Eat & DrinkSelf Care

How to Make a Double-Decker Popeye’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich & Why You Deserve It

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In the face of the turmoils of the past four years, both small and large, how does one cope? I picked up the guitar and learned a few new Dylan songs. I got more addicted to video games than ever before. I wrote more, or at least, I told myself I did.

Yet, the winner, the true hero of surviving my quarantine, was food and drinks. Heavy alcohol consumption – four drinks in under two hours for women and five for men – spiked 7% for men and 41% for women in the USA over the past year. National alcohol sales increased 54% from the same week a year before, and online sales leaped a staggering 262%.

With regards to food, and the real focus of this article, it was the time-tested holy grail of hangover cures – the Popeyes’ Spicy Chicken Sandwich, that saved me. I’ve written about this old friend of mine before.

There wasn’t anything special about that day. I awoke with a mild hangover due to a mixture of tequila, Mango White Claws, and I’m sure sprinkles of other things – nothing good or in the form of hydration. I was about as smart as a koala (read more about their condition here). With my girlfriend out of the apartment at 10 AM, I struggled to make myself a pot of java while shaking up a bottle of Athletic Greens, a high efficacy greens daily powder that supports five crucial health areas. Finishing it, I felt no different. No-fault of AG, but the job at hand was out of their concoction’s range when it came to the devils I was dancing with.

The cashier at Popeyes was confused when I asked them, “Can you make that a double spicy chicken?”

This could be on account of two things: they were well-trained and would never suspect such a disgusting order or, they were more confused by me, a crooked, twisted breathless human who required such a heinous amalgamation of fried chicken and sweet bread that they would need two to live.

“We don’t do that here,” the cashier stated flatly.

I expected this retort and promptly ordered two, slightly peeved at the $2.50 difference. The cashier said something over their shoulder, and the cook behind the tiny window went wide-eyed, then laughed. My shame urged me to make some kind of excuse for ordering two, but I held onto my gluttonous pride. I kept the line. Outside, someone was pitching votes to a candidate that rhymed feastin’. I told myself, for the sole purpose of comfort, that I would be doing that soon.

“I’ll take two blackened ranch’s and a side of extra pickles,” I told the cashier.

They shook their head in dismay and fetched what my weakened soul desired.

Back home, beads of wild sweat rolled down my rosacea, stained cheeks, and forehead. I threw both Popeyes sandwiches into the oven. This tactic is the first thing you do when gracing your stomach with a Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich. Because of their protective aluminum wrappers followed by their light paper around their sensitive buns, they can retain heat rather than burn or explode. I’ve tested this so you can live it, enjoy it, carefree.

After adequately positioning a cutting board, pulling out my extra accouterment, and a dinner plate, I unsheathed the two sandwiches. At first, I thought about double stacking them, piling the two pieces of extra-large fried chicken and four slices of bread. Then, I remembered I was home alone. If I were to choke on a rouge pickle or a mischievous scrap of bread, I was finished. The last thing I knew how to do was give myself the Heimlich maneuver. So, I stripped one sandwich clean of its bread, put them in a Ziploc for later, leaving me only with the model fried breast.

At this moment, I took it up a notch.

After fluffing up the base bun a bit (it looked squished), I fixed the first breast in the center and proceeded to dump half of the blackened ranch on top, making sure to never look away as the red hot pink sauce drizzled down the avenues of golden flaky spicy chicken skin. Then, three pickles in a perfect triangle. Next, my hand shaking with anticipation, I placed the second breast on top, following another shower of the blackened ranch and three more pickles. You may be thinking; It’s going to be too wet to eat. Well, you’d be wrong, nay, blasphemous to assume the fried spicy chicken breasts would not have the ability to soak all that magnificent ranch into their skin because that’s precisely what happened.

Lastly, all alone in my kitchen, with no podcast informing me about the coming election or music to distract me, I placed the head bun on top. A wave of relief rolled over me. If this was possible, anything was. I envisioned what I was now looking at in reality in my smooth, hazy, booze-addled mind. What was once a dream was a tangible truth. It was beautiful.

The first bite was a struggle, but I laughed and savored in the sandwich’s creamy, spicy flavor-punched dance as the juices slapped against the dinner plate below. The extra pickles sour taste contrasted with the ranch matched with the tender sweet bun was everything I cherished about the spicy chicken sandwich, only more. I chiseled away at this tower of flesh with the zeal of Michelangelo, creating David. Immediately, I felt the pain of my hangover melt away, followed by a piggish glee of doing what I wanted.

As I plopped the last bite in my mouth, I heard a deep, satisfied grumble in my stomach. I understood it as an affirmation, a nod to the idea that whatever was going to happen in the coming months and years, whatever horrors we would go through as a nation and as a world, sometimes one has to step back and simply do something that will make them happy. Be it subscribing to Babbel to do a lesson a week or splurging on that better bottle of Pinot or going to that protest, do it. Stacking two gargantuan pieces of spicy fried chicken on top of each other and going at it as a greedy hyena worked for me. Whatever thing it is, I hope you give yourself permission to go out and make it happen. You deserve it.

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Mitchell Duran

Mitchell Duran

Mitchell Duran is a freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Winner of the ClarkGrossman and Wilner Award in Short Fiction, his work has been featured in Drunk Monkeys, The Millions, Music in SF and more. He survives in San Francisco.