Why the Violence Over Popeyes’ Chicken Sandwich Isn’t About Food

9.4.19: Nation – (Culture): On Monday night, a mob attempted to breach the doors of a Houston Popeyes upon learning that the restaurant’s elusive new chicken sandwich had been sold-out.

The Texas incident – which saw two women and three men, one of whom brandished a gun outside the fried chicken eatery, abandon a baby in a car in an effort to secure the viral $3.99 menu item – follows a pattern of hostile conduct by would-be Popeyes customers in the days and weeks following the August 12th launch of the chicken sandwich.

A high-profile food debut that was initially met with fanfare, curiosity, and innocuous debate, was soon marred by a consumer-driven barbarism that appears uniquely American.

From a multi-national restaurant chain, the mass-produced food can only be but so good.

In this context, a fried chicken breast on a brioche bun, with pickles and mayo, isn’t gastronomy. And even if it was, when’s the last time you witnessed chaos ensue due to the availability of fine cuisine?

The violence over Popeyes’ chicken sandwich isn’t about a food shortage; the combatants aren’t famished and fighting for morsels in order to survive.

What’s causing the brouhaha is people, many of whom are likely already wound up, being denied the opportunity to participate in a frivolous cultural moment. Said another way: the violence is resulting from malcontents who wanted to be seen with a hyped-up product in order to secure status, and when that attempt was thwarted, they became aggrieved and irrational.

The hysteria over Popeyes is really no different than how consumers battle one another when a new pair of Nike Air Jordan becomes available. Customers don’t shell out several hundred dollars because the sneaker aids their walking or improve their chances of playing in the NBA. Rather, they buy the sneaker for what it represents: status.

An organic cultural moment was created that turned a relatively basic sandwich into a status symbol. And with such a low price point, the masses could engage.

But with masses comes every class of people. And, for sure, the violence caused by sold-out chicken is a class issue. Only a low-class person would defile themselves by sparring in a restaurant or attempting to break into one, just to gorge on store-bought fried chicken.

To be clear, my use of the term low-class is not synonymous with poverty. Indeed, one can be impoverished and maintain a high-class disposition. What I’m referring to is a poor, low-class mindset that enables individuals to shamelessly debase themselves, for whatever reason.

Gracious people nationwide must swiftly and publicly condemn the unacceptable behavior displayed at Popeyes locations. The incivility further tarnishes America’s brand, but, more importantly, endangers fast-food workers.

This is, indeed, a public safety issue, one that may even require a government response. In my opinion, no American lawmaker should ever have to concern themselves with a trivial issue like the availability of fried chicken. Nevertheless, such a time we live in.

The absence of law-and-order during a chicken sandwich shortage could be a matter of life and death.

The sentence above is one that should never be written.

Thanks for reading! Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® and I’m Drumming for Justice!™

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