When you just gotta have a Popeye's biscuit
Please do not create your own drive-thru at your local chicken joint
Welcome to Flashlight & A Biscuit, my Southern culture/sports/music/food offshoot of my work at Yahoo Sports. Thanks for reading, and if you’re new around here, why not subscribe? It’s free and all.
Hey friends! I’m on the road right now, so this week’s edition is a bit abbreviated. I’ll make it up to you next week, promise. For now, though, reader Andrew G., knowing that I will read anything and everything involving biscuits, comes through big wit this story whose headline tells an entire epic poem of hope and heartbreak: “Ga. Woman Crashes SUV into Popeyes Building After Her Order Didn't Include Biscuits.”
Before we delve into this lovely woman’s story, a word. The Chicken Wars in the South are really more like Chicken Guerrilla Warfare, with all sides in a constant battle for hearts, minds and arteries. Loyalty only lasts until your next sandwich, and the battle is re-fought every time someone decides they need some grease-laden chicken thrown in a bag and hurled into your car with the mad velocity of Stetson Bennett slinging a 60-yard dart.
Somebody — it may have been this dude, who knows — once came up with an alignment chart for all the chicken joints you can visit, from the established masters to the chaotic mobsters to the “hey, we have chicken too!” tagalongs. See what you think:
Pretty solid matrix there. But let’s focus on that upper right square, Popeye’s. Deep breath. Ready? No, you’re not, but we’re going in anyway.
The great Spencer Hall summed up Popeye’s in a headline: “POPEYE’S IS PERFECT AND YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.” It’s a joy, you should read it. His jumping-off point was the ritual humiliation of an off-brand American Idol contestant at the hands of the merciless workers at the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport Popeye’s, but really, his point is this: Popeye’s exists beyond the laws of God and humankind, and any attempt to impose order on the pandemonium — like, say, wanting the correct order — is like screaming at the ocean to turn around.
Remember the great Chicken Sandwich Panic of … was it 2019? Whatever, everything before COVID is a blur. Anyway, you remember — everyone went on a mad dash for Popeye’s new chicken sandwiches, with lines wrapping around entire restaurants. I had the distinction of getting one of those delicious sandwiches about a day before the madness broke nationwide, happening to give it a try while on a road trip, enjoying it immensely, and thinking nothing more of it. I did the speculating equivalent of buying a pack of cards with a Mickey Mantle rookie in it just so I could chew the gum.
Anyway, I was in a Popeye’s later that week trying to get my kid a chicken sandwich — I am an idiot for my kids — and saw the most Popeye’s thing ever: a Popeye’s truck pulling up, the driver running inside with a huge box in hand, and the manager taking one look at the box and sighing the kind of sigh when a child has just carved their name into the hardwood floor with a steak knife. “You brought me chicken,” she said. “I have chicken. I needed buns.”
Anyway. Let’s get to the point of this story. It seems an Augusta woman named Belinda — I don’t even know her, but based on her name and place of origin I am giving her anything she wants, always — grew irate at the fact that she didn’t get her biscuits in her Popeye’s order. Now, as discussed previously, Belinda (I’m not giving her last name, Google has a long memory) should have been grateful she was handed something approaching her order, and not a flaming sack of ignited grease. But no, Belinda decided to throw hands with the Almighty, and she did so by driving her SUV straight into the restaurant.
She then backed away and left in a hurry. (Presumably the building healed itself in a matter of moments, Terminator-style.) Police didn’t exactly have to bring in Benoit Blanc for this one, given that Belinda had a) called the store and threatened to ram her car into it and b) literally just come through and purchased items, probably with an easily-trackable debit card or, at the very least, with a highly memorable SUV that the staff got to see up close. Police arrived at her home and found the SUV, still with a heavily-dented front end and its steering wheel coated in delicious chicken grease. (I made that last part up … or did I?)
Now, we don’t advocate violence in the name of fast food here at F&AB — you know what, that’s a lie, we’re generally fine with it, but maybe ramming a vehicle into the side of a building is taking things a tetch too far.
Those biscuits are really good, though, and if her defense attorneys are any good, they’ll present a hot, fresh pan full of ‘em to the jury — and then slap ‘em out of their hands, just to show how losing out on those biscuits can enrage a body. Belinda would walk with nothing but a little ol’ fine … and maybe some much-needed anger management counseling.
A reminder: if you come across any bizarre Southern tales/stories/anecdotes/family legends you think I need to know, by all means email me or leave a comment right here.
Oh, and as for the “Flashlight” side of this newsletter, I recently received this interesting inquiry via Twitter DM:
Ma’am, the newsletter’s name is Flashlight AND a Biscuit, not OR. I will only review both at once. Your move, Popeye’s.
Music: “Death Wish,” Jason Isbell
Those of you who’ve been reading this newsletter for a bit — or who know my day job — know that the odds of me highlighting a new song by the Patron Saint of Sportswriters are about the same as the odds of the sun coming up tomorrow. I’ve written about Isbell’s mojo here and his fine taste in cover songs here, so when word comes down that he’s got new music on the way, well, I pay attention. I tend to listen to songs first for the music and then for the lyrics, and this one — the story of a man trying to stand between a woman and her own self-destruction — snuck up on me as a result. Give it a listen, and yeah, I’ll be writing about the whole album when it drops in June.
“Death Wish” and all the other songs I’ve recommended are in the ever-growing Flashlight & A Biscuit Spotify playlist, and if you need a Jason Isbell primer, well, I’ve got that for you too.
That’ll do it for this week, friends. Stay safe, and I’ll catch you with more next Saturday. Peace!
This is issue #95 of Flashlight & A Biscuit. Check out all the past issues right here. Feel free to email me with your thoughts, tips and advice. If you’re new around here, jump right to our most-read stories, or check out some of our recent hits:
Birmingham’s Vulcan statue: heart of steel, glutes of iron
Convict fish and Land Cats! (It makes sense when you read it.)
Moonshine! Murder! The thrilling conclusion of the three-part “Hellfire & White Lightning” series
Did Dolly Parton really write “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You” on the same day?
What does “Flashlight & A Biscuit” mean, anyway?
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If you are ever in Tallahassee, try a Lindys chicken sandwich. If they ask what you want on it just say whatever normally comes on it. It will change your life...maybe.