Governor ready for a chicken sandwich 'taste test'

Posted at 11:06 AM, Nov 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-01 11:06:59-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.--- Gov. Ron DeSantis is taking some credit for the return of the summer’s viral sandwich sensation.

And he’s looking to do a taste test once the Popeyes spicy chicken sandwich phenom returns permanently to the Miami-based chain’s menu board on Sunday.

During an appearance at an annual Associated Press pre-session gathering for reporters and editors on Tuesday, DeSantis mentioned his craving for the buttermilk battered-and-breaded spicy chicken sandwich, which lit up social media in August.

A national rush on the fast-food chain’s delicacy, which is served on a toasted brioche bun dabbed with mayo or spicy Cajun spread, had quickly diminished the availability of the sandwich earlier this year.

The shortage was a double disaster in Florida, coming as the Sunshine State was simultaneously staring down the barrel of a potential natural catastrophe.

The chicken-based yearnings came as harried workers at the state Emergency Operations Center tracked Hurricane Dorian, which ravaged parts of the Bahamas and at times tracked towards Florida’s East Coast.

“We wanted people to bring in these chicken sandwiches from Popeye’s,” DeSantis said. “So, we’re going around looking and you couldn’t find them. Couldn’t find them after the storm.”

Popeyes halted sales two weeks after the pickle-topped treat was introduced in August, due to “unprecedented demand,” in part spurred by snarky Twitter exchanges between Popeyes, Chick-fil-A and Wendy’s.

As a man of action, DeSantis said he told his Chief of Staff Shane Strum that, since Popeyes --- a subsidiary of Toronto-based Restaurant Brands International --- is headquartered in South Florida, “Let’s just go down there, let’s get it done.”

DeSantis’ calendar showed he traveled to the Miami office of Restaurant Brands International for a Friday afternoon “visit” on Sept. 27. The governor also had meetings that afternoon in South Florida with Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Colombia President Ivan Duque Marquez.

After the visit, DeSantis tweeted, “Maybe it’s time to issue an executive order requiring all Popeyes in Florida to re-stock them ASAP??”

The tweet was accompanied by a photo of the governor holding an orange t-shirt that proclaimed: “I went to Popeyes for the new chicken sandwich and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.”

DeSantis on Tuesday bragged to reporters that the spicy sandwich was back on the menu.

“So, I don’t know if it was because of our visit, but they have announced on Sunday the chicken sandwich is going to return,” he said.

An Oct. 28 press release from Popeyes announcing the return of the sandwich didn’t mention DeSantis or much else. It simply stated, “I’m Back.”

The unusual re-launch date, a Sunday, is a continuation of the Twitter bout: The fast-food chain’s rival, Chick-fil-A, is closed on Sunday.

Still, DeSantis is salivating to compare the competitors.

“You’ll probably see me in the near future having a Chick-fil-A and a Popeye’s side-by-side and doing the ultimate taste test,” DeSantis said.