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Fast food fight: Chipotle offers healthy steak while KFC counters with donut dish


Healthy or unhealthy—the fast food industry can’t seem to decide. Or at least that’s the case with Chipotle Mexican Grill and Kentucky Fried Chicken, who both announced very different menu plans Tuesday.

In a press release, Chipotle introduced its brand new steak option, Carne Asada. The grilled slice beef item will roll out nationally on Sept. 19 and will treat customers to seasoned protein drizzled in squeezed lime, hand-chopped cilantro and a blend of signature spices. Chipotle’s Carne Asada has been approved by the Whole30 diet program and is even compliant with paleo diets.

Chipotle’s limited-edition Carne Asada. (Courtesy: Chipotle Mexican Grill)

This new menu addition will join Chipotle’s build-your-own meal system for a limited time after having a successful pilot test run in Cincinnati, Ohio and Fresno, California.

Carne Asada is the latest protein update Chipotle has implemented since the return of Chorizo last year.

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CMG CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL INC. 825.75 +25.88 +3.24%

Chipotle’s new steak dish comes at a time when many fast food brands are trying to apply healthier options for a shifting market. In the month of Sept. alone, Taco Bell has expanded its vegetarian menu and Just Salad ditched steak for a Beyond Meat replacement; even Kellogg’s has felt the push for meat-free protein staples to stay competitive.

Other quick-service restaurants have joined the faux meat craze, including Del Taco’s “Beyond Burritos,” Burger King’s “Impossible Whopper,” White Castle’s “Impossible Slider” and Red Robin’s “Impossible Burger.

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Despite having a successful one-day trial of Beyond Fried Chicken trial of nuggets and wings in Atlanta last month, KFC doesn’t tout itself as the pinnacle of health. This fact was driven home with Tuesday’s announced test run of a “Chicken & Donuts” menu item.

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The over the top offering will sandwich a slab of fried chicken between two vanilla glazed doughnuts. Customers also get to choose between a chicken bucket or tenders, and can pair their choice with one or two doughnuts, according to the report.

Exact figures were not released but if you are wondering what the calorie count may be. Well, two glazed donuts tally about 400 calories (depending on bakery) and a KFC fried chicken breast is posted at 320 calories, so the Colonel’s latest comes in around 720 calories. By comparison Burker King’s Whopper with cheese totals 740 calories.

KFC’s “Chicken & Donuts” is available at more than 40 locations in Norfolk and Richmond, Virginia, as well as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for a limited time.

KFC’s limited-edition “Chicken & Donuts” sandwich. (Courtesy: Kentucky Fried Chicken)

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The arrival of this savory and sweet menu item reaches the public after a chicken sandwich war instigated by Popeyes last month. Since then, Wall Street analysts have observed an increase in the Louisiana-inspired fried chicken joint’s stock due to the sandwich’s high demand and scarcity. In as little as two weeks, Popeyes sold out of its inventory completely but promised the sandwich would make a return at a later date.

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QSR RESTAURANT BRANDS INTERNATIONAL INC. 73.95 +2.47 +3.46%

Twitter users also noticed the timeliness of KFC’s doughnut chicken sandwich and how it coincides with Popeyes’ recent success.

User @ASDem tweeted Popeyes directly to ask the chain about what it has done.

Another user by the name of @thesheetztweetz told Popeyes and Chick-fil-A that the next move was on them in a tweet.

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Outside of the competition, one user wanted to find out what stance KFC is on in terms of health. “KFC hit us with the Vegan Fried Chicken a few weeks ago now they got a Donut Chicken Sammich. Which side of the fence y’all on KFC? Health or hurt,” user @KINGSmitty tweeted.

Other reactions on Twitter were a mix of positive and negative, and some were even in the middle with both intrigue and disgust.

Previous to the entry of the doughnut, KFC brought back “Kentucky Fried Chicken & Waffles” for a limited run earlier this year.



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