The arrivals of Dave’s Hot ‘n Juicy Cheeseburgers from Wendy’s and new Steakhouse burgers from Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. are likely to be brief respites from the steady string of chicken introductions that preceded them. For example, Wendy’s previously announced it plans to launch an upgraded line of “Gold” chicken sandwiches—including the Bruschetta Chicken sandwich— in the fourth quarter.
But other signs suggest that the next big QSR battleground won’t be chicken sandwiches, it will be shareable chicken snack menus. Early signals came this spring with Burger King’s reformulation of its Chicken Tenders and McDonald’s Detroit test of Chicken McBites, already a hit in Australia. Checkers/Rally’s this month added its own chicken snack item—Chicken Bites—priced at just $1 (or $2 in a combo with fries).
KFC is defending its turf by promoting a $2.99 price for a large order of its Popcorn Chicken. Sonic is expected to increase promotional support for the Jumbo Popcorn Chicken on its menu as the trend grows.
In Australia, Chicken McBites (bite-size white-meat chicken) are part of McDonald’s “Chicken Snack Range (Menu)” that also includes Chicken McWings. These haven’t been tested in the U.S. yet, but if already-thin chicken-wing supplies could allow it, McWings would be a formidable challenge to KFC as well as burger chains.
In France, McDonald’s this summer introduced the Chicken Box (right), a shareable-snack combo of McNuggets, wings and tenders.