Saturday, July 20, 2013

KFC Boneless Redux? I Will Pass on the Reflux!

Now for some lighter fare: KFC's (Kentucky Fried Chicken's) changeover to "boneless original recipe" chicken.  (And no, I am not a KFC crazed eater like deceased former child star turned computer geek Tommy Rettig, who used to pick off a bucket a day - until dying of a myocardial infarction.) In contrast to Rettig, who was clearly hooked on it, I only eat it once in a while - usually when we go to Barbados. Their Hastings and Bridgetown branches have featured some of the best tasting fried chicken since I was in Peace Corps (1971-75).

According to a report in yesterday's Denver Post:

"KFC is tossing out the chicken bones and the quaint image of Col. Harland Sanders as its gets ready to test a slightly upmarket restaurant."

Hmmmmm.....methinks I detect another 'Coke ZERO' debacle. 

The change not only affects the chicken itself but the name, which will now be - get this:

"KFC Eleven"

Huh?  Eleven WHAT? Well, the "eleven herbs and spices" in the recipe! Who'da thought? They also plan to serve "flatbreads with toppings, rice bowls, salads."  In other words they want to emulate Panera Bread! Newsflash, KFC honchos, it never pays to try to outdo the competition by imitating their menu  - they will almost always do it better!

WHY are they doing this? Well, the headquarters' PR is that they want to go "more upmarket" (always a bad sign when the Neoliberal -based term "up" is applied to anything!) In fact, the real reason is clearly to try to nab as many Millennials as possible because that generation is not particularly fond of bones in their chicken and they also tend to flock to Panera Bread, and Chipotle. As the Denver Post article put it:

"The problem is that people in their 20s and 30s are increasingly heading to chains such as Chipotle and Panera Bread, where they feel they get better food for slightly higher prices."

So, of course, KFC (pardon me if I don't use their new monicker) wants to ditch its brand and try to imitate Chipotle and Panera. Bad mistake! For one thing, whatever few Millennials they will pick up (and I don't believe there are many because these kids are already 'branded') they will lose the over forty crowd that LIKES bones in their fried chicken and indeed believes it is the natural way chicken ought to be eaten. Or to quote one reviewer:

"Something about boneless chicken just doesn’t feel right. Chicken that is boneless always makes me cautious of the quality of the chicken or the size of the chicken. One or the other has to suffer when the bones are picked out..."

He does go on to affirm the quality is ok, but pardon me while I don't buy it. When you remove the bones you remove a lot of the taste, succulence of the meat and also the JOY of eating chicken off the bone which is half the fun! The problem is that the dainty Millennials that KFC is trying to win over don't want to get their hands greasy or messy so prefer to have chicken they can just cut up totally and eat with their plastic forks.

The other problem KFC is going to have is with overseas franchises in chicken-loving nations (like Barbados) where the people believe anything like boneless chicken is an affront to nature.  Lots of experiments have been tried with it and most have failed. People in Barbados just like to eat chicken off the bones, whether broasted (as at the Chefette chain) or at KFC. This makes me believe that the changeover may not be universal and those outlier franchises will either keep serving their own styles- or go "rogue" - buy out their outlets and make their own boned fried chicken.  See all the Barbados Kentucky Fried locations below:

As for me, there's no way I will trying out any boneless KFC, original recipe or other. What this move finally did is get me to consider making my own fried chicken - when I feel like having it.

The Millennials can have their boneless KFC, assuming they even bite on this new market strategy.

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