What’s the unhealthiest fast-food giant in America?
Certainly a major — and fast rising — contender for that heart-stopping title is the blandly named Restaurant Brands International. It is shelling out $1.8 billion to add the Popeyes fried chicken chain to a roster that already includes Burger King (“Home of the Whopper”) and Tim Hortons, a donut chain (whose offerings have included specials like the Chocolate Whoopie Pie donut).
To get its hands on Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, which is actually based in Georgia, Restaurant Brands will pony up $79 a share, a 27 percent premium, according to CNBC.
Popeyes’ offerings include battered and fried crispy chicken, popcorn shrimp and buttermilk biscuits. A large order of its “Cajun Fries” weighs in at 770 calories, and a large order of mashed potatoes contains 1,770 mg of sodium.
Its menu should feel right at home with Burger King’s, whose Bacon King Sandwich “features two ¼ lb savory flame-grilled beef patties, topped a with a hearty portion of thick-cut smoked bacon, melted American cheese and topped with ketchup and creamy mayonnaise all on a soft sesame seed bun.”
Popeyes, started in New Orleans in 1972, was named after Popeye Doyle, the maverick New York detective portrayed by Gene Hackman in the film The French Connection. It has some 2,600 outlets, including one in Malaysia. Like Burger King, most of the stores are franchises.
Restaurant Brands already has more than 19,000 food outlets in 100 countries, according to its website, and it brought in more than $4.1 billion in revenue last year, with sales up at both BK and Hortons.
Popeyes was starting to flag 10 years ago, according to Forbes, but CEO Cheryl Bachelder came on board in 2007 and is credited with turning it around.