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Published: Wednesday, 3/30/2005

Burger King launches portly portable breakfast

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

All hail the latest breakfast addition for the drive-through crowd: Burger King Corp.'s Enormous Omelet Sandwich, with a whopping 730 calories and 47 grams of fat for about $2.99.

About 750,000 of the sandwiches featuring three bacon strips, two eggs, a large sausage patty, two slices of American cheese, and a toasted bun have been sold since they made their debut March 21, a week before national advertising began Monday, said Joe Gerbino, a spokesman for the chain.

"It's been selling very well," he said.

Like Hardee's 1,420-calorie Monster Thickburger and 781-calorie Loaded Breakfast Burrito, two other examples of what critics deem "food porn," the Enormous Omelet Sandwich is likely to be successful and help Burger King compete with fast-food breakfast giant McDonald's, said restaurant researcher Bob Sandelman, president of Chicago's Sandelman & Associates.

And it has been well received in the Toledo area and in Monroe, said David Chandler, president and chief operating officer of Bennett Management Corp., which owns the area's 24 Burger Kings.

Although breakfast accounts for just 10 percent of all fast-food visits, the meal appeals to frequent customers, who tend to be young men less concerned with calories and fat, Mr. Sandelman said.

"These are good customers who they [restaurant owners] want to attract and keep," he said.

The Enormous Omelet Sandwich - which has the same calorie count as a large Starbucks Caramel Chocolate Frappuccino Blended Creme - is targeted at men aged 18 to 34, Mr. Chandler said.

Burger King also has items such as salads, a Whopper made from chicken, and a reformulated BK Veggie Burger as it tries to appeal to a wide range of customers, he said.

"We do now have a large choice on our menu," Mr. Chandler said.

Said Mr. Sandelman, the restaurant researcher: "Burger King and many of the chains are trying to cover both ends of the spectrum more than they did before."

On the lighter side at breakfast, the Burger King menu also includes a 320-calorie Western Omelet Croissan'wich through May 8. If it proves popular, Burger King could make it a permanent item, as it did with the Double Croissan'wich, which contains as many as 770 calories, Mr. Chandler said.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at:

jmckinnon@theblade.com

or 419-724-6087.



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