In the latter half of 2019, the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich went viral and triggered a chicken sandwich war that pulled in major players like McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, and Zaxby's.
But with the nationwide debut of the Popeyes Chicken Nuggets on Tuesday, the fast-food chain is now asking for a cease fire. In new commercials Popeyes tells customers it "comes in piece, 8 piece."
“The launch of our Chicken Sandwich was incredible, and we’re humbled by the amount of love and positive reviews, but at the same time many claimed that it started the chicken wars. Now, it’s time to say goodbye to the chicken wars and celebrate our new Nuggets, because we come in piece, 8 piece to be exact,” CMO Bruno Cardinali said in a statement.
To prove it's serious about ending the chicken wars, The Popeyes Foundation purchased the cash equivalent of 1 million nuggets from Popeyes restaurants, as well as competing brands McDonald's, Wendy's, Chick-fil-A, and Burger King. The foundation will donate the funds to Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans & Acadiana. Customers may visit The Popeyes Foundation website to donate, and Popeyes will match the contributions up to $25,000.
The chicken nuggets come from the same recipe as the chicken sandwich, just in "poppable pieces." The new item will be available in a classic flavor and may be paired with sauces, such as Bayou Buffalo, BoldBQ, Blackened Ranch, Buttermilk Ranch, Mardi Gras Mustard, and Sweet Heat. Consumers may purchase four to 36 pieces. There's also a 48-piece option only available online or through the app. From August 2 to August 16, Popeyes Rewards members will receive at least double the points on all nugget purchases. Each eight-piece order will come with two signature sauces.
"Our hope is that today guests who finally try our new Chicken Nuggets will say to themselves: Popeyes did it again," said Amy Alarcon, vice president of culinary innovation, in a statement. "And to us, that means showing the world what they should come to expect when they order Chicken Nuggets."
President Sami Siddiqui said the launch of the chicken nuggets has been in the works since the introduction of the chicken sandwich, which generated more than 16 tweets per minute during the first month of launch and more than 20 billion impressions. Apex Marketing Group estimated Popeyes reaped $65 million in equivalent media value—nearly triple the $23 million media value the sandwich generated in its first few days of sale.
Cardinali said product quality and a strong marketing campaign are what fueled the rise of the chicken sandwich, and that's the same path Popeyes plans to take with the nuggets.
"Those two things together, they're really the recipe for the success of our brand," Cardinali said. "And I'm very confident that we have those two ingredients here this time with the nuggets. The product tastes amazing. The campaign I think it’s very, very timely, very relevant. It speaks to a cultural moment, an iconic moment, that happened in America two years ago. We’re tapping into that cultural moment and really delivering something that is relevant, that is unique to Popeyes, and really puts Popeyes in the center of the conversation."
Within the overall chicken wars, chains have specifically gone to battle over chicken nuggets. For example, Wendy's brought back its Spicy Nuggets in 2019. A year later, McDonald's revealed that it was launching Spicy McNuggets and Mighty Hot Sauce—the first time the chain has introduced a new flavor since nuggets joined the menu in 1983. Also this June, Arby's rolled out a new Kids Meal with all-white meat chicken nuggets.