Editor's pick: Originally published Jan. 15.
Colonel Sanders' original recipe of 11 herbs and spices may no longer offer the kick to one's palate needed to keep KFC relevant.
On January 18, Yum! Brands (YUM) -owned KFC will debut its "Nashville Hot Chicken" in all of its over 4,500 U.S. restaurants. For $5.49, a premium to most items found on the menu at KFC, customers get a platter with two pieces of the new spicy chicken, a buttery biscuit and coleslaw. KFC says the chicken's spicy and smoky flavor is derived from a mixture of cayenne and paprika, which is applied after the meat is fried.
The latest concoction from KFC, which found success in 2015 by selling $5 bowls of chopped-up fried chicken with veggies and mashed potatoes, isn't new per se, although it is relatively new for KFC. KFC recently tested the product in 32 restaurants in and around Pittsburgh, and says it was the most successful product testing in the company's recent history.
The item has been a local delicacy in Nashville, Tennessee for years, and more recently, certain pricey hipster eateries in major cities such as New York. By most accounts, "hot chicken," as it's called in Nashville, has roots dating back some 70 years.
In unleashing Nashville Hot Chicken, KFC is hoping to tap into the country's growing affinity for spicy food.
"We have seen a major cultural shift toward spicy food -- you have to have bolder flavors if you want to win," said KFC's chief marketing officer Kevin Hochman to TheStreet at a launch event for the chicken held in a KFC pop up store in New York City. Others agree that even spicier flavors in the fast food business are here to stay.