Fast food’s new twisted trend

by Monica Watrous
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DUBLIN, OHIO – After a highly successful test in select markets, Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger is rolling out nationwide and will be offered throughout the summer.

Served on a toasted artisan-baked pretzel bun, the burger includes a nine-green spring mix, red onion, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, applewood-smoked bacon and a sweet and smoky honey mustard. During tests earlier this year, the pub-style sandwich outperformed all other promotional hamburgers in recent Wendy’s history, according to the company.

“Wendy’s knows food trends,” said Craig Bahner, chief marketing officer for Wendy’s. “We tapped into consumers’ love of pretzels, and transformed the iconic snack into an artisan-crafted cheeseburger. We constantly search for foods that customers crave, and we’ve created the ultimate mash-up of three American loves — pretzels, bacon and cheeseburgers — to deliver new standards of quality and taste.”

Wendy’s isn’t the only quick-service restaurant trotting out menu items made with pretzel bread. Sonic Drive-In is launching a pair of pretzel dogs for a limited time beginning July 1. Featuring a premium beef hot dog packed in a warm, soft pretzel bun, the Cheesy Bacon Pretzel Dog has bacon and melted cheese sauce, and the Original Pretzel Dog is topped with mustard. The items are available through Aug. 11 at participating locations.

No longer limited to ballgame bleachers and neighborhood delis, pretzel bread is popping up on more mainstream menus as soft-baked sticks, bagels, frankfurter rolls and burger buns. Earlier this year, TGI Fridays launched a small-plates menu with beef and Swiss sliders on pretzel rolls, and Blimpie unveiled a turkey sub on pretzel bread.

“The pretzel bun is a real natural because it brings a lot of these cues of Old World to an already recognizable item,” said Kara Nielsen, a trend researcher at San Francisco-based CCD Innovation. “It has a deeper, darker flavor, and it has a little artisanal touch to it, even if it’s a manufactured product.”
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