KFC is making an unprecedented move to take on Chick-fil-A and McDonald's

KFCGeorge Hamilton as the Extra Crispy Colonel

KFC is rolling out a new chicken sandwich to take on Chick-fil-A – and they’re bringing back a retired Colonel Sanders to do so.

On Friday, the chicken chain announced the launch of the “Crispy Colonel”: an extra-crispy chicken sandwich with mayo and pickles that will be available starting Monday, April 23. The Crispy Colonel comes in four flavours – classic, Smoky Mountain BBQ, Nashville Hot, and Georgia Gold honey mustard BBQ.

The new sandwich line up gives KFC the chance to compete with Chick-fil-A, a chain that’s increasingly dominating the US on the strength of its sandwich, as well as burger-centric fast-food chains with chicken sandwiches on the menu.

KFCKFC’s new Crispy Colonel sandwich

“I really believe this chicken sandwich will be differentiated and superior to anything else on the market, because of how we’re preparing it and how piping-hot fresh it’s going to be,” KFC’s CMO Andrea Zahumensky told Business Insider.

Zahumensky continued: “Unlike the ‘burger boys’, that are preparing their chicken sandwiches … in a factory and then frying them, we are pan-preparing with our cooks in the back of the house in our restaurants, and then building them to order, and then serving them.”

To launch the sandwich, KFC is bringing George Hamilton back as the “Extra Crispy Colonel.” Hamilton was introduced as KFC’s Colonel Sanders in summer 2016, the last time KFC made an advertising effort to push its extra-crispy chicken.

KFC launched the Zinger, a hot chicken sandwich that has proved to be a hit globally, in the US last year as a limited-time offer.

“We’re going all out to establish ourselves as a sandwich player,” Kevin Hochman, KFC’s president, told Business Insider at the time. “It’s easier said than done. We’re late to the party – that’s why we’re throwing in the kitchen sink.”

With the Crispy Colonel, KFC is doubling down on its efforts to grow its sandwich business without ditching chicken-on-the-bone.

“If you look at the growing sandwich trend – and we believe we’re the fried chicken experts – we believe that fried chicken sandwiches can be a really big part of our business,” Zahumensky said.

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