The next battle in the fast food chicken sandwich war has begun, with McDonald's taking aim at Popeyes and Wendy's with three new sandwiches joining the menu nationally soon. The company made it very clear to investors in 2019 that it needs to be competitive in the chicken sandwich market, and these sandwiches are the next step in McDonald's "chicken journey," as McDonald's USA president Joe Erlinger told investors in November. The three sandwiches will be available in restaurants on Feb. 24.
The first sandwich is the basic Crispy Chicken Sandwich, which includes a new crispy chicken fillet made with all-white meat, topped with crinkle-cut pickles, and served on a potato roll. The Spicy Chicken Sandwich adds a Spicy Pepper Sauce to the mix. Customers can also order the Deluxe Chicken Sandwich, which includes shredded lettuce Roma tomatoes, and mayo joining the pickles and bun.
"We’ve heard our customers loud and clear, and we know they’re craving more chicken options,” McDonald's Vice President of Menu Innovation, Linda VanGosen said in a press release. “We’re confident all chicken fans – from traditionalists to spice enthusiasts – will discover a new menu favorite they’ll come back for time and time again.”
Back in August 2019, Popeyes declared a food war with Chick-fil-A by launching its own chicken sandwich, which famously sold out in just two weeks. Popeyes has said the sandwich has been responsible for helping the chain grow during the coronavirus pandemic, reports CNN. Wendy's joined the fight in October by offering a new version of its chicken sandwich, the Classic Chicken Sandwich, to replace the Homestyle Chicken Sandwich. KFC also tested a premium sandwich during the summer.
During a November discussion with investors, Erlinger said McDonald's needed to carve out space in the chicken sandwich market to stay competitive. "Globally, the chicken category is almost twice the size of beef," Erlich said, reports CNN. "It is growing faster and represents a significant opportunity... Developing a reputation for great chicken represents one of our highest aspirations. We want customers to choose McDonald's for chicken." The sandwich will "just-start our chicken journey," Erlinger teased.
McDonald's also offered the Spicy Chicken McNuggets last fall as the first new McNugget flavor since McNuggets were added to the menu in 1983. Just two weeks after they were introduced in September, some locations began selling out of the spicy nuggets, reports Today. They also added the Mighty Hot Sauce to the menu, and both were announced as "limited-time" items.