Food Writer's Diary

Quick-service chains make food that's fun

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There’s a reason children like to play with their food: It’s fun!

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and other quick-service chains are clearly aware of that.

Working off of the success of its Wicked Chicken — spicy breaded strips cut so they twist into kinky shapes when fried — the 2,000-unit AFC Enterprises brand recently introduced Rip’n Chick’n as a month-long promotion for August.

For $3.99, customers get Cajun fries, a buttermilk biscuit, ranch dipping sauce and a whole chicken breast. The breast is marinated in a spicy blend of cayenne and habanero chiles, and white and black pepper, and cut partially into tenders with the base intact. The whole thing is breaded and fried, and whoever’s eating it can rip off a strip and, for extra fun, dip it in ranch dressing.

The multiple pieces also make it suitable for other types of food play, such as sharing or, better yet, snacking.

Afternoon snacking has been suffering in the sluggish economy, according to consumer research firm The NPD Group, which has seen a 1 percent drop in activity during that daypart for the past three years. In the March–May quarter, snacking was down 2 percent.

But Popeyes isn’t the only chain seeking to boost between-meal traffic.

Burger King recently relaunched its line of miniature burgers and chicken sandwiches, marketing the BK Minis as something great to have as a snack or to share with friends. They’re available in packs of four, eight and 12, at suggested prices of $2.99, $5.99 and $7.99.

In the oddly-shaped food category, Moe’s Southwest Grill has a new entry with its Taco Stacks — two 6-inch tacos filled with whatever fixin’s customers want and then wrapped in a single 12-inch tortilla. They sell for between $7.29 and $7.49.

In earlier tests, Moe’s customers reportedly complained that the original Taco Stacks — two 4-inch tacos in a 10-inch tortilla — were too small.

Looks like bigger is better — and more fun.

Contact Bret Thorn at bret.thorn@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiar

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What's Food Writer's Diary?

Food Writer's Diary is a blog written by Bret Thorn, senior food editor of Nation’s Restaurant News, which covers culinary trends and his adventures.

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Bret Thorn

Bret Thorn is responsible for reporting on culinary trends in foodservice for Nation's Restaurant News. He joined NRN in 1999, after spending about five years as a journalist in Thailand, where...
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