LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Just as supermarkets have begun to think "meals" and "comfort foods," Kentucky Fried Chicken here has made a move with arguably the quintessential comfort food -- chicken pot pie.
The food-service chain late last month introduced pot pies to its mainstream units following the product's initial sales success at The Colonel's Kitchen, an alternate format restaurant with a broader menu that KFC opened last year in Dallas, a company spokeswoman said.
"It was popular there, so we expanded the concept, and test-marketed it in other areas," she said. The round of tests were conducted over the past eight months in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla.; Pittsburgh, and Indianapolis.
In Tulsa the product was so popular that even after a local ad campaign had ended, customers were buying an average of 30 pies per day at each KFC outlet.
"And that was in July, in 90-degree weather," the company spokeswoman said.
While the chainwide introduction was timed to coincide with the beginning of cold winter evenings, the product will remain a permanent, year-round menu item, the KFC spokeswoman said. "It's a good fit for KFC because we're known for comfort foods, and we can use our rotisserie gold chicken in the pies," she added.
The crusts and a vegetable filling are sourced from outside. Chicken is added to the filling and then the pies are baked in-store. The introductory prices for the 13-ounce pies range from $3.49 to $3.99, depending on the market area.
KFC introduced the pies chainwide with a blitz of ads on national television and promotional events that included baking "the world's largest pot pie" in New York City's Bryant Park.
One supermarket operator known for its own signature chicken pot pies -- West Point Market in Akron, Ohio -- apparently is not too concerned about a threat to its business, even though there's a KFC unit less than a mile away.
"They have a different customer base, and our product is very, very high-quality. It's filled with chunky breast meat," said Carol Moore, director of food service at the upscale, single-unit independent. West Point's 12-ounce, fresh pot pie retails for $4.59, she said.