McDonald’s is looking to get a leg up in the chicken-sandwich wars, but diners participating in its latest poultry pilot are clucking their tongues.
Pressured to profit from a nationwide craze, the fast-food giant this week began testing its so-called Crispy Chicken Sandwich at dozens of restaurants in Knoxville, Tennessee and Houston.
But Tennesseans who, at the request of The Post, tried the Golden Arches’ latest offering doubt whether it will tempt chicken fanatics away from smaller rivals Popeyes and Chik-fil-A.
“It was pretty gross,” Hannah Rawlings, a 24-year-old baker, said of the new McDonald’s sandwich. “The only thing crispy on it was the lettuce, and the tomato just added some crunch before it turned all watery.”
McDonald’s started serving up two versions of its new sandwich in the Southern cities on Monday. The standard version comes topped with butter and dill pickles, while the “deluxe” version adds lettuce, tomato and mayo. Both are served on a potato roll and will be available through Jan. 26.
The test run comes after McDonald’s saw chicken sales struggle over the summer while rival chains made a killing on the bird. “We did go a little bit the opposite way on chicken,” financial chief Kevin Ozan admitted to Wall Street analysts in October.
Chik-fil-A’s sales, meanwhile, have spiked more than 14 percent this year to about $4.5 million per store, according to Telsey Advisory Group. And the Popeyes sandwich accounted for 30 percent of the company’s sales during its initial August run, KeyBanc said in September.
Popeyes was the favorite of all three Knoxville diners who taste-tested the Louisiana-style chain’s wildly popular sandwich against competitors from McDonald’s and Chik-fil-A at The Post’s expense.
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