Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The death of portion size

Posted By on Tue, Jul 13, 2010 at 11:45 AM

click to enlarge carlsjr.footlong.jpg

I think it's time we waved the white flag on our recommended daily intake of anything. Instead, we should simply adopt a system of family-style eating, whether you're dining alone or with a family.

Carl's Jr. is ready to accept our surrender: The chain is test-marketing a footlong cheeseburger. The 12-inch sub-slash-burger goes for $4 and has been picked up and extensively photographed by Food Beast. Sorry, hot dog, you can no longer claim the foot-long distinction as your own.

This is the kind of sandwich that makes me want to pull the schoolyard prank of asking a Carl's Jr. executive if the cheeseburger is bigger than his face. And then, in the middle of his attempt, smashing it into his nose.

I get that this is a direct marketing challenge to the success of Subway's $5 foot-long campaign -- which has made $5 the magic number for every fast-food promotion. The fast-food price wars have become a race to the bottom, with larger portions (in the form of meal combos) becoming cheaper and cheaper.

At some point, what we're eating can't be considered food. Should a footlong cheeseburger cost only $4? And do I want to know what's necessary to make a footlong cheeseburger profitable at $4?

The only saving grace is that the closest Carl's Jr. is in Oklahoma. That said, we have plenty of the chain's sister restaurant, Hardee's. Meanwhile, there's no indication that the footlong burger will expand beyond test marketing.

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