The latest additions to restaurant menus tend to be poultry-based, but that’s where the similarities end. A review of the recent limited-time offers shows how many ways operators are trying to skin a chicken.
KFC dusts off a golden oldie
The newest item advertised by KFC is actually one from its vaults: Chicken Littles, or mini chicken sandwiches. But they’ve been updated since their debut in the 1990s to be less processed and more natural—a chicken tender on a bun rather than the chicken patty that was introduced as a snack and bargain item two decades ago. Some might call them chicken sliders.
The chain is apparently trying to position Chicken Littles, a product that is fondly remembered by customers of a certain vintage, as its version of the McRib.
Red Robin reaches beyond casual dining
Before Denny Post was promoted to CEO of Red Robin, she explained at an industry event that the full-service burger chain likes to snag attention by showcasing products from outside its fans’ comfort zone. Hence its promotion of the Ramen Burger, a product so cool you might have to wear all black to eat it.
The lunch-and-dinner chain is employing the tactic again with a burger based on a soul food specialty that has evolved into a common breakfast option. Its latest: the Bee’s Knees Finest Chicken and Waffles burger. A chicken filet is battered with a tempura mix and glazed with hard cider before being deep-fried. It’s served between two mini waffles.
Arby’s takes a break from beef
Arby’s, one of the most dramatic restaurant turnaround stories of recent years, has raided the henhouse for its next traffic lures. The chain is so confident about the drawing power of its new Buttermilk Breaded Chicken Sandwiches that it’s already added them to the everyday menu.
Three versions are offered, and all are fried. Each features a whole-muscle chicken breast that’s marinated in buttermilk before being battered with a buttermilk-flavored coating.
The chain has a high benchmark for a successful product introduction. Its smoked brisket sandwich reportedly generated more than 20% of sales when it was offered as an LTO. It’s now on the permanent menu, along with two chicken sliders.
Buffalo meets Seoul?
The latest wings to fly out of Wingstop in volume are a version brought back because of popular demand, says the 900-unit chain. It’s resurrected the Spicy Korean Q wing, which promises a sweet and spicy balance from the use of ginger, garlic, Sriracha and crushed red pepper.
Wings at $45 each
A whole order of Spicy Korean Qs cost considerably less than a single chicken wing from a new Hong Kong restaurant called Belon. One of the establishment’s intended signatures is a wing hand-stuffed with foie gras and matsutake mushrooms, the justification for a price equivalent to $45 per wing.