Addressing one of its key competitive weaknesses, Burger King is rolling out new Chicken Tenders that could get it back in the chicken-snack game. These replace the previous Tenders incarnation that were shaped like crowns, which signaled “for kids only.” The new, crispy Tenders moving into stores now are marketed to all ages.
The Chicken Tenders name continues to be a bit of a misnomer, since these are bite-size and shaped more like McNuggets than McDonald’s plank-like Chicken Selects strips or the Handed-Breaded Chicken Tenders that Hardee’s added last June.
Miami, where Burger King is headquartered, is one of the markets already selling the new Chicken Tenders, priced at 25¢ each. A four-piece pack is about $1; the eight-piece box is $2. The third size option is a 20-piece pack for $4.99. That gives Burger King a budget-price item as well as a more serious player in the snack category.
The new Tenders are larger and slightly higher in calories than the previous, crown-shaped version: four of the new Tenders are 190 calories (11 fat grams), compared with 160 calories (9 fat grams) for the crowns.
Chicken bites have been a fairly secondary part of Burger King’s menu, though it has tried by adding Chicken Fries. That has been a more acute problem as other protein prices have risen while chicken prices have remained relatively stable. Outside the U.S., Burger King hasn’t established a consistent chicken-snack brand as it has with the Whopper and other items. For example, in the UK, Burger King sells Chicken Bites, while in Germany and many other markets the menu has King Nuggets. Canada still has the crown-shaped Tenders.
The name McNuggets is known globally, and they have been a core menu item at McDonald’s since their systemwide introduction in 1983. McDonald’s doesn’t mess much with the McNugget because all that’s needed is a new dipping sauce to create a limited-time special. That’s what the chain did during the last year’s Winter Olympics, when McNuggets were paired with Sweet Chili Sauce in the U.S. and Spicy Szechwan and Zesty Mango in Canada.
Late last year, McDonald’s tried Chicken McBites—a crispier-coating version of McNuggets—in Australia and New Zealand. Endorsed by local cricket legend Shane Warne, the McBites were a hit, according to sources, but they have not been tried elsewhere yet.