McDonald’s is there for when nothing else is. Burger King is there for when even McDonald’s isn’t. Shake Shack is for lines. In-N-Out is for the West Coast. KFC is for the depths of despair. Dunkin’ Donuts is for people who drop Rs and eat grinders. But Popeyes? Popeyes is for everyone.
Ubiquitous enough to ensure accessibility when cravings strike, but not so common as to be taken for granted, Popeyes—with its stellar fried chicken and rich Louisiana traditions—is truly a great equalizer. It sticks to what it does best (no faux-healthy “superfood” option here) and doesn’t shy away from spice. Its fare falls smack-dab in the center of the “tastes like real food” vs. “tastes like not food” spectrum—exactly what you want from a fast-food establishment. Even the vegetarian sides rival the main event in their buttery, starchy glory.
Popeyes was founded by Alvin C. Copeland Sr. in Arabi, Louisiana, in 1972. We’ll spare you the rest of the timeline, mostly because the “Our Story” section of the official website is worth reading straight from the source (sample entry from 1983: “Popeyes introduces buttermilk biscuits, which later became a significant menu item”). Essentially, Copeland realized the key to success was in serving “New Orleans-style kitchen,” and the rest is corporate history.
Since then, Popeyes chicken has earned ringing endorsements from the Food Establishment—not entirely surprising when you consider its deep ties to the culinary renaissance that took place in New Orleans. Since its humble beginnings, Popeyes has expanded internationally, and won an array of celebrity acolytes along the way.
Here, in their own words, are what 14 chefs, rappers, and celebrities have to say about arguably the greatest fast-food fried chicken in America.