Taking a tip from one of its largest franchisees, Hardee’s parent CKE Restaurants Inc. said it was adding chicken tenders to the chain's menu.
The new Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders are made with white-meat chicken breast tenderloins dipped in a buttermilk and egg batter, rolled in seasoned flour and then fried. The tenders are available in three- and five-piece orders for $2.99 and $4.49, respectively, with a choice of honey mustard, creamy Buffalo or buttermilk ranch dipping sauces. They're also available as part of a combination meal with fries and a beverage, or as an option on the kid’s menu.
Brad Haley, executive vice president of marketing for Hardee’s and sister brand Carl’s Jr., said the idea for hand-breading the tenders came from Boddie-Noell Enterprises, based in Rocky Mount, N.C., which also pioneered the chain’s popular Made From Scratch biscuits about 25 years ago. Boddie-Noell introduced the chicken tenders in a casual-dining steak restaurant it operates and the item has become one of the most popular on the menu.
“Once we tried them, we knew customers would find them irresistible because they represent such a huge quality leap over the mostly pre-cooked and frozen chicken strips available now,” Haley said. “Obviously, our Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders are a lot more work to make than the pre-cooked, frozen ones, but our experience tells us that consumers will notice the difference in quality and keep coming back for more.”
CKE said the rollout to participating restaurants within the 1,905 Hardee’s chain is expected to be complete by the end of the month.
The chicken-focused item also comes at a time when analysts are expressing concern over the impact rising ground beef costs will have on fast-food chains. Steve West, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus in St. Louis, estimated in a recent report that ground beef prices this year will be up by 20 to 30 percent over last year's.
Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected].