Most chicken Connoisseurs are familiar with Popeyes fast food restaurants. They serve some of the best chicken in the USA, with a respectful nod to Harlan Sanders who holds the top position. We’ve been seeing a lot of new Popeyes springing up in small towns throughout the country so we looked into the phenomenal fast food restaurant to learn more about them. We made some interesting discoveries that we thought would interest our readers, so here are 20 things you didn’t know about Popeyes Chicken.
1. They do a lot more than chicken
This is a fact that we need to share with everyone that doesn’t regularly visit their local Popeyes Chicken restaurants. If you’re a fan of Cajun and Southern Style chicken, then you’re in for a real treat. Popeyes also make spicy fried chicken, red beans and rice, po’ boys and jambalaya. You can get your spice on at your local Popeyes fast-food restaurant and the orders are up in a speedy fashion so you won’t have to wait very long.
2. The founder was only 28
Popeyes has been around since 1972 and amazingly, the huge and successful food chain was started by a young entrepreneur by the name of Al Copeland. He was just 28 years old when he started the now famous fast food chain. Of course, it wasn’t the huge success it is now when it first began, but it didn’t take long for the public to realize what a gem it was. It quickly gained notoriety with the public and loyal customers who spread the word about the delicious and fast meals you can buy there brought in friends and family and the revenues from sales allowed them to expand at a fairly rapid pace.
3. Popeyes brought Louisiana into competition with Kentucky
As if you couldn’t tell, Popeyes food has a distinctly southern style, which puts us in mind of the Colonel’s secret recipe but the food is entirely different. It’s the style of cuisine that you would definitely find in Louisiana with the Cajun offerings and the deep-fried Southern goodness of the chicken. We all know that their stiffest competition is Kentucky Fried Chicken because they were here first and they quickly gained the top slot in fast-food with their Kentucky style chicken and other side dishes. These two restaurants are the top two in terms of popularity in the United States and it gives people a choice of cuisine from either Louisiana or Kentucky, so which is your preference?
4. Popeyes originated in New Orleans
The fast-food giant has its roots in the suburb of Arabi in New Orleans, Louisiana. Al Copeland founded the first restaurant in 1972. The second restaurant opened within four years with a location in Baton Rouge. Primarily a Louisiana fast-food restaurant, within a decade, Popeyes would expand outside of the borders of the state to open the franchise in more than 500 locations throughout the U.S. This is quite impressive and it was just the beginning in the interesting history of Popeyes Chicken.
5. Popeyes is an international business
By 1982 there were 500 Popeyes locations opened within the nation. This was only the start for the wildly popular franchise. Currently, the business has spread throughout the world, offering its Louisiana Southern fare. There are over 2,000 Popeyes operating throughout the United States and other countries throughout the world.
6. It wasn’t named after the Cartoon character “Popeye”
Many people just assume that the restaurant was named after the animated “Popeye the sailor man,” but this isn’t the case. It’s commonly associated with the sailor but it was actually named after a different film character. If you watched the movie “The French Connection,” then you’ve seen the character that inspired the name of the famous franchise. It was Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle, a character in the film that was portrayed by actor Gene Hackman. The film came out about a year before Al Copeland opened the first Popeyes restaurant in New Orleans.
7. The restaurant didn’t start out with spicy fried chicken
It’s well-known that Popeyes spicy fried chicken is one of the most popular menu items that they offer, and the reason that many customers frequent the establishment. When the business first opened, the restaurant was actually called “Chicken on the Run” and it didn’t offer spicy fried chicken. The first few months of business didn’t go that well and Copeland realized that he had to come up with something that the public would find irresistible. It was a few months into the new business that Al made some significant changes. He actually closed his Chicken on the Run business, added their signature spicy Cajun chicken to the menu and re-opened under the name of Popeyes Chicken. It was a huge success.
8. Al Copeland became a Legend in New Orleans
Al was born in 1944. One of the most significant things that he did was to build a massively successful fast-food chain at an early age. For this, he was popular, but this isn’t the only thing that he is well known for. With plenty of resources to do what he wanted to in his life, he got into powerboat racing and even ran the teams for these sporting events. He was consistently appearing in tabloids, mostly because of his four elaborate weddings and partly because of his decked out Metairie mansion that presented residents with one of the most elaborate Christmas displays ever seen. He lived a full life before passing away from cancer at the age of 64, in 2008.
9. The founder of Popeyes owned a comedy club
In addition to being the owner of a prominent restaurant chain, Al Copeland was also into entertainment venues. He owned one of the best comedy clubs in America. You may have heard of the legendary venue. It’s called The Improv. That’s right! He’s responsible for bringing us some of the best talent and entertainment of the decades. Several locations of The Improve were opened throughout the country.
10. Copeland also established other food venues
In addition to offering some of the best chicken dishes in the world, Copeland also ventured into other restaurant genres. He was the owner of Cheesecake Bistro. if you’re from Louisiana or Georgia, then you might be familiar with them. He opened four locations in these states. He also opened a few other restaurants and in addition to this, he was the owner of three hotels.
11. Popeyes was near financial ruin in 1991
Just 19 years after Popeyes first opened its doors and met with such tremendous success, the company floundered and was in serious financial peril. The company filed for protection under the Bankruptcy Act in 1991. This was due to the rapid growth and the error of over-expansion that had created a debt of $391 million. The business went into default on the debts.
12. Popeyes bounced back after bankruptcy
There was never any intention of the chain closing its doors or going out of business during the bankruptcy proceedings. They filed the petition in 1991 and just one year later, the company bounced back under the name “America’s Favorite Chicken Company.” This is the name of the parent company of Popeyes as well as its sibling company “Church’s Fried Chicken,” which was another of the businesses that the larger parent company owned at that time.
13. Popeyes is there for our military men and women abroad
Popeyes has set up several restaurants which are located on military installations throughout the world. They’re making sure that our service men and women have good access to this American favorite when they’re away from the comforts of home. They’re located in Japan, Germany, France and a few other countries for the purpose of providing their delicious southern fare to members of the military. It’s like offering a little taste of home in a foreign land.
14. Dr. John wrote their Jingle
Most of us are familiar with the Popeyes jingle that melodically says, “Love that chicken from Popeyes.” It was written by none other than Dr. John, the New Orleans musician who is himself a legend in Louisiana and beyond. He also sang the song when the first commercials came out featuring the famous and catchy jingle. There were also other famous singers who came on board to sing the jingle but Dr. John is the guy who gave the song its simple but effective message.
15. You can also get liers and gizzards at some locations
Not all Popeyes serves these delicious delicacies, but some locations offer them on their menus. It’s important to note that before you order them, they’re not very good for your health. While organ meats are rich in vitamins and minerals and are considered a good source for nutrients, the way that these are prepared make them something you shouldn’t indulge in very often. Just one order of livers adds 765 mg of cholesterol, 80 grams of fat and 1,190 calories. This kind of negates any other health benefits that the liver has to offer. They taste great though.
16. The founder sold donuts first
Al Copeland was into donuts before he offered chicken. This is something that is worth knowing because when Al opened up his first Tastee Donut franchise he was just 18 years old. He was quite the entrepreneur and he knew the value of a dollar, and of a car because he sold it to raise the funds to start up his new donut shop. It was profitable and it gave him the resources he needed to establish Popeyes.
17. He had a big heart and gave willingly
It’s no big secret that Al Copeland loved Christmas. He had a great deal of the Christmas spirit but the lavishly decorated mansion wasn’t the only contribution that he made to the community around the holidays. He financed the giving of Christmas gifts for 1,000 needy children in the area each year and the gifts were delivered to the children’s homes, signed by Santa Clause on Christmas Eve of each year.
18. Popeyes had a lot of different names
Throughout its history, Popeyes Chicken want under several different business names. We know that the first name was Chicken on the Run and the name was intended to signify the fact that your order would be prepared fast. Few people know or remember that when the restaurant switched over to Cajun fare, it also went through a rebranding. It was called Popeyes Mighty Good Fried Chicken. A few years later it was called Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken. The next name would be Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits, and also Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen.
19. Copeland wasn’t a fan of Ann Rice
The founder and owner of Popeyes Chicken had a real problem with the famous author Anne Rice. It was really more humorous than anything else, at least to the public, but we’re pretty sure that these two took the feud quite seriously. Rice had a beef with Copeland over one of his other restaurants that was not a Popeyes brand, but rather, his Straya restaurant. Ann had referred to the building in one of her stories. It was formerly a car dealership and she took out newspaper ads to bash the restaurant. Copeland responded with full-page newspaper ads offering the help her find Lestat, one of her vampire characters and he even offered her dinner. It was a battle that ended up in court and was thrown out.
20. The Restaurant had to repurchase their own recipes
One of the weirdest things that we discovered about Popeyes Chicken is that they actually had to buy their own recipes back from Copeland’s family after he relinquished control in 1992. The chain had paid them annual royalties of more than $3 million for the use of the recipes but after the passing of the former owner, they were required to purchase the recipes so they could own the rights to them. It cost Popeyes a whopping $43 million.