Just when you think you've seen everything, all of a sudden you realize you haven't. Yesterday, KFC did the unthinkable--testing two new plant-based, vegan fried "chicken" products in one of its Atlanta stores: nuggets and boneless wings.

Most surprising, however, was the overwhelming reaction from customers--who had just one day's advance notice of the test.

As it turned out, customers turned out in droves--many arriving more than an hour before the store opened. According to news reports, the line to enter the store wrapped around two city blocks while cars were bumper-to-bumper in the drive-thru, looping around the store twice.

In fact, the Atlanta KFC's test was so successful that the store--specially decked out in bright green trim--sold out of its supply of Beyond Fried Chicken in less than five hours.

So, the question is this: Is KFC's new Beyond Fried Chicken anything like real fried chicken?

Apparently so. Said nutritionist Whitney Miner, a happy customer who managed to land some of the KFC plant-based fried chicken nuggets before they sold out:

These taste more like fried chicken than any of the other options that I've tried so I really hope that they make these available nationwide and very soon.

As Popeye's and Chick-fil-A fight over who has the best chicken sandwich, KFC stunned everyone when it tested its new meat-free fried chicken wings and nuggets.

Clearly, KFC scored a major marketing coup with yesterday's stunning product test. Says Brittany Martin, senior media relations strategist at Walker Sands Communications in Chicago:

KFC crushed it in breaking the news of its plant-based chicken release, compared to its fast food counterparts. In part because they were an unexpected player to release that type of product on their menu (burgers are an obvious choice, but chicken?). And in part because their marketing game is on point ... they blew it out of the water.

Of course, it's no secret that the fast-food industry has been interested in adding plant-based options to their menus, and for good reason. Research shows that 18 percent of American adults say they're trying to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diets. 

Burger King rolled out a meat-free Impossible Whopper nationwide on August 8, White Castle offers Impossible sliders, Cheesecake Factory has Impossible Burgers, and you can order Beyond Burgers at TGI Fridays and A&W in Canada.

And a few weeks ago, Crain's Chicago Business reported that Impossible Foods--one of the leading manufacturers of plant-based burgers--"is teaming up with a local food manufacturer that is a key supplier for McDonald's."

Referring to McDonald's, Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy said, "By early next year, you will likely see a plant-based burger test in the U.S."

So, now that KFC has proved that there's a market for meatless products beyond burgers, I suspect we're at the very beginning of a very real revolution in the food we eat in this country.

I've seen the future of fast food, and it's meat-free.

Published on: Aug 28, 2019
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