Playing chicken: Church's giveth and Chick-fil-A taketh away

| by S.A. Whitehead
Playing chicken: Church's giveth and Chick-fil-A taketh away

On the heels of Chick-fil-A's announcement that its much beloved chicken salad sandwich will be dropped from the menu nationally on Sept. 30, competitor Church's chicken has stepped in to add more choices for its customers, announcing that it will launch the "biggest Ultimate Choice Meal program in brand history." It's kind of like playing a game of chicken with chicken restaurant offerings.

So first — and in the interests of ending this report on a high note — we'll give you the bad news. As many of the hordes of chicken salad fans out there already know, Chick-fil-A has has said via its social media channels that it will stop selling its version of the mayo-chicken mixture, the chicken salad sandwich, on Sept. 30. 

You need only do a Google search to learn of the lament this has unleashed online. In fact, that nationally broadcast morning news show standard, the Today Show, even devoted time to the subject, with a quote from the company describing the struggle Chick-fil-A leaders had with the decision to remove the popular item from their menu. 

"The decision to remove Chicken Salad from the menu was a difficult one," the company told the Today show. "We know that many of our customers loved our Chicken Salad, but we have also heard from guests that they are looking for new tastes and fresh flavors on the menu in our restaurants."

QSRweb also sent Chick-fil-A an email to inquire about the menu deletion, but has not yet received any comment from the company. Its twitter feed, however, does offer a recipe for the brand's chicken salad mix, so at least there's that for the forlorn fans of the ditched sandwich. 

And now the 'rest of the story'

Meanwhile, over at competitor Church's Chicken, it appears that either Chick-fil-A's sandwich-ending news got leaked or Church's leadership has some powers of extra sensory perception, since the brand is simultaneously adding choices to its menu, a news release said. 

"In a move that proves Church's Chicken is devoted to providing guests more of the great chicken experiences they love, the brand announced its new $5 Real Big Deal starting Aug. 28," a company news release boasts. "Now, guests have the freedom to choose from thousands of flavor combinations featuring Church's hand-battered, double-breaded fried chicken or Tender Strips, home-style sides and a honey-butter biscuit and signature jalapeño pepper — for just $5."

Church's said it developed this deal in direct response to customers who said they really would rather "do it themselves" when it comes to deciding which items and ingredients should go into their meals from the chain. The new deal lets customers choose either two pieces of mixed chicken or the brand's original or spicy tender strips, along with any two side items and a honey-butter biscuit and jalapeno for their poultry entrée. 

"Consumers are telling us that they want real options for their money," Church's Vice President of Brand Strategy and Activation Jennifer Chasteen said in the release. "While we are known for our original and spicy chicken and biscuits, we also feature a full complement of home-style sides. Now guests can explore Church's entire classic sides menu without worry, because at $5, it's like getting a second side free."

The chain — which emphasizes that this new deal is all about customer choice — even has a new ad campaign that promote the idea with a satirical game show, "Just Choose Already!"

But all the choices involved are available only "while supplies last." Then, who knows? Perhaps it will be KFC's turn to play this game of chicken.  

Photo: iStock

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Chicken, Marketing, Marketing / Branding / Promotion

S.A. Whitehead

Award-winning veteran print and broadcast journalist, Shelly Whitehead, has spent most of the last 30 years reporting for TV and newspapers, including the former Kentucky and Cincinnati Post and a number of network news affiliates nationally. She brings her cumulative experience as a multimedia storyteller and video producer to the web-based pages of and after a lifelong “love affair” with reporting the stories behind the businesses that make our world go ‘round. Ms. Whitehead is driven to find and share news of the many professional passions people take to work with them every day in the pizza and quick-service restaurant industry. She is particularly interested in the growing role of sustainable agriculture and nutrition in food service worldwide and is always ready to move on great story ideas and news tips.

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