Here’s a teevee news report from Rochester, NY about some Popeye’s running out of chicken. Like so much that happens in America, it is both hilarious and tragic. But! The people who are unable to procure their fried chicken, in this video, well they are black, which is a racial issue. And, it turns out, Popeye’s isn’t the only fried-chicken chain having issues related to black people. Is this really the America we expected after Barack Obama’s landslide victory?

Now, your editor loves himself some Popeye’s, as he is from New Orleans and Popeye’s is the local equivalent of, say, Jamba Juice. Health food, in other words. But even as a mostly (?) white person, your editor has frequently noticed that outside of New Orleans, the Popeye’s is always in the ‘hood. And the customers are usually black. Black people love Popeye’s so much that Barack Obama himself lectured black people about giving their children healthy breakfasts and not “cold Popeye’s.” This is true stuff anybody can look up on the Internet, or maybe on the Kindle.

But, when the Rochester station ran this ridiculous news report last month, the newsroom was torn. Torn! They sent out a team to a closed-down chicken drive-thru to harass people– many who made the point that Popeye’s has this cheap chicken special which is a desirable thing when you’re poor and want to eat — and then the teevee reporters felt weird because hey, all the disappointed Popeye’s customers were black. Why were these people looking for a good deal on dinner perpetuating racist stereotypes by going to Popeye’s?

Criticism is often leveled at 13WHAM that we do not feature Black people or other people of color in our stories unless they are criminals. As a person of color myself, I am sensitive to this.

So, you can imagine my thoughts when I saw our report last night about two local Popeye’s running out of chicken and the mayhem that ensued. My gut reaction was that the story–although a legitimate consumer complaint—seemed to reinforce a cultural stereotype about Black people and chicken. I know for a fact that no one on our staff meant for that to be the point of the story, but the fear that we would be accused of this sounded an alarm to me. It’s sad that I even had to worry about this.

Many commenters either agreed, or didn’t:

“This was just in bad form,” wrote the commenter “waffles” on WHAM-13’s website. “You could have easily gone to Penfield and found people there to interview as well to keep it balanced. Most Americans love fried chicken and interviewing black people in the city only perpetuates stereotypes. If there were no white people around to interview then you should have just scrapped the story. No one cares if Popeyes runs out of chicken anyway. It happens. Welcome to life.”

Blair111 didn’t care for this story, not at all: “Shame shame shame on you. You certainly understand how much media influences perceptions. It’s easy for you to now say ‘oh it may look stereotypical’ after it has gone on the air and is playing on the internet to millions of people as a joke about Black people nearly ‘rioting’ over fried chicken. It’s a trick that has been used by many, from courtroom lawyers to Hitler and beyond.”

Okay, well Hitler has been invoked, so we can move forward to another person who gave good speeches, Oprah Winfrey.

The chicken-economy-race issue grew even more terrible last week when Oprah, the powerful media baroness-godhead who tells housewives and the unemployed what to do with their limited funds, went on the teevee (as is her wont) and directed her minions to KFC for free buckets of chicken.

The results, as anyone could have predicted, were unfathomably terrible.

But, you’ll notice high-budget MSM CNN just kept hitting the KFC lines until they found that big white dude. TRYING HARDER FOR DIVERSITY is what we are talking about, right? We will make this point on the Howard Kurtz program this weekend, when we bring him a bucket of live poison crabs.

And that is your Wednesday Fun Video feature, compressing a month’s worth of racially charged Great Recession fried chicken outrage into a single post sure to inspire many tortured comments. YOU’RE WELCOME.

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  1. I can’t believe people are worried about this. When Two and a Half Men is cancelled (soon, please?) and they do a story on it with fan interviews, every viewer they talk to will be white. And will there be any complaints that it’s racially stereotyped? No. And probably not because most fans of that show will be too embarrassed to admit it, either.

  2. Oh, hell! Me and a lot of my white friends have been just eating the shit out of fried chicken as a show of solidarity with our new President. We’ll go back to pizza to make it all better.

  3. Ken Layne, I had no idea you were from New Orleans! But yea, WTF with the Popeye’s outside of the Big Easy being in the shittiest parts of town? Doesn’t mean that I won’t get me some of that extra spicy with a side of dirty rice, but still.

  4. Fried chicken is an art. You don’t know what joy is until you’ve eaten the fried chicken made by someone who knows what they’re doing – and it ain’t just everybody let me tell you – so much can go wrong during the process. KFC and Popeyes are poor substitutes, but when you’ve got a craving I guess what else can you do?

  5. How is it that Wonkette is reporting on this Rochester news story but somehow missed out on the demise of the “fast ferry”? Seems like that would be right up your alley, no offense – haw!

  6. [re=321601]snideinplainsight[/re]: What are these white hots of which you speak? I just spent two weeks in the 585 and ate at Dinosaur BBQ at least five times, or rather I should say “only five times” because I had to save all my calories for two days in Buffalo…

  7. I can not figure out what the issue is. If black people tend to like fried chicken more, that simply does not mean anything more than that they tend to like fried chicken. I just never understood how eating a certain type of food was supposed to be derogatory.

  8. The real crime here is that, not only did these Popeye’s run out of chiken, but they also ran out of dijon mustard, thus depriving the Afrikans of staying true to their roots BUT ALSO emulating their great, socialist hero. Also.

  9. I’m very upset at Popeye’s. They recently made a “business decision” to stop serving dirty rice. Said people don’t want to order something with the word “dirty” in it. WELL I DO, POPEYES, I DO. I LOVE DIRTY. I WANT DIRTY. GIVE ME DIRTY.

  10. Say It With Wookies, apparently you missed these real quotes, that I didn’t make up:

    “Two and a Half Men?? Yo that show is off the hook!”
    –Famous Rapper “50 Cent”

    “Two and a Half Men? Oh yeah well you know sometimes when I’m chillin at the crib with my boys we like to peep that show on the Sony HD. That kid is crazy irreverent!”
    –Rapper/Producer/Actor/Mogul “P-Diddy”

  11. One day, in College, during Black History Month, the cafeteria served (amongst other things) fried chicken, collard greens, corn bread, black-eyed peas, and yes (gasp!) watermelon.

    Unfortunately, they didn’t pass out free menthols afterwards.

  12. Compared to how the news media usually interviews the dumbest Black person within miles, I call this a WIN. They could be any fat ass AMerican, anywhere in bumble0-fuck American. Thats transcendental!

  13. Compared to how the news media usually interviews the dumbest Black person within miles, I call this a WIN. Those folks could be any fat ass American, anywhere in bumble-fuck America. That’s transcendental!

  14. Probably the Popeyes they picked was the one closest to the station. Why drive out to Henrietta? Finding white people who aren’t government employees is unusual in downtown Rochester anymore.

    [re=321601]snideinplainsight[/re]: 5% of us are suddenly hungry after reading that, the rest of the folks have no idea what you’re talking about. Sad for me, the nearest Wegmans is about a four day drive

  15. This restaurant in my town called the Global Gourmet usually has this really good spinach artichoke dip. I mean, giant food-boner good. The wife and I like to get an appetizer and dessert to go along with our entrees because we feel like going out is supposed to be about the experience, you know? I can make an entree at home, but I’m not likely to make an appetizer and a dessert, amirite? We also like to order nice, unusual drinks like Tom Collinseses or white russians, because those aren’t drinks we would prepare at home.

    Anyway, last night at Global (that’s what we call it, natch), our server informed us that there was no spinach artichoke dip. Seems they had just plumb run out! We had to get both the red pepper hummus and the brie to make up for it. Can you imagine our disappointment? This economy is really getting tough. We have reported this to the local news outlets and hope to see appropriately diverse reporting in the near future.

  16. HA! Oprah gave away free Pontiacs (Poor Old Neophyte Thinks It’s A Cadillac FWIW) and now Pontiac is out of business.

    KFC Chapter 11 HMM?

  17. If this is Wonkette’s attempt at product placement, it must be working because I have become a crazed slavering howling Popeye’s chicken and dirty rice seeking missile.

  18. Oh my God, I’m hungry now, and I’ve got the nostalgia for Rochester. I’m going to go call my brother, and then go home and make some Seabreeze hot sauce. Maybe put on a Chuck Mangione album. I usta live just outside red wing stadium, and sit out on the front porch at night and listen to the games.

  19. [re=321642]glamourdammerung[/re]: It’s a problem when it becomes shorthand for a race a people, you know like dumb Beaner or poor Taco or towel-headed hummus-eater or Lox Eater or Pizza-tosser. OK I made Pizza-tosser up, but that is so much better than dago….

  20. [re=321601]snideinplainsight[/re]: And don’t forget Smitty’s “you don’t need no teeth to eat my meat” wings, on the way from Nick Tahoe’s to the Lilac festival.

    (I went to the Eastman.)

  21. Wait, so does this mean I am racist against white people because I like argula and multigrain breads?

    Because seriously–I fucking hate white people.

  22. [re=321682]problemwithcaring[/re]: Anybody bother to ask what the goddamned chicken thinks about all this?
    Another fucking reason for me to hate people. And I do. Oh, yes. I do.

  23. Don’t be dragging in Oprah for a tacit Popeye’s endorsement. I know for a fact that she’s partial to Ezell’s Fried Chicken, has in flown in to Chicago, regularly, from Seattle.

  24. Can someone esplain to me how a fast food restaurant which sells chicken, which has the word chicken in it’s name, which people only go to if they want to eat chicken, can run out of chicken? Does Arby’s run out of roast beef? Does Subway run out of subways? Poor business decisions will bite you in the ass every time. I blame this whole mess on the managers of Popeye’s.

    Incidentally, I don’t eat at Popeye’s in my town. It’s on the east side, and I don’t want to, you know, get shot in the back by a cop while waiting for my chicken. Our cops are especially good at shooting young black people in the back on the east side. No need to take chances.

  25. [re=321645]Magnus Maximus[/re]: No, I don’t believe those for a second. Still laughed though.

    [re=321644]sanantonerose[/re]: How anyone can refuse that I have no idea.

  26. Maybe if station WHAM was feeling really conflicted about running the story, don’t start it off with the crazy black woman arguing with the talking machine.

  27. You know who eats a more chicken than anybody?
    Chinese people, and they eat everything but the beak (they clean their teeth with that).
    Of course, Chinese people wont get out of their cars in poor neighborhoods so they weren’t available for comment.

  28. This isn’t about chicken at all. This is about the human being’s undying lust for lard, flour, sugar, and assorted spices wrapped around a piece of saline-injected (to make it tender) flesh which is less nutritious than the wrapping you just threw out the car window.

  29. [re=321715]Custerwolf[/re]: Right. Did you listen to the former FDA chief last week on Fresh Air:

    “Former FDA commissioner David Kessler warns that sugar, fat and salt can hijack our brains and cause us to overeat. In his new book, The End of Overeating, he describes the way the food industry works with the advertising industry to create the food cravings that are so hard to resist.”

  30. [re=321722]chascates[/re]: I only get CBC2 where I live (fantastic ecclectic socialized Canadian radio, btw)but I actually learned that over 30 years ago.

  31. A) I thought this funny was ridiculously funny, but also very sad; B) I could see how some Black people, such as myself, could be offended by this; C) I don’t think the news station was purposefully trying to offend anyone, they were just reporting on the story; but D) and most importantly; this is reason why I don’t watch the local news (or CNN for that matter, because this is the type of thing they “report”) — seriously why is this even a story?

  32. [re=321675]snideinplainsight[/re]: …and frozen custard, Don and Bob’s, (oops, that’s Daan and Baab’s), and of course, the semi-illiterate fry-cake.

    What’s up Rochester? No 4-alarm fires to “report” on?

  33. [re=321640]snideinplainsight[/re]: thanks! I had seen the Zweigle’s sauces at wegmans and figured it was a thing, but being a native buffalonian, all I know is ted’s and texas red hots.

    And since this food thread is making me hungry, I will add that if anyone is in the tucson area, they need to score some sonoran style hot dogs on the outside. dog wrapped in bacon, and topped with all the messican fixins. omg I am starving.

  34. ok and since we are talking about rochester “news,” when I was there the other day the “weather dude” said it was going to be in the 40’s, and so you should “wear a light jacket”. ahh western new york…

  35. Cop/donut. Now that is a well-earned stereotype. My business is next door to a donut shop. The “neighborhood enforcement” officer who basically lives here downtown rides up every day on his Segway and waddles in for his daily fix.

    It’s all I can do to keep from larfing in his face.

  36. Having abstained from fried foods for six years due to dietary considerations, I would CREAM MY THONG if you opened a bucket of that stuff in front of me now.

  37. [re=321781]Scandalabra[/re]: Give it four more years and just the thought of flavored grease will suck your thong right into your squinched-up butt cheeks.

  38. [re=321731]lawchic[/re]: Belabored way to milk the Apocalyptic Economy meme. I truly don’t see the big deal. Stereotyping a few minorities to make segment for the local news? I mean, you have to break a few eggs to make a cake people.

  39. Perhaps Michelle Obama will put in a chicken coop next to the organic garden to set an example for people to keep and kill and eat their own chickens.

    Not me, though. I like my chicken pre-killed, wrapped in plastic and styrofoam, and lined up neatly in the display case at Ralph’s for me.

  40. It was a sad day indeed when the local Church’s Chicken, which had been located inside a White Castle, shut down. Living as I do in a predominately non-black neighborhood, it was the only fried chicken to be had in the area, save the food court KFC at the mall, but they close way too early whereas this Church’s was 24 hours. At least there’s a Popeye’s near the office.

  41. [re=321822]Godot[/re]: I heard the local KFC here in Monroe, WA was going to install a series of underground vacuum tubes, whereby one could pay a small monthly fee to have the pipe run directly into one’s own home so that extra-crispy embalmed chicken could be shot straight into the gullets of the hungry breeder sows without their even having to budge from their lazyboys or miss 5 minutes of Springer. The kid’s meals arrive separately by Hummer.

  42. Colored guy here: Stop making me feel bad about loving my god damned chicken please! Although I should add, I’m currently a vegetarian. I love the smell of popeyes though.

  43. [re=321834]Custerwolf[/re]: That’s terrible. It would be much more efficient if they just blended all the food together and piped it in as a liquid. It makes me sad when an American company sacrifices profit margin for the cachet of solid food.

  44. [re=321837]american mutt[/re]: As a fellow vegetarian I find stories like these bizarre. I can only imagine the horrors that would be revealed should the story of how live chickens are turned into a bucket of Popeye’s be told.

    My wife usually refuse to eat out. She can’t stand the idea of someone touching her food, though years of therapy have made it (and many other things) possible for her to do so occasionally. I’m not so bothered by the touching as I am by the processing and all that entails.

  45. [re=321650]Mustang[/re]: Might just be because it’s the end of another boring as hell work day, but I LOLed.
    [re=321694]Lascauxcaveman[/re]: Thanks for the tip. No Kirkland outlet yet, though. Racists.

  46. Now fry you up a free-range Boca Burger in a skillet of bacon fat and you’ve got something good there.

    A recent trend is chicken and waffles. They can keep that one in The Big Apple, as far as I’m concerned.

  47. [re=321682]problemwithcaring[/re]: “It’s a problem when it becomes shorthand for a race a people, you know like dumb Beaner or poor Taco or towel-headed hummus-eater or Lox Eater or Pizza-tosser.”

    Out of every strange thing that racist people say about black folks, I think chicken is right up there with “huge dong” in terms of being too strange to be offensive.

  48. [re=321884]A Better American Than YOU[/re]: Best veggie burgers on the planet are in the refrigerator section at Costco. Of course, they contain the obligatory corn syrup required to make anything that’s preformed palatable, but let me tell you they are a slab of slaughterhouse-free heaven.

  49. [re=321701]Custerwolf[/re]: Skinny Dick’s? Seriously? I always thought the burgers at the Monderosa were so much better and it’s only a few more miles down the road.

  50. Matyland Fried Chicken w/ Cream Gravy

    1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons salt
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    1 (3-pound) chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces
    1/2 cup milk
    2 cups vegetable oil
    1 cup water
    1 1/2 cups half-and-half or light cream

    Special equipment: a deep 12-inch skillet with a tight-fitting lid (preferably not cast-iron); a deep-fat thermometer

    Put 1 cup flour with salt and pepper in a large (1-gallon) sealable plastic bag, then seal bag and shake to combine.

    Turn chicken pieces in milk in a bowl, then add chicken to flour mixture and seal bag (discard milk). Shake to coat and let stand in bag while oil heats.

    Heat oil in skillet over moderately high heat until it registers 360°F on thermometer (see cooks’ note, below). Add chicken, skin sides down, and cook, covered, until golden, about 5 minutes. Turn chicken over with tongs and cook, covered, 5 minutes more.

    Transfer chicken with tongs to a plate. Pour fat from skillet into a heatproof bowl (to cool before discarding) and add 1/2 cup water to skillet. Return chicken to skillet, skin sides up, and cook, covered, over moderate heat, turning over twice, until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a platter and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.

    Pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet, then stir 1 tablespoon flour into remaining fat and cook over moderate heat, whisking, 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water and cook, scraping up brown bits, 2 minutes. Add half-and-half, whisking, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, until sauce is thick and creamy, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and spoon over chicken.

    Fuck Popeye and his spinich dick!

  51. [re=321892]northernbassist[/re]: To be fair that was twenty years ago. (I know, sad but true). Back then they had mouthwatering food of all sorts. And no Monderosa, I’m, afraid. If you still live in AK I must know – where? I always love to hear word from my homeland (except for politics and Palin). I have longings in my heart every single day to return to the north woods.

  52. [re=321725]Custerwolf[/re]: Ah yes the CBC I used to tune it in on shortwave because I thought the news here was lying to us. I found out I was right.
    CBC what NPW wishes it could be

  53. [re=321892]northernbassist[/re]: Dick himself must have passed on by now, no? He used to be behind the counter. And he was a skinny dude for sure.

  54. [re=321899]prophet1195[/re]: I’ve never understood why anyone would want to cook who wasn’t a chef. I eat my food straight out of the box, the can, the microwave, or the dog’s mouth. It’s simple, when I’m hungry, I want to EAT something – not MAKE something – and up until the time I’m hungry, I’m thinking about sex – not food. My boyfriend tries to get me to cook, but I say fuck that. Back when I was married I used to cook every goddamned day – for the whole seven months the marriage lasted. So I paid my dues thank you very much.

  55. [re=321920]hpwilliams[/re]: I love sitting out in my studio (which is now close to falling into the river)with all my dogs and a roaring fire in the woodstove and tuning in and kicking back to enjoy the ensemble. “Respect Yourself” by the Staple Singers came on this morning and I can’t even think the last time I’ve heard that song. Mavis Staples is my gay wife. I cannot listen to or read any media that has advertising, as it turns me into a homocidal maniac, so I’m eternally grateful Oh, Canada.

  56. As I read these comments, my hearts beats a little faster and a I say to myself: “This is the dialogue Amernica needs to have.”


  57. [re=321942]d4g33z[/re]: My heart beats a little faster because of high blood pressure, from all the fucking fried chicken I’ve consumed in my life.

  58. [re=321884]A Better American Than YOU[/re]: Nothing recent about that trend. I believe it’s an old soul food combo. In any case we have had Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles here in L.A. for many years, and it’s extremely popular both with the black community and the bohemian hipsters who think going to a slightly edgy neighborhood for soul food makes them just aces.

    I’ve been to Roscoe’s and I think the combining of chicken and waffles was probably invented by Satan but I am neither black nor a hipster.

  59. [re=321956]imissopus[/re]: As I recall, this Satanic communion got its start in Harlem as one of the lower points of the Harlem Renaissance. These could only vaguely be considered soul food if sorghum syrup or molasses was involved, not as a medium for conveying corn syrup. Fried chicken is for Sunday dinner, but black-eyed peas, cornbread, and greens must be included — not no damned waffles.

  60. As a white-as-you-get southern male, I can tell you I like my fried chicken too. The KFC in Vicksburg Mississippi next to the battlefield has the best selection of southern vegetables I have seen in a long time; greens, field peas with green beans, fried okra, stewed okra… The chicken is good, but it is almost an afterthought.

  61. [re=321917]Custerwolf[/re]: Actually, the Monderosa was there twenty years ago–about four miles north of the Nenana bridge, little log cabin place. And yeah, Dick was a beanpole. He passed away at age 80 in April, 2008.

    Me, the missus, and beasts have been in AK for 40+ years–now in Anchorage, and waiting to retire to our little house on the tidal meadow in Gustavus.

  62. Prediction:

    The Great Duluth Mayonnaise Shortage of 2012…failed soybean crop (no soy oil), due to world-wide phosphorus, egg shortage (all exhausted to make up for KFC Grilled and Popeye’s Fried Chicken Debacles of 2009, young layers be damned)…

    White people, your time will come soon.

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