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Spending More At Burger King...And Being Happy When We Do It

LOS ANGELES, December 11, 2012 () – No matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get it out of my head.

A Burger King Whopper for just 55 cents.

Ever since I came across the press release about Burger King’s recent promotion—in which the fast-food chain was offering an original Whopper sandwich for 55 cents from Dec. 6-9 with the purchase of any Whopper at regular price, in celebration of the burger’s 55th anniversary--I couldn’t stop thinking about a couple of Whoppers at my dinner table.

And here’s the thing: As a food and beverage analyst, I can read between the lines. I know that the promotion is not as financially luring as it appears. In order to take advantage of the promotion, I’d have to pay $3.49, the regular price for an Original Whopper (plus extra for cheese, which I always get. Plus extra if I want to upgrade to the new Wisconsin White Cheddar Whopper, which I was seriously considering because I love cheese and because I keep seeing it advertised, so now that’s in my head too). Additionally, I typically get a large order of onion rings with my Whopper(s), and even though the promotion will pocket me two Whoppers and I may not have room for the onion rings, I’ll likely buy them.

Oh, and that’s another thing: Buying more food than I can eat. Sure, I’m getting a lot, but I’m going to likely leave a lot on my dinner plate.

I know all of this—as well of the fact that normal Burger King order runs around $6—and yet despite all of this, the promotion did its job. I bought the Wisconsin Whopper (plus large onion rings) and got my 55-cent Original Whopper (cheese extra).

Total cost: $9.52

And yet even though I spent more, and even though I knew going in that I would spend more, I was still happy. Because the consumer in me just got one of his favorite burgers for a couple of quarters and nickel. And it made me feel like the king of all creation.

The point is this: These kinds of promotions work. If they work on me—someone who knows better—they’re sure to work on your average consumer who doesn’t take the time to read between the lines. Burger King got us to spend more, and we’re happy you did it.

We are sheep. And the 55-cent Whopper is the shepherd.

Nevin Barich is the Food & Beverage Analyst for Industry Intelligence Inc. He’s never found a fast-food promotion he could resist, even if he ends up spending twice as much to take advantage of it. He can be reached at

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