KFC to offer boneless chicken

NEW YORK - KFC is stripping out the bones to make it easier for people to eat its chicken.

The fast-food chain is introducing fried boneless chicken chunks on April 14 as an alternative to its traditional breast, thigh and drumstick pieces.

The new offering reflects the growing popularity of nuggets and strips that are easier to eat on the go. KFC says nearly four out five servings of fried chicken in the U.S. are now boneless.

Based on customer trends, the company says chicken with bones could eventually be pushed off its menu.

The new boneless, skinless pieces are about twice the size of KFC's crispy strips and come in white or dark meat. Customers can order them for the meal deals, which include two pieces, a side, a biscuit and a drink for $4.99. They also come in buckets, which include four pieces of boneless chicken and six pieces of chicken with bones for $14.99. The boneless chicken option costs the same as the regular fried chicken.

A piece of the boneless white meat has 200 calories and 8 grams of fat. A dark meat piece has 250 calories.

Spokesman Rick Maynard said it took two to three years to develop its version of boneless chicken, which performed strongly in test markets including Oklahoma City and Omaha last year.

KFC has more than 18,000 restaurants around the world, including more than 4,500 in the U.S. Its parent company Yum Brands Inc. also owns Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, which have also been introducing major new menu offerings in recent months.

Shares of Yum Brands fell 67 cents to $67.06 in premarket trading Friday, in step with a broader market decline in trading ahead of the opening.