Burger King's New Fries Look to Compete with McDonald's, Wendy's

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Burger King has begun introducing new French fries in its North American franchises, hoping a revamped recipe will help it take on competitors McDonald's and Wendy's in the fast-food burger and fries restaurant chain market.

The new recipe, Burger King's first since 1998, will contain thicker cuts of potatoes and 20 percent less salt, and will be coated with a crispier outside that will keep the fries hotter for a longer period of time.

The fries are currently being rolled out in Burger King franchises, and the company said the new recipe will be the standard in most franchises across North America by Monday.

The new fries at Burger King offer restaurant guests a high-quality, perfectly balanced product, Leo Leon, Burger King's vice president of global innovation, told IBTimes in an email. The new fries offer a thicker cut of potato, giving each bite more fluffy, potato flavor on the inside and crispy, golden-brown deliciousness on the outside. 

With the new fry, Burger King hopes to compete with its two major rivals -- Wendy's and McDonald's -- both of whom have experienced their own successes with fries.

On Tuesday, an analyst's report said Wendy's is on track to overtake Burger King as the U.S.'s second-largest fast-food burger chain in terms of market share. Last year, Wendy's introduced a new, natural cut fry recipe with sea salt.

McDonald's, on the other hand, rules the market share for fast-food burger chains and has arguably the best French fries on the market -- and the best branded fries, too. A study with preschoolers in 2007 found that anything made by McDonald's tastes better. The children sampled identical McDonald's items that came in both McDonald's-brand and unmarked wrappings, and McDonald's always won.

Leon said Burger King's policy is not to comment on its competitors. But he did make the bold statement that Burger King now has the best fries in the business.

How did he and Burger King establish this claim? The fries were given to consumers over a six-month test period in multiple major cities.

We spent the better part of a year in test kitchens, with focus groups and in test markets to make sure we got our fries right, he said. We are definitely proud of the new fries and truly believe they are the best in the QSR [Quick Service Restaurant] industry.

The new fries follow multiple recent changes to Burger King's menu. In October, Burger King introduced the BK Chef's Choice burger, a 5.5-ounce burger topped with, among other things, bacon and the chain's Griller sauce. In September, the chain introduced a new soft-serve ice cream menu.

On Dec. 16, Burger King will ramp up the promotion of its new fries when it distributes its $1 value portions of fries for free on what the company is dubbing Free Fries Friday.

We believe our new fries are the latest example of our commitment to quality and innovation, Leon said. New fries [are] just the beginning for Burger King Corp., as the brand is staking its claim as the authority on all things food.

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