Food

Welcome to the wrap battle

Menu wars raged over the fried chicken sandwich a couple years back, but now wraps are duking it out on the quick-service battlefield. Here’s why these players have joined the fray.
Wendy's wraps
Wendy's uses the same flour tortilla for its breakfast burrito and Grilled Chicken Ranch Wrap pictured here. | Photo courtesy of Wendy's.

What’s portable, cheap, adaptable, easy to execute and snackable? Ask that question to a roomful of quick-service operators, and judging from recent menu activity, the answer would be a resounding “the wrap.”

Wraps are taking over chicken sandwiches on the limited-service menu battleground. The players engaged in the current wrap battle come armed with good reasons why this menu item is having its moment.

John Li, global VP of culinary innovation at Wendy’s, sums it up: “Our wraps provide a convenient and portable way to enjoy a full meal on the go with a variety of flavors in every bite,” he said. “Whether we’re serving up a classic flavor profile like our Grilled Chicken Ranch Wrap or a bold combination of classic, quality ingredients as seen in our Breakfast Burrito, the versatility of wraps and burritos allows our culinary team to craft exciting and innovative menu items from breakfast to late night.”

In most cases, adding wraps to the menu requires the addition of only one SKU—a flour tortilla. The culinary team can then develop numerous wrap variations combining proteins, sauces, veggies and other ingredients already in inventory.

When Wendy’s introduced its Grilled Chicken Ranch Wrap earlier this year, Li and his team were able to cross-utilize from other menu items. “For example, the flour tortilla SKU we use for our Breakfast Burrito is also used for our Grilled Chicken Ranch Wrap, and our grilled chicken used on our fresh-made salads created an opportunity for us to introduce the Grilled Chicken Ranch Wrap,” said Li. “At Wendy's, we've introduced new wrap offerings for customers with careful consideration of our operations teams.”

That was a priority for Burger King, too, when the Miami-based burger giant introduced its wraps last year. “It was important to us that the Royal Crispy Wraps were easy to execute, so we made sure we were able to cross-utilize a lot of ingredients we already have in house, including the chicken itself which uses the same crispy filet as the Royal Crispy Sandwich, the fresh ingredients like lettuce and tomato, and some of the sauces, keeping the new SKUs to a minimum,” said Pat O’Toole, Burger King CMO.  

BK launched its Royal Crispy Wraps as a limited-time offer in three flavors: Spicy, classic and honey. The trio turned into Burger King’s most popular LTO in the last four years. All sell for $2.99.

“The portability, value and snackability of the wraps are some of the key drivers for the success of the wraps, but launching with three flavors also allowed for us to appeal to a wider range of guests, or encouraged trial of multiple flavors,” said O’Toole.

Burger King wrap

Burger King's Fiery Buffalo Royal Crispy Wrap expands the wrap platform with a different flavor profile. | Photo courtesy of Burger King.

The Fiery Buffalo Royal Crispy Wrap joined the lineup in 2024. It offers a tangy, buttery Buffalo taste with a different heat level than other BK items. “We know our guests love and crave spice, but they crave different variations and flavor profiles,” said O’Toole.

Burger King’s consumer research revealed that snacking is a popular category, especially among the younger demographic. “The Royal Crispy Wraps were definitely created with snacking in mind and originally positioned as either a snack or addition to an existing meal,” said O’Toole. “As wraps have remained on menus we’ve found ways to also position them as more of a lunch/meal item including featuring them as part of our 2 for $5 menu where guests can enjoy two wraps, or mix and match with a wrap and Whopper Jr., for example.” 

Multiplying meal occasions and flavor platforms

Along with Wendy’s and Burger King, KFC is positioning wraps to span dayparts. The Louisville, Kentucky-based chicken chain introduced wraps systemwide in February, 2023, in its continuing push to add more boneless chicken options to the menu.

KFC Wraps

KFC has launched wraps in five flavor variations, all priced at two for $5. | Photo courtesy of KFC.

“We launched the Classic Chicken Wrap and Spicy Slaw Chicken Wrap as an LTO.  They were such a hit, we brought them back again in November, this time adding an all-new Mac & Cheese Wrap to the lineup,” said Vijay Sukumar, chief food innovation Officer at KFC.  “We’ve highlighted the great value of two wraps for $5 and the combo meal, and leave it to our customers to decide whether it suits their preferences as a snack or full meal.”

Customers continued to respond favorably to the item, so in January, KFC added two additional wraps, the Spicy Mac & Cheese Chicken Wrap and the Honey BBQ Chicken Wrap, for a total of five wraps in the lineup. 

At Sonic Drive-In, wraps fall under the “Snacks” section of the menu,” according to the Sonic brand marketing team, “but they’re perfect for building a full meal or purchasing as a snack,” said a spokesperson.

Sonic’s wraps are also value priced, selling her for $1.99 each. “We wanted to offer something that can be used to build a meal or satisfy a craving,” said the spokesperson. “Maybe you’re popping in for your favorite Cherry Limeade or Dirty Drink and find that a $1.99 Crispy Tender Wrap is just the right addition to tide you over until dinner. Or you’re going to pair it with Pulled Pork BBQ Totchos or Onion Rings for a fuller meal.”

Burger King even markets its wraps as a “hunger hack,” which can mean adding it onto a meal, enjoying a wrap as a snack, or making it into a meal.

Sonic wraps

Sonic changes up its chicken tender wraps by varying the sauce flavors. | Photo courtesy of Sonic.

Sonic first introduced wraps back in 2018 before the wrap battle got into full gear. The first combo was the Fritos Chili Cheese Wrap, a fan favorite LTO that has since been brought back several times. The Oklahoma City-based drive-in also offered a chicken tender wrap for a limited time and is currently running two new flavors: Hickory BBQ Crispy Tender Wrap with hickory barbecue sauce and a Cheesy Baja Crispy Tender Wrap with zesty cheese sauce. Each includes shredded lettuce and tomato rolled up in a flour tortilla.

QSR operators agree that wraps offer endless options for innovation. Even though chicken is often the protein of choice, the platform is adaptable to many types of sauces and ingredients. Expect to see more wrap variations from all of these players.

The chicken sandwich wars were a very specific moment in time and culture, but we’re seeing similar customer traction and conversation about the wrap battles,” said KFC’s Sukumar. “To win the wrap battle, it’ll be on QSRs to deliver on not just taste, but value and innovation as well.”   

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