The Chicken Wrap was went through a field test in Atlanta last October.
The majority of market field tests and limited-edition products tried by fast-food companies ultimately fizzle out. Some menu items only work in a given city while others are popular but require too much staff time to put together on a regular basis.
Still others benefit from being marketed as something one needs to “get before it’s gone” — this was seen with the dramatic monthslong “farewell tour” for the McRib by McDonald’s (MCD) – Get Free Report last fall and the Nacho Fries that Yum! Brands (YUM) – Get Free Report-owned Taco Bell has taken on and off the menu at least eight times between 2018 and 2022.
Another Yum! Brands (YUM) – Get Free Report-owned chain, Kentucky Fried Chicken started testing a discontinued favorite from the 1990s and 2000s last fall — after the fried-chicken-in-a-tortilla originally called the Chicken Twister Wrap was removed from its menus in 2014, fans started demanding its return with a Change.org petition titled “Bring The KFC Chicken Twister Wrap Back To The USA.” (It was still available on some international menus.)
The Sustained Internet Success Of The Fried Chicken Wrap
Re-branding it as just the Chicken Wrap, KFC began testing three different versions in Atlanta, Georgia and its surrounding suburbs last October. The wrap cost just $3 and came in a classic version with pickles and mayo, a mac-and-cheese version and a spicy slaw version.
“There have been over 42,500 mentions on Twitter within the past two years around fans craving wraps, making it a highly anticipated menu item for snackers and KFC fans alike,” the chain said in a press announcement at the time.
The test evidently went well because, on Thursday, KFC announced that it would be expanding the wrap to restaurants nationwide. While the mac-and-cheese version has been axed, the Classic and Spicy Slaw versions will be sold as a two-for-one promotion for $5 from Feb. 6.
They will also be available in a $7.99 combo package that also comes with fries and a fountain drink.
Why Some LTOs Go Viral (And Others Fizzle Out)
While still a limited-time promotion (KFC says that the wraps will be available “while supplies last”), taking the item nationwide shows their popularity both in Atlanta and on the internet — as soon as KFC posted news of the wrap’s return on Instagram, excited comments immediately started flooding in.
“Wraps fans have been begging for fried chicken wraps to return, and we’re answering the call with our new finger lickin’ good KFC Wraps,” Nick Chavez, who heads marketing at the chain, said in a statement. “[…] Whether you crave a Classic Chicken Wrap or are looking to turn up the heat with Spicy Slaw, we’ve got you covered.”
There is another reason that KFC chose to bring back this popular item from the chain’s past. In the three years that passed since Restaurant Brands International (QSR) – Get Free Report Popeyes’ saw its new fried chicken sandwich go viral in 2019, both direct competitors and chains even tangentially related all tried to cash in on its unprecedented popularity with their own versions.
While KFC has been selling a fried chicken sandwich long before Popeyes’, the market seems to know no limit to different takes — even Taco Bell tried launching a spin with a piece of breaded crispy chicken meat in a grilled tortilla wrap topped with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheddar cheese.