McDonald’s joins the fray in battle for chicken sandwich supremacy – Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii 2021-02-23 21:05:00 –

One of the most fierce food battles in recent years features a fast food chain competing for supremacy over who can best serve fried chicken breast between two loaves of bread. The fight is hot again this week as McDonald’s finally joins the fight with its own crispy chicken sandwich.

On Wednesday, McDonald’s will release three versions of lettuce and tomato, original, spicy and deluxe.

McDonald’s knows hamburgers. The Big Mac is recognized all over the world. However, Golden Arches is years behind its peers in developing truly competitive chicken sandwiches, and many franchise owners are dissatisfied.

“We’ve been asking for it,” said Blake Casper, who owns dozens of McDonald’s restaurants in Florida and is chairman of the National Owners Association, an independent group of franchisees. “We definitely needed to focus this on chicken sandwiches. We’re excited to finally get serious about this category.”

In recent years, American fast food customers have accepted chicken, especially so-called Southern-style chicken sandwiches. Last year, US consumers ordered 2.6 billion crispy, juicy sandwiches, according to research firm The NPD Group. The fried chicken sandwich was the second item ordered last year on the DoorDash platform, just behind the chicken fingers.

Numerous fast-food restaurants, including Wendy’s, Burger King, and Shake Shack, are planning to jump into a band wagon of crispy chicken sandwiches and release or release new chicken sandwiches. Even Taco Bell is riding the waves and will debut a chicken sandwich and taco combination next month in a limited market.

For many years, the leader in this category was Chick-fil-A. It created the original chicken sandwich (two pickles and toasted buttered bread) in 1964.

According to QSR Magazine’s annual restaurant chain rankings, Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A, a privately held company, recorded sales of $ 11 billion in 2019. This was diminished by McDonald’s $ 40 billion in sales across the US system that year, but the average sales of 2,500 Chick-fil-A franchisees nationwide in 2019 exceeded $ 4.5 million. I did. That’s well above the average sales of about $ 2.9 million. It’s even more impressive given the fact that McDonald’s restaurants in the United States — and Chick-fil-A’s stores are closed on Sundays.

However, the chicken sandwich battle actually began in the summer of 2019 when Popeyes unveiled its own fried chicken sandwich (with brioche bread and pickles). Within a few days, at Popeyes locations across the country, lines extended from doors and sandwiches became virus knockouts. The chain became so popular that within two weeks the supply was sold out for several months and the sandwich had to be pulled out of the menu for more than two months to secure the ingredients and negotiate with the supplier.

Thanks to the popularity of chicken sandwiches, Popeyes’ same-store sales were down 11% at Burger King, compared to nearly 18% year-over-year growth in 2020. Burger King, owned by Restaurant Brands International like Popeyes, is introducing its own take to crispy chicken sandwiches this year.

McDonald’s journey to chicken sandwiches dates back to 2008, when the Southern Style Chicken Sandwich was introduced. It was a fried chicken fillet served in a hamburger pan with pickles. Some said it looked suspicious like Chick-fil-A’s specialty sandwich. The McDonald’s version was discontinued in 2015.

About four years ago, McDonald’s executives decided it was time to try again.

Starting with Southern-style chicken sandwiches, the chef and several franchise owners visited the company’s kitchen in Chicago every week to meet with suppliers.

First came chicken breast. “Looking at the Southern Chicken Sandwich, I knew I needed to rethink and modernize what it was like,” said Hickory, North Carolina, who started working at McDonald’s 50 years ago at the age of 15. Said John Link, who owns 13 restaurants in North Carolina. , range.

“There are 10 sandwich profiles on the big table, and we rank the sandwiches after eating a bite,” says Link. “I narrowed it down to two fillets. The supplier was there and listened to what we were saying. I’m probably working on that fillet to get it right 6 to Chicago ~ I traveled 8 times. “

After the fillet, the focus was on the pan. Fifteen to twenty types of bread and bread rolls were considered. More sandwiches were made and taste tested. “It was a lot of bread,” Link said.

Ultimately, McDonald’s decided for the first time to use potato rolls in one of the sandwiches. The rolls are toasted with creamy butter and distributed through a new warmer installed in the restaurant.

“It’s sweet and butter, which really complements the chicken flavor,” said Linda Vangosen, head of McDonald’s US menu strategy.

Last but not least, two pickles have arrived. “I learned a lot about pickles,” Link said with a laugh, explaining that the use of crinkle-cut pickles McDonald’s meant more crunches and more pickle flavors in sandwiches.

Instead of the cardboard box that McDonald’s uses for most sandwiches, the original crispy chicken sandwich and spicy version are offered in foil bags.

By late 2019, the new chicken sandwich had been tested at restaurants in Houston, Tennessee and Knoxville. After a successful test run, it was planned to release a sandwich in the summer. However, these plans were abandoned as the coronavirus pandemic spread nationwide and franchise owners focused on opening doors to keep employees safe.

“Our attention had to be in servicing our customers,” Van Gosen said. “It wasn’t the right time to launch.”

Link said the sandwich would be worth the wait.

“I’m very passionate about chicken. I’m from the south, so I eat a lot of chicken,” he said. “I wanted a sandwich, but when I ate that sandwich, I wanted to eat another bite.”

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