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  1. Wow. I wonder when Copeland and the company parted ways, and how he managed to keep ownership of the company.

    In a recent episode of the Splendid Table podcast, a cookbook author (the book was Fried and True, if memory serves) said it was very difficult to convince Popeyes to let them visit the mothership (as part of the research for the book). Popeyes not owning the recipe (and probably having to pay a mega penalty if they disclosed it to a third party) may have had something to do with that.

    3 Replies
    1. re: PinchOfSalt

      Looks like the chicken chain Popeye's was acquired Copelamd in 1992, while he kept control of the recipes with Diversified Foods, which he, and then his estate, owned.

      1. re: PinchOfSalt

        Many things entered into the complex. Al Copeland died after having (I think it was) five wives and quite a few children. He started with biscuits and chicken. And expanded. And that was Popeyes.

        Then the corp bought Church's fried chicken with a bridging loan from a major investment co. Then they called the bridging loan because the bond offering market changed. That put the corp into bankruptcy.

        The restaurant chain called Copelands was an early loss. Somehow he held onto the spice formulas.

        If you can search the Times Picayune, I'd expect even more details there.

        1. re: shallots

          I don't think the Picayune can give many details.. I was on the edge of that corporate fight, knowing accountants involved. Can't really say anything other than I learned not to listen to investment bankers. Al was smart to keep the recipe to himself: that's what saved him.

          I think he had gone bankrupt at least once before he hit it big with Popeye's. In the 1970s New Orleans, Popeye's was great. We used to have favorite stores at different times of day and night. The one by Hub Ford at the pumping station was excellent at 1:00AM

      2. So now the recipes will change, based upon "sourcing" and "improved value for the customer."

        8 Replies
        1. re: Kris in Beijing

          They shouldn't change really, although they certainly could. The supplier to Popeye's remains the same, only the financials (royalty payments vs. ownership) have changed. Popeye's would be cutting their own throat if they changed too much.

          1. re: mcsheridan

            You never know. McDonalds used to just do burgers and fries and now their menu is a sprawling mess because customers demanded "Heart Smart" grilled chicken caesar wraps they nobody bought. Would not surprise me that some bean counters say they need to get out of fried chicken and start acting like Chipotle and cutting their throat because the customer is always right.

            1. re: monkeyrotica

              I didn't bring my lunch today and went to McDonald's for a rare filet-o-fish. There was an almost 20 minute wait despite a 7 or 8 car line. Must be all the new menu choices. I go a fish combo, no cheese. The fish was lukewarm, the fries cold and disgusting, I threw most of them away. The only good thing was the coke, probably because I haven't had a soft drink in many months.

              Popeye's needs the original recipe, I personally find the one now below average. After much love on Chowhound I gave Popeye's another shot. The chicken was no better than ok, and the red beans and rice remind me why I don't like them, a weird texture and flavor and no sausage.

              Scratch off Popeye's and McDonalds's for at least another year.

              1. re: James Cristinian

                Where do you get your fried chicken? Because KFC is pretty vile.

                Don't think Popeyes red beans ever had sausage in it.

                1. re: monkeyrotica

                  I don't eat that much fried chicken, but if I want something close I go to Kroger, nicely spiced not overly large pieces. Really good fried chicken is destination feeding for the wifeacita and me. We like local chain original Frenchy's in Houston's Third Ward, a 30 minute drive. Frenchy's destroys Popeye's on every level, Creole seasond chicken, good beans and rice with Andouille, and smothered greens. Trips to the DMV and we do a short roadie to small town Hempstead for a mom and pop and/or a local grocery store. A suburb of Houston, Stafford has a Church's district office in the store, and I've never had bad chicken there, something I can't say for other locations. As for the Colonel, I'm often tempted to get one of those 10 piece specials, eat the skin and crust, original of course, and pick the meat of the bones and feed it to a stray dog.


                  1. re: James Cristinian

                    As far as I am concerned, KFC has been sub-par in flavour ever since Col. Sanders' voiceover ("always fresh, never frozen") was taken off their TV ads.

                    1. re: James Cristinian

                      No Krogers in DC/VA/MD. We usually do the chicken at Roy Rogers or when in Maryland, Royal Farms. For something that's made in a gas station, it's pretty awesome fresh fried chicken.



                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                        There's an Exxon in Shiner, Tx. that has a pressure cooker and when bought fresh it's as good as it get's. Shiner Brewery is just up the street. Small towns in Texas can have some real hidden gens.