It's hard to find good chicken these days, apparently.

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Why Canada Hasn't Replicated The Popeyes Chicken Sandwich
Credit: Popeyes

An underlying tenet of a good restaurant is consistency:  If you go back for your favorite dish, or recommend it to your friend, you want it to taste like it did the last time. For large chains, they’re trying to replicate that consistency throughout hundreds or even thousands of locations across large geographical distances. It ain’t easy. And as Popeyes apparently found out, it can be even trickier when crossing an international border.

Canada’s Financial Post recently wrote about “the push to create a Canadian version of Popeyes' vaunted chicken sandwich” and, once again, the details behind the most-talked-about sandwich of 2019 are surprisingly intriguing. According to the report, before introducing the product in Canada, Popeyes wanted to figure out a way to reproduce the popular item using only Canadian ingredients: This move would save them money on importing ingredients from the U.S. and avoid the hassles of dealing with an exchange rate between the Canadian and American dollar.

But getting ingredients on a large scale isn’t always easy: Remember, back when Popeyes had to pull the chicken sandwich from U.S. locations, the issue was apparently that the chain couldn’t source enough of the right kind of chickens to fulfill demand. In Canada, Popeyes was essentially starting from scratch, looking for producers who could handle both the scale and the quality they were looking for on the four main components of the sandwich: chicken, bun, pickles, and mayonnaise.

Side-by-side taste tests and discussions ensued. “We knew that we were very close,” Rob Manuel, Popeyes’ general manager in Canada, told the Financial Post. “There were a couple of slight modifications that we had to give back to a couple of suppliers.” But apparently one element was unable to match the U.S. quality from a Canadian supplier—and guess what it was?

This week, the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich is getting an initial test run in eight locations in Edmonton, and it will feature entirely Canadian ingredients… except for the meat. “The chicken is battered in buttermilk sourced from a Canadian supplier,” the Post writes. “But Popeyes will import chicken from the U.S. for the upcoming test in Edmonton, because the fillets require a particular size and cut of bird.” This isn’t to say they’re done looking. The Post adds that the chain “wants a Canadian supply deal for the Canada-wide launch this fall, lest if face hefty import tariffs.”

But beyond tariffs, here’s another reason: Canada, please don’t take all of our small chickens. Not sure if you all heard up there, but we had our own shortage of those chickens down here last year, and we were not pleased!