American's, especially the health conscious ones, have gravitated towards the grilled chicken breast in recent years. Many health & diet groups extol its' virtues over beef. But the fast food grilled chicken is a little different than what we'd grill at home. Consider these examples:
- Burger King's Tendergrill fillet contains added chicken fat and more than 30 other items.
- McDonald's Grilled Chicken fillet has up to 20% "solution" by weight.
- The chicken in Panera Bread's Chicken Salad Sandwich includes beef extract, for extra chicken-y goodness.
Subsequently, something must be done to 'brand' the chicken so that it at least looks like it has been grilled:
To create the "appearance that the product may have been cooked on a backyard grill," the newly baked chicken fillets are often branded with "char marks," explains Jan Gaydos, director of marketing at FMC FoodTech, a manufacturer of industrial cooking equipment. The company's CM-40 II Charmarker uses red-hot branding wheels to burn grill marks onto the surface of chicken breasts as they emerge from the oven.The photo above, from FMC's website, shows the work of the CM-40 II Charmarker.
This is reminiscent of, but not quite as scary as, the fake ribs in a McRib patty!
The chicken for 9 of the top 10 fast food restaurants is char-marked by Pilgrim's Pride. The only major fast food chain that actually grills chicken is Chik-fil-a, for their Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich.