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KFC Abandoned ‘Healthy’ Non-Fried Chicken Because the Country Said ‘No Thanks’

The fried chicken chain’s attempts at grilling and baking fell on closed mouths

KFC grilled, not fried chicken sandwich on ciabatta KFC [Official Photo]

KFC said “do you want healthier chicken?” The U.K. said “nah mate”

Fried chicken chain KFC has admitted that its attempts to not fry chicken have failed. An £8 million investment in specialised ovens for baking and griddling poultry will go to waste, according to the Daily Mail, after eight years of trying. KFC introduced three non-fried, “healthy sandwiches” between 2011 and 2019: the Brazer, of 2011; the Rancher, of 2012; and the oddly unnamed pulled chicken of 2015. Just imagine saying, “one Brazer please?”

The Brazer was oven-cooked and served in a ciabatta with cheese, and has endured in Italy, while the Rancher was griddled and seems to be extinct. The only success, relatively speaking, has been with fries, which have progressed from “so bad as to inspire tweets, Reddits, and articles” to “even worse than the fries that inspired tweets, Reddits, and articles, but also healthier.” Jenny Packwood, who leads brand and engagement in the U.K., said: “It’s no good launching a product which looks good nutritionally but then nobody buys. It doesn’t improve the health of the nation and in terms of sustainability it is a disaster.”

Fast food has never been designed to improve the health of a nation; it is engineered to hit pleasure points at the cheapest price possible. It is part of a vicious cycle, variously documented as a public health nightmare, an infernally hot sandwich craze built on unsustainable farming and labour practices, a harbinger of inequality, and not just one of many affordable, easily accessible, reliable sources of nutrition for people in poverty that could exist in a more evenly distributed food system, but the only source, all of which is entwined by the capitalist approach to food that can only exist by also propagating the inequality that causes the health issues, the craze, and the necessity of consumption.

The answer to why KFC failed to sell its griddled and bakes chicken is likely straightforward: everyone who comes to KFC is there for fried chicken. It’s in the name. But not everyone is there for the same reason, and that’s where ‘healthy’ or ‘high-end’ fast foods that purport to offer distinct, superior choices that all in fact rely on the same industrial processes need to come under scrutiny. [Daily Mail]

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