Ok, let's get something out of the way before diving in, shall we? Chicken sandwiches are nothing new to restaurants. Go to any local restaurant in your city, town, village, whatever, and you'll find several variations of the humble handheld. Grilled, fried, buffalo-style, or slathered in BBQ sauce, you know what you're getting.
That's what makes the recently ignited Chicken Wars so interesting, unique, exciting, and, quite frankly, great for the industry. It's been more than 40 years since the Burger Wars began, and although the battle keeps raging on, the skirmishers have moved from one protein to another, forcing several brands to fight on two fronts.
On August 12, 2019, Popeyes launched the salvo that set the quick service restaurant segment on fire. Featuring a brioche bun, pickles, Popeyes buttermilk batter, and a kiss of mayo, they had - dare I say - aneleganttake on the chicken sandwich. The world went nuts, sparking a fracas that I personally hope never ends.
Since then, it feels like every QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) in the United States has tried its hand at a chicken sandwich. McDonald's released its Crispy Chicken Sandwich in several varieties. KFC followed soon after with its Chicken Sandwich in early 2021, and Burger King is releasing the Ch'King any day now. Jack in the Box has The Cluck, and even Taco Bell jumped into the fray with its Naked Chicken Chalupa.
Then you've got Zaxby's, Church's Chicken, Whataburger, BurgerFi, Fatburger… the list goes on and on. But why? What is it about chicken that seems to be getting every QSR chain riled up? The answer might be in its simplicity.