[Wisconsin? Well, maybe later. BK has brought back the California Whopper but just in 4 West Coast states. Read details here. It's trying out the King Deals discount program in San Diego. Read here.]
Burger King is heading north for the winter. The chain that created the Carolina BBQ Whopper and Texas BBQ Whopper for its summer menu and then focused on chicken rather than burgers for its fall menu is going back to burgers and going north. Sources say a new Whopper topped with Wisconsin white Cheddar cheese is coming soon to Burger King’s menu.
White Cheddar has become a popular specialty-burger topping. BurgerBusiness.com had predicted it would be the “it” cheese for 2011 and it certainly has become more visible. McDonald’s used it with the English Pub Burger (later retested as the Clubhouse Angus). Big Mac also put white Cheddar on the McCruncher burger it tested earlier this year.
Any white Cheddar is good, but identifying it as Wisconsin Cheddar provides a bit more cachet and is in line with consumer interest in ingredient sourcing. I’d watch for the Wisconsin Cheddar Whopper to debut around the time of Burger King’s upcoming Q3 earnings report.
◙ Separately, Advertising Age reports that Burger King has invited a group of ad agencies to its Miami headquarters to offer ideas on what to do with “Taste is king,” the tagline it had been using for years in Europe and adopted here in June for the summer menu introduction. McGarry Bowen, the shop hired as lead agency in June 2011, is among invitees. Among other contenders Ad Age identifies is Pereira & O’Dell, a Brazilian agency that created a TV spot for the chain’s 50¢ soft-serve cones this summer. Recall that 3G Capital, which acquired Burger King in 2010, is backed by Brazilian investors and that the chain’s CEO, Bernardo Hees, is Brazilian.
Brazil also is influential and important because it is one of Burger King’s strongest markets. For its second quarter, ended June 30, 2012, Burger King reported a 10.5% jump in same-store-sales for its Latin America/Caribbean region, due largely to sales gains in Mexico and Brazil.
However, Burger King doesn’t use “Taste is king” as its ad tagline in Brazil. Current ads use “Grelhado no fogo como churrasco,” which roughly means grilled on an open-fire barbecue. So perhaps BK will revive the “Fire Grilled” tag it used for its short-lived foray into barbecued ribs in 2010.
What Burger King has in Brazil that could be imported here is a new value menu called “Preços Irresistíveis” or “Irresistible Prices.” Priced at 5 reals ($2.44) each are a Whopper Jr., BK Pepperoni, BK Bacon burger, a small BK Mix (like McDonald’s McFlurry) and others. The chain’s U.S. budget menu could use some refreshing.
◙ Josh Capon of Burger & Barrel Winepub retained the People’s Choice award at the New York City Wine and Food Festival Burger Bash on Friday. This was Capon’s third win, including last year, with Bobby Flay taking it in 2010. B&B’s Bash Burger–topped with caramelized onion and bacon jam, pickles, American cheese and special sauce–won the $5,000 top prize.
Michael White of Ai Fiori took the Burgermeister Award with his White Label burger. It was chosen by a panel of judges including chefs David Burke, Anne Burrell and Andrew Zimmern along with TV personality Adam Richman. The White Label burger is an incongruous item on Ai Fiori’s otherwise upscale Italian menu, where it is described as an “8-oz. LaFrieda prime burger, Nueske’s bacon, American cheese, black tomato, pomme dauphines.” Supplier Pat LaFrieda Meats is the presenting sponsor for both the Bash and the Burgermeister Award.
The Bash is a celebration of sponsors, celeb chefs and Food Network family (Rachael Ray is the host, Neely’s Barbecue Parlor is a contender) rather than of real-world burger joints. How else to explain the inclusion of such non-burger-selling personalities as Mark Israel of Doughnut Factory and chocolatier Jacques Torres? To its credit, though, the Bash raises significant money for Food Bank For New York City and Share Our Strength.