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The latest news on KFC from Business Insider

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    kfc chickenKFC is ready to speed up service, thanks to new technology.

    On Wednesday, the chain officially announced it was rolling out mobile payment, with system-wide adoption expected to be completed by the end of the summer.

    With the new payment system, customers can pay with Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay both in stores and at drive-thrus.

    The change has two purposes. First, it is part of a wide update to the chain's mobile-payment infrastructure to increase security. Second, it is expected to improve speed of service, especially as more locations switch to the slightly more time-consuming EMV chip-card payment.

    The promise of speedier service is key in the fast-food industry, with chains across the industry making changes from simplifying menus to adopting new technology to ensure that customers can get their food as quickly as possible. When fast food slows down — as it did across the industry in recent years, only recovering slightly in 2015, according to QSR magazine data— it means fewer sales and unhappy customers.

    Adding the option of mobile pay seems like a small time-saving move, but it goes hand-in-hand with wider technology intended, in part, to help speed up service.

    YUMB_00_KFC_N2_large

    "Some people would jump to kiosks for labor reduction," Chris Caldwell, KFC's chief information officer, told Business Insider. "I think we can make our restaurant managers more efficient using technology."

    KFC has lagged behind competitor Chick-fil-A, in part because of the rival chicken chain's impressive customer service. With a new employee-centric tech initiative, KFC is trying to catch up, testing new tech related to the less-than-flashy issues like inventory and scheduling shifts to 20 to 30 locations in the coming months.

    Unfortunately for KFC, it looks like Chick-fil-A has some new tech of its own to speed up service. The chicken chain is now rolling out a new app that will allow customers to avoid waiting in line at the register, as they can pay in advance and then pick it up at a counter designated for digital orders.

    KFC has said it's not ready to launch an app of its own, saying that often such tech focuses are due to chains jumping on the bandwagon, not fixing actual needs. However, when it comes to fast food, time is of the essence — and, increasingly, tech is the new solution for picking up speed.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here’s how many calories are in 6 of the most popular fast-food kids meals


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    Oven Crisp Chicken MealFried chicken has been everywhere recently, from the explosion of chains like Chick-fil-A to the kitchens of celebrity chefs like David Chang.

    However, one chicken chain is taking a very different approach from the competition.

    Instead of entering the fried-chicken market, Boston Market is doubling down on rotisserie and other chicken offerings that never enter a deep fryer.

    Last week, the chicken chain announced it was adding a new type of chicken the menu: Oven-crisp chicken, which uses panko breading instead of frying to add texture and flavor.

    "We do not want to fry a product in our restaurants," Boston Market CEO George Michel told Business Insider. "Our criteria was very important: Give our customers the flavor, give them the product that they've wanted, but let's not give them the guilt that comes with it, or the calories, or the grease that drips out of it."

    In fact, when the chain tested fryers in five kitchens, the fried chicken didn't even sell.

    "It just clearly said that people are not going to come to Boston Market for fried food," says Michel.

    Oven Crisp Chicken Sandwich 1

    Boston Market is smaller than some of its competitors, with$602 million in systemwide sales, according to Nation's Restaurant News, compared to $4.2 billion at KFC or $5.7 billion at Chick-fil-A. However, the 457-location chain is on an expansion spree, with a recent franchise deal to open 25 to 30 restaurants across the Middle East in the next few years, and plans to open 12 new locations in the US in 2016.

    But adding the new chicken to the menu gives Boston Market many of the same benefits of selling fried chicken that its competitors have, without marring the chain's family-friendly, home-style image.

    Like fried chicken, it packs a flavor that's different from that of the rotisserie chicken. The crispy chicken is ideal for on-the-go eating, with the option to put on sandwiches or wraps. And it appeals to health-minded customers, as it can be placed atop a salad.

    KFC Hot Chicken

    KFC is undergoing a "Re-Colonelization," which it describes as a public recommitment to quality involving national employee retraining and a new satisfaction guarantee. Simultaneously, the chain is trying to market its food as a quality, reliable option, made fresh at restaurants where things are "done the hard way."

    It's a strategy that Chick-fil-A has successfully pulled off, marketing itself as a "healthy" fried-chicken chain, with options like kale salad and grilled nuggets. Chick-fil-A has appealed to customers as a higher-quality chicken option, becoming the No. 1 chicken chain in the US with average sales per restaurant of nearly $3.1 million, the greatest of any fast-food chain in the US, reports QSR magazine.

    Michel says that Boston Market is taking notes from Chick-fil-A's fast-casual approach to chicken. However, while Chick-fil-A had to challenge of making fried chicken appeal to health-conscious families, Boston Market is dealing with a very different menu.

    Ultimately, Boston Market is doubling down on the two things that make up its core: rotisserie and chicken.

    When it comes to rotisserie, the chain is now using rotisserie ovens to cook turkey, as well as testing other rotisserie-cooked items, such as vegetables.

    "Our position right now is to stay in the rotisserie platform, and to stay in the baked and grilled platform," says Michel. "These are the platforms that we believe give you great taste, but also better-for-you foods."

    As for chicken, in addition to the new crispy chicken, Boston Market is exploring new means of preparation, such as grilled chicken. Still, even as it tests new options, Boston Market won't be adding fried chicken to the menu any time soon.

    SEE ALSO: Something unexpected is happening at Chipotle

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: We tried the new value menus at McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's — and the winner is clear


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    kfc yum brands china

    Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut are all part of the same Yum Brands family, but it might be better for everyone if they went their separate ways.

    The restaurant chains all work together under the same parent company, sharing resources between them. However, some analysts think that the companies would be better off if they didn't have to share, and could make their own ways in the world.

    "YUM! Brands remains one of the most bloated restaurant companies – which is a big opportunity for the creation of shareholder value," Mark Kalinowski, an analyst at Nomura, said in a note to clients on June 22.

    Spinning off each of the companies into individual brands would be one step towards creating that additional value.

    Taco Bell is the most obvious candidate for a potential spin-off, according to Kalinowski. In addition to being a bit of an outlier, only performing well in the US as opposed to the global success of KFC and Pizza Hut, he suggests four main benefits of spinning off Taco Bell:

    1. "A more focused Taco Bell that wouldn’t have to compete with Pizza Hut and KFC for resources."

    2. "A differentiated (and likely publicly traded) large quick-service restaurant brand with essentially zero exposure to international profit risk."

    3. "Better structures at which to 'trim the fat' (cut unnecessary costs) at Taco Bell and at the remaining YUM! Brands."

    4. "Perhaps even a better-managed Pizza Hut and a better-managed KFC, as neither would have to compete with Taco Bell for time, attention, and resources."

    It's worth noting that the top restaurant stocks in the US are all single brands. McDonalds, Starbucks, and Chipotle have all built their value around a single restaurant, allowing for clarity and focus in the companies' strategies, according to Kalinowski. Spinning off one or more of Yum's brands would allow both the parent and spun-off companies to be "much more lean and much more mean."

    Yum has shown a willingness to make big spin-offs before. The company announced a separation of its China division in late 2015, and the China division has beat expectations since the announcement.

    KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell have been slowly losing market share for more than 20 years, which might mean it's time to break them up.

    Yum Brands shares have risen around 17% so far this year.

    SEE ALSO: Yum Brands crushed earnings

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    kfc george hamiltonThere's a new Colonel Sanders at KFC — again.

    The fried-chicken chain has hired actor George Hamilton to portray its founder, Colonel Sanders, in television ads for Extra Crispy Chicken.

    However, there's a twist. Hamilton will be playing the "Extra Crispy Colonel," the first Colonel Sanders to represent a specific product: Extra Crispy Chicken.

    "Extra Crispy is a huge opportunity for our business," KFC CMO Kevin Hochman told Business Insider. "Over half of people don't know that we have more than one recipe."

    Hamilton is the fourth actor to play Colonel Sanders since the chain brought back the figure in marketing last year. Jim Gaffigan, who followed in the footsteps of Norm MacDonald and Darrell Hammond, will continue to serve as Colonel Sanders in marketing for Original Recipe chicken.

    Unlike the Original Recipe, Extra Crispy Chicken is double breaded and open fried. This creates a crunchier chicken, which Hochman says most Americans actually prefer compared to the Original Recipe chicken — despite the fact that many don't realize it's an option.

    Extra Crispy

    Hamilton was chosen as the Crispy Colonel because, according to Hochman, he embodies the Extra Crispy brand.

    "Extra Crispy Chicken is fried to a golden brown. George Hamilton isn't fried to a golden brown, but he is tanned to a golden brown," Hochman says, noting that the actor's bold personality matches the chicken's bolder flavor.

    While the Extra Crispy Colonel represents something new for the company, the new ad campaign also demonstrates a major change at KFC, as the chain doubles down on what it calls its "food story."

    The ads show Hamilton preparing Extra Crispy Chicken by hand on the beach, in the same way it is prepared in each KFC location. It's a little detail, but for KFC it's part of a larger move to put the food front and center — and convince customers that the chain serves authentic, reliable food.  

    Internally at KFC, Colonel Sanders represents high-quality chicken and "doing things the hard way"— something that Hochman hopes Sanders will soon represent to the general public as well. KFC lore says that the Colonel would travel to restaurants around the US in the 1970s, testing gravy with a golden spoon. If he didn't like it, he would dump that gravy on the floor of the restaurant.

    Commercials starring "Colonel Sanders" attempt to make the connection of Colonel and quality for the average consumer, especially in instances such as the "Crispy Colonel" hand-breading Crispy Chicken on the beach.

    KFC bucket

    KFC is further doubling down on this "food story" with new packaging for buckets that spell out the step-by-step process of fried-chicken production. The new buckets are rolling out now through July.

    With programs like Re-Coloneization — a public recommitment to quality involving national employee retraining and a new satisfaction guarantee — and an endless parade of Colonel Sanders, KFC is eager to prove it makes chicken the "hard way."

    Originally, bringing back Colonel Sanders was intended to grab Americans' attention — something, Hochman says, marketing succeeded in doing. Now new Colonels including the Extra Crispy Colonel, are tasked with convincing Americans that they can trust KFC when it comes to well-prepared, reliable fried chicken.

    SEE ALSO: KFC says it has been making the same mistake for decades — but now it has a plan to beat Chick-fil-A

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: These are America's 2 most hated fast-food restaurants


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    mcdonalds ronald mcdonald protestThe restaurant industry is providing some ominous insight into how Americans are feeling about the economy.

    Restaurant sales are virtually flat, and they're expected to remain weak for the rest of the year, according to The NPD Group, an industry research firm.

    Weak growth in the restaurant industry is a warning sign for the entire economy, Nomura analyst Mark Kalinowski told Business Insider.

    People need to eat, and when they pull back on restaurant spending, it's a clear sign that they aren't feeling confident about the economy.

    "The whole restaurant industry in aggregate is pretty lackluster," Kalinowski said. "It's not impossible for things to get better, but it does look like the odds are against a rebound."

    Restaurant owners have told Kalinowski that one of the main concerns on customers' minds right now is the presidential election.

    "People spend more when they feel confident about who the president is and the direction he or she is leading the country," Kalinowski said.

    Fast FoodBut consumers are feeling uncertain about both presidential candidates, and that probably won't change — no matter who is elected, he said.

    "Restaurant owners ... hear a lot about how customers are worried about politics, and they don’t really care for either presidential candidate," Kalinowski said. "I think Americans' feelings about those candidates are probably going to be pretty similar on election day to their feelings today."

    The spending pullback in the restaurant industry is forcing many chains to offer steep discounts, which is great for consumers but will end up hurting those companies' profits.

    McDonald's, Wendy's, KFC, Burger King, and Chipotle are among the restaurants battling for customers with new combo-meal promotions and free food offers.

    The deals seem to be working. While overall traffic to fast-food restaurants was flat, deal traffic increased 3% in the first quarter, according to NPD Group. Promotions accounted for more than 25% of fast-food restaurants' sales in the quarter.

    The industry will likely need to maintain this level of promotional activity to keep customers coming back.

    SEE ALSO: Sears workers reveal mistakes that are killing the company

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: We went to check out the new 'walk-up' McDonald's that has no dining tables or chairs


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    KFC vs Popeye's 1

    With 2014 US sales topping $4.2 billion, KFC is second only to Chick-fil-A in the fast-food-chicken segment. 

    But its largest competitor, Popeyes, is closing in, coming in at No. 3 on the fast-food-chicken list at $2.4 billion in US sales.

    But business aside, there's one thing that truly matters: the food. 

    Both chains are indisputably at the top of the fried-chicken sector, but who does it best? 

    KFC has the advantage of time: Their secret blend of herbs and spices has enjoyed 75 years' worth of perfecting. Yet Popeyes' Cajun approach, be it mild or spicy, has staunch support. 

    And of course, one can't try fried chicken without considering the sides.

    Who concocts the best coleslaw? Who breads the best biscuit? Who mashes the mightiest potatoes? We're here to find out. 

    SEE ALSO: KFC is opening a $16 all-you-can-eat buffet in Japan

    PLUS: KFC founder Colonel Sanders didn't achieve his remarkable rise to success until his 60s

    For this comparison, we decided to test the following: fried chicken, chicken tenders, mashed potatoes and gravy, coleslaw, and biscuits.



    First up, KFC. How do the special herbs and spices stand up?



    The breading is pretty flavorful – not all that crispy, but peppery and savory with a slight buttery taste. You really can't beat the colonel's recipe there. However, the chicken meat is a tad greasy.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    kfc chinaPeople are protesting and boycotting KFC locations across China.

    Following last week's ruling that Beijing had no legal claim in the South China Sea, many Chinese citizens are blaming the US. And, blaming the US means targeting American institutions, which, in China, means KFC.

    On Monday, protests broke out at KFC locations in about a dozen cities across China, with calls for boycott, reports the New York Times.

    "Boycott the US, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. Love the Chinese people," a banner outside a KFC in Hebei read. "What you eat is KFC. What is lost is the face of our ancestors."

    While Chinese customers see KFC as an American icon, for parent company Yum, China is a key part of business — a larger proportion, in fact, than the US market. There are 4,889 KFC locations in China, compared to 4,338 in the US. In the last quarter, KFC China sales increased 3%, a higher-than-expected boost.

    In addition to protesting KFC, people in China are demonstrating their discontent by destroying another American icon: the iPhone. According to Mashable, videos have emerged of people smashing their iPhones to protest perceived American political meddling.

    SEE ALSO: KFC says it has been making the same mistake for decades — but now it has a plan to beat Chick-fil-A

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This 'Pokémon GO' knockoff is the most downloaded game in China right now


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    Smashed iPhones

    Chinese nationalists are smashing their iPhones "in protest of American companies," according to a report from USA Today on Wednesday.

    To the right is a picture of those smashed iPhones. 

    It's a bit of a complicated story, but here's what you need to know: China recently lost a international tribunal ruling over the South China Sea, specifically whether territory belonged to China or the Philippines. 

    It's a matter of national pride. So angry Chinese people took to the streets to protest the United States, which is seen as the global power backing the Philippines in the dispute. 

    These protestors reached for the closest American symbols they could find — KFC restaurants and Apple iPhones.

    Mashable has a great GIF of students purportedly smashing iPhones in a dorm. 

    The Financial Times has a reliable story the protest that has received the most media attention and documentation. Here is how FT described it: 

    The protest on Sunday by a few dozen people waving flags and banners in front of a KFC outlet in Laoting county, in Hebei province near the port city of Tianjin, attracted only a small crowd of onlookers, according to photos posted online and quickly deleted.

    These protests don't appear to be a massive movement, according to video and social media from the events, and the FT report. (China seems to be censoring photos from the protests).

    But even so, Chinese state-run media has encouraged the protestors to knock it off.

    In sum, iPhones aren't being smashed in huge numbers in China. But it is interesting that Chinese citizens think of Apple as a symbol of America.

    China is a key market for Apple, and it faces regulatory questions as the Chinese government has signaled it may be less friendly to the iPhone company to help boost homegrown smartphone companies. 

    SEE ALSO: Apple's relationship with China is going south — and investors should be worried

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Cutting-edge tech discovered a popular word inmates say during phone calls — and prison officials were surprised


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    shake shackThe best chefs in the world can't eat fine dining all the time.

    Bloomberg's Richard Vines interviewed chefs from the world's most celebrated restaurants about what they eat when they're craving fast food.

    Some chefs had classy tastes, even when it came to chains. Joan Roca from El Celler de Can Roca, in Girona, Spain — which was awarded the best restaurant in the world in 2015 — namedropped Beefsteak, a vegetarian-focused chain started by the chef José Andrés. Daniel Boulud said he loves Le Pain Quotidien , which is more bakery than fast food.

    However, other chefs are true fast-food lovers at heart. Here are six fast-food menu items that chefs actually love.

    To see the full Bloomberg story, click here.

    1. Five Guys' burger and milkshakes

    Five Guys Burgers 14

    Heston Blumenthal, the chef at Fat Duck in Bray, England says that Five Guys is high on his list, thanks to the burgers and milkshakes. "The guys behind the counters actually have some interest in food," he told Bloomberg.

    2. Popeyes' fried chicken

    Popeyes

    "I treat myself to Popeyes a couple of times a year and I am wickedly happy downing a few pieces (wings and thighs best) of their crispy, spicy chicken — with a side of dirty rice and biscuits," Danny Meyer told Bloomberg. Meyer, who founded Shake Shack in addition to fine dining classic Gramercy Tavern, is clearly an expert on what makes quality fast food.

    3. Chipotle's salad

    Chipotle

    Meyer's other favorite: Chipotle. His go-to order isn't a burrito, but instead salad with grilled chicken, pinto beans, shredded cheese, extra cilantro, and spicy dressing.

    4. Shake Shack's burger

    Shake Shack

    Unsurprisingly, Danny Meyer's Shake Shack was a top pick, mentioned by Helene Darroze, who inspired a character in Disney's Ratatouille, and Massimo Bottura, chef of the current No. 1 restaurant in the world, Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy. The reason: the keen attention to detail that allows for the high quality of the meat, bread, and sauce.

    5. KFC's fried chicken sandwich

    #Zinger Stacker Stacker Stacker? We 💖 it

    A photo posted by KFC Australia (@kfcaustralia) on Jul 11, 2016 at 12:00am PDT on

    The top chef-approved KFC item is nowhere to be found on the American menu. "I only go for the Zinger Tower Burger," Karam Sethi of Gymkhana in London told Bloomberg. "It's got a fried, battered breast, hash brown, a spicy tomato salsa, mayonnaise and crispy iceberg in a sesame bun."

    6. In-N-Out's burger

    in n out

    It may only be available on the West Coast, but In-N-Out Burger is a cult classic. Wolfgang Puck, of Spago in Beverly Hills, and Nuno Mendes, of Chiltern Firehouse in London, said the burger chain was one of their favorites.

    "I like it because you can have a hamburger wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun," said Puck. "I feel like I am eating a salad."

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: We tried Chipotle's newest menu item, which will be available nationwide later this year


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    Georgia Gold Sign.JPGKFC is hoping to recreate the success of Nashville Hot Chicken by taking a new, regional cult classic to the masses.

    On Friday, the chicken chain announced restaurants in Pittsburgh and Mobile, Alabama are launching a test of the new Georgia Gold Honey Mustard BBQ fried chicken and tenders. After the test finishes on September 4, the chain will evaluate if and when the dish will debut nationwide. 

    The sweet and tangy chicken is intended to capture the flavor of "grown-up honey mustard — sweet with attitude," Kevin Hochman, KFC's US CMO, said in a statement. 

    Georgia Gold highlights some of the crispier chicken options at KFC, following the chain's summer Extra Crispy campaign, and will be available as Extra Crispy Chicken Tenders, Chicken Littles, and Extra Crispy Chicken. 

    Georgia Gold 3pc Tenders

    Business Insider had an opportunity to try a version of the new chicken dish while visiting KFC's headquarters in May. KFC may have made tweaks since then (at the time, the dish was being developed under the name Carolina Gold chicken), but based on flavor alone, there wasn't much to change — the chicken was some of the best KFC has ever served.

    Many Southern barbecue fans, like Nashville locals before them, may be suspicious of the chicken's culinary credentials, with KFC saying it chose to test the dish in Mobile and Pittsburgh to get both Northern and Southern perspectives on Georgia Gold. 

    KFC's Georgia Gold chicken is tangy and packs a flavorful punch, drawing from barbecue traditions of Georgia and parts of South Carolina. 

    It's a flavor that's familiar to anyone who has dipped fried chicken in honey mustard sauce. However, the chain doesn't over-do the flavor, with more muted honey sweetness than aggressive mustard flavoring. Georgia Gold is an ideal flavor combination for customers who enjoy the slight sweetness of the chain's Nashville Hot Chicken, but aren't fans of spice.

    Nashville Hot Chicken 2

    Georgia Gold clearly follows in the footsteps of Nashville Hot Chicken, which KFC's head chef told Business Insider was his favorite new menu item he had developed in his 16 years at the chain.

    "The whole idea of Nashville hot was, unless you lived in Nashville and had an hour to wait in line, or had a bunch of money and lived in New York City or Los Angeles, you had no access to the Nashville hot," CMO Kevin Hochman told Business Insider in May.

    Now, the chain appears to want to do the same with Georgia Gold — a flavor that is, perhaps, even more obscure that Nashville Hot.

    The Georgia in me had to break out the mustard sauce. Don't tell Lynette. #easternnc vs #georgiagold #ahousedivided @buxtonhallbbq

    A photo posted by Chris Jude (@alembadelic) on Jun 16, 2016 at 3:54pm PDT on

    Nashville Hot Chicken's fame had spread beyond Nashville, with New York City restaurant opening dedicated to the chicken and restaurants serving the dish drawing hours-long lines in its namesake city. Meanwhile, honey mustard barbecue flavoring is both more widespread — you can buy Carolina Gold BBQ sauce at Trader Joe's— but less iconic, with no Georgia Gold-centric restaurant reaching the levels of fame as Nashville Hot purveyors Hattie B.'s or Prince's.

    That could dial down the pressure on KFC to produce a 100%-regionally accurate version of the chicken. Plus, Hot Chicken skeptics ultimately didn't negatively impact KFC's sales, as Nashville reportedly became one of the top markets for the dish. Hopefully, Georgia Gold can do the same, based on taste alone. 

    Of course, an item tasting delicious in KFC's test kitchen doesn't necessarily mean every customer will love it.  One of KFC's current biggest problems is ensuring that its chicken maintains the same level of quality and identical preparation across locations.

    KFC Hot Chicken

    A major part of the chicken chain's new "Re-Colonelization" process — a public recommitment to quality involving national employee retraining and a new satisfaction guarantee — is focused on boosting customer service. The chain spent more than 100,000 hours retraining more than 20,000 employees in the last year.

    The launch of Nashville Hot and now Georgia Gold Chicken represents a new era at KFC, in which the chain tries to ditch Double Downs and "Franken-chicken" of years past in favor of a more food-focused franchise.

    Nashville Hot Chicken proved that this new vision of KFC could be a success, with KFC calling the chicken one of the most successful menu-item launches in the chain's history. Georgia Gold will prove if the success of Nashville Hot Chicken was a fluke, or if KFC has the opportunity to build a more creative and culinary menu in the coming years. 

    SEE ALSO: KFC chef reveals his favorite item on the menu — and it's the biggest success in decades

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's what a serving size of each of your favorite foods looks like


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    It turns out the "healthy" options at fast-food chains are often not all that healthy.

    Produced by Jacqui Frank. Original reporting by Jessica Orwig.

    Follow BI Video: On Twitter

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    2000 Calories 5

    The Food and Drug Administration recommends an average daily intake of 2,000 calories. 

    Healthier, more transparent practices are making their way into the fast-food industry, yet simple awareness isn't always effective.

    The Upshot took pictures of 2,000 calories' worth of restaurant food in 2014.

    We decided to do our own version and visit 13 fast-food chains to discover what ordering 2,000 calories looks like — it's shockingly easy.

    While many of these arrangements look like single meals, each one would be all you are recommended to eat in an entire day.

    Marina Nazario contributed to this story. 

    SEE ALSO: Surprising fast-food items that contain a shocking amount of hidden sug

    Starbucks

    Venti white-chocolate mocha, sausage and cheddar classic breakfast sandwich, dark cherry Greek yogurtsalted caramel cake pop, coffee cake. Total calories: 2,030.



    McDonald's

    Bacon clubhouse crispy-chicken sandwich, large fries, mozzarella sticks with marinara sauce, Oreo McFlurry. Total calories: 2,010.



    Panera Bread

    New England clam-chowder bread bowl, chips, chocolate-chip cookie, bottled lemonade. Total calories: 2,160.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Fried Chicken Sandwiches 9

    We're living in the Golden Age of the chicken sandwich.

    Chick-fil-A has transformed from a regional chain to a national chicken powerhouse, managing to lift annual sales by more than $1 billion in a year. 

    McDonald's completely overhauled its chicken sandwich, and Shake Shack unveiled one of the best sandwiches ever made in 2016.

    David Chang fanned the flames with the chicken sandwich focused Fuku, the most hyped addition to the trendy Momofuku empire.

    In light of this crispy golden renaissance, we decided to gather the chicken sandwiches from major fast-food chains and see which ones are worth it, and which ones are better left untouched. 

     

     

    SEE ALSO: What 2,000 calories looks like at every major fast-food chain

    For this taste-test showdown, we got sandwiches from seven major fast-food chains: McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Arby's, Dairy Queen, KFC, and Chick-fil-A.



    First up: McDonald's. The recent revamp of their chicken sandwich brought some much needed change to the chain. The "Buttermilk Crispy Chicken" sandwich is indeed crispy — in fact, perhaps a little heavy on the breading.



    The chicken is slightly on the dry side, but there is a definite hint of tangy buttermilk seasoning. Unfortunately, it often gets masked by a glob of mayonnaise — the usual for this sandwich based on our reviews before. The "artisan" bun does the job well, holding up to the heaping helping of mayo without getting too soggy.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Crispy Chicken ChipsAs Taco Bell experiments with two new fried chicken menu items, the Mexican fast-food chain will be facing off against an unexpected competitor — Chick-fil-A.

    On Monday, a note from Nomura analyst Mark Kalinowski highlighted Taco Bell's upcoming test of Crispy Chicken Chips.

    "Taco Bell's Crispy Chicken Chips look like wedge-shaped chicken tenders," wrote Kalinowski. "Between this test item and the Naked Chicken Chalupa, which used fried chicken as a 'taco shell,' Taco Bell clearly wants to figure out innovative ways to use chicken to its advantage."

    Photos of the test menu item have surfaced on Reddit, posted by user baaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

    Earlier in August, Brand Eating reported that Taco Bell's "Naked Chicken Chalupa"— a taco that uses fried chicken in the place of a tortilla — is launching across the US next year.

    taco bell naked chicken

    It's possible that the Crispy Chicken Chips will never be anything except a limited test at Taco Bell — the chain did not provide further information on the item to Business Insider. Still, testing two new fried chicken menu items at a chain known for its quirky takes on Mexican staples is, at first, a little confusing.

    However, the decision makes perfect sense in light of the rise of fried chicken in the US in recent years.

    Food and restaurant consultants Baum + Whitman kicked off the year by naming fried chicken one of the top trends to watch out for in 2016. In fact, the trend was already in full swing in 2015, with Shake Shack's launch of the Chick'n Shack sandwich and celebrity chef David Chang's new fried chicken concept Fuku.

    Fried chicken also is also dominating the fast-food industry. KFC is in the midst of a brand revamp, putting its extra crispy and regional takes on fried chicken front and center. And, you can't talk about the rise of fried chicken without mentioning Chick-fil-A, the chain that has perhaps had the biggest impact on the rise of fried chicken — and Taco Bell's biggest rival as the chain enters the fried chicken business.

    Chick-fil-A exploded from a regional chain to the No. 1 chicken chain in the US by sales in recent years. In 2015, system-wide sales topped $6 billion, and the company reported that same-store sales growth (sales at stores open more than a year) were in the double-digits. Customers flock to the chain thanks to its superior customer service and chicken that is seen as high-quality, instead of as a greasy nutritional disaster.

    Chick fil A

    The expansion of chicken chains like Chick-fil-A and the rise of new chicken items on fast-food menus— such as Burger King's Chicken Fries and McDonald's Chicken Selects — has been spurred in part by low chicken prices. While beef prices have finally dropped in the first half of 2016, chicken prices have also stayed low, making new chicken menu items a wise move for chains like Taco Bell.

    Essentially, fried chicken is trending and the cost of adding it to the menu is low enough to make it a good deal for fast-food chains. However, the question remains: can Taco Bell compete with chicken-centric chains like Chick-fil-A when it comes to fried chicken?

    Early response to the Naked Chicken Chalupa has been positive.

    Getting a taste of #Tacobell new Naked Chicken Chalupa before it launches next year. Crunchy and spicy!

    A photo posted by Q (@brandeating) on Jul 27, 2016 at 12:05pm PDT on

    "It was a little salty initially since you bite into the fried chicken first but balances out once you hit the filling," writes Brand Eating. "The chicken shell had a substantial crunch as well as a solid kick of spicy heat; much more so than any other current Taco Bell meat option."

    Additionally, customers are increasingly accepting of fast-food chains debuting menu items outside of their traditional purview. Business Insider's fast-food reviewer deemed Burger King's Taco Bell-esque Whopperrito"flavorful and delicious," while McDonald's has been testing stereotype-smashing options such as kale salad.

    Fast-food giants are looking outside of the box for inspiration. At Taco Bell, that may mean drawing from the success of chains like Chick-fil-A — and that's not necessarily a bad thing.  

    SEE ALSO: We tested fried chicken sandwiches from every major fast-food chain — and the winner surprised us

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Fuku Chicken sandwich

    When one of New York City's favorite restaurateurs and chefs, David Chang, opened the first Fuku restaurant in 2015, it was an ode to Chang's favorite childhood food: fried chicken. Having grown up on Chick-fil-A in the suburbs of Virginia, Chang described Fuku as "our attempt to ... honor the great fried-chicken places and fast-food concepts out there ... and hopefully, to make it better."

    The fried chicken shop has been widely popular, but how does their high-end sandwich stack up to the classic fast food it was inspired by? We called on our in-house fastfood experts to do a blind taste test, and the results are in.

    Below, see our comparison of Fuku's spicy fried chicken sandwich and KFC's Chicken Little combo. They both consist of fried chicken served between two buns with pickles, plus one or two condiments to add some extra flavor.

    SEE ALSO: We tested fried chicken sandwiches from every major fast-food chain — and the winner surprised us

    We ordered Fuku's sandwich via Caviar, a Square-owned food delivery service that partners with higher-end independent restaurants that don't typically deliver. The sandwich is $8, which for the size of the chicken, is reasonable compared to its fast-food counterparts — however, there is a $15 dollar delivery minimum on Caviar.



    The quality of the chicken meat immediately differentiates it from your average fast-food fried chicken. Both white and dark meat is used for the sandwich — something that did not go unnoticed by our taste testers, who could tell it was unprocessed. It was fattier, more stringy, and had more gristle.



    The bun has a light spread of "fuku butter," a recipe that is highly guarded. This butter was almost undetectable upon first bite, but it did keep the bread a bit more soft and moist.



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    Fried Chicken Sandwiches 9

    As I've said before, we've reached the zenith of the fried-chicken sandwich — and I couldn't be happier.

    These are tumultuous times; more than ever, we need some crispy, crunchy, golden, and delicious chicken served up in a bun.

    Recently I taste-tested a glut of chicken sandwiches from major fast-food chains to see which chain does it best.

    There were some surprises (Arby's makes a fried-chicken sandwich?) and some severe disappointments. 

    But what's most surprising — to me, at least — is which sandwich tasted the best. Not McDonald's new recipe, not Wendy's reliable Homestyle, not even Chick-fil-A's inimitable classic snagged the top spot.

    It was KFC's sandwich.

    Fried Chicken Sandwiches KFC 7

    I can already hear the cries: What? How could Chick-fil-A not be the best of them all? KFC, the chain of mutant chickens and the creepy Colonel?

    The Doublicious from KFC is a beautiful creation. A crispy breast of KFC's finest chicken, resplendent with the mysterious herbs and spices, swathed in bacon, Monterrey Jack cheese, and some sweet, tangy sauce — all lovingly embraced by a fluffy and lightly sweet Hawaiian bun.

    Smokey bacon lends a richness to the sandwich that melds seamlessly with the mild and rich cheese. The chicken is crispy and thin. There's the unmistakable tang of buttermilk in every bite.

    Fried Chicken Sandwiches KFC 8

    The sauce seems to be a combination of mayonnaise and barbecue sauce, with perhaps a pinch of paprika and garlic. It adds a perfect balance of smooth, creamy flavor and a vinegary kick all while managing to play second fiddle to the chicken and bacon. 

    In terms of quality, it seems more genuine than countless other items on the menu. There's little "gross factor" with this sandwich, which can't be said for most of the competition, or even of KFC's own sides. 

    And yes, Chick-fil-A's sandwiches are always fantastic — I'm not denying this by any stretch of the imagination. Classics are classics for a reason, and if we were judging on terms of tradition, Chick-fil-A would walk away victorious with ease.

    But KFC's Doublicious is a surprisingly flavorful, rich sandwich that manages to sidestep the looming, greasy shadow of KFC's previous sandwich of note, the quadruple-bypass-to-go that was the "Double Down." 

    It's not too much, or too little; it's simply delicious. 

    SEE ALSO: Taco Bell is taking on Chick-fil-A with an outrageous new menu item

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: These are America's 2 most hated fast-food restaurants


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    Fried Chicken Sandwiches ThumbFried chicken is everywhere in 2016 — and the options are higher-quality than ever before.

    Food and restaurant consultants Baum + Whitman kicked off the year by naming fried chicken one of the top trends to watch out for in 2016.

    In fact, two of the biggest names in the restaurant industry — David Chang and Danny Meyer — already established fried chicken as an essential trend the prior year, with Shake Shack's launch of the Chick'n Shack sandwich and Chang's fried chicken concept Fuku.

    Still, neither Fuku nor Shake Shack's entries into the world of fried chicken can be discussed without mentioning Chick-fil-A, which Chang name dropped as an inspiration of Fuku. Chick-fil-A exploded from a regional chain to the No. 1 chicken chain in the US by sales in recent years. In 2015, system-wide sales topped $6 billion, and the company reported that same-store sales growth (sales at stores open more than a year) were in the double-digits.

    Chick fil A

    Then, there's the growth of chicken at more traditional fast-food outlets. KFC is in the midst of a brand revamp, putting its extra crispy and regional takes on fried chicken front and center.

    Even non-chicken fast-food chains are adding more fried chicken options to the menu. In 2015, Burger King launched its Chicken Fries and McDonald's reintroduced Chicken Selects. Taco Bell is planning a national launch of a taco that uses fried chicken as the tortilla, as well as testing other fried-chicken menu items.

    Part of the explosion of fried chicken in the fast-food and fast-casual industry is due to lower chicken prices.

    However, another factor is simply that Americans are craving fried chicken. Customers are increasingly reporting that they'll consider visiting a chicken chain the next time they visit a fast-food restaurant, according to YouGov Brand Index data. According to the public perception tracker, the chicken sector has been the No. 1 category in the fast-food business by purchase consideration since April, when it eclipsed the burger sector. 

    double down

    In the 1990s and early 2000s, fried chicken was widely seen as an unhealthy option with negative health associations. KFC was the largest chicken chain by sales in the US at the time — but, it wasn't doing much to boost fried chicken's reputation. The chain struggled to promote its chicken as a high-quality product, instead debuting stunt menu items like the infamous Double Down.

    However, in 2016, fried chicken has somehow transformed into something that customers see as quality food — and maybe even somewhat healthy.

    The involvement of well-respected and high-profile concepts like Shake Shack and Fuku played a role in making quick-service fried chicken trendy, as opposed to simply a greasy guilty pleasure.

    Chick-fil-A, which has extremely high food ratings, also epitomizes customers' changing perspective. The brand is the rare fast-food chain to successfully appeal to parents— notoriously the most difficult customers to convince on nutrition. The chain offers better-for-you menu items like the Egg White Grill and a kale-and-broccolini "superfood" side. 

    KFC Hot Chicken

    Now, KFC is similarly trying to convince customers of its culinary credentials. The fried chicken chain is doubling down on telling its "food story,"with new menu items inspired by regional cult classics like Nashville Hot Chicken and signs in all remodeled stores revealing where the chicken is from and who is working in the location's kitchen that day. 

    "The idea of origin and where the chicken is from, how it is prepared, who is preparing it, is critically important," KFC CMO Kevin Hochman told Business Insider, who says that one of the current driving forces in KFC marketing is highlighting these issues. 

    Even Taco Bell's Naked Chicken Chalupa is being perceived as nutritious by customers, instead of being shamed as the second coming of the Double Down.

    taco bell naked chicken

    "We were getting feedback like, 'It's so healthy. It's so fresh,'" Kat Garcia, Taco Bell's senior manager of marketing, told BuzzFeed News in May." That really surprised us because it's fried chicken."

    Two of the biggest trends in the fast-food industry in 2016 are the move toward more genuine, natural food and the growth of fried chicken. While these two goals may seem to contradict eachother, the trends are in fact working together and feeding off each other.

    The US is entering a golden age of fried chicken. Instead of gut-busting grease, however, this new era means fast-food chains will be serving up higher-quality chicken than ever before. 

    SEE ALSO: Taco Bell is taking on Chick-fil-A with an outrageous new menu item

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    George Hamilton+SunscreenKFC is launching an unexpected new product: fried-chicken scented sunscreen.

    Starting Monday, the chicken chain is giving away 3,000 free bottles of Col. Sanders' Extra Crispy Sunscreen. US residents can receive the SPF 30 by visiting ExtraCrispySunscreen.com. 

    "Suntan lotion always smells like lotion," KFC CMO Kevin Hochman told Business Insider. "So we thought — why not make it smell like fried chicken?"

    The company will be giving away the sunscreen on a first-come, first-serve basis while supplies last. There's a limit of one bottle per household.

    The sunscreen follows the June launch of an ad campaign starring George Hamilton as the"Extra Crispy Colonel,"promoting the chain's Extra Crispy Chicken. According to Hochman, response to the Extra Crispy Colonel's ads "blew away [KFC's] expectations," prompting the company to look into new ways to extend the summer campaign. Then, someone suggested KFC sunscreen.

    "These scents bring up these memories," often of childhood visits to KFC, Hochman says. "We think that idea is why the sunscreen will catch on."

    kfc nail polish

    In addition to trying to evoke childhood memories of KFC's distinctive scent, the chicken chain is taking notes from international marketing campaigns.

    In May, KFC debuted edible nail polish in Hong Kong, as a play on the chain's "finger lickin' good" slogan. The promotion quickly went viral, providing an example of the marketing power that the limited run of a weird product mashup can have in the connected world of social media.

    But the real question is, how does the sunscreen actually smell?

    Business Insider received a bottle of the scented sunscreen from KFC, and can report it has a very distinctive smell, quite different than the scent of a typical sunscreen.

    KFC_Sunscreen_Product

    Sniff-testers described the sunscreen as smelling like everything from maple syrup, to savory spices, to Milk Bar's cereal milk. One person said it smelled just as intended — like fried chicken's crispy outer coating. Others found themselves at a loss for words, reduced to babbling after getting a whiff of it.

    In May 2015, KFC kicked off a new era in marketing with the reintroduction of Colonel Sanders. Since then, the brand has debuted a number of variations on the Colonel, a "Re-Colonelization" program, and new menu items including a take on the regional classic, Nashville Hot Chicken. Now, the brand has a sunscreen.

    This may not be the end of KFC's venture into creating mashups between fried chicken and everyday products. While Hochman says the chicken chain is "probably not" going to release an entire line of male grooming products, he hints the chicken chain may be releasing similar products in the future. 

    "Why wouldn't you want to smell like fried chicken?" he asks.

    SEE ALSO: Taco Bell is taking on Chick-fil-A with an outrageous new menu item

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Everything is bad

    I am so angry and I smell terrible. 

    KFC, best known for their "finger lickin' good" fried chicken, defied the laws of God and man when they created a promotional SPF 30 sunscreen that smells like chicken— extra crispy chicken. 

    The fast food chain only released 3,000 bottles of Col. Sanders' special sunscreen, and all of them were quickly snatched up (by fools). However, one bottle of the putrid stuff was sent to Business Insider's New York City office.

    Naturally, I had to try it out because life is an adventure, and I'm dumb enough to embark on this particular one. 

    Here's how KFC advertised their Extra Crispy Sunscreen.

    Youtube Embed:
    http://www.youtube.com/embed/NVuNcDOZGlA
    Width: 800px
    Height: 450px

    There's a thick coat of irony covering a disgusting, greasy, gimmicky core, as I would soon discover. 



    I took my bottle and went up to the roof of Business Insider's building.

    It was much cooler in New York than it's been pretty much all month. Instead of a disgusting sweat box, the city was almost cool, and a nice breeze blew past me as I stood on the roof. Still, the sun was shining, and I needed to protect myself from its harmful rays. 



    I was not looking forward to this!



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    kate burger

    When I told friends I was eating nothing but fast food for a week, most immediately thought of the (in)famous Morgan Spurlock documentary "Super Size Me."

    No, I would respond. I'm eating healthy.

    As fast-food chains increasingly try to appeal to health-conscious Americans, supposedly nutritious items are popping up on menus more and more.

    From KFC's grilled chicken to McDonald's (shockingly caloric) kale salad, massive restaurant chains want to signal to customers that nutrition and fast food can go hand in hand.

    If these chains want to compete with the new wave of healthier fast-casual alternatives, they're going to have to prove they can become daily go-tos for nutrition-savvy millennials.

    So I decided to see for myself how the chains, and my stomach, held up after a week of eating only at fast-food restaurants.

    My first and most important rule was that I could eat only at fast-food chains. (I would consume at least three meals a day.)

    That means no health-food-obsessed fast casuals like Sweetgreen or Chipotle. It's all about chains best known for burgers, fries, and fried chicken 24/7. (The one exception: I could drink alcohol.)

    My secondary rule: I must try and eat as healthy as possible at these fast-food restaurants. My definition of health was pretty general. My meals should to add up to less than the FDA's daily recommended limit in calories, fat, and sodium, while providing me with enough protein to fill me up.

    The challenge would last for one work week, from Monday to Friday.



    I started off the week at a familiar breakfast destination: Dunkin' Donuts.

    There's one obvious "healthy" option on the menu: the Egg White Flatbread, which has been recommended as one of the 11 healthiest fast-food breakfast items around. It's a little high in sodium (610 grams) but also high in protein (15 grams).

    If you eat the flatbread while it's hot, it's actually tasty and pretty hearty. However, the longer you wait, the more disturbing the congealed egg white and cheese appear. I pair the flatbread with a coffee and head to work.



    Lunch at Wendy's revealed just how gross grilled chicken could get.

    After finding a reasonably healthy breakfast at Dunkin' Donuts, I was optimistic about what Wendy's would serve up for lunch. I'm generally a fan of the chain, and the Asian Cashew Chicken Salad fit all my qualifications (again, high sodium but low calorie and otherwise healthy), so I ordered it with high hopes.

    These hopes were not met.

    First, let me say the salad was not without its merits. The fire-roasted edamame was delicious. The dressing was nice. The cashews were spicy. But the grilled chicken was irredeemable.

    At first, I ignored the floppy texture of the chicken. However, the more of the meat I ate, the more alien it seemed. It wasn't the taste — it was the strange consistency that seems unique to some fast-food chicken used to top salads.

    I didn't finish the dish.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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