2014 Burger Brackets Voting is Over

Congratulations to champion Burgatory! Thank you for casting a record 149,789 votes and thank you to A.1. Steak Sauce for making this year’s competition possible.
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McDonald’s Big Hot Jalapeño Turns Up Winter Heat

Is it hot in here or is McDonald’s signaling its willingness to bring some heat to menus? Having shown a willingness to go spicy but displaying a reluctance to venture too far into the world of chiles, the Arches are ending the year on a hot note in a few markets.

Burger King has specialized in developing chile-spiced burgers, marketing such creations as the Hot Texas Whopper currently on offer in Sweden; the Hot BBQ Whopper in the UK; and the Angry Whopper hanging out in Canada, Denmark and elsewhere. McDonald’s shows that it, too,  can slice a chile with the Big Hot Jalapeño burger and Chicken Hot Jalapeño, just added in Denmark. A uncharacteristically steamy TV commercial (at left) accompanies the launch. These burgers follow the recent appearance of the Red Chili Pepper burger in France (although it was spiced with Tabasco hot sauce rather than sliced chiles) and Chicken Scorcher in Australia.

With new Chicken McBites already sporting a spicy variety, 2012 promises to feature hot competition among burger chains.

Here are a few other end-of-the-year burger newsbites to savor:

Wendy’s continues to—literally—beef up its burger menu. After introducing the Dave’s Hot ‘n Juicy burgers and W Cheeseburgers, the soon-to-be-No.-2 burger chain also has revamped the Jr. Cheeseburger on its 99¢ Value Menu. The new patty is touted as being 25% bigger than its predecessor. Wendy’s also has introduced nationally the 99¢ Cheesy Cheddarburger it has widely tested over the past six months.

Jr. Cheeseburger: Now 25% larger

Much is being made of Wendy’s $16 foie-gras-topped burger in its Japan stores, but it should be noted that France’s Quick burger chain’s Suprême Foie Gras burger was on the scene earlier. And cheaper.

● True to its bundled-meals strategy, Jack in the Box closes 2011 with a Jumbo Jack Deal priced at $4.25. The offer is a Jumbo Jack burger, two tacos, small fries and small beverage. Jack still isn’t talking to consumers about its burgers, which it claims to have upgraded.

● Keep an eye on the burger battle in South America. The continent is not just home base (Brazil) to 3G Capital, the investors who acquired Burger King, it is BK’s best-performing (in terms of same-store-sales growth) region. Argentina, meanwhile, is the base of Arcos Dorados, the McDonald’s franchisee that went public this year in a $1.8 billion IPO. Both brands want to do especially well in Latin America, where the opportunities for continued growth are great.

In Argentina, Burger King is in the midst of WhopperFest and group of LTOs that include Whopper Triple, Whopper Extreme Max and Whopper Rodeo burgers. McDonald’s counters with Triple Bacon burger.

● Wishes for a happy, profitable new year to all subscribers, visitors and sympathizers. Please drop by BurgerBusiness.com even more more often in 2012. I’ll strive to make it even more worth your time.

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