Burger King Tries a New Take on a McDonald’s, Wendy’s Favorite

The fast-food giant has slipped behind its chief rivals, but it’s willing to try new things to win back market share.

For a long time, McDonald’s (MCD) – Get Free Report and Restaurant Brands International’s (QSR) – Get Free Report Burger King sold a very simple menu based on offering burgers and fries that were consistent from location to location. Instead of menu innovation, the chains spent the 1960s, and 70s honing their operations while slightly expanding their roster of hamburgers, but not adding much else.

Wendy’s (WEN) – Get Free Report entered the scene in the 1970s when it began its national growth, but it too kept its menu simple. Fast food was still a relatively uncrowded space and the emphasis was on the speed and consistency of experience, not on creating new menu items.

That changed in 1983 when McDonald’s launched the Chicken McNugget. It sounds ridiculous in 2022, but McNuggets were a phenomenon that completely changed the fast-food game. It was a move that Wendy’s and Burger King had to follow.

And, while Wendy’s has carved out a niche for what it now calls “nuggs,” Burger King has never really found a good counter for the McNugget.

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Burger King Keeps Trying New Chicken Nuggets  

Burger King has tried a lot of different nugget recipes over the years and none of them have gained much traction. In recent years, the chain used price (often a $1 for 10 pieces deal, but prices vary) rather than pushing that it offered something better than McNuggets.

The chain also added Chicken Fries to its menu in 2005. These aren’t exactly nuggets, they’re closer to chicken “fingers” in design, but while those got a lot of attention, and have become a menu staple, they’re more just another menu item, not really a major hit.

Now, Burger King has a bold new take on Chicken Nuggets, but it’s only offering them in its Canadian stores, Brand Eating reported.

“Jalapeno Cheddar Chicken Nuggets are breaded chicken nuggets with a “zesty cheddar” flavor tinged with a bit of jalapeno,” according to the website.

The chain does sell “spicy” chicken nuggets in the U.S., but adding cheese to the mix in Canada offers a potential new take that could come to its home market. Burger King sometimes tests menu items in Canada before bringing them to the U.S.

Burger King Canada also has a new limited-time burger that seems like a major contender for a U.S. release.

“The Zesty Horseradish King features a flame-grilled beef patty, American cheese, bacon, crispy-fried onion rings, and Zesty Horseradish sauce on a toasted sesame seed bun. It’s basically a Bacon King (minus mayo and ketchup) with the addition of Zesty Horseradish dipping sauce and onion rings,” Brand Eating shared.

Burger King Has a Plan in the U.S.

Burger King has fallen behind McDonald’s and Wendy’s in the U.S. That’s something that Restaurant Brands International (RBI) CEO Jose Cil has a plan to fix.

“As many of you know, in September, we unveiled a Reclaim the Flame plan designed to engage our Burger King fans and create new ones and accelerate traffic and sales growth and drive franchisee profitability at Burger King U.S.,” he said during the chain’s third-quarter earnings call.

To back those efforts, RBI is making a $400 million investment.

“This investment will help us increase our advertising firepower, drive higher quality restaurant improvements and remodels, and support incremental technology and digital investments,” Cil said. “While still early days, I’m incredibly proud of the work done by the Burger King U.S. team together with our franchisees to develop this plan.”

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