Mainstream restaurant chains are striving to convince their customers that their R&D kitchens are the ultimate innovators, searching far and wide for the next “hot” flavors to put on the menu. It is, in fact, innovative products that have helped KFC, known for its long-standing signature spice, engineer a brand turnaround. Now, it’s one winning LTO after another.

Many Americans, for example, hadn’t heard of Nashville Hot Chicken—outside of Tennessee, that is—until relatively recently, when KFC put the product on the national stage, and at the forefront of its own comeback.

In recent years, the venerable chicken chain has made this and other regional chicken products the hallmark of its marketing strategy, to great effect. In addition to the Nashville favorite, KFC has also featured the honey-mustard barbecue Georgia Gold flavor on its menu.


The products have generated strong sales, as have the Kentucky Fried Chicken & Waffles the company introduced late last year.

Behind it all are Zahumensky and Sukumar. The two work together on innovative products designed to take the company’s traditional chicken in new directions.

“Our consideration has grown considerably,” Zahumensky says. “We are trying to create momentum with this brand.”