Amid the Chicken Sandwich Wars of 2019, the granddaddy of fried chicken is looking beyond.
KFC announced Monday it becomes the first national fast-food chain to introduce a plant-based chicken in partnership with El Segundo, California-based Beyond Meat.
But don’t run to your closest KFC yet.
The chicken chain is testing the new Beyond Fried Chicken at one of its Atlanta restaurants, located at 2637 Cobb Parkway SE in Smyrna, Georgia starting Tuesday. The meat alternative is available in nuggets or boneless wings tossed in one of three sauce options: Nashville Hot, Buffalo or Honey BBQ.
Based on feedback from the Atlanta test, KFC said in a statement “a broader test or potential national rollout” will be considered.
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“KFC Beyond Fried Chicken is so delicious, our customers will find it difficult to tell that it’s plant-based,” said Kevin Hochman, KFC U.S. president and chief concept officer, in a statement. “I think we’ve all heard ‘it tastes like chicken’ – well our customers are going to be amazed and say, ‘it tastes like Kentucky Fried Chicken!’”
Beyond Meat CEO and founder Ethan Brown said his only regret is not being able to see Col. Sanders himself “enjoy this important moment.”
“KFC is an iconic part of American culture and a brand that I, like so many consumers, grew up with,” Brown said in a statement. “To be able to bring Beyond Fried Chicken, in all of its KFC-inspired deliciousness to market, speaks to our collective ability to meet the consumer where they are and accompany them on their journey.”
The demand for plant-based products has been growing as more people want to reduce meat consumption due to health concerns.
Burger King’s Impossible Whopper, which is a plant-based patty developed by food startup Impossible Foods, is available nationwide for a limited time. In April, it was piloted in St. Louis area, and in less than a month, the test was expanded to more markets ahead of the national release in August.
Starting in September and for a limited time, select Subway locations will have the Beyond Meatball Marinara sub as part of a new partnership with Beyond Meat.
Free samples in Atlanta area
To kick off the one-restaurant test in Smyrna, Georgia, KFC will be giving out free Beyond Fried Chicken samples with purchase of any KFC menu item from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, while supplies last.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko