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Fast-Food Chains Making The Millennial Push With Fancy Bread Options

LOS ANGELES, December 11, 2013 () – Confession: When fast-food chains started offering fancier bread options, I thought it was stupid. Why in the world would a Wendy’s or an Arby’s or a Culver’s think that offering pretzel buns or Hawaiian bread or artisan buns was a good idea, I asked myself. Who would buy these items?

And then I remembered:


I’m not a millennial, someone who’s 28 or younger. I’m 34, so in my impressionable years, I didn’t know what trans fats were, couldn’t even spell gluten, and the practice of posting nutritional information on Big Macs and Whoppers was in its infancy. Millennials, however, are a little different. They’re growing up at a time where fast-food companies are getting hammered by the media for their high calorie content and are being forced to put nutritional information front and center. Fast food, in short, is looked upon more negatively by the millennial generation than my generation and the generation before that.

Now the problem for fast-food chains is that millennials can’t be ignored. They control too much money. So how do you entice them? Fancy bread options. Think burgers and chicken sandwiches with pretzel buns. Or maybe submarine sandwiches on garlic bread. How about sliced roast beef on a Hawaiian bread roll? Whether because it’s trendy or because their pallet is a bit broader, millennials love these fancy breads, and fast-food chains are taking note.

When I roll up to the Carl’s Jr. drive thru and I’m asked whether I want to try their new freshly baked buns, I roll my eyes. But those buns aren’t for me but rather for millennials. And things like fresh buns may be the incentive millennials need to give fast food more of a chance.

Nevin Barich is the Food & Beverage Analyst for Industry Intelligence. He can be reached at

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