March 8, 2007

McDonald's SuperSizes the Beef & Calories

Is this what Americans really want?

Fast-food chain McDonald's is testing a "Third Pounder" Angus burger which really weighs in at 720 to 860 calories. Add fries and you are talking about getting more than 60% of your daily recommended calories at one quick sitting.

ChicagoBusiness said the new Third Pounder is currently available only in about 600 restaurant locations in Southern California. At one-third of a pound, the burger is the biggest on the McDonald's menu at outlets where it is being tested. The Third Pounders are selling for between $3.39 and $3.99 at one McDonald's in the L.A. suburb of South Pasadena. By comparison, a double cheeseburger, McDonald's biggest seller, costs $1.

Only the double Quarter Pounder with cheese compares to the calorie count of the new burgers. The Angus Third Pounder ranges from 720 calories to 860 calories, while the double Quarter Pounder contains 740 calories. McDonald's signature sandwich, the Big Mac, is 540 calories, the report said.

The paper quoted McDonald's franchise owner Scott Frisbie as saying that he approached the company about two years ago with the idea that the McDonald's menu needed a premium burger to remain competitive.

[Competitive with whom: Sumo wrestlers?]

"The initial reaction has been overwhelmingly positive," said Frisbie, who helped conduct the initial tests of the burger during the past four months at two of his family's 17 franchises in the Anaheim area. "The sales really surprised us," he told the paper.

Meanwhile, its competitors have also added Angus burgers to their menus. Burger King added the $3.99 Angus Steak Burger to its menu in 2004. Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, which are both owned by CKE Restaurants Inc., offer as many as eight variations of an Angus burger priced as high as $6.Hardee's added the burgers, which are known as Thickburgers, in 2003. Carl's Jr. added the Angus burger to its menu in 2004, the report said.

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