Move over Bargain Buckets, Big Daddy Box Meals, Popcorn Chicken and Hot Wings. Make room for Pulled Chicken!
Three new BBQ offerings were introduced to the fast food chain’s menu in the United Kingdom and Ireland this month. The American southland cuisine features tender, succulent meat “pulled” easily from the bone in pieces after being slowly cooked at a relatively low temperature.
“If pulled pork was the dish of 2014, then 2015 will become the year of pulled chicken,” said Louise Direito, KFC’s innovation manager in the United Kingdom. “Influenced heavily by both our Kentucky heritage as well as the UK street food scene, the new range is a labor of love for us. We have been working tirelessly for the past 18 months to improve the variety of our menu, and are delighted that we can now provide our customers with something completely unique to KFC.”
Pulled chicken features a blend of white breast (60%) and dark meat (40%) cooked in a sauce inspired by an authentic Kentucky recipe. The meat is first tumbled in a dry spice rub which includes smoked paprika, clove and chili. It is thereafter marinated in a molasses-based sauce and slow-cooked for almost two hours.
Three offerings debuted this month in KFC’s 865 outlets in Britain and Ireland, starting with the Pulled Chicken Ultimate Burger Meal. It features two crispy mini fillets on a bed of southern-style paprika slaw, topped off with lettuce, cheese and a softly toasted brioche bun. A soft drink and french fries complete the order.
Second in the lineup, the Pulled Chicken Twister Meal aims to please the palate with a hardy serving of hand-wrapped meat accompanied with cheese and lettuce. It too is served with a regular drink and fries.
Last but not least is the Pulled Chicken Lil’ Wrap.
American-style barbecue dishes (and from Georgia to the Carolinas and beyond, there are many regional variations on the theme originating from the southeast of the country) are very popular in the UK, Ireland and throughout much of continental Europe these days. In Britain alone the market’s value has been estimated at over £68 million. In addition to KFC, barbecue is increasingly being served up in independent burger bars, rib shacks and smokehouses across the nation. Pulled pork sales have been rising steadily in supermarkets as well.
Across the pond in the KFC headquarters town of Louisville, Kentucky, Pulled Chicken is not yet on the menu – nor is it available anywhere else in the USA.
This writer can understand why the executives at Yum! Brands, Inc. (parent company of KFC) might think twice about offering Pulled Chicken in the Louisville area, which is home to some of the world’s best BBQ restaurants. To name a several: Shack in the Back (which does the smoking on site), Mark’s Feed Store, and Bootleg Bar-B-Q & Catering Co.
While barbecue purists in that part of the country might not cotton to a QSR version of BBQ, there is no reasons to deprive the rest of the USA of KFC’s Pulled Chicken product line. So come on Yum, get busy rolling it out with a special introductory price shout about!
Meanwhile, some folks recently pulling into a Louisville filling station to buy gasoline were shouting with delight after they pulled out with enough saved cash to drive to the nearest KFC, or even over to Shack in the Back to feed their family, and then some.
KFC took over Pruitt’s Service Island, an iconic full-service automotive station in Louisville, and offered a unique fill-up as a Colonel Sanders lookalike caught drivers by surprise, appearing pump-side in lieu of expected service attendants. The Colonel gave a few lucky motorists KFC Gift Checks so they could enjoy a $5 Fill-Up meal of their own at a local KFC restaurant, and then filled up their cars with fuel for free. Depending on the automobile’s tank size, the gas was probably worth from $40 to $60.
“In 1930, the Colonel opened his first restaurant in the small front room of a filling station in Corbin, Kentucky, which he named ‘Sanders Court & Café.’ It was there he perfected his secret blend of 11 herbs and spices and started serving his Original Recipe to guests,” said KFC’s Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Hochman. “Our $5 Fill-Up meal harkens back to a time when you could fill up your car for just five dollars. We’re rolling back our prices so that our consumers can purchase five different real meals that each include a cookie and drink for just five dollars, too.” – JMS