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McDonald’s jumps into the spicy chicken game

The chain is introducing Spicy BBQ chicken sandwiches and tenders weeks after Wendy’s brought back its Spicy Chicken Nuggets.
Photograph courtesy of McDonald's Corp.

Wendy’s and McDonald’s are suddenly fighting a battle for spicy supremacy.

McDonald’s on Thursday said that it plans to introduce a pair of Spicy BBQ products next week, including a Spicy BBQ Chicken Sandwich and Spicy BBQ Glazed Tenders. The products will be available nationwide as a limited-time offer beginning next Wednesday.

The introduction comes weeks after Wendy’s brought back its own Spicy Chicken Nuggets—a product it had previously pulled off the market. The chain said it brought the product back to its nationwide menus because of customer demand.

Both chains’ products come as chicken continues to be a major focal point for fast-food chains, exemplified by last month’s chicken sandwich social media frenzy that drained Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen of two months’ worth of supplies of its new chicken sandwich in less than two weeks.

Boneless chicken products are increasingly popular, fueling growth at chains such as Chick-fil-A, Raising Cane’s and Zaxby’s. Fast-food chains, under growing pressure, have been responding to this demand.

Spicy flavors are also in higher demand as consumers’ taste profile has shifted toward spicier food.

For its spicy chicken products, McDonald’s has taken its Buttermilk Crispy Tenders and coated them with a spicy barbecue glaze that contains “a hint of jalapeno.” The chain also used that glaze to top a sandwich with its Buttermilk Crispy Chicken fillet along with slivered onions and pickles.

“The excitement that spicy flavors bring is something we know our customers have always loved,” Todd Manisco, manager of menu innovation at McDonald’s, said in a statement.

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