Chick-fil-A’s first foray into the chicken sandwich wars was so successful that it’s launching a second entry, marking the first time the chain has altered its well-known fried chicken sandwich.
The new poultry offering hits restaurants nationwide on Aug. 28 with a twist on the original classic: It’s called the honey pepper pimento cheese sandwich.
The latest Chick-fil-A creation is a limited-time offer, a marketing tactic fast-food restaurants have been successfully employing for years to generate excitement and urgency among consumers.
That sense of urgency comes as competition in the chicken sandwich wars is escalating. Less than three months ago, chicken chain competitor Popeyes expanded its sandwich selection to permanently include the blackened chicken sandwich.
The blackened chicken entree, which launched in June 2023, became the first permanent addition to the Cajun brand’s chicken sandwich selections since Popeyes launched its original sandwich in 2019 — temporarily dethroning Chick-fil-A in online sandwich sales, according to data from Edison Trends.
However, Chick-fil-A quickly regained its crown in online sales and remains king of the fast-food chicken market.
The Atlanta-based franchise made more than $18.8 billion in sales last year, according to Chick-fil-A’s franchise disclosure document. In comparison, Popeyes garnered approximately $5.9 billion in sales during the 2022 fiscal year. Last year, Chick-fil-A sold 527 million sandwiches.
The new limited-edition sammie will be adorned with custom-made pimento cheese, jalapenos and a drizzle of honey. The seasonal sandwich is the first time Chick-fil-A has experimented with their original fried chicken sandwich recipe.
“We wanted to create a standout sandwich that would deliver a unique spin for our guests, without losing the classic taste of the Original Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich,” Stuart Tracy, the creator behind the new dish, said in a statement.
The prospective launch has been met with excitement from customers via social media.
Will Herbert, an entrepreneur from Oakland, California, said he dines at Chick-fil-A multiple times a week and plans on trying the latest addition when it’s released.
“I think it’s really interesting because Chick-fil-A has a very selective menu that never really changes,” Herbert said. “I’m excited to try this new sandwich, but I’m more excited that they’re just changing things up.”
Herbert added that, while he anticipates the launch, he doubts the honey pepper pimento cheese sandwich will be a regular order for him. Instead, he said he would likely continue ordering off the traditional menu.
Food blogger Josh Jordan, who posts under the username Snackolator, said his followers had an extremely positive reaction to the unique recipe. The engagement is typically higher on his posts about Chick-fil-A compared to other chicken franchises.
“I would say in terms of volume and the intensity of enthusiasm, the Chick-fil-A sandwich is getting a lot more buzz and seems to have a higher intensity of people that want to try it as opposed to the Blackened Chicken Sandwich,” he said.
As both Chick-fil-A and Popeyes venture beyond the basic buttered bun and fried chicken, it will be consumers who will decide who rules the roost in this ever-expanding chicken sandwich market.