Angus wars: CKE calls out McDonald's

by Bryan Salvage
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CARPINTERIA, CALIF. — Competitors of McDonald’s have been pretty quiet after the rollout of its Angus Third Pounders — until now. Officials with Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s are taking exception to what they’re calling "the hype" surrounding McDonald’s most recent burger introduction.

The competitors suggest the new product is McDonald’s first major burger introduction in eight years. Officials from Carl’s Jr. said it introduced its Original Six Dollar Burger eight years ago while Hardee’s rolled out its own line of comparable Thickburgers in 2003. Both are made with 100% Black Angus Beef. The Six Dollar Burger patty weighs almost a half-pound, the Original Thickburger is one-third pound, and both are charbroiled.

McDonald’s launched its latest offerings earlier this month after two years of regional testing and was even longer in development, the competitors claim. Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s have introduced more than 40 limited-time burgers in the same eight-year window, many of which have become permanent menu items.

"We’re glad being copied is considered the highest form of flattery, since we have been seeing a lot of it lately," said Andrew F. Puzder, chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants Inc., parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s. "Fortunately for our guests, our burgers are still better-tasting and lower-priced than the other guys’. We’ve successfully faced similar attempts to copy Carl’s Jr. Six Dollar Burgers and Hardee’s Thickburgers, and we’ve seen how McDonald’s versions fared against ours in their various test markets. No one has been able to match our taste, quality or price.

"The Original Six Dollar Burger at Carl’s Jr. has 24% more meat than McDonald’s Third Pounders, yet costs the same — $3.99," Mr. Puzder said. "And at Hardee’s, the 100% Black Angus beef Original Thickburger has just as much meat as McDonald’s Angus burger, but costs 60 cents less. Those are the facts and that’s the value of our burgers."

Carl’s Jr. offers nine varieties of the charbroiled 100% Black Angus beef Six Dollar Burgers. Hardee’s also offers a line of nine charbroiled 100% Black Angus beef Thickburgers, available in one-third to two-third lb.sizes.

CKE Restaurants is so confident its burgers are better it will be offering a money-back guarantee that will give customers a refund if they don’t agree Hardee’s Thickburgers or Carl’s Jr.’s Six Dollar Burgers are better tasting than the McDonald’s Angus burgers. The offer begins in mid-September and will be supported with advertising.

Carl’s Jr. locations throughout the Western states will also be launching the company’s newest product: The Big Carl, which has twice the meat as a Big Mac, twice the cheese and sells for just $2.49 or less in most restaurants. The Big Mac ranges in price, but averages more than $3, according to Carl’s Jr.

"While McDonald’s is trying to convince people that they can make as good a premium-quality burger as Carl’s Jr. or Hardee’s can, we knew we could make a better double-burger for less money," Mr. Puzder said. "The Carl’s Jr. Big Carl costs a lot less than the Big Mac, is charbroiled, and has twice as much meat and cheese. Burger fans should love that."

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