Updated: Jun 18, 2021
Written By: Rebecca Baxter
There is a lot to debate about chicken like … what came first the chicken or the egg, who has the best chicken bursting with flavor, or who has the best chicken sandwich. Let’s keep things simple and dive into how those bold Louisiana flavors were inspired and how they collided with Popeyes® signature chicken – that’s something that doesn’t need to be debated.
About Cajun and Creole Cuisines
Louisiana has some of the most prized cuisines across the globe, that’s a big responsibility and locally - they do not take it lightly! They own the coveted Cajun and Creole cuisines, both of which have been used so loosely and interchangeable when referencing Louisiana's style of food. While many of the ingredients are similar, the two cuisines are not the same. Cajun and Creole are two separate cultures, and while over time they continue to blend their parallel lines, there is still an immense distinction in Louisiana where they carry their own unique stories. A key difference is that Creole cuisine is known as ‘city food’ while Cajun cuisine is referred to as ‘country food’.
People and their culture are what stand these two famous styles on their own. As with most cuisines if you want to immerse yourself - you are likely to start with a visit to a family kitchen or family-owned restaurant. In Louisiana, you’ll find the best and most authentic Cajun and Creole cooking in homes across the state, which is what makes these styles of food so special. Many of the expert Chefs of these cuisines learned their talent right in their family kitchen from their parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. The heart of these cuisines was built on traditions, flavors, and techniques.
More about how Cajun Food came to life!
The word ‘Cajun’ comes from the term ‘les Acadiens’ - used to describe French colonists who settled in the Acadia region of Canada. With the British Conquest of Acadia in the 1700s, the Acadians were forced to flee their homes. Many ultimately settled in the southern region of the US state Louisiana. The Acadians were extremely resourceful living off the land. They crafted this rustic cuisine or ‘country food’ which was inspired by a truly unique combination of the flatlands, bayous, wild game of South Louisiana, and flavors of the Gulf of Mexico. The exceptional taste of the Cajun cuisine was heavily influenced by a diverse blend of cultural roots including African, Native American, German, French, and Italian – a true melting pot of flavors. Cajun food is famous for being well seasoned, which can be translated as spicy. Its flavor base and heart of the cuisine are in the seasoning and medley of vegetables, including onion, bell pepper, garlic, and celery, which are used in the foundation of each dish.
More about how Creole Food came to life!
The word ‘Creole’ references the people who were born to settlers in French colonial Louisiana, more specifically New Orleans. Back in the 18th century, Creoles were descendants of the French and Spanish upper class that ruled the city, although over time other cultures have blended into this cuisine including Italian, Spanish, African, German, Caribbean, Native American, and Portuguese, to name a few. Because of its roots, the Creole cuisine was typically prepared and served to well-to-do members of society and is still thought of as more distinguished compared to Cajun. Each dish consists of more exotic ingredients, an array of spices from a variety of regions, and creamy soups and sauces. For example, a remoulade sauce, which consists of nearly a dozen ingredients, would not typically be found in Cajun kitchens.
Louisiana is the one place where true Cajun and Creole food will never stray far away from its roots - with each new generation, there remains a vested interest in the history and culture of the cuisines.
How chicken and the Popeyes® brand evolved!
We here at California QSR Management believe in the power of family, and the historical roots of the Louisiana’s flavors is on point with our company culture – family, quality and service is our foundation! That’s also why Popeyes® is the right choice for us, and they have an interesting history of their own in how chicken became their primary ingredient and how it has evolved over the years.
Popeyes® was founded in New Orleans, St. Bernard Parish, in a suburb called Arabi, Louisiana. The first restaurant opened June 12, 1972, with the name ‘Chicken on the Run’. Al Copeland, Owner wanted to compete with Kentucky Fried Chicken. His original restaurant served donuts, then he noticed a neighbor having more success selling fried chicken, so he traded in his dough for some poultry, changed the name, and crafted that signature spice recipe – which he maintained ownership of until 2014 when Popeyes® purchased the license.
His ‘Chicken on the Run’ restaurant failed after several months, but Copeland didn’t give up – we all know perseverance prevails and he had it. A short four days later he rebranded and reopened as ‘Popeyes® Mighty Good Chicken’. Ultimately, by 1975 the company had been renamed again to Popeyes® Famous Fried Chicken, and a year later Copeland began franchising the restaurant locally in Louisiana. The brand quickly grew into Canada by 1984, and by the next year, they were celebrating the 500th restaurant opening. The expansion continued as B.P. Newman of Laredo, Texas acquired several franchises in Texas and surrounding states.
Today, the brand continues to expand bringing its time-honored cooking techniques, beloved Louisiana signature spice flavor, and friendly service to people all around the world. The brand has recently refreshed the look and feel of their Popeyes® Louisiana Kitchen’s with a modern version of that classic Louisiana style – no worries though, you can still count on that crispy chicken packed with flavor!
Information shared in this blog was sourced from the following online websites:
Louisiana Travel Site: https://www.louisianatravel.com/articles/cajun-vs-creole-food-what-difference