top of page

Standing in long lines to get a Popeyes fried chicken sandwich? Cluck that.

Sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I'll never know because I'd never eat one.

Okay, anyone who saw Pulp Fiction knows that's not exactly what hitman Jules Winnfield said in profanely explaining why he didn't eat bacon, but it captures exactly my feeling about the new Popeyes fried chicken sandwich.

The sandwich that has spawned long lines, essays, odes and possibly even a murder may taste like pumpkin pie sprinkled with extra nutmeg and cinnamon, but I'll never know because I'm not going to eat one.

On principle. This is not a knock on anyone who wants one or who thinks their life won't be complete unless they get one, but it's merely a reflection of my invulnerability to food fads.

Pssst: I've never had chicken & waffles.

The Chickening, as one website called it, is not related to race or ethnicity. Sure, most of the people I've seen being interviewed on TV as they waited in line to get the sandwich - or as they locked seven in their car trunk for safekeeping - were black, but my neighborhood Popeyes was populated by a veritable Rainbow Coalition of patiently waiting poultry lovers.

Besides, what about the Cronut?

Remember the cronut craze - born: 2013, died: 2016 - that had hipsters shouting hosannas to the heavens for the high-carb delicacy in which a celebrity baker (say what?) mixed a croissant with a doughnut and had people losing their minds and forgetting their waistlines?

Unlike with the case in Prince George's County, Md., where a man was stabbed to death for reportedly trying to break in line to get a sandwich, no one was killed for a cronut.

People did, however, ignore a dead body outside the cronut birthplace to get one: a New York Post story in 2016 reported that people refused to get out of line to check on an obviously distressed man slouched on a bench in Soho, nor did they miss a bite when the ambulance came and took his body away.

In short, we're all vulnerable to hype and will do things that later make us wince in embarrassment - yeah, I'm looking at you, lime-green, crushed velvet jumpsuit I bought in 1974 after seeing Fred The Hammer Williamson wearing one in Black Caesar II.

You'd have thought I was wearing said jumpsuit when I approached customers at my neighborhood Popeyes. Perhaps fearing I was trying to jump in front of them, they were wary and reluctant to speak.

I finally found someone, Henry Van Porter IV, who was willing to talk to The Saunders Report.

Saunders Report: Pardon me, sir, but how long have you been standing in line?

Henry Van Porter: Three Days.

SR: Three days?

HVP: Yes. I'm famished.

SR: I imagine so. What kind of job do you have that allows you to stand in line for three days for a fried chicken sandwich?

HVP4: I'm a cultural influencer. As soon as I get one, I'm going on and showing people how to eat it.

SR: That explains a lot. You must really be a fan of the Popeyes fried chicken sandwich.

HVP4: Not really. I just have to be first to try new things before they saturate the culture... You know those long lines you see with people waiting to get into the hot new club or to buy the must-have iphone with 9,000 apps you'll never use?

Those lines have to start somewhere, and it's usually right behind me.

SR: At what other cultural phenomena were you first?

HVP4: I was the first person to own a Cabbage Patch Doll - See this stab wound? A woman at Toys R' Us gave me this fighting for the first one off the truck - and a Pet Rock. I was also the first person to go like - this - at the discotheque. John Travolta stole that move from me.

Mr. Van Porter then told us of one craze he admitted to missing out on: the Members Only jacket that was ubiquitous for a month in the early 1980s.

How, I asked, did he miss out on that? I mean, even we had one of those.

"Well," Van Porter said, looking downcast, "I found a magenta Members Only jacket at Marshall Field's in Chicago that made me look like Burt Reynolds in Cannonball Run III when I rolled the sleeves up just so. Stood in line for 45 minutes to get it. The only problem was, by the time I got to the cash register, the darned thing was out of style."

Write to or and tell us if you stood in a long line for of those sammitches, and if not, for what you would stand or have stood in a long line.

Me? Johnny Mathis concert tickets and Krispy Kreme donuts when the Hot Now sign is lit up.




Meet Barry Saunders

For over 20 years, Barry was a columnist for The News & Observer in Raleigh, NC. He also wrote for other publications, such as the Atlanta Constitution and the Richmond County Daily Journal. Often described as powerfully honest and illustratively funny, Barry's writing is both loved and hated by readers- sometimes simultaneously.  


Want more? Get your own copy of one of Barry's published books featuring reader favorites (and not so favorites) from his years writing columns for The News & Observer. Titled "Do Unto Others...And then Run" and "...And The Horse You Rode In On Saunders!", they're full of guaranteed entertainment. 


  • Twitter Round
  • Instagram - Black Circle
  • b-facebook
bottom of page