Halloween Whopper: Weird for All the Wrong Reasons

By Brian Harris


It was supposed to be a treat, but it turned out to be an unexpected trick that blew up social media. Burger King’s Halloween Whopper got more attention for its interesting post-digestive side effects, than the novelty of having A1 sauce baked right into the bun.

That was supposed to be the selling point, right? Or was the black bun supposed to be appealing? This is one marketing stunt that is a bit puzzling.

While most QSRs are moving away from artificial ingredients and preservatives, Burger King introduced this black bun, which gets its color with the help of D&C Red #40, Molasses Powder, and FD&C Blue #1, reported QSRweb.com. The dyes in the bun help contribute to a ghoulish surprise post-consumption. You get the point.

Betsy Craig, founder of MenuTrinfo, a menu labeling company put it best when she said, “The entire food industry is moving in the direction toward the removal of additives. This is a complete reversal of that movement.”

Some might try to defend Burger King’s move by saying, “Well it worked in Asia, so they decided to take a gamble in America.” However, that’s not exactly accurate. The Japanese version of the black bun received its color from squid ink and bamboo charcoal. That’s a bit different than the plethora of unnatural food dyes in the A1 burger.

A Whopper of a Turn Off

America has turned a page in its relationship with fast-food. The Halloween Whopper subscribes to the old school of thought. It practically dares consumers not to question how it got its black color.

The reality is that Americans today are too self-educated to not question the ingredients. Combine that with social media and the after-effects of the Whopper became a viral story.Of course, there will be some people who might want to try the limited-edition Halloween Whopper as a science experiment, but it seems that the more common reaction is one of disgust and distrust.

If you’re Burger King, you don’t want customers now questioning what other additives you use in your foods. Unfortunately, that may be the result of this product rollout. In the long run, it’s calling attention to the brand of the wrong reasons. Was it worth it for the sales of a limited-edition menu item? That’s the big question Burger King will have to answer.

To see some examples of brands that are tapping into consumers’ preference for healthy, fresh ingredients, check out these posts:

The Secret Sauce to Fast Casual Restaurants’ Success – (Hint: It’s not A1)
5 C-store Trends for 2015   - (No. 1, “Healthy Food with a Flair”)
Top 3 Franchised Restaurant Trends for 2015

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