Chick-fil-A to launch Spicy Chicken Sandwich

by Bryan Salvage
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ATLANTA — Starting June 7, Chick-fil-A restaurants nationwide will offer a new Spicy Chicken Sandwich, the chain's first new sandwich to hit menu boards since its Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich was introduced in 1989. The new offering is hand-breaded, seasoned with a hot blend of several peppers, pressure-cooked in 100% refined peanut oil and served on a toasted buttered bun with dill pickle chips.

Its suggested retail price starts at $2.99 and is also offered in a "deluxe" version that includes lettuce, tomato and Pepper Jack cheese for $3.59.

"Our Spicy Chicken Sandwich offers a unique, well-balanced and 'cravable' spicy flavor that is perfect for our growing customer constituency that enjoys spicy food,” said William F. "Woody" Faulk, Chick-fil-A's vice-president of brand strategy and design, who is responsible for the chain's menu strategy.

The chain is giving customers nationwide a chance to taste the sandwich free of charge during a special premiere week event before the rollout. Beginning May 24, customers can visit www.getspicychicken.com to reserve a time to taste the sandwich at a local Chick-fil-A restaurant between May 31 and June 5. Each customer who registers and attends the event will receive a complimentary Spicy Chicken Sandwich. Offers are limited, and customers are encouraged to register early.

Chick-fil-A's Spicy Chicken Sandwich has been in some form of test for years. The chain market-tested the sandwich in Jacksonville, Fla., and Baltimore, Md., and then expanded the test to include its restaurants in California last spring. Customers gave the sandwich a 4.4 out of 5 rating on overall taste, and the Spicy Chicken Sandwich continues to account for at least 6% of overall sales at the test restaurants more than a year later. This figure is similar to the percentage of sales garnered by Chick-fil-A Kid's Meals.

Its rollout will be Chick-fil-A's largest product introduction in 20 years and will require a number of kitchen equipment additions, including the installation of new pressure cookers and ventilation systems at most restaurants in order to prevent the spicy recipe from crossing over to other menu items.

Chick-fil-A said it is also launching one of its most aggressive marketing campaigns in chain history to support the sandwich rollout. In addition to the online, reservation-based Spicy Premiere Week sampling effort, Chick-fil-A is making rare television and radio ad buys in key markets across the country and using online marketing campaigns to promote the sandwich.

The Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwich will complement the other spicy entrées currently offered by the chain, including the Spicy Chicken Cool Wrap and Southwest Chargrilled Salad, according to the company. Based on the general popularity of the spicy category, Chick-fil-A also plans to expand its line of spicy offerings by adding a Spicy Chicken Biscuit to its line of "made-from-scratch," hand-rolled biscuit-based breakfast menu in January 2011.
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