We tried KFC's latest take on a trendy regional chicken dish -- and it's the chain's best menu item yet

KFC is bringing a new regional cult favourite to the masses.

On Wednesday, the chicken chain announced that it would launch its new Georgia Gold Honey Mustard BBQ Chicken nationally on January 30.

To accompany the launch, KFC has also hired a new Colonel Sanders: actor and producer Billy Zane. Zane appears in marketing for Georgia Gold completely covered in gold, a slightly bizarre nod to the chicken’s name.

Georgia Gold chicken is tangy and packs a flavorful punch, drawing from barbecue traditions of Georgia and parts of South Carolina.

“I think this is a strategy we are going to continue — finding these regional flavours that go great with our fried chicken and then sharing them with the world, in a way that’s very accessible,” Kevin Hochman, KFC’s chief marketing officer, told Business Insider.

Business Insider had a chance to try the chicken before its national launch. Immediately, it was clear that the new menu item would become one of our favourites.

It’s a flavour that’s familiar to anyone who has dipped fried chicken in honey-mustard sauce. However, the chain doesn’t over-do the flavour, with more muted honey sweetness than aggressive mustard flavoring. Georgia Gold is an ideal flavour combination for customers who enjoy the slight sweetness of the chain’s Nashville Hot Chicken, but aren’t fans of spice.

Georgia Gold follows the launch of Nashville Hot Chicken, which KFC’s head chef told Business Insider was his favourite new menu item he had developed in his 16 years at the chain. However, when Nashville Hot hit menus, many reacted with scepticism, especially Nashville locals.

A few factors could help Georgia Gold avoid some of the negative attention Hot Chicken received. First, honey-mustard barbecue flavoring is already more widespread than Nashville Hot — you can buy Carolina Gold BBQ sauce at
Trader Joe’s. Second, KFC has created the term Georgia Gold, drawing inspiration from a number of different local barbecue joints.

Ultimately, Hot Chicken sceptics didn’t negatively impact KFC’s sales. Nashville reportedly became one of the top markets for the dish, and the new menu item helped drive significant sales at KFC in 2016.

Georgia Gold is a chance to replicate that success in the new year. And, if it succeeds, you can expect more regional chickens to follow in its path.

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