Attack of the Brawny Burger

Discussion
Jul 25, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Find any synonym for humongous and you’ll know where the fast food industry is going with its burger offerings.


According to a podcast report from Advertising Age, the so-called brawny burger category has grown four percent over the last year while regular burgers are up one percent.


Kate MacArthur of Ad Age, said, “Most of the big burger chains are experimenting with large burgers designed to attract people who love hearty portions and meat. Virtually everyone is creating them now because there’s money in it. And, even if it’s a limited time offer, it drives people in the door. One expert I talked said it is its value or novelty and certainly a massive burger is a novelty… Hardee’s and Carl Jr. really started a lot of that on their own before Burger King picked up on it. Some of the large casual dining chains are even doing that with big mouth burgers and Bennigan’s had actually relaunched their menu with a cheeseburger program and just recently Chile’s did the same.”


Nutritionists and consumer health advocates are understandably concerned (Ad Age says “outraged”) about the brawny burger trend.


“The argument that you will inevitably get from anybody in the food industry about this kind of topic is that this is America and people have a choice. In fact, John Bass, founder of the Heart Attack Grill (home of the double bypass burger) adamantly says that he tells people that they shouldn’t eat there often and spends a lot of time telling people that it’s really bad for you and that you shouldn’t eat it but that he can’t stop it so he might as well cash in.”


Discussion Question: Will the growth of sales of “bad for you” items continue to outpace more nutritionally beneficial foods in foodservice and retail
environments?


Free choice … moderation … America, pretty much sums it up for us.

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

11 Comments on "Attack of the Brawny Burger"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Peter Fader
Guest
14 years 7 months ago

Didn’t we have this same discussion last year when Burger King announced its “enormous omelette” breakfast sandwich? Mark Lilien’s answer sums it up: give customers something new — and something to talk about. Healthy options are rarely as “buzzworthy” as these calorie-laden ones, nor are they perceived to be as good a value for the customer’s dollar.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
14 years 7 months ago

“Tastes Good” has as many followers as “Good For You.” And when one’s chips are down and one’s frustrations are up those delicious calorie-laden burgers and salty fries almost seem therapeutic.

Matt Werhner
Guest
Matt Werhner
14 years 7 months ago

The “good for you” offerings have certainly increased in the fast food industry. Will “good for you” continue at the current pace or will this become the latest fad? Americans still love their burgers and now they love them bigger than ever. I heard a commercial on the radio advertising a philly cheesesteak burger (talk about a heart breaker). That quite frankly could be the epitome of unhealthy eating. My take is “bad for you” holds on to first place.

Catherine Sleep
Guest
Catherine Sleep
14 years 7 months ago

Shining example of the ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ mentality. Despite efforts to promote healthier menu options, some more sincere than others, most fast food restaurants are still largely viewed as somewhere you go to eat whatever you fancy and be a little bit decadent. Throwing caution to the winds and eating the naughtiest thing on the menu becomes confused in the mind with having the best time possible. Choosing a salad isn’t entering into the spirit of things. Yes, the big burgers will continue to do well.

Odonna Mathews
Guest
Odonna Mathews
14 years 7 months ago
Yes, consumers want choices but the restaurant and retail industry have a responsibility to offer a variety of healthful choices at good value. I have seen those oversized burgers and can’t help but wonder why they can’t be offered in two sizes — call it large and medium or whatever you want. But we still need to educate consumers that most Americans only need about 5-6 ounces of meat and beans per day (depending on physical activity!) Consumers might be surprised to learn that a small lean hamburger, a small half chicken breast or one cup of pea soup is actually 2-3 ounces, half the daily recommended amount. American serving sizes are out of control, especially when you compare what we eat to the portions in many countries around the world. The food industry including food service must do more to promote reasonable serving sizes, a range of healthful, convenient and tasty food selections that become the norm, rather than the exception. The cost of obesity related problems affects our employees as well as our… Read more »
Bill Bishop
Guest
Bill Bishop
14 years 7 months ago
I agree with Mark that the good-for-you/bad-for-you split may not capture what’s going on here. Over the weekend I saw the new Ruby Tuesday ad for choice hamburgers, and it was very effective at making a non-hamburger eater want one! There was not one thought that it would be bad for me, only that it would be delicious, and “eat like steak and cut like butter.” Who wouldn’t want it? I’m told that some recent Nielsen work indicates that good-for-you items are selling well at retail. This was confirmed at a recent with top executives of five supermarket chains from around the country, all of whom reported that good-for-you items were growing four to five times faster than same-store sales. So, “good for you” is clearly selling well–at least in some environments. And, many consumers don’t seem worried about eating at least a little of what’s tasty and not so good for them as well. If I had to bet, I’d be focused on attractive and tasty food that promises to be better for you.… Read more »
Jeff Weitzman
Guest
Jeff Weitzman
14 years 7 months ago

No doubt that “more of a good thing” applies to things that taste good, feel good, or even are good for you. That primitive instinct isn’t going away, and it’s no accident that the exercise of free will (we’ll leave aside the philosophical argument of whether such a thing exists) is a particularly human trait. The path of least resistance in marketing and sales is to play into our more primitive desires.

If Americans are to break the habit of gluttony, there will have to be a cultural shift away from primitive gratification and toward the glorification of the triumph of the will. We get mixed messages: fashion magazines give us “unrealistic body images” but nutrition advocates decry our flabby waistlines. Somewhere in there is a balance where we aspire to fit, healthy bodies while realizing that every body, in its ideal form, does not look like a sculpture.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 7 months ago

I’m not so sure that “Bad For You” will increase faster than “Good For You.” Perhaps the real trend is “Something New” will increase faster than “Something We’ve Had On The Menu For 30 Years.”

Rochelle Newman-Carrasco
Guest
Rochelle Newman-Carrasco
14 years 7 months ago

Ditto what Mark and Bill are saying. There is little trust in the “Bad for You” versus “Good for you” equation. Every time someone says something is bad for you, it turns out to be good for you a few months later. So people are feeling good about a little “bad” now and then. They are creating their own balancing act and responding to stimuli that are emotional rather than intellectual.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
14 years 7 months ago

It ain’t called comfort food for nothing. Any old way – why can’t we have it all? The message about good for you certainly seems to be getting through but that’s no reason why we can’t occasionally indulge ourselves. Those that live by indulgence are making their own choices. But hopefully now they know that.

John Lansdale
Guest
John Lansdale
14 years 7 months ago

What’s that ratio in alcohol – 20% of the customers make up 80% of the sales? Big burger has been pitching its healthiness for several years now. People addicted to the stuff have the excuse they need. Time to cash in. They can’t help it.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

Will the growth in sales of "bad for you" items continue to outpace more nutritionally beneficial foods in foodservice and retail environments?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...