McDonald’s Spent $48 Million to Push Bacon in February

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“McDonald’s led all companies in advertising dollars spent at $48 million, less than what the chain allocated in January. Taco Bell (second on the list) cut its TV advertising funding by nearly half, likely due to Grubhub picking up most of the tab for its joint commercial with the chain touting limited time free delivery. Grubhub reportedly spent just under $7 million in ad dollars in February.

The biggest surprise of the month was Arby’s, which catapulted up 26 spots from January to crack the top 10 in advertising dollars spent. The quick service restaurant has completed a large sales turnaround in recent years by relying more on promotions and new deli meats to entice customers, according to Forbes. The chain’s success also led its parent company to acquire both Buffalo Wild Wings and Sonic in 2018.

Overall, quick service restaurants and pizza chains dominated TV advertising again in February, with Yum Brands’ subsidiaries — Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC — in the top 10 for the fourth consecutive month.  Olive Garden and Applebee’s, the casual restaurants that cracked the top 10 in January, ended February at 11 and 14, respectively, after shelling out more than $10 million each.”

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Billionaires Are Betting Big on Alternative Meat

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Creating designer protein that can make your veggie burger taste like the real thing is as easy as brewing beer. Or at least that’s what a new subsidiary of Boston-based bio-manufacturing startup, Ginkgo Bioworks Inc., says.

Ginkgo’s Motif Ingredients, which aims to replicate animal protein for meatless alternatives, is getting $90 million from investors including Breakthrough Energy Ventures, whose board includes tech billionaires Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Jack Ma. Commodity powerhouse Louis Dreyfus Co. and Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd, New Zealand’s dairy-exporting giant, are also backing the company.

The goal at Ginkgo is to get alternative products to market faster, chief executive officer Jason Kelly said in an interview. In a statement announcing the funding, the company likened making alternative foods to the beer-brewing process, because vital ingredients such as vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, and flavors are made through fermentation with genetically engineered yeasts and bacteria. Eliminating extra time in the lab can streamline the process and make it go faster, Kelly said.

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New on the Menu: Jack in the Box’s Late-Night Proposition

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“Jack in the Box is expanding its “french fries in a box” concept to two more potato, fat, and dairy concoctions that would make any cardiologist squirm. In the company’s defense, they’re going to try just about anything to keep their franchisees happy right now. Also in Jack’s defense? It doesn’t have the meal in this installment that must worry doctors the most.

Every few weeks Skift Table will wrap up the latest seasonal and new items on chain restaurant menus in the United States. We don’t call out everything (sorry limited-time Pumpkin Spice something), but we will call out items that are notable for what they mean to a chain, the season, or consumer habits.”

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Fast Food Prices Rise to Better Reflect True Costs

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“Dollar cheeseburgers and discount nuggets are getting Americans in the door at their favorite fast-food joints, but the savings end there.

Even as the recent fast-food discount wars rage on, with Burger King advertising 10 chicken nuggets for $1 and Pizza Hut offering $5 pies, fast-food items that don’t make it onto value menus are actually climbing in price. Median fast-food hamburger prices have jumped 54 percent over the last decade to about $6.95, according to menu researcher Datassential. Chicken sandwiches are up 27 percent. Both surpass overall U.S. price inflation during that same time.”

“McDonald’s Corp., the world’s biggest restaurant chain, recently started touting a $6 meal including a burger, fries, a drink and a pie, but it’s also offering plenty of items at the other end of the price scale. Its honey-barbecue glazed chicken tenders are more than $6 without any drinks or sides, and the new Bacon Smokehouse Quarter Pounder meal runs nearly $9 in Chicago.”

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The Best Restaurants on the Upper East Side

1. Flora Bar
945 Madison Ave., nr. 75th St.; 646-558-5383

Sure, the location is a little eccentric by local standards (the dining room sits on the semi-bunkered basement level of the Met Breuer museum on Madison Avenue). The decor is a little spare, too (did we mention that it’s in the basement of the Met Breuer?), and local gourmets will complain that the chef, Ignacio Mattos, is an interloper from the wilder, much more unruly culinary regions further downtown (he operates two popular restaurants below 14th Street). But we’d argue that the mingling of high culture and high cuisine at this unlikely three-star establishment creates the kind of alchemy which is unique not just on the Upper East Side, but to the city as a whole. Throw in Mattos’s refreshingly ingenious brand of high-low cooking (where else on the block can you get your crème fraîche and caviar served with house-frizzled potato chips?), the elegantly accessible lunchtime service (yes, there’s a Wagyu burger), the exceptional all-day coffee-and-pastry bar, and one of the better brunch menus in this brunch-crazed part of town, and you have the ideal Upper East Side restaurant for this unfussy, post-gourmet age.

See more restaurants here.

Shake Shack Sees Same-Store Sales Dip

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Shake Shack, once the darling of better-burger brands, continues to show signs of struggle in the sector as it reported a same-store sales decline this week.

Comps decreased 0.7% for the quarter ended Sept. 26, while total revenue rose 26.5% and sales increased 27.2%.
Shake Shack stock prices tumbled more than 11% on the news early Friday.
During the quarter, Shake Shack opened seven company-operated stores and two licensed units.

The brand expects to launch its largest number of new stores in history in 2019, with plans to open 36 to 40 units, executives said during a call with analysts Thursday.
The company drew concern from investors following its announcement in August that it was suffering from a logjam in unit expansion, stalling growth until the later part of 2018.

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Burger King launches Halloween Whopper

28-whopper-black-bk.w529.h529Burger King unleashed the black Whopper, the first of American black-bun burgers. The chain is marketing it as the Halloween Whopper, as a limited edition Whopper. The black burger is otherwise an entirely normal Whopper with A.1. sauce slathered on top. With the release of the Halloween Whopper, mixed views and reactions towards the black bun is shared. Many show distaste to a black-bun, while others are raving about the festive buns. “A-1 Steak Sauce baked into the buns!!! Amazing!!!”

While this is America’s first black burger, Burger King Japan has already black bun burgers implemented into their menus. Burger King has also released that the U.K will also be getting black-bun burgers for the month of October. Burger King hopes to drive up their sales with the Halloween Whopper, on its creepy shock value. Fans of the black-buns can hope that with increased performance of the chain, because of the Halloween Whopper, the black-bun can be a permanent menu item all across America.

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