Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwich rolls out

by Bryan Salvage
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ATLANTA – Beginning June 7, the new Spicy Chicken Sandwich is available at Chick-fil-A restaurants nationwide. It is the first new sandwich to hit menu boards since its Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich was introduced in 1989.

The new Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwich is hand-breaded, seasoned with a blend of several peppers, pressure-cooked in 100% refined peanut oil and served on a toasted buttered bun with dill pickle chips. Suggested retail price starts at $2.99 and it is also offered in a "deluxe" version that includes lettuce, tomato and Pepper Jack cheese for $3.59.

The Spicy Chicken Sandwich was given free to more than one million customers across the country last week during a special Premiere Week event at the chain's stand-alone and mall restaurants. Customers were able to reserve a time to try the sandwich at a local restaurant through a special Web site, www.getspicychicken.com. In addition, 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.

Considering the capital investment and marketing expenses required to introduce a totally new sandwich, the Spicy Chicken Sandwich rollout is Chick-fil-A's largest product introduction in 20 years. The rollout requires a number of kitchen equipment additions, including installing 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 is also in the midst of one of its most aggressive marketing campaigns in chain history to support the sandwich rollout.

Coming off a record-breaking $3.2 billion sales year in 2009, the chain is already enjoying a positive start to 2010 with a 3.6% same-store sales gain and a 9.3% overall sales increase through April.

Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A, Inc. is the nation's second-largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain (based on sales), currently with more than 1,485 restaurants in 38 states and Washington D.C. Chick-fil-A produced record sales in 2009 of $3.22 billion — an 8.6% overall increase and an 2.52% same-store sales gain that helped extend the chain's streak of consecutive sales gains to 42 years since founding in 1967.
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