This week I reached out for a new — here we go again — Crispy Chicken Sandwich from the world's No. 1 burger buster, McDonald's, with 37,800 restaurants everywhere you look, and if you look in Houston, you'll find 300 of them. That's sure a lot of Quarter Pounders and Big Macs and Egg McMuffins. Does this portend big Crispy Chicken Sandwich sales, too?
We will know when McDonald's plucks the chicken sandwich from its menu in late January and crunches the numbers. Between regional exclusives and test market fails, McDonald's hasn't had the best of luck in the poultry game. Except for McNuggets. McDonald's is killing it with McNuggets.
Here's the Crispy Chicken Sandwich breakdown: a white meat chicken fillet (McDonald's spelling, I would have gone with filet), sweet fried flour (I have no idea what that is), and a hint of dill topped with butter and crinkle-cut pickles, served on a buttery potato bun.
Total calories: 470. Fat grams: 22. Sodium: 1,010 mg. Carbs: 47 g. Dietary fiber: 1 g. Protein: 22 g. Manufacturer's suggested retail price: $3.49. There's a deluxe model with Roma tomatoes, leaf lettuce, and mayo that sports 530 calories and 28 fat grams and costs $4.09.
Of course, these menu additions are McDonald's well-plotted entry in the Great Chicken Sandwich War of 2019, trying to ruffle Chick-fil-A's and Popeyes' feathers. In recent months, McDonald's franchisees made it clear to corporate: get us a competitive Southern-style chicken sandwich! We'll see if the geniuses in Research & Development came through.
Houston and Knoxville are the test markets for McDonald's new chicken sandwiches. Just as Houston was a test market last year for Popeyes' mega-popular chicken sandwich. You know that commercial with Annie, the Popeyes lady, telling her psychologist that she finally had come up with the perfect chicken sandwich? That's the same sandwich that later took the country by storm.
I found it weird how Houstonians still lined up out the door for Popeyes sandwich when it was introduced nationally. Hey, folks, we've had it for almost a year already.
McDonald's Crispy Chicken Sandwich has a similar blueprint to Popeyes, which was very similar to Chick-fil-A's. It's a simple deep-fried slab of chicken breast, topped with a few pickle slices, a little butter and that's all. They may look alike, but each has a distinct flavor. McDonald's is a little thinner and denser. Popeyes is spicier, of course, and Chick-fil-A's a trifle smaller.
Each to their own. The edge may go to McDonald's because of what's in the bag next to the sandwich: those incredible McDonald's fries. But hey, Chick-fil-A's waffle cut fries are tremendous, too. Toss-up. Popeyes, get it together.
McDonald's has stocked its new Crispy Chicken Sandwich in only 100 of its 300 local restaurants, so check this list or give your local drive-through a call.
Ken Hoffman reviews a new fast food restaurant item every Wednesday. Have a suggestion or a drive-thru favorite? Let Ken know on Twitter.