8 Spicy Things You Didn’t Know About Popeyes

We all know Popeyes for their Louisiana-style Cajun chicken, but the story behind the brand is even spicier. 


Founder Al Copeland opened his first chicken joint, Chicken on the Run, in the New Orleans suburb of Arabi, La. in 1972. Initially, he was serving mildly spicy chicken but quickly realized it needed a fiery kick to attract Louisiana taste buds. The original slogan for Chicken on the Run was “So fast, you get your chicken before you get your change”—a precursor to Popeyes current, more straight-forward slogan, "Louisiana Fast."


Although Copeland claimed he named the chicken chain after Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle, the detective from the 1971 movie The French Connection, Popeye the Sailor Man was very involved with their marketing. Popeyes sponsored the Popeye and Pals children's show in New Orleans, and the macho caricature appeared on items from packaging to Copeland’s racing boats. It was only recently, in November 2006, when Popeyes franchisor AFC announced the termination of their licensing contract with the Popeye and Pals owner, that the longstanding association with the Popeye character ended.


Al Copeland grew up as the youngest of three children to a single mother in a household where money was always tight. He dropped out of high school at 16 and took a job at his brother’s partially owned donut chain, Tastee Donut, which exposed him to the restaurant business and the concept of franchising. Later in life, Copeland would own multiple restaurant chains, comedy clubs, and hotels, but the memory of growing up on welfare and living in housing projects never left him. He lived ostentatiously, flaunting his racing boats, driving Rolls-Royces around New Orleans, and having four lavish weddings (at least one of which had heart-shaped fireworks). But despite his wealth, Copeland could always find the humor in his previous financial situation—he often claimed that he was "too poor" to afford an apostrophe for the restaurant's name.


Copeland was well-known for going full-on Clark Griswold with his annual Christmas lights display. Every year, families from around New Orleans would gather to see his array of elaborate lights, foreign cars, and partake in free popcorn, candy, and children’s toys. His extravagantly decorated yard was even featured as a top-three Christmas display on the Today show in 2003. But it wasn't all blinking lights and reindeer—Copeland was also known as a "Secret Santa," someone who would quietly fund gifts for underprivileged children each year.


Most people have heard of music royalties, but spice royalties? Perhaps not. Due to a bankruptcy reorganization in the early '90s, Copeland was forced to step down as chief executive of Popeyes, but he maintained ownership of food manufacturer Diversified Foods and Seasonings, a company he started in 1984 which provided various batters, biscuits, gravies, sauces, etc. to the franchises. DFS owned the rights to several of the classic Popeyes recipes, so for 23 years the chicken chain paid DFS a $3.1 million “spice royalty” fee to legally use the recipes. In 2014, Popeyes came to a $43 million agreement with DFS, effectively buying back their own product.


The aunt-like figure with the sweet, hospitable Louisiana twang in Popeyes' commercials is named Annie. She's a fictional character, played by actress Deidrie Henry, who was first brought out in 2009 in order to push the heritage of Louisiana southern home cooking. (Sorry folks, there's no real Auntie Annie coming up with new po' boy recipes in the back.)


Popeyes has many celebrity fans, spanning from baseball great Hank Aaron to Kylie Jenner. But perhaps their most notable fan is Beyoncé. In 2003 she told Oprah that the chain had heard about how much she loved their food and gave her a free-Popeyes-for-life card. And, rumor has it that she even had Popeyes chicken at her wedding to Jay Z (a story the chain has no problem referencing, whether factual or not).


Popeyes has some major music cred in terms of who has sung in their ads. Two of the most notable New Orleans musicians—NOLA funk and R&B grandmaster Dr. John and early rock great Fats Domino—have both been showcased in commercials. Dr. John growled the catchy "Love that chicken from Popeyes" line in the '80s, and Domino contributed to their New Year's campaign in late 1987. Local zydeco band Rockin' Dopsie Jr. and the Zydeco Twisters have also contributed, and all these spokes-singers were on hand for the Popeyes 30th anniversary party in 2002. As they say on the bayou, that'd make a great gumbo ya-ya.

Why a Readily Available Used Paperback Is Selling for Thousands of Dollars on Amazon

At first glance, getting ahold of a copy of One Snowy Knight, a historical romance novel by Deborah MacGillivray, isn't hard at all. You can get the book, which originally came out in 2009, for a few bucks on Amazon. And yet according to one seller, a used copy of the book is worth more than $2600. Why? As The New York Times reports, this price disparity has more to do with the marketing techniques of Amazon's third-party sellers than it does the market value of the book.

As of June 5, a copy of One Snowy Knight was listed by a third-party seller on Amazon for $2630.52. By the time the Times wrote about it on July 15, the price had jumped to $2800. That listing has since disappeared, but a seller called Supersonic Truck still has a used copy available for $1558.33 (plus shipping!). And it's not even a rare book—it was reprinted in July.

The Times found similar listings for secondhand books that cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars more than their market price. Those retailers might not even have the book on hand—but if someone is crazy enough to pay $1500 for a mass-market paperback that sells for only a few dollars elsewhere, that retailer can make a killing by simply snapping it up from somewhere else and passing it on to the chump who placed an order with them.

Not all the prices for used books on Amazon are so exorbitant, but many still defy conventional economic wisdom, offering used copies of books that are cheaper to buy new. You can get a new copy of the latest edition of One Snowy Knight for $16.99 from Amazon with Prime shipping, but there are third-party sellers asking $24 to $28 for used copies. If you're not careful, how much you pay can just depend on which listing you click first, thinking that there's not much difference in the price of used books. In the case of One Snowy Knight, there are different listings for different editions of the book, so you might not realize that there's a cheaper version available elsewhere on the site.

An Amazon product listing offers a mass-market paperback book for $1558.33.
Screenshot, Amazon

Even looking at reviews might not help you find the best listing for your money. People tend to buy products with the most reviews, rather than the best reviews, according to recent research, but the site is notorious for retailers gaming the system with fraudulent reviews to attract more buyers and make their way up the Amazon rankings. (There are now several services that will help you suss out whether the reviews on a product you're looking at are legitimate.)

For more on how Amazon's marketplace works—and why its listings can sometimes be misleading—we recommend listening to this episode of the podcast Reply All, which has a fascinating dive into the site's third-party seller system.

[h/t The New York Times]

Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Sam's Club Brings $.99 Polish Hot Dogs to All Stores After They're Cut From Costco's Food Courts
Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

In early July, Costco angered many customers with the announcement that its beloved Polish hot dog was being removed from the food court menu. If you're someone who believes cheap meat tastes best when eaten in a bulk retail warehouse, Sam's Club has good news: The competing big box chain has responded to Costco's news by promising to roll out Polish hot dogs in all its stores later this month, Business Insider reports.

The Polish hot dog has long been a staple at Costco. Like Costco's classic hot dog, the Polish dog was part of the food court's famously affordable $1.50 hot dog and a soda package. The company says the item is being cut in favor of healthier offerings, like açai bowls, organic burgers, and plant-based protein salads.

The standard hot dog and the special deal will continue to be available in stores, but customers who prefer the meatier Polish dog aren't satisfied. Fans immediately took their gripes to the internet—there's even a petition on Change.org to "Bring Back the Polish Dog!" with more than 6500 signatures.

Now Sam's Clubs are looking to draw in some of those spurned customers. Its version of the Polish dog will be sold for just $.99 at all stores starting Monday, July 23. Until now, the chain's Polish hot dogs had only been available in about 200 Sam's Club cafés.

It's hard to imagine the Costco food court will lose too many of its loyal followers from the menu change. Polish hot dogs may be getting axed, but the popular rotisserie chicken and robot-prepared pizza will remain.

[h/t Business Insider]


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