Burger King has traditionally defined its brand as The Home of the Whopper. Indeed, its description says: “Founded in 1954, BURGER KING® is the second largest fast food hamburger chain in the world. The original HOME OF THE WHOPPER®, our commitment to premium ingredients, signature recipes, and family-friendly dining experiences is what has defined our brand for more than 50 successful years.”
Now it’s taking the Whopper, the sandwich it also calls “America’s Favorite Burger” in a registered tagline, beyond its burger roots by applying the moniker to one of its hottest (literally — they’re grilled) menu items: hot dogs.
Following on February’s introduction of flame-grilled hot dogs, which made Burger King the largest chain in the US to serve them, the Whopper Dog is now available in participating BK restaurants as the privately-held chain continues testing menu innovations and brand extensions.
The hamburger-inspired menu item, which is being rolled out across the US for a limited time, joins another recent menu addition, the Egg-Normous Burrito on its breakfast menu.
Get your Grilled Dog Whopper-style with the all-new Whopper Dog. pic.twitter.com/ntwh9qGmJD
— Burger King (@BurgerKing) May 9, 2016
While Grilled Dogs (plain or chili) are on its permanent menu, the hybrid Whopper Dog — based on its classic Whopper burger and new Grilled Dog — is a time-limited hot dog.
Topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, chopped onions, ketchup and mayonnaise, The WHOPPER® Dog is a flame-grilled hot dog made with 100% beef.
Below, a peek at how the Whopper Dog — priced at $1.99 solo or $4.89 in a meal — is made:
— Megan Lewis (@Meganlivina23) May 4, 2016
As Fortune previously reported, BK has tested a few other hot dog variations (including the “A1 Ultimate” grilled dog, a “Rodeo” grilled dog and a corn dog), but none of them resonated with costumers.
While Burger King introduced a Chicken Whopper in 2002 in a non-beef twist to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Whopper sandwich, it took the brand 62 years to launch a hot dog.
Now the question is whether the Whopper Dog has what it takes to be added to the permanent menu and even be served beyond the US, where Burger King now serves more than 11 million customers daily worldwide.
5 Things We Learned about Burger King’s Whopper, via Wikipedia:
• Introduced in 1957 by Burger King co-founder James McLamore and originally selling for 37¢, the Whopper has undergone several reformulations in recent years, including resizing and bread changes. To promote continuing interest in the product, Burger King occasionally releases limited-time variants on the Whopper. As the signature product of the company, it is often at the center of advertising promotions, product tie-ins and even corporate practical jokes and hoaxes. The Whopper is sold by a different brand in one market—Australia, where Burger King is called Hungry Jack’s.
• In 2009, a co-branded with Microsoft burger debuted: the Windows 7 Whopper, which was sold in Japan for the promotion of Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system. The hamburger contained seven stacked beef patties and measured 5 in (13 cm) high, weighed almost 2.2 lb (1.00 kg), and had more than 1,000 kcal (4,200 kJ). It was originally planned to be available for only seven days starting on 22 October 2009. Due to its success in selling 6,000 sandwiches within the first four days, Burger King decided to extend the promotion period an extra nine days, ending on 6 November.
• The Pizza Burger sold exclusively at the BK Whopper Bar location in Times Square, New York City that opened in September 2010. It consists of four Whopper patties on a 9.5 inch sesame bun, sliced into six pieces and topped with pepperoni, mozzarella, Tuscan pesto and marinara sauce. The whole burger contains more than the recommended daily allowance of calories for men at 2,520 calories, with 144 grams of fat, 59g of which is saturated, and 3,780 mg of sodium, more than double the recommended daily allowance for adults. However, according to Burger King’s then-VP of global marketing, John Schaufelberger, the burger was never intended to feed just one person. Each slice has 420 calories, 24 g fat (10 g saturated), and 630 mg sodium.
• The Angriest Whopper debuted in March, adding a red bun with hot pepper sauce baked into the roll. The Angriest Whopper followed a similar sandwich, the A1 Halloween Whopper released for Halloween 2015, which was prepared with black-colored, smoke-flavored buns. The original Angry Whopper had jalapeños, “Angry Sauce” and “Angry Onions”, pepper jack cheese and bacon. The sandwich, originally released in Europe, made its way to the United States in 2008.
The two-tiered program, designed to create a word-of-mouth marketing push, featured a webpage that allowed consumers to create an “Angry-gram” that could be emailed to other individuals. The form letter format page would send an insulting email to a recipient of choice from the sender. The second part consisted of a Facebook-oriented program where the company would issue a coupon for a free sandwich if the consumer would de-friend 10 people on their Facebook page. The Angriest Whopper was pitched using advertising similar to trailers for movie sequels, with a movie trailer-style opening screen, shots of lava, a helicopter and flames. The tag line for the ad was “The only way to handle the heat is to embrace it.”
• As part of the 45th anniversary of the Whopper sandwich in 2002, Burger King introduced a grilled chicken version of the sandwich called the Chicken Whopper and added a smaller Chicken Whopper Jr. sandwich. The introduction of the Chicken Whopper represented the company’s first move to extend the Whopper brand name beyond beef-based sandwiches since the original Whopper’s introduction in the 1950s. The sandwiches featured a whole chicken breast filet, weighing either 4.7 oz (130 g) for the larger sandwich or a 3.1 oz (88 g) for the Jr., mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato on a sesame seed roll. A newly reformulated low fat mayonnaise was introduced in conjunction with the new sandwiches. Along with the company’s new BK Veggie sandwich, The Chicken Whopper Jr. version of the sandwich was lauded by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) as being one of the best nutritionally sound products sold by a fast food chain.