President of Popeyes, Sami Siddiqui, spoke to Entrepreneur about the launch of the long-awaited item.
4 min read
Popeyes nearly broke the internet when it debuted its fried chicken sandwich to menus nationwide, sparking a war between soon-to-be rival Chick-fil-A in what has been dubbed the “chicken sandwich wars.”
Many other chains have since thrown their hats in the ring in an attempt to compete with the craze surrounding the sandwich, from fast-food joints like Burger King and Wendy’s to fast-casual restaurants like Chili’s.
It’s clear that the social media hype and frenzy surrounding the food trend wasn’t all talk — Popeyes restaurants struggled to keep up with demand of the sandwich, with one report finding that consumer spending on chicken sandwiches skyrocketed 420% in the 11-month period from January 2019 to December 2020.
“The response to our new chicken sandwich back in 2019 was truly extraordinary and unprecedented,” Sami Siddiqui, President of Popeyes, tells Entrepreneur exclusively. “We saw the power of positive reviews and word traveled fast when our fans experienced the delicious sandwich firsthand and couldn’t wait to tell the world. Since then, we have been so humbled and grateful for the continuous love and support from our loyal fans.”
And then chain’s next move is aiming to do just that, one more time.
Today, Popeyes announced the debut of long-awaited chicken nuggets to its menu starting on July 27.
“After seeing the fanfare from the launch of our beloved chicken sandwich, it was only natural that we would recreate that signature Louisiana taste in a poppable format — our all new chicken nuggets,” Siddiqui tells Entrepreneur. “As with anything we do at Popeyes, we wanted to make sure we got it right so we spent over a year perfecting this product that leverages our unique buttermilk hand battering and breading techniques. We are confident that this product will change how guests think about and experience chicken nuggets.”
The hand-battered nuggs are white meat and come with the option pair with any of the Popeyes signature sauces, including the beloved Bayou Buffalo™ and Blackened Ranch — essentially the chicken sandwich in snackable form.
“We are constantly evolving to stay relevant while remaining true to our Louisiana roots and heritage. The launch of our new chicken nuggets is an example of this,” says Siddiqui. “We see great opportunity to continue the momentum 2019 provided for us with our chicken sandwich launch in everything from leading cultural conversations with our marketing campaigns in real-time, to continuing to focus on culinary excellence and innovation in the kitchen to evolving our brand identity and design to stay fresh and modern while better serving our guests.”
“Our business adapted quickly to serve our guests safely and protect our team members. We quickly pivoted much of our business to drive thrus and delivery, which allowed guests to continue to enjoy Popeyes even during these unprecedented times,” says Siddiqui. “As a result, we were fortunate to see the Popeyes business accelerate in 2020 and today as among one of the most profitable QSR brands in the U.S. We expect the launch of nuggets to provide even more chicken occasions for our guests to enjoy, which in turn we hope will further our vision for growth.”
Siddiqui also tells Entrepreneur that though franchisees are responsible for staffing and hiring in their respective restaurant locations, “nearly all” U.S.-based Popeyes have resumed in-restaurant dining.
The nuggets will be available in size orders from 4 to 36 pieces, with a 48-piece option available only online and through the Popeyes app.