Rumors are swirling. Who will be the first fast food restaurant to offer sweet potato fries?
“It is one of our most requested items after the spicy chicken sandwich and the milkshakes,” says Mark Baldwin, Senior Public Relations Consultant for Chick-fil-A. “We try to answer all customer requests.”
Twitter exploded with comments last week as Chick-fil-A gave away free samples of sweet potato waffle fries — in Athens. Some comments questioned why Athens was chosen as the test market instead of Atlanta, which is home to Chick-fil-A’s headquarters.
According to Baldwin, Athens, Memphis, Oklahoma City and Philadelphia were selected as test cities because there are fewer stores (there are over 130 in Atlanta) and have representations of each of their concepts: mall restaurant, drive-through only and the traditional stand-alone store.
Baldwin emphasizes that it is very early in the testing process. Chick-fil-A is only gathering anecdotal feedback from stores at this point. Down the line, they will invite customers to participate in a more formal evaluation of the product.
If you’re game, drive to Athens to test the fries, which are available for purchase through Aug. 31. How long until you could see them in the Atlanta market? Well… because farmers grow sweet potatoes once a year and tend to grow little surplus to avoid waste, the window has closed for this year, Baldwin tells me.
Just for frame of reference, you may recall that John Kessler wrote about the development of the spicy chicken sandwich last spring. He reported that it had “been on the boards since 2004, and in active development since 2008.” It was released in 2010.
Rumors have also been circulating that Wendy’s may be rolling out these fried phenoms. I checked in with Denny Lynch, Senior V.P. for Communications at Wendy’s, who confirms that they have the fries in some locations for tests to be “certain that we can operationally provide the product.” Yet, the product is still so early in the development process that he is unable to comment further.
What about you? Are you eager for sweet potato fries to hit the menus of fast-food joints? Give a shout out to these restaurants in the comments section and let them know.
–by Jenny Turknett, Food & More blog
– Jenny Turknett writes about Southern and Neighborhood Fare for the AJC Dining Team. She also publishes her own blog, Going Low Carb.