The McDonald's Happy Meals for Adults program is designed to supply a template for customers who wish to live a balanced, active lifestyle. The idea is that you eat the Asian salad for lunch, then go home, insert the freebie DVD into your DVD player and follow along on its 15-minute yoga workout. Other instructional DVDs to be released later in the promotional period take you through cardio fitness routines, core-building exercises and strength sessions. Get the whole set and you've got the equivalent of your own personal trainer-provided you don't mind that your personal trainer's primary goal is advancing the marketing message of a fast-food company.
The salad, at least, is more adventurous that those usually seen in the QSR segment. It includes orange-glazed grilled or crispy chicken, edamame, snow peas, red bell peppers, mandarin oranges, sliced and toasted almonds and as many as 16 types of premium salad greens. It's served with a bottle of Dasani water.
Whatever you think of McDonald's foray into the healthy dining market, you've got to admit it represents out-of-the-box thinking for a company which is overwhelmingly dominant in the burger-and-fries end of the business.
The thinking at Hardee's, on the other hand, remains defiantly in the box.
"The Carl's Jr. Pastrami Burger was one of the most successful new burgers at the chain in the last few years," says Hardee's Brad Haley. "So the concept of 'meat as a condiment'-as Jay Leno joked about it on The Tonight Show-led us to experiment with similar products at Hardee's, and the new Philly Cheesesteak Thickburger was born."
The Hardee's version featured a charbroiled 1/3-pound, 100 percent Angus beef patty, topped with thin-sliced steak, sautéed peppers and onions, and Swiss and American cheese. It sells for $3.99 at all 1,993 Hardee's restaurants. At 930 calories and 63 grams of fat, it's nominally more healthful than the Monster Thickburger sandwich the company introduced last fall. That one weighed in at 1,420 calories and 107 grams of fat.
We know which option is more healthful. But might many foodservice patrons opt to embrace their inner carnivore instead? We'll wait for the next quarterly earnings release from these two public companies to learn which approach had more resonance in the marketplace.