Originally established in 1907, Popeyes is currently the longest running fast food franchise of all-time. While many believe the company to be named after notorious cartoon-pirate-but-all-around-good-guy Popeye from the popular children’s cartoon of the same name, it’s not even close to the whole story. You see, there was a man in real life named Phillip James Popeye that both the restaurant franchise and the beloved cartoon hero stemmed from.
The real Popeye had a rough childhood, to say the least. Legend has it that when he was seven years old, a strange man with very big muscles in a stained wife beater came into his house and woke him from bed. The man made he and his little brother, Ralph, follow him into their parents bedroom, where the strange man woke his parents and beat them both to death with his bare hands, never breaking alternating eye contact with he and his little brother. When the parents were nothing more than so many pounds of meat, he led the children to the kitchen where he prepared them some of the best fried chicken they’d ever had in their lives. Even through the trauma of watching both of their parents get beaten to death, the Popeye brothers still took note of how good it was. If they were going to have to remember that night later in their lives, and they would, they’d also have to admit that it was some pretty good chicken.
When their meals were eaten, the strange man with the muscles headed for the door, pausing briefly before leaving like it was an afterthought but he was totally planning to do the dramatic door thing the whole time, and he said, “One day, probably like fifteen years give or take, I will come for you. Be ready.” While Ralph didn’t take the threat seriously, Phillip did. He spent the next fifteen years of his life training his mind and body to beat this strange muscled man to death in a fight if he had to. Ralph spent the next fifteen years chasing girls and wasting money on name brand soft drinks.
Finally, fifteen years, six months, and three days later, he did come for them. He came for Ralph first. They found his jaw wrapped around the toilet seat and his arms shoved Well, you get it. When Phillip saw his body at the coroner, he couldn’t say he was shocked, not that he wasn’t devastated. Why was this happening? What was up with this guy? Is he going to bring more chicken? These were questions that Phillip wanted the answers to. Later that night, he finally got them.
The strange man with the muscles was waiting in Phillip’s garage when he got back from identifying what was left of Ralph’s body. When Phillip opened the door, he saw him standing there in what looked like the same stained wife beater he’d had all those years before. He smiled and took two steps before Phillip sprung into action. He’d spent his whole life preparing for this. All the training, the dread, the constant paranoia, it would all end now, one way or another. Using everything he’d taught himself for the last fifteen years, he took the gun out of his sock and shot the strange man with the large muscles in the face six times.
Phillip went through the man’s wallet to see if he had any identification or spare cash. He found neither, but what he did find was a recipe for the best goddam fried chicken you’ve ever had in your life with a note that said, “I’ve taught you well. You’ve earned this.” Whatever it was that was taught to him by fearing the return of a deranged serial killer for the last fifteen years was beyond him, but he did come away with one hell of a fried chicken recipe. He buried him in the toilet. Took him the better part of a week to get the pieces small enough to flush.
He shortly thereafter moved to New Orleans and opened a fried chicken restaurant and, years later, they would base the cartoon character on him, taking several liberties, such as making him a pirate, eat spinach, showing anything but disgust for Mexicans, Native Americans or the Italians, and not referencing his chicken or past in any way. But that chicken? That’s some good ass chicken.