Chick-fil-A Heats up Menu with New Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Chick-fil-A® is “fired up” about its new product offering. Chick-fil-A stores throughout the country will begin serving a new Spicy Chicken Sandwich on June 7, marking the chain’s first new sandwich since its Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich in 1989.

The new Spicy Chicken Sandwich, based on the legacy of its namesake hero, is hand-breaded, seasoned with a hot blend of multiple peppers, pressure-cooked in 100% refined peanut oil, and served on a toasted buttered bun with dill pickle chips.

The new Chick-fil-A® Spicy Chicken Sandwich costs $2.99 and is also available in a “deluxe” version with lettuce, tomato, and Pepper Jack cheese for $3.59.

“While we understand that not everyone appreciates spicy cuisine, our Spicy Chicken Sandwich provides a unique, well-balanced, and craveable hot flavor to our growing client base.

Most spicy chicken sandwiches available now simply ‘fire up your mouth,’ with no unique flavor. We wanted to focus on giving customers a unique spicy taste experience that they could only get at Chick-fil-A,” said William F. “Woody” Faulk, Chick-fil-A’s vice president of brand strategy and design, oversees the chain’s menu strategy.

“As for the heat, we provide a large selection of beverages to help you cool down! The sandwich will undoubtedly awaken your taste senses – so much so that we’re printing a playful note on the packaging warning buyers that the sandwich’may ignite mouth fires’!”

Faulk also mentioned that there are other options for customers to temper or intensify the sandwich’s spicy flavor.

“One of the most difficult components of formulating this recipe was determining the appropriate spice level to suit the bulk of our clients. While we believe we have discovered a happy medium in terms of ‘kick level’, there are ways to cool or even heat up the sandwich.

Adding ranch dressing, lettuce, and tomato helps to lessen the temperature, but we also have Pepper Jack cheese and Buffalo sauce for those who can’t get enough hot flavor.”

The Spicy Chicken Sandwich will be added to the Chick-fil-A menu on June 7, but customers nationwide can try it for free during a special Premiere Week event before it goes live.

Beginning May 24, consumers can visit to schedule a visit to a local Chick-fil-A restaurant between May 31 and June 5 to receive a free Spicy Chicken Sandwich.

“We are especially excited about the reservation-based sampling of our new sandwich with our loyal customers,” he said.

“We want to invite our consumers to sample the flavor and quality of this spicy sandwich, but we don’t want to create a cattle-call situation in which we can’t provide’second mile’ care to our clients.

This is a more personalized method to promote our exciting new menu item. It’s similar to arranging a dinner party at home: you know who will be there ahead of time.”

Chick-fil-A’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich has been tested for several years. The chain tested the sandwich in Jacksonville, Fla., and Baltimore, Md., before expanding it to its California restaurants last spring.

Customers awarded the sandwich a 4.4 out of 5 rating for overall flavor, and the Spicy Chicken Sandwich still accounts for at least 6% of total sales at the test restaurants a year later – around the same amount as the chain’s Kid’s Meal sales.

Given the financial investment and marketing costs required to launch a completely new item, the Spicy Chicken item rollout will be Chick-fil-A’s largest product release in about 20 years.

To prevent the hot recipe from contaminating other menu items, most eateries will need to install new pressure cookers and ventilation systems as part of the rollout.

Chick-fil-A is also undertaking one of the most aggressive marketing efforts in the company’s history to support the sandwich debut.

In addition to the online reservation-based Spicy Premiere Week sample effort, Chick-fil-A is promoting the sandwich through unusual TV and radio ad buys in major markets around the country, as well as internet marketing initiatives.

“We are extremely fortunate to be in a position to make these multi-million dollar investments during these tough economic times,” said Steve Robinson, Chick-fil-A’s senior vice president of marketing.

“Much of our competition is reticent to make new product investments these days, opting instead to rely on dollar menus and product discounts to increase traffic.

Rather, Chick-fil-A is committed to improving the restaurant experience. We are confident that our business will continue to develop as long as we take conscious steps to ensure that the quality of our products and customer service standards remain high.”

Robinson noted that Chick-fil-A is confident in its new Spicy Chicken Sandwich and believes it will help preserve the company’s excellent sales momentum during the unpredictable economy.

Following a record-breaking $3.2 billion sales year in 2009, the chain is off to a good start in 2010, with a 3.6 percent increase in same-store sales and a 9.3 percent increase in total sales through April.

“Based on the Spicy Chicken Sandwich’s effectiveness during the test, we anticipate that this dish will help attract new customers for our restaurant operators around the country while also encouraging more regular visits from our existing customers.

We are confident that our Spicy Chicken Sandwich will quickly become an industry leader and a customer favorite,” added Robinson.

The Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken sandwich will complement the chain’s current spicy offerings, which include the Spicy Chicken Cool Wrap® and Southwest Chargrilled Salad. Based on the popularity of the spicy category, Chick-fil-A intends to expand its spicy offerings by introducing a Spicy Chicken Biscuit to its “made-from-scratch,” hand-rolled biscuit-based morning menu in January 2011.

About Chick-fil-A, Inc.

Chick-fil-A, Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, is the nation’s second-largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain (in terms of sales), with over 1,485 locations in 38 states and Washington, D.C.

Chick-fil-A reported record sales of $3.22 billion in 2009, an 8.6 percent rise overall and a 2.52 percent same-store sales gain, extending the chain’s string of consecutive sales advances to 42 years.

Chick-fil-A is credited with inventing the boneless breast of chicken sandwich and introducing the chicken nugget concept.

It serves nutritious and freshly prepared food products in mall locations, stand-alone restaurants, drive-thru-only restaurants, Chick-fil-A Dwarf House® and Truett’s Grill® full-service restaurants, and through licensed outlets in college campuses, hospitals, airports, business and industrial sites.

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