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McCrunch Time?

Filed under Branding, Marketing, QSR Burgers, Test Market

Crispy is all well and good, but if you’re serious about biting into something with louder, more assertive texture as well as flavor, you want crunch. And restaurants are providing it, judging by increasing use of “crunchy” as a menu descriptor. We’re cuckoo for crunchiness.

Steak ’n Shake this week added the Jalapeňo Crunch, a double-patty burger topped with pepper-Jack cheese, chipotle mayo, salsa, jalapeňos and crispy onions. The burger was part of a larger menu revamp, reported here last week, that includes the chain’s introduction of breakfast tacos.

More burgers like Steak ’n Shake’s may be coming: McDonald’s Corp. on April 17 filed a U.S. federal trademark registration for the term “McCruncher.”

Such filings don’t guarantee that a term will be used, of course, but McDonald’s interest in it is interesting. Big Mac used the McCruncher name several years ago for a test item, a double cheeseburger with barbecue sauce and crispy onions. And last summer the chain tested a Zesty BBQ Cruncher sandwich, available with either beef or chicken patty plus peppered bacon, barbecue sauce, pepper-Jack cheese and crispy onion strings. It came and went. Is a new McCruncher test in the works?

Source: Mintel Menu Insights.

If so, it can’t be called a “Crunchburger.” reported that Restaurateur/TV celeb Bobby Flay has trademarked that term—referring to his signature potato-chip-topped burger­­ (get his recipe here)—as well as the term “Crunchify,” which isn’t a word anyway.

It’s good to get in there and stake claims your terms, though, because “crunchy” is gaining strength as a menu descriptor. According to data compiled for by Mintel, 96 incidences of “crunchy” were found on QSR menus currently (Q1 of 2012). That compares with 73 incidences five years ago, and there has been a steady rise in usage in the interim (see the chart).

Fast-casual restaurants are not big on “crunchy.” Mintel finds only 15 uses currently, a decline from 29 in Q1 2008.

Casual-dining restaurants (such as O’Charley’s or Houlihan’s), however, are the champions of crunchiness. Mintel finds 115 incidences of “crunchy” on casual-dining menus now, compared with 93 five years ago.