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KFC tests new chicken nuggets in aim to reach Gen Z

KFC (YUM) hopes to spark the next fast-food chicken showdown — this time with chicken nuggets.

The Louisville, Kentucky–based brand says it's ready for battle with it's 100% white-meat, whole muscle, chicken nuggets that roll out for testing in select restaurant locations in Charlotte, North Carolina, beginning on July 18 for a limited-time. The price of the nuggets — which come in 8-piece, 12-piece and 36-piece sizes —varies by location.

If the test goes well, the nuggets will replace the popcorn chicken currently on menus. The nuggets are hand-breaded using KFC's original Colonel Sanders recipe, made with with 11 herbs and spices.

Chris Scott, head chef at KFC U.S., told Yahoo Finance that the launch is "a really big deal" for the brand to introduce "a whole new generation to original recipe."

"So many of younger consumers are not interested in eating chicken on the bone, for whatever reason they choose," he said. "It's a completely different flavor profile than what everybody else has on the market ... Bringing that to the boneless avenue is just such a huge place that opened up for us."

KFC's Next Gen Restaurant Design in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo taken by Yahoo Finance's Brooke DiPalma.
KFC's Next Gen Restaurant Design in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo taken by Yahoo Finance's Brooke DiPalma.

Next-Gen restaurant design

In addition to new menu items, the chain is also trying to capture new customers via design trends set during the coronavirus pandemic, including online orders, contactless pickup, and drive-thru.

At a new location in Louisville, Kentucky, for example, KFC Chief Development Officer Brian Cahoe told Yahoo Finance customers can expect a design that is "forward-looking from an off-premise channel access standpoint," including a double drive-thru, online ordering pickup shelves for customers or delivery drivers from the likes of Doordash (DASH), Grubhub (TKWY.AS) and UberEats (UBER), in addition to parking spots dedicated to mobile ordering.

This redesign and emphasis to reach the next generation comes as the brand reached positive net new unit growth in the U.S. for the first time in 17 years. "You're going to start to see the brand grow in the U.S. from here," Cahoe said.

Brooke DiPalma is a producer and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma or email her at bdipalma@yahoofinance.com.

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