Popeye's Chicken Sandwich: How FOMO Will Kill Us All

Get One Now Before it Brings on Armageddon

Policy Genius

Last night, after work, I walked down to the Popeye's in midtown Manhattan, with a faint hope that I might be able to get in on the chicken sandwich hysteria.

Their infamous sandwich has finally returned after being sold out in an unprecedented frenzy this summer. Whatever food-science voodoo they're doing in their corporate labs has burrowed into America's cultural brain and laid eggs in the structure responsible for lifting one eyebrow skeptically and muttering, "It's just a f*cking sandwich…"

midtown popeye's line NBC News

With one new item on their menu, Popeye's has cemented itself as a major player in fast food and dealt a major blow to the evil empire of Chik-Fil-A. FOMO has taken over. People are literally dying and killing for these sandwiches. None of us wants to miss out on the latest sensation in mass-produced dining, and that includes me. As much as I'd like to point to journalistic motives for making the trek, I really wanted to try this sandwich, and I was really disappointed when I found that a line of 40 people had formed…despite the fact that the sandwich already sold out.

I was not optimistic that my commute home would offer better prospects, but I was in luck. Deep in Queens, not only was the line reduced to a more modest 30 people and moving at a rapid pace, but there were plenty of sandwiches to go around. At the front of the line, three cashiers were in constant motion to keep the customers and their sandwiches flowing. They had gotten their methods down to an assembly-line science that resulted in me receiving three sandwiches, two biscuits, and a side of coleslaw within two minutes of placing my order.

A very tasty sandwich

As happy as I was to be in and out so quickly, none of this seemed like a good sign for the sandwich itself. How could any sandwich assembled in such a systematized way—sold by the thousands for four dollars a pop—deliver on the hype that this one had been receiving? I was expecting disappointment. I was expecting a soggy, sloppy, luke-warm mess. Still, I wanted to give it a proper chance. I wasn't going to wait until I got home while sauce and steam were compromising the breading, soaking into the bun. I unwrapped and bit into the first sandwich a few steps from Popeye's entrance. It was…orgasmic.

Or at least, you know, really tasty. There's no use denying the truth that Popeye's has achieved a fast-food miracle. Something so affordable has no business being this good. I've had better sandwiches now and then, but not without spending three times as much, and even then, it's been noteworthy. But Popeye's breading is crisp and flaky, without a hint of grease. The brioche bun is soft and slightly sweet, meat is juicy and tender, full of subtle flavors brought out by the mayo, with just the right amount of salt and crunch from the pickles.

Way overrated

Having eaten one, the insane response it has received suddenly becomes the most obvious and predictable part of the story. It is undoubtedly overhyped, but only in the way that puppies are overhyped—because there is no sandwich and no baby animal that can fill the tremendous void in your life…but it can sure feel that way for a few minutes. The real issue is not that the sandwich is overhyped, it's that the sandwich exposes what might be the most destructive force in our society: FOMO is going to kill us all.

The McRib Nice try, McNobodiesGetty Images

How much waste and human misery is spreading out from Popeye's new sandwich and the ravening masses of us that are lining up for it? How many new franchises will open to tap into the demand? The transitory hyper-focus of internet culture has bled into literal meatspace. It's the "OK, boomer" of franchise dining, the "Gangnam Style" of foods. A meal—a physical, edible object—has somehow been memeified and gone viral, resulting in new heights of employee exploitation, untold expenditures for production, shipping, and processing, and what must be a pretty slim profit margin at this price point. People will inevitably compare it to the McRib, but that sandwich is a seasonal blip compared to this. This is a true game changer for fast food—to be followed by so many failed attempts to recreate it and a restructuring of business models to maximize the potential for this sort of craze.

Even if we know we're being played…we really won't want to miss out on what everyone is talking about. And to maximize on that impulse, whatever everyone is talking about will have to be cheap, ubiquitous, and available right f*cking now. Food heightens the FOMO phenomenon, because food is universal, but the same pressures are there for fashion, electronics, cosmetics. It's the iPhone 11, New Era caps, and Kylie Lip Kits. It's a new Black Friday every week, and if you don't go line up now, you are already falling behind.

Ninth Annual MTV Movie Awards - Arrivals If you haven't already tried this sandwich, you are Chris Kirkpatrick's paisley bucket hat WireImage

So how do we counter the disease of hyper-consumption when consumption is the currency of our culture? If you have to consume to participate in the moment—and you absolutely have to participate in the moment—how do we save the planet? In a civilization where people will wait in line and fight and die before they miss out on the new sandwich everyone is talking about, the planet doesn't stand a chance.

Also, Jeffrey Epstein didn't kill himself.

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Best Fast Food Secret Menu Items If You're a Big A$$hole


Photo via @happytummy_702

Secret menus are the bane of fast food workers' existence.

Put yourself in the shoes of an average fast food worker. You're getting paid minimum wage to stand on your feet all day and shill artery blockers to people. You're constantly tired, and no matter how many times you shower, you can't escape the stench of cheap coffee beans or burger grease. Your only solace is the fact that you can practically do your job on auto-pilot because, you know, there's a pre-established menu.

Then, some entitled a$hole scoots in and the following conversation plays out:

Guy eating fast food Fat man eating fast food hamberger. Breakfast for overweight person. Gennadiy Poznyakov

Entitled A$hole: "I'd like a Double Dawg Extreme Slammer."

You (A Fast Food Employee): "Excuse me?"

Entitled A$hole: "A Double Dawg Extreme Slammer." *He leans closer and whispers. You can smell the doritos on his breath.* "You know. From the Secret Menu."

You don't know, because there is no "Secret Menu." There is the established menu, and then there are the articles that piece of sh*t hack writers put online to make fast food employees' lives harder, believed only by the stupidest people in the entire world.

To make matters worse, you can't tell this Entitled A$hole that his brain is melted, because then he'll have a hissy fit. So instead, you pander to his delicate sensibilities and ask him how it's made. He proceeds to give you a ridiculous custom order, and you secretly hope that this is the final straw to give him the heart attack he so desperately craves.

So next time you're trying to figure out which one of the "Starbucks Secret Menu Drinks Inspired by the Friends Cast" to order (HINT: If there's not a sign in-store blatantly listing the drink, do not order it), try one of these five cool Secret Menu items at any popular fast food chain!

1. McDonald's: SUPER Grease Shack McQuadruple

McDonalds secret menu

Every Secret Menu lover needs to try McDonald's SUPER Grease Shack McQuadruple at least once. Just go into McDonald's and read them this secret code: "Hi, I'm a tremendous a$hole desperately trying to give myself a heart attack. I'd like you to stack four of your thickest beef patties on top of one another with ten fat globs of BBQ sauce and french fries sandwiched in between. Please include a cup of used grease for dipping, and have your janitor on duty to clean up after I die in your tiny bathroom." They'll know exactly what to do!

2. Dunkin' Donuts: Donut Dunka' Brewlatta

dunkin donuts frozen coffee Dunkin' Donuts

If you're looking for a real secret treat that you can't find anywhere else, head over to your nearest Dunkin' and demand a Donut Dunka' Brewlatta. Here's what you tell 'em: "Hey, I should probably be in a group home, but instead I'm here bugging you. Please place one of your stalest jelly donuts in a large plastic cup and then pour Frozen Coffee Coolatta on top. I will eat it with a spoon." Make sure to keep it a secret though!

3. Chick-fil-A: Big Gay Sammy

Chick Fil A Gay Christian Johnston

Chick-fil-A may publicly hate LGBTQ+ people, but their secret menu says otherwise. So next time you decide to spend your money at a fast food chicken restaurant that opposes gay marriage for some reason, make sure to tell them: "I want a chicken sandwich, but make sure the mayonnaise is of the human variety." Lick your lips and maybe wink a few times to let the employee know that you're talking about that Secret Menu.

4. Taco Bell: Doritos Locos Beef Bag

Taco Bell Beef The Young Turks

You've had the Taco Bell Doritos Locos Taco, but have you heard of the super secret Doritos Locos Beef Bag? If you're hunting for the pinnacle of Taco Bell secrets, you've just hit the motherlode. Try saying this drunk at the drive-thru: "Yes, hi, I'd like you to take one of your large to-go bags and just fill it with your signature saucy beef. Ideally you can just dunk the bag into your beef vat so the outside gets wet, too, that's how I want it, nice and wet and beefy. Then after the bag is full, crumble up a bunch of Dorito taco shells and mash them inside the bag with your hands. I will pay you $20 to do this." Don't worry, they'll make sure you're taken care of!

5. Starbucks: Old Coffee

starbucks coffee Starbucks

Probably one of Starbucks' best kept secrets, you can get Old Coffee instead of fresh coffee. How? Easy! Just walk up to the register and tell your barista, "I'd like some Old Coffee." If they ask you what you mean, just repeat yourself and add the secret phrase. "I'd like some Old Coffee. NOT fresh. If it's fresh, I swear to God, I'm going to pour it on your head. Don't disappoint me." Starbucks is all about customer service, so brace yourself for the magic of Old Coffee.

Or, if none of these amazing Secret Menu options sound appetizing to you (or maybe you just weren't dropped on your head a bunch as a baby?), try ordering off the regular f*cking menu like a functional member of society.