Here's a Whopper: Burger King introduced pork ribs for one of those "short-time-only" promotions, only to find that it didn't have enough ribs to make it to the end of the promotion. The BK Fire-Grilled Ribs are so popular that the company has said it is going to run out in a matter of days. That means the burger outfit will have to ditch its planned run of commercials showing pigs flying (the idea: that a fast food chain can actually produce a tasty pork rib meal.)
Who knew that the pigs would be flying out of BK stores faster than BK could supply them? Not BK, which recently sold its 10 millionth rib. All of this brings up a question that even those of us who never took a marketing class might ask: Since the ribs are such a hit, why not make them a permanent menu item?
"While we're thrilled with the popularity of our BK™ Fire-Grilled Ribs, we are continually looking to offer a fresh menu lineup that strikes a balance between new product innovation and core menu items, utilizing the innovation that our new broilers now allow and bringing out some exciting new products," John Schaufelberger, Burger King's senior vice president of global product marketing and innovation, told WalletPop Friday.
Burger King test-marketed the ribs in Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Greensboro, N.C. and Orlando, according to the Wall Street Journal. The trial runs indicated that folks would opt for the $1.99 three-piece or $1.50 two-piece as an add-on to a value meal. But when the promotion was rolled out in stores, consumers went hog-wild for the larger options, such as the six-piece meal with fries and a medium soda ($8.15 with tax at a Brooklyn, N.Y., franchise). There's also an eight-piece meal.
"We are pleasantly surprised to see that consumers are gravitating toward the six- and eight- piece offerings, and it validates our belief that value can be delivered in many different ways," Schaufelberger said.
This reporter had the ribs Friday afternoon in Brooklyn and all the promotions were in place. A server said she had not heard of any shortage. But signs of this porcine promotion petering out have already emerged. The Journal reported that BK had run short of the cardboard packages for the larger portions. As of late Friday, the ribs were not even featured on Burger King's homepage. And, well, BK higher-ups have confirmed the plummeting availability of its pork, down to zero "within a week or so," the Journal said. Some restaurants have already run out.
But the ribs' success will be fresh in the company's mind, as well as the higher cost we fast foodies were willing to pay for a non-burger item. Rival McDonald's introduced the boneless McRib Sandwich in 1981, but after being reintroduced several times, it has never become a regular member of the Golden Arches menu. Perhaps its bone-and-all counterpart at Burger King will eventually keep its customers in perpetual hog heaven -- in a big way.
Said Shaufelberger: "The popularity of the larger sizes are an encouraging indication that consumers are looking for high quality food at an affordable price."