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Is KFC About to Replace Its Beloved Popcorn Chicken With a New Bite-Sized Item?

Fans will miss their grab 'n go go-to, but what's coming isn't too unfamiliar.
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UPDATE: Thursday, December 29, 2022 at 12:55 p.m.

Following the publication of this story on December 28, we received an email from a publicist for KFC who clarified that at this time, the nuggets are only being tested in Charlotte: "KFC is testing nuggets in Charlotte and continuing to evaluate results and consumer feedback," they said. 

The original story follows below. 

KFC fans are about to say goodbye to one of the restaurant's most iconic menu items. It looks like Popcorn Chicken, which is actually now called Popcorn Nuggets, is flying the coop, as the fried chicken fast-food chain is bringing on a new(ish) replacement: Kentucky Fried Chicken Nuggets.

After regional testing over the past year, KFC has decided to evolve palm-sized poultry snacks to a truer form of fast-food nugget. The Kentucky Fried Chicken Nuggets will feature all-white meat chicken, breaded in the signature Original Recipe of 11 herbs and spices, and will be available in orders of 8-, 12-, and 36-piece options.

The major rollout will arrive in January 2023, but diehard Popcorn Chicken fans are already mourning the loss of their beloved bundle of fried food as some restaurants have already begun siphoning out their supplies

"Went to a KFC today and they said the popcorn chicken was discontinued," Reddit user u/Jesuschristlikessex posted on December 21. "Is this true? Everywhere? I hope to god this is not the case."

/uCommercial-Success88 confirmed the hard truth in a reply to the original thread.
"I'm a manager for a Florida location," they explain. "Yes, all locations are removing the popcorn chicken by Jan. 3rd and will be replacing it with all white meat chicken nuggets cooked in original recipe."

The respondee also dropped another bomb no one saw coming:

"Cookies will no longer be carried either."

Food technologist Gene Gagliardi patented the recipe for Popcorn Chicken back in the early 1990s, and it became popularized by KFC soon after (according to an interview in NPR). However, the fried-up bite-sized bits of poultry were officially discontinued in 2011. By popular demand, KFC brought them back in a new form with a new name—Popcorn Nuggets, which had evolved into the larger, less fried version of the grab 'n go snack.

They were the restaurant's answer to chicken nuggets, and because they were so small and cute, it made diners feel like they were choosing a "healthier" alternative to the larger pieces of fried chicken (despite coming in at a whopping 620 calories per serving for a large order).

It was also a staple topper for KFC bowl creations, like the Mac & Cheese Bowl combo, and the Famous Bowl, which brought together all of your favorite side dishes in one convenient vessel for ultra-easy snacking.

 The #1 Best Meal To Order at KFC

So if Popcorn Nuggets are a KFC fave and they are available at your local drive-thru, grab them up before they're gone.

Katka Lapelosova
Kat is a born and raised New Yorker exploring the world as she writes, eats, and everything in between. Read more about Katka
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