Wiernerschnitzel, the West Coast hot dog chain, took on its category rivals earlier this month with an aggressive marketing campaign behind the launch of a supersize Big Original Chili Dog. Now it has moved into burger territory with the addition of its first 100% Angus beef hot dogs. Featuring Angus beef has been a point of competitive pride for many burger chains recently. McDonald’s has tested a line of Angus burgers in Southern California but decided to delay a wider test because the market isn’t favorable for more premium-price menu items.
Wienerschnitzel, which operates 353 stores in 12 Western states, rolled out the Big Original Chili Dog (84% bigger than its standard dog) on March 1 after adding a third-pound Polish sausage to its menu repertoire earlier this year. The Angus Beef Dogs are the third menu ’09 addition for a chain just three months into the year, showing off some uncharacteristic marketing muscle. TV spots for the Angus product use the odd tagline, “Hot dogs are ‘Der’ again.” (Click here to watch the commercial.) That line and the chain’s “Der-licious” slogan play off the fact that the chain’s original restaurant was called Der Wienerschnitzel when it opened in 1961. The ‘Der’ prefix was dropped in 1977.
So you’re asking why Wienerschnitzel isn’t trying mini food like everyone else? It’s been there, done that, couldn’t make it work, apparently. In October 2007, the Newport Beach, Calif.-based chain launched little Chipotle Ranch Pupsters, with sliced hot dogs, pickles, onion straws, ranch dressing and chipotle sauce in diminutive dinner rolls. Priced at two for $1.89, they seemed prime candidates to ride the slider craze. And then they were gone. It’s a cruel business.