When Popeyes inspired fried chicken sandwich mania in 2019, Brits were left twiddling their thumbs. Not that fast food chains always offer identical menu items around the globe anyway, but the United Kingdom didn’t have any Popeyes locations regardless — meaning only the jetsetter crowd could grab a taste.
But for Brits unwilling to take an international flight to try fast food chicken, the wait is over. On November 20, Popeyes opened the first of what the chain says could be as many as 350 British locations over the next ten years in the Westfield Stratford City shopping mall in East London .
Initial wait times could be measured in hours, according to the New York Times, with anecdotal evidence on Twitter suggesting some of the hundreds of people who “queued”(as they say in the UK) waited two or three hours for a taste.
The feedback so far has apparently been positive – living up to the hype created across the pond. And though some things are slightly different — for instance, Popeyes boasts that their UK sandwich is made with 100-percent fresh British chicken — the bigger story since the chain opened has been what hasn’t changed: namely, some of the language.
In an effort to stick to its Louisiana roots (where the chain was founded in 1972), Popeyes opted to continue calling its biscuits a “biscuit” in the U.K., even though Brits tend to reserve that term for what Americans would call a “cracker” or a “cookie.” “I guess if we ran with the research,” Tom Crowley, CEO of Popeyes U.K., was quoted as saying, “we probably wouldn’t have done it, if I’m honest.”
Oddly enough, though buttermilk biscuits are pretty common across the U.S., the U.K. doesn’t have a direct equivalent: Scones are probably the closest in British cuisine, but they tend to be denser, and certainly wouldn’t be served with fried chicken.
Still, Crowley said Popeyes decided to run with “biscuits” anyway. “All that heritage plays well,” he told the Times. “The U.K., in our view, actually appreciates that great fried chicken is going to come out of Southern U.S.”
Brits certainly aren’t averse to American fast food chicken chains: KFC already has over 900 British locations – though they also don’t sell any biscuits.
Source: Food and Wine