The hottest item in the burger business is chicken.

At least 10 major U.S. fast-food chains have introduced fried-chicken sandwiches in the past three months, or are set to shortly. Many of those peddling the new poultry items are better known as hamburger chains, including McDonald’s Corp. MCD 0.68% Shake Shack Inc. SHAK -2.96% and Jack in the Box Inc. JACK 2.48%

Restaurant operators, grappling with slowdowns and restrictions brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, aim to capture consumers’ enthusiasm for crispy, breaded-chicken sandwiches. That fervor helped build Chick-fil-A Inc. into one of the nation’s top fast-food chains over the past decade, and made Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Inc.’s offering a social-media sensation after its 2019 debut.


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