McDonald’s Enters ‘Chicken Wars’ with Three New Sandwiches

by Suzanne Halliburton

McDonald’s goal for early 2021 is to get you to love its trio of new chicken sandwiches. So, is that your stomach growling? There are no losers in the Chicken Wars.

Now, the fast-food chain doesn’t want you to forget about its quarter pounders with cheese or Big Macs. Rather, it’s hoping you’ll try three new items: Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Spicy Chicken Sandwich and the Deluxe Chicken Sandwich. The fast-food giant announced that these three sandwiches will be on the menu starting Feb. 24.

Back in November, McDonald’s executives told investors that it was going for a portion of the fast-food chicken market. The analysis showed that the chicken market was growing significantly faster than beef. Besides, McDonald’s made the fast-food cheeseburger synonymous with the golden arches almost 70 years ago.

Joe Erlinger, president of McDonald’s USA, said in November that the chicken market was twice the size as beef in the global market.

“It is growing faster and represents a significant opportunity,” Erlinger said. “Developing a reputation for great chicken represents one of our highest aspirations. We want customers to choose McDonald’s for chicken.”

McDonald’s Started Testing Chicken Sandwich in Houston, Knoxville in 2019

The fast-food king started serving the Crispy Chicken Sandwich at its restaurants in Houston and Knoxville, Tenn. a year ago. They wanted to test how well the sandwiches would sell. The main sandwich is a fried chicken filet. It’s topped with butter and pickles and served on a potato bun. There’s also a spicy version of the sandwich.

The deluxe chicken sandwich comes with the filet and pickles, but will also have mayo, lettuce and tomatoes.

The chain already serves some chicken, but it’s more of an afterthought. You went to McDonald’s for a cheeseburger and some fries. Who went there for chicken nuggets and a McChicken sandwich?

Apparently, a lot of people. The chain did well in 2020. CNBC reported that McDonald’s shares increased by eight percent. The company is valued at $162 billion.

However, CNN reported that the business for McDonald’s dropped by almost two percent in 2019 as the chain was losing customers to high-end hamburger joints. The drop prompted the change in menu strategy.

Coincidentally, 2019 also was known for its chicken sandwich wars. Chick fil A was expanding beyond its southern markets. And Popeyes created a viral sensation with its new menu items.

That’s why McDonald’s franchise owners wrote a letter to company executives in 2019 asking them to add some poultry. The letter said “JFK called for a man on the moon. Our call should be a category-leading chicken sandwich.”

Wendy’s added a chicken sandwich in the fall. And KFC tested a new sandwich, too.

So maybe in 2021, you’ll roll through the drive-thru craving chicken. Add some fries and enjoy.