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Chizza.jpg Photo courtesy of KFC
KFC's Chizza made its debut in the Philippines in 2015 and will now be available in U.S. restaurants.

KFC is bringing its interpretation of pizza to the U.S.

KFC’s Chizza features two Extra Crispy filets topped with marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni.

KFC has offered its interpretation of pizza in several global markets for years, and now the company is bringing that creation to the U.S. The Chizza will be available nationwide starting Feb. 26. It features two 100% white meat Extra Crispy filets topped with marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and pepperoni sold a la carte or as part of a combo meal.

The Chizza made its debut in the Philippines in 2015 and has since appeared on menus in Korea, Taiwan, India, Thailand, Germany, Spain, Mexico, and others.

During a recent interview, KFC’s chief food innovation officer Vijay Sukumar called the offering a “basic idea of chicken as the base of a pizza.” The biggest difference is the cheese has to melt differently.

“How do we get that right cheese? It’s a unique process based on the filet coming through fresh, so it’s piping hot. Then how do we build it? It has to be pepperoni. What is a better topping in the U.S.? Pepperoni is what makes it distinct and that’s why we think this will clearly resonate with consumers,” he said.

KFC also pulled a page from its Yum Brands’ peer Pizza Hut to get the sauce right.

“We took some learnings from them. It’s clear the sauce is authentic,” Sukumar said.

In a separate interview, CMO Nick Chavez said the product is very popular around the world and is going to allow the chain to “fire a new salvo” in the chicken wars. KFC has been adjusting its position in the chicken category for the past couple of years as it works to attract younger and more diverse customers through boneless, portable innovations. Chavez talked at length about this objective last year, noting that younger demographics prefer such products over the chain’s traditional bone-in chicken. To meet this shifting demand, KFC has launched not only its nuggets, but also variations of its chicken sandwich and chicken wraps. Bowls are also a bigger part of the conversation.

“We’ve gained share in younger demographics in terms of visitation,” Chavez said. “Also, the sales mix of our boneless products has increased significantly in the past year.”

For the Chizza, KFC is also sourcing inspiration from its international markets, which Chavez said the company is planning to do more.

“The strength of our international footprint is that it offers a test bed for tremendous food innovation,” he said.

To celebrate the Chizza’s debut stateside, KFC will transform its restaurant at 242 E 14th St. in New York City into a ‘Chizzeria’ pop-up for customers Feb. 23-24 so they can try the offering for free ahead of its nationwide debut. The chain is also spotlighting the Chizza with social media creator GrannysOffHerRocker as an Italian "Nonna," assuring viewers KFC's new menu item is not pizza, it's Chizza.

Contact Alicia Kelso at [email protected]

TAGS: Menu
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