It’s like taking the “parcel” out of UPS or the “American” out of AOL. Beginning today KFC has moved beyond fried chicken and into the realm of grilled foods.

In a step to please its health-conscious customers, KFC is launching Kentucky Grilled Chicken nationwide at its more than 5,000 units.

The product underwent the most thorough testing of any menu launch in the company’s history, lasting two years and spanning markets from Colorado to Florida.

“At KFC, we’re all about choice and we’re constantly evolving our menu to meet customers’ needs,” says company spokeswoman Laurie Schalow of the new offering.

In addition to today’s nationwide rollout, KFC is also giving away grilled chicken samples next Monday, April 27, across the nation at participating stores. The company is dubbing the day UNFry Day and accompanying the promotion with the new Web site

“We expect to give away over 4 million pieces of Kentucky Grilled Chicken on April 27,” Schalow says.

Franchisees are also jumping on the opportunity to reposition their brand for consumers looking for a balanced meal. Ed Thomas, president of the Southern California KFC Advertising Association and a KFC franchisee, calls his market “ground zero” for the new grilled items.

“We’re so confident that Southern California KFC fans will love the slow-grilled taste of Kentucky Grilled Chicken, we’re giving away four free drumstick and thigh pieces with every eight-piece meal or larger of KFC Original Recipe or Extra Crispy,” Thomas says.

The Southern California deal will run from May 4 to May 31 and is exclusive to that market.

The grilled chicken breast has 190 fewer calories and 610 fewer milligrams of salt than its Original Recipe counterpart.

–Blair Chancey

News, Kentucky Fried Chicken