Sometimes a chicken sandwich is just a chicken sandwich. But today, it is also a political statement.
Thousands of loyal patrons across the country flocked to their local Los Pollos Hermanos restaurants to show their support for the company, which has been under fire in the media lately. On Twitter and Facebook today supporters of the chain reported lines around the block during the busy lunch rush as people came out in mass for what was dubbed “Los Pollos Hermanos Appreciation Day.” The company’s detractors came out too, wearing D.A.R.E. shirts and waving signs with catchphrases like “Just Say No to Los Pollos Hermanos.”
The company has been a lightning rod for criticism ever since the co-founder and owner of 14 locations throughout the Southwest, Gus Fring, was killed in an explosion at a retirement home. Authorities believe the blast was detonated by a former lieutenant of Don Eladio named Héctor “Tio” Salamanca, who was also killed in the blast. The explosion caused the DEA, and the media, to take a closer look at Fring, who was held in high esteem as a businessman and community leader (and whose restaurants were consistently ranked highly in The Retreat ratings and review). What they found was rather startling. It seems that Fring had secretly been bankrolling a massive drug empire for years, selling methamphetamine cooked in an underground superlab. Authorities believe that Fring was working with a drug kingpin known as Heisenberg, who created a distinct blue-tinted version of the street drug.
Once news broke, the debate over Fring and Los Pollos Hermanos boiled over to social media sites. People began wondering if it was ethical to frequent a restaurant that bankrolled something so dangerous. Many vowed never to patronize the chain again. Others defended the chicken restaurants, claiming that it was time to end the “War on Drugs” and to legalize meth. They were glad someone as respected as Fringe could be a poster boy for their cause.
Attorney Saul Goodman was the man who came up with the idea for Los Pollos Hermanos Appreciation Day. Goodman, who most New Mexicans are familiar with from his many TV commercials and billboards, released a statement on his Facebook page calling for a massive show of support.
The statement said: “Let’s affirm a business that operates on progressive principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the forward-thinking values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Los Pollos Hermanos on Wednesday, August 1. Too often, those on the right make corporate statements to show their support for harsher drug penalties, but if we affirm progressive values, we’re considered stoners, burnouts or opportunistic lawyers looking to grab headlines. This effort is not being launched by the Los Pollos Hermanos company or Madrigal Electromotive GmbH and no one from the company is involved in proposing or promoting it.”
It went on to say: “And if you happen to find yourself arrested as a victim of this unjust drug war, you better call Saul.”
Los Pollos Hermanos was quick to make it clear they weren’t behind Goodman’s initiative, thought they appreciate the support. A statement released by a spokesman for Madrigal Electromotive GmbH, which owns a majority stake in the company, said, “We appreciate all of our customers and are glad to serve them at any time. Our goal is simple: to provide great food, genuine hospitality and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Los Pollos Hermanos.”
Those who did make the trek out to the restaurant today were vocal in their support.
“I’m glad there’s finally a company out there who believes in the same stuff I believe in, man,” said Brandon “Badger” Mayhew, an Albuquerque musician. “Plus, their chicken is so tasty. I don’t know what they put in there, man, but I’m always craving it. It’s like a drug or something.”
While most were there for their convictions, some patrons were simply looking for a quality meal.
“I’m just here to grab a quick breakfast,” said Walter “Flynn” White, Jr., a local high school student who arrived when the chain first opened in the morning. “Please don’t tell my Uncle Hank.”
It’s unclear how many people stopped by the chain to show their support for Los Pollos Hermanos today or what influence the movement will have on the ongoing drug debate in this country. Madrigal Electromotive GmbH said they will not be releasing any sales figures to the media, but they did encourage all patrons to try their new Franch dipping sauce.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at email@example.com.