliver on that hype? Folks, it can. 

This buttermilk-battered, Louisiana-spiced, deep-fried treat is a minimalist pleasure force, arriving simply with a slathering of mayo (plain or spicy) and "barrel-cured pickles" atop the toasted brioche bun. I suspect my sandwich sat under a heat lamp too long, since the crunch of the batter and pickles had given way to minor sog. It didn't matter. 

The dense, bakery-grade bun is a vessel for the umami hurricane provided by the juicy, extra-thick, expertly spiced patty and creamy mayo. Any chicken product at the $4 price point should be met with some skepticism, but Popeyes' product avoids the industrial slime and textural weirdness that mars so many competitors. This looks, tastes, and feels like a quality chicken breast. 

After powering through the sandwich, I was met with... a high? At the risk of over-hyping an already titanically hyped dish, something resembling a magical wave of satisfaction washed over me that day in the Hub Shopping Center parking lot. 

Earlier this week, Popeyes rolled out an annoying "Bring Your Own Bun" campaign to distract from the fact that, with over 3,000 international locations, it inexplicably can't handle the logistics of an uncomplicated hit menu item. Unacceptable

When this all gets sorted out, find it in your heart to forgive Popeyes. They truly aced the fast-food chicken sandwich. 

Popeyes Chicken Sandwich
Overall: A
Concept: A
Taste: A-
Texture: B+
Quality: B
Value: A
Price: $3.99
Availability: Who the hell knows?