Popeyes Adds New Fish Sandwich to Its Menu, Just In Time for Lent
The Cajun Flounder Sandwich is the chain's first attempt at a fish filet.
Hey, remember when we were all losing our minds over the Popeyes chicken sandwich? Although the Great Chicken Sandwich Wars just happened during the summer before last, it feels like it was at least 75 years ago.
But today, Popeyes is back with another new sandwich, and the chain is so confident that everyone is going to love it, they're offering something called Sandwich Insurance to go with each order. The Cajun Flounder Sandwich will be available in restaurants and for delivery starting on Thursday, February 11. The Cajun-spiced fish filet is topped with tartar sauce and sliced pickles, and is served on the same buttery brioche bun as its fried chicken counterpart.
"After seeing the response to our Chicken Sandwich in 2019, we are excited to deliver yet another delicious sandwich to our fans that is sure to reset industry standards," Popeyes president Sami Siddiqui said in a statement. "At Popeyes, we don't take shortcuts on quality and strive to ensure our ingredients are the best of the best. That's why we're proud to be serving up the most authentic, Cajun Flounder Sandwich in [quick service restaurants]."
Anyone who isn't sure whether they'll dig the fish sandwich or not can add Sandwich Insurance to their order for an extra 15 cents. That means if after a couple of bites you're not into it, you can trade it in for a chicken sandwich at no extra charge. ("Popeyes doesn't think you are going to need it," the chain said. "Everyone is going to love that fish sandwich from Popeyes.") The Cajun Flounder Sandwich isn't the chain's first non-chicken sandwich offering, as a shrimp po boy has been on the menu before, however it is their first crack at a fish filet.
And the sandwich's launch is well-timed, since Ash Wednesday—and the beginning of the Lenten season—is next week. Fast food restaurants tend to add fish sandwiches to their menus (or they remind everyone that those sandwiches exist) about this time every year, in order to give Catholics a non-meat option on Fridays. This unofficial tradition seemingly started in 1962, when a struggling McDonald's owner in Ohio realized that his predominantly Catholic customers didn't order burgers on that day of the week.
"I was struggling," Lou Groen told the Chicago Tribune in 2007. "The crew was my wife, myself, and a man named George. I did repairs, swept floors, you name it. But that area was 87 percent Catholic. On Fridays we only took in about $75 a day."
Inspired by the success of the fish sandwich at another local restaurant, Groen came up with his own recipe for a cheese-and-tartar-sauce topped fish filet. He presented his idea to McDonald's founder Ray Kroc, who was initially reluctant about it—until Groen's restaurant sold 350 Filet-O-Fish sandwiches on Good Friday alone. (It also significantly outperformed the grilled pineapple-and-cheese Hula Burger, which was Kroc's own attempt at a meat-free menu item).
According to Smithsonian Magazine, McDonald's sells more than 300 million Filet-O-Fish sandwiches every year—and almost one-quarter of those sales (23 percent) are during Lent. So Popeyes has good timing, for sure, and if their chicken is any indication of what we can expect, they've probably got a good sandwich to go with it.