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Chains Thinking Inside the Box for Meal Deals

Going beyond merely “bundling” a combo meal at a low price, Hardee’s is assembling two double cheeseburgers, an order of its Natural-Cut Fries, a fried apple pie and a 20-oz. beverage and putting them in an easy-carry box. The new Big Box Lunch deal is $5 and available systemwide. 

The boxed-meal approach, an idea as old as the Japanese compartmentalized bento box, has been used very successfully by KFC since its 2009 introduction of the $5 Fill-Up Box. That deal included any combination of a two-piece meal, three chicken strips, a Twister Wrap, five Hot Wing or five Dipped Wings. More recently it has tried $5 Big Crunch Box and $5 Boneless Fillet Box deals with chicken, potatoes, biscuit and a drink. 

Taco Bell, too, has had its boxing days with NBA, Volcano and Chicken Flatbread $5 Box deals. 

McDonald's Dinner Box in Australia.

All combo meals are meant to ensure customers include high-margin sides like fries and drinks. But there is added perceived value in the box that one restaurant exec tells me makes the menu items feel more like a meal and less just a random assortment of items, as with Jack in the Box’s $3.99 Jumbo Deal (a Jumbo Jack burger, two tacos, fries and a 20-oz. drink) or other similar deals. 

In Spain, Burger King has tried a packaged “Snackbox” with four each of BK Chicken Fries, onion rings, Chicken Tenders and mozzarella cheese sticks.

McDonald’s in Australia and New Zealand has been offering packaged Dinner Box meals since last spring. The boxes are sold only in the evening and are available at three different prices, with menu inclusions to match (from Big Macs in the Family Value box to Grand Angus burgers in the Family Selections box). We can expect to this dinner-box idea extended to the U.S., by McDonald’s or another QSR, in the near future.

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