Once avoided for its fatty (but oh-so-delicious) flavor, bacon is experiencing a renaissance, and Which Wich has joined the movement. Starting Monday, June 8, the Dallas-based sandwich concept will switch from its standard bacon crumbles to Hormel’s Applewood-smoked variety. To promote the switch, Which Wich is offering two limited-time menu items this summer: a special BLT and a bacon milkshake.
“Bacon’s trending. Bacon is something that everybody wants,” says Which Wich vice president of finance Jeff Bruton. “The problem was the precooked strip bacon; if you ever look at it, you can almost see right through it and read something on a piece of paper. It’s just a very thin, inferior product.”
Given that cooking bacon in house can be an operational burden, Which Wich had used bacon crumbles rather than full strips. About five years ago, Hormel product engineers began playing around to create a better, precooked bacon, Bruton says. Now, Which Wich is one of three national chains to carry the new Hormel version.
While this premium bacon costs significantly more per pound, the difference per sandwich is only a few pennies. Plus, Which Wich’s relationship with Hormel helped shield the brand from summer price spikes associated with bacon.
“We had franchisees who are cost conscious as well,” Bruton says. “When they saw the difference in quality, it just killed all arguments. They get it.”
The new bacon is especially showcased in the LTO BLT, which includes eight slices—nearly a quarter pound—of bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, and chipotle mayo on toasted sourdough bread. Bruton says that this LTO is a bigger version of Which Wich’s standard BLT but with a different bread variety.
The second item, the Shake ‘n Bacon, is blended with bacon, topped with crumbled bacon, and even has a bacon strip “straw.” Meat in a shake might be a departure from the standard fast casual fare, but Bruton says the brand likes to push the envelope.
“We always, always go out on a limb. We always want to create a unique offering, and something that you can only get it at Which Wich,” says Hala Habal, vice president of corporate communications. “And our Bag 8 [limited-time-offer] program gives us a little bit of freedom to do that.”
He adds that when there is an opportunity to upgrade an item and create a superior product, the company is eager to do it.
The upgraded Hormel bacon will remain on the menu permanently, and customers can add it to any sandwich for $1. While the special BLT and Shake ‘n Bacon will only be on the menuboard for a limited time, Bruton says that customers can still order it after the promotion period ends.
“That’s the point at Which Wich: We really will give you whatever it is that you want,” Habal says.
By Nicole Duncan
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