Chicken sandwiches, nostalgia, inexpensive menus

  • Experts predict customers will demand more value options on menus in 2023.
  • The supply of chicken sandwiches is likely to increase as chicken prices fall.
  • Fast food chains use nostalgic foods and character to attract old and new customers.

2022 was a year of introducing new technology to the fast food space and emphasizing drive-thru and mobile ordering. These will not go away, but other trends are emerging. Here’s what to watch out for in 2023.

1. Fast food menus emphasize value

McDonald's value menu

Hollis Johnson

Value is always part of what draws consumers to fast food, but it becomes even more important in an atmosphere of inflation and soaring prices. In a recession, consumers are likely to tighten their belts, Mark Kalinowski, CEO and president of Kalinowski Equity Associates, told Insider. “People want to feel like they’re getting value for money.”

Fast-food chains will likely introduce menu items “to provide the value that customers want,” he told Insider. Kalinowski pointed to Taco Bell as a chain with a history of popular menu items among customers while bringing the chain high margins.

He “won’t be surprised” if Taco Bell brought back $2 menu items in early 2023.

2. Variations on chicken sandwiches

Popeye's Blackened Chicken Sandwich


Fried chicken sandwiches and new variations on the chicken sandwich will be one of the biggest trends of the new year, according to a survey of more than 500 industry experts by the National Restaurant Association.

U.S. chicken breast prices are down 70% from their June peak, the Wall Street Journal reported, while thighs and wings are also down, meaning they now offer much more attractive margins for chains.

Major QSR chains are already signaling plans to resume chicken sandwiches. On November 15, Popeyes released his new Blackened Chicken Sandwich. The chain is specifically promoting the new sandwich as “reviving the chicken sandwich wars” that began with the release of the 2019 flavorful chicken sandwich Popeyes. Burger King and Wendy’s are also promoting new chicken sandwiches.

3. Nostalgia

McDonald's Cactus Collab Happy Meal

MC Donalds

Nostalgic brands and menu items will be big in 2023, according to Yelp’s predictions from data scientists and trend experts.

Some chains have already had success channeling adult nostalgia this year, like McDonald’s selling out adult Happy Meal boxes and Taco Bell bringing back the enchirito. Nostalgic characters and menu offerings are attractive to restaurants for two reasons: they can appeal to adults who already remember the original promotions and introduce them to a new generation of consumers, Kalinowski previously told Insider.

Have a story to tell about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *