Guess How Much Popeyes Just Spent to Buy Its Own Recipes

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
June 18 2014 12:21 PM

Popeyes Buys Its Own Recipes for $43 Million

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Who owns your biscuits?

Photo by jwalsh via Flickr.

Here's a fun news nugget: Popeyes didn't own its "core recipes" until this Monday, when it bought them for $43 million. The recipes previously belonged to the family of Popeyes founder Al Copeland and Popeyes had been paying $3.1 million in annual royalties to license them from Diversified Foods and Seasonings LLC, a company owned by Copeland's estate.

How did Popeyes go so long without owning the recipes for the very food it makes? Businessweek reports that the split occurred in the early 1990s when a bankruptcy reorganization forced Copeland out as chief executive of the chain's parent company. Copeland became a franchisee of numerous Popeyes restaurants and retained the rights to its recipes; DFS went to his estate after he died in 2008.

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Popeyes and DFS aren't calling it quits after the purchase. The fast-food chain said DFS will continue to supply it with "proprietary spices" and other products under an extended licensing agreement. It's unclear what might be a "proprietary spice" versus one of the "core recipes" Popeyes said it purchased. Does someone own the rights to the chicken and someone else to its spicy crunchy coating? Who is the rightful keeper of each component of Popeyes chicken marinade?!? We may never know.  

Alison Griswold is a Slate staff writer covering business and economics.