McDonald’s Canada recently launched the Chicken Big Mac for the first time. With all the features of the classic Big Mac, like the beloved Big Mac sauce, pickles and middle bun, the beef patty is swapped out for two chicken patties that have been breaded and fried. While the fast-food giant didn’t say how long it would be on Canadian menus, the Chicken Big Mac will only be available for a limited time.
“We know that Canadians have been hacking the Chicken Big Mac in creative ways over the years, eager to get their hands on the real thing,” said Alyssa Buetikofer, chief marketing officer, McDonald’s Canada, in a press release. “To these guests, we love your passion and your hacking days are officially behind you: the Chicken Big Mac is finally here.”
The Chicken Big Mac joins McDonald’s vast lineup of chicken offerings, including Chicken McNuggets, the McChicken sandwich and the McCrispy, which was previously known as the Crispy Chicken Sandwich. And while the chicken sandwich wars may not be as intense as when it first began, the Chicken Big Mac proves the war is still alive and well.
What are the Chicken Sandwich Wars?
The restaurant world was turned upside down in 2019 when fried chicken sandwiches rose to an unprecedented level of prominence. The craze was ignited by an epic battle among quick-service and fast-food chains, each trying to prove their respective sandwich was superior in a marketing trend that would later become known as the “chicken sandwich wars.”
Four years and one pandemic later, consumer interest in fried chicken sandwiches has continued unabated. But the wars all began with the introduction of Popeyes’ fried chicken sandwich in August 2019. In the first few days of the launch, Popeyes sold more than ten times the number of sandwiches it had predicted based on rigorous market testing. After relaunching the product permanently that November, the brand had one of the best quarters in nearly two decades.
Soon, more than 20 fast-food brands had introduced chicken sandwiches to their menus, including BurgerFi, Carl’s Jr., Church’s Chicken, Fatburger, Golden Chick, Jack in the Box, KFC, McDonald’s, Shake Shack, Wendy’s and more. Even brands that weren’t necessarily known for chicken, like Taco Bell and Panda Express, tried to cash in on the trend.
According to Edison Trends, “online spending on chicken sandwiches across all restaurants in this analysis combined grew 420 percent between January 2019 and December 2020.”
Chicken Big Mac Igniting the Next Wave of Competition
Even though it’s a limited-time menu offering in Canada, the launch of the Chicken Big Mac ignited KFC to launch new, and bring back existing chicken sandwiches. For example, KFC is bringing back its Double Down for the first time in almost ten years. The Double Down features two of KFC’s white meat filets, two slices of cheese and two pieces of hickory-smoked bacon, topped with mayo or spicy sauce. It was brought back for a brief time in 2014 and is making its first debut since then.
For consumers who prefer a bun, KFC also added a bacon and cheese chicken sandwich, which features a double-breaded white meat filet, a slice of cheese, two pieces of hickory-smoked bacon, mayo and pickles on a toasted brioche bun.
However, upon hearing about the launch of the Chicken Big Mac, KFC took to social media to respond. KFC Canada posted a picture of a burger on Instagram that strongly resembled McDonald’s limited-time offering. It featured all the same components: three buns, pickles, lettuce and cheese. But, instead of McDonald’s’ light crisp patties, the picture featured KFC’s fried chicken.
“Here, we fixed it,” the caption for the post read, with a wink and the hashtag #BetterWithKFC. The company even went as far as to tag McDonald’s in the post. Mcdonald’s Canada took to Twitter to respond by tweeting, “No need to fix something that is perfect bestie.” KFC Canada immediately responded by suggesting a “taste test.”
Am I the Drama? 👀 pic.twitter.com/Ms71XQHHwd
— KFC Canada (@kfc_canada) March 7, 2023
While KFC doesn’t currently offer a product exactly like the Chicken Big Mac, nor was the online back-and-forth an announcement of the launch of such a product, it’s clear that restaurants are still vying to win the chicken sandwich wars.