The Big Mood: Popeyes chick­en sand­wich frenzy

One week, one mood: Moya Lothian-Mclean’s deep-dive into the feel of the week.

Some­times it feels like there’s no light in the dark. This week, the Ama­zon burned, the British gov­ern­ment was punt­ed aside by an over-pro­mot­ed rub­ber bath toy,” as Hugh Grant put it, and the world watched as demon­stra­tors fight­ing for democ­ra­cy in Hong Kong were answered with the blast of a giant water can­non.

Yet sand­wiched in the midst of all the gloom was a tasty lit­tle reminder that joy could still be found – squashed between two buns and coat­ed with a lil sauce. I refer to, of course, the Popeyes (Spicy) Chick­en Sand­wich. For those who haven’t been fol­low­ing the saga, two weeks ago the Amer­i­can fried chick­en chain launched a new sand­wich: bat­tered chick­en, pick­les and sauce on a brioche bun. And our US cousins went cluck­ing mad for it (The New York­er even said it was here to save Amer­i­ca”).

At first, it brought light and laugh­ter to both those who man­aged to get their hands on one, despite hour-long waits, as well as every­one else on social media who helped ele­vate what is essen­tial­ly a chick­en strip sand­wich to icon status. 

Two weeks on though, this too is ruined. As always, we (and by we” I mean, peo­ple in Amer­i­ca) took it too far. This is why we can’t have nice things, or deep-fried things, or any­thing that could bright­en up a grey day just a lit­tle. Because some­one always jumps on the counter, demand­ing Szechuan sauce or tries to hawk a CHICK­EN SAND­WICH on eBay for $7000, or abus­es fast-food work­ers on min­i­mum wage who have been forced to work extend­ed shifts to meet demand so peo­ple can snap a pic­ture for Instagram. 

There is some­thing in the human psy­che, a pri­mal urge to overindulge and push to the extreme. When I was 16, I dis­cov­ered choco­late brioche. Deli­cious, con­ti­nen­tal, a love­ly treat to have for break­fast occa­sion­al­ly. Except I ate two brioche for break­fast every day for the next 24 months, until the brioche tast­ed like met­al in my mouth and made me retch. I repeat­ed this trick with por­ridge and those fun­ny lit­tle Nature Val­ley bars over the next four years. Why? Because I nev­er learn, and nei­ther do any of you. 

When we enjoy some­thing, we tend to just go hell for leather. Willpow­er? I don’t know her! Delayed grat­i­fi­ca­tion? A drag! The trick is repeat­ed even when a sit­u­a­tion is far from enjoy­able, when in fact it is dire — there’s still that nig­gling lit­tle itch with­in human­i­ty to see how much worse it can real­ly get, to push the big red but­ton and, oh, I don’t know, pro­rogue the gov­ern­ment or reignite cen­turies’ old war.

Popeyes is now out of the sand­wich, for the fore­see­able future, amid reports that peo­ple were buy­ing them up en masse to sell on for high­er prices which is too meta late cap­i­tal­ism for words and also, gross. Well done every­one on the col­lec­tive loss of dig­ni­ty, empa­thy and sense – all for the want of a sand­wich. Big. Mood.


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