Chicken has become a fast-food battleground. Since Popeyes kicked off the craze with its famous chicken sandwich which caused people to wait in lines, it feels like every chain has tried multiple variations of sandwiches that involve fried chicken in some fashion or other.
Burger King, and Restaurant Brands International (QSR) – Get Restaurant Brands International Inc. Report a brand like Popeyes, could arguably be called a chicken sandwich pioneer. It brought its classic chicken sandwich and its famous Italian Chicken Sandwich — the ones on the longer bun — to menus back in the 1980s.
In recent years, Burger King has not let its sister brand hog all the chicken glory. It has tried sandwich-adjacent variants like its Chicken Fries as well as its cleverly named Ch’King Sandwiches, which pretty much looks like its take on what Popeyes is doing (same mayonnaise, pickle, and big piece of chicken recipe).
Now, Burger King has plans to bring another line of chicken sandwiches — one it tested in select locations in May — to its entire lineup of US restaurants.
Burger King Has a New Chicken Sandwich
If you like the Ch’King, well, this is bad news for you. The chain plans to replace the well-named (albeit not-very-innovative) sandwiches with a new lineup of “BK Royal Crispy Chicken Sandwiches,” Chew Boom first reported.
The changes will be rolled out nationwide this month (August).
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“Initially available as part of a limited test market at select locations in New York City and Virginia back in May, sources with knowledge of the situation tell Chew Boom that the new line of BK Royal Crispy Chicken Sandwiches will make their nationwide debut this month in four varieties, including Classic, Spicy, Bacon & Swiss Cheese, and Southern BBQ,” the website reported.
And while the new offering does not look that different from the past lineup, it drops the mayo and a pickle offering with three of the four sandwiches featuring lettuce and tomato. The Bacon and Cheese version will feature something called “Savory Sauce” while the Southern option will offer “southern-spiced BBQ sauce, crispy bacon, caramelized onions, and melty cheese on a toasted potato bun.”
The spicy version will have a “triple pepper spicy glaze” instead of the “Savory Sauce.”
Burger King Admits Failure, Tries Again
It seems like every fast-food chain has tried to simply offer a version of what Popeyes sold. That makes sense for McDonald’s (MCD) – Get McDonald’s Corporation Report or Wendy’s (WHITE) – Get Wendy’s Company (The) Report, or Yum! Brands (YUM) – Get Yum! Brands Inc. Report KFC which are rivals of the fried chicken chain, but it makes less sense for Burger King, which resides under the same corporate umbrella, to do the same.
This new lineup, while by no means super innovative in the fast-food sandwich world, at least gives Burger King some new tastes that customers might want to try. The challenge here — and it’s a big one — is that most of Popeyes menu consists of fried chicken.
That chain should be better at making a fried chicken sandwich than a burger chain, although KFC’s failure to cash in on this craze has been perplexing since it has a menu that’s even more fried chicken-focused than Popeyes, which at least also serves shrimp.
Burger King has to try again and at least this time it’s giving customers a product line that stands on its own, not one that will be judged unfavorably compared to its sister brand.