McDonald's blinks first in game of McChicken
By John Schmeltzer
McDonald's Corp. has admitted that the country's tastes are not as adventurous as it thought and said last week that it is pulling the Hot 'n' Spicy McChicken sandwich from the menu board.
Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's introduced the sandwich with great fanfare in January as part of the largest menu expansion in decades. At the time, the hamburger giant's move to add the peppery sandwich was a sign that American palates were growing to regularly include more intense flavors found in Mexican, Thai and other ethnic foods.
But, apparently, we're not there yet.
After six months of soft sales, McDonald's appears to have misread the market for the sandwich. A spokeswoman for the company confirmed that the spicy chicken sandwich "has been discontinued."
The spicy chicken sandwich was seen to be part of the restaurant's industry push to offer items that excited their customers.
Across the country, restaurant menus are getting more bold flavors -- such as a spicy pulled pork sandwich from Tyson; drinks from the Coca-Cola Co. like Pomegranate Punch, a blend of Bacardi rum with pomegranate juice, Sprite and lemonade; and fusions of flavors such as a peach blackberry streusel pie from Sara Lee Corp.
In part, it is due to the wave of Hispanic immigration that hit the nation in the 1990s. But it is also due to a growing number of Baby Boomers demanding stronger flavors to compensate for the loss of some taste buds during the aging process.
The company in April credited sales of the spicy chicken sandwich with helping to drive U.S. sales higher by 4.1 percent that month.
"It's not that it didn't do well. It just didn't do well enough" to make it onto the core menu, a spokesman said.