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McDonald's enters the chicken sandwich wars — and it's no Popeyes

Heidi Chung

More chicken is coming to McDonald’s (MCD). Two new items are hitting menus Wednesday: The spicy BBQ chicken sandwich and the spicy BBQ glazed chicken tenders.

The new products will be available for a limited time in McDonald’s stores. The spicy BBQ chicken sandwich features a sesame bun, onions, pickles, a buttermilk crusted white meat chicken filet and a smoky BBQ sauce. The spicy BBQ glazed chicken tenders are McDonald’s signature buttermilk crispy tenders tossed in spicy BBQ sauce with a hint of jalapeno.

Though prices will vary by location, an order of 4-piece chicken tenders will retail for roughly $4.59, while the 6-piece will cost $6.79 and customers will have to shell out $10.99 for a 10-piece order. The chicken sandwich will cost $4.89.

McDonald's spicy chicken sandwich and BBQ glazed chicken tenders (Courtesy of McDonald's)
McDonald's spicy chicken sandwich and BBQ glazed chicken tenders (Courtesy of McDonald's)

Yahoo Finance put the new McDonald’s products to a taste test, and here’s what we thought. Unfortunately, the smoky medium-heat spicy BBQ sauce fell short of expectations. The BBQ flavor was decent, but it was lacking the promised heat factor. Between the two products, the sandwich was the better tasting item, as the tenders failed to wow.

“The texture is a little soft. I think it’s the sauce,” Yahoo Finance reporter Emily McCormick said of the spicy BBQ chicken tenders.

The chicken in the sandwich maintained its crispy texture despite the idle time before being eaten, and the onions and pickles added a nice, fresh balance to the overall sandwich.

McDonald’s launch of the spicy BBQ sandwich comes on the heels of the recent chicken sandwich wars sparked by chicken chain Popeyes. The launch of Popeyes first-ever chicken sandwich was one of the biggest fast-food product launches in recent history and caused the restaurant to run out of supply just two weeks after the nationwide rollout.

[Read more: Popeyes chicken sandwich: Inside a great American fast food success story]

Yahoo Finance was able to compare the Popeyes chicken sandwich against its rivals Chick-fil-A and Wendy’s. It was clear within the first bite that Popeyes had a clear winner on its hands. The seemingly simple sandwich featuring four carefully thought out ingredients came together in glorious harmony. It even converted one hardcore Chick-fil-A fan among the Yahoo Finance team.

As competition in the fast food space runs hot, America’s favorite chains have been ramping up the innovation to jazz up menus and boost sales. Earlier this week, Taco Bell (YUM) launched the brand new Toasted Cheddar Chalupa available for a limited time in the U.S. and select countries.

Menu innovation isn’t the only initiative among fast-food chains. Tech has also been a major focus. McDonald’s doubled down on its bet on tech this week. On Tuesday, the burger giant announced that it would be acquiring voice-based tech startup Apprente. The Apprente acquisition follows McDonald’s purchase of Dynamic Yield earlier this year. Both acquisitions are steps toward digitizing the drive-thru experience for a more seamless ordering process.

In McDonald’s most recent quarterly results, the burger chain revealed strong same-store sales growth both in the U.S. and around the world. It saw its best global same-store sales growth since 2012. Shares of McDonald’s have risen 20% this year, in-line with the broader market.

Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit
Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit

Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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