This previously underrated regional menu item is taking over America

The biscuit is blowing up.

Researchers at The NPD Group named the biscuit one of the fastest growing menu items last year, reports Nation’s Restaurant News.

The rise of the culinary icon across the US goes hand in hand with the recent explosion of Southern fast-food chains. Biscuit-pushing chains such as Popeyes, Bojangles, and Chick-fil-A are on major expansion sprees.

Bojangles is, at its core, a chicken-and-biscuit chain. The company estimates it has the potential to open more than 3,5000 locations nationwide, most of them outside of states in the Southeast that already have a Bojangles presence.

Currently, Bojangles is expanding by moving into neighbouring markets, opening its first West Virginia and third Kentucky locations in 2015. Eventually, the company plans to open hundreds of locations in the Northeast, as well as the Midwest, Texas, and California.

Popeyes is another chicken restaurant serving up some famous biscuits that is majorly ramping up expansion. The chain recently announced plans to increase its global restaurant count to 4,000 from 2,500 in the next seven to 10 years.

Meanwhile, Chick-fil-A is opening high-profile new locations in cities such as New York, as the chain attempts to expand into urban markets outside the south. Biscuits are also heavily featured on Chick-fil-A’s menu, with the chicken biscuit as a breakfast favourite.

Why is the Southern culinary icon taking over the rest of the US now? One major reason is the rise of breakfast.

In an ICR Conference presentation in January, Bojangles cited data that predicts the breakfast category will grow from a $50 billion business to $60 billion by 2019. McDonald’s success with all-day breakfast has proven that breakfast can be a major sales driver — even though the chain only serves biscuits around the clock in Southern states.

Also important is the biscuits image as an “authentic” Southern food. The item signals a dedication to tradition that customers are craving in 2016. Bojangles and Chick-fil-A promise that the biscuits are baked fresh at each restaurant, while Popeyes cites the biscuits as a sign of the chain’s Louisiana heritage.

“I think of us as the exporter of Louisiana food, both in the United States and around the world,” Popeyes CEO Cheryl Bachelder told Business Insider, “because if you haven’t tasted these incredible flavours, you just haven’t lived yet.”

As Americans across the country crave breakfast, quality food, and authenticity, it is finally time for the biscuit to become a culinary staple above the Mason-Dixon line.

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