Kentucky Fried Chicken: new menu, same lousy service

As I was reading Wise Bread this morning, I found a coupon for a free two-piece grilled chicken meal at Kentucky Fried Chicken. I was telling friends this weekend, I’m a little surprised Kentucky Fried Chicken is pushing its new grilled chicken so aggressively; it seems to me the grilled chicken fad started and ended over a decade ago. However, free is the right price, and since I missed out on their free offer last week, I thought I’d give the coupon a try today.

Now, it’s probably been almost five years since the last time I was in a Kentucky Fried Chicken store. Back then, they were calling themselves KFC, perhaps because the word Kentucky made the product sound too regional, or perhaps because the State of Kentucky threatened them with a defamation lawsuit. Whatever the case, with hyperlocalization being fashionable again, I guess they had to follow the pack and bring the original name back.

When I sauntered into my neighborhood Kentucky Fried Chicken at 11:30 this morning, I wasn’t surprised to see several dozen customers in line ahead of me, all with their own coupons. On the other hand, the folks who worked there seemed awfully surprised by the turnout. Although they had plenty of staff on hand, they didn’t have nearly enough food prepared. I guess they assumed the several thousand Honeywell employees across the street had no internet access at their desks and therefore wouldn’t have coupons.

Anyway, I waited about 40 minutes, but eventually made it to the front of the line and received my free two-piece grilled chicken meal. Come to think of it, it wasn’t a significantly longer wait than my previous trip to Kentucky Fried Chicken; there were just a lot more people in front of me this time. I also ordered a small soda, so my total bill with tax was $1.07.

The food, frankly, was not that good. The chicken was a bit rubbery, and the overwhelming flavor was salt. However, the value of my time was really low today, and since the value of a small soda on a hot day was at least $1.02, I’d call the trip a success. Apparently I can use my coupon three more times. I’m not sure I will.

One final thought: Is Kentucky Fried Chicken the only business in the U.S. that has actually become less green over the past five years? They used to sell meals in those paperboard containers that were probably recyclable and biodegradable and most likely made from a significant percentage of post-consumer material. Today, my eat-in order was shrouded in a heavy plastic sarcophagus that was large enough for two meals and weighed almost as much as the food they put in it. I turned the material over, looking for some sign of recyclability; I didn’t see any, but perhaps I missed it. Either way, an old-school paperboard container would have been sufficient.