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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The popularity of the recently unveiled — and more recently shelved — Popeyes chicken sandwich was unlike anything KeyBanc Capital Markets equity research analyst Eric Gonzalez had ever seen.
What it means: For the short time in August that it was available, Gonzalez estimates Popeyes' store traffic doubled and about 1,000 chicken sandwiches were sold in each store every day, accounting for about 30% of total sales.
Between the lines: The big win was a tribute to the sandwich's great taste and a wildly successful social media campaign that generated $65 million in earned media value in just 2 weeks, according to Apex Marketing Group.
By the numbers: Quick service and fast-casual restaurants — including traditional fast food and pricier chains like Chipotle and Shake Shack — outperformed the S&P by 14% year-to-date through the end of July and by 27% over the last 12 months, note Goldman analysts led by Katherine Fogertey.
The big picture: Fast food restaurants have been offering chicken items for years, but the success of Chick-fil-A, which generated $10 billion in total sales last year to become the third most popular fast food chain in the U.S. — and Popeyes' breakout new sandwich — have others looking to add more poultry to their menus.
Be smart: Goldman's research team estimates 70% of the industry's sales growth over the past 5 years can be explained by consumers’ rising wages, lower gas prices and a boost from third-party apps like Grubhub and Uber Eats.
Popeyes only makes up a small portion of profits for owner Restaurant Brands International, which is anchored by Canadian behemoth Tim Hortons and Burger King, but the success of its chicken sandwich could change the calculus for the brand, as Popeyes already is growing faster than both.
The big picture: Chicken has been an increasing share of Americans' diets since the 1980s when doctors began warning that eating too much saturated fat from red meat could increase the risk of heart disease.
The intrigue: Chicken also has become much less expensive in recent years, driving a surge in buying from cash-strapped U.S. workers who have seen the costs of health care, education and housing skyrocket while their paychecks have stayed roughly the same.
“September is known as a rough month historically, but it is interesting to note that the majority of the weakness tends to happen late in the month," LPL Financial senior market strategist Ryan Detrick tells Axios.
Tuesday's U.S. Census data shows gains in wages and declines in poverty for U.S. citizens, but there were reasons to be sour on the data.
Reality check: "Considering that the U.S. economy grew by an inflation-adjusted 48% over the same period, that is more than striking," WSJ's Justin Lahart writes.
What they're saying:
Axios' Ina Fried writes: Apple delivered exactly the iPhones everyone expected on Tuesday — and that's kind of the problem.
Between the lines: Instead of "one more thing," Apple's event was more like "none more thing."
Why it matters: Apple isn't alone in offering slower innovation in the smartphone market, but the company is uniquely dependent on smartphone sales for its overall business.
Driving the news: Apple did deliver some solid improvements to the iPhone, adding additional rear cameras to its mid-line and top-line phones (the iPhone 11 has 2, and the iPhone 11 Pro has 3).
The bottom line: The iPhone 11 offers a couple nice improvements, especially if it can deliver on its promise of significantly improved battery life on the iPhone 11 Pro. But it's far from clear if the company did enough to prompt those weighing an upgrade to buy a new phone.