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How Popeyes Got Its Name: A Brief History

Popular fast food chain Popeyes is well-known for its mouth watering fried chicken. However, a lot of people are curious about the restaurant’s unusual name. It’s interesting to note that the name “Popeyes’ ‘ has nothing to do with Popeye the Sailor from cartoons.

Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen Fast Food Restaurant

In reality, the eatery has Gene Hackman’s “The French Connection” character’s name.

Hackman as Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle, a detective in the film who was renowned for his tenacious and unrelenting pursuit of criminals.

Al Copeland, the owner of Popeyes, was motivated by this figure to give his eatery his name.


Founding of Popeyes

Al Copeland established the well-known fried chicken franchise Popeyes in 1972.

Full front view of updated Popeyes

Copeland, a native of New Orleans, had previously operated the unsuccessful Chicken on the Run restaurant.

Copeland made the decision to rebrand and rename his establishment because he was determined to establish a reputation for himself in the fast food market.

Fox News reports that Copeland originally intended to spell the name “Popeyes” but was forced to do so after receiving legal threats from the estate of the Popeye cartoon character.

Copeland had named his new restaurant after the character Popeye Doyle from the film “The French Connection.”

Popeyes immediately became well-liked in New Orleans and spread to additional parts of Louisiana. The chain became public and started franchising all over the United States in 1976.

The spicy fried chicken and trademark sides like red beans & rice and Cajun fries are what make Popeyes famous today.

The brand is well-known among fans of fast food and has more than 3,000 locations globally.

In conclusion, Al Copeland rebranded his unsuccessful business, Chicken on the Run, and opened Popeyes in 1972.

Although the eatery was originally called Popeye Doyle in honor of the Popeye character from the film “The French Connection,” the spelling was changed to “Popeyes” to avoid legal trouble from the Popeye character’s estate.

The franchise swiftly grew in prominence in Louisiana before branching out across the country and finally becoming global.

Brand Evolution

Since its founding in 1972, Popeyes has advanced significantly.

The name, logo, and menu options of the company have all changed over the years as well as other aspects of the business.

Here is a quick summary of Popeyes’ brand development.

Acquisition by AFC Enterprises

AFC Enterprises bought Popeyes in 1993, and the company eventually changed its name to Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc.

The brand was able to grow thanks to the acquisition both domestically and internationally.

AFC Enterprises was a publicly traded business that also owned Cinnabon and Church’s Chicken among other names.

Popeyes conducted a big rebranding campaign when owned by AFC Enterprises.

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, a moniker that more accurately reflected the company’s menu options and Southern roots, replaced Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits as the previous name of the brand.

The brand was able to set itself apart from other chicken chains like KFC and Chick-fil-A thanks to the new moniker.

In addition to changing its name, Popeyes also modified its store design and logo. The classic Popeyes character was still prominently shown in the new logo, which had a more contemporary and streamlined appearance.

The new store design offered a cozy and welcoming ambiance and was influenced by Louisianan architecture.

Overall, Popeyes was able to develop into the brand we know today thanks to the company’s acquisition by AFC Enterprises.

The business stands apart in a congested fast food industry thanks to its emphasis on Southern-inspired cuisine and distinctive flavors.

Marketing Strategy

The success of the brand has been significantly influenced by Popeyes’ marketing approach.

The company has always placed a premium on the caliber of its food as well as its distinctive flavors, which are influenced by Louisianan cooking.

Popeyes’ marketing campaigns frequently draw attention to the company’s New Orleans heritage and dedication to using only the freshest ingredients.

The introduction of the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich in recent years was one of the most effective marketing strategies.

The business used social media to generate discussion about the sandwich, which spread like wildfire.

Popeyes’ social media staff interacted with customers, celebrities, and influencers, which heightened interest in the product.

In order to keep customers coming back, Popeyes regularly runs promos and limited-time deals.

The business has discounted seasonal foods like crawfish and shrimp as well as highly-liked menu items like chicken tenders and biscuits.

These specials encourage customers to visit the restaurants while also keeping the menu interesting and varied.

Along with its marketing initiatives, Popeyes has put a lot of effort into enhancing the client experience.

The business has made digital investments to make ordering and paying easier, and it has remodeled its restaurants to make them feel more friendly and up to date.

These initiatives have aided in bringing in new clients and keeping hold of current ones.

In general, Popeyes’ marketing plan has been successful in raising brand recognition and boosting sales.

The brand has become a leader in the fast food sector by putting a strong emphasis on high-quality ingredients, distinctive flavors, and engaging social media advertising.

Frequently Asked Questions

Was Popeyes named after the cartoon character Popeye?

No, Popeyes was not named after the cartoon character Popeye. Despite the similarity in names, there is no connection between the two. According to the company’s website, the restaurant was named after the fictional character Popeye Doyle from the movie “The French Connection.” The founder of Popeyes, Alvin C. Copeland Sr., was a big fan of the movie and decided to name his restaurant after the character.

Does Popeyes serve spinach or any other green vegetables?

No, Popeyes does not serve spinach or any other green vegetables. While the restaurant is named after a character who is known for eating spinach, Popeyes specializes in fried chicken, seafood, and other southern-style dishes. The name of the restaurant is simply a tribute to the character Popeye Doyle, and has no connection to the menu.

Why is there no apostrophe in the name “Popeyes”?

According to the founder of Popeyes, Alvin C. Copeland Sr., the name was originally supposed to be “Popeye’s” with an apostrophe. However, due to budget constraints, the sign company that made the restaurant’s sign left out the apostrophe. Copeland decided to keep the name without the apostrophe, and it has remained that way ever since.

Is there any significance to the spelling of “Popeyes”?

The spelling of “Popeyes” without an apostrophe is intentional, according to the company’s website. The name is meant to be a play on words, with the “eye” in Popeyes representing the Louisiana-style spices and seasonings used in the restaurant’s food.


In conclusion, it’s still unclear where the name “Popeyes” for the well-known fast-food restaurant came from.

There is no proof to back the assertion that it was named after the Popeye the Sailor cartoon character, despite some people’s beliefs to the contrary.

Al Copeland, the restaurant’s creator, has admitted that the name was just picked for its catchiness.

Another hypothesis contends that the character played by Gene Hackman in the film “The French Connection,” who was dubbed “Popeye” because of his likeness to the cartoon character, served as the inspiration for the moniker. This notion is also unsupported by any hard data, though.

Regardless of where it came from, “Popeyes’ ‘ has come to be associated with mouth watering fried chicken and other Southern-style fare.

With stores across more than 40 nations, the chain has developed into one of the most well-liked fast-food chains in the United States.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.