Burger King may have lost its spot as the No. 2 U.S. burger chain to Wendy's, but it's not taking its demotion sitting down. (McDonald's is still comfortably No. 1.) BK is borrowing a page from the pizza playbook and rolling out home delivery of its signature Whoppers, fries, and other fast-food fare, starting at a handful of Washington, D.C.–area locations. Some caveats: No fountain drinks, coffee, breakfast foods, or milkshakes; delivery costs $2 an order; and you must live within a 10-minute drive of a participating Burger King. But BK not only guarantees 30-minute delivery — it's promising the Holy Grail of burger delivery: "Proprietary thermal packaging technology" that will keep your fries crisp and burger "hot and fresh." Is this "couch potato's dream" the key to Burger King's comeback?
Delivery is a no-brainer for BK: Arguably, home-delivered Whoppers and fries are "disastrous for a country struggling with an ever-expanding collective waistline," says Rene Lynch in the Los Angeles Times. But from a business perspective, this idea seems sure-fire, especially if Burger King really can keep burgers and fries from turning into a soggy mess en route. Let's face it: "Home delivery is convenient, and Americans love convenience."
"Burger King gives home delivery a try"
But are we really this lazy? Here's the flaw in Burger King's plan, says Hamilton Nolan at Gawker: The King wants you to pony up an extra $2 "to wait 30 minutes to get food from a restaurant that is less than 10 minutes away." For that to work, you have to believe that American burger junkies consider the walk from couch to car to be "too strenuous" and value inertia "far more than they value either their own money" or their need for more immediate gratification.
"Home delivery of fast food is the inevitable next step"
This will succeed — if BK works out the kinks: BK isn't aiming for the obese-slacker market, says Michael Rosenwald in The Washington Post. It's targeting busy families. And in my own test run, the results were "pretty darn good: The fries were hot and crispy, the Whopper was fresh and unsoggy," and ordering online was a breeze. On the other hand, it took the food an hour to arrive. If BK can feed time-crunched America's "insatiable" burger appetite a little faster, it really "might be on to something."
"Having it your way at home: Taste-testing Burger King delivery"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The dangerously childish morality of liberal ObamaCare supporters
- Inside Turkey's shadow war with ISIS
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1: 10 major differences between the book and the movie
- 10 things you need to know today: November 23, 2014
- How to rescue the American family and fix the broken school system in one fell swoop
- How science is accelerating our search for alien life
Subscribe to the Week