Burger King aims to take chicken sandwich crown with new 'Ch'King'

Watch out fast-food giants — the "Ch'King" is gunning for the chicken sandwich crown.

Burger King (QSR) on Wednesday upped the ante in the increasingly crowded battlefield of chicken sandwiches, officially unveiling a weapon of choice that it first revealed earlier this year after a lengthy testing period.

The new menu item is a hand breaded chicken fillet topped with Burger King's own specialty mayonnaise-based sauce, plus pickles on a brioche potato bun. 

"We were the first in mainstream burger in QSR (quick service restaurants) to brand a burger the Whopper, [so] we want to be the first in mainstream QSR to brand a chicken sandwich the Ch'King," Ellie Doty, Burger King's chief marketing officer, told Yahoo Finance in an interview.

Doty says the name of the product came from fans directly after its chicken sandwiches that are already on the menu received acclaim on social media.

The Ch'King's suggested retail price is $3.99, ranging up to $4.99 depending on the location, but customers can score a Whopper for free with the purchase of the new sandwich through BK's recently launched "Royal Perks” program. That underscores how fast food giants, using value menus and digital-only offers, are competing against each other for the hearts and stomachs of hungry patrons.

Between January 2019 and December 2020, online spending on chicken sandwiches across all restaurants combined grew by a staggering 420%, across to Edison Trends. 

Sparked by the release of the Popeye's Chicken Sandwich back in 2019, the ever lengthening list of fast food giants in the so-called "war" includes Taco Bell (YUM), KFC, Wendy's (WEN), Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Arby’s, Jimmy John’s, McDonald's (MCD), Smashburger and Shake Shack (SHAK).

While, the demand for these savory sandwiches brought a boost in foot traffic, it's also sparked a larger microeconomic problem: There are simply not enough chickens to meet spiking demand, with poultry purveyors around the country warning of shortages and higher prices.

Doty insisted the team at BK is prepared."We've done a phased rollout to ensure that we're ready for our launch from a supply point of view" — however there still is a risk.

"We're not immune to macro forces, they hit us just like they hit everybody else, but we have put in place a very robust supply chain support system, we have a diversified set of suppliers," she added.

She also notes the team is tracking the shortage very closely. They feel confident they can manage a "variety of contingent of scenarios that may play out."

Shares of Burger King's parent company, Restaurant Brands International, are up more than 67 percent from a year ago. 

Brooke DiPalma is a producer and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma or email her at [email protected] Check out her latest:

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