With just one addition to a fast-food menu, the hierarchy of chicken sandwiches in America was rattled, and the supremacy of Chick-fil-A and others was threatened by Popeyes' version, which originally hit the market in August.
Continue Reading Below
And although the winner of this chicken sandwich war saga remains to be seen, Popeyes fared pretty well financially over the year.
That very sandwich, which caught the eye of fried chicken fanatics across the nation, was a "game-changer" for Popeyes parent company Restaurant Brands International, which is valued at around $20 billion.
|QSR||RESTAURANT BRANDS INTERNATIONAL INC.||67.24||+0.84||+1.27%|
"Popeyes launched an iconic Chicken Sandwich that has proven to be a game-changer for the brand in every way," Jose Cil, CEO of Restaurant Brands International Inc., said in the company's earnings report.
In 2019, people were choosing sides and beefing over chicken all thanks to Popeyes’ version. The chicken chain remained in the spotlight throughout 2019 over the highly publicized debate that pitted the industry's heaviest hitters against one another.
System-wide sales surged 18.5 percent over the year for the Miami-based chain. By comparison, the company's systemwide sales grew a mere 8.9 percent the year prior.
For stores open at least a year, the chain saw a 12.1 percent growth. For the last three months of the year, the chain saw a 34.4 percent increase in those same stores.
Popeyes' chicken sandwich was so popular, it sold out merely two weeks after its debut in August. The shortage sparked an outcry among fast-food fans, however, it also increased demand and hype on social media. Sales were still 17 percent higher than the average two weeks after it sold out, according to analytics firm Second Measure.
The chicken sandwich wars were a trending topic on social media, with fans weighing in with YouTube commentaries and memes. Shortly after, the competing companies began to weigh in, taking swipes at each other on Twitter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.