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The Origins Of The Chicken Sandwich Wars Of 2019

Back in 2017, we at Foodbeast broke a story that caught the eyes of many outlets around the country that came to be known as #PopeyesGate. It involved a restaurant named Sweet Dixie Kitchen in Long Beach, CA that incurred some backlash from the public after being caught using store bought Popeyes chicken, and repurposing it to be served in their chicken and waffles dish. An angry yelper recounted his dismay when he saw the boxes being brought in, feeling bamboozled, especially for having to pay for a meal that would cost significantly less at Popeyes. That led to a sneering reply from owner, Kim Sanchez, who defended her actions on the premise that “Popeyes was the best chicken.” We even paid them an incognito visit, in hopes of getting a better understanding of the whole story.

The whole thing blew up, and long story short, the internet agreed that an ethical line was crossed. Without full disclosure to customers, Sweet Dixie Kitchen passed off someone else’s work as their own. It’s just like school, nobody likes the weak link in the group project that still gets the same grade as everybody else.

While food plagiarism is indeed controversial, the practice isn’t illegal, and who knows if this specific case is even grounds for filing a lawsuit? At the end of the day, Sweet Dixie Kitchen embraced their infamy, benefited from it and continued with operations as normal but with a bit of added transparency.

Fast forward to August 2019, after all was thought to be said and done: Sweet Dixie returns to the spotlight after two years, but this time, with help from an unlikely collaborator: Popeyes!

“To be honest, I thought they were calling to sue me,” detailed Sanchez. Instead, Popeyes invited them to debut their biggest product launch in thirty years! Apparently, the folks at Popeyes were so honored by the whole #PopeyesGate situation that they felt a little collaboration was in order. What better way to show their appreciation than to allow Sweet Dixie Kitchen the honor of launching the new chicken sandwich into the world? How odd is it that a series of strange moments of virality led to a neighborhood eatery having the Popeyes chicken sandwich before Popeyes itself.  Nobody could have guessed that things would come around full circle, and we would end up with a sudden cultural phenomenon in our hands.

The internet is a wild place where things happen in the blink of an eye, and word just gets around real fast… like that one time you gave your friend a piece of gum during recess, and suddenly you’re surrounded by parasites with their hands out. On the day that Popeyes dropped their new chicken sandwich at all their stores, #BlackTwitter set social media ablaze, pronouncing a (chicken) coup d’etat set to dethrone Chick-Fil-A’s hold on the matter.

Honestly, I’m just glad we’re done with licking tubs of ice cream at the grocery store—that was a dark time for all of us.

Let’s be real, up until the past month, Chick-Fil-A was “Top Cow,” the heavyweight champ, the superhero (but the one everyone would be ashamed to be saved by…you know, cause of the homophobia thing). No one challenged the status quo until Popeye’s dared to rinse the pickle juice out of our eyes and showed us how to throw some Cajun into the mix.

Popeyes Initial Announcement 8/12

Chick Fil A Tweet:

Popeyes clapback:

It was at that moment, the dam broke, and any fast food chain who felt they had a say in the matter, did—which is why the Internet stays undefeated. From petty clapbacks to side-eyed comments, the “Chicken Sandwich Wars” between the nation’s top fast food chains had the internet at a standstill, with everyone and their mama trying to get their opinions in.

While the exchange between Popeyes and Chick-Fil-A was mild at best, Wendy’s wasn’t afraid to get into it, tweeting: “Y’all out here fighting about which of these fools has the second best chicken sandwich.”

Wendy’s Gets In The Ring:

Popeyes Counter:

Wendy’s Huge Hook:

Shake Shack somehow enters this royal rumble, tweeting: “If you’re looking for a chicken sandwich (without the beef), you know where to find us.”
Shake Shack:

I See No Lie There…:

But swiftly gets tossed out by this short tweet.

Popeyes Sold out announcement 8/27

After just fifteen days of long lines, brawls, and countless “Come Back Later” signs, Popeyes just could not keep up with the demand and announced a temporary SOLD OUT sign on their beloved chicken sandwich. Like a bright comet, it came and went, with a brilliant flash that blazed through our timelines. Until it’s return, we wait (or just go back to contaminating tubs of ice cream).

Twitter reactions/memes:

Chick Fil A employee @ Popeyes:

Flu Game:


Fast Food Hit-Or-Miss

Surprisingly, Popeyes Has Never Had A Chicken Sandwich, Until Now

In a new case of the Mandela Effect, where one believes something existed through the power of false memories, we bring you the fact that Popeyes Chicken has never had an official chicken sandwich on its menu.

I know you’re probably thinking back right now, saying to yourself, “Bullshit. I know I’ve had a Popeyes chicken sandwich,” and it’s possible you have, but only if you resided within the recent test markets.

For the first time ever, everyone will have a chance to officially try a Popeyes chicken sandwich, as it will have an official nationwide launch Monday, August 12.

For those who have tried it, it has been compared to Chick-Fil-A’s sandwich, bearing a similar minimalistic chicken, pickle and bun look.

Southern Californians can get an early first taste August 8 and 9, as Popeyes has collaborated with Long Beach’s infamous Sweet Dixie Kitchen as part of its debut.

There’s a good chance you’ve heard of Sweet Dixie, as what should have been a hyper local story, really took off when folks nationwide had their opinions on the restaurant’s decision to serve Popeyes strips in their sandwich under the false impression that the chicken was house-made. Sweet Dixie had technically never said the sandwich was house made, but was known for its freshly made food, so guests obviously had some feelings when learning they were eating Popeyes instead.

The Internet did its thing, and soon after, Sweet Dixie had the health department swing by. Since then the sandwich underwent some forced changes, but it looks like Popeyes itself  doesn’t feel any ill will towards Sweet Dixie and its owner Kim Sanchez.

If you can’t make it to the Sweet Dixie preview, August 12 is your day. We will have the chance to try a true Popeyes chicken sandwich for the first time, and we can only imagine it being glorious.

Fast Food News Now Trending Restaurants

Restaurant Caught Selling Popeyes Chicken Is Now Merchandising #Popeyesgate

SoCal restaurant Sweet Dixie Kitchen and its “Popeyegate” controversy was one of the hottest topics of interest last week, as folks learned that the brunch spot was reheating and selling chicken they sourced from a local Popeyes. Since then, Sweet Dixie has seemed to fully embrace their title of a Popeyes-purveying restaurant.

They’ve now created (at least one) menu items inspired by the controversy, and have even begun selling a Popeyesgate shirt.

Screenshot of Sweet Dixie Kitchen’s Instagram post showing the shirts

The shirts, in true Sweet Dixie Kitchen fashion, are going for $25 a pop, and some of the proceeds will go to the Ronald McDonald House charity for battered women, according to the restaurant.

In Facebook posts detailing more about the shirts and future plans, the restaurant also aims to “#ownit” more in the future by adding “new menu items” that were inspired by the Popeyesgate controversy.

Read Ken O.‘s review of Sweet Dixie Kitchen on Yelp

Screenshot of Ken O.’s Yelp review

Based on the above review from Yelp, however, it seems that the new items are just renamed versions of their previous Popeyes dishes. There’s the “#Popeygate,” still being sold for $13, and “The Addison,” Sweet Dixie’s $15 fast food fried chicken and waffles. The Addison’s name comes from Longbeachize’s Brian Addison, one of the other writers who extensively covered the original story.

Addison also got his own photos of the menu items, which shows one interesting change. Instead of the tomato jam and syrup that I sampled on Sweet Dixie’s chicken and waffles when I visited, the newly christened The Addison is now served with “homemade peach habanero sauce for a little spice.” Considering that the restaurant did say that they were making items inspired by #Popeyesgate, that sauce is likely a jab at Addison for his fiery article on the brunch spot.

It’s clear that Sweet Dixie Kitchen is fully embracing their title as the restaurant that sells Popeyes, and is now unabashedly ready to spread that to the rest of the world through both shirts and their new menu names.

Well played, Sweet Dixie. Well played, indeed.

Fast Food Now Trending Opinion Restaurants Video

I Went Undercover At The Restaurant Serving Popeyes Fried Chicken

Long Beach-based restaurant Sweet Dixie Kitchen has recently been the focus of a fried chicken controversy. Dubbed “Popeyegate” by restaurant owner Kimberly Sanchez, a piece written by our own Isai Rocha revealed how the brunch spot has been using Popeyes tenders for its fried chicken dishes. Since then, the owner has spent time sounding off on Yelp reviews, news reports, and Facebook comments defending her dishes.

Foodbeast Editor-In-Chief Elie Ayrouth joined me as we went in “undercover” as two bros hanging out for a normal Wednesday brunch…the morning after our news went national.

Here’s how the whole thing went down:

8:55 a.m.

I met Elie outside of Sweet Dixie, where he was already working on secretly capturing footage for his weekly vlog. On our way in, I couldn’t help but notice how casual and inviting the ambiance was.

Our waiter, who was one of the nicest dudes I’ve ever met, started off the meal by asking us if we were at the restaurant because of the Popeye’s controversy. Both Elie and I cringed for a second and played dumb, not aware the news would be so front-and-center. I mentioned I had heard about the biscuits, Elie said he was from the area and had been meaning to come here.

We turned our attention to the menus to decide what to order.

9:05 a.m.

Something important to note from the restaurant’s menu: It still claims that they use a “local Louisiana fried chicken.” Since Elie figured out that there’s a Popeyes within a mile of the joint, I guess that counts?

Ordering would be tough. Opting to not simply order the “controversial items” and raise eyebrows from our already suspicious staff, we opted to go for the $14.95 chicken and waffles from the original Yelp Review as well as a small order of biscuits and gravy.

Before we ordered, though, I got a message from our managing editor back at the office, Reach Guinto. He threw in a remote order, asking  us for the $12.95 Popeye’s Chicken with Biscuits to-go.

With our orders set, all that was left to do is wait to sample Sweet Dixie Chicken’s spin on “Louisiana fast.”

9:20 a.m.

A post shared by Elie (@bookofelie) on

When the food arrived, I could immediately tell that the fried chicken was Popeyes on look alone. The distinctive batter and shape was in play. In case we needed any further confirmation, our table was approached by a woman that we later learned was the owner Kimberly Sanchez.

She oddly chose her first communication with us, random customers, to enlighten us that the chicken on Elie’s dish was from Popeyes.

The woman then apologized that the chicken was very overcooked (it definitely was extremely rubbery upon tasting). Her reasoning was that local health inspectors had just shown up to ensure that Dixie Sweet Kitchen was up to standards because of all of the negative complaints from the past day. Thus, she had to “overcook the chicken” to reach the required temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit that it should normally be served at to kill bacteria.

To directly come out, unprompted, and discuss the fried chicken seemed a little bizarre. It was clear that the weight of the controversy rested heavily on her mind.

9:35 a.m.

dixie sweet kitchen

Elie and I finished our meals pretty quickly after that. We then took some time to mull over the food.

Overall, everything was actually pretty solid, with the exception of the dry, twice-cooked Popeyes. The biscuits and gravy had decent flavor, as did the waffles and the salsa that went on top of Elie’s chicken. Still, I was slightly off-put at how the owner had approached us about her dishes. To me, it’s odd that someone would initially disguise their fast food fried chicken source but later wear that badge with honor. Elie also commented that if you come out directly and discredit your food with those reasons, you should just take it off of the menu- a sentiment I agree with.

In terms of staff, everyone else at the restaurant, including our waiter, was extremely nice. I feel like they, not Sanchez, did a great job at representing the true vibe of Sweet Dixie Kitchen.

Proudly waiting to see what #SweetDixieKitchen serves up next. Jokes aside, I ate at Sweet Dixie Kitchen for the first time this past weekend. I had an incredibly enjoyable experience. The host was super friendly. The chef came out and checked with customers to see how they liked their food. We talked about vegetarian options and how we won’t add additional vegetarian options on the menu until he fully understands how to prepare something that is vegetarian and tastes amazing. The food was spectacular and I definitely was planning on becoming a regular here since it’s only a few blocks from my place. Unfortunately the owner of this restaurant is in hot water over how she handled some negative reviews on her Yelp. I think most of the points she made were valid but she didn’t have to be such a bitch about warranted concerns from her paying customers. I think she grossly misrepresented her amazing staff. I’m not quite sure if I’ll continue to support this business. What would you do in this situation? Continue to frequent this business to maintain the employees’ paychecks or stop supporting this business whose owner thinks so little of her customers’ concerns? #longbeach #lbc #brunch #foodbeast #tryitordiet #yougottaeatthis

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Turns out that I wasn’t the only person who felt this way. Another person who recently visited the restaurant shared his thoughts on Instagram, saying that Sanchez “grossly misrepresented” the very friendly staff. Whether they were like this because their restaurant was in hot water or genuinely function at this level of class, I don’t know (but definitely hope it’s the latter). Nonetheless, how they operated their parts of the restaurant gave it a warm, inviting, and fun atmosphere that I could see myself returning to. The owner unfortunately detracted from that ambiance, which makes me not want to return.

10:25 a.m.

Back at HQ, Reach’s unpleasant reaction to the “disappointingly dry” meal we brought for him was a testament to everything that Elie and I had witnessed while at Sweet Dixie Kitchen. It definitely wasn’t worth the elevated price tags that were on the fried chicken meals, especially with the tough Popeyes chicken. Sure, maybe it wouldn’t have been as dry if the health inspector wasn’t there, but cooking a piece of fried chicken twice typically doesn’t end well as is.

Apart from that, though, I feel that Sweet Dixie Kitchen is a quaint restaurant that definitely knows how to do food well. I just think that their incorporation and eventual revision of the Popeyes chicken isn’t necessary, and the place would do much better without it.

All photos taken by Elie Ayrouth and Constantine Spyrou of Foodbeast.
Hit-Or-Miss Now Trending Restaurants

Restaurant Caught Selling Popeyes Chicken As Their Own, Offers Bizarre Explanation

UPDATE: Sweet Dixie Kitchen responded to the accusations of them using Popeyes chicken. Still no denial of their dishes containing Popeyes, but they did strongly defend the several foods that are made from scratch. They said, “We have never claimed we make each and every item,” which wasn’t exactly the case before they changed their Facebook bio this morning. Check out the Facebook response below:

Sweet Dixie Kitchen in Long Beach, California has some pretty favorable Yelp reviews and seems to be pretty popular, but one reviewer was not impressed, called them out for selling Popeyes fried chicken, and prompted a strange response from the restaurant.

Tyler H. of Los Angeles, CA accused the restaurant of passing off Popeyes chicken as their own. In the review, Tyler said:

“Before my friends and I got seated we saw them quickly bring in two large boxes of Popeyes to the kitchen. I ordered the Chicken and Waffles to see whether or not they were serving Popeyes to their customers. I thought the chicken tasted suspiciously like Popeyes and was also rather stale. I kindly asked our waiter how they cooked their fried chicken. After checking he admitted that they do in fact use Popeyes.”

Instead of denying it, Sweet Dixie owner Kimberly Sanchez appeared to reply to the review, saying they “Proudly serve Popeyes spicy tenders.”

After naming other places they borrow food from, Sanchez appeared to try and pass it off as part of a collaboration with local businesses. If true, it is one thing to support mom & pop restaurants, it is another to just buy some chicken from an inexpensive fast food chain and pass it off as your own tasty menu item. She even threw in some snark, something that seemed to be consistent with several of Sanchez’s previous Yelp responses, saying, “Whatever to you and your little review like it was some great exposure – and whatever to you dude.”

Get ’em!

Screen grab via Yelp

Screen grab via Yelp

It is even more comical reading previous Yelp reviews as people love how it has “just the right amount of spice,” and is “perfect!” They probably think they’re getting a special Dixie recipe (Especially since Dixie’s claimed “Everything is made here, right down to our bacon jam and Sriracha sour cream sauce…”), when there’s a chance it was just some good ol’ Popeyes.

It’s nice that people are at least enjoying the chicken, but the biggest gripe a customer could have with this is that you’re paying $12+ for chicken we know costs significantly less. On top of that, on their Facebook page they seem to pride themselves on “big flavor with conscious healthier cooking methods…” No disrespect to Popeyes, we love them, but they’re not exactly the model of healthy cuisine, with their 3-piece tenders having 1,350 milligrams of sodium, and even 1 milligram of trans fat.

Dixie Kitchen’s chicken slider costs around $12.50, and it appears it might just be Popeyes chicken tenders inside their hand-made biscuit.

Not sure if it’s good or bad, but they are suddenly being super transparent about their Popeyes tenders, to the point where they recently posted on Instagram, almost condescendingly (Although it’s always possible they could have been hacked), “Did you know we don’t get anything here? So how do we get this awesome crispy strip? We go to Popeyes every morning to buy enough for you to eat for the day! Come early – we run out!” Hack, or not, this tone now seems consistent through multiple social media avenues.

Screen grab Sweet Dixie Kitchen’s Instagram, before being deleted.

We’ll see how this all works out. Maybe people don’t mind paying high-end prices for fast food. Hopefully Sweet Dixie did get hacked, and this was all an elaborate scheme, because it’s not exactly a good look for this popular restaurant.