Aug. 8 (UPI) -- National chicken chain Popeyes said Thursday it will start selling chicken sandwiches -- for the first time in its near-50-year existence -- across the United Stated next week.
Popeyes said the base-level sandwich -- with a buttered bun and pickles -- is its most significant product launch in decades, since it added crawfish to the menu in 1989.
Founded in 1972, Popeyes has never before offered a chicken sandwich.
The chain expects the new item, which will launch Monday, to compete with national chicken leader Chick-Fil-A.
The company actually rolled out the new sandwich with a soft launch in Southern California. Popeyes allowed Long Beach restaurant Sweet Dixie Kitchen to begin selling the item Thursday, in a virtual two-day preview. The eatery ran afoul of the chain two years ago for passing off Popeyes chicken as its own.
"I thought they were calling to sue me," Sweet Dixie Kitchen owner Kim Sanchez said. "We have a lot of history with Popeyes, but we've always said Popeyes chicken is the best fried chicken we ever had."
Popeyes said it's also planning to launch in China.