Shortage puts Burger King’s chicken sandwich launch in a pickle

Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The chicken sandwich wars have really heated up over the last year.

One of the last mainstays to jump into the game is Burger King. The fast food giant has been testing its chicken sandwich out in some markets and was ready to bring it to West Michigan on March 23.

A shortage of one key ingredient has held up the rollout: pickles.

“We have pickles for Whoppers but these are very special bigger, crunchier, zesty pickles,” said Jim MacDonald, vice president of operations for Burger King Grand Rapids.

 It’s not really the pickles that are in short supply, but rather the jars that are hard to come by.

“The problem was we couldn’t get the pickles because they couldn’t get the jars during the pandemic. They couldn’t make the jars to put the pickles in to get them to us so they couldn’t make enough to get them where we needed them,” MacDonald said.

From the increased amount of people trying their hand at canning and cooking during the pandemic to the supply chain shortages and manufacturing slowdowns — there just aren’t enough jars to get the pickles to Burger Kings.

MacDonald said the popularity of the new chicken sandwich in markets where they have already been released shows his restaurants would not be able to keep up with demand with the amount of pickles they can get currently.

As for what customers can expect from Burger King’s new chicken sandwich, MacDonald says the preparation begins with a raw chicken product.

“What we decided to do it take it up another notch and we’re actually going to hand bread each chicken every time you order it. So we spent about $80,000 in equipment across the 26 restaurants, and we have specific stations just for this. This is a raw chicken product which we don’t have in our restaurants now and this requires a lot of training and food safety training and Burger King’s been really good about that, they’ve helped us out a lot. We do ‘chicken chats’ every Wednesday. We learn best practices from around the area,” MacDonald said.

MacDonald said now his team is shooting for a mid-April release of the new chicken sandwich.

“It’s time for us to take a stab at it and we think we have the best one,” he said. “We might be one of the last ones in but you watch, we got the best one.”

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