Burger King has never shied away from offering less-than-healthy choices.
As far back as 2005, the Restaurant Brands International (NYSE:QSR) brand added something called the "Enormous Omelet Sandwich" to its menu. This monstrosity contained a two-egg omelet topped with two slices of American cheese, three strips of bacon, and a sausage patty on a hoagie-style bun. It came in at 730 calories and 47 grams of fat, and the company admitted it was not for the faint of heart (and the company marketed it as being for construction workers or others in need of a calorie-packed breakfast).
That sandwich received a lot of media attention when it launched for having more calories than the company's Whopper, but this year, when the chain introduced the similar Supreme Breakfast Sandwich, it received very little notice. That shows how much the bar to shock the public has been raised, since the new version includes two eggs, two sausage patties, bacon, and two slices of American cheese on a toasted hoagie bun coming in at a whopping 880 calories and 59 grams of fat.
If a gut-busting breakfast like that barely gets noticed by the public and the media, clearly Burger King needs to push things even further. In its New Zealand restaurants, the company is testing a product line that would do exactly that -- sandwiches so packed with fat and protein that their very existence screams "I want to try that" as loudly as it does "publicity stunt."
What is Burger King doing?
It's important to note that sometimes fast-food chains introduce international offerings that never reach the United States. That's also true of items they test in limited markets. Just because a chain has a product in its global arsenal does not mean it will ever reach these shores and that could be the case for the latest Burger King line, which has so far only been introduced in New Zealand.
The products, dubbed the "Meatatarian Range," include both beef and fried chicken patties, along with bacon, cheese, barbecue sauce, and onions, on a sesame seed roll. The company obviously knows what it has, as the web promotion for the sandwiches uses the line "Get your veg and 3 meats. Yes, onion is a vegetable."
Burger King's Meatatarian line features three sandwiches. The Full Meaty has two beef patties, a chicken patty, six bacon strips, two slices of cheese, barbecue sauce, and onion. The Half Meaty is the same thing with half the beef and cheese while the Chicken Bacon Meaty includes two chicken patties, six strips of bacon, two cheese slices, onion, and barbecue sauce.
The chain does not disclose the calorie or fat count for its new sandwiches, but a regular Double Stacker contains 420 calories for its two patties, bacon, and cheese. Given that the sandwich does not include the fried chicken patty and it has about half as much bacon, you can guess that the Full Meaty is not exactly health food. (FOX News estimates similar sandwiches at around 1,000 calories).
Why is Burger King doing this?
While fast food has pushed healthier choices in recent years, a number of chains have also had success pushing less-healthy choices. In a broad sense, many consumers view chains like Burger King as an indulgence, so splurging on a truly ridiculous sandwich or menu item fits the idea that this is cheating on your diet anyway.
Crazy offers like this also get media attention. It's sort of a take on the "go big or go home" catchphrase. A bad-for-you sandwich no longer gets attention, so going over the top gets people talking. It's a smart play by Burger King, and if the chain brings these sandwiches to the U.S., they are likely to be at least a media sensation.
Daniel Kline has no position in any stocks mentioned. He is trying to not have the same physique as Grimace. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.