Burger King's new Satisfries may reinvent how fast-food chains offer healthier items

LOS ANGELES , October 2, 2013 () – Burger King may not be the first quick-service restaurant chain to introduce a healthier menu option, but history may prove that the home of the Whopper may do it better than anyone else.

Burger King’s new lower-calorie French fries, called “Satisfries,” is pure genius. Every time a fast food chain offers a healthier alternative, it runs into the same problem:

It’s healthy.

Simply put, consumers don’t go to McDonald’s or Wendy’s or Carl’s Jr. to get a salad or a baked potato with fat-free butter. They go to these places to get junk food. Whatever the reason—they need comfort food, they have a taste for it, they’ve been watching what they eat all week and think they deserve a treat—consumers go to a quick-service restaurant for fattening items.

And that’s what makes Burger King’s new fries so interesting. They’re not that much healthier. And in this case, that’s a good thing. Make no mistake: These fries are healthier. They’re lower in calories than both Burger King’s own regular fries or McDonald’s fries. But they don’t come across as that much healthier than regular fries, which means consumers who crave fattening items won’t be turned off.

Take Taco Bell’s fresco style menu as an example. Taco Bell’s fresco items are a line of the chain’s taco and burrito items made healthier by eliminating such toppings as cheese and sour cream. While items like these will appeal to those seeking healthier options, they won’t appeal to Taco Bell’s fattening item-seeking consumers (which comprise the majority of its customers).

But Burger King’s new fries are different. They look like fattening fries, they taste like fattening fries and consumers wanting fattening fries will flock to them because now they can have their fattening fries while consuming fewer calories. In short, the fries will appeal to both healthier and fat-seeking customers. It’s like a diet soda that actually tastes like regular!

Burger King may not have reinvented the wheel, but its new Satisfries may very well reinvent how fast-food chains offer healthier items.

Nevin Barich is the Food and Beverage Analyst for Industry Intelligence. He can be reached at nevin.barich@industryintel.com

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