The Popeyes chicken sandwich is a deep-fried phenomenon that kicked off a national fast food war in 2019. Shane Vassell says his sandwich nearly killed him—because Popeyes forgot to hold the pickles.
Vassell, 30, sued Popeyes in U.S. District Court on Sept. 25, alleging he was hospitalized after an allergic reaction to the pickles on his chicken sandwich.
The Connecticut-based long-haul trucker says he visited the southernmost of two Popeyes locations on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard on June 23—and requested multiple times at the drive-thru that Popeyes hold the pickles.
“I told them so many times,” he tells WW, “and they didn’t care. I almost died.”
He says he took a bite from the sandwich while driving up MLK, and soon noticed something wrong. “You know how you eat something sour and your jaw will clinch? I feel my tongue start getting heavy,” he recalls. “My throat is scratching. I’m driving, and it feels like someone pulling me with a belt from the back of the car. When I look in my food, there are three more pickles inside [the sandwich].”
He returned to the restaurant. Vassell says an employee told him they thought he’d asked for extra pickles.
In the lawsuit, filed by Portland attorney Michael Fuller, he’s seeking $9,992 for hospital bills as well as pain and distress. Restaurant Brands International, which owns Popeyes, did not respond to a request for comment.
Vassell says the incident has made him think twice about eating fast food on the road. “I get a slow cooker to make my food in the truck, so I’m not in this madness anymore.”