KFC launches pie, Double Down returns

The much-maligned but best-selling Double Down burger is coming back, along with a new product to tempt your palate.

Fast-food chain KFC has confirmed it's bringing back the successful Double Down burger later this year and is also putting its own Kiwi pie on the menu, possibly as early as next week.

The notorious Double Down sent sales soaring around the country in May last year and was even dubbed an extremely unhealthy "crime against food".

KFC is planning to sell the bunless burger later this year as it seeks to boost revenue after reporting deflated first quarter sales yesterday. For the uninitiated, the burger has bacon and cheese served between two chicken fillets instead of bread.

KFC, one of three major brands operated by the stock exchange-listed company Restaurant Brands, relies on new product releases - like its popular $5 lunch box deal - to help beef up its bottom line.

That's where the KFC pie comes in. "They're not intended to be as big as Double Down but certainly they're strong propositions," group chief executive Russel Creedy said.

A first for the KFC brand globally, the pie will contain chicken, potato mash and gravy.

"I can confirm I had a few and it's an excellent product. It's New Zealand-made as well," Creedy said

Kiwis' passion for pies is not lost on the company - it even debated calling the offering George the Pie, a nod to the now-defunct Georgie Pie chain. Creedy said he believed the calorie count on the KFC chicken pie would be similar to standard pies on the market.

Restaurant Brands will gauge the pie's popularity before it makes any firm decisions about how long it will be on sale.

"If it's a fantastic product we'll certainly look to put it on the menu permanently," Creedy said.

But despite the Double Down's popularity, Creedy said it was unlikely to become a permanent fixture because the two chicken suppliers in New Zealand were unable to meet demand on an annual basis.

So who buys the Double Down?

"I think the Double Down was a massive protein hit if you're into sports, rugby players I know loved it," he said.

And in terms of where the buyers hailed from last time around, KFC's central Auckland store in Quay Street "got absolutely pummelled by university students and guys in suits and ties", Creedy said.

While it cut across all demographics, sales were highest in the Auckland suburbs of Ponsonby, Balmoral, the North Shore and also in Wellington and Christchurch.

Restaurant Brands yesterday reported total group sales for the 12 weeks to May 21 were down 2.7 per cent, or $2 million, to $70.6m compared to the same period last year.