You can almost see the PowerPoint presentation from here.
Slide one. Clipart of a caveman with a bone through his nose, warming his hands over a fire. Chuckles flutter through the room.
Slide two. Line graph: “Millennial Attitudes Towards Chicken Bones*” with the asterix noting that “Chicken bone interest has steadily decreased since Q1 2010.” Everyone goes silent. Hopeless.
Slide three. A never before seen picture of the late Colonel Sanders himself staring at a chicken skull, perplexed. Electricity fills the air. This wasn’t a new problem apparently.
Slide four. Scientist photos. Lots of lasers and syringes and stuff. Young Anthony Michael Hall and Kelly LeBrock both make cameos (in anaglyphic 3-D). Though some stupid intern forgot to hand out the glasses.
Slide five. Just a few words. Original Recipe Boneless. Standing ovation.
Because according to USAToday, KFC hasn’t just sprinkled their 11 secret herbs and spices on some chicken fingers and called it a day. They’ve developed a new line of boneless chicken that executives say could be KFC’s complete new standard, edging out “traditional” bone-in chicken within the next five years. From the article:
The risky move, three years in the making, is KFC’s very public admission that its core product — a big bucket filled with fried chicken legs, thighs, and breasts on the bone — may ultimately be banished to the dust heap of fast-food lore. Replacing it: boneless white and dark meat chicken chunks about twice the size of tenders — but still deep fried with the same super-secret herbs and spices. The target: an ultra-finicky generation of millennials.
This is the biggest new product introduction for KFC in modern times,’ says John Cywinski, 50, the former McDonald’s brand strategist, who has been U.S. president of KFC for two years…
…And if The Colonel were here today, insists Cywinski, this is exactly what he’d do.
Now the easy thing would be to throw stones at KFC, to call the company’s chicken mutilation grotesque, to point out that the fast food industry has found a way to process one of the few, semi-natural foods left. But the truth is, there’s a reason people eat boneless wings, even though they suck compared to the real thing. What does a bone do in food? It adds flavor (a flavor that KFC is already dwarfing with trademarked seasonings), and it reminds you that you’re eating a dead animal (with tendons, veins, a brain, and heart beat, much like your own).
KFC is redesigning chicken to be more appealing on what I’m sure is a measurable, scientific basis. No doubt, scores of taste testers have already tried it in controlled lab conditions and loved it. But in creating this chicken hybrid as an eventual replacement to chicken, KFC may have missed the big picture–the context of an anchoring product, a basic frame of reference, to imply a natural order to consumers, even if it’s not technically ordered.
I could be wrong, but I would bet that the mere presence of bone-in chicken on the menu makes KFC’s boneless amalgamations seem more natural to those of us open to a processed food splurge now and again. Because while millennials might not be into bones, they are most certainly into authenticity–or at least the perception of it.