Surely you don’t have to be reminded of the Fast Food Chicken Sandwich Wars, a conflict that kicked off in mid-2019 and raged on across 2020 and 2021, even amidst the backdrop of a global pandemic and its resulting chicken shortages. While countless sandwiches have competed for supremacy—and continue to do so in 2022—the KFC Chicken Sandwich was a solid contender when it took to the (increasingly crowded) field in January 2021. One year since its debut, how has the sandwich performed, and does KFC consider it a success? The Takeout spoke with representatives from KFC to answer that very question.
At the time of its debut, the KFC Chicken Sandwich was a notable release for a few different reasons. For one thing, KFC is a national fast food chain whose overall sales and unit numbers far outpace that of Popeyes, the brand responsible for setting off the whole chicken sandwich domino effect by besting Chick-fil-A (a longstanding victor in the poultry space) in August 2019. While all the major fast food chains—McDonald’s and Burger King chief among them—were still tinkering with their formulas to gain a competitive edge, KFC zoomed out ahead of them, putting out a chicken sandwich that, for all its minor faults, didn’t feel rushed. Indeed, its press release emphasized the opposite, detailing how every element of the sandwich, from its bun to its pickles, was “painstakingly tested” before hitting the market. Apparently, that attention to detail paid off for the brand.
“Since its national launch in January 2021, the KFC Chicken Sandwich, which can be ordered as classic or spicy, is its best yet with sales outperforming its chicken sandwich predecessors,” a spokesperson for KFC tells The Takeout. “Customers are loving the product and coming back more frequently for it.”
A note on those predecessors: One particular predecessor, the KFC Crispy Colonel Sandwich, was the measuring stick against which the new sandwich was developed, and a statement emailed to The Takeout in January 2021 specifies outright that the KFC Chicken Sandwich has a chicken breast filet that’s “20 percent larger” than the Crispy Colonel and “an upgrade in every way.” And customers must feel that way too, because one year after releasing the new sandwich, the brand sounds confident that it’ll be sticking around on the menu.
“Fans can rest assured, the KFC Chicken Sandwich isn’t going anywhere anytime soon,” the KFC spokesperson said. Hopefully this comes as welcome news to the readers of The Takeout, whose strong sandwich opinions have the power to make or break the industry.
Where does the KFC Chicken Sandwich stack up for you?