The return of the Popeyes chicken sandwich earlier this month was not without a few pearl-clutching headline-making moments. As previously reported by theGrio.com, a man was fatally stabbed for cutting in line at one location. Another spotlight is of a racist white male who was served a beat-down for spewing the N-word inside a location full of Black patrons. Lastly, there was a white white woman was body slammed in the parking lot at a separate location for allegedly hurling racial epithets at the staff.
Meanwhile, inquiring minds want to know why hasn’t the official Popeyes spokesperson from the commercials, Deidrie Henry, been tapped by the company to promote the chicken sandwiches?
Doesn’t she make Black folks “feel at home?” -a motto the food chain has used to profit off Blacks for the past three decades.
Many suspect there’s some sort of conspiracy linked to how the sandwich is promoted (primarily in Black neighborhoods), and the chicken craze has sparked debate across social media about marketing, race and food stereotypes.
Well there is!
Popeyes actually markets its chicken sandwiches specifically to Blacks, despite lobbyists calling for healthier food alternatives in urban communities. The Washington Post points to the marketing as a little more sinister than it appears. While fried chicken is popular among all racial groups, the site reminds the public that it has often been used in popular culture to degrade and mock Black folks. The popular brand promotes that the chicken has spicier seasoning because their research has proven that people of color love the flavor and taste.
Think about how they first debut the new chicken sandwich that has everyone going crazy. The brand utilized social media as a way to crack into the coveted African-American consumer mind. Through Twitter, Popeyes marketing team used slick vernacular and slang to not only talk about the new sandwich, but to diss their competition.
Black communities across the nation have become “food swamps”— where healthy options are limited, GQ Magazine reports. The irony is that there’s a plethora of fast food restaurants like Popeyes and McDonald’s in those neighborhoods.
Numerous studies have confirmed that the unhealthy food market that plagues these communities are a direct result of racial segregation, and the publication writes, “this racial segregation is what undergirds the sensational media hoopla around black folks and the Popeyes chicken sandwich.”
Popeye’s parent company, Restaurant Brands International, has admitted to its investors annually that it is constantly being challenged by “health campaigns against products we offer in favor of foods that are perceived as healthier [that] may affect consumer perception of our product offerings and impact the value of our brands.”
Jose Cil, the CEO of Restaurant Brands International, told Business Insider that Popeyes spent more than 12 months creating the high sodium, crispy chicken sandwich.
“There are long queues in the restaurants, the drive-thrus are being stacked up,” Cil said.
Seems like people want fried chicken more than ever, and her team knows just how to get them what they need.