If you can’t get enough of crispy chicken sandwiches in your drive-through adventures, 2022 is a good time to be alive, for both you and your taste buds.
Ever since Popeyes (RBI) set the sector ablaze in 2019 with a chicken sandwich that triggered a mysterious mass mania in the general public, all its competitors have been seeking a way to duplicate that same variety of wildly unexpected success.
Thanks to “The Chicken Sandwich Wars” effect, every fast food retailer from Arby’s to Wendy’s (WEN) – Get Wendy’s Company Report has got some crunch in the game in a few years later. The offerings seem to be received pretty well too, if social media’s reactions are the barometer for success.
There are even a barrage of fish sandwiches out there to substitute in case you’re celebrating Lent this year, so you never have to go without a delightfully crunchy lunch.
But how can you capitalize on this strategy if your brand doesn’t serve sandwiches in the first place? That’s certainly seemed like the case for Panda Express, which is best known for its remarkably addictive orange chicken.
So how do you serve cult craving sandwich at a Chinese restaurant? By turning towards one of the ancient culture’s most famous street foods, of course.
Panda Express’ Orange Chicken Sandwich Bao Looks Amazing
A bao is not only a delicious sandwich you may never have tried before (and you should!), but it has an absolutely fascinating history.
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Believed to have originated in China’s Three Kingdoms period around the third century, eating bao was not only delicious but meaningful to the Hui’an people on Quanzhou a port city in Fujian, China.
They consider them a food that symbolizes good fortune, and historically ate them to celebrate the marriage of the family’s daughters.
Bao has become more commonplace in America over the last decade as the food scene continues to grow in a more fusion-friendly direction, and now it’s not weird at all to find higher-end versions of bao stuffed with furikake fish fingers or even organic chocolate.
All that said, if you’ve never had a bao, this sandwich is probably a terrific way to start.
But to try it you’ll need to be in Pasadena and go get it before April 14, because that’s the only place it’s being served right now as its being tested at Panda’s Innovation Kitchen.
If you do happen to be around there, you can expect your bao to be served with sliced pickles and a healthy slap of sriracha aioli. If you’ve never had a bao before and don’t know what to expect, imagine a chewy, satisfying bread texture akin to a fluffy flatbread.
There’s no way of knowing if Panda will roll the Orange Chicken Sandwich Bao out to more restaurants just yet, but one thing’s for sure: It’s testing the product out and watching to see how its customers react.
So if you love the idea of getting a bao to go (of the orange chicken variety, no less), go pay the folks at the Innovation Kitchen a visit.