In the fast food world, occasionally a chain comes along with an innovation so popular that its competitors have little choice but to jump on board—whether it was Pizza Hut introducing stuffed crust pizza in 1995, Starbucks spawning pumpkin spice madness in 2003, or Subway acquiescing from pressure from Quiznos to start toasting its bread in 2005.
A more recent example has been the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich. No, Popeyes didn't invent the fried chicken sandwich, but by raising the bar on quality to a fervor-inducing level, everyone else suddenly had to rethink their chicken sammie situation. Some, like Chick-fil-A were in good shape. (The Popeyes sandwich is a nod to Chick-fil-A anyway.) Other stalwarts weren't as well positioned—like KFC—which must have suddenly realized its old school chicken patties wouldn't cut it in this new world order.
But Colonel Sanders is a fighter. (It's right there in his name: Colonel!) And so KFC wasn't going to roll over in this fight. It's taken a while, but KFC finally announced that, starting today, it will be trying out a "larger, more premium chicken sandwich."
"We wanted a chicken sandwich that really lives up to our legacy as the fried chicken experts and, let's face it, ours wasn't the one to beat," Andrea Zahumensky, chief marketing officer for KFC U.S., admitted. "We knew an upgrade was necessary, so we painstakingly selected each ingredient to create a bigger, better and more premium sandwich than ever. I think we've unlocked a chicken sandwich that won't just compete—it'll win with fried chicken lovers everywhere."
From now until June 21, the new KFC Chicken Sandwich will get a limited test run in Orlando, Florida. The updated menu item—billed as featuring a 20 percent more meat—offers "a hand-breaded Extra Crispy chicken filet on a buttery brioche bun, the perfect portion of Colonel's real mayo, topped with three thick, crinkle-cut pickles and can be enjoyed as spicy or classic." If all of that sounds familiar, well, of course it does: It's right in line with the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich and Chick-fil-A's sandwiches before that.
"Our food innovation team set out to create our best chicken sandwich yet, and to find the perfect combination of ingredients to pair with our world-famous fried chicken," Zahumensky continued. "They left no stone unturned. They tested pickles with eight variations of thickness and brines before we landed on our pickle. And for our perfect brioche bun, we collaborated with six different bakeries and tested more than ten formula revisions in order to find the right one to hug the larger-than-ever filet in just the right way."
The sandwich will sell for $3.99 a la carte or for $6.99 as part of a combo meal with a side and medium drink. In all, 15 Orlando area locations testing the new sandwich:
16800 W New Hwy 441
6217 International Road
502 S Alafaya Trail
5200 S John Young Parkway
4466 Pleasant Hill Road
3601 S Orlando Drive
2882 N Hiawassee Road
1130 W Osceola Parkway
5780 Central Florida Parkway
11302 S Orange Blossom Trail
510 U.S. Hwy 27
5680 W US Highway 192
250 Aloma Avenue
10825 E Colonial Drive
3009 W Colonial Drive
Finally, KFC also realizes that America is still in the middle of an ongoing pandemic, so the chain announced plans to deliver "an exclusive first taste of the new sandwich to some unsung heroes who have kept America up and running in recent weeks." KFC continued, "Among those receiving a first taste are some of the frontline workers chronicled in the Orlando Sentinel's Pandemic Portraits, including teachers, auto mechanics, police officers and others."