Yesterday, Taco Bell unleashed a quadruple chicken threat on the fast-food loving masses with the following new menu items: Chicken Biscuit Taco, Chickstar, Crispy Chicken Grillers, and the Double Crispy Chicken Quesadilla. While it’s true that the chain has offered non-beef options for as long as anyone can remember, it’s no coincidence that the chicken items are launching just as industry publications like Nation’s Restaurant News note that beef prices continue to rise while chicken prices plummet.
DeWayne Dove is vice president of risk management for Denver-based food-buying cooperative SpenDifference. He told NRN:
Dove noted that the price of boneless chicken breast has decreased 10 to 12 percent in 2015 alone. Meanwhile, the price of beef and veal rose 19 percent in 2014. It doesn’t take a CPA to crunch those numbers. Dove says that some signs of recovery are showing in the beef industry, but that we shouldn’t expect to see relief until 2016.
Naturally, quick-service chains are responding by breaking out their finest breaded chicken offerings. CNBC also credits a “health halo” that surrounds chicken, but we’re pretty sure that no one eating fried chicken is convinced it’s healthy.
Below, we take a look at the newest slate of fast-food chicken items from Taco Bell, Burger King, Sonic, and more chains:
The Chicken Biscuit Taco features a crispy breading made of tortilla chips rather than bread crumbs. According to Brand Eating, it comes with your choice of country gravy or a jalapeno honey sauce. It retails for $2.49. (Photo: Brand Eating)
The Crispy Chicken Chickstar is the chicken version of a Crunchwrap. Brand Eating reports that it comes with your usual choice of sauces, plus a new mango BBQ option. It retails for $3.99. (Photo: Taco Bell)
The Double Crispy Chicken Quesadilla features crispy chicken pieces stuffed with a three-cheese blend and creamy jalapeno sauce inside a large grilled flour tortilla. It retails for $3.99. (Photo: Taco Bell)
Crispy Chicken Grillers come in four flavors: Mango BBQ, Creamy Chipotle, Jalapeno Honey, and Spicy Ranch. Those flavors reference the sauce that goes between the crispy chicken strip and the tortilla it’s wrapped in. They retail for $1.69 apiece. (Photo: Taco Bell)
Chicken Fries are back on the menu permanently at BK, but Chief Marketing Officer Eric Hirschborn vehemently denied that beef prices were a factor. Hirschborn told BurgerBusiness.com, “This decision had absolutely nothing to do with that. Consumers have reached out to us across social media asking for Chicken Fries’ return.”
Whatever the reason, they’re not only back on the menu across the U.S., but also in more than 30 international markets. Burger Business observes that this makes them a signature item, not unlike the Whopper. They retail for $2.89 for a 9-piece serving with your choice of the following sauces: BBQ, Honey Mustard, Zesty Buffalo, or Sweet & Sour.
To further prove that Chicken Fries are serious business, BK even introduced a Chicken Fries emoji keyboard app for iOS and Android devices. For real.
While chicken McNuggets are seemingly a McStaple item, Chicken Select Tenders are now back on the menu. Bloomberg reports that they disappeared in 2013 as McD’s sought to streamline its menu. Additionally, McDonald’s was promoting buckets of 50 McNuggets for $9.99, which further boosted chicken’s chain profile and prompted rival Burger King to undercut it with a 15-cent nugget promotion. None of them could afford to do any of this if chicken commodity prices weren’t so low. (Photo: McDonald’s)
Sonic’s Spicy Super Crunch Chicken Strips are all-white-meat chicken strips with a kick, and come with your choice of Ranch, Honey Mustard, or Hickory BBQ dipping sauces. Although Sonic has offered items like popcorn chicken for a long time, the new spicy strips are a March 2015 debut. (Photo: Burger Business)
Proving that sliders aren’t just for White Castle, Checker’s recently unveiled its $2 Chicken Slider and Fries Box. Sweetening this poultry sandwich deal with their seasoned fries definitely can’t hurt in the quest to win consumer stomachs.