→ Burger King is mastering the art of being new without being overly innovative. Its latest addition tom its menu is the A.1. Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger. That sounds like the sauce is the star, but what’s most interesting here is that the build is two quarter-pound patties topped with bacon, melted American cheese (plus the A.1. Sauce). Once again the chain has kept truly new ingredients to a minimum while rearranging familiar products. But a half-pound burger is something different for BK.
→ What’s next for McDonald’s? It, too, is trying to promote “core” items rather than develop new entrees. So don’t be surprised if what’s coming is a new addition to the McWrap line. In Canada, McDonald’s has added a Crispy Asian Shrimp option for what’s called the Signature McWrap there. Ingredients are crispy fried shrimp, sweet & spicy Thai sauce, Asian greens, grilled vegetables and “garlic mayo-style sauce” wrapped in a whole-wheat tortilla.
Scoring enough shrimp to do the same LTO in the U.S. might be difficult. If so, some other extension of McWrap could be in the works.
→ What’s Wendy’s doing? It’s testing a “build-your-own” option near its Columbus, Ohio, headquarters, according to QSR. Diners choose protein (beef or spicy, homestyle or grilled chicken), bun (premium or pretzel), cheese (five choices), sauces (eight choices) and toppings (pickle, red onion, tomato, lettuce, spring mix, jalapeňos, sautéed onions and bacon).
That’s not really much different than normal ordering, where diners can add or subtract elements. But diners are likely to perceive it to be both different and better. A single starts about $4.
→ The latest data from NPD shows that burger QSRs are suffering along with the rest of the industry. Customer traffic to burger QSRs was down 2% during the 12 months ended May 2014. The industry had 61 billion customer visits during that period, but that’s still down 1.3 billion visits compared with pre-recession customer counts.
→ Arby’s comes up with the oddest advertising taglines. In 2012, it gave us the silly “Slicing Up Freshness,” which was quickly dropped. Agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky went away and has been replaced by Fallon, which now gives us the almost equally awkward “We Have the Meats.” Say what?
→ British burger chain Byron is paying homage to legendary burger joint Tiny Naylor’s, a fixture on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles from 1958 to 1984. Famed for its carhops on roller skates, it is credited by some as being the birthplace of the patty melt, which Byron calls, “the mutant offspring of a hamburger and a cheese toastie.”
Byron unveils its own version of the patty melt this week (see right).
→ And speaking of retro diners, the West Coast’s Ruby’s Diner chain celebrates 32 years in business today (July 28) with a one-day-only offer of a half-price ($4.49) burger and fries.