TIME Fast Food

Popeyes Spent a Crazy Amount to Buy Back Its Own Recipe

Popeyes Buys Its Own Recipe
David McNew—Getty Images A sign displayed outside a Popeyes outlet in Los Angeles, California.

A recipe isn't always owned by the restaurant

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Inc. announced on Monday that it purchased many of its core ingredients’ recipes for $43 million. The recipe was previously owned by manufacturer Diversified Foods and Seasonings (DFS).

“This transaction now brings important intellectual property—Popeyes’ core recipes—under brand ownership for the first time in our Company’s history,” CEO Cheryl Bashelder said in a press release.

As a result, Popeyes will no longer pay DFS a $3.1 million annual royalty, part of a contract that gave Popeyes licensing rights to the manufacturer’s recipes. The agreement would have extended until 2029.

The recipe licensing deal dates back to 1991, when Popeyes founder Al Copeland filed for bankruptcy. Copeland, who founded DFS in 1984 to supply ingredients to his fried chicken franchise, lost ownership of Popeyes in the settlement, but retained DFS and rights to several of Popeyes’ recipes. After Copeland died in 2008, DFS was passed to his estate.

Popeyes is named after Popeye Doyle, a character in the 1971 film The French Connection.

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