Why Burger King's French Fry Burger is a bust
On September 1, Burger King unveiled the "French Fry Burger," a true-to-its-name item that consists of a regular ol' burger with four fries laid across the patty.
So far, the reviews have not been glowing.
The lack of love comes during a rough patch for Burger King, which just last year ceded its number-two spot in the fast food rankings to Wendy's. In the first quarter of 2013, the chain saw a three percent drop in same-store sales from the year before in the U.S. and Canada, followed by a .6 percent drop in the second quarter.
At the same time, cost-cutting across the board led the company to close 60 stores net in the same region.
Burger King is trying to battle that trend. McDonald's continues to enjoy success with its Dollar Menu, which has led Wendy's to recently revamp its value menu as well. The French Fry Burger, which costs just a buck, is part of a similar effort.
But reviewers have been underwhelmed by both the concept and the taste.
Vanessa Wong at Bloomberg Businessweek noted that the French Fry Burger has been at Burger King since the beginning of time. "You can already have this amazing concoction any time you want. It’s not like the stores don’t always have fries, and hey, 'Your way, right away,' right?"
Sadly, the taste of the French fry cheeseburger didn’t live up to the excitement of successfully ordering it. Potatoes don’t have the same pungency of, say, onions. (Burger King has added onion rings to other sandwiches like the Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Burger.) Still, those four fries do add a little something — if only the satisfaction of knowing they’re there. [Bloomberg Businessweek]
New York's Grub Street also bemoaned the lack of creativity that went into the French Fry Burger.
Never mind that Pittsburgh's been putting fries between bread for decades now, this is the future of fast food: Take some things you already have in house, gussy them up a little into a sandwich, then sit back and watch the Internet sizzle over the news. [Grub Street]
Daniel Gross at The Daily Beast found it fundamentally offensive. "[T]he notion of adding fries to the burger is the opposite of gilding the lily — it takes a passable experience and makes it materially worse."
You need a contrast: The saltiness and sweetness of peanut butter and chocolate; the heavy bitterness of espresso combined with the light froth of steamed milk; the savoriness of a Taco Bell taco combined with the sodium-laden Doritos shell. But Burger King’s fries and its burgers don’t achieve that kind of harmony. As solo acts, they are fine. As a duet, they’re less Steve and Eydie and more Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus. [The Daily Beast]
But a few bad reviews doesn't necessarily mean the item won't sell — even Doritos Locos Tacos had its skeptics at first. And if it doesn't sell in the U.S., perhaps it could find a market overseas. Remember McPasta?