Wendy's Permanent Edition Of Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger Signals New Direction for Fast Food Industry

LOS ANGELES , August 27, 2014 () – Over the past several months, the U.S. fast food restaurant industry across the board has made an effort to entice millennials by introducing limited-time menu items that appeal to them, focusing primarily on items that feature different types of fancier breads.

Wendy’s, however, took it a step further recently when it announced recently via Twitter that it was adding its Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger to its permanent menu.

This is perhaps the biggest major sign yet of fast food’s new direction. As the industry’s primary audience gets older, it had to figure out ways to grab the attention of millennials, an audience with major earnings potential who tend to focus on better-quality and higher-end items.

The Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger is the first such “millennial” item that a major U.S. fast food chain elected to keep. Wendy’s introduced the burger in the summer of 2013 to huge success, with the company saying the burger helped lift its sales in both the second and third quarters of last year. The burger was so successful that it was kept as a limited-time item until November, far past its original end date.

Credit Wendy’s for finding a millennial-enticing item with staying power. It’s no small feat. No other major quick-service chain has struck gold thus far. In fact, the item previously most successful in this area might have been Burger King’s Satisfries, because the company elected to keep the item on the permanent menu at 2,500 locations. The remaining 67% of locations, however, took it off the menu because of poor sales.

Wendy’s isn’t resting on its laurels. It’s once again offering chicken sandwiches on pretzel buns for a limited time, and it also just announced an LTO of a smoked Gouda chicken sandwich on a brioche bun. The company could very well capture lightning in a bottle, and capture it fast.

Nevin Barich is the Food and Beverage Analyst for Industry Intelligence. Email him here or follow him on Twitter here.

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