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Big King sales take off nationwide

September 9, 1997

MIAMI (AP) _ Sales of the Big King, Burger King’s newest and most blatant assault on McDonald’s Big Mac, are so brisk that some restaurants are running out of the sandwiches.

Burger King had expected to sell 1.8 million Big Kings a day when it introduced the sandwich last week but customers are buying almost 3 million daily, about 70 percent over original projections, company officials said.

Shortages of Big King sandwiches occurred in Sacramento, Dallas, various cities in Michigan, New York City, and Miami.

The product is scheduled to sell for 99 cents until Sept. 14.

And the price was one reason some customers tried the sandwich.

``Ninety-nine cents for something different? You can’t beat that about now,″ said Ezzard Davis, after he ordered a Big King with extra pickles at a Burger King in Miami. ``It tastes the same as a double cheeseburger except there’s some sauce on it.″

Burger King pushed ahead with the new product despite the well-publicized recall of a record 25 million pounds of ground beef from a Hudson Foods Inc. plant in Nebraska last month. There is no indication any tainted meat wound up in Burger King products.

At a Burger King near Dallas workers have repeatedly run out.

``We got a truck in Thursday and by midday Saturday, we’d sold out,″ said Mickey Stuart, an assistant manager. ``The demand was so high we sold out of our other burgers, too.″

The Miami-based hamburger chain is putting $30 million in national advertising support behind the Big King. The company is a distant second to McDonald’s in the $39 billion hamburger sandwich market.

The Big King was built on the Big Mac model _ two beef patties, lettuce, cheese, onions, pickles and a special sauce.

The Big King contains 5.6 ounces of beef compared with 3.2 ounces for the Big Mac. It also packs a hefty 660 calories versus the Big Mac’s 560 and the third piece of bread found in the middle of a Big Mac is left out.

John Scroggins, a spokesman Noble & Associates, a Chicago-based advertising group that produces a biweekly publication called The Food Channel, said consumer response to Big King has been the biggest in the past decade.

He attributed to the sandwich’s tangy sauce _ and the competition.

``People are getting sandwich fatigue at McDonald’s,″ Scroggins said. ``It hasn’t really changed a lot.″

Lisa Howard, a spokeswoman for Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s, said the company had no comment on Big King sales.

Some people sampling the new burger said the sauce tasted vaguely familiar to the sauce on a Big Mac but was sweeter and tangier than the rival. Others barely noticed the sauce.

``I really didn’t taste the sauce.″ said Glenn Binder, a customer at a west Miami Burger King who was drawn by the 99-cent price. ``It’s economic, that’s why people come here.″

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