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How Popeyes is trying to beat Chick-fil-A in the chicken sandwich wars

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How Popeyes' chicken sandwich changed fast food

McDonald's Big Mac, Burger King's Whopper and Taco Bell's Chalupa — the American fast-food industry has been built on iconic menu offerings that have enticed millions around the globe.

In the summer of 2019, another cultural phenomenon took place. The launch of Popeyes' chicken sandwich was an inflection point for the fast-food company and kicked off what industry insiders have referred to as the chicken sandwich wars.

For much of Popeyes' history its Louisiana-style menu featured items like fried chicken, chicken tenders and fried shrimp. But after nearly 50 years, this was its first-ever chicken sandwich sold nationwide.

Hype around the chicken sandwich and a lighthearted Twitter spat with Chick-fil-A turned the menu item into an overnight sensation. In November 2019, one Popeyes location alone sold more than 3,500 chicken sandwiches in a day.  

Can a simple chicken sandwich revitalize a company that once filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and is trailing its two major rivals, Chick-fil-A and KFC?

For more on iconic global companies and executives who are embracing change and transforming for the future, register for the CNBC Evolve Summit on November 10, 2020. CEOs from IBM, Visa, Ocean Spray, Bayer North America, Shipt, Honeywell and more will share strategies on how businesses and brands can evolve and win in an age of disruption.

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