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Popeyes' new fried chicken sandwich has created a frenzy in its stores: new data

Brian Sozzi
Editor-at-Large

The Popeyes fried chicken sandwich has taken over social media but more importantly for parent company Restaurant Brands International (QSR), its physical stores.

On August 20 and 21 — the days in which Popeyes dropped its now infamous Chick-fil-A sandwich rival — traffic to Popeyes locations nationwide spiked 67.6% and 103.3%, respectively, compared to the chain’s summer averages from June 1 through August 21, according to figures provided to Yahoo Finance from data analysis firm Placer.ai.

“This is an outrageously high peak that shows that the buzz wasn’t just on social sites, but actually pushed people out of the house and into a location,” Placer.ai said in a statement to Yahoo Finance. Typically, Placer.ai’s research shows, Popeyes sees traffic come under pressure in late July into August.

So, to have success with a hot, little spicy fried chicken sandwich (there’s a regular version, too) during the summer months is no small achievement.

Popeyes has more than 3,100 locations nationwide. Restaurant Brands acquired Popeyes back in 2017 for $1.8 billion. Since then, the company has expanded its delivery service and inked a deal to bring 1,500 locations to China over the next 10 years.

A chicken sandwich is seen at a Popeyes as guests wait in line, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, in Kyle, Texas. A nation already polarized finds itself embroiled and divided once again, but this time, politics has nothing to do with it: The blame lays squarely on a fried piece of poultry.(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

But the overwhelming response to the fried chicken sandwich — created by a war of the words on Twitter between Popeyes, Chick-fil-A and Wendy’s — is arguably Popeyes’ first product home run under Restaurant Brands’ ownership.

Restaurant Brands CEO José Cil is happy with what he has seen thus far from consumers regarding the new menu item and thinks it could be a strong sales driver moving forward.

“You can do all the social media buzz that you want but if you don’t have a great tasting product, people won’t react the way that they have,” Cil told Yahoo Finance, pointing out the company began testing the fried chicken sandwich in Houston, Texas, a year ago. “We didn’t expect this type of reaction.”

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-host of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @BrianSozzi

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