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Monday Meeting: Burger Chains Still Taking Their Test

Welcome to the post-Lent springtime menu derby where chains push to get ready for summer. Burger King made a splash with its April 1 menu overhaul, but new-item test marketing remains in high gear.

The Cheddar Bacon Onion Angus/Chicken (credit Sun-Sentinel)

Last summer, McDonald’s tested a Zesty BBQ Cruncher sandwich with peppered bacon, barbecue sauce and crispy onions. Diners could choose either a third-pound Angus beef patty or a premium chicken fillet. Now it’s back with a new version, testing in South Florida (Broward and Palm Beach Counties). Diners can choose the Cheddar Bacon Onion Angus Burger or the Cheddar Bacon Onion Premium Chicken, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Both versions of the sandwich have grilled onions, Cheddar, hickory-smoked bacon and mustard sauce as toppings. Each is priced at $4.49. McDonald’s says the test concludes at the end of April.

Having sandwich creations be “your choice: beef or chicken” doubles the “news” without doubling the investment in toppings. Adding chicken options also provides a hedge against rising beef prices.

More ambitious is Burger King’s Nashville test of barbecue-style sandwiches, reported by GrubGrade. Test items include three sandwiches: Carolina BBQ Whopper, Texas BBQ Whopper and Pulled Pork. The Carolina BBQ includes red onion, Carolina BBQ sauce, bacon, pepper-Jack cheese, tomato, lettuce and an undefined “coleslaw sauce.”

Wendy’s last year tested a cheesy Bistro Cheddar Chicken and a Bruschetta Chicken sandwich with diced tomatoes, chopped basil and balsamic glaze on top. Those were testedhttp://www.burgerbusiness.com/?p=7185 around its Columbus, Ohio, headquarters. Watch for some version of the Bruschetta sandwich to reappear at Wendy’s soon.

◙ Have you ever loaded up a burger with cheese just so it could melt into a crispy puddle around the patty, and the scooped it all onto a bun? Yes, so has Ruby’s Diner. That funny-looking burger at left is its new “Crispy ‘Saturn’ Cheeseburger.” That cosmic ring is a mix of Cheddar, Jack and parmesan cheeses.

◙ Rather than test market something new in Australia, McDonald’s is simply bringing back the El Maco, a Big Mac with sour cream and salsa. It goes on the Australian menu on April 11, backed by this commercial from DDB, Sydney.

McDonald’s Australian nickname is “Macca’s,” which the chain now is embracing. Current TV spots close with the Golden Arches logo and the tagline “It all comes together at Macca’s.”

BK: Hungry like a wolf.

◙ Burger King’s having fun marketing its Lamb Flatbread sandwich in the UK. It starts with a TV commercial from agency CHI & Partners in which a young man turns into a wolf (at right) while eating the sandwich. The chain’s UK Facebook page offers “The Wolveriser,” an app that can make you, too, look like a wolf.

And through partnership with atmAd, a mini Lamb Flatbread commercial “One giant leap for lambkind” shows on ATM screens. ATM receipts have Lamb Flatbread coupons.

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