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11 Secrets You Never Knew About Popeyes

Surprise! Popeyes wasn't named after a cartoon character.

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen may have roots down South, but it's become a fried chicken favorite for everyone. That signature orange logo is a beacon for fried food lovers everywhere, where you know you'll always get well-executed comfort food with Cajun flavors. Of course, like every chain restaurant, it's worth noting some of the secrets and hacks—if for no other reason than to keep expectations realistic or save a few bucks. Before you bite into that fried chicken sandwich, read up on the secrets Popeyes restaurant would rather you didn't know. Plus, don't miss 11 Secrets Arby's Doesn't Want You to Know.

Beyoncé eats free for life


This is maybe the best perk ever, Beyoncé apparently has access to an endless supply of Popeyes. "Everywhere I went, people would buy me Popeyes, like the fans, and Popeyes heard, so they gave me a lifetime membership," the singer told Oprah in 2003. The singer confessed at the time she's too embarrassed to use the card though.

They once served chicken wings tossed in Champagne and 24-carat gold

popeyes blackened chicken tenders
Courtesy of Popeyes

Yes, Popeyes is always a little extra, and they went over-the-top for the opening of their 3,000th store, Eater reports. In 2018, at just four locations, they breaded their boneless chicken wings in champagne before tossing them in 24 karat gold flakes–for the low price of $5!

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You can menu hack gravy fries

popeyes cajun fries
Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen/ Facebook

While most fast food places don't offer gravy, Popeyes offers gravy over their mashed potatoes. Just order whatever size fries you want, and ask nicely for a side of gravy. Pour over your spicy Cajun fries (or dip, you do you) and there you have it, disco fries!

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Not every location has the full menu

popeyes kitchen
Calvin N. H./ Yelp

Popeyes bright orange sign dots many rest-stops across the US, but when you see that sign on a late night, don't get your hopes up for a chicken sandwich. We're not sure why, but most rest area Popeyes offer an abbreviated menu, as people have noted on Reddit and Tripadvisor, and for some states, like Maine, those are the only locations.

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The restaurant had to buy its own recipe back

popeyes chicken sandwich combo
Bill G./ Yelp

A few years back, Popeyes made news nationwide for spending a whopping $43 million to buy their secret recipe for fried chicken, according to Thrillist. Even though Copeland relinquished control of the company in 1992, he had been charging the chain an annual royalties fee of $3.1 million to use the recipes. Now, Popeyes still has to pay the Copeland estate for spices, but they did get their hands on the recipes.

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There's an actual reason the name has no apostrophe

popeyes interior

Though the restaurant name reads as possessive, there's never been an apostrophe in there anywhere. Copeland joked that he was "too poor" to afford one, reports Thrillist, when he started out, and later, even after the restaurant's huge growth, he kept the branding consistent.

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The chain isn't named for the spinach loving sailor

popeyes exterior
Courtesy of Popeyes

You might think Popeyes was named for the cartoon character, but founder Al Copeland was a fan of the classic film The French Connection, and Popeye Doyle was a character played by Gene Hackman. Copeland reportedly just liked the character's style!

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You can make the fried chicken at home

popeyes ghost pepper wings
Courtesy of Popeyes

"One of the hallmarks of Popeyes chicken is the amount of flavor we get from marination, whether it's a sandwich fillet, a piece of fried chicken, or a tender," Amy Alarcon, head of culinary innovation for Popeyes, told Forbes. Just follow her recipe for roasted chicken, then fry it up in a very hot oil with a high smoke point, such as vegetable shortening or peanut oil.

In fact, Popeyes wants you to make its newest chicken sandwich

Courtesy Popeyes

When Popeyes released its Blacked Chicken Sandwich in November, it released the list of spices that it uses to make the sandwich.

If you search for just about any popular fast-food sandwich online you'll find dozens—if not hundreds—of copycat recipes. Popeyes is confident, however, that its technique will be better than yours and that the real deal can only be served up by its restaurants.

The catch? It did not provide the ratios.

The last Popeyes buffet closed in 2021

buffet fried food

Apparently, at one time, many Popeyes locations were actually all-you-can-eat buffets. Over the years they have been sadly phased out. The last one standing in, Lafayette, LA, was made famous by Anthony Bourdain, who ate at the location for three days straight, enjoying the $8.99 price tag. Sadly according to Eater, the location is still there but the buffet did not survive the pandemic.

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This secret spice blend will upgrade your grilled chicken

popeyes cajun sprinkle
Kaley Roberts/ Eat This, Not That!

Skipping fried foods but missing all the flavor? Ask for the chain's Cajun Sparkle spice, which is used on tots and some fried chicken, and is kept behind the counter, according to Mashable. Cajun Sparkle, which includes garlic powder, onion powder, and red and black pepper, tastes savory and spicy and really elevates the chain's grilled options—it's also great on anything fried too!

A previous version of this article was originally published on December 25, 2021. It has been updated with new information.

Tanya Edwards
Tanya Edwards is a seasoned food and health journalist, who has held roles at Yahoo Health as Managing Editor and at Food Network as Programming Director. Read more about Tanya