Culture

The Woman From The Viral Popeyes Chicken Sandwich Worker Meme Shut Down The Laughs With Her Reply About Unfair Wages

Last week, Twitter exploded with the Chicken Sandwich Wars between Popeye’s newest menu addition and Chic-fil-A’s classic options. Black Twitter shared stories of long lines to get the sandwiches and flooded the social media site with news of sandwich shortages. The restaurants’ social media handles even joined in, throwing causal shade at each other. From there, it didn’t take long for the memes to start. Memes about the Chicken Sandwich Wars beef and the public’s reaction to sandwich shortages were quickly shared on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. 

The hype is real and it’s been huge for Popeye’s, but one meme to emerge from social media has proved to be straight-up offensive.

In a now-deleted tweet, a Twitter user shared an image of an exhausted Popeye’s employee during her break and asked the Internet to turn it into a meme. 

Instagram / @6ixn8ne

While there has been plenty of comedic content around the Chicken Sandwich Wars, this image points out the very human aspect of this capitalistic push. While Popeye’s makes bank off of the mania surrounding their new sandwiches, their employees are facing an increase in labor without increased financial compensation. 

The hourly pay rate at Popeye’s ranges, on average, from $7.29 to $12.33 an hour depending on state minimum wage. With all the free online hype that Black Twitter has given this sandwich, Popeye’s has received about $23 Million in free press. Obviously, the chicken chain has benefitted financially from this exchange but has made no move to compensate the workers who are making it possible. The unfair division of work and profit is very obvious and is nothing to joke about. 

Twitter wasn’t feeling this call to meme-ify the exhausted employee pic.   

Twitter / @DanaVivianWhite

Twitter user @DanaVivianWhite summed up exactly why this attempt to meme this situation is in such poor taste. As her tweet suggests, this worker likely spends a whole 8-hour shift on her feet without the benefits of vacation time or even a livable wage. The instinct to dehumanize her pain and turn it into a mock-able Internet moment is a grossly inappropriate one and it shows the lack of sensitivity that people have towards service workers and the suffering of Black women in particular.  

Other users pointed out the irony of this image circulating on the Internet during Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. 

Twitter / @portia_bartley

The exhausted female worker meme came into being around the same time as Black Women’s Equal Pay Day — a day when we reflect on the wide wage gap that Black women face. Other than Latinas, Black women are the most unequally paid group. It takes an additional 8 months for the pay that Black women receive to equal what their male counterparts make in a year. For this meme to be introduced to the Internet on the same day as Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is not only shameful, it’s completely insensitive to the struggles of these women. 

Instead of making this woman into a meme, energy should be put into helping her and treating her like a human being.

Twitter / @DanaVivianWhite

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the people we see on the Internet are real and are experiencing real pain. They are entitled to compassion and respect especially this woman. Instead of making her exhaustion and labor into a joke, we should use it as a motivator to fight for greater wages and benefits for overworked employees. This picture is not meme material but it should be shared as a reminder that these employees deserve much more than they are getting.

This woman isn’t the only one to feel the exhaustion of the demands being put on Popeye’s workers.  

Twitter / @whyslexmad

Service workers are some of the most disrespected employees and Popeye’s employees are getting an extra serving of abuse from frustrated customers. Abusing overworked, underpaid food workers is disgraceful. It is not their job to take the disrespect of their customers. No one is paid enough to deal with this. 

These employees don’t have options. Often, they aren’t able to look for another job if they are unhappy with their current one. Workers like the exhausted woman are stuck in their situation but it is one that they don’t deserve. We don’t have to make it worse by denying their pain and turning their suffering into entertainment. 

The new Popeye’s sandwich might be delicious but it’s not worth the human struggles. If the chicken chain doesn’t soon find a way to compensate their workers for their labor, they will see a backlash from employees and concerned customers and they will lose the Chicken Sandwich Wars. 

The Internet Is Green With Envy Of A Prisoner Eating A Popeyes Sandwich

Culture

The Internet Is Green With Envy Of A Prisoner Eating A Popeyes Sandwich

@eugene3005 / Twitter

Context is often everything when it comes to social media, but users have so many questions about how a Popeyes chicken sandwich landed behind bars into the hands of a “lucky” prisoner. The Popeyes Chicken Sandwich has taken the nation by storm, selling out at nearly every Popeyes. Some have made half a dozen visits to the fried chicken chain before being able to sample the elusive sandwich. This is the collective mood Twitter user FBG Eugene (@Eugne3005) was in when he was looking through his Instagram stories. Then, he sees his friend, Frank Gutta, post himself eating a Popeyes sandwich from his cot in jail, and he’s about had it. “N***** in jail ate the Popeyes chicken sandwich before me IM SICK,” Gutta tweets in joking anger, along with the visual proof.

Now, another collective meltdown over this sandwich is underway as people try to understand how Gutta even got the sandwich delivered to his prison cell, or posted it to social media, for that matter.

Before Frank Gutta sinks his teeth into the sandwich, he poses for a quick photo.

CREDIT: @EUGENE3005 / TWITTER

“Trying to see what all the hype bout,” Frank Gutta captions the photo on his Instagram story. What’s more, it seems like Gutta has a second sandwich sitting beside him. “I’m dead af,” comments one Twitter user. Someone else tries to comfort Gutta’s friend, Eugene, who presumably is not in jail, saying “don’t get your spirits crushed homie! the man’s eating a soggy sandwich meaning that ain’t no regular popeyes chicken sandwich right there is a Popeyes Booty chicken sandwich or a Popeyes C****** chicken sandwich! either way you still have a chance for the original!”

Others wondered out loud if that cot is a prison cot or a dorm cot. “This look like some college freshman dorms. Whachu mean?” asks @KhariSafari. “Jail/college same thing” replies @___Yashiro. Khari Safari agrees, “except you owe more money after one of them.”

Gutta posts one more photo to his story to anonymously credit his “bae.”

CREDIT: @EUGENE3005 / TWITTER

Looks like Gutta is on to his second sandwich, and remembers to offer a “thanks bae.” More outrage. “He didn’t even tag or say shorty’s name 😅He belongs to the streets,” tweets one Carmen (@3ntr0_P). What lengths did “bae” go to to ensure Gutta got his chicken sandwich? First, she had to overcome the hurdle that every other sandwich-seeking-American has to go through to just obtain the sold-out sandwich. Then… how did she get it in? “Wait… don’t that mean she put it in her cooc- nvm,” asked Sweet Don (@itsbbydon).

Some people couldn’t accept that the receiver of the holy fried chicken sandwich could be so cruel. “Or maybe she’s a guard and he’s tryna protect her job and his connection to the outside world,” offers Ashley Wilson (@anwxo). It’s a far more pragmatic explanation than it is a romantic one, but that explanation “makes a lot of sense… it’s all adding up” for Carmen. 

The conspiracy theories are in: “bruh gotta be busting down a female guard.”

Credit: @6e_Drt / Twitter

Light Yagami’s (@YvngLxnk) theory that “bruh gotta be busting down a female guard” is the most liked opinion on the matter. “They allow workers to bring in food at a prison, it just has to either be sealed or able to be opened to get checked for drugs/cellphones & other stuff. We damn sure didn’t eat chow hall food,” offered @TheNappyAfreaux based off her personal experience.

Humble-braggers are now flocking to the thread to glorify their victory.

CREDIT: @NEWROUGESTON / Twitter

“I just got my 1st and 2nd taste of glory yesterday after 5 unsuccessful tries over the past few months. Added ketchup & cheese on them muff****kas,” tweeted The Wasted Talent (@NewRougeSton). Others are just dropping photos of the coveted sandwich in the thread with no caption and no likes. 

With nearly 64k likes and 22k retweets at the time of publication, the Internet is also wondering how Gutta was able to post the cultural phenomenon to social media from his cot. “Not only that … bro posted on his IG story,” tweets El Padrino (@ImGooooood). Other users are like “F*** it, he’s already in jail.” “People in jail still deserve some level of humanity. Glad bro got to try something that’s still next to impossible to get lol,” a @KhaptainKhan tweeted.

READ: A Fight Turned Fatal After Two Men Got Into An Argument Over A Popeyes Chicken Sandwich

Popeyes Just Made A Pretty Big Announcement About Their Most Coveted Item On The Menu

Culture

Popeyes Just Made A Pretty Big Announcement About Their Most Coveted Item On The Menu

After debuting on August 12th of this year, the Popeyes Crispy Chicken Sandwich—now widely known as, simply, The Sandwich—sold out in just two weeks, creating a frenzy among fans and employees (both online and IRL). For weeks, the drama borne of the viral phenomenon sizzled on screens everywhere, and the initial buzz about The Sandwich has barely had time to die down. 

However, after a few months’ hiatus, we are overjoyed to announce that The Sandwich will return to 150 Popeyes menus next month.

Twitter

According to Guillermo Perales, the CEO of Sun Holdings, Inc. (a franchisee that operates hundreds of Popeyes, Golden Corrals, and several other well-known brands), Popeyes will likely add two new employees per store, just to keep up with the mania around the return of The Sandwich. Overall, this means that roughly 400 more staff members will be added to the Popeyes payroll, all in order to meet this very specific, very spicy demand.

Felipe Athayde, president of Popeyes for the US market, said, “We had very aggressively forecast the demand, and we thought we wouldn’t have any problems at all, at least until the end of September.” Much to his surprise, the chain had sold out of that original inventory in just two weeks.

“The first time, they weren’t ready,” said Perales. Well, Guillermo, the world wasn’t ready, either.

It’s not hyperbolic to say that Twitter exploded with the first wave of Crispy Chicken Sandwich hype. 

Twitter

Popeyes and Chik-fil-A tweeted back and forth at length, the latter throwing shade about the notion that their signature sandwich—strikingly similar to Popeye’s, sans mayo—was superior. (Chik-fil-A also claims to have literally created the chicken sandwich, which is utterly incorrect; more on that below.) To catch up on this “conversation,” you can peep (no pun intended) the following hashtags: #ChickenWars, #ChickenSandwichWars, and #ChickenSandwichTwitter.

Of course, this exchange led to ample discussion about which sandwich actually did have the superior flavor; but the discourse quickly evolved to cover topics such as Chik-fil-A’s controversial politics, factory farming, and inhumane labor practices (including the exploitation of Popeyes’ own employees, many of whom were working 60-hour weeks at the time). Meanwhile, the #ChickenWars garnered so much attention that Popeyes and Chik-fil-A sales continued to rise—as of right now, Chik-fil-A is the third-largest restaurant chain in the entire US.

According to Reuters, Apex Marketing Group—a Michigan-based advertising consultancy—reported that Popeyes received an estimated $23.25 million in free advertising as a result of this online mayhem.

Getty Images

In a sense, this craze seems almost inevitable, as the chicken sandwich plays an integral role in the culinary identity of the United States. It’s difficult to trace the true origin of this delicious and iconic treat, but the inception of fried chicken (in the context of our country, anyway) is linked to Scottish settlers and West African slaves—the customs of two very different traditions adapting their cuisine to life in the American South.

As for the chicken sandwich, specifically, Donna Battle Pierce, a food journalist at Ebony, found an ad in a 1936 newspaper featuring a chicken sandwich special at the Booker T Cafe in small-town Topeka, Kansas. Battle Pierce acknowledges the cultural implications of the rise in popularity of the chicken sandwich. She defines it as a soul food staple steeped in Black US history, asserting that it entered the mainstream in the mid-20th century via white-owned empires like Kentucky Fried Chicken (who, of course, never credited their successes to fried chicken’s complex historical roots). 

Whether you are a fan of Chik-fil-A’s recipe over Popeyes’ (or vice versa), there is no arguing the ubiquity of fried chicken in the modern landscape of US cuisine. It may be surprising to learn of the chicken sandwich’s complicated past, but that only proves its importance in the present.

So, what about now? After a brief reprieve from the August madness, and with plans for greater reinforcements in every Popeyes store, are we prepared for the wonders to come?

Cole Saladino / Thrillist

Although Popeyes has had to reevaluate their approach to The Sandwich (they’ve been working to recruit new chicken suppliers in order to ensure sufficient quantities of meat for the upcoming release), it’s clear that the next wave will bring much joy to the public. Everyone who gets their hands on one will be ecstatic. Of course, we hope they don’t run out of stock again, but if that happens, Twitter will certainly have a good time. Either way, we can’t wait.

After all: The chicken sandwich is more than just a chicken sandwich—it has emerged as a hot topic, a marketing campaign, a sacrament. If the first run of Popeye’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich is any indication, the answer is yes. We are so, so ready for all that juicy, pickly goodness.