The National Turkey Federation (NTF) named Carl's Jr. and Hardee's recipients of its 10th Annual "Turkey on the Menu" (T.O.M.) Award in the fast food category. The award honors the chains for introducing a variety of charbroiled turkey burgers on their menus, offering healthier options to consumers.

The T.O.M. Award was presented Feb. 16 during NTF's Annual Convention.

John Koncki, director of research and development for CKE Restaurants, Inc., accepted the award on behalf of CKE Restaurants Inc., the parent company of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, which has 3,219 franchised, licensed, or company-operated restaurants in 42 states and in 23 countries, including 1,292 Carl's Jr. restaurants and 1,917 Hardee's restaurants.

"Consumers today are looking for burger options that are better for them and taste great," Koncki says. "That's why we teamed up with Men's Health Magazine and Eat This, Not That! to develop a line of delicious charbroiled turkey burgers that are indulgent and don't skimp on taste."

To create the burgers, CKE Restaurants, Inc. partnered with Matt Gould, co-author of the Eat This, Not That! book series, and Men's Health Magazine to produce five varieties of turkey burgers:  traditional, teriyaki, guacamole, mushroom Swiss, and BBQ ranch. 

The line of charbroiled turkey burgers launched in March 2011 as a permanent menu item at Carl's Jr. and Hardee's locations in the United States, as well as in select international units. CKE Restaurants, Inc. is the first national fast food chain to add turkey burgers to its permanent menu.   

AdvancedPierre Foods, creator and supplier of the turkey patty, nominated the burger chains for NTF's prestigious award. Dick Elmore, vice president of strategic accounts for AdvancePierre Foods, presented the T.O.M. Award to CKE Restaurants during the awards presentation.

"It is an honor to be here today recognizing CKE Restaurants for their commitment to healthy menu alternatives," Elmore says. 

"The patties from AdvancePierre Foods are a combination of ground dark and white turkey meat, and the product specifications allow the turkey burgers to remain moist after going through the charbroiler. Guests were able to get the same backyard barbeque charbroiled flavor they have come to expect at Carl's Jr.and Hardee's with a much leaner, lower calorie alternative."

Advertising and marketing campaigns helped bring awareness of the lower-fat, healthy menu option. An integrated marketing campaign included national television advertising, radio, and billboards. Digital marketing included Facebook and Twitter integration with products giveaways and direct interaction with fans and guests. 

Publicity for the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's turkey burgers resulted in 188 million earned media impressions and advertising reached hundreds of millions.

T.O.M. Award winners in other categories are:

  • Ram's Horn Restaurants: winner in the "mid-scale/casual dining category," Ram's Horn Restaurants draws loyal crowds with its delicious food, great service, and friendly, comfortable atmosphere. Nominated by Sara Lee Food and Beverage, this foodservice operation was chosen for its application of turkey products in a variety of meals throughout the day.
  • Capriotti's Sandwich Shop: winner in the "quick casual category," Capriotti's Sandwich Shop was chosen for its variety of slow-roasted turkey menu items, including the long-standing customer favorite, the Bobbie. Butterball, LLC, nominated this foodservice chain.


"On behalf of NTF, it's a privilege to recognize these foodservice operations with our annual T.O.M. Award in recognition of their variety of turkey menu options," says Sherrie Rosenblatt, NTF's vice president of marketing and communications.

NTF members nominated the foodservice chains that exemplify the criteria of the T.O.M. Award. Entrant applications address questions regarding turkey menu applications, the items' consumer appeal, how the chain promotes the menu items through marketing, and turkey's food cost percentage. 

A panel of foodservice professionals rates the entries on consumer appeal, versatility, taste, value, and how the turkey applications benefit the chain operation. Only the winner that received the most overall points from the judges received the award at NTF's Annual Convention.

Burgers, Consumer Trends, Food, Food Safety, News, Capriotti's, Carl's Jr., Hardee's