By Candice Choi
AP Food Industry Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — All the online buzz aside, there’s another reason why Wendy’s impending rollout of a pretzel burger has the fast-food chain excited: the profit margins.
The Associated Press reported in January that the fast-food chain was testing the “Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger” in select locations including Miami. Then an analyst for Janney Montgomery Scott recently noted that executives said the burger would be rolled out nationally this year as a promotional item. That has sparked plenty of online chatter, mostly positive.
But the concoction wasn’t created just to please taste buds. The burger is a reflection of Wendy’s emphasis on offering more premium breads that raise perceptions about the quality of its food without raising its own costs too much. Specifically, a unique bun is cheaper than giving customers more meat, particularly at a time when beef prices have been climbing.
The strategy is in line with a push by Wendy’s to cast itself as being on the higher-end of the fast-food industry, which it says will allow it to charge higher prices more in line with Panera and Chipotle.
CEO Emil Brolick and other Wendy’s executives have noted that small adjustments like bread can have a big impact on how customers perceive the quality and healthfulness of the chain’s food. It’s not just the pretzel bun; Wendy’s has said it’s looking at a variety of options, including flavored buns and wheat buns. Already, it rolled out a chicken flatbread sandwich earlier this year that is priced on the higher end of the menu.
Of course, there’s the fun factor for customers too. Taco Bell’s test of a waffle taco with egg has generated excitement online as well.
A spokesman for Wendy’s Co., based in Dublin, Ohio, wasn’t immediately available for comment.