updated 2/22/2007 4:31:43 PM ET 2007-02-22T21:31:43

For years, anything produced by KFC had to meet the standards of Colonel Harlan Sanders.

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For its new product, the fried chicken chain is seeking a higher endorsement. KFC has asked Pope Benedict XVI to bless the Fish Snacker Sandwich, a Lenten addition to the chain’s Snacker sandwich line.

KFC sent the Pope a letter earlier this month, asking him to bestow a blessing on the sandwich. While the sandwich is being marketed generally, John O’Reilly, chief marketing officer for KFC, said the sandwich should prove especially popular on Friday’s, when Catholics traditionally don’t eat meat in the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday.

“This is the first time KFC has ever served fish nationally, and we believe that the new sandwich could make it easier and more affordable for Catholics to observe the tenets of their faith,” KFC President Greg Dedrick wrote in a letter to the Pope.

The letter also offers Pope Benedict XVI a taste of a fish snacker sandwich.

Laurie Schalow, a spokeswoman for Louisville, Ky.-based KFC, said the Vatican confirmed receiving the letter and the company is hopeful for a response in the next week.

The sandwich is made of Alaskan Pollock, the largest food fish resource in the world and a fish commonly used to make breaded and battered fish products. It comes with tartar sauce and is served on a sesame seed bun.

KFC is owned by Louisville, Ky.-based Yum Brands Inc., which also owns seafood outlet Long John Silver’s. Schalow said the sandwich shouldn’t put KFC and Long John Silver’s at odds.

“The reason we decided to do this is our consumers showed an interest,” Schalow said. “Long John Silver’s sells fish 365 days a year.”

KFC, which has 5,500 restaurants around the country, test marketed the sandwich last year and the reviews were good, so the decision was made to sell the item nationally, Schalow said. The sandwich will remain on sale only during Lent, she said.

The Snacker sandwiches, first introduced in 2005, include chicken, buffalo chicken, cheese and honey barbecue. They are smaller sandwiches aimed at customers who eat while on the go.

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