Burger King will launch its hand-breaded chicken sandwich nationwide on June 3, officially placing the burger chain in the ever-growing chicken sandwich wars.
The sandwich—called the Ch’King—is served on a toasty potato bun with crisp pickles and a savory signature sauce. There’s also the Spicy Ch’King, which includes a spicy glaze, or the Deluxe, which features lettuce and tomatoes, but no pickles. From June 3 to June 20, customers who purchase a Ch’King on the BK app or website will receive a free Whopper.
“Our guests said it best, our hand-breaded Ch’King sandwich is our greatest yet,” said Ellie Doty, Burger King North Americas chief marketing officer, in a statement. “We said we would create a delicious hand-breaded chicken sandwich that was worth the wait, we just didn’t anticipate that it would turn out quite this good.”
The fast-food giant has worked on the product since 2019 and has tested it since September 2020. Five months later, Burger King unveiled the first look at the item and promised to deliver something “as good as one you could get from the big chicken guys.”
Restaurant Brands International CEO Jose Cíl said earlier in May that the chicken sandwich is currently in half of U.S. restaurants. The fast-food chain expects the innovative product to increase visits and check, drive incrementality, and pave the way for future innovation.
RBI knows the chicken sandwich wars better than anyone considering how Popeyes’ chicken sandwich helped the chain reach $1.8 million in AUV and grow systemwide sales nearly 18 percent to more than $5 billion. Burger King hopes to experience a similar type of success with its new Ch’King sandwich.
“How’d we maybe accidentally outdo the Whopper? For the last two years, we’ve been perfecting the Ch’King, asking ourselves, 'What if hand breading were to chicken what flame grilling is to burgers?' We’ve mastered the process, ensuring that every freshly hand-breaded chicken filet has a bite that’s crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside,” Burger King said in a statement.
Overall spending on chicken sandwiches soared 420 percent between January 2019 and December 2020, according to ecommerce company Edison Trends. As of April, Chick-fil-A led in market share (41 percent), followed by McDonald’s (27 percent), Popeyes (12 percent), Wendy’s (6 percent), KFC (5 percent) Jack in the Box (4 percent), Burger King (3 percent), and Zaxby’s (2 percent). The results were based on more than 120,000 U.S. transactions from top-selling restaurants via food delivery service sales.
Although the chicken sandwich category continues to saturate, it’s clear that much demand remains. McDonald’s, which launched its new crispy sandwich lineup in February, said the items were exceeding projections and that it’s selling “substantially” more chicken sandwiches as compared to its previous line. In fact, Edison’s data shows that McDonald’s market share grew from 16 percent to 27 percent between December and April because of its new lineup.
In addition, Wendy’s said its elevated Classic Chicken Sandwich is selling more than twice as much as the previous version, and continues to drive a strong large sandwich sales mix and higher average check. KFC rolled out its chicken sandwich systemwide earlier this year, and the item is performing at twice the volume of its previous sandwich launches.