Cluck-free wings and nuggets, anyone? At a Kentucky Fried Chicken near Atlanta, flocks of Georgians emphatically answered, “Yes, please!”
How emphatically? They shut down the drive-thru (too many cars) and ate the entire supply in just a few hours!
A pioneering step into plant-based chicken
On August 27, crowds landed at the Smyrna, Georgia KFC to sample Beyond Fried Chicken, a joint project between KFC and plant-based meat manufacturer Beyond Meat. In this first foray into plant-based chicken by any major chain in the United States, customers queued up for hours to sink their teeth into breaded, deep-fried wings and nuggets.
“KFC Beyond Fried Chicken is so delicious, our customers will find it difficult to tell that it’s plant-based,” said Kevin Hochman, KFC U.S. president and chief concept officer, in a statement.
KFC isn’t going after vegans. “Our target customers for this product are ‘flexitarians’ looking to incorporate plant-based choices into their diets,” a KFC spokesperson told Eater.
Made directly from plant ingredients like soy protein, pea protein, rice flour, and carrot fiber, this food provides a more sustainable alternative to conventional chicken. In addition to containing zero cholesterol, the Beyond fried chicken also has fewer calories, less fat, and lower sodium than the KFC Extra Crispy Tenders or Popcorn Chicken, according to KFC.
The evident appetite for plant-based chicken
The restaurant began selling the chicken at 10:30 in the morning. By 3 in the afternoon, they were sold out. The huge lines and widespread social-media buzz drove the trial into the mainstream media spotlight.
KFC and Beyond Meat intend to consider the responses from the event, modify the recipe, and do further market research to inform a potential nationwide rollout of plant-based fried chicken.
“KFC is an iconic part of American culture and a brand that I, like so many consumers, grew up with,” said Beyond Meat founder and CEO Ethan Brown. “To be able to bring Beyond Fried Chicken in all of its KFC-inspired deliciousness to market, speaks to our collective ability to meet the consumer where they are and accompany them on their journey. My only regret is not being able to see the legendary Colonel himself enjoy this important moment.”