Poor Kentucky Fried Chicken. They just can’t seem to do chicken right, even though “We do chicken right” was their tag line for quite some time. The fast food chain, which attempted to roll out their new menu item, Kentucky Grilled Chicken back in April, is facing yet another public relations nightmare, just as they thought they were starting to get over the debacle caused by the Oprah Winfrey chicken give-away.
But, KFC’s big secret is now out in the open. Their grilled chicken contains … beef.
Beef? Like, from a cow? Yup.
Astute consumers, along with KFC’s nemesis, El Pollo Loco, a Costa Mesa, California restaurant chain with only 418 outlets, studied the nutrition information for KFC menu items posted on their Web site, and noticed two unusual ingredients listed under the grilled chicken on page 14 of the 37-page document: beef powder and rendered beef fat.
So that’s what they mean when they talk about their “secret blend of spices.”
This discovery is just what little El Pollo Loco needed to continue their campaign against the Kentucky-based chicken giant. In pointing out that KFC’s grilled chicken contains beef products, they stressed that their own grilled chicken is marinated in fresh ingredients and grilled over an open flame (instead of in a closed oven, which is the technique KFC uses).
They quickly rolled out a new commercial. It’s simple, but powerful.
We checked out their website and found some interesting ingredients in the marinade they use with their new ‘grilled’ chicken. Namely Beef Powder and Rendered Beef Fat…It’s right there on their Web site … check it out.
El Pollo Loco takes fresh chicken and marinates it in citrus, garlic, and spices. And grills it over real flames to perfection. It’s delicious. Naturally. In other words, there is no beef in El Pollo Chicken. Seems bizarre we even have to say that.
According to the Los Angeles Times, KFC spokesperson Rick Maynard explained that their disclosure about the beef products is “more than adequate,” and goes on to say that “small amounts of beef flavors are commonly used in seasonings for many food products, for both restaurant and retail use.” He also stressed that the “beef flavors account for only 0.2 percent of the total seasoning.”
El Pollo Loco, with 418 stores, has enjoyed sparring with KFC, which has 5,200 locations in the U.S. and 11,000 worldwide. The stand-off escalated last month when El Pollo Loco indicated it received calls to its toll-free hotline from consumers claiming to be Californians who said they preferred the KFC grilled product. However, caller IDs showed the calls came from Kentucky. In fact, the caller IDs showed the calls came directly from the buildings that house KFC and Yum Brands, the parent company of KFC. The calls were even traced to the desk of one of their executives. This was enough for El Pollo Loco to launch a commercial mocking KFC’s prank calls.
You have to give El Pollo Loco credit for capitalizing on the goofs and gaffes that KFC seems to be creating in the making and marketing of its latest product. The “little chain that could” has nothing to lose and everything to gain as it waits patiently for KFC’s next blunder.
I wonder how soon that will be?
June 19th, 2009