- Popeyes said on Tuesday it will add chicken nuggets to its menu in Canada, the U.S. and Puerto Rico on July 27, according to a press release.
- The nuggets will emulate the chain's chicken sandwich and will be hand-battered, breaded in buttermilk and fried fresh. The nuggets can be paired with various sauces and will be available for in-store purchase or delivery, with count options ranging from four to 36 pieces.
- The debut of chicken nuggets comes two years after Popeyes' successful launch of its chicken sandwich, which was so popular during its first two weeks that stores ran out of the product.
Popeyes has been stockpiling frozen chicken for over six months in anticipation of the nuggets, according to Bloomberg. This move should better prepare the chain for what could be another popular product rollout, given how closely these nuggets will emulate the chicken sandwich.
The chain tested the new product earlier this year in various markets, including Denver and Austin, Texas, according to Bloomberg. It also has been focused on staffing and better training to make sure stores are prepared for the launch. Adding additional staff could help avoid or minimize the types of long lines that occurred even after the sandwich was put back on the menu after shortages in early November 2019.
If successful, Popeyes could see another boost to its same-store sales. Popeyes continues to reap the benefits of the chicken sandwich's popularity, with year-over-year comparable sales up 1% in Q1 2021 and 30% on a two-year basis, José Cil, Restaurant Brands International CEO, said during the company's Q1 2021 earnings call. Prior to the chicken sandwich rollout, Popeyes generated $1.4 million in sales per restaurant compared to $1.8 million post-chicken sandwich, Cil said during the company's Q4 2020 earnings call.
The chain has used the chicken sandwich as a jumping off point for new products, introducing its Cajun Flounder sandwich during the first quarter. The chicken sandwich has also helped build better awareness of the brand, leading to growth in other parts of the chain's menu, including bone-in and boneless chicken, as well as seafood, Cil said during the Q1 earnings call.
"We believe there's plenty of room to innovate in the broader chicken category," Cil said.
Chicken nuggets have been widely popular at chains that have offered them either as an LTO or a new product. McDonald's Spicy Chicken McNuggets LTO was so successful last year that the chain was at risk of running out of the product weeks after they debuted in September. Following the relaunch of its Spicy Nuggets in 2019, Wendy's reported same-store sales growth of 4.4% in North America during Q3 2019, its best quarter in almost four years.