Burger King Doubles Down on Novelty Foods

QSR giant takes new Whopperito item nationwide

MIAMI -- Burger King is wrapping up its summertime promotions just as it started the season: with another out-there menu rollout.

Following the June intro of a wacky Mac n’ Cheetos item, the burger chain is now pushing another novelty food, this time a twist on a stalwart product: the Whopperito.

Featuring flame-grilled seasoned beef, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles and a proprietary queso sauce wrapped in a flour tortilla, the new hand-held puts a Tex-Mex-inspired spin on Burger King’s signature Whopper. At $2.99, it’s priced in the same ballpark as burritos from competitors such as Taco Bell – which, coincidently, is testing a zany burrito mashup of its own, a Cheetos Burrito, in select Ohio markets.

Yet how much real traction do these foods have with customers? According to the latest research, there’s some evidence that uniqueness is indeed an attribute that drives traffic: Recent Technomic data shows that 46% of consumers say that restaurants that promote “a good mix of food that is new and unique” fuel their visitation. Another 34% say they prefer to go to restaurants that routinely offer new and innovative foods.

For big players such as Burger King, the true success of periodic novelty rollouts may simply lie in the buzz that is generated around such foods. Alex Macedo, president of Burger King North America, said in a recent interview with USA Today that the push behind these wild mashups is “just to get people’s attention to come into the restaurants.”

It’s a strategy that has been working for the chain. In 2015, Burger King tested Doritos Loaded, a triangular snack filled with melted cheese and encrusted with Doritos Nacho Cheese flavor. The product debuted in 7-Eleven convenience stores in Washington, D.C., in early 2014 before going chainwide and eventually rolling out to other snack retailers.

Miami-based Burger King Corp. operates more than 14,000 QSR locations, most owned and operated by franchisees. Oakville, Ontario-based Restaurant Brands International Inc., one of the world's largest QSR companies with more than $23 billion in system sales and more than 19,000 restaurants in approximately 100 countries, owns the Burger King and Tim Hortons brands.


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