Fast food seems like an endless game of "if you can do that, I can do it better." That dates back to Burger King one-upping McDonald's (MCD) - Get McDonald's Corporation Report by inventing The Whopper. That was followed (albeit a few years later) by the release of the Big Mac, leading to decades of both chains -- and emerging rivals -- playing follow the leader.
If McDonald's had success with something, you can bet Burger King and later Wendy's (WEN) - Get Wendy's Company (The) Report would follow. Those battles have grown to include chains like Yum! Brands (YUM) - Get Yum! Brands Inc. Report Taco Bell and KFC and Burger King's Restaurant Brands International (QSR) - Get Restaurant Brands International Inc. Report sister brand Popeye's.
That chain, famous for its fried chicken, reinvigorated its business with the August 2019 launch of its now-famous chicken sandwich. A fried chicken breast with pickles and mayonnaise served on a brioche bun, the Popeye's Chicken Sandwich set off a craze. It sold out, people waited in line for it, and every fast-food chain had to launch something similar.
Never mind that it's not all that special, Popeye's had a cultural phenomenon that launched seemingly dozens of copycats. Burger King, like McDonald's, has tried to capture the same lightning in a bottle without much success.
Now, the Home of the Whopper has gone back to the drawing board to try to create the next chicken sandwich craze.
Burger King Has a New Chicken Sandwich
Burger King has a lot of chicken sandwiches on its menu, roughly 10, although many are variants of each other. They range from the chain's classic, long chicken sandwich to the newer Ch'King, which looks like a variant on Popeye's big hit.
Now the chain has been testing yet another version of its chicken sandwich in select restaurants, Chewboom reported. Called the "Royal Crispy Chicken Sandwich," the new treat has been seen in select locations in New York and Virginia. It comes in three different versions, according to the food blog.
- The BK Royal Crispy Chicken Sandwich features a crispy white meat breast fillet topped with savory sauce, lettuce, and juicy tomatoes on a toasted potato bun.
- The BK Spicy Royal Crispy Chicken Sandwich includes a crispy white meat breast fillet coated with triple pepper spicy glaze, topped with savory sauce, lettuce and tomatoes on a toasted potato bun.
- The BK Bacon and Swiss Cheese Royal Crispy Chicken Sandwich consists of a crispy white meat breast fillet topped with savory sauce, creamy Swiss cheese, bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes on a toasted potato bun.
There's nothing overly new here, but Burger King has sort of mixed up a bunch of favored ingredients and put them on a chicken sandwich.
Burger King Chases the Next Fast-Food Craze
Innovation sometimes matters in fast food but one chain's success can often pave the way for a lot of rivals to do something similar with decent results. Restaurant Brands International CEO Jose Cil made it clear that he really believed in Burger King's need for a hit chicken sandwich talking about it during the company's third-quarter 2021 earnings call.
"On chicken, despite the modest initial performance of Ch'King, we continue to believe in the platform. It's a great chicken sandwich and an important part of our core menu, but there is work to be done to build a platform to its full potential, including improving our communications, market positioning, and pricing," he said.