The latest McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) promotion really ought to get New York City's Nanny Mayor tied up in knots. The fast-food chain is testing a so-called "Blitz Box," a supersized lunchbox offering up two Quarter Pounders with cheese, two medium fries, and a 20-piece bucket of Chicken McNuggets. Ostensibly a multiperson meal, if drinking 16 ounces of soda at one sitting got Mayor Bloomberg all riled up, imagine what this near-3,000-calorie artery-clogging box of food will do.
The Blitz Box is the chain's first attempt at offering meals to several people in a single package in the U.S. The BurgerBusiness blog reports McDonald's has offered two-person "Mates Meals" in Australia, along with a "Dinner Box" that could feed several people, as well as multiperson meals in the Czech Republic and Malaysia. But this experiment in the U.S. is a first.
Running in conjunction with the chain's local co-op sponsoring the Kansas City Chiefs NFL team, the Blitz Box is limited in scope, but if successful, BurgerBusiness sees it expanding, perhaps nationwide, noting that McDonald's CEO Don Thompson earlier this year thought it was an idea whose time had come to fast food.
While true to a certain extent, it's not exactly new. Yum! Brands (NYSE: YUM ) KFC chicken chain regularly advertises its family meals in a bucket, and Boston Market has family meals featuring roasted chickens, and the pizza industry has long had meals everyone could enjoy. One promotion Domino's Pizza (NYSE: DPZ ) currently offers is a two-item choice between a medium two-topping pizza, an oven-baked sandwich, stuffed cheesy bread, eight-piece chicken, or pasta in a dish for $5.99.
You may think it's only the broader fast-food industry that's exploited the opportunity while the burger niche has lagged, but privately held White Castle has offered sacks of 20 sliders for what seems like forever.
So rather than creating a food trend, McDonald's looks like it's playing catch-up to the rest of the industry that's been using the concept, or at least experimenting with it, for years.
The Blitz Box will retail for $14.99 and comes as the restaurant explores busting the buck on its dollar-menu value meals. Earnings were weak last quarter, missing estimates on profits and sales as U.S. comps came in below expectations. Indeed, CEO Thompson said at the time that July results were also going to be flat and "based on recent sales trends, our results for the remainder of the year are expected to remain challenged."
Shaking up the menu, then, could be just what the fast-food joint needs to super-size growth once more.
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