Three years after Popeyes' viral chicken sandwich sensation, Wingstop is officially throwing its entry into the ring.
The country's largest wing chain is launching a signature chicken sandwich nationwide, and customers can choose from 12 flavors—Original Hot, Cajun, Atomic, Mild, Spicy Korean Q, Lemon Pepper, Hawaiian, Garlic Parmesan, Hickory Smoked BBQ, Louisiana Rub, Mango Habanero, and recent newcomer, Hot Honey Rub. The flavored chicken breast is packaged with pickles, in between two toasted buns.
As part of the release, Wingstop is suggesting customer "break up" with chicken sandwiches from other chains. The first 100,000 to visit chickensandwichsplit.com and pen a breakup letter will receive a free sandwich.
"The nationwide launch of the Wingstop Chicken Sandwich is an opportunity to bring new guests to the brand by proving our position as The Flavor Experts, and reward our existing fanbase by putting menu innovation on center stage," Stacy Peterson, chief revenue and technology officer said in a statement. "The Wingstop Chicken Sandwich doesn't just come in one flavor—fans can choose from our 12 bold, signature flavors. We're so confident in the product that we're incentivizing fans to split from their current chicken contender and find a new favorite chicken sandwich at Wingstop."
The Wingstop Chicken Sandwich was first tested in May at more than 60 restaurants across Ohio, California, Las Vegas, and Orlando. The product mixed 4 percent, didn't complicate the back of house, boosted the lunch daypart, and provided incrementality—checking all the boxes Wingstop was looking for, CEO Michael Skipworth said. Additionally, the chicken sandwich backs up the fast casual's promise to bring more value amid record-high inflation. The innovation is $5.49 a la carte and $7.99 with fries, a drink, and a dip.
“We’ve heard over the years the concept of a veto vote where you’ve got a group and not everybody wants wings, and what we believe we saw in some of the consumer feedback during our market test was this chicken sandwich really helped us solve that veto vote,” the CEO told analysts in late July. “So we’re excited about what this can do for our business, not to mention, we think it’s an incredible product. From what we saw in the market test, the feedback from consumers was extremely encouraging.”
The move comes more than a year after Wingstop released virtual brand Thighstop to mitigate bone-in chicken wing inflation. Eventually the delivery-only concept moved to the core menu. Former CEO Charlie Morrison said it was helping with volatility as intended, but that it wasn't growing at the rate Wingstop expected.