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Fast food industry creates chicken chips to meet our snacking needs

Jun 13, 2012

About a year ago, the Popeye’s market research team discovered what Americans really want in life (along with a job and a dollhouse made of bacon): fried chicken chips they can eat and dip in sauce while driving.

So Popeye’s created a neat little snack called Dip’n Chick’n made from chicken breast sliced so thin that when dunked in the fryer they curled into little dipping cups perfect for scooping their special Blackened Ranch Sauce. The snack proved wildly popular on its limited run, and now the fried chicken-as-chip trend is formidable enough to warrant coverage in the Wall Street Journal.

Next, Popeye’s moved on from Dip’n to Rip’n Chick’n, a fried chicken breast (which looks like a deep-fried hand—shown above), sliced to be easily ripped and dipped, and other brands like McDonald’s and Whataburger rolled out their own versions of chip-like chicken.

McDonald’s Corp. introduced Chicken McBites in the U.S. earlier this year. The small fried chicken pieces come in a container that fits in a car’s cup holder with a slot for dipping sauce. A limited time offer, it came in three sizes—”snack,” “regular,” and “shareable.” The company plans to introduce a spicy version nationwide next week….

…In April, Whataburger introduced Whatachick’n Bites aimed at car eaters and snackers. Like most of the new bite-sized chicken meals, they are made from cuts of chicken, restaurants say, not reconstituted chicken, to create irregular shapes and sizes.

Though at first take the popularity of fried chicken chips would seem to indicate Americans want their chicken tinier (and fingerier), what we really want is chicken that’s easier and more mobile for car trips, so we can have heartier snacks between meals. “Whereas ice cream or chips used to suffice as a snack, people now want something more substantial like a small sandwich,” NPD restaurant industry analyst Bonnie Riggs told WSJ.

That’s right—chips and ice cream are now too light for snack time. We wanted delicious fried chicken chips to tide us over between meals, and that’s what we got. It’s a little grim, but at least it’s not fried chicken ice cream.

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