4 Recent Fast Food Game-Changers

They may have been food flops a few years ago, but consumers are hungry for these tasty treats now

By James Brumley, InvestorPlace Feature Writer


burger king 185Think all the major fast food innovations were already introduced years ago? Think again. The recent introduction of so-called “satisfries” at Burger King have been nothing less than a smash hit.

In fact, they may even be a big enough draw to merit an investment in Burger King Worldwide (BKW) shares. The company had been struggling, but the new fries are said to be driving a resurgence in revenue. After all, who goes to Burger King and ends up buying just an order of French fries?

Satisfries are hardly the only game-changer we’ve seen debuted by the industry in recent months, though. Here’s a rundown of the best additions to fast food menus we’ve seen in recent months.

Burger King’s Satisfries

Burger King Worldwide NYSE:BKWJust for the record, “healthy” is a relative idea when describing Burger King’s newest version of the french-fry. They are a lower-calorie iteration of the nation’s favorite fast food side order … 20% less than the Burger King’s previous fries, to be specific. They’re still pretty packed with calories.

Then again, the company was never trying to create a diet food when it decided to spend an extra 30 cents per serving of its new French fries. BKW was trying to perk up deteriorating sales, and so far, all indications are that satisfries have done the job. While the company wasn’t forthcoming with the details, the introduction of the lower-calorie fry did lead to measurable sales growth right out of the gate.

Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Tacos

#1 YUM! Brands (YUM)If tacos are good, and if Doritos chips are good, then the combination of the two should make for a great flavor, right? That was the theory anyway, when Yum Brands (YUM) debuted a Doritos-flavored taco shell in early 2012. Since then, the company has introduced two more flavors of taco shells that Frito-Lay — the company that makes Doritos chips — first made popular in snack chip form.

Though now nearly two-years old, the positive impact of the flavored taco shells still isn’t crystal clear. The only definitive number YUM has given is that, as of last month, Taco Bell has sold $1 billion of its Dorito-flavored tacos. But without a benchmark to compare that against, it’s tough to say exactly how influential the Doritos Locos have been. Regardless, there’s no denying the Locos tacos are a huge hit with fast food patrons.

Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger

WEN stockIt doesn’t seem game-changing, or even innovative, with just a quick glance. But Wendy’s (WEN) bacon cheeseburger on a pretzel bun has been a huge success.

For those who haven’t tried it yet, Wendy’s pretzel bun doesn’t have the exact same flavor and texture as snack-pretzels from the bag. It’s more of an homage to the pretzel. Still, it’s something different from an industry and a fast food restaurant chain that needed to put a new twist on a very old idea — the hamburger.

Pretzel bun burger sales were so hot after their July launch that some analysts predicted they would drive a whopping 5.5% improvement in same-store sales for Q3 (which would have been the best year-over-year quarterly sales growth in years). The restaurant chain ended up with only a 3.2% improvement in its same-store sales, but that’s still a significant win for WEN.

McDonald’s Mighty Wings

McDonald's NYSE:MCDEarlier this year, McDonald’s (MCD) tiptoed into KFC’s territory — and even put Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) on notice — with the launch of its Mighty Wings chicken wings. Sales of the fried chicken wings have failed to take off as expected, though. As McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson (under)stated it, the wings’ price of $3.69 for five pieces was “not the most competitive.”

Mighty Wings are a big departure from McDonald’s normal sandwich-based fare. MCD has offered non-sandwich fast food before, and still does. But, none of them are quite the leap for McDonald’s that chicken wings are. And, it’s worth noting that while the price of the wings themselves may seem relatively high, compared to other players in the wing arena — like Buffalo Wild Wings — the prices are fairly typical.

Mighty Wings launched in September, and though sales have been lackluster thus far, the restaurants’ menus are still crowded, and the product is still new. It may take a while to train (and even reach) guests regarding the new product.

As of this writing, James Brumley did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

Article printed from InvestorPlace Media, https://investorplace.com/2013/11/4-game-changers-now-fast-food-menus/.

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