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Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Sonic Joining BBQ Bandwagon

Filed under LTO, Marketing, Premium, Pricing, QSR Burgers

[Update: the Memphis BBQ line was officially unveiled on Tuesday. Read the release here.]
Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s are preparing to deal themselves into the game that Burger King started with its June introduction of a Summer BBQ Menu. But as is their style, the CKE-owned chains plan to trump BK’s items with a bigger, more indulgent line of Memphis BBQ Burgers, including a 1,000-calorie pulled-pork-and-beef option.

Sonic Drive-In isn’t going in for pulled pork, but it, too, is bringing BBQ flavors to its menu. The chain soon will introduce a line of FlatMelt flatbread sandwiches, both with hickory BBQ sauce. The Hickory Steak & Bacon FlatMelt has 1/4 lb. of marinated sirloin steak with grilled onions. The Hickory Chicken & Bacon FlatMelt has grilled or crispy chicken with grilled onions. Wendy’s recently tested a line of Grilled Chicken Flatbread sandwiches that it still is expected to roll out, and Burger King in March offered a Lamb Flatbread sandwich in the UK.


The imminent rollout of Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s Memphis BBQ line was first reported by the Foodbeast site, but news that Carl’s Jr. was testing the Memphis BBQ line broke in Nancy Luna’s Orange County Register “Fast Food Maven” column in June.

Both Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s put teaser photos of the new burgers on their Facebook pages, simply captioned  “Soon.” Hardee’s, however, already has loaded the line into its Menu on its website. At the top of Hardee’s lineup is a Six Dollar Memphis BBQ Thickburger described as an Angus beef Thickburger topped with pulled pork, barbecue sauce and crispy onion strings on a seeded bun. This sandwich goes four figures at 1,000 calories, 58 grams of fat, 83 grams of carbohydrates and 1,940 mg of sodium, according to Hardee’s nutrition calculator.

Hardee’s also will offer two smaller variations: a 1/3 Lb. Memphis BBQ Thickburger and a Memphis BBQ Little Thickburger. The site does not offer nutrition data for the 1/3-lb. version, but the Little Thickburger size (with a ¼-lb. beef patty) has 710 calories, 39 grams of fat, 61 grams of carbohydrates and 1,580 grams of sodium.

The Memphis BBQ burger will be priced beginning at $3.79 a la carte.

Burger King’s Summer Menu includes Carolina BBQ Whopper (760 calories) and Texas BBQ Whopper (520) burgers and a Memphis BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich (470 calories), but not one with both beef and pulled pork together, which the Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s line offers. Obviously, the combination significantly increases the calorie counts.

Sonic soon will introduce its FlatMelt sandwiches.

Foodbeast’s report includes a tip that the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s Memphis BBQ sandwiches will be supported later this month by one the chains’ signature “sexy babes” TV commercials, this time featuring former Playboy Playmate of the Year Sara Underwood and actress/model Emily Ratajkowski. As the chains themselves explained the strategy in a TV commercial last year, “We believe in putting hot models in our commercials because ugly ones don’t sell burgers.”

Barbecue has been  popular menu theme this summer. In addition to Burger King’s sandwiches, the Roy Rogers chain added a Pulled Chicken BBQ sandwich and White Castle revived its Original BBQ Slider, BBQ Pulled Pork Slider and BBQ Bacon Chicken Slider.

3 Responses to Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Sonic Joining BBQ Bandwagon

  1. Julie Larson

    You do realize that these products have been in development and test for a couple of years? — so this “jumping on the bandwagon” statement is flat wrong. Given BK’s history of attempts to copy CKE products and style, it’s more likely they saw the BBQ in a CKE test market and they were the ones who “copied” the idea.

  2. Ease up. “Joining the bandwagon” here only means following the trend, which is flat accurate. It’s not necessarily pejorative, and I wasn’t judging who was first, second, good or bad. Your Carl’s Jr. units will sell lots of them; Enjoy.

  3. Oshkosh

    A&W also rolled out their BBQ Bacon Crunch lineup this week. Options include a grilled or crispy chicken, and a single or double burger. More info: