Just a decade ago, items like Burger King’s Jalapeño & Cheddar Stuffed Steakhouse Burger, Chick-fil-A’s spicy chicken or the Wicked Chicken at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen likely never would have made it out of test. Back then the culinary research and development teams would test their ideas in focus groups, and the consensus-building food that made it out led to an abundance of spinach-artichoke dip and cheese fries — and a pervasive sameness in restaurants across ...

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