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A New Whopper: Burger King Tries to Find Its Next Sandwich Hit

The fast-food giant has a new take on its signature sandwich, The Whopper.

Remember McDonald's (MCD) - Get McDonald's Corporation Report Mighty Wings? The Burger King Halloween Whopper? What about Wendy's (WEN) - Get Wendy's Company Report Frescata deli sandwiches, the McDonald's McLean, Arch Deluxe, the McDLT, the Hula Burger, and probably a handful of other burgers offered under the Golden Arches that have been lost to time.

It's a reminder that for every McRib, Popeye's Chicken Sandwich, or, the gold standard, Yum!'s (YUM) - Get Yum! Brands, Inc. Report Taco Bell Dorito's Loco Taco, fast-food chains have an awful lot of failures. 

Now, Restaurant Brands International's (QSR) - Get Restaurant Brands International Inc Report Burger King has another limited-time offer (LTO) that it might roll out to menus nationwide. It's a new take on one of the company's classic burgers that makes some big changes.

What Is Burger King Doing?

Burger King has struggled to find its place in the fast-food space as it competes with both McDonald's and Wendy's in the low-end burger space and Five Guys as well as countless other chains when you move up to fast-casual. Of course, the company also has to deal with an incredibly crowded market where everything from tacos to fried chicken and plant-based offerings to pizza fight for consumers' dollars.

To try to gain some attention in an incredibly crowded market, Burger King has been testing multiple variations of its classic Whopper sandwich at a handful of locations in Ohio, Chewboom reported. The sandwich, called the Whopper Melt, "features two slices of toast, layered with ¼. lb of flame-grilled beef, melty American cheese, caramelized onions, and stacker sauce," according to Burger King's menu web page.

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The company has also tested the Spicy Whopper Melt, which offers jalapenos and a creamy spicy sauce as well as the Bacon Whopper Melt which has, well, bacon.

Why a New Whopper?

Fast food has become a game of "what have you done for me lately?" While some chains -- McDonald's and Chipotle (CMG) - Get Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. Report most notably -- carefully dole out LTOs, most throw a lot of ideas at the wall to see what sticks. By using the Whopper name, Burger King creates a certain level of expectations.

Like its chief rival, the Big Mac, the Whopper has its fans, and attaching that famous name to a new family of sandwiches guarantees media and consumer attention. 

Traditionally, the LTO is a way to spark sales before the end of a quarter or experiment with new menu items without making a full menu commitment. If it bombs, customers will never see it again. If they can’t get enough, it may just bump a slow seller off the menu," wrote QSR Magazine's John Morell.

Essentially, Burger King can leverage its most famous burger's name to get attention for a new product. That will likely drive sampling, but if people reject the new Whopper Melts, Burger King can consign them to the long list of fast-food failures.