“Would you like some bacon with that?”
Smile if you will, but don’t be surprised if you hear that phrase uttered by the cashier at your local Burger King the next time you order a sundae. Yes. A sundae.
Burger King, in an attempt to re-ignite revenue growth (since being challenged – not so much by McDonald’s – but by newer players, such as Five Guys) has decided to jump on “the bacon bandwagon” and unveiled their Bacon Sundae (along with a limited variety of BBQ burgers) this past June.
In case you missed it (but really, could you?), the sundae starts off with vanilla ice cream, includes chocolate fudge and caramel, and is topped off with (yes, really) bacon bits and an actual strip of bacon. After enjoying your Whopper and fries, you can end the meal with this 510-calorie treat.
The bacon sundae is just the recent addition to an ongoing menu switch-up, which started this year. In hopes of increasing revenue and attracting new customers, Burger King recently added healthier options to their menu, including fruit smoothies, wraps, and new salads. To stress its new emphasis on their expanding options, BK has changed its slogan from, “Have It Your Way,” to “Taste is King” (but unfortunately, they kept the creepy king as their mascot).
So, in light of these healthy options, why bacon (and all things unhealthy)?
Burger King is merely jumping on “the bacon bandwagon.” If you think I’m being too clever, I’m not. A recent article details a 100% pure bacon burger!
Bacon has increased in popularity over the last few years (especially on the internet). You can actually get pretty much anything bacon-themed or flavored – from lip balm to soap to dental floss (proof here). According to US News, the annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival (located in Des Moines, Iowa) has grown from a couple of hundred people five years ago to a whopping 48,000 this past year. The festival sold out in 24 minutes!
Yikes! It’s safe to say we’re getting a little bacon-crazed, don’t you think?
So from a marketing standpoint, maybe it makes sense – at first – to put out a bacon sundae. But it’s a novelty. It’s not something that will help BK long term – and might really hurt them from a PR sense.
Take, for instance, the Enormous Omelet Sandwich, released by Burger King in 2005. It consisted of two slices of cheese, two eggs stuffed with bacon, and a sausage patty stacked high on a large roll. Not frightened yet? It clocked in at over 700 calories and 40 grams of fat. Surprisingly, the sandwich boosted revenue by 20% initially, then was (not surprisingly) a major flop. The lesson here? It was a novelty – something that people would try for the thrill of it – and then was discarded because it was too much and strayed too far from Burger King’s staple menu.
Revamping the menu makes sense – adding healthier fare ensures a wider customer base while keeping your die-hard followers happy. Re-tweaking the staple items also makes sense – improving taste and quality in the fries and Whoppers is going in the right direction. But a Bacon Sundae? Where’s the sense in that, beyond a small niche of people who think bacon on (and in) everything is cool for the sheer absurdity of it?
And that’s my overall verdict on this new release: it’s an absurd way to bring back or salvage Burger King. People don’t go to Burger King for a Bacon Sundae; they go for fast, quick meals they know. Certainly, you can go to certain niche restaurants to try something “out-of-the-box,” but not so much for something that will “put you in a box.”