Days into the new year, McDonald’s is firing the first shot in a renewed Chicken Sandwich War. Or make that three shots.
The fast-food chain confirmed to USA TODAY that it will release three new chicken sandwiches starting Feb. 24, including the Spicy Chicken Sandwich with a spicy pepper sauce.
There will also be the Crispy Chicken Sandwich with pickles on a toasted, buttered potato roll and a Deluxe Chicken Sandwich, which includes shredded lettuce, Roma tomatoes and mayonnaise.
Popeyes and Chick-fil-A’s signature chicken sandwiches come with pickles. After Popeyes’ debut of its New Orleans-style fried chicken sandwich in August 2019, the chain started a viral Twitter feud with Chick-fil-A and other restaurants dubbed the Chicken Sandwich War of 2019.
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McDonald’s U.S. franchise owners, part of the National Owners Association, said in July 2019, before the Popeyes sandwich was released, that a new premium chicken sandwich should be McDonald’s top priority.
In November, McDonald’s USA President Joe Erlinger confirmed that U.S. restaurants would introduce the Crispy Chicken Sandwich in 2021. The premium chicken sandwich was tested in Houston and Knoxville, Tennessee, in late 2019 through late January 2020.
“We believe it’s going to jump-start our chicken journey, build our chicken credentials and get people to start looking at us differently,” Erlinger said in November. “We’re excited about the moves we’re making to meet – and exceed – customer expectations for great-tasting chicken. That is how we will start to build our chicken credibility.”
McDonald’s has trimmed its menu because of staffing challenges amid the coronavirus pandemic but in recent months has made additions including new pastry items, limited-time celebrity meals with Travis Scott and J Balvin, and Spicy McNuggets.
In December, McDonald’s brought back its iconic barbecue sandwich, the McRib, for a limited time. It’s the first time since 2012 that it is available at restaurants nationwide.
McDonald’s also announced in December it had developed the McPlant, a new plant-based platform, and said tests of the plant-based burger are expected in some markets around the world this year.
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Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko