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    McDonald's is Testing a New Fresh-Beef Burger

  • Industry News January 3, 2018
    flickr: Mike Mozart

    Remember the Arch Deluxe? McDonald’s spent an estimated $150–$200 million promoting the burger in 1996—the largest campaign ever in fast-food history at the time, according to The New York Times. When it debuted that May, McDonald’s officials predicted it would generate $1 billion in sales in its first year.

    It was promoted as a more sophisticated item meant for adults, with commercials showing kids grimacing at the taste. The main feature was “Arch Sauce,” which was a mustard-mayonnaise combination of sorts. McDonald’s showcased Ronald McDonald going to clubs, playing pool, and hitting the links. Just how badly the product sold was a source of debate, but it was gone from all restaurants by the late 1990s.

    Is the item making a comeback? On Tuesday, McDonald’s said it is testing a new burger called the Archburger in seven Oklahoma restaurants. A key detail: this burger is using fresh beef instead of frozen, similar to the tests McDonald’s ran on Quarter Pounders before deciding to make the swap systemwide by mid-2018.

    McDonald’s said the Archburger’s fate would be decided by customer and restaurant feedback.

    The Archburger is 3 ounces and slightly smaller than the Quarter Pounder patties. It comes with the Arch Sauce and is priced at $2.19, including cheese, pickles, and onions. It appears, unlike in the 1990s, that today’s McDonald’s customer would be more receptive to this kind of upscale offering.

    The burger cost between $2.09­–$2.49 when it first debuted and was more expensive than the typical burgers. Times have changed, however. McDonald’s now carries a popular Signature Crafted lineup that includes items like the Pico Guacamole and Sweet BBQ Bacon burgers. A Big Mac usually prices around $3.99, placing the Archburger in a sweet spot, value wise.

    The company launched a new 1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu to replace its McPick 2 Menu to start the New Year.

    The $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu has three price points built around customization. Each tier allows guests to pick from breakfast, burger, chicken, and beverage options. This included the first inclusion of a Happy Meal on a value menu and the introduction of a new Classic Chicken Sandwich.

    Fresh meat promises to be a big initiative for McDonald’s in 2018 as the company continues to reshape its image. The move to fresh beef started in 14 Dallas-Fort Worth restaurants in spring 2016 before expanding to 77 Oklahoma units in November. It then grew to 325 of McDonald’s Dallas-area restaurants in March. This included the Quarter Pounder with cheese, the Double Quarter Pounder with cheese, the Bacon Clubhouse Burger, and the Quarter Pounder Deluxe.

    “Today’s announcement is part of a continuing food journey for McDonald’s,” says McDonald’s USA President Chris Kempczinski said at the time.  “Over the last two years, we have accelerated the pace of change around how we source and serve our food. Delivering fresh beef that’s prepared when our customers order their food is just another example of how we are raising the bar. We’re just getting started, and can’t wait to show you what’s next.”

    This was the latest change for McDonald’s menu, which has cut artificial preservatives from Chicken McNuggets and swapped its apple juice in Happy Meals for a lower-sugar item.